Thursday, January 29, 2009

Business Day Thursday: Motivating Employees; Promises Made, Promises Kept

Good Morning Everybody,
Well, we are in a bit of a thaw around here and the city seems to be moving again. That's good news for everybody except the kids that will have to go back to school today. I have to admit though, that I loved "snow days" with my kids. My entire staff, only two employees then, all had kids in the same school system so when a "snow day" was called - hip, hip, hooray - we headed for the hills for some good tubing and sledding. Ahh!!! the good old days ;~)

Hey everybody, I just wanted to give you a heads up about the podcast I did for CameraDoJo right here. We talk about RAW vs. JPEG vs. BOTH; Video and the Canon 5D Mark II and much more for about 90 minutes. By the way, that's not me in the picture.

UPDATE: The auction for Thirst Relief International that I'm participating in opens today at 10:00 p.m. EST. Here is the link for the auction right here. You can read the whole story in yesterday's post [link]. I'm checking it out myself tonight - see you there.

Motivating Employees; Promises Made, Promises Kept
I got a note from one of my Facebook buddies, Stacey Friedlein, about how to motivate employees. I thought it was perfect idea for our Business Day Thursday post. Don't have any employees, then be sure to read No Employees, No Problem article I've thrown in at the end - worth the read.

Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story.

A good friend of mine and former associate photographer here at the studio worked for the Cincinnati Park District as his regular day job. Bill and I had several conversations about how to handle employee evaluations. He managed a large staff so he had quite a bit of experience in that department. When I read Stacey's article, it echoed back to so much of what Bill advised me in the past so I wanted to share it with you today.

The Employee Covenant
The question for so many small businesses is how do we motivate our employees to perform and not just meet but exceed expectations. One very good way is through the use of a personal covenant. It works like this. During employee reviews (and if your not having these as least every six-months now is the time to start) you provide the employee with a form with "I promise to…" written across the top.

During the review you explain to the employee that they are to write on this form the things they will do in fulfilling their position with your company. It can include everything from showing up on-time, a time-line for completing assigned tasks, reaching sales goals, completing projects accurately, additional studies and just about anything which relates to their job performance.

Ask them to spend time and complete the form during the review. Discuss their list and set quantitative and measurable goals. Then you and the employee sign it. This form becomes an important tool in future employee reviews.

At the future review you now have a measuring stick, which the employee himself has created, to measure job performance. You should find the employee feels much more accountable based on the list they created. Now they are being judged on what they said they would do, not what you said they should.

This process allows for the employee to feel they are an essential part of your company. It helps them to understand the importance of doing their job correctly and in a timely manner. You should see a boost in employee morale and job performance by using this system.

Stacey has a lot of good information. Want more, check out his blog Helping Small Business $ucced [link]- tons of good stuff here, highly recommend.

No Employees, No Problem
If your business is an employee of one - you, the how about making your own covenant with yourself. What do you promise to do for your business? Write down anything that pops into your mind. Here are ten to get you started.

1. I promise to spend 30 minutes each day reading a sales/marketing book.
2. I promise to reach out to a new vendor buddy at least once a week/ once a month to tell them what my business is about.
3. I promise to continue to practice and improve my photographic technique.
4. I promise to develop at least 3 new products or services I can offer my clients.
5. I promise to attend one major convention this year and see what other photogs are doing.
6. I promise to read at least one photography book outside my area of expertise.
7. I promise to attend one seminar that comes near or through my town.
8. I promise to call at least 2 clients a week just to touch base and thank them for their business.
9. I promise to read my camera's manual from cover to cover so I really know what my equipment is capable of producing.
10. I promise to offer my services to at least one charitable organization this year.

OK, you get the idea. Now you have put yourself on notice to make some moves that could substantially impact your business and its growth. Put the list where you can see it everyday. That way it won't become a long forgotten memory in a week. Check your "Promise List" progress monthly - are you ahead of schedule or are you falling behind. Six months later - the day of reckoning - how did you do?

There are three possibilities:
1. You followed through on all your promises and are thrilled with the results of all your efforts. Give yourself a pat on the back, and get started on your next list - you are on your way to achieving the success you want for yourself and your business.

2. Well, you got some of the things done. Feel good about the small accomplishments, but know you need to work harder to keep your job performance in tip top shape and your business on the road to success. Start your second list with your first promise to yourself to try harder.

3. Nothing got accomplished, all promises broken. At this point many people will start making a gazillion excuses why it happened, why the promise list didn't work, why they couldn't keep up with the goals set. Well, what do you do with an underachieving employee? You FIRE them. Maybe it's time to fire yourself and find another line of work or try again even harder to meet your goals.

The bottom line is this:
Excuse makers NEVER succeed. Planning and working always trump wishing and hoping.

--Food for thought.

Hey everybody, I scootin' out of here early today. I'm trying to wrap the book this week and still have a chapter or two to finish. See ya' tomorrow for the second last Gear Bag Friday - One More Camera In The Bag. Don't forget to check out the Thirst Relief Auction when it opens for bidding today. See ya' tomorrow. -David


  1. Hi David. The photo in this blog entry is a stock photo. Have you owned it long?

  2. Hi Tom,
    I get many of the images for my blog at iStockPhoto. I just buy the small versions for a dollar. Yep, I own it and it's legal to use on the blog.