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2 Truths & A Lie

2 Truths & A Lie

August 29, 2013

  1. I was chased by a herd of wild ostriches
  2. I managed an orange picking team of migrant workers in Greece
  3. I played ultimate Frisbee for a Dutch National team.

Which one is a lie? 

Can you guess which one I really didn't do? If you're one of the first ten people to e-mail me the right answer, I'll send you a prize. More on that later.

Have you’ve ever played the game 2 Truths and a Lie?  Then you know how marvelous an ice breaker it is, and how it helps bring people together. 

But, you probably think this fluffy, “soft stuff” doesn’t matter in business. 

Truth is, the “soft stuff” is as important as your P&L -- and it produces a proven return on your investment.  If you don’t believe me, keep on reading:

A Pervasive Problem

Recently, I was talking with a Brooklyn business owner, who, like so many entrepreneurs today, told me he was having problems with his employees.

I asked him, “Do you offer praise to your team?” 

He told me he offered praise to his senior staff, but not to the rest of the “workers.” He didn’t want them thinking too much of themselves because “then they would be asking for bonuses and for too much, and I don’t want that.” 

Let’s see if you can spot the miscalculation here…

First, I made an agreement with him dependent upon a shift in attitude. I would only work with him if he would replace the word “workers” with the word “team.”  

Semantics, you say?  Definitely not.  If you consider your employees “workers,” they will likely be disengaged and your company’s problems will grow as their disengagement spreads through your organization.  BUT, if you consider them a “team,” you are more likely to create actively engaged employees that can catapult your company forward.  Which sounds better to you?

How We Do It: Lunch & Learn

Engaged employees emerge from a strong sense of team.  Last week, in the Brand Launcher office, we had a Lunch & Learn. We brown-bagged it in our boardroom, and our VP, Soraya Gutman, took about ten minutes to share takeaways from a TED talk on body language in the workplace. We then spent the rest of the 45 minutes together, laughing, lunching and learning.  Our success has been built on this concept of engaged and passionate employees who enjoy coming to work each day.

But Don’t Take My Word for It

As Kevin Kruse wrote in Forbes (June 22, 2012), “Engaged employees actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals.”

Research from author Fred Reichold shows that a 5% increase in loyalty from engaged employees results in a 50% increase in productivity and that disengaged employees are estimated at a $5 trillion drain on the economy!  

Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton point out, in their best selling book, The Carrot Principle, that approximately 75% of the workforce is not fully engaged. They site that a recent Gallup poll found that 65% of workers did not receive praise in the last year.  Perhaps, the most shocking part of their research is their finding that 79% of employees who quit their jobs say that it was due to a lack of appreciation.

“Thank You”

Little do many entrepreneurs realize how powerful those two little words really are.  Appreciation makes a huge difference in employee productivity, retention, and ultimately, in the growth of your company. 

Appreciation begins with thanking your employees for what they do. Consider this: last year companies that gave the best recognition were 600% more profitable than those who didn't. Wait. Read that again. They were 600% more profitable. This should get your attention.

Of course, appreciation should be directed at specific work. Empty praise usually misses the mark, and it can be seen as “perfunctory.”

Miramont Lifestyle Fitness in Fort Collins, CO, a terrific Brand Launcher client, uses compliments in brilliant way in conjunction with the clear purpose of their business.  “For us, when somebody does an excellent job, the compliment might sound like ‘thank you for fulfilling our purpose. You’ve energized our team today by going out of your way to escort a member to her vehicle,” says Shane Huntsinger, CFO for Miramont. In other words they use the concept of "I caught you". Meaning, I caught you doing the right thing.

Hunsinger also notes that appreciation has really paid off.  Their business has seen growth since 2008 -- even during the recession years -- and is now seeing its strongest year ever!  “I credit our team, which is intentionally engaged. I also think it’s fun to work in a company where we shape the culture, and the team enjoys it as well,” he adds. Here is Cliff Bucholz talking about some of the success we have had together.

So, What Can You Do?

First, start by letting employees know that you appreciate it when they do a good job.   Appreciation for no reason at all is usually transparent, but when someone meets or surpasses your expectations, it’s important to let him know. 

Here are 5 more ways to start building active engagement.     

  1. Use Ice Breakers (roll your eyes if you must but statistics prove they work) to Get Everyone Talking: The game 2 Truths and a Lie is just one among numerous ways to break the ice and get people started communicating in a fun manner that promotes teambuilding.  The more you really know your people the more you will grow your company. Try it!
  2. Show Everyone the Big Picture: People feel more engaged when they know what is going on.  As Rosabeth Moss Kanter of Harvard Business School said in an interview with Inc. Magazine, “If you want everyone to be on the same page, put the page in front of them.”
  3. Empower your team: Let your team have ownership of KPIs. Set visions and goals, measure productivity, reinforce and reward, but don’t micromanage. If you have a company dashboard, let each manager or division take responsibility for a section of the dashboard.
  4. Take Time Off from High Tech Communication: Technology is marvelous, but the overuse of texting and email leads to lack of meaningful communication.  Shane Hunsinger agrees that not everything can be handled by technology its too cold.  “We show appreciation and compliment people in person, not by email,” says Shane.
  5. Creative Rewards: There are many interesting ways in which to reward people for doing a great job on a task or project. Wegman’s rewards employees with gift cards. Connie Lorenz, president of Asphalt Restoration Technology Systems, gives out bonus bucks for drawings, cash, or time-off. And Forbes recommends taking a valued team member to lunch or writing them up in the company newsletter.   

There are numerous ways to actively engage employees. Why not try a few?

Now Back to My 2 Truths and a Lie…

And, by the way, if you e-mail the right answer to my 2 Truths and a Lie (at the top of the e-letter) you might just get rewarded yourself.  We’ll give a prize to the first 10 people who send in the right answer – Email us at blog@brandlauncher.com.

Taking you from where you are to where you want to go.

Jon Goldman, CEO

We’d also love to hear from you if you want to share a story of how you appreciate your employees, or if you’d like to ask a question for a future blog.