Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wealth Providers

You either ARE one or NOT
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, October 1, 2015

"Strong people will automatically stop trying if they feel unwanted (and/or unappreciated).  They won't fix it or beg.  They will just walk away."  From the web site

It is not my intention to describe to you the U. S. Coast Guard but bear with me.  I cannot speak for the other branches of the Armed Forces; only the Coast Guard who I will hereafter refer to as "the Guard." 

In the Guard there is a very well defined rate and pay structure.  You receive automatic pay raises based upon your length of service.  You receive pay increases with each promotion.  But once you fail to advance, the length of service pay increases stop because the Guard wants you to advance and improve yourself or you lose your effectiveness to the service.  You also receive periodic performance evaluations and these help to determine your value to the service.  If good, they help the service member to get promoted.  In the Enlisted Ranks, you must pass a service-wide examination in order to be promoted.  In the officer corps you need excellent performance evaluations to be promoted.

Now compare that to most businesses, certainly not yours, just most business.

I have found that in business, this is just not the case.  When I read the above quote from I could not help but to interject myself into the equation.  Besides my twenty years in the Guard, I have spent 33 years in real estate sales; some as a sales person but most as the Designated Real Estate Broker and/or Team Leader/Manager of real estate offices.  Therefore I am very familiar with both when it comes to hiring, firing and compensations offered.

Read the quote again but this time I have emboldened certain words:  "Strong people will automatically stop trying if they feel unwanted (and/or unappreciated).  They won't fix it or beg.  They will just walk away." 

For business owners, here is a question that could determine the future of your businesses.  Are YOU making your employees "feel wanted" and/or "feel appreciated?"  Most will say - absolutely!  But are you, really?  If you hire a fantastic employee, exactly what are you doing to make them "feel wanted", AND "feel appreciated?"

Let's talk about feeling appreciated.  "Saying Thank You", "Personal Awards/Recognitions", upgrade in office space, titles, and even parking spaces are great for some employees.  These things are like band aides on an open wound.  They tend to temporarily cover up the wound until it heals.  In this case, the wound beneath the wound is still there looking for another place to surface.  I have a surprise for you, the ONLY appreciation that really counts towards both making someone feel wanted and appreciated is the compensation you offer to them.  The only one; that is at least in my opinion.  You say "thank you" and for a few moments the employee feels good that they have done a good job.  Consciously or subconsciously, mostly subconsciously, these repeated complimentary comments begin to add up in an employee's mind just as they begin to be noticed when they are not complimented on doing a good job.  This is inevitable and it applies to YOU as well as your employees.  If you are a sole business owner, you are not going to get a lot of compliments about the way you conduct your business except for maybe from your family members and a few customers.  Customers are quick to complain, slow to compliment.  You are basically on your own.  Here is the secret - what makes YOU feel APPRECIATED (profits) also makes your employees feel APPRECIATED (compensation)!

Some will say that money is not important and they will lie about other things as well.  Money (compensation) IS important - EXTREMELYIMPORTANT.  The phrase, it "puts bread on the table" applies.  For today, bread on the table is a good thing.  But there is always tomorrow and there are a lot of tomorrows to consider. In my opinion, that is where most if not all businesses fail miserably.

Why do you think an employee would "just walk away" from what you might think is a good job or position with your company?  Working conditions is the short term answer - compensation is the long term answer.  You can do a great deal to improve upon the short term working conditions starting with firing incompetent employees.  An incompetent employee or an employee who is very difficult to work with is like a cancer in a business environment.  Thinking back to my 20 years in the employment of the U. S. Government I saw this up close and personal.  In the Federal Government it is almost impossible to fire an incompetent employee and in most cases the organization they work for try to promote them OUT of their specific group.  If not, they simply remain there for what seems like forever.  A weak, as compared to a strong, employee realizes that he or she will not be fired, begins to do less and less - there is no need for them to "just go away", instead, they just "hand on" until they can retire or they get a disability and retire and that happens more than you can imagine.  They have learned to work the system.

As a business owner you should not have the problem of not being able to fire an employee but in order to properly do so I would highly recommend that you create periodic personnel WRITTEN evaluations if you do not already have them.  You need these for two reasons, to begin to identify the weak employees in your company and be able to justify their release should that happen.  Just as important, you personally recognize the good work of your best employees.  Any evaluation should be like an Oreo cookie.  First you praise them for what you can praise them for.  Then you identify their weaknesses and/or what they need to work on and then end the process with something that again praises and thanks them.  In business where the system typically falls woefully short is that businesses are very reluctant to advise employees what THEY need to do to warrant an increase in compensation.  It is my opinion that businesses owners are afraid they might be planting expectations that they cannot deliver.

In small businesses, there are not a lot of opportunities for "upward mobility" without leaving the company.  So how does a small business keep the great employees they want or would like to keep for as long as possible?  Personal parking spaces can only go so far and then they no longer matter looking at the long-term desires of the employee.  Your employees have health concerns, personal education concerns, college education concerns for their children, vacation/travel desires, maybe a nicer car, a nicer home, things that may be commensurate with their position or length of employment with your company.  When an employee's compensation does not keep pace with just their present standard of living and/or their desires, you the employer have a problem. 

While with Keller Williams Realty I learned the term, Wealth Providers.  During a seminar we were all asked to identify who the wealth providers were in our lives.  That was broken down into financial wealth providers as well as inspirational/motivational wealth providers.  This Nugget deals with the Financial Wealth Providers.  Who is responsible for developing YOUR wealth?  Every business owner needs to ask that question on a daily basis.  If you did, do you think you would treat your employees differently than you may now be treating them?

Imagine this scene.  You arrive at work and after you have your first cup of coffee, you sit at your desk with pen in hand, you make a list in the order of importance, all those people you know both inside your business and outside who have the most influence on your personal wealth.  Who would lead your list?  Who would be second, third, etc.

Now you make a list of your daily "To Do's."  What activities MUST BE DONE today that cannot be put off or deferred to another day?  Is acknowledging the importance of your Wealth Providers at the top of your list.  I would suggest that they are not nor have they been for some time.  When was the last time you invited one of your Wealth Providers to share your morning coffee with you for no reason other than to get to know THEM better.  Here is a rule provided by the late Zig Ziglar:  "We are born with two ears and one mouth; you do the math!"  If you learn nothing from this Nugget, learn that formula.  We ALL talk too much.  According to Ziglar, twice as much as we should.  We need to learn to actually listen and I mean really listen.  This is where you will your relationships with your employees, especially your Wealth Builders by actually, maybe for the first time, listening to them and asking them questions about what they have just said.  That is how YOU signal to THEM that you are deeply listening - asking them questions about them and their families.

Here is another valuable lesson, from where it came I unfortunately do not remember.  We go to great efforts to recruit talent to our businesses.  After we hire them, we go about trying to once again finding good hires for our company.  Good business owners will try to rehire the employees they already have by literally recruiting them again, every day of their employment.  How do you do that?  In this day of political correctness I would be in trouble.  I believe in the value of a touch. If you need a class on the difference between a simple touch and groping you have more problems than I can address.  A touch can be a simple touch on someone's hand or shoulder accompanied by a greeting or compliment.  Be careful with your compliment.  For example, "You look really nice today," we have all heard it or have said it.  But what are you NOT saying - could it be: You look really nice TODAY, but you should have seen yourself yesterday.  Be genuine with your comments and people will know that you are being genuine.  Be false with your comments and they will understand that as well.

As a business owner, here is your real problem.  Most owners simply become complacent regarding the Wealth Builders in their own businesses by ignoring them when it comes to their compensation packages.  In professional sports we hear every day of a player whose contract had been renegotiated or extended giving them more money for the great job they have already done and in anticipation of the job they are expected to do.  How does your Wealth Builders receive an increase in their compensation from you, their owner/employer?  A lot of businesses give an annual Christmas bonus.  If you have seen Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase, you know how that works out.  The employee comes to rely upon that bonus - good or bad.  If withheld, you the employer just sealed your own coffin.  If the bonus is not up to what the employee feels he or she is due, again you have sealed your own coffin.  A compensation package should include specific guides as to how an employee is to increase their own monetary compensation.  I would even further suggest that you advise your employees that you do not give out Christmas bonuses as so many companies do because there is no way that you or your employee can win.  If you give a great bonus one Christmas and then far less the next, you have destroyed the employee's expectations.  It not only adversely affects the employee's expectataions but as importantly the employee's family - they too have come to expect it.

I know of these things because they all have happened to me.  Why do you suppose this happens?  I believe that most people who go into business may understand business principles but they fall very short on understanding people.  Therefore if you are reading this as a potential employee, my advice to you is to get EVERYTHING in writing when you first sign on with a business.  Ask if they have an Organizational Manual or a Personnel Manual you can take home and read (most are way too long to simply scan through).  Things you would want to know BEFORE going to work for a company are:

  1. Working Hours
  2. Holidays
  3. Expectations of working apparel
  4. Sick Leave
  5. Maternity Leave for both fathers and mothers
  6. Health and Dental Insurance if provided
  7. Evaluation process including the number each year, when they are done and appeal process if others are involved
  8. Process to resolve disputes between employees
  9. Well defined job descriptions
  10. What you have to do to receive an increase in compensation and/or positions within the company
  11. How is an employee terminated
  12. Is your compensation tied to profitability?  If so, do you have access to the books of the business to satisfy yourself that that the company is being operated in your best interest.  For example, is the owner financing his or her own car through the company, owners health insurance being funded before profits are determined, their home loan payment, etc.  In other words, are REAL business expenses being considered and not PERSONAL expenses being included in the business profit and loss statement.  Been there!  Company never showed a true profit therefore my compensation was never increased.

Here is a great question to ask a potential employer.  What do I have to do to become a Wealth Builder for you?  You may have to explain what that means.  As a business owner you should know which positions within your organization are very specific Wealth Builders for you.  Are you explaining that to your employees or do you just assume they know.

Advice you can take to the bank. 

Be a Wealth Builder for as many people as you can!  Adequately compensate YOUR Wealth Builders;

or, prepare for them to "just walk away!"