In 2016 I Vow To...

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 | Jeff Davis

Do what I have always tried to do...  

I am fortunate to have had a number of mentors helping mold me over a lot of years.  This has afforded me many life lessons. 

Fortunately I learned one valuable lesson 30+ years ago. Since my memory fades as I get older and busier, I have carried a laminated card in my wallet for +30 years, reminding me of my job description as a business person, a manager and influencer. It is the same job description every day and for every position I have ever held.

On the front it says:

  • Recruit
  • Train & Develop
  • Motivate
  • Retain
  • Enforce Standards

On the back:

"The highest level of performance a supervisor can expect from the people he supervises is determined by the minimum standards he has established and maintained."


Even across multiple generations (Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X, Millennials ) this advice has served me well.  

Recruit - Always be recruiting.  Always. You never know when you will need to fill a position and some of the most questionable decisions I have ever made was when I was forced to fill a position with a questionable hire. You might as well keep on recruiting, you will probably have to fill this position again. And hire for passion over skills. "I would rather tame a wild duck, than wild a tame duck."

Train & Develop. If you want to improve your business, it is imperative that you are always working with your employees to make them better. They will be a lot happier and the business results will show it.

Motivate. For me, motivation is providing the tools necessary for an employee to succeed in their position. And to provide a kind word every now and then. "Thank You" and "Good Job" have always worked. And remember to praise in public and correct in private.

I do not believe that money motivates.  Read Abraham Maslow. The right compensation frees the individual up to make the right long term business decision for the company and the client. It is amazing what you can accomplish when you are not worrying about how you are going to pay the rent.

Retain. I think this is one of the most overlooked aspects of successful management. You must challenge your team individually. Techniques and motivations that work with one employee often do not work with another. It is important to learn about the goals of each employee and map out a way to help them achieve their goals within the organization so they don't take their talent (developed after you have recruited, train & developed and motivated them) to another company. And this may mean they move on to work for someone else within your organization.

Enforce Standards. Every business has standards, rules, and regulations.  Your job is to hold everyone accountable to these standards (yes even the super stars). Hopefully you work in an organization that is principle centric and not rule centric. "Here is your copy of our 483 page Employee Manual on Professional Conduct..."  The problem with rules is that you have to enforce the rules across the board with everyone. So have bigger principles and fewer rules. Is failure to load your dirty coffee cup into the dishwasher really something your want to have a rule about? 

Norm Schaub once taught me. I have never met an employee yet who woke up and said "Today is the day that I am going into work and screw up."  Norm was much more colorful, so you can imagine how he phrased it.  I like to think that everyone wants to do a great job. Our job is to help them achieve this goal. Everyday.

So far this approach has worked with every generation.

Full disclosure - the card I carry today is my third copy since I had the first one given to me all those years ago. Thanks Doug Doane for the first one!

Best wishes for 2016!

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