Jan 17 2009


“My assistant’s love life? 


…more than I wanna know.” 


(And I’m actually afraid of her finding out about mine, so I keep a distance!) 

“And what’s so bad about that?  After all, I’m not running a social service organization here; this here’s a business.  There’s no room for touchy-feely, warm/fuzzy, cuddly-wuddly (“cuddly-wuddly”?) stuff — least of all between me and the people who work for me.  If we don’t keep a respectful distance, the work will never get done, and my granddaddy always said: “Don’t fish off company docks!”


WOW!  Some good arguments there, Mr. Hardass, and I’m sure that strategy has worked well for you because you’re still in business while others around you keep tumbling.  But, you know what?  Odds are for sure that you’re not getting the productivity levels you deserve out of those you employ.  Here’s why:

KEEPING THE BEST PEOPLE means treating them like they are the best, all the time, no exceptions, even when they screw up and you choose to feel angry about it. 

You might try, instead of anger, to choose (yes, anger is your choice!) the path of a constructive guide by:

1) Taking some deep breaths to calm down your neurological system, relax your muscles and stimulate more oxygen to your brain to become more alert.  You may have to quietly walk away or gently close your door to force yourself to concentrate on your breathing for a minute or two, then

2) Chalking it off to a learning experience for the employee (AND for your self for not having forewarned or kept on top of the issues involved) and taking some solice that the employee probably feels badly enough without being chastized.  Try instead asking for (in writing by the end of the day!) three ways to specifically prevent that kind of screw-up in the future, which puts a positive focus on problem prevention (vs. negative nonproductive scolding).

3) Remembering that Maslow’s Heirarchy still rules HR’s motivational universe of successful companies.  Small frequent rewards that specifically address the personal needs of each individual always motivate best, and can usually be more economical.  A recognition seeker will prefer a plaque to cash.  The parent of a crooked-toothed teenager will prefer one-time orthodontist bill payments over a permanent salary raise. 

The point here is that you will never be able to know what makes your people “tick” –and each marches to a different drummer– UNLESS you make more of an effort toward intimacy!  How will you ever know about the teenager’s teeth, for example, unless you’ve had some kind of informal small talk discussion with the parent over lunch or coffee?  Would you even know that person has a teenage child?

And it doesn’t stop with that.  We often change our wants and needs literally overnight.  A local TV interview, for instance, with the regognition-seeker may satisfy that need to the point where a plaque has no meaning. 

The teenager’s grandmother may have just come up with the cash for the braces, prompting the parent to be more interested in ressurecting pursuit of new tires for the family car.  (Again, a much cheaper and more appreciated one-time-expense reward for good work motivates more than a permanent ongoing salary raise!)  The trade-off to taking the time and trouble to know your employees better is that it will –in the end– cost you less and increase your business productivity levels.  

So, bedroom habits?  No.  Getting a fix and keeping tabs on each individual employee’s changing wants and needs?  Yes.  Listening carefully?  Yes.  Caring enough to provide the kinds of support –within reason of course– that those who work for you really need?  Yes.  Take the time; it pays!   


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