Rewards: What’s In It For Me?

Rewards: What’s In It For Me?

“It’s a good job.”


This seems to be the standard response when it comes to well-paid union jobs with pensions and benefits, no matter how you frame a question about working in one.

Q: How is it going at Union Job?

A: It’s a good job.

Q: Do you like working at Union Job?

A: It’s a good job.

Q: Do you like what you do?

A: It’s a good job.

Q: How about your co-workers?

A: It’s a good job.


“It’s a great place to work!”


The union wages, benefits and pensions are great, and provide much needed financial security to workers  – no doubt about that – so yes, these things do contribute to a Workplace That Works. But do they make it a great place to work?

As a small business owner, you have a great deal of flexibility that unionized workplaces do not have. Rewards for your team can be just about anything, and can involve trading goods or services with other small businesses as well. Paying at least a living wage goes a long way, as does anything that saves your team members money on things they want and need.

Aside from the financials, there are so many options for rewarding your team and making them feel appreciated and valued. Why not find out what that is and see what you can realistically do about it?


If you would like to start a conversation with your team on what is rewarding to you and to them, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series:  A Workplace That Works.

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Systems: How Do I Do That?

Systems: How Do I Do That?

Motivation to make systems?…meh.


Why do so many independent businesses struggle with effective systems?

I don’t know about you, but I have a bit of an aversion to the word, “system”, possibly because of The System. The words we use to create and document methods of saving time and energy seem to have a bureaucratic connotation…procedure, process, controls, plan, structure, organization, rule, fixed order, etc. It’s boring. But then, in my experience, most of the workplaces that were well-systemized tended toward the bureaucratic. Is this the problem? Semantics?


Motivation to create designs?…deal me in.


We can get around this by thinking of systems as designs that streamline your workplace to make it more harmonious. Would you be more motivated to dive into designing a more effective workplace? I would…simply writing that word makes me want to draw something. Semantics aside, the main point here is the effectiveness of the design, and of how the end product will function in the real world, just like building a piece of furniture.

Let’s use as an example the system that is the least pleasant to most entrepreneurs I know, that can get them into the most trouble; let’s talk about financials. Accountants are, in general, operating in a logical universe. That’s what makes them good at it. Let them work in the systems world to your benefit and ask them to explain things that you don’t understand. The person you will mostly be working with is your bookkeeper – still logical, but probably more adaptable and flexible. Instead of setting up a system, how about designing a workflow with him or her that includes communication with your accountant. It’s the same thing, but it feels better, right?


An Effectively Designed Workplace


Your team knows what works, what doesn’t and where it would be great to have some cheat sheets or manuals. They know what it is like to learn the ropes and figure it out as they go along. Now, if you bring them together and say, “We are going to document our systems, processes and procedures,” they will give you that look. What if you brought them together and asked them to help? “I would really appreciate your help in designing more effective workflows and better ways to deliver our (product or service) because you know better than anyone what needs improvement. Let’s shut the doors next Monday and have an idea jam. I’ll buy lunch.”


If you would like guidance on ‘idea-jamming’, how to map out systems and pretty much any aspect of your business with your team, and bring it all together, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series, A Workplace That Works.

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Clear Communication: What did you say?

Clear Communication: What did you say?

Clear communication is a hallmark of any good relationship, which includes your relationship with your team members and your customers. It is a mark of respect and genuine connection.

The previous post, Expectations: I can’t read your mind, was about identifying and communicating expectations in the workplace. This one goes further into clarity of communication and the energy behind our words, actions and body language; in other words, practicing mindfulness in our interactions.

The Neutral Approach


What do you think of when you hear the word neutral? Boring? After all, It is a state of disengagement. How do you view it in terms of communication? It is most commonly used in the case of disputes when someone caught in the middle refuses to take sides. You probably switch to neutral in workplace disturbances to settle things down without even thinking about it. You naturally know that to be the best way to handle it.

The neutral approach is powerful – not just in disputes – in everyday communication because it keeps the focus on the topic of the conversation. When people are upset, excited or personally attached to a specific outcome, it is difficult to be clear and objective. Most of us are used to communication that has either passive or aggressive qualities to it (sometimes both) and you can feel that there is more to the conversation than what is being said. There is a competition for energy going on.

Becoming mindful of your energy with your team members helps you and them to stay focused on the purpose of your workplace. Neutrality opens doors to communicating more authentically. It helps your team feel comfortable approaching you and one another when things come up. It builds trust. It helps everyone to consciously listen and respond.


If you would like to explore this train of thought further, and bring it into your workplace, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series, A Workplace That Works.

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Expectations: I can’t read your mind.

Expectations: I can’t read your mind.

Clear and realistic expectations are a big deal.


What can you expect from your team, what can they expect from one another and what can they expect from you? This is a tough one, right? Every person has an individual set of expectations that arise from values, personal motivators, prior experience and life in general. Certain workplace expectations are easy to name and agree upon, while some are pretty hazy or unspoken and hard to identify. Where is the line between personal and purposeful?

The easily named expectations should be put in writing and openly discussed so that everyone is clear and held accountable. This is your contract with one another…your policy statement that is based on realistic and achievable day-to-day expectations.

The hazy, less identifiable expectations are based on assumptions, which are personal.

Think about the different personalities, different skills and different motivators of you and your team. Honouring those differences contributes to a workplace that works. We all have some manner of conditioning that leads to assumptions of how people, including ourselves, should be because of their career path, credentials, economic status, family situation, appearance, age, race, gender and so on. Intellectually, we know that we are all equal as human beings, but subconsciously, it’s a different story.

In your workplace (and everywhere else), personal assumptions can end up in resentments, divisiveness, competition and other negative expressions like bullying that create the opposite effect of what makes a workplace work. People will behave in ways to gain the upper hand, even if they don’t know they are dong it. That puts you right back into the power and control workplace instead of the empowered and self-controlled one that you want.


Awareness and transparency.


As part of your clear expectations, why not build empowerment right into your policy? An inclusive leadership approach, keeping things neutral and focused on the Primary Purpose and creating Clear Roles takes care of many of the triggers for control games. The next step is to bring awareness of these behaviours to your team and to empower them to neutralize them (the behaviours, not the people). Once you see something, you can’t unsee it. With these hazy control tactics, once you are aware of them, you can’t become unaware.

If you would like to explore this train of thought further, and bring it into your workplace, stay tuned for the launch of the workshop series, A Workplace That Works.

Click the link below or in the sidebar to get on the mailing list!



Roles: What Exactly Am I Doing Here?

Roles: What Exactly Am I Doing Here?

The Transition from Generalizing to Specializing


You know how that goes, right? As an entrepreneur, you started out being everything to every part of your business and maybe you are still in that situation. Depending upon the nature of your business, it is next to impossible to define roles in the start up years; there are a lot of roles needing to be filled, but not enough work in each of them to create a steady job. If this continues into the growth years, it is a recipe for malfunction.

Perhaps you were fortunate to hire an entrepreneur in employee clothing who could troubleshoot, fill many shoes, identify opportunities and who could figure out a way to get it all done. As time goes on, allowing this sense of ownership with no evolution to a clear path, that kind of employee will either burn out or leave for new opportunities, especially if new hires are also vague about how they fit in. It becomes a competition that no one can win.


You need a plan.


If you find yourself in this kind of situation, where people are stepping on each other’s toes and there is no defined sense of responsibility, it’s time to get clear on the roles within your business. The best place to start is having a chat with your start up allstars, if they happen to still be around. They were a huge part in getting your business up and running and by now they know where they want to focus. They will also have a good idea of where the newer hires will be the best fit. Having a number of people in general roles can make it difficult for you to pinpoint the areas where they can shine.

This is also a good time to make some decisions on creating some positions of responsibility. Your allstars might be perfect for taking on the responsibility for different aspects of the business, like marketing, production or office administration. Find out if they are interested before you get the whole team together and include them in the planning process.

What now? Talk it out. Have an idea jam on what the business needs and what roles need to be defined. Let the team know about the newly defined positions of responsibility and who is the go-to person for what.


What about the bruised egos?


Yes, this could get sticky, even with you. Letting go of control is a big step into trust. Everyone in your business is letting go of something in this process and that can be hard. The best way to go is to tell the simple truth – that the way things were going, it was not good for the business or for anyone in it. You are choosing to become a better leader and this is one of the steps.

Not only will you create greater clarity and respect within your team, you will gain greater clarity and respect as a leader.


If you would like to explore the personal motivators and drivers of you and your team, and how this knowledge helps make your workplace work, be sure to get on the mailing list to get notified of the launch of the Workplace That Works workshop series. (Click the link below or in the sidebar.)


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