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Win at Work

Winning at Working--Notes to Boss
By Nan S. Russell
Feb 15, 2011 - 1:12:17 PM

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As a conference speaker, I arrived a day early to get an up close feel for the audience's issues and challenges before my presentation. Waiting outside the large auditorium for the morning's general session to begin, I watched as the catering manager arrived for what appeared to be a planned inspection.

Staff members stood behind the food tables as he walked the breakfast buffet set-up. No good morning, no hello, no how are you, to his staff. No thank you acknowledgement to the team for creating an inviting space for the several thousand soon-to-arrive guests. In fact, he attempted no personal connection at all. 

Instead, his first words to staff were, "I hate it," pointing to a flower arrangement. "Move it." he said. After barking orders of items he wanted changed "immediately," he was gone. As soon as the boss was out of range, one young man muttered to another, "Jerk!"

You can imagine how enthusiastic and engaged that staff was by the time the first guests arrived. Now, I'm not suggesting insincere praise or faux friendliness, which is as transparent as bubble wrap. But what this boss failed to understand that morning was his personal impact on the group's performance and motivation that day. His approach did nothing to help people bring the best of who they are to their work, or to their guests, or build the business.

So in the interests of helping that boss "see what it looks like" to be a winning at working manager, I have a few notes for him, and others like him.

Dear Boss: Consider these your first week of coaching tweets:

*  Ask yourself: how can I be of service to my staff? How can I best support their work and efforts?

*  Manage to the 90% of trustworthy, hardworking, dedicated people, and you'll increase the probability of exceptional results.

*  The law of reciprocity - you get what you give - is at work here. You get respect by giving respect.

*  Don't hire hands or heads or voices to do what needs to be done, engage the whole person.

*  Paint a word picture of what you want achieved. Help people "see it" and they can do it.

*  Your words matter. Use them carefully. Don't forget, please, thank you, and good morning.

*  Helping others thrive helps you survive. What are you doing today to help your team thrive?

According to a recent Harvard Business School report, employee "dissatisfaction is at a twenty-three year all time low," with unhappiness rates as high as 82%. Maybe that catering manager is among them. But one thing for sure, his employees are.

Yet, it doesn't have to be like that. Managers who are winning at working understand that people work for people, not for companies. If you manage others, your job is to help them do their best work.

Winning at working managers do just that. They create pockets of excellence where people can shine. And those pockets of excellence are where you'll find the remaining 18% of employees - the satisfied, committed, fully engaged ones!

(c) 2011 Nan S. Russell.  All rights reserved.

Award winning author of Hitting Your Stride (Capital Books; 2008). Nationally syndicated radio host of "Work Matters with Nan Russell." Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. Sign up to receive Nan's "Winning at Working" tips and insights at; follow on twitter @nan_russell

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