February 4, 2010

Have You Had Your Praise Today?

A little while back I wrote about the importance of praise in motivating employees. Now Forbes.com is jumping on the appreciation band wagon with their article "In Praise of Praise." I was so happy to see more discussion on this topic, since I really believe in its usefulness to not only motivate people, but to increase retention among employees. In fact, in my management seminars I teach how to effectively provide this praise, so you know I think it's important.

Here's a snippet from the Forbes.com article:
"[Chester Elton] insists that appreciation works, especially during these recessionary times when companies have cut monetary bonuses and awards. Though it costs a company nothing, verbal praise can be as effective as a cash award, he says. Hard Rock Café, the restaurant chain, did a study on the effect of managers welcoming their shifts, thanking employees for coming in and making a few inquiries about their personal lives and families. Just a minute a day of verbal appreciation reduced employee turnover by 3%, Elton says."
Now, I'm not sure a 3% decrease in attrition is enough to make me jump up and down, but directionally, it certainly points to the influence that praise can have on employees. Keep in mind that the praise/appreciation has to sound authentic in order to be effective. So have a gander the Forbes.com article and let me know what you think about praise.

To read my previous article on motivation, click here.

To go to the "In Praise of Praise article from Forbes, click here.

November 25, 2009

Tap Into a Growing Job Market -- The Green Industry

Chances are unless you've been living in a cave for the last year, you've been hearing lots about the Green Industry. What exactly is the Green Industry? It is a developing segment of the economy focused on sustainable energy and environmental improvements. And this sector is slated for significant growth over the next 18 months. So, how do you tap into jobs in this market. You've come to the right place.

Below are job resource sites dedicated to the Green Industry:

In addition to the links above, Yahoo's HotJobs site has a section devoted to Green-Collar jobs, which are blue-collar jobs centered on respecting the environment. Regardless, if you are looking for green industry jobs, keep in mind that positions may require additional training, certificates or degrees.

For additional information on green-collar jobs, check out the
Green Jobs Guidebook from Greenforall.org.

November 9, 2009

Motivating People to Do What You Want Them to Do

You've probably heard of the Gallup Poll before, right? But you may not have heard of 12: The Elements of Great Managing. This book, published by Gallup Press (yes, same folks as Gallup Poll), talks about what helps employees feel engaged and more motivated based on interviews with 10 million employees worldwide. Yes, you read that correctly, millions.

According to the studies, one of the biggest motivators for employers was recognition:

"Employees may be motivated by many different things, but they all strive for recognition and praise. And they need that positive feedback at least every seven days."

When I share this with my workshop participants, most of them raise their eyebrows at the last statement. This begs the question, have you been recognized or praised within the last seven days? Don't feel bad if you haven't. Most people I run into say no.

Overall, the idea is to offer continuous recognition and praise to your peers or subordinates, so they are more motivated to help you achieve your goals.

October 28, 2009

How to Answer the Trickiest Interview Question

A few weeks ago, I was featured on Career Rocketeer for their article on interviewing tips. In the article, I talked about how to answer the "Tell me about yourself," question. I blogged about this ages ago, so I wanted to repost the original blog to give you more detail, perspective and guidance than what is listed in the article. However, I also encourage you to visit the Career Rocketeer article, since it has other really useful tips as well.

You can access the Career Rocketeer article here. Or continue reading for the original post on answering some of the trickiest interview questions.


If you have done more than a few interviews in your life thus far, then you've probably had one of these three tricky interview questions thrown at you. Here they are:

1.) Why should I hire you?
2.) What makes you special over any other candidate?
3.) Tell me about yourself?

The most difficult of these is usually the last one, because it is so nebulous. However, if you'll notice, they're all asking pretty much the same thing.

Translation: Give me some skills and experience that will make me think you'll add value to the organization.

You need to think about crafting your answer to discuss your background and strengths in a way that brings a benefit to the organization. The most common mistakes people make when answering these is 1.) Not knowing what the organization is looking for and 2.) not sticking to strengths and work experience.

As I'm sure you've heard before, you'll need to do some research on the company and the desired position, and know how you can bring positive to all parties. This involves not just external Google searches, but also your own internal assessment of your strengths and talents. You can avoid the second mistake by remembering that employers want to know "what's in it for them" if they hire you. While stories of your family and youth may help them get you know you better, it is not what they're looking for. So keep it professional and work experience based, and you'll be that much closer to landing your next job.

October 23, 2009

Do You Know What You Were Born to Do?

"Forget mid-life crisis; I am suffering from a quarter life crisis!" Years ago, there were so many dark days when I would sit at my work desk thinking, "What am I doing here?" Some of those jobs were absolutely not what I loved doing. The problem was I had no idea what I loved doing. Nowadays, this is exactly what I help people figure out through my coaching and training programs. However, even if we never get to work together, I still want to help out.

That's why I was so excited when I found this nifty little quiz from Marcus Buckingham called "The Strong Life Test." With a few quick clicks, you can get a feel for the kind of work that resonates with you. Of course, your test results will not completely define you—there's a good deal more fine-tuning you'll want to do on your own to add detail and specificity. But what the test will do is show you where to start your search for a strong life.

Take the Find Your Strongest Life Test now.

If you are interested in how to use your strengths to improve your career aspirations, I would recommend the following books from Marcus Buckingham. It is a refreshing departure from the "I need to have an improvement plan for all my weaknesses" philosophy that is rampant in corporate cultures today.

October 21, 2009

Finding a Career You Love

Quite awhile ago, I wrote about my friend, Tiffany Westrich, who had left her corporate job to start her own jewelry business. As it turns out, she developed rheumatoid arthritis and is now working on jewelry with a message to help increase awareness for this autoimmune disease. I find it so poignant that once you decide to follow your passions, new paths open up for you that you didn't see before. As soon as she chose to focus on this new niche, her sales skyrocketed.

For those of you who are still trying to figure out your next step in life, here's a quote from Joseph Conrad:

"Follow Your Bliss and the Universe Will Open Doors Where There Were Only Walls.
And now to help you follow your own bliss, below is the original post with tips on discovering a new career path. Here's to your continued power and success!


My girlfriend recently gave up a job as a principal at a well-known design firm to start her own
jewelry business, and it made me start thinking about how we decide what we want to be when we grow up.

It used to be that you could graduate from high school, go to college and somehow have some semblance of what you wanted to do for the rest of your life. And then again, maybe this notion has always been a farce, since it seems like more and more baby boomers are experiencing mid-life career changes than ever before (including my own mother). So if parents and grandparents are struggling with their career choices, just how are young adults supposed to traverse their own rugged, winding trail of career options?

The truth is I got lost on some of the switchbacks in my own career trail. I thought I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but as it turned out, this kept changing. First, it was a singer. I tried that on for size, and it wasn't half bad. However, I felt like there was something more for me. What that "more" was I couldn't tell. Then, it was various roles in business that taught me even more about what I needed in a job. And this cycle kept repeating for quite some time, as I hopped from job to job trying to better define my "dream career."

It wasn't until my thirties that I felt I had enough clarity to really decide what I wanted for my life. The one thing that I can honestly say I did was follow my heart. As soon as something felt wrong, I started working on the next stage of the game. More than anything else, I think this was the truest measure of the direction I needed to take. But just how do you figure out what your heart wants? I put together a list of questions that I used to ask myself in case it could be of any help to others in the same quandary.

  • What do you enjoy about your current job?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What are you good at?
  • In what areas do people ask you for advice (i.e. in what areas do others consider you to be an expert?)?
  • What do close friends and family see as your talents?
  • What do/did you dislike about current/previous jobs?
  • What are your life goals?

Regarding this last question, if you don't know what your life goals are, then, it's time to start thinking about them. Your life goals will define what you want to accomplish with your life, and may help you figure out what career could facilitate meeting all your expectations. Go to our website to get a free copy of our Dream Explorer E-Course , which will help you define your personal goals. Otherwise, you can just start making a list of things you want to do or accomplish during your lifetime.

August 14, 2009

Why Facebook Should Not Be Used to Air Out Your Dirty Laundry...

You've probably heard the warning already. If you are looking for a job, erase those crazy shots of you smoking a "j," throwing back sake bombs while looking completely wasted, dancing suggestively with any sort of underwear showing (or not), etc. However, if you already have a job, Facebook is not the place to vocalize your grievances about your place of employment.

Here is an unfortunate example of someone who didn't follow this sage advise. Many thanks toDeanHunt.com and the Renegade Conservatory Guy for finding this eye-opening post. Don't say I didn't warn you!