Messages from the Masters
You can't find a more powerful medium of communication than yourself -- your character, your personality and your principles.
If you want to send a powerful, positive message to the people with whom you work, or to whom you sell, follow these principles:
(1) You manage the process, but you LEAD people.
An organization runs smoothly when its people function smoothly. Dealing with problems in engineering, production, marketing and sales without dealing with the human element are like dealing with a flat tire without dealing with air. The finest steel-belted radial is worthless without the air that holds it up. The finest engineering, manufacturing, marketing, sales and servicing systems are worthless without the people who keep them functioning.
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Robert Haas, chairman of the board of Levi Strauss, called production-management "the hard stuff" and people management "the soft stuff."
Under the old philosophy at Levi Strauss, he said, "The soft stuff was the company's commitment to our work force. And the hard stuff was what really mattered: getting pants out the door. What we've learned is that the soft stuff and the hard stuff are becoming increasingly intertwined."
So pay careful attention to the human side of your business.
(2) Inspire people, don't just drive them.
We can inspire people by showing them how to be their very best. Ed Temple, the Tennessee State track coach who worked with some of America's top women's track stars, liked to say, "A mule you drive, but with a race horse, you use finesse." Treat your people like Thoroughbreds instead of like mules. They'll get the message and respond.
(3) Be easy to respect and look up to.
You don't gain respect by sitting in an ivory tower and looking down on the work floor. Be accessible to employees and let them see your human side.
Employees are turned off by executives who pretend to be infallible. Observe high standards of personal conduct, but let your employees know that you're human. Talk to them about your bad decisions as well as your good ones. When you blow it, grin and admit it. Your employees will respect you for it.
(4) Be easy to like and get along with
Employees like leaders who are human -- who make mistakes and acknowledge them. It's all right to let them see your vulnerability. If you made a bad decision, talk about it with the people you lead. Let it be a lesson for them as well as for you.
Don't feel that you have to know everything. Acknowledge that the people you lead may know much more than you do about certain things.
(5) Help people to like themselves.
Robert W. Reasoner, a California school superintendent, who headed a statewide task force on self-esteem, identified five basic attitudes that foster self-esteem. They are:
A sense of security.Secure people are comfortable with who they are and with what others think about them. They know their roles in the organization and are confident that they can fill them.
People with a sense of identity know how they fit into the work place and how the work place fits into their lives. To them, work takes its place among family, friends and community as an important and fulfilling component of their lives.
When employees have a sense of belonging, they identify with the company's vision and goals, because these things have personal meaning for them. They personally share in the success and the prestige of the company.
Employees obtain a sense of purpose from knowing the company's goals and knowing how their efforts contribute toward those goals. Management needs to take employees into its confidence and give them a role in planning and goal-setting. You can give employees a sense of personal competence by educating them for their jobs and giving them the freedom to succeed or fail on their own.
(6) Help people to believe that what they're doing is important.
My friend Stew Leonard, the grocery-store wizard from Connecticut, once told me that he refused to use job titles that he perceives as demeaning. Once he noticed a job listed as "popcorn maker." He immediately ordered a more dignified title.
"How would you feel if someone asked you what you did for a living and you had to answer, `I'm a popcorn maker'?" he asked me.
Are there any demeaning titles in your organization?
Medtronic, Inc., has a heartwarming way of dramatizing the importance of what its employees do. Each year at Christmas time, the company holds a party for employees. Guests of honor are people whose lives have been prolonged by Medtronic cardio-pulmonary devices.
Can you think of ways of dramatizing to your employees the importance of what they do?
(7) Be responsive to people. Listen to people. Read people. Respond; don't react.
Leaders should be accessible to the people they lead. Let your staff and associates know they can come to you with problems, concerns, ideas, suggestions or complaints. If they bring you usable ideas, adopt the ideas and give the employees credit.
Welcome bad news as well as the good. What you don't know can hurt you. Don't ignore complaints. Listen to them. Find out what you can do to rectify matters, let the employees know what you plan to do -- and do it.
If you put these principles into practice, you will be constantly sending out a powerful and positive message: Yourself.Humans have a variety of ways to send messages. We "speak" with our eyes, our facial expressions, our posture, our clothes, our grooming, our lifestyles, and many other aspects of our persons. But the most familiar and most explicit form of communication is with words. To learn more about Nido Qubein and/or to receive 20% off when you order his audios or books, visit www.yoursuccessstore.com.