Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

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5 Tips To Re-Engage and Retain Valuable Employees

Guest post by Brett Farmiloe

The two-year itch. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the feeling you get after being at a job for a couple of years. You start looking around, and the little voice in your head says, “Do we need to make a change?.”

While that little voice can be great for your own personal growth, it’s not what you as the employer want. An experienced, tenured, employee is very valuable, and you would prefer not to replace them and have to reinvest in training another. This is not a purely American problem either, more than 50% of all organizations globally struggle with retaining their most valuable employees.

Retain Valuable Employees Continue reading


Great leaders engage and communicate

Guest post by Annabelle Smyth

Learning how to communicate with your employees is vital to being a great manager. A leader that knows how to communicate and understands an employee’s situation is one that employee’s want to work for. Communication can improve teamwork, unity, productivity, and efficiency.

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How a Disengaged Workforce is Costing You Money

Guest post by Jüri Kaljundi

As a CEO, I make sure that at the end of the week I know what every member of my team is up to and they know that I know. Why? Because I believe that for most companies, especially start-ups, the greatest challenges can only be solved with a highly engaged and motivated team.

I think that it doesn’t come as a big surprise to anyone, but having a motivated and strong workforce is vital to every company. The problem is, that although, in theory, most leaders acknowledge the need for taking care of employees, only one third of the workforce in US is engaged at any given year. But engagement and worker happiness are not topics we can only talk about to make us look good. We must actually make them feel good. Continue reading

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Employee Empowerment: A Key Force in Leadership

Guest post by Ken Myers

Empowerment is an important skill to learn as a leader. Most who rise to the upper echelons of a company get there because of their attention to detail and ability to handle any situation. Unfortunately, these skills do not often translate into engaging with employees. Leaders who assume all of the business’s duties and responsibilities aren’t doing their employees any favors. In fact, this very hands-on approach breeds resentment and disengagement. Empowering your employees to achieve greatness, on the other hand, helps you, your employees, and the business.

Empowerment Leads to Positive Customer Experience

We’ve all had the frustrating experience of talking to an employee who is simply in over their head when it comes to handling your situation. They desperately want to help, but they’re unable to override a sale or present a refund. Perhaps a manager is present to take care of the problem, or maybe you have to wait for a phone call; either way, neither you nor the employee are pleased with the lack of progress during your interaction.

Employees who are empowered to grant comps, issue upgrades, or simply answer customer questions are more engaged in their position, which leads to a more positive customer service experience. Customers site excellent customer service as a reason for remaining loyal to a brand or company year after year. Empowering employees to resolve customer concerns breeds a happy, loyal following.

Employees Cite Lack of Responsibility As Cause of Disengagement

No one wants to feel useless at their job. Whether you’re working part-time at a clothing store or are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you want to have a positive effect on your workplace. Unfortunately, many leaders don’t recognize and harness this desire even though it could benefit the company and the employee.

This disenchantment is painfully clear in the Gallup 2013 State of the American Workplace survey. Most disengaged employees are frustrated by the lack of responsibility and inopportunity for growth in their positions. These employees are costing their employer’s money in lost time and resources. Worse, their frustration is understandable. Employees need to be engaged to be effective. Empowering employees to do the best job possible can help prevent disengagement.

Empowered Employees Ease Managerial Stress

Managers are asked to carry a lot of responsibility in the workplace. While this increase in work is often counteracted by increased pay and better hours, many managers continue taking on responsibilities rather than delegating them to workers, leading to gridlock. Payroll and scheduling may be a necessity in the managerial role, however, other tasks can be done by employees, such as ordering supplies or completing quality control checks. Delegating these tasks to employees allows managers to focus on improving company morale and advancing workplace projects.

Businesses are better served when multiple workers know how to do each job. The conventional wisdom of being indispensable by being the sole person able to order supplies or contact vendors is misguided and hurts businesses. In addition, it injures employee morale, causing disengagement. Reallocating responsibilities to employees provides the empowerment they need to feel more engaged in the workplace and allows managers to focus on the important tasks only they can complete. Delegating duties to employees helps both managers and employees.

How to Properly Empower Employees

While the benefits of empowering employees may be obvious, letting go of the reigns and allowing employees to take on extra duties may scare even the most seasoned leaders. To properly empower your employees you need to determine their needs and the business’ needs, and you need to fully convey your expectations when dispensing power.

Employees work the front lines of the business world and know what would best benefit customers and the business. A full investigation and survey of employee wants and needs should yield some recurring issues that can likely be resolved by employee empowerment. These wants and needs must align with the business vision and create a better business. Finally, you have to explain your expectations to your employees.

For example, a customer service representative that frequently deals with upset customers over fees may have to ask a manager for permission every time a fee is waived. Making the employee constantly put the customer on hold to track down the managereven though the fee may always be waived can create unnecessary tension. Empowering that employee to waive the fee would increase customer service, empower the employee in a way that makes them more engaged, and help the company by creating customer loyalty. If you’ve spoken with your employees on when and why to waive the fee, it’s a no-lose situation.

Employee empowerment is a powerful force in creating a happy workplace. With employee engagement lagging in most companies, the best way to jump ahead of the competition is to create a motivated workforce. Properly empowering employees with clear expectations will benefit the company, the employee, and the customers.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

The Product Management Perspective: Compelling products (or services) create success. To the extent you create great products, that people want to buy, you will achieve success. Creating compelling products comes back to the people. You need people who focus on getting the right products to the right market at the right time. Successful companies establish a product management role (or group), empower them with the ability to make decisions, and hold them accountable for their actions.


Finding your strengths

Think about the following statement: “At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do the best every day.” How do you respond? Do you get the opportunity to use your best skills and strengths for what you do every day? Or are you still living in the “You can be anything you want to be, if you just try hard enough” mindset? Hard work is absolutely critical for success, but if you are working at something that is not a natural fit for your skills and natural talents you are missing a huge opportunity.

In the book Strengths Finder 2.0 author Tom Rath gives an action plan for helping you find the qualities at which you excel. The book is based on research by the late Dr. Donald O. Clifton, considered the father of Strength’s Based Psychology, who discovered and developed 34 themes to clearly classify human strengths. This is a “2.0 version” of the book that provides a succinct description of each theme, ten “ideas for action” that help you apply the theme, and three suggestions for working with other people whose strengths apply to that theme.

Each copy of the book has a unique access code to a comprehensive Strengths discovery and Action-Planning Guide on their website. After completing strengths assessment you receive an email detailing your top five strengths. You then use the descriptions and ideas for action for your top themes to help you identify what you can do, and what you might need to change, to apply your strengths to your work and other important aspects of your life.

The author’s studies indicate that people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general. The stated goal of the book is to help organizations overcome the “epidemic of active disengagement” that has become prevalent in many organizations.

Mr. Rath sums it up this way: “Far too many people spend a lifetime headed in the wrong direction. They go not only from cradle to cubicle, but then to the casket, without uncovering their greatest talents and potential.”

The Product Management Perspective: One of the great things about product management is you get to use many different skills. However, knowing your strengths will help you focus on areas that are most important to your products’ (and your own) success.

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A new Leadership Development Carnival

The Lead on Purpose blog is featured in the January Leadership Development Carnival of Dan McCarthy’s Great Leadership blog.

This first Leadership Development Carnival in 2010 provides links to 50 posts — what Dan calls “the Best of 2009.” The links include posts on topics such as building better leaders, measuring employee engagement and building corporate trust. You’ll find posts from great bloggers such as Art PettyWally BockMike Henry and others. The Leadership Development Carnival is a great way improve your leadership development and get to know the bloggers who are making it happen. Take a stroll through the Carnival; you will not regret the time you spend.

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A new Leadership Development Carnival

The Lead on Purpose blog is featured in the April Leadership Development Carnival Spring Addition of Dan McCarthy’s Great Leadership blog.

April’s Leadership Carnivals brings together links to more than 30 fresh posts on topics such as employee engagement, personal leadership and Jack Welch’s take on shareholder value (seems to have changed). You’ll find posts from great bloggers such as Wally Bock and Chris Young. The leadership insight is well worth 30 minutes of your time.