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Do the Metrics You Are Using Really Make Sense?

Posted by Colleen Coyne

If there is one thing that drives me right to the edge, it is being held accountable for things that really don't matter, aren't helpful or cannot be controlled.

Keeping in mind that your employees are smart (after all, you probably had something to do with hiring them), it does not make sense to ask them to use their valuable time track or measure anything that doesn't prove to have a significant impact on the health of your business.  They know it doesn't have a significant impact and they know it is a waste of time.  It is bad for morale.  This can really cause problems if the metric you are looking isn't completely and entirely controlled by the employee.

In talking with "the managed", I get the feeling that at many companies, some metrics that are being used are almost exclusively being tracked, not for their business value, but to appease upper management, executives or investors.  

The first reason I think this is bad practice is that, well, it is a waste of time.  Most people are already overworked with the meaningful tasks they are accountable for.  

The second reason I think this is bad practice is that it can give a false outlook on the business.  When employees are forced to play a "numbers" game, they will do just that; play the game.  It's not necessarily productive and it can really lead to problems down the road.

If there is some specific reason a particular metric must be tracked, the best thing you can do as a manager is be transparent.  Explain to your team what the thought process or plan is for the information.  People feel a whole lot better about dedicating time to something if they have a sense for why they are doing it. 

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Money Can't Buy Happiness - Or Productivity

Posted by Colleen Coyne

It's been about 6 months since I first heard this talk by Dan Pink.  This illustrated version is something I just stumbled across a week or so ago.  With almost 3,000,000 views at the time of this post, there is a decent chance that some of you visiting today have seen it before.  You should watch it again....and again. 

The logic and science behind this is fascinating.  The idea that money is not always the great motivator we like to think it is, is not new.  However, for all the people who claim to recognize this, all the managers who claim they "get it", I'd guess that 10% truly do.  And, I'd guess, even fewer apply it to their management tactics.  In my opinion, it's really just the result of laziness.  Throwing money at a problem is the easy thing to do.  Having a morale problem?  Hand out some bonuses. That'll perk people up.

Truth is, it will....temporarily.  The problem here is this model doesn't scale.  Although most people will quickly answer "More money." when asked what their bosses could give them to make them happier or to make them feel valued, it's a temporary fix.  Most people will, again, feel unhappy, overworked and underpaid 3 or 6 or 9 months later.  Then what?

If maximizing productivity and retention are honest goals at your company, you should watch this...a few times.

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Air Tran's "Business a Usual" Ad: Who's the loser, Brian or the Boss?

Posted by Colleen Coyne

This TV ad from Air Tran Airways both cracks me up and makes me think.  I think it is interesting because I see two entirely different ways of interpretting the meaning.

As we travel through our careers we come in contact with myriad different personalities and characters.  At every stop there are over-achievers, under-achievers, quiet contibutors, rock stars and of course there is the unequivocal "suck-up".  I am always hopeful that the leadership of a company or team is able to differentiate between the over-achiever and the suck-up (though sometimes I think they don't care to).  I love how this ad reassures me and illustrates that not all suck-ups go through life undetected; some managers can tell the difference and deal with them accordingly.

On the other hand, this ad could also illustrate how leaders and leadership teams can get so disconnected from their people that they don't even know who is sitting right next to them.  By referring to the "suck-up" as Brian, "the boss" kind of leaves open whether he knows that Brian is actually the person sitting right next to him or if he just knows that Brian is the suck-up who is always sending him pointless email messages.

What do you think?

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In Inbound Marketing And Management, Authenticity Goes A Long Way

Posted by Colleen Coyne

I have been an Inbound Marketing Consultant for over 3 years now.  One of the pillars of inbound marketing is to broaden your network and establish yourself as a thought leader by engaging in conversations that are taking place online that are relevant to your business.  The goal is to do this in a way that illustrates your expertise in your field and your desire to help others become experts, too.  Critical to a successful execution of this strategy is authenticity.  If people don't believe you, they will not buy in to your thoughts, ideas or advice and they certainly will not become customers.

Authenticity in ManagementWhen considered in this way, it seems obvious that managers across all industries should heed this same advice.  A successful team is a reflection of great leadership.   Resumes and advanced degrees cannot replace the value of a leader that is sincere in their approach to dealing with their people and genuinely interested in creating a healthy work atmosphere.

By and large the 40-hour work week is a thing of the past.  Salaried employees are working way more than that.  For businesses, it is more important than ever to make their offices a positive and energetic place that people do not dread entering.  This really starts with the management teams.  Knowing that individual contributors are the foundations of most successful businesses, it just makes sense for managers to keep in touch with their team, understand their day-to-day challenges and do whatever possible to help them overcome those challenges.  I've said it before, managers should really work for their teams just as much as their teams work for them.  This sort of synergism will produce the very best results for the company and will certainly contribute to a higher retention rate as employees feel heard and valued. 

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My Dog's Confidence Is Shaken and It's All My Fault

Posted by Colleen Coyne

BentleyI have a great dog.  Actually I have 2 great dogs, but today I am going to focus on Bentley.  Bentley is a 5+ year old Silky Terrier.  We've had him since he was 12 weeks old and for about 4 years he was the center of our world.  He had such a great life.  Walks almost every morning, plenty of attention and playtime at night.  He really had it made.  He has a couple of quirks, but overall he has been a really great pet.

Over the past few years our family has grown.  First we added Lucie, our almost 3 year old shihtzu, and now Jack, our 4 month old son.

Looking back, it was even before the addition of Lucie that I began to fail poor Bentley.  Because he was at the center of everything we did, there was no well-defined "role" for him.  He was just there...always and he always had our attention and knew just what to do.

As the family has grown and matured, our attention has been divided.  This is natural in any growing environment.  But, what I have failed to do is help Bentley understand where he fits in these days.  What are our expectations of him?  How should he behave and when is "his time"?  As a result, Bentley, once eager, energetic and confident has become reserved and clearly unsure of himself.  Plus, he has begun to display some pretty poor and annoying behaviors.  Scratching our leather couch is just one.

In short, I have been a bad manager.  A good manager would have, either before or very soon after, considered the effect of these changes on all members of the organization and communicated accordingly with each individual. My failure to do so has resulted in 1) a member of my organization being less happy than they were before the changes occurred and 2) a member of my organization with declining performance due to that loss of confidence.

Fortunately, I don't think it's too late.  With a little planning and vigilence, I am confident that I can help Bentley understand that he is still an important part of our family.  His role has just changed a bit.  As long as it is clear to him, what his new role is, I think we'll be able to move forward as a happy and productive unit, once again.


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Why Building a Team Is More Effective Than Grooming Individuals

Posted by Colleen Coyne

Michael Phelps' reaction to the U.S. Men's 4x100 victory in Beijing speaks volumes about how being a part of a team motivates and inspires individuals to perform better and achieve more. Compare this reaction to any of his 7 other victories in the 2008 Olympics and there really is no question. This was a phenomenal comeback.  That helped, but the victory with his team was clearly the most emotional of his Olympics.

Need more evidence?  Ask yourself, 'why are their Doubles tennis tournaments?'  'Why are there relay races and team golf tournaments?'  People like to be a part of something bigger than themselves. 

Cultivate an environment and atmosphere where your people truly feel part of a team and you will, undoubtedly, improve effectiveness, morale and, of course, productivity.

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Reinvogorate Your Team

Posted by Colleen Coyne

I work at a pretty cool company called HubSpot.  We are a fairly new inbound marketing software company and we are really doing well.

reinvigorate employeesAs a growing company there are a lot of goals that we are trying to accomplish.  Not the least of which is creating and maintaining a happy customer base.  We do our best to monitor our customers and we frequently reach out to some of our older customers to "reinvigorate" them.  We make sure they are getting value from our product and feeling good about their experience.  We make sure they know about all of our latest features and how these features can help them improve their businesses. 

What I have learned from my nearly 3 years at this company is that people are people and people are busy.  Everyone has a ton of different events occurring in their lives and it is easy to get distracted or even overwhelmed.  By scheduling a few minutes with a customer to show them you are interested in how they are doing and sincerely want to see them succeed, you can make an ordinary customer into an extraordinarily successful and happy customer.

What I wonder, some times, is if companies see their employees in this way.  A good manager can make an ordinary employee into an extraordinarily productive and happy employee by just taking a few minutes from time to time to "reinvigorate" them.  Vacations can help, but as an employee, some positive feedback or encouragement from a manager can go a very long way.  In an earlier post, I proposed that having more company meetings can improve the morale and productivity of an entire company.  I believe managers can have a comparable effect on their individual teams by maintaining a similar level of connection with their team members.  Productive teams build successful companies.

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Inflexibilty = No Crediblity

Posted by Colleen Coyne

Having been born and raised in Massachusetts, I have been exposed to and indeed a part of a culture of sports fanatics.  People in this town really know their teams and their sports.  In fact, following any big game (which is every game if you are a Red Sox fan), especially a loss, sports radio is full of spirited conversations, many of which feature weekend warriors and "high school superstars" questioning the decsions of the coaching staff or management team.  It never ceases to amaze me.

That said, when things aren't going as well as they are expected to go, it seems to logically follow that a full assessment of the situation need occur.  If the management team doesn't do it, then others will and the folks in charge will lose credibility.

It is no different in business.  Managing isn't just about crunching numbers, analyzing data and presenting plans.  There is no such thing as the perfect plan, whether you are a professional coach or a manager at a growing business.  Be open to the idea that there are usually several ways of accomplishing the same goal.  If the current plan isn't working, it's no secret.  It may be time to adjust the plan.

Maintain your credibility by remaining flexible and agile. Sticking to a plan as a matter of pride is bad for the company, can be bad for morale and can be bad for a career.

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Employee Satisfaction a Wise Investment...Now

Posted by Colleen Coyne

A friend of mine pointed me to this article via facebook and I thought it was rather approriate and relative to one of my earlier posts.

I think all managers should read this and really consider the state of their teams' morale.  The knowledge employees accumulate through experience and training is extremely valuable and expensive to replace.  If this article is accurate, a wise investment will be in assuring the happiness and satisfaction of your current employees.

Job satisfaction at a low point for lay-off survivors

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If Your Team Really Had A Choice, Would They Stay With You?

Posted by Colleen Coyne

In the current economic environment, good managers continue to nurture a positive, learning and productive environment.

As companies take measures to combat this difficult economy, managers will likely find themselves in pretty stressful situations.  Forced to try and accomplish, with fewer people, what was once done with a full team, managers can easily slip into a pattern of inflexibility.  Knowing that most employed people today are feeling pretty lucky, it is easy to become less open to feedback and alternative ideas.  Your people are still your number one asset.  They have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make your job a lot easier.  Do not mistake titles with experience.  Consider your team members, their individual skill sets and their individual work histories.  Although you are running a team, you are managing individuals.  The ability to identify and indeed exploit the unique skill sets of your team members is a valuable skill of its own. 

Individual contributors need to be stimulated and learning in order to remain invested in their jobs.  I know so many people that would leave their job immediately......if they could.  Not because they hate their boss or company.  Because they are bored.  They have stopped learning and stopped being challenged in new and interesting ways.  This isn't entirely their fault. Managers,good managers, understand the need for their team members to be engaged and learning all the time.  It's what keeps good people, good employees.

Are you trying to be a good manager or are you just trying to get by?  If, all things being equal, your team members had another alternative for employment, would they choose to stick with you?  Presenting a fair and inspiring work environment will ensure, not just that you hang onto your team, but that you truly do get the most out of them.  There is no more productive a worker than a happy worker.

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