Behind-the-Scenes Heroics - Foundations
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Behind-the-Scenes Heroics

Written By: Matt Di Iorio

Article Date: 07-02-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.


Your best managers are those who foster employee morale.

One of the things I cherish most in life is the time I spend reading with my three daughters. Las week my daughter Daryl selected a store from the Children's Book of Virtues, compiled by Bill Bennett. The story she chose involved a young Dutch boy who saved his town by sticking his finger in a leaking dike. As Daryl read, my mind leapt forward to the end of the story where I fondly recalled the townspeople celebrating the boy who saved the town. One little finger used at the right time in the right place prevented further damage to the dike and, ultimately, a catastrophic flood.

As Daryl read on, and I reflected upon the story, it occurred to me that I remembered the result of the boy's actions but conveniently forgot the process that made his actions worthy of recording in a book of virtues. I had forgotten, for instance, that the boy disobeyed strict orders to return home before dark, knowing well that he would be punished for doing so. And, that his arm ached and his body shivered through the long cold night. In fact, the story described a great deal of hardship and sacrifice - yet I only remembered the result of the hero's actions.

I recently read another book of virtues. This book was referred to me by J. Michael Marks, principal of Indian River Consulting, and moderator of the upcoming AED/QUALCOMM Executive Forum. The Enthusiastic Employee, written by Dr. David Sirota, also describes the virtue of managers doing relatively small things at the right time and in the right place.

The heroes in this story sacrifice their preconceived notions about what employees want and why - which can be painful indeed.

Sirota supports his stories with empirically based research involving tens of thousands of interviews and millions of surveys spanning more than 40 years. The good news is that the same basic human needs emerge from the data, regardless of age, gender, occupation, or ethnicity. It is also worth noting that 76 percent of all workers enjoy the work they do and virtually all "new" employees are enthusiastic. The bad news is that many current management practices destroy new employee enthusiasm long before the employee celebrates his or her first anniversary with the company.

Every week I speak with AED members who are in search of new talent. Some dealers need people to expand current operations, some need to upgrade skills or replace employees who have left for "greener pastures." According to The AED Foundation's annual technician research, roughly one-third of technicians are hired from competitors.

Sirota quotes Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, who has said, "...there is one key to profitability and stability during either a boom or bust economy: employee morale."

Mangers who understand and apply Sirota's principles do more than plug the hold in the proverbial talent dike - they use employee engagement to gain competitive advantage. These companies learn "how [to} profit by giving workers what they want," writes Sirota, and discover that managers who do little things at the right time in the right place can achieve results of heroic proportions.



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