Ten employee Trainings Tips

Well-trained employees are the key to your small business success. Studies have shown that the most successful, productive employees are those who have received extensive training. They’re the cream of the crop, and often have the strongest stake in the company’s future.

In an ideal world, you would be able to hire people who already possess the exact skills your business needs. But in today’s competitive labor market, demand for skilled workers far exceeds supply.

That’s where training comes in. Not only does instruction arm your employees with needed professional or technical skills, but it also shows that you are invested in them and interested in bringing them with you into the company’s future. This helps keep workers motivated and involved.

To successfully launch an employee-training program in your own company, follow these 10 helpful tips:

1. Stress training as investment. The reason training is often considered optional at many companies is because it is thought of as an expense rather than an investment. While it’s true that training can be costly up front, it’s a long-term investment in the growth and development of your human resources.

2. Determine your needs. As you probably don’t have unlimited time or funds to execute an employee training program, you should decide early on what the focus of your training program should be. Determine what skills are most pertinent to address current or future company needs or ones that will provide the biggest payback. Ask yourself, “How will this training eventually prove beneficial to the company?” Repeat this process as your business needs change.

3. Promote a culture of learning. In today’s fast-paced economy, if a business isn’t learning, it’s going to fall behind. A business learns as its people learn. Communicate your expectations that all employees should take the necessary steps to hone their skills and stay on top of their professions or fields of work. Make sure you support those efforts by providing the resources needed to accomplish this goal.

4. Get management on board. Once you have developed a prioritized list of training topics that address key needs within your company, you need to convince management to rally behind the initiative.

5. Start out small. Before rolling out your training program to the masses, rehearse with a small group of users and gather their feedback. This sort of informal benchmarking exposes weaknesses in your training plans and helps you fine-tune the training process.

6. Choose quality instructors and materials. Who you select to conduct the training will make a major difference in the success of your efforts, whether it’s a professional educator or simply a knowledgeable staff member. Having the right training materials is also important — after the training is over, these materials become valuable resources for trainees.

7. Find the right space. Select a training location that’s conducive to learning. Choose an environment that’s quiet and roomy enough to spread out materials. Make sure the space is equipped with a computer and projector, so you can present a visually stimulating training session.

8. Clarify connections. Some employees may feel that the training they’re receiving isn’t relevant to their job. It’s important to help them understand the connection early on, so they don’t view the training sessions as a waste of valuable time. Employees should see the training as an important addition to their professional portfolios. Award people with completion certificates at the end of the program.

9. Make it ongoing. Don’t limit training solely to new employees. Organized, ongoing training programs will maintain all employees’ skill levels, and continually motivate them to grow and improve professionally.

10. Measure results. Without measurable results, it’s almost impossible to view training as anything but an expense. Decide how you’re going to obtain an acceptable rate of return on your investment. Determine what kind of growth or other measure is a reasonable result of the training you provide. You’ll have an easier time budgeting funds for future training if you can demonstrate concrete results.

Four East steps to more Motivated Employees

There is no particular set of rules that one should follow in motivating employees. We each have our own driving force when it comes to doing an excellent job at work. A working mother could be motivated by her children, who serve as her inspiration to succeed. A trainee who is fresh out of college is motivated by the compulsion to learn and climb to the top. A long-time company employee will get motivated to perform well so that he or she can be promoted. Others are motivated by financial rewards. As a manager, team leader, department head or supervisor, you need to determine the individual driving forces of those who are in your team so that you can create a motivated workforce.

Goals For Employee Motivation:

  • Increase employee performance at work
  • Spice up team spirit and build a cohesive team
  • Eliminate individual differences and avoid conflicts
  • Have open communication between peers
  • Set and achieve a common goal

1. Lead By Example

There is one joke where it says that the new definition of a boss is one who is always early when you are late and who is always late when you are not. Do not let this apply to you. Be consistent. The simple gesture of arriving before or at the same time as your employees will show them how much you value their time and yours. This is also a good way of showing employees that you respect the company that pays you for your time at work. If you do come in late, apologize to those who are under you and explain why you are late. This is so that they would not think that the no-late policy does not apply to the boss, showing them that you are equals when it comes to company rules and policies.

2. Keep Communication Lines Open

Some employees are afraid to talk to, or even look at superiors who exude the touch-me-not aura. This is not a good way to motivate your employees. When you come to work, do not just go straight to your office and deal with your paper work. Mingle with the employees and ask them about their previous day, on what they have accomplished so far. Then you can tell them about the output that you expect by the end of the day. This way, you would know what to expect from the employees and vice-versa. It will not only help you set a goal for the day but with this, you are also optimizing your interaction with the employees by mingling with them on a more casual basis.

3. Share What You Know

Do not be selfish. Sometimes, a company does not grow because there are employees who know something advanced about the industry or a certain aspect of the company, and they are not willing to share their knowledge to others. They think that this would make them invaluable to the company, especially if they are the only ones who know about a particular process or idea. This attitude would not help your company succeed. There should always be a sharing of knowledge. When an employee is asked to train abroad, they are often asked to sign a contract that they should not resign for the next year or two. Why do you think this is so? Imagine what would happen if the employee who trained abroad or attended an exclusive seminar about an advanced technology on the industry just up and leaves right after the training. A company would not spend thousands of dollars to train an employee for nothing. They want you to share and impart the knowledge to your fellow employees. If you share a new technology to your entire team, who knows what newer and better ideas the knowledge would bring? Do not stutter the company’s growth by keeping your ideas to yourself.

4. Implement Your Ideas

What good would a new idea or technology do if you do not apply it? After sharing the knowledge, gather the team and think of ways to improve the company’s operation with what you all have learned. As a leader, you should be a people person. You must know how to adapt to the things that motivate your team members and use this knowledge to your advantage. Without a good and solid workforce behind you, you will not accomplish anything.

You may have ten or a hundred employees, but if you apply these steps to motivate your team, you can bring out the best in them and contribute towards your company’s growth and success.

10 Tips for a Staff that Lasts

One of today’s greatest challenges facing business operators is retaining qualified, valuable employees or staff members. Because of the high costs, increased time and stress of training new employees resulting from high turnover, savvy business operators are always looking to improve their relationship skills and business practices in order to retain their valuable employees and maintain a long-term satisfied and dedicated staff.

The following tips will help the business operator have a “Staff that Lasts. “

1. Give quality time to your valued employees.

The more quality time you dedicate to your employees, the more valued your employees will feel. Increase the quality of this time by making eye contact with them during your interactions, and always remember to take time out of your busy day to stop and communicate with your employees.

2. Really LISTEN to your staff members.

Pay close attention to what your staff members are saying. Repeat back to your staff members what you heard them say to make sure that you heard them correctly, and also to show your staff members that you’ve been listening. Empathize with your staff members experiencing difficulty, and empower them to take actions to consistently produce positive results.

3. Verbally acknowledge your employees regularly.

Let your employees know that you appreciate their hard work and dedication. Verbally acknowledge them for their contribution and celebrate their successes. This will motivate your employees to continue maintaining an optimal level of performance.

4. Motivate your staff to take risks and try new things.

A staff that is motivated and allowed to take risks will be more creatively engaged and satisfied with their duties, and their innovative creativeness will produce profitable results. They will never be bored, and they will be looking forward to working on Monday.

5. Recognize your valuable employees with Employee Recognition Programs.

Implement an “Employee of the Month” program or you can choose an award title that will be more applicable to your business practices. Award recipients love to see their name on a plaque hanging on the wall and see an article of appreciation written about them posted for all to see. They feel successful and appreciated.

6. Be honest with your employees.

Always be straight up and honest with your employees. No one wants to walk on pins and needles worrying about what the boss is really thinking. Your employees will respect you and be more likely to stay with you forever if they know that they can always count on you to tell the truth.

7. Train your staff members to be able to take your place.

Your staff members will rise to the standards you set for them. The best staff members are the ones who care about the business as much as you do, and can jump in and do whatever it takes to have the business run smoothly. Train them to be good enough to take your place. They will feel great about themselves and your business will run effortlessly.

8. Teach your staff members to communicate positively and effectively.

Most people really have never learned how to communicate their feelings, perceptions, needs, and goals. They just automatically assume everyone is supposed to read their minds. Give your employees a safe space to learn how to say whatever is going on in their minds. This will facilitate clearing up any miscommunications or misperceptions in the workplace. Open lines of communication also leads to a fun, productive and committed environment.

9. Spread the wealth.

Implement employee incentive programs, wherein your valuable employees earn some sort of bonus or share of the increased sales or profits. This will result in your employees staying motivated and dedicated to the business’ success, and they will also feel that their contributions are rewarded and appreciated.

10. Create and motivate a continued positive, energetic workplace environment.

Your employees will take your lead. They will learn their accepted behavior patterns from how you are being. Maintain a positive, high-energy frame of mind and expect the same from your employees. Teach all of your employees to support each other in staying in the positive zone. As a result, you will all consistently experience a fun, successful, and committed work life.

Designing Effective Orientation Programs

You carefully recruited, screened, and tested several applicants for that new position. When the time came to make a hiring decision, you confidently selected the most qualified candidate. But two months later, the new hire resigned, confessing that she “never felt part of the company.”

The right first impression is everything, and a poor employee orientation can cost you dearly. It’s a fact: those who don’t start right don’t tend to stick around long. And high turnover means you must find new people all over again. What’s more, turnover takes a high toll on the morale of those who do stay behind. They begin to wonder whether they too should be looking for another job.

To retain new employees, it’s critical to have an effective orientation program. Staff members who are properly trained and welcomed at the beginning of their careers feel good about their choice of employer, fit in quickly with colleagues, and readily contribute new ideas. They also represent the company more confidently to customers, business partners, and suppliers.

Keys to a Good Orientation Program

Now is the time to review your orientation program. The following ideas can help new staff members succeed in your department or organization.

1. Create comfort and rapport

To help new staff feel accepted, give them opportunities to interact with co-workers and managers. Diversify the time and nature of these meetings. For formal presentations, meeting rooms work well. For informal conversation, lunches and after hours get-togethers are a good choice.

In addition, allow new employees to visit other company departments and customer facilities. Spending a week, a day, or even an afternoon in a different part of the business or with a customer helps new employees understand the company’s entire operation, and it also builds rapport.

2. Introduce the company culture

New staff usually want to follow accepted norms and values (e.g., dress, punctuality, hours worked). But understanding actual company culture happens gradually through formal presentations, informal dialogue, and personal experience. Over time, “official” positions are compared to what gets said “confidentially” over lunch.

Because company culture is not determined solely by formal presentations, it’s helpful to extend your positive influence beyond them. Create a buddy system or mentor scheme to match your most sincere and enthusiastic staff with your incoming employees. Be sure to give the mentor relationship real support: pay for a few lunches, allow time in the weekly schedule for conversations, acknowledge mentor services in annual staff appraisals, and show appreciation to mentors with tokens of recognition.

3. Show the “Big Picture”

New staff need quality answers to the following questions:

  • Where has the company been? Where is it today? Where is it heading?
  • Who are our customers? What do they say about us?
  • Who are our major competitors?
  • What is our market position?
  • What is our current focus: are we expanding operations, going regional, and launching new technologies? Or are we trimming costs, rationalizing product lines, and streamlining operations?

Introduce new staff to these “Big Picture” issues with a well-designed presentation. Using transparencies, slides, video, or multi-media, highlight your history, outline your current goals, and introduce your future plans. Keep the “Big Picture” presentation upbeat, lively, and up-to-date.

4. Explain job responsibilities and rewards

Clarify expectations from the beginning. Ensure new staff are thoroughly familiar with their job responsibilities and accompanying levels of authority. Explain and demonstrate your staff appraisal system. Show new staff a copy of the actual appraisal form and explain how good performance is assessed, measured, and rewarded. Use career paths of those who have come before them to illustrate possibilities and potentials in the job.

5. Handle administrative matters

There will always be paperwork. Employment agreements, tax forms, insurance policies, benefit packages, charitable contribution forms… the list goes on and on. While these documents are important, resist the temptation to “get through them” in one long sitting. Instead, spread administrative tasks over a number of short sessions during the first few weeks. Requiring new employees to spend hours filling out forms on their first day is no way to generate enthusiasm about the dynamic nature of your organization!

6. Provide reality checks

Make sure your orientation accurately reflects the nature of your company. If your program shows only the bright side of the business and the happy side of daily work, don’t be surprised when new employees come back shell-shocked after two or three weeks on the job. Be open and candid about pressures associated with your company, your team, your customers, and your competition. This truthful approach produces staff who understand the workplace and wish to make it a better place.

7. Gain full participation

Give everyone in the organization a role to play in new employee orientation. Involve co-workers in your mentor schemes, engage managers in talks and panel discussions, put colleagues in charge as hosts and guides during cross-department visits. Invite the families of new staff members to a special “Meet the Company Day” and take lots of photographs. Later, mail the best photographs to your new employees’ home addresses-with copies of your company’s newsletter and hand-written ‘thanks for coming” notes.

Most important, gain full participation from the new employees themselves. Resist the temptation to provide only “one way” information from the company. Instead, have new staff generate their own questions by exploring the company, researching the competition, and meeting the customers. When the time comes, involve your new employees in welcoming the next batch of incoming staff. Such participation helps your orientation program stay fresh and makes new staff feel like company veterans-experienced, involved, and able to contribute.

Effort Well Spent

It takes a lot of work to make sure your new employee orientation program is thoughtfully designed and carefully delivered. But the time, money, and human resources you dedicate can become valuable long-term investments that reduce turnover, smooth out learning curves, strengthen employee commitment to your company, and make human resource management easier and less costly.

Employee Motivation

When it comes to motivating employees, sure there are “quick fix” methods to jump start morale around the office. But how do you keep that motivation alive day after day? How do you ensure that each and every person is reaching his or her maximum productive capacity all the time?

There are hundreds of theories and probably as many books on the subject by psychologists, business gurus, and athletic coaches, but most seem to incorporate one if not all of these three factors:

Communication – clear and concise outlines of the organization’s goals and expectations;

Empowerment – autonomy that lets departments, teams, and individuals solve problems; and

Recognition – positive feedback accompanied by timely and frequent rewards.

Demolish “Demotivators”

Before delving into these motivation factors, let’s first examine what may be keeping your employees from performing their best. In his book SuperMotivation: A Blueprint for Energizing Your Organization From Top to Bottom, Dean R. Spitzer identifies factors in the workplace that can slow productivity. He calls them “demotivators.”

Demotivators include office politics, stringent rules and regulations, hypocrisy, and internal competition. They often cancel out every well-planned effort to motivate employees, and sour them to the point of no return. Demotivators may be the reason your past employee motivation efforts have not taken off.

Prior to tackling any motivational plan, first attack the demotivators by breaking down your entire company and driving demotivators out of every facet. If you need help in this area, Spitzer offers blueprints in SuperMotivation to guide you step-by-step through each department. Get rid of demotivators, and you’ll be ready to start on the fun stuff!

Factor 1: Communication

Communication is a critical component in the employee motivation equation. Employees must clearly understand expectations. They should also recognize how they fit into the big picture. Informed employees tend to be the most motivated employees.

Define goals. Goals must be well-defined. No one should question what’s expected of them. Make goals and responsibilities constantly visible and chart progress so people can see where they’re headed and how far they need to go. Publish goals and expectations in the company newsletter; display posters on cork boards in break rooms; exhibit your mission statement at every workstation; and talk to your people. Never stop sending clear and concise signals.

Listen intently. At the same time, be a receptive listener. Make time to interact with other departments. Open your mind to suggestions and, more importantly, encourage input from all areas. In addition to advertising your goals and expectations, bolster confidence with a positive “can do” attitude. Broadcast your conviction that company goals can be achieved and your people are capable of extraordinary feats. Enthusiasm is infectious!

Create a sense of purpose. Help employees understand the purpose of their jobs and why their positions are important to the company. Explain the significance of other jobs and how the entire organizational structure works toward accomplishing the company’s mission. Creating a sense of purpose promotes team work and instills a sense of pride.

Communicate at all levels. Communicate openly, freely, frequently, positively, and honestly. Keep people informed. It seems simple enough, but how well is it actually exercised in your workplace?

Factor 2: Empowerment

People have a need to be treated as valuable individuals. So it’s time to loosen the reigns, trust your employees’ judgment, and hold them accountable.

Promote ownership. Assign employees ownership of a task and attach all of the responsibilities that go with getting the job done. If you want to build a better machine, look to the people who operate it. Let them figure out how to improve it. Show them where you keep the toolbox and stand back.Don’t stifle momentum by making people jump through hoops for your approval at each juncture. Cut out the regulations and red tape and let them use their best judgment to reach a goal. You’re the coach. You’re there to guide, support and encourage…keep ’em on the right track.

Try self-monitoring. Let teams or departments make their own rules and track their own productivity. Self-monitoring works on the principle that the system is in place to help, not hinder, employees. It stimulates self-motivation.

Empower your employees. Authorizing employees to take action will impart a sense of pride and ownership in the organization. Autonomy inspires self-motivation and reinforces self-worth. So vest your employees with a degree of power. You’ll see innovation taking shape before your eyes.

Try this idea to illustrate the power of motivation. When a problem is plaguing your company, send it out by e-mail or on index cards to all employees asking for suggestions. You might be surprised at where your best solutions come from. At the very least, you’ll give everyone in the organization a feeling that they are part of the team and that you value their opinions. Better still, let the person or department that comes up with the best solution enact it, giving them the freedom and resources needed to get the job done. Allowing employees the opportunity to follow through on their ideas may give them a strong sense of accomplishment. Then just watch employee satisfaction skyrocket! In turn, this may motivate employees to share other ideas which will help them and the company be even more successful.

Factor 3: Recognition

Recognition makes people flourish. Tap into the human desire for praise and achievement, and your employees will feel appreciated. They are then much more likely to give it their all.

Look beyond money. It’s important to build opportunities for achievement and recognition into the job. But, be aware that traditional rewards such as structured monetary incentives and new titles won’t always do the trick. They’re not effective long-term strategies for getting the most out of your people. They may only encourage employees to squeak by to achieve the laid out objectives.

Believe it or not, personalized heart-felt gestures of appreciation can often mean more to employees than money or promotions. When used frequently to reinforce productive behavior, these acknowledgments can result in outstanding performance every day.

Consider recognizing super performers with special assignments or give them a role in training. Ask them to make presentations at board meetings or have them write a feature article for your company newsletter.

Integrate spontaneous rewards. Reward a hard-working team with an impromptu pizza party or indulge a notable performer and her husband in a romantic dinner for two during a project that keeps her working late at the office. You can easily create customized inexpensive rewards that will keep your employees working at their best, even during times of extreme pressure.

Reward effort as well as outcome. Recognize those who are trying and making progress even if the goal is not met. Recognition of effort encourages people to keep trying. And a good learning experience can be as productive in the long-run as achieving the goal. Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive! It can be as simple as a handwritten thank you note or as elaborate as an awards banquet. It only takes a small amount of consistent reinforcement to maintain a behavior. Once the ball starts rolling, the productive behavior will become a productive work habit.


Implementing a successful motivational program involves diminishing any and all demotivators while incorporating communication, empowerment, and recognition into your workplace. Integrating employee motivation into your company culture requires a long-term commitment and involves the entire organization. The task merits close and constant examination of every department. Strategies should touch every employee from the top down.

With everything else on your plate, creating a motivating work environment may seem like a huge commitment. But when you consider the benefits, it’s a small price to pay. Employee motivation is a proven method of building company loyalty while dramatically increasing productivity.

Give people the right objectives, the right tools, and the right feedback and you’ll create a focused, innovative, and outstanding workforce at every level, everyday. Creating a healthy and stimulating environment will be fun for both you and your employees.

Keeping Entry Level Workers From Quitting

Attracting, motivating and retaining entry-level workers can present a challenge to businesses of all sizes. The wide age range of such workers, which may include inexperienced beginners in their late teens to older workers with extensive job experience, complicates the matter. What motivates the workers varies according to their different needs and perceptions. Youthful workers, for example, may view the job as only a first step in their work life. Benefits, such as insurance, may not seem as important to them as to the older worker with a family.

Turnover is costly for all businesses, large or small. For a worker you are paying $24,000 a year, it will cost you an additional thousand or so dollars to replace them. However, the small business owner may feel the impact more immediately and to a higher degree. While there may not be a magic formula for attracting and keeping entry-level workers, here are some tips to consider:

Avoid the mindset that “it’s only an entry-level job” when advertising and hiring.

If you present the job as a “nothing,” job applicants will view it the same way. It may be entry-level, but it is still important to hire the best person you can find for the job.

Pay the highest wages that you can afford.

Constant turnover due to low wages can quickly increase your business costs and erode any savings realized initially. If necessary, stretch the company budget to pay a little more. Low pay can be a false economy in the long term.

Recognize and reward entry-level workers for their accomplishments.

Again, “entry level” does not translate into “unimportant.” Take time to acknowledge the worth of entry-level employees. Avoid shallow or routine praise given simply because “that’s what the book says to do.” Employees, especially the older ones, quickly recognize this and it can do more harm than good.

Compliment employees according to the level of their skills.

An inexperienced employee may deserve, and appreciate, a compliment in a situation where an experienced employee would actually scoff at a compliment for something so routine. Tailor your praise (and criticism) to the person and his or her level of expertise.

Offer cash rewards on an on-going basis.

For someone on entry-level job wages, even small cash rewards on a regular basis can be important.

Award “personal days” for special achievements.

Some workers may value and appreciate time off as much as cash.

Offer a choice of rewards.

One employee may choose cash as a reward for achieving a goal; another employee may choose time off instead. Allow employees to choose what is important to them.

Be flexible.

Consider offering flexible working hours to employees. You may find this benefits the company as well as motivates employees.

Consider a combination of sick-vacation-personal days.

The employee may be absent from work a certain number of days each year, whether for vacation, sick or personal. The number of days is the same—how the employee uses the days is up to him or her, no explanation required.

Offer financial assistance for education as an incentive for entry-level workers to grow within the company.

Consider tying the assistance to longevity with the company. An employee who uses the assistance may “pay off” the loan by remaining with the company for a pre-determined period of time.

Have meals brought in occasionally.

Example: On the last Friday of the month, give all employees a longer lunch break and have pizza delivered, along with beverages.

Listen to employees, then respond.

Just listening is not enough. If the answer to a suggestion or request is “no”, tell the employee and offer an explanation. Otherwise, employees feel that management is only pretending to listen to their concerns. This can also happen if the answer is always “no”.

Take time to know your employees as individuals.

An advantage for small business owners is that they often have the opportunity to know employees on a more personal level and to have a better understanding of what motivates their employees as individuals. Use that knowledge—and everyone can benefit.

Organizing a Corporate Retreat

The executives of the XYZ Corporation were somewhat ambivalent when their consultant first recommended a retreat. While they recognized the benefits that can come from such an experience, they also were concerned about the retreat being either too expensive or too unproductive.

Their consultant reassured them that in his experience with corporate retreats, he could craft an agenda that would not only be cost effective, but very productive.

Successful retreats require careful planning in order to be of benefit to the organization and its leaders. What follows are the recommendations of experienced retreat consultants and facilitators, based on a history of successful retreats.

1. Carefully select the site for the retreat. The environment of the retreat is critical to its success. Retreats can be either on site or off site. On site retreats tend to be less expensive and provide convenient access to business resources. Off site retreats can promote more creative and expansive thinking and reduce the distractions of day-to-day business issues.

2. Define the retreat’s objectives. Articulating what you hope to achieve by the retreat forms the foundation for the retreat’s agenda and direction. Some of the issues you may wish to address in your planning include:

  • What is the mission of our organization? Should we consider other missions?
  • In what direction are we currently headed? How are current trends, both in our market and in the broader community, affecting our direction?
  • What is the image and perception of our organization, and are we succeeding in creating the right image?
  • What are our corporate objectives? Are we meeting them and can we tell from our measurement systems?
  • Do our current organizational systems support our goals?
  • Sometimes, retreats are more about team building than about strategic direction. If the goal is to build teamwork, consider these issues:

  • What are our communication patterns and how effective are they?
  • Do our incentive systems encourage teamwork or individualism?
  • How is teamwork at the various levels of the organization? Are we setting a good example at the top?

3. Develop the retreat agenda. Consider carefully, based on your objectives, how to structure the retreat. Is it best to make this a high-octane event that is all work and no nonsense, or should the retreat include some play? The idea of “Work-Play-Work” is an approach to consider for many retreats to allow some diversion and encourage creativity. Make sure that you circulate the retreat agenda prior to the retreat so that participants arrive eager and not apprehensive.

4. Use a facilitator. This is not just a pitch for consulting services, but an independent facilitator is essential to a successful retreat experience. The facilitator can assist the participants in gathering data, can use his or her skills in enhancing group participation, and can be an objective leader without any vested interest in the outcome.

5. Watch the meals. Be aware of any special dietary needs or preferences of the participants. And be particularly careful to avoid heavy meals at lunch and before retreat working sessions—keep the meals light and your participants will stay awake!

6. Create new ways of looking at old problems. Seeking the same old solutions for the same old problems could be done at the office. A retreat is the chance to see things differently. Consider some group exercises to stimulate creativity and change perspectives. One excellent resource is the popular book, A Whack on the Side of the Head.

7. Keep a good record of the event. Make sure that there is a record keeper present to preserve the outcomes of the event. The retreat facilitator may be able to provide a record keeper, or one of the participants might provide an executive assistant for this purpose. One of the major benefits of the retreat is something beyond process, while process itself can be a significant achievement. The record of decisions made, goals and objectives set, and assignments given can bring closure to the event and create a record that will be useful in the implementation phase.

8. Evaluate the retreat. Make sure to solicit honest and direct feedback on the retreat and its outcomes. Ask the tough questions to ensure that there is adequate participation. Don’t be afraid of negative feedback. It may clear the air on some issues, and will certainly be helpful in crafting the next retreat.

9. Keep the process alive. Generally, there is an upswing in organizational morale and in the individual commitment of employees. Provide a continuous feedback loop after the retreat to capitalize on these benefits. Provide periodic reports as the implementation proceeds. If there was a team building approach, consider taking pictures and publishing them for the participants and others in the organization.

Effective planning and careful execution of the plan for a corporate retreat will bring significant benefits to the organization and its leadership. Look forward to your opportunity to get a fresh perspective, to strategize, and to build your team—the major functions of a well-executed retreat.

Tips for Managing & Retaining Superstars

Old management tools no longer work. In the past, volumes have been written about the importance of compensation and work flexibility in motivating and retaining employees. Most executives will not argue the role these factors play. However, recent workforce trends are forcing managers to re-evaluate the tools used to keep top-notch talent. To reduce turnover, you must first seek to understand the primary causes behind it.

Here are a few of the most common reasons cited:

1. Major Company Changes

Change is threatening. If not handled properly, it can lead to job dissatisfaction and turnover. When people are threatened, their immediate reaction is to run.

2. Hire Candidates That Fit Your Culture

When filling a position, don’t just look for candidates who have the proper qualifications. Psychological and behavioral factors greatly influence performance. When you hire someone, you are hiring more than just qualifications. You are really hiring the candidate’s behavior.

3. Money Is Not The Only Motivator

While money is an important factor in motivating employees, it is not the only one. Often factors inside a company like recognition, time off, trust, quality of management, and opportunities for growth influence employees’ career decisions.

Improving Employee Retention :

1. Be Prepared With a Plan for Change

When you’re looking to make a small change, it can often be done with only minor problems. But when change requires a major paradigm shift, it can cause a high degree of trauma – especially in an organizational setting. When you anticipate a major change in your organization, be it an acquisition, change in management, or internal restructuring, you must develop a plan to ensure good employees do not wind up “casualties of war.”

2. Improve Your Hiring Process

Don’t spend all your attention on preventing turnover. Rather, focus on improving the hiring process. This is based on the assumption that bad hires are the primary cause of turnover. In the long run, you’ll be ahead by developing a well-planned recruitment and selection process.

3. Recognize and Reward Your Employees on a Job Well Done

Results of a recent survey by the Council of Communication Management confirm what almost every manager already knows – recognition for a job well done is the top employee motivator. But, keep in mind what motivates one employee may not necessarily motivate another.

Your best and brightest employees can easily command the same dollar in a competitor’s company. Skills are scarce, and employers are willing to pay for them. So while compensation and benefit inducements have historically proven powerful motivators, they are now merely requisites to getting skilled employees through the door. To truly excite and challenge knowledgeable workers, you must learn what makes them eager to go to work in the morning.

How To Keep The Great Ones Working For You:

Respect Professional Status

  • Support peer reinforcement and networking.
    Skilled employees are typically more motivated by the recognition they receive from peers than from management. Most of this support and reinforcement occurs through informal networking, both within and outside the company. Through these networks, professionals gauge the success of their efforts, and keep abreast of developments in their area of expertise.
  • Give skilled employees continual, timely access to information.
    In a rapidly changing environment, knowledge becomes obsolete even faster than equipment. Up-to-date information is critical for continued success.
  • Provide opportunities for professional recognition.
    Highly educated, knowledgeable workers are driven by pride in accomplishment. Whenever possible, showcase the contributions of your skilled employees. Seek opportunities for publishing, presenting, and even entering competitions.

Make Work Challenging

  • Encourage your employees to do more.
    For true professionals, fulfillment lies in the work itself. Not surprisingly, if forced to choose between challenging work in an average environment, or mundane work in an outstanding environment, most skilled employees will lean towards the challenging work.
  • Furnish the best tools.
    Skilled employees live by their tools. When hampered by substandard equipment, knowledgeable workers often become resentful of working longer and harder. Supplying the latest tools available for skilled employees will eliminate resentment and boost productivity.

Relieve Management Burden

  • Keep hierarchy and red tape under control.
    Today’s skilled professionals are intolerant of bureaucracy. They hate the thought of too many meetings, or bosses who supervise too closely. Control like this violates their sense of independence and professionalism.
  • Simplify work processes and roles.
    Perception is reality. When professionals believe the time and energy required to manage work is greater than the time they have for the work itself, productivity plummets and frustration soars.
  • Frequently review project context.
    Knowledgeable workers need to know how their contributions fit into the big picture. They also completely engross themselves in their work. When they finally emerge, they will look for confirmation that their current project is still high priority, and they will want to know what’s on the horizon.

As a leader, it’s up to you to provide skilled employees with the confirmation and project context they need to stay grounded. Frequently remind them how their current work fits into the grand scheme of things, while enticing them with concrete opportunities in the near future. If you can effectively manage this “balancing act,” your biggest challenge will be keeping employees focused on the task at hand. But compared to mutiny or defection, it’s a great challenge to face.


  • Call an employee into your office to thank him or her.
  • Coordinate a surprise celebration.
  • Give an outstanding employee a three-day weekend.
  • Send a birthday card to an employee at home.
  • Acknowledge an employee’s achievements by using their name on status reports.
  • Name a continuing recognition award after an outstanding employee.
  • Wash the employee’s car in the parking lot.

The Top 10 Ways to Retain Good Employees

1. Share the results of good work, tangibly.

Bonuses, cash, and non-cash rewards need to be tied to results so that, in receiving them, the employee knows that he or she is being rewarded for his or her specific contribution. Gifts given at the whim of the CEO can be regarded as actually demeaning in that they bear little relationship to actual contribution.

2. Let your employees know they are part of a team.

Employees have heard the old saw; people are our biggest asset, so much so that they nearly vomit when it is repeated. Letting them know means having direct, regular, and personal contact. I recall walking around the plant with Jim Lincoln, president of Lincoln Electric, many years ago. Every single one of the 604 employees knew and addressed their president by his first name, AND he reciprocated!

3. Follow the CFH rule; be candid, frank, and honest.

Somehow, the higher one gets on the executive ladder, the more the misconception seems to exist that you can get away with not telling the truth to your employees. That simply isn’t so. As Abraham Lincoln said: You can fool some of the people some of the time, etc. Being less than honest means that you’ll get less than the best from your people.

4. Don’t spare the bad news.

Some CEOs have a penchant for spreading the good news and hoarding the bad on the grounds that their employees won’t be able to take it. The surprising thing is that, given a chance, most people are more resilient than we think.

5. Little things mean a lot.

Have you ever received a card or note out of the blue, when you were down or having a hard time, from someone who knew and simply took the time to let you know that he or she cared? Take time to find out what’s going on with your employees (yes, after 5:00 PM). Letting them know you care-with a card, a call, or simply a word can make a huge difference.

6. Recognize that suspicion is normal.

As a CEO, you may not want to hear it, but one of the unfortunate effects of downsized America is that CEOs are, in general, not regarded as believable! So, it takes patience, fortitude, and a good deal of practice to get to the point where your people believe you. Don’t become dismayed; just keep at it, as long as what you do and say is real.

7. Distribute choice perks.

As long as you are in business to make a profit, no business can afford to operate as though all people and positions are equal, because they’re not! Some people are more talented than others; some have more energy, drive, and concern; and some demand more because they can get it. For those in this latter category, the true high achievers, you will have to treat them differently or lose them. They don’t need your guidance so much as your recognition that they are outstanding.

8. Set your boundaries and make them clear.

Every single person who reports to you as a CEO should be absolutely clear about two things: (1) what you expect of them, and (2) what they can expect of you. It pays to have a formal written boundaries statement to discuss personally with everyone who reports to you.

9. Make it clear that, in your organization, continued growth is a condition of continued employment.

Too many organizations, especially in government, tolerate average-ness, the hewers of wood and carriers of water. In the long run, everyone, including the employee, suffers. In the twenty-first century, there is less and less room for those who do just enough to get by.

10. Be genuine and be a model.

You would think that this is obvious. Unfortunately, it’s not. I’ve seen so many executives and CEOs who follow the dictum: Do as I say, not as I do. One of the surprising results of chronic reengineering has been that those employees who are truly self-directing have become less willing to tolerate unacceptable conditions. The average performers will hang around, but the outstanding ones will bide their time and leave.