The Boss Who Sneaked Onto a Plane

southwestOn Sunday evening I was on the first of two flights that would take me home to Pittsburgh from a multi-day training event in Austin, Texas. As I do most of the time, I was flying Southwest Airlines.

Shortly after takeoff a man in a Southwest dress shirt stood and asked for our attention. He introduced himself as Sam, the regional head of flight attendants. Sam shared that he wanted to take a moment to recognize Brian who was currently serving our flight. From his pocket, Sam pulled out and read a letter, sent in by a passenger, describing the way Brian had helped her with her fussy infant on a recent flight. After reading the letter, Sam told us he had secretly “snuck onto the flight” to surprise Brian with this public display of appreciation, because “we get compliments about Brian all the time and are lucky to have him with us at Southwest.” At Sam’s request, the whole cabin gave Brian a rousing ovation. While Brian, blushing and trying to get smaller, shook his boss’s hand, his fellow flight attendants cheered him on with affection and respect. And moments later, when few were still watching, I saw Sam look into Brian’s eyes and say, with deep and sincere appreciation, “Thank you…for all that you do.” Continue reading

Resilience: A 2 Year Old Knows How


Miles had a rough morning.

This morning was like any other: my wife and I each getting ready for work while feeding and dressing the kids and gathering all the lunches and supplies necessary to get us all out the door on time and prepared for the day.  Then…a monkey-wrench:

My 2 year old son ralphed all over the living room floor.

If you have kids then you know we simultaneously experienced profound sympathy for our poor little guy, the “oh-crap-we-don’t-have-time-for-this” shifting of priorities, and of course the minor gross out that accompanies a milk-and-cereal upchuck.   Continue reading

Coaching vs Mentoring vs Feedback: What’s the Difference?

Coaching and MentoringBrowsing Twitter, LinkedIn, or your favorite business blog these days subjects you to a barrage of advice about what you should be doing to lead more effectively. Become a coach to maximize the performance of your team! Nurture a mentoring culture to bring the best out in people! Give constant feedback to engage employees effectively! But which one should you be focusing on? What’s the difference between them? Here’s a quick rundown:  Continue reading

The 6 Things All Healthcare Managers Must Do To Retain Talent

Gold key over whiteA variety of workplace elements are critical to employee engagement which directly impacts retention. Employee engagement is the degree to which an employee is involved in and enthusiastic about their work and thus acts in a way that furthers the interests of their organization, team, and customers. When engagement is high, turnover is low. Many falsely assume that engagement is determined by pay, perks and other monetary rewards. In fact it is the quality of the on-site manager and his or her ability to meet a core set of requirements that largely determines employee retention. You already know this.  Ever work for a bad boss?  Would a raise, a bonus, or some kind of extra “perk” have helped you get over having to work for that person every day? Didn’t think so. And we don’t just know this anecdotally. Research suggests that 75% of the time an employee leaves an organization it’s due to their boss.

Healthcare environments especially are unique and challenging settings. Patients and families that access healthcare services are typically, to some degree, in distress. This means that on an almost daily basis and with most everyone they see, healthcare workers must navigate a myriad of emotions tied to that distress. As such, it’s critical for frontline leaders to create an environment that recognizes this dynamic and provides an appropriate balance of challenge and support. There are a variety of actions I recommend healthcare managers take to impact employee engagement and retention. These include:

Create shared purpose: Employees need to know that the work they do, even medial tasks, has an impact. It’s up to leaders to create line of sight between what workers do and a larger mission.

Focus on employee strengths: When employees are given the chance to do what they do best every day and their job role reflects their unique talents, skills, and interests, they thrive. This also creates a fulfilling work environment.

Recognition: Employees need to see and hear evidence of their contributions from their direct leaders. Whether it’s a simple and sincere “thank you” or a more elaborate form of recognition such as a gift or award, Ongoing recognition is critical for retention. Praise employee contributions at least once every seven days.

Find the fun at work: It’s up to leaders to infuse appropriate joy and humor into a workplace environment. Leaders that laugh alongside their team members create an atmosphere that diffuses the tension, conflict, and strong emotions that are often present in healthcare settings.

Cultivate team relationships: Evidence suggests having strong relationships with colleagues at work and even having a best friend at work is critical for employee engagement and retention. Leaders need to take responsibility for creating opportunities for those relationships to form at work. Even simple acts like celebrating birthdays or other life events (weddings, births, etc) can contribute.

Meet One-on-One: It should be abundantly clear that front-line leaders need to make time to meet with their employees directly. I strongly encourage leaders to set aside at least 20-30 minutes per month (minimum) to meet one-on-one with each employee. This is time for the leader to engage the employee directly beyond the operational tasks of their job and to explore several of the elements outlined here.
Now it’s your turn? What do you think are keys to retaining talent in healthcare? Share your thoughts in the comments box below!

6 Times When You Should Call Instead of Email

avoid emailI’m guilty of it. It’s so easy to do.  I’m sure I’ve done it hundreds of times without even realizing it.

I’ve sent emails to people sitting just a few feet away from me.

I’m sure you know what I mean.  You’re sitting at your computer, cranking out a steady stream of answers and follow-ups, feverishly plowing through that endless to-do list…

And then it happens. Continue reading

Did You Know…?

Did You KnowDid You Know is a collection of fun and functional facts for leaders. Here we go…

  • In 2011 only 1/3 of leaders and HR professionals rated their leadership development highly effective.
  • Only 8% of CEOs measured how their development programs helped improve business performance.
  • 22% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment.
  • There are 293 different ways to make change for a dollar.
  • 98% of professionals believe working with strong coaches and mentors is an important part of their development.
  • In the U.S. the lost productivity of actively disengaged employees is estimated at over $450 billion annually.
  • 70% of engaged employees indicate they have a good understanding of how to meet customers  needs. Only 17% of non-engaged employees say the same.
  • 65% of engaged employees are advocates of their organizations. This is true for just 3% of disengaged employees .
  • 75% of employees voluntarily leaving a job indicate they are not quitting their jobs, they are quitting their bosses.
  • Companies with large numbers of dissatisfied workers experience greater absenteeism and lower productivity.
  • 72% of U.S. workers are not fully engaged in their work.
  • 1 in 4 workers intends to leave their organization for another opportunity within a year.
  • 69% of employees say they would work harder if they were better recognized.
  • 84% of managers say they don’t know how to accurately measure team members.
  • Among a list of valued employee benefits, “Training and Development” ranked number 1 among managers in 2012.
  • 36% of managers indicate they need to develop coaching and mentoring skills in the year ahead.
  • It is claimed that Cary Grant started the trend of placing a mint on a pillow in hotels. In an attempt to woo a lady, he had the bell hop let him into her room and placed a mint on a pillow with a calling card.

Sources for all DYK facts are available.  Just ask!

31 Ways to Recognize Employees

employee recognitionEmployee recognition is a critical component of employee engagement. Effective recognition doesn’t have to be grandiose, complex, or expensive. It’s about time and value: taking time to stop and acknowledge someone’s contribution, and expressing what they did that was of value to you. While it doesn’t have to be complicated it DOES have to be genuine and authentic. Need some ideas? Here are 31 ways to recognize employees:

Continue reading