Keep an ongoing To-Do list, and prioritize with A-B-C-D-E. A items are your top 20% of activities that have the biggest payoff. B items need to be done, but have only mild consequences if delayed or left undone. C items are nice to complete, but have no real consequences if left undone. D items can be Delegated to another do it! E items can be Eliminated and should be. Then as you go through your day, check or cross off completed items. And at the end of the day, appreciate what you've accomplished by looking at the crossed or checked-off items a potential source of daily satisfaction for today and motivation for tomorrow.


Turnover is costly. There are the hard costs: paperwork processing, interviewing, reference checking, testing, training, etc. And there are the soft costs: lost productivity during pre-departure, low productivity for new employees, lowered morale among remaining workers, etc. Yet, a third of all employees are ready to leave their jobs at any given time. 39% feel trapped (half of these work for the government or a utility). Only 24% say they are truly loyal, recommend it as a good place to work and don't want to leave. The average US worker has 12-15 jobs during a career, and 5-7 by age 30.

According to the Walker Info Global Network and Hudson Institute's study, there are three areas of greatest impact on employee loyalty: fairness, concern and trust. Only 40% believe their employer shows care or concern. Only 50% say their employer offers family-friendly policies. 60% say their employer does not help them grow and develop for the long term. No wonder people are ready to leave. But perhaps the most important element in retention is job suitability matching the person with the job's requirements. A Call Center had an annual turnover rate of 80%, when they discovered that "sitability (the ability to sit in front of a computer for 8 hours a day) should be a key hiring factor. The result: they reduced annual turnover from 80% to 24%, increasing their retention rate by 56%.

American executives say they waste 19% of their time (a day a week) mediating work conflicts, according to 150 executives surveyed by OfficeTeam, a California staffing service. Their time is spent on ways that would otherwise be spent: creating and promoting corporate vision, corporate strategy, hiring key people, etc. A few suggestions: Create an open environment where people have accurate information; avoid rewarding unnecessary internal competition and office rivalries; emphasize cooperation and other values that foster group cohesion; delegate authority to others to handle more of these interpersonal office conflicts.


The Emerging Workforce Study by Interim Services found that the top 20% of employees don't particularly like rules or organizational charts, and thrive on new experiences and challenges. The top 20% are quite particular about where they work and only like working for companies whose values match their own. Coaching, mentoring and training were found to greatly reduce their turnover -- and all the associated expenses that go along with losing a top performer. Growth opportunities saved companies with over 1000 employees up to $40 million. Pay up front with growth opportunities, or pay later in turnover. It also found that a new management style of being 'friends' with subordinates is associated with significantly higher top employee satisfaction, with friendship creating 25% greater trust in their employer and 25% greater loyalty to the organization.


Research shows that employers tend to focus on the big picture in their job ads, while applicants want to know how the job will impact the details of their daily lives, according to a CareerBuilder poll. Employers rank vision (35%) and job responsibilities (34%) as most important, while candidates most highly rank job description (28%), compensation (25%), and required job skills / education (20%). Only 8% ranked company vision a top priority. When choosing between two job offers, applicant key factors are: location and telecommuting possibilities, which employers rank low (4%). Instead, they want sell the applicant on the corporate culture and coworker quality.
Mary Kay Ash began her own business in the 1960's and built it into the $2 billion a year company it is today. But there were few other women starting companies back then. Now it's a different world, with women starting 250% more businesses than men, according to the US Census Bureau. Perhaps that's partly because women hold only 12.5% of the executive positions in America's Fortune 500 publicly traded companies, and 11.7% of directorships in the US. Many women are frustrated and want to make more progress, venturing out on their own instead of bumping against the glass ceiling. Female executives, however, received only 5% of venture capital investments in 2000, and only 39% had commercial bank loans, compared with 52% of men. Some banks recognize an opportunity when they see one: Wells Fargo just initiated a 10 year, $10 billion commitment to invest in female entrepreneurs.
Many research studies have now proven that top performers are those with high Emotional Intelligence (EI), along with the necessary IQ and technical expertise to do their job. The Air Force found that by selecting HR/Recruiters who scored higher in Assertiveness, Empathy, Happiness and Emotional Self-Awareness, they increased their success rate by 300%, with an immediate savings of $3 million annually. Experienced partners in a multinational consulting found that those who scored above average on 9 or 20 EI competencies delivered $1.2 million more profit than did the other partners, a 139% additional gain. An analysis of more than 300 top-level executives from 15 global companies showed that 6 emotional competencies distinguished stars from the average: Influence, Team Leadership, Organizational Awareness, Self-confidence, Achievement Drive and Leadership.
Want a simple, inexpensive way to build employee morale and increase group cohesion? Put up a Good News Bulletin Board in a public space, like the break room, where they'll be seen and read. Then post news items of outstanding employee performance, announcements of rewards and big successes, complementary notes from customers or clients, announcements of awards, etc. Also, have employees put up good news from their personal lives, like marriages, births (photos too), birthdays (omit ages), and personal accomplishments. Keep scrap books around in which to save older items when it's time for them to come down to make room for new ones. Then keep the scrap books around for leisurely looking that builds morale and promotes a positive corporate culture.
Tiger Woods has a golf coach, so it's not surprising that surveys show that coaching pays off for executives as well. A study by Manchester Inc. of 100 executives working with coaches, found a return of 5.7 times the initial investment. Coaching increased productivity for 53% of executives, with quality up among 48%. Work relationships with direct reports improved for 77%, with supervisors for 71%, and with peers for 63%. And overall job satisfaction increased for 61% of coached executives.
How can you tell which mid-level managers will be successful upper level leaders? A study of 20,000 managers from 40 organizations over a 5 year period by Novations, an HR Consulting firm found that a key characteristic of successful executives is continuous personal and professional growth. Those who keep developing themselves in areas beyond personal interest are more likely to be successful as managers. Accurate self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses, accepting responsibility for ones failures, and 'doing what you say and saying what you do,' are also highly related to executive success.

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Copyright© 2007
Jonathan M. Kramer, PhD