PAY CAN CREATE A CANYON
Action can build a bridge
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | JUNE 2018
When you consider that since 1978 American workers have only seen an 11.2 percent increase in compensation compared with the 937 percent increase for CEO’s it is no wonder that there can be a massive disconnect between a CEO and their employee base.
Employees often feel invisible to the highest leader in the organization as if they are unapproachable and unaware. But there are some very successful CEO’s that have found ways to stay connected to their employees through meaningful and intentional gestures.
Sheldon Yellen, the CEO of BELFOR Holdings sends every employee at the company a birthday card. That is no small feat when you consider there are nearly 8,000 of them. In response, for his 60th birthday, every employee returned the gesture as a way to show their appreciation.
SteelHouse CEO Mark Douglas gives employees $2,000 every year to go on vacation as a way to incent them to take time off in addition to the company’s policy of unlimited vacation. Employees can use it however they want, but it has to be for a vacation.
After becoming the CEO of PepsiCo Indra Nooyi took the lesson she learned from her parents expressing their pride in her and began writing letters to the parents of her employees. This personal approach was not just meaningful to the parents, but to the employees as well building a sense of loyalty between her and them.
When CEO and co-founder Nevzat Aydin sold the online food ordering company Yemeksepeti he split the $27 million profit amongst his 114 employees. “…success is much more enjoyable and glorious when shared…” he told CNNMoney.
Finally, Infor CEO Charles Phillips not only provides his cell phone number to all employees, but he also encourages them to text or call anytime. Not only does that make him approachable, but it also allows for direct contact between him and the employees which builds trust.
There is no reason employees should feel that the CEO is unapproachable, indifferent or unaware of who they are personally. These are just some examples of what leaders do and have done, but the list goes on and on. The simplest of intentional personal gesture can make the world of difference, inspire and build loyalty between employees and the CEO. The key is that the value has to be recognized, appreciated and acted upon.
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | MAY 2018
Change is part of life and regardless of how much people try to resist it, change is going to happen. The key is figuring out how to navigate change in a way that minimizes the discomfort and uncertainty that comes with it. Sometimes change or the fear of it keeps people stuck and clinging to what is familiar and comfortable because it is can be hard to see how it is going to be beneficial or positive.
I once had an employee ask me “What did you do before cell phones?” and it made me stop and consider how much has changed in my lifetime. Of course, the evolution of the cell phone was probably an easy change, but there was still some trepidation around the technology as we moved from simply making calls to being able to manage our lives through apps and text people. In fact, I recall having to ask someone almost half my age how to text when it first became available. We all have a comfort zone, the need for predictability but the sense of safety it brings is in reality false.
As with the world in general, the workplace can change just as fast as the next i-phone. Leaders come and go, profits rise and fall, direction and missions evolve into something different. Often time’s leaders who are so busy focusing on the multitude of things that change with the business forget or fail to recognize that it is impacting the employees. The rapidness of change can be not only overwhelming but also emotionally and physically draining bringing with it stress and anxiety. The uncertainty it brings is akin to divorce or death because so many other things are affected by it, especially the sense of security.
While leaders cannot prevent change, and in fact, are often the agents of it, they can mitigate and minimize the effect it has on employees if they know how to do it. Change management in and of itself is nothing new, the challenge is really understanding what it means and how to put it into practice so it is effective. No matter what the situation is leaders can do some very simple things to ease the discomfort, anxiety and even resistance to change if they act with intention and keep these concepts in mind.
Communication: Before it even happens let employees know what is coming. Often time’s organizations don’t communicate change because they are afraid of how employees might react, but no one want’s to be asking “Why didn’t I know?” or “Why didn’t you tell me?” Even if they don’t like it, most employees will respect it when you tell them what is coming. It gives them time to get used to it and find their own sense of acceptance.
Messaging change is not a once and done, it must be repeated and reinforced. Updates, even if they are to say you have no update helps to keep employees from guessing and writing their own dialogue. Communication should be ongoing and frequent, it also needs to be a two-way street. Give employees the opportunity and channel to ask questions. This allows them a sense of engagement so they feel less like change is being thrust upon them.
A big part of the communication needs to center on the vision and what things will look like on the other side of the change. Everyone wants to know if they will have a place and what that means.
Understanding: Everyone handles and deals with change differently, it is not a one size fits all. Knowing your employees allows you the ability to adapt certain things to their style and needs. For some, the ability to adapt to change is easy and will happen quickly, but for others, it will take more time and there may be side effects as a result.
Accountability: Leaders must be accountable for outcomes or the lack thereof. Big changes rarely go off without a hitch and when things don’t work out the way they were expected and communicated it is the leader’s responsibility to own it. When a leader genuinely owns it, those under them are more forgiving and willing to get on board and be part of the solution. Failure to do that will quickly erode trust.
There are other elements of “Change Management” but at a minimum, these will help a leader ease the effects of change on their people. Change must be approached with intention and attention and leaders must bring people along if it is going to be successful.
Sometimes We Need Reminding
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | APRIL 2018
Today I was going through past articles I have written and came across a piece from 1995 about what my employees at the time had given me for bosses day. Given some recent events, it was a timely opportunity to reflect on what a group of people who really knew me thought of me. At the same time, it is a reminder that it is easy for people to judge you when they don't know you. The following is that article and I let it stand as not only a reminder to myself but a response to anyone that would say anything to the contrary.
6 things my employees thanked me for on boss’s day (2015)
When Bosses day came around this year I was on vacation so my employees decorated my desk, chair and sent me a picture that they were thinking of me even though I wasn’t there; very thoughtful of them.
A week later we gathered to say goodbye to a member of our team who was moving on to a new career opportunity and it was then that they presented me with a very unique and touching gift I never expected. Inside a giftbag I found two wine glasses each filled with scraps of paper with writing on them. As I removed the glasses from the bag they told me they each wrote down ten things they were thankful for about me as their boss. I have picked six that any leader can do for their employees.
Listen: “Thank you for letting us vent and bring some humor into our work.”
I listen to my employees and understand that sometimes they don’t need or want me to do anything more, they just need to vent like we all do. We inject some humor into what we do. Sometimes what we do is hard and stressful and one way to get through it and release the stress is to laugh. Let’s face it, we can find humor even in the most serious of situations if we look for it.
Recognition: “Thank you for passing on our good feedback to upper management.”
Not only do I make a point of giving recognition but I also pass it on to leaders above us because I can’t expect that they are going to see it if it is not brought to their attention. We all want validation and it is important that it not just come from me.
Care: “Thank you for caring about my life outside of work.”
We all have a life outside of work and I take an interest in my employee’s by asking them about their weekends, their kids, spouses etc. I genuinely care because it is impossiblekeep your work and personal life separate; and why would you want too? By understanding what my employees have going on outside of the office I can better help them if by nothing more than showing an interest and that I care.
Lead by Example: “Thank you for leading by example.”
You don’t have to have a title to be a leader and having a title does not make you one. Everythingwritten here and more are the ways I lead by example because they are the things that are important to me and I want them to be important to others as well. Since anyone has the opportunity to lead and since leaders do not innately know how to lead by example, someone has to demonstrate it. I can’t expect anyone to exhibit good leadership if I am not willing and able to do it myself.
Balance: “Thank you for allowing me to attend my kid’s first day of school.”
As I stated in number three, we all have personal lives and other things that are important to us. I recognize that by being flexible with my employees and as a result they are more willing to be flexible with me and do whatever it takes to get the job done. Whether it is the first day of school, their spouse’s birthday, taking the car to the shop or some other personal matter they need to attend to I give them the flexibility. It is about getting the work done, not how many hours they put in. The less they have to worry about personal things the more focus they will have on their jobs.
Support: “Thank you for supporting us in different situations.”
The least I can give my employees is my support for whatever it is, career development, personal challenges, work challenges or obstacles. Even if there are mistakes I give my support so that we can learn and grow from them so they don’t happen again. Success in life and work is not a destination, it is a journey and we all need support, encouragement and understanding along the way.
There are six of the thirty things my employees thanked me for on Boss’s day in 2015.
For those who assume to know me and make statements about what I am and am not should ask themselves if their employees or anyone else would say the same things about them, my employees have said about me. Sometimes reflection is just what we need at the end of a tough week.
THE POSITIVE WORK EXPERIENCE
A Recipe for Leaders
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | APRIL 2016
What makes a positive work experience? First and foremost the work needs to be fulfilling by bringing a sense of accomplishment. The environment needs to be one that brings out the best both personally and professionally. So how does that happen?
It doesn’t matter if you are a CEO or a Janitor; everyone wants to be respected not for their position or title, but a person with something to offer and feelings.
As human beings, we have a need to feel cared for and that does not stop when we go to work. Care means taking an interest in employees as whole people, not just a means to an end.
Everyone wants recognition for their contribution; just not in the same way. Recognition in and of itself is not enough, it needs to be personal and meaningful.
We all want to feel like we are valued. Respect, care, and recognition are building blocks of feeling valued. This also sets the stage for creating a positive work experience.
When we are part of a team we feel we are part of something bigger than ourselves. True teamwork is each person being able to contribute to the greater good and supporting the rest of the players.
Leaders don’t create inspiration, they foster it and support an environment where it will take hold and grow. They do this by setting the example of respect, care, recognition, value, and teamwork and by holding others accountable.
The adage that when you take care of your employees they, in turn, take care of your customers is true and it starts with those at the top setting the example. A positive work experience is a culmination of many things that takes work, dedication and intention and the ingredients are like a recipe, everything must be present for it to turn out.
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | APRIL 2018
[Definition: the quality or state of being accountable; especially: an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions.]
Today more than ever there is an accountability crisis in the world. We see leaders of all kinds deflecting responsibility, making excuses and placing blame when things go wrong or they themselves fail. We have come to accept this instead of challenging and expecting more of leaders. It must be understood that leadership is a privilege that is earned, not a right, and it comes with great responsibility.
When it comes to leadership of any kind, accountability is essential. Leaders must not only take responsibility for their words and actions, but also the words and actions of those who they lead. There must be communication, direction, and follow-up. This includes recognition and praise as well as guidance, problem solving and correction when problems arise.
Accountability means standing by those you lead, not in front or behind them. Extraordinary leaders see others as partners, not subordinates and expect them to not only hold themselves accountable, but hold the leader accountable as well.
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | APRIL 2018
Being a boss is not the same as being a leader. While both share a set of responsibilities, there is a world of difference between the attributes that set the true leader apart from his or her counterpart, the boss.
Let’s take humility.
As defined by Webster’s humility is: freedom from pride or arrogance: the quality or state of being humble
For leaders, this means not thinking they are the most important person in the room. They understand that their success is dependent on those they lead, not themselves, and as a result, they let those around them take credit, and they praise them. Leaders know they don’t have all the answers and have the sense of confidence to openly admit it. They surround themselves with others who have the knowledge and skills they don’t and they entrust them to do their jobs without interference.
The pride they do have is in the accomplishments of those they serve and the collective whole versus their own contributions and achievements. Their humility comes from knowing that when others have success and achievement they have it as well. And when things go wrong, or mistakes are made they accept the fallibility of individuals and situations with an attitude of ownership and support.Humility allows the leader to rise and in turn, those around them rise as well.
EVERYTHING WE DO MATTERS
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | MARCH 2018
Today, a co-worker shared with me a note she sent my boss and it touched me so deeply that I want to share it with you.
"I know you are a very busy person and I will try to keep this short. I want to send a positive story your way about Anthony Eaton, Manager Service Delivery.
Without going into great detail, my husband recently passed away and my boss allowed me to work from home the last few weeks of his life. Rewind to November when Anthony Eaton asked if I would like for him to share his “Quote of the Day”. I said “YES”, because my husband was so ill and I loved getting anything that kept my thoughts off of negative situations and on to encouraging thoughts. Fast forward to end of January, when I was working from home and I was still receiving the “Quote of the Day”. Anthony’s emails helped me get through the tough days.
On February 6, 2018, almost two weeks before my husband passed, Anthony sent a quote from Jane Goodall – “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make”. That was my wake-up call that yes I was saddened by my husband having a short time left and I wanted to make a peaceful difference in my husband’s life.
I spoke to my husband with a smile on my face, sharing with him how much I loved him. I let him know that soon he would be out of pain and would be with other family members that loved him very much, such as his grand-daddy who taught him to build, his uncle who taught him to hunt and fish, his momma who taught him to be tough and my grandmother, who loved him for loving me. I encouraged everyone who came into our home to speak with my husband about the good he brought into their lives. They all did. Even our mail person came in to thank my husband for always being kind, for sharing tips on how to take care of his guns (my husband was a gunsmith among his many hobbies) and the young man said with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes, “Mr. Chamberlain, you be sure to tell my daddy hello when you see him and tell him I love him”. That afternoon my husband passed.
Now back to Anthony. Those stories may not have happened if it wasn’t for Anthony sharing his “Quote of the Day”. I also want you to know that in November he shared with me an article he wrote https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/how-does-transparency-serve-leaders/ . I read it twice the day he sent it to me and then set a follow-up to read again in December. I then skipped a couple of months of reading it but read it today and set a follow-up to reading again the middle of April. I believe this article helped me with my employees while I was in and out of the office with my husband. It also helps me with my employees when life situations hit them hard.
There has been so much happening with our company over the last few years, that employees tend to side with the negative people with the negative thoughts and I am so thankful for Anthony Eaton coming to our company and working so diligently to send a positive message.I appreciate you taking the time to read this email."
Life is full of lessons if only we are willing to pay attention.The lesson here is that we never know the impact we have on someone's life. For me, this is an example of things coming full circle, because I needed a reminder that what I do matters.
5 LEADERSHIP MISTAKES TO AVOID
ANTHONY T. EATON | MARCH 2018
We all make mistakes, it’s inevitable and leaders are no exception; after all, they are only human. Even so, there are some mistakes that certainly can and should be avoided. I interview leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds about leadership and here is how five of them answered this question.
What do you think is the biggest mistake any leader can make?
Richard Shapiro: I think a leader makes a mistake when he/she doesn’t thank and appreciate the staff. Employees should be continually acknowledged.
Scott Mabry: Well there are many potential pitfalls but I think one of the biggest mistakes I see leaders make over and over is trying to create dependent followers in order to maintain control and feed their ego. This is manifested in micromanagement, arrogance, power plays and needs to be the smartest person in the room.
Tim Paynter: Allowing one's ego to interfere with solid decisions. Leadership is sometimes luck and fate, but one must always keep the greater good in mind.
Tony R. Smith: Take credit for the work of an entire team. A leader is just part of the picture of success.
Rick Mann: Failing to listen well. Failure in continuing to learn
These are by no means the only mistakes leaders should avoid, there are probably enough to fill a book, mine is Don’t Make Assumptions: Don’t assume your employees “know” things like how to perform work or what you want and expect. Unless you have seen them successfully do something, they have confirmed understanding err on the side of assuming they may not. Far too often I hear leaders say they “expect” employees to know something that perhaps they don’t because they have never had the experience, opportunity or it was not made clear to them.
They may surprise you but not your employees
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | JANUARY 2018
Gallup is one of the most trusted in the field of surveys and statistics, so it is no surprise that when it comes to leadership, they have the inside track. The following may not be a surprise to employees, but leaders should take note!
• Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged
• Only 21% of employees feel they’re managed in a motivated way
• Only 29% of employees strongly agree their performance reviews are fair
• Only 50% of employees know what is expected of them at work every day
• Employees searching for new jobs or watching for openings 51%
So what does it mean?
This statistic is worldwide, and for the U.S. the percentage of engaged employees is 33%, but what company would be proud of that?
Companies will always have disengaged employees for a wide variety of reason and engagement is not static, it is fluid. Who doesn’t feel more engaged one day over the next?
Personal and organizational changes influence engagement. For example, as I write this today, in my current company I have had three different CEO’s and bosses in the last 18 months and everyone that was in my department when I started 22 months ago is gone. If that was an employee in your organization how engaged would they be?
No punches pulled here. I believe motivation is found within but influenced externally. Out of sight is not out of mind when it comes to leading employees in a motivating way. Everyone wants to know how they are doing; good or bad.
It is easy to point out what a person is doing wrong, and while accountability is important, it is so easy to de-motivate with critical feedback as opposed to using it as a learning opportunity to motivate for improved performance.
Additionally, leaders need to be seen and engaged with employees on a regular basis. Again I will fall back to a personal experience of having a new CEO who came in with a great vision and during an initial all hands meeting said “…we will have these on a regular basis…” but then over the next 18 months, we were only graced with his presence once.
Of course, this oversimplifies things considering the demands on a new leader who has to learn and understand how the new business he is responsible for works, but the lesson is that leaders set an expectation by what they say and then an example by what they do.
Let’s not confuse understanding the organization or leaders expectations with knowing how to do one’s job and getting the day to day priorities done. What we are talking about here is vision, impact, measurable results and moving the proverbial needle.
We all want to know what the end game is regarding what we are doing. Of course, some of that is simple when it comes to the day to day, i.e., pay invoices on time, make sure people get paid, vacancies get filled, etc.
What employees want to know is, is that all that matters? Or do you want me to be looking for efficiencies, cost savings, perfection, etc. and the why. If the latter does not matter, just say so, because then it is clear that what is important is the function or transaction. Without the “clarification” employees are left to wonder if what they are doing is what is expected of them.
The flaw here is that most leaders evaluate employees against vague, subjective goals but have little or no idea of what their employees do day in and day out. Couple this with the above-noted organization and leadership changes, and the fact that most companies don't train their leaders well in this area, it is impossible to fairly evaluate employees against the department goals,organizational objectives
and their peers. REQUIREMENTS OF PERSONAL LEADERSHIP BY ANTHONY T. EATON | JANUARY 2018 Personal leadership requires that we not allow others to treat us with any less respect and dignity than they expect for themselves. It does not matter if we are in the boardroom or the living room; no one has the right to use us for their convenience to serve a personal agenda, build themselves up by tearing us down, take advantage of our kindness and generosity or expect that they are guaranteed space in our life based on their position or relationship with to us. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I am neither a fan nor an advocate of the “Annual Performance Review.” I believe that if leaders have regular ongoing meetings with their employees that include discussion about expectations and performance, then there is no need for the “Annual Performance Review,” and thus there are never any
For this to work, leaders must ensure that having “face time” with their direct reports is both a priority and a regular occurrence, i.e., no less than monthly. Monthly feedback gives leaders the opportunity to praise, provide direction and address any performance deficiencies. It also allows employees the opportunity to get clarification, share obstacle, roadblocks and ask for help while at the same time knowing where they stand about performance and expectations.
Imagine half of your workforces looking for a new job; if that is not an eye opener, imagine half of your direct reports looking for a new job; in my case that it 2 or 3 employees. If you have not already heard it or read it, the number one reason employees leave is that of their manager. If they are looking, they are already not engaged.
The cost to organizations is enormous. Although a big part of the solution is noted above, simplified:
Know and understand the influencers of engagement and respond accordingly. This requires that you be engaged and present.
Be present, be engaged as a leader, and articulate the bigger picture and its value. Learn and understand what intrinsically and extrinsically motivates your employees.
Make sure employees know what is expected of them, be specific, and have them acknowledge understanding. Let them know what success looks like and what will happen if they don't meet expectations.
Give feedback on a regular and consistent basis, more than “You’re doing a great job,” again, be specific. There should never be any surprises.
If organizations are going to change those statistics, it is up to the leaders to not only take notice but take action.
We can accept and forgive while at the same time walking away from people and situations that do not support, add value to our lives and allow us to grow. Forgiveness, after all, is for us, not someone else When we allow situations to control us, let someone treat us as lesser or with irrelevance, we diminish our ability to be the person we are meant to be and we stunt our spiritual and emotional growth.
Personal leadership requires courage to look deep within ourselves and recognize our worth and potential. Courage to let go of things that hold us back and hinder our growth; only then can we begin to achieve all that is meant for us.
We must all take charge of our own lives and have the strength and courage not to relinquish control to others or allow ourselves to become a victim of situations that we find ourselves in. We cannot depend on others to validate our worth and fill those spaces within us or our lives that feel incomplete or empty. Everything we need is within us, and it is a just a matter of looking for it, finding it, and using it. We must have faith that there is a plan and design for us and not let our progress be hindered by obstacles and perceived roadblocks we encounter.I hope that this is something that resonates with you, for me, these are all things I have to remind myself of on my journey.
and their peers.
REQUIREMENTS OF PERSONAL LEADERSHIP
BY ANTHONY T. EATON | JANUARY 2018
Personal leadership requires that we not allow others to treat us with any less respect and dignity than they expect for themselves. It does not matter if we are in the boardroom or the living room; no one has the right to use us for their convenience to serve a personal agenda, build themselves up by tearing us down, take advantage of our kindness and generosity or expect that they are guaranteed space in our life based on their position or relationship with to us.
[ "Let your words elevate your life to the heights of greatness.” ATGW ]
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