Thursday, August 23, 2012

WHO'S WORKING? This week, Bob talks about what works to make work more workable in summer.

How can employees stay motivated when it's 80-plus degrees, sunny and the pool or the golf course is calling? It's no secret that, for most of us, the temptation of a day at the beach makes it difficult to focus on work in the office in the summer.

But, through the years I've seen employees who work even harder in the summer. These are the same people who are anxious to move ahead and want to be recognized for their hard work. They use summer as the time to shine in the workplace. You can bet, during slow times, an industrious employee will be noticed!

These summer success stories have several things in common. They're self-starters who stay motivated, despite the weather. They diligently make daily "To Do" lists; they take short 15-minute summer breaks from the workday so they don't feel cheated out of summer fun (something as simple as a midday break for ice cream with an office mate); they'll suggest an outdoor meeting with a quick, written agenda to make sure the job gets done, while enjoying the summer air; or they'll take a short break to walk around outdoors, de-stress, and come back rejuvenated.

But, honestly I believe the obligation of employee summer motivation should be firmly in the employers' court. It surprises me when someone will say, "I can't believe productivity fell as low as it did this summer." My guess is they didn't prepare for the inevitable short-hot-summer-with-lots-to-pack-in before... (kids are back in school, Labor Day, leaves fall, you name it). Business leadership consultant and author Randy Harrington nails some employee incentives perfectly right here in a Fox Business News video where he discusses several ways to keep employees motivated in summer.

I also have several favorite management tips to maintain motivation during summer's heat:
A Simple High-Five -- We generally recognize individual achievement during our monthly meetings and make a special effort at our annual luncheon. Food always works. If there's a great team effort, reward them with an outdoor lunch or pizza at a local restaurant. Themed lunch menus for employees, like Mexican Month, have really taken off this summer.

Goaltending -- Set individual goals for the team, but make sure it's within reach and everyone can participate. It creates an atmosphere of healthy, competitive fun.

Condition the Air -- You’d be surprised how hard employees will work when they feel welcome and appreciated. At Shamrock, we create a positive atmosphere of acceptance, camaraderie and unity, so that employees feel motivated to do a great job.

Remember when you were a kid? How much fun it was to get up each summer morning and anticipate the day? Think of some simple ways to help your employees hold on to that anticipation of a fresh, new day. Surprise your crew with a 5PM Happy Hour. Offer the staff a healthy lunch every day the temperature goes above 90. Create some fun! After all, it's a short, sweet summer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

ARE YOU SIRIUS? This week, Bob offers tips on how to ramp up for business during the summer slump.

I got curious about why this time of year is called the "Dog Days of Summer", so I did what anyone who's curious does. I went to Google and found that the "Dog Days" are named for Sirius, the dog star that's brightest from early July through early September, when the heat of summer gets the best of us in the northern hemisphere. Webster's Dictionary refers to the Dog Days as a period of stagnation or inactivity. For various reasons, this period of stagnation or inactivity also occurs in business. People are on vacation, kids are home from school, and many businesses, whether intentional or not, tend to go into a more relaxed mode.

Business may work at a slower pace, so this may also be an ideal time to prepare for the upswing that occurs after Labor Day. Smart business thinking may be to use this time for things that fall by the wayside during the busier months; like employee training, updating websites, working on branding and other internal but important stuff that gets cast aside when business is humming.

Here's a short list to go from Sirius-ly slow to stimulating business during the Dog Days of Summer:
  • Dive Into Social Media - I -- If you've just dipped a business toe into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media, go head first, full-on in. Set up your social media campaign for fall 2012 before it gets buried for another year. Check out some of the tools that make management of your social media easier, such as HootSuite or Roost. Need help? Call on an expert to get you started. Shamrock has a great team, in case you want to get it right, from the start.
  • Dive Into Social Media - II -- Have your sales and marketing people check out Twitter and Facebook to see what your competition is doing, or to see what customers are saying about your company. Connect with your LinkedIn sources and give them a "first look" at what's happening at your company. Invite discussion with LinkedIn network sources.
  • Phone It In -- The telephone still is, and always will be, a good resource for sales. Call a prospect. Ask how their summer is going. Invite a prospect to a baseball game or a cookout. At worst, you may have to leave a voicemail message just to say you're thinking of them.
  • Hit One Out of the Park -- Networking is ongoing, regardless of the weather. The venue may change from a meal with potential customers at a warm and cozy restaurant to a neighbor's backyard barbeque, but summer's no reason to stop networking. Help your employees to have a good elevator pitch about your company -- and reward them for a homerun. A summer contest for best networking ideas can easily pump up the energy at work.
  • Steam Up Your Website -- Often overlooked when work gets crazy, websites can get tired-looking quickly. Challenge your team to come up with ways to energize your website before the fall deluge sets in. Update your news link. Add a new blog post. Make people want to visit your new site!
  • Start a Summer Book Club -- Excite your sales team with a new sales book to get their juices flowing for fall. Zero Time Selling, High Profit Selling, SNAP Selling, are recent books on sales that have generated great reviews.

Enjoy what's left of summer. We all need a little R&R this time of year!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

HOT IN DALLAS. This week, Bob reports on the business climate in Dallas TX.

I'm not giving away any secrets by saying it's been a hot, hot summer. And, of course, it's hot in Dallas. But things are really heating up at Shamrock's Dallas office, thanks to the cool business strategies being lead by Dave Fechter, Shamrock's executive vice president of operations.

For the past nine months Dave's been recruiting a whole new sales team in Dallas. What was once a nice distribution center with zero sales presence has now become one of the hottest properties Shamrock owns, complete with 6 new sales reps who are geared up to sell everything Shamrock has to offer, from marketing and design to promotion to data management to telemarketing and, naturally, print and distribution.

Dave has recruited more than a handful of sales reps who've successfully proven that they have an entrepreneurial spirit and demonstrated their rarefied achievement to sell printing to a boat load of customers. Within the next couple of months, Dave hopes to recruit two more Shamrock reps in the Dallas market.

According to Dave, one big incentive for this powerhouse team is Shamrock's incentive package, which rewards entrepreneurship and hard work.

Dave also told me that another big selling point for the Dallas sales team is the cross-selling orientation at Shamrock's corporate headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. When Dave told them they'll have a chance to meet with every one of our Cleveland-based general managers and they'll learn from these successful people how Shamrock has helped them achieve their own personal growth, Dave said "...that was the deal clincher."

I'm proud to give a big "high-five" to Dave who, with this growth strategy in Dallas, has brought in almost 30 new customers from Dallas. These are customers who are now purchasing more than our printing expertise. They're buying our creative work, our telemarketing programs and much, much more. Yes. It's hot in Dallas. But it's also very cool!