A Few Things I’ve Picked Up from Experience and Things I’ve Read

People Do Their Best Work When:

  • They are valued as persons
  • They know their work makes the world a better place
  • They are aware of the company’s values and see them as guiding all plans, decisions and actions.
  • They have some control over their jobs and how their work is accomplished
  • There are clearly stated goals and associates are trusted to use their talents to accomplish them without interference within boundaries.
  • They have access to information
  • Associates are encouraged by management and each other for a job well done.
  • Their leaders use power effectively


‘Pair a’ Dimes’, Worth Much More than 20 Cents

Paradigm – A personal understanding of how things are.

I once supervised a department where I thought the employees were basically a bunch of rejects and “mouth breathers”.  How successful do you think I was at motivating these people?

I thought I treated these people well and followed good management principles.  I went out of my way to tell them when something went well. I later realized that the way I really felt about them was coming through loud and clear. It was a silent yet strong message I was unconsciously sending.

What helped me realize this was going on a mission trip to the mountains of Guatemala with my boss and other managers from our plant in Orlando. My paradigm changed.  I learned that a person’s worth did not depend on what they were able to accomplish.  I came to believe that every individual has inherent worth that has nothing to do with how I feel.

After the mission trip, people began to refer to the way I was before.  I didn’t think I was doing anything different, however the message I was sending was quiet different.  Performance improved markedly.

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.Theodore Roosevelt


Does Your Work Make the World a Better Place?

“C’mon, I come into work every day. Well, enough days to keep my job, and I roll fiberglass.  All day long all I do is push this little roller over a mold after the fiberglass is sprayed on to get the fibers to lay down.  I wear this stupid tyvek suit, safety glasses, rubber boots, rubber gloves and a respirator.  In the summer it’s 95 degrees in the shop.  Twenty minutes after I start work my clothes are soaking wet with sweat.  My work makes the world a better place?  Get real!” –  Quote from a Regal Laminator 4 years ago.

Does this person’s work really make the world a better place?

Consider the following,

  • They work for Regal Marine, maker of luxury performance boats and winner of 6 JD Power awards.
  • People who buy our boats pay extra, expecting a no-hassle boating experience, and a product they can show off to their extended family and friends.
  • Owners of our boats spend the most precious time they have on our boats – family time. What self-respecting person wouldn’t trade a week’s worth of work for a weekend with the family?
  • The way we perform our work makes the difference between a precious memory and a time better forgotten. Second-generation owners have told me that their fondest childhood memories are with their dad on a Regal boat.


Yes, the customer is king, but like a soldier who joins the army for patriotic reasons, when it comes right down to it, the reason he fights like hell is for his buddy in the foxhole next to him.

If that person rolling glass leaves air voids, it not only costs the company money in rework, but it makes the gel coat reworkers’ lives miserable.  The requirement is that the finish on the boat is flawless.  If there is a bottleneck in the plant, it’s usually between lamination and assembly where the gel coat is repaired.  How that laminator does his or her job effects everyone in the plant.

Does the person’s job rolling fiberglass make the world a better place?  You bet it does!

Now here’s the question, how does your work make the world a better place?   It’s the understanding, not necessarily the work.

Do your people understand where they fit into the larger scheme of things? How does their work affect their coworkers? And how, yes, as hokey as it may sound on first hearing, does their work makes the world a better place?


What is success? I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that it is not enough, that you have got to have hard work and a certain sense of purpose.Margaret Thatcher


Okay, sounds good, but what about bottom-line results?

Values Drive All Actions, Plans and Goals

Without going too far in depth, your company has values whether you’re consciously aware of them or not.  Regardless of a value statement, values become real only when they are demonstrated in the way you act and the way you insist others behave.

Values are lived while goals are set.  Goals are for the here and now and change as circumstance dictates.  Values are rocks and the real boss in an organization.

Here’s an idea:  set value goals and become the department or organization you aspire to be.

Question:  How can value goals be measured?



Are your goals posted and do all your people know what they are?  If you can answer yes to both questions, that’s a start.  Getting everyone’s buy-in is the real challenge.

A few things about goals:

  • Better to set a few goals you can focus on than to pick too many where nothing gets accomplished.
  • No involvement equals no commitment. When deciding what goals to set and where to set the bar, get input from key leaders and even the informal leaders on the floor. There are probably only a few goals you need to insist on, let the people set the others.
  • Goals need to be broken down into component parts. Each assignment needs to have a person, date and time attached to it. People must learn to be responsible for getting things accomplished across departments.  Close all escape hatches and don’t let things get delegated back to you.
  • Sometimes goals are handled by management in a mean-spirited way. Goals need to be attainable, but if you set the bar too low people will be insulted. Goals need to be a stretch, but not so far out of reach that associates believe they’re impossible.
  • Clearly mark the playing field. Let associates know how far they can go to get the goal accomplished. Once the playing field is clearly marked, you’re the coach, get off the field and let the players play the game.  Trust is the biggest motivator of all.  Trust that they can get it done with the proper amount of coaching.
  • Follow-up equals coaching. If there are 10 steps to accomplishing a goal, at least the last three are following up. No follow-up, no results. Too much follow-up and you kill morale.  Too little follow-up and your associates’ focus strays or they get bogged down and off track. How do you know where to draw the line?
  • Goals must be measurable. If you want to improve it, measure it. If you want to improve it quick, let them measure it.
  • Cheer the progress!

When handled properly, morale soars when stretch goals are met!  Celebrate.  Better to pick meaningful short term goals and celebrate frequently to maintain momentum than to pick long term goals and celebrate less often.

Man’s finest moment is when he lays exhausted on the battlefield… victorious. – Vince Lombardi


A few notes from Bringing Out the Best in People by Aubrey Daniels

For rewards and recognition to have the desired result they must be (1) valued by the person receiving it, (2) contingent upon performance, (3) delivered immediately, (4) delivered frequently.

Making Rewards and Recognition Effective

  1. Positive reinforcement has to be a daily affair. No matter how much money or time you spend on rewards and recognition, you will not get the results you want, or could have, if the organization gets things done with negative reinforcement day to day.  As Tom Odom of Shell Oil says, “It’s hard to celebrate when you’ve been beat up on the way to the party.”
  2. The reward and recognition must be earned. There must be a direct relationship between individual performance and reward and recognition.  One of the real problems with team recognition and rewards is that everyone gets them whether they contribute equally or not.  This is not usually a problem for the poor performers, but causes considerable problems for the top performers over a period of time.
  3. The recognition must have personal value. The amount spent on recognition is irrelevant as long as the reward reminds them of an accomplishment that makes them proud.  Telling people they should be proud does not necessarily make them proud.
  4. The delay between the behavior and the reward and recognition must be bridged. Because reinforcement is immediate, some event that has reinforcing value must occur in proximity to the valued behavior or performance.
  5. The presentation of the incentive should be preceded by a celebration. A celebration in this context is an opportunity for the performers to relive the accomplishment.  The participants, not the bosses, should be allowed to recount the things they did to meet the goal.  Done this way, the incentive anchors a memory of an accomplishment and, as such, is more valuable.
  6. Money is not the best incentive. Although money can be used occasionally, it should not be the main incentive.  Even though most people, in most circumstances, like money, it provides limited reinforcement for the cost.  Money is soon spent and the memory of it soon fades, whereas other tangible incentives are kept longer and act as a constant reminder of some accomplishment.  If celebrated appropriately, the behaviors involved in producing the results will be remembered long after the memory of the cash has faded away.

Relationships Make It Happen

A survey was done in which the question was asked, “Do you like your supervisor?”  The results indicated that if an employee didn’t like their supervisor, nothing the supervisor did in a formal way had the intended effect.

Relationships are the foundation on which effective rewards and recognition are built.  When you have that foundation, rewards and recognition enhance other forms of reinforcement.  If you don’t have it, you will waste your money and your time trying to buy discretionary performance.

Further Notes on Cheering Each Other On

Cheer the progress.  Don’t wait until the entire goal is achieved.  When the Georgia Bulldogs are moving the ball down the field, you don’t sit on your hands until a touchdown is scored.

Encouragement also happens and trust is built when you step aside and let a teammate go forward with an important project without exercising some sort of control or even offering advice.  “I trust you; let me know how it’s going when you’re ready.”  Trust may be the biggest motivator of all.

Individual congratulations work better than blanket congratulations.  Spontaneous works better than programmed congratulations.  Try to be specific with congratulations.  Unique congratulations work better than traditional congratulations.

Before congratulating make sure it is valued by the individual.  Some people don’t like being singled out in a crowd; others would rather have that than a raise.

Don’t focus on the guilty party.  Set time aside for finding things gone right.  Mistakes are learning opportunities.  Negative reinforcement will only stop that one behavior; who knows what it will be replaced by.  Only behavior reinforced positively is sure to be repeated.

Give people a fine reputation to live up to. – Dale Carnegie


Use Your Power and Position Productively

The only real power you have as a supervisor is that which is given to you by the people you work with.  In this day and age more than any other you have to earn your associates’ respect.

Hopefully, I haven’t given you the impression that by just being positive you will become a good manager.  If you’re positive in the wrong frequency or in the wrong way, if you don’t hold people accountable, or ignore problems you will be ineffective.  If there are no consequences for poor performance, you will be viewed at best as an ineffective bureaucrat.  On the other hand, you can’t be at your best if you’re not a positively reinforcing person.  What should the ratio be between positive and negative reinforcement?  I read somewhere that it is 4 to 1.  I think much of it depends on the circumstances.

Never Stop Learning

The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.John Foster Dulles


Perseverance Trumps All

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.William Feather


Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

Success in almost any field depends more on energy and drive than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders.Sloan Wilson

Regal Receives 5 JD Power Awards