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Ken Keller: Understand the value of a company’s human capital

Brain food for business owners

Posted: December 4, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: December 4, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Imagine that when you walk into your place of business tomorrow, everyone had a sign hanging around his or her neck, including you.

This signs read: “Make me feel important” — and the signs cannot be removed.

As the owner, you don’t need a sign because you already feel important. What about those people working for you? Do you make them feel important? Do they make each other feel important?

People working today want more than a paycheck. They want to be needed, to be included and to be part of something bigger than themselves. Employees want to be appreciated and respected.

Are you making employees better by your behavior or are you killing their spirits? Behaviors tell the true story. Actions speak louder than words.

When you don’t pay attention to people, you kill their spirits. Failing to greet people, recognize them or give them eye contact will be seen as ignoring those that work for you. You will be viewed as cold, distant and uncaring.

If you want people in your organization to be friendly with one another, and you are not, you will be seen as unsociable. As wisely pointed out in the movie “Remember the Titans,” attitude reflects leadership.

If you don’t actively listen to people, it shows that you don’t care what their opinions are.

If you interrupt people when they are talking, others will think that you believe yourself to be the only one with answers, and that your way is the only way.

Soon, you will be doing all the talking. In no time flat, people will no longer offer their thoughts, ideas and opinions to you.
Failing to show appreciation kills the spirit. If you fail to use “thank you,” not only will people see you as impolite, but they will also believe whatever they do isn’t important to you.

If you display an attitude of ingratitude, you will kill initiative. Initiative is already in short supply in the workplace, so your actions speeds up the process and convert individuals from being loyal and productive to clock watching and paycheck focused.

Failing to give approval kills the spirit. This is when you fail to praise people for their efforts. If you don’t praise people for what they have done, or tried to do, they will soon determine that doing any more than that is required is not worth the effort.

When you fail to show admiration, you will kill the spirit. Even a mediocre employee is likely to be on time for work, yet if that person is not shown admiration for those things he or she does well at work, he or she will leave and make a contribution elsewhere.

When you can’t find anything a person does is right, you will kill his or her spirit. There is nothing more crushing, nothing more defeating, nothing more frustrating than to be in a job where someone finds fault with at least one thing you do.

How long will someone stay in this kind of poisonous work place?

A story is told about Thomas J. Watson Sr., the founder of IBM, who one day called a young vice president into his office to review his work.

The young executive had just spent $10 million on a research project that failed completely.

When the vice president arrived, he offered his resignation to Watson, saying “You don’t have to fire me. I’ll go peacefully. I know I’ve made a mistake.”

Watson replied, “Fire you? Why would I fire you? I’ve just spent $10 million on your education. Now, let’s talk about your next assignment.” Do you take Watson’s approach, or one less civil?

Abraham Lincoln said, “Everyone likes a compliment.” Are you complimenting the people you work with and building their spirits or are you killing their spirits with your behaviors, your attitude and your approach?

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at (661) 645-7086 or at Keller’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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