Another Leadership Lesson from our German Shepherd


Last week I described the leadership lesson our new Shepherd, Evie, taught me about perspective and integrity.  This week I’ve learned a whole new lesson.  Turns out Evie, who we rescued 3 weeks ago, is a very highly capable working dog.  That means she has exceptional capabilities to be a search and rescue dog or a police dog.  It also means she has lots of energy and drive.  The implication for us as owners is that we have to manage her drive with activity, training, and exercise – at a much higher level than most pets require.  It’s like she’s a gifted German Shepherd.

Only 20% of employees feel that they use their true strengths very day in their job.  That means 8 our 10 employees are miscast in their roles.   As a leader, I would point the finger right back at myself – did I hire appropriately?  Or just put a warm body in the job?   Just as we now need to work with Evie in special ways to ensure she lives up to her potential, supervisors need to customize they way they work with their employees – to ensure they live up to their potential. 

It takes more time and energy on my part – whether training Evie or supervising to an employee’s strengths.  But the results?   Priceless!

How to Feed Your Employees

If you don’t feed your employees, they’ll eat your customers.  This was a lesson I learned early in my career, and I became a huge advocate of the “Southwest Airlines” philosophy of employees first!  Linda Stone, owner of the Puffy Muffin, is a wonderful example of a business owner who has the same concept.  The Puffy Muffin is a favorite gathering place here in Brentwood, TN for breakfast and lunch – and a wonderful bakery. The recession of 2008 and 2009 provided a tough challenge for Linda and the employees, so last September at a staff retreat, Linda revealed some aggressive goals for them to achieve over the next 10 months.  The reward if the sales goals were met?  – an Alaskan cruise.  So this month, 48 employees will be enjoy the beauty of snow capped mountains, tall pines and icebergs from the railing of the best ship in the fleet.  Linda said,  “They serve others so well all year long, it’s time they were the ones to receive some service.”  She’s closing the restaurant for 10 days to celebrate with her staff.

 It’s a lesson in integrity – doing what you say you will do.  I once worked for an employer who held an annual picnic to celebrate the accomplishments of the staff – but they were unwilling to close their facilities for a couple of hours in order to let everyone attend.  They said they were about employees first, but their actions didn’t match their words.  Linda Stone gets it – and she’s a super hero for integrity!

Who is your super-hero?

50 Reasons to Recognize and Reward Employees

 When was the last time you were recognized by your supervisor? We all like to be recognized, but most of our time is spent catching people doing something wrong – so walk the talk and use this list of 50 reasons to practice the Art of Appreciation.

  1. Resolving a customer complaint
  2. Submitting a great idea
  3. Perfect attendance for a year
  4. Working late to finish a  project
  5. Being a buddy to a new employee
  6. Helping a co-worker finish their work
  7. Selling a service/product
  8. Recruiting a volunteer
  9. Working on a volunteer committee
  10. Compliments from co-workers
  11. Resourcing in-kind donations 
  12. Fund-raising for a project
  13. Implementing a cost saving procedure
  14. Recognizing and correcting a safety violation
  15. Never saying, “It’s not my job”
  16. Answering the phone consistently using contact point standards
  17. Completing the most contacts
  18. Favorable feedback from customers/clients
  19. Assuring their area is always clean
  20. Completing a process faster than anyone else
  21. Having 100% participation in a class or program
  22. Competing their 30 day orientation period
  23. Learning a new skill
  24. Completing a level of  training
  25. Serving as a role model to a child program participant
  26. Punctuality
  27. Creating a new program or modifying an existing one
  28. Expanding enrollment
  29. Improvement of interpersonal skills
  30. Organizing a special event
  31. Answering the most questions in a shift
  32. Doing two jobs while another employee is out sick
  33. Getting a 100% on a maintenance cleaning check
  34. Fixing broken equipment within 24 hours
  35. Getting promoted
  36. Developing another employee for promotion
  37. Employment anniversaries
  38. Serving as an “interim” anything
  39. Calling a disgruntled customer back while off duty
  40. Picking up garbage outside the facility
  41. Always wearing staff id and/or appropriate uniform
  42. Getting a certification
  43. Going above and beyond the call of duty for a customer
  44. Donating money, in kinds service
  45. Working on a holiday
  46. Meeting revenue and expense goals
  47. Birthdays
  48. Locating a lost item
  49.  Preventing theft
  50. Just for being an important part of the team

Please add to this list!