If you’re not having fun at work, chances are you’re people aren’t either

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011 Mike Kerr

There’s a sort of mantra I tell myself before going out onto stage in front of an audience. I use it especially if I’m concerned about the mood of the audience or walking into a challenging situation.

And it’s simply this: “Have fun. If I’m not having fun, the audience is definitely not going to have fun.”

It’s an old maxim that a speaker’s emotional state and energy level is mirrored by the audience.

The same could be said of leaders.

We know, as trite as it may sound on the surface, that attitudes and emotions are incredibly contagious.  Think of the energy-sapping potential of just one team member to bring down an entire office.

This applies triply so for leaders.  Leaders are far more likely to infect the mood of a workplace with whatever attitude and energy level they are bringing into work.

So check your attitude every morning before you go into work.

Tell you’re face you are genuinely happy to be there.

Walk with a sense of purpose – be aware of the energy level your body language and gestures are giving off.

Create a morning ritual that forces you to reflect on your own attitude and that puts you into a positive frame of mind.

Remind yourself that no matter what is going on at work, true leaders understand how important it is for them to model the attitudes, emotional state and energy level they want to see in their own team.

Because like any great speaker, as a leader you are always in the spotlight.

Michael Kerr,  July, 2011

Three attitudes that need exploding if you want a great workplace

Thursday, June 16th, 2011 Mike Kerr

Here are three attitudes that need exploding if you are going to build a great workplace culture:

1.  “We can’t find ‘good help’ anywhere.”

Well, guess what? The “good help” exists. They are out there somewhere, perhaps working for your competitor.  The question is, why?

2. “Great employees need to sell themselves and prove to us why we need to hire them.”

Partially true, but the challenge is that those so called great employees, by virtue of the fact that they are great, can work anywhere they please.  They want to know why they should come and work for you?

So what are you doing to sell your organization to them?

3. “Employee loyalty is dead.”

No, employee loyalty is only dead in those organizations that have surrendered. It’s dead in organizations that aren’t doing the things they’ve need to be doing all along to build and sustain an inspiring culture. Employee loyalty is only dead if you choose to smother the life out it!

Michael Kerr,  Humor at Work, www.humoratwork.com

Wanted: Inspiring Visionaries, NOT Vision Statement Readers

Thursday, June 9th, 2011 Mike Kerr

I think we need less vision statement readers, and  more true visionaries at work.Most of the vision statements I’ve seen are about as exciting as a trip to the dentist. Too often they include dry, bureaucratic language that comes across as completely stuffy and totally meaningless to most employees and customers.

If one of the roles of a vision statement is to unite people in a common goal, and another goal is to inspire folks, then here’s a thought: shouldn’t vision statements be easy to grasp and well, inspiring? Shouldn’t they cause excitement?  Shouldn’t they stir souls or ignite passions or spark curiosity or fire up the neurons?

So how about using some everyday, but powerful language in your vision statement?

And how about having vision questions or conversations or visionary ideas? After all, it’s a bit challenging to get excited about a statement.   I mean, really, who even uses the term statement anymore? Statements are what politicians  give when they testify before a committee.

So by all means, co-create a truly inspiring vision for your team and your customers, but please, stop already with the vision statements. Any leader can read off a statement.

What your workplace needs, what the world needs, are more true visionaries.

Michael Kerr, June, 2011,  www.humoratwork.com

Where is Your Focus, Focused? On “Stuff” or on the Important “Stuff”?

Monday, June 6th, 2011 Mike Kerr

According to the Human Capital Institute,  70% of a leaders job should be to focus on creating an engaging culture and building the talent within an organization. 

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Help Wanted: Inspiring Workplaces That Live Up to the Hype!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 Mike Kerr

I was reading a half-page classified ad in the paper today, advertising for a position with my former, long ago employer in the government.  As I read, I laughed harder and harder at the Utopian workplace that was being offered up to prospective employees, because there was absolutely no resemblance to the reality that still exists in this very dysfunctional workplace.

Which got me thinking: I wonder what the ad would look like if the employees wrote it without any spin doctoring:

“As part of the management team you will attend countless, meaningless meetings where your ideas will be constantly shot down or ignored and work tirelessly in a fun-sucking, soul-destroying work environment . . .”

You get the drift.

Now this may sound harsh, but my point is, are you able to write an inspiring, glowing and HONEST employee help wanted ad that truly does reflect your workplace culture with no spin on it?

What if your veteran employees or customers wrote your help wanted ads, how different would the ads look?

Have a look at your help wanted ads and see if your workplace really holds up to the promise being sold to your new employees.

Copyright Michael Kerr, 2011. www.mikekerr.com

Long Term Employees or Loyal Employees? Repeat Customers or Loyal Customers?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 Mike Kerr

There’s a huge difference between loyal customers and repeat customers.  Just as there’s a huge difference between long-term employees and truly loyal employees.

And just one of those important differences is that truly loyal customers won’t be easily swayed to switch alliances based on price alone. A loyal customer or client will be so passionate about doing business with you or your company (and there may be a difference in their mind!) that they not only will become raving advocates of your business, they are not easily (if at all) swayed to jump ship.

And certainly, they won’t jump ship just to save a few bucks.

Return customers, however, don’t necessarily get to sit at the loyalty table.

A repeat customer hasn’t necessarily developed an emotional connection to your organization. They don’t necessarily tell everyone and everyone’s dog about how fabulous you are to work with.  In fact, they might only be repeat customers simply because they are too lazy to go elsewhere!

But can they be lured away with a sale or special coupon or when a competitor’s business opens up shop ten minutes closer to their home? If the answer’s yes, then they aren’t as loyal as you need them to be!

Ditto for employees.

Never make the mistake for assuming a long term employee is loyal. They might be long term because of inertia. They might be long term because no one else will hire them – for now!

But what are they really saying about your workplace?Are they raving fans that are truly proud to work there, or on their off-hours are they warning their own family members to never apply for work at your company? Are they discouraging their friends from doing business with you? Can they be easily lured away when another prospective employer offers them a few more bucks?

If you want truly loyal customers, then it helps to have truly loyal employees (and vice versa!)

And to foster loyal employees and loyal customers you need to nurture a great, inspiring, innovative and fun workplace culture!

You need to value humor, diversity, creativity and service.

You need to build the kind of business where people really do feel valued, trusted and respected.

Workplace culture drives success, and a successful, inspiring culture generates the kind of loyalty that even money can’t always buy.

Copyright Michael Kerr, 2011   www.mikekerr.com



Inspiring Workplaces: How the Best Stay the Best

Monday, January 31st, 2011 Mike Kerr

I got talking to another professional speaker the other day and we both observed how often it is that the clients who really need us never seem to be the ones who book us. 

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Don’t Solve Low Morale with Window Dressing Solutions!

Monday, January 31st, 2011 Mike Kerr

Clients sometimes share with me how their employees are feeling dispirited, demoralized, frustrated and even downright angry.   So what’s the solution?

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Don’t Try to Motivate Employees – Inspire Them to Achieve Greatness at Work

Monday, October 11th, 2010 Mike Kerr

“It is not my job to motivate players. They bring extraordinary motivation to our program. It is my job not to de-motivate them.”  Football coach Lou Holtz

Great words to lead by coach.

If you are trying to motivate your employees, I want to suggest that something has gone horribly wrong.   Most likely, you hired the wrong folks. You hired people that weren’t already motivated or people that weren’t a proper fit for your particular purpose or workplace culture.

It’s brutally hard to “motivate” another human being,  less so to inspire them.

You may think I am splitting hairs here, but I think it’s an important distinction. When we think of terms like “employee motivation” we fall in the trap of focusing too much on external rewards, on developing a system of carrots and sticks (rewards and punishments) or we look to temporary solutions (team building event, anyone?).

To me the word inspire has a much deeper meaning.

Inspiring people suggests that people will become intrinsically motivated to do their best, to develop creative, innovative solutions and provide insanely fabulous customer service because they feel a deeper connection to your organization’s vision and mission (or, in plain English, the reason you exist).

So think of ways you can inspire your people: through a deeper sense of purpose, through stories and especially through inspiring deeds that make employees feel connected to a bigger idea that simply picking up a pay cheque at the end of the week.

Video message:  Inspire or Motivate?

Michael Kerr,  The Way Work Ought to Be!    www.humoratwork.com

Managing Stress and Humor as a Leader

Thursday, October 7th, 2010 Mike Kerr

A huge part of a leader’s job is to manage the level of stress in the workplace.

Which means leaders must take the pulse of their workplace environment on a regular basis:

How are people feeling? How are people coping?  What are people saying about the level of stress at work when the leader is NOT in the room?  Are employees feeling overworked and underplayed?  Are some employees feeling under utilized and stressed because they are too bored? (Hey, it happens!) What are the sources of stress?

I am constantly amazed/stunned/shocked at how often leaders appear to be completely clueless about what the level of stress is in their workplace, either because they have isolated themselves in a bubble at the top, or because they don’t recognize the symptoms or because they haven’t created an open enough environment where employees feel they can talk about it or because they are simply, well, clueless and not seeing what’s happening around them.

Given the enormous cost of stress in the workplace, and not just the bottom line bucks in terms of absenteeism and reduced productivity, but also the loss of creativity and the impact on customer service and morale,  leaders need to consider the management of stress at work as one of their primary duties.

Which means leaders need to take an active role in reducing stress at work, by modeling appropriate behaviors and attitudes, by creating an environment that truly is respectful, by setting appropriate work/life balance boundaries, by setting clearly defined and supported goals, and by creating an environment that really does value humor and fun in the workplace.

And if you truly value fun and humor as a leader, then it means learning to lighten up, taking yourself less seriously and laughing at yourself from time to time.

And it means not getting in the way of the spontaneous fun and humor that arises organically in most workplaces.

Remember, a leader is much like an orchestra conductor – they set the tone and pace for the rest of the ensemble!

Michael Kerr,  20120, Inspiring Workplaces – The Way Work Ought to Be!