Managing employees has likely been
written about more than any other business
area, and with good reason. For in
the end, it’s a company’s people that produce
the results and determine the ultimate
success or failure of the operation.
I absolutely believe that any company’s
greatest asset is the undeveloped potential
of its people. And to manage effectively,
you must focus on the undeveloped
potential of each employee, as
doing so will benefit the company, the
employee, and even you, the manager.
Before we discuss strategies for empowering
and effectively managing employees,
however, it’s worthwhile to consider the history of today’s employee, what
his values are and how they’ve been
Nido Qubein is an international speaker
and consultant, and is the chairman of
several national and international companies
including High Point, N.C.-based
Creative Services, Inc. In his recent article,
“The ‘Baby Bust’ Generation,” Qubein
argues that those who believe nothing
good arises from the attitudes, values
and behaviors of the younger generation
are greatly mistaken.
He does cite, however, several values of
the modern day worker that management
must consider if they are to effectively manage and empower these employees,
including the following:
Impatience. Because they grew up in a
fast-paced society, they look for rapid Interest
advancement. They want as much as
possible as fast as possible.
Autonomy. Younger people are far more
likely to ask, “What’s in it for me?” They
will give you their loyalty but only if you
can show them how loyalty to the company
serves their personal interests.
Self-fulfillment. They’re looking for jobs
that allow them to work at the things
they enjoy, while allowing them the Attitude
leisure to pursue off-the-job interests.
A need for attention. Many grew up in
single-parent homes or had to fend for
themselves because of workaholic parents.
Therefore, many look to their managers
to give them the time and interest
their parents didn’t.
Self-reliance. Often left alone and hav-ing
had to make independent decisions
while growing up, many are self-reliant Energy and, as such, not highly impressed with the authoritative management hierarchy
within traditional companies.
Yet, although an employee’s values may
differ from a manager’s, they are equally
valid. Therefore, skilled managers will
find ways to honor an employee’s values Skill in a way that also serves the company’s
interests and goals. One of the best ways
I’ve learned for making this link is
through an employee development charter
that reflects the “big picture” and
offers a blueprint for employee development
The blueprint we teach our clients for
effectively managing and building the
careers of their employees—and the blue-
print I use with my own staff—is what
we call the “Pyramid of Success,” and is
comprised of the following five key areas:
Interest is the decision you make to develop,
practice and apply the information
available that will cause you to
become as successful as your are capable
of becoming. When you’re interested,
you keep abreast of industry trends and
developments, engage in continuing education
and fraternize with successful people
in your field.
Positive thoughts produce positive results
and negative thoughts produce negative
results. Attitude communicates your
opinion of people, business and life in
general. As Henry Ford said, “Whether
you believe you can do a thing or not,
you are right.” How you think affects
your outcome. People can change their
lives by changing their attitudes.
Energy is developing your capacity by
getting a little better every day This isn’t
just physical, but also mental and emotional,
and it grows from interest and a
Skill is the knowledge and mastery of the
information required to perform the
skills necessary for a high level of excellence
in performing a job. Skills are
learned and make up the core of an
employee’s undeveloped potential.
To visualize the Pyramid of Success, in
your mind, picture a pyramid with five
steps (see the graphic on the next page).
The bottom step is “Interest,” the second
step “Attitude,” the third step
“Energy,” and the fourth step “Skill.”
When you combine skill with interest,
attitude and the energy that it creates,
and you will be on top of the “Pyramid
Success is the self-satisfaction in accomplishing
something that is important to
you. Obviously success means different
things to different people, so only when
you’re clear what success means to you
can you pursue it effectively.
The way we train our clients to implement
the Pyramid of Success as a management
function is by having it serve as
the guide for employee reviews and
action plans. Our clients provide an
employee with a copy of the pyramid
and ask them to rate themselves-from
0 to 1—in each of the five categories.
Management then offers its own rating
of the employee’s performance, which
allows for honest communication about
shared and unshared perceptions. From
this meeting, the employee’s expectations
and personal development are planned
for the next six to 12 months.
Understanding that the Pyramid of
Success charts the “big picture,” following
are several strategies a manager can
employ daily to complement the Pyramid
of Success and more effectively manage
Define the employee’s role. Ensure that
your people know exactly what their
responsibilities are, and how they affect
the team and organization as a whole.
Once employees understand the impact
they make on the team and company,
managing them becomes easier.
Set goals and expectations. You can’t get
to where you want to go until you decide
“where” this is. Effective goals define the
“where” and have these four qualities:
Big. If your goals don’t get you excit-ed
and nervous, too, make them bigger
because you will only achieve what you
Long-term. As Dr. Stephen Covey
coined, “Begin with the end in mind.”
Managers should help their people set
long-term goals (three, five or maybe
even 10 years out) as much as possible.
Short-term. Much like steps in a stair-case,
goals should be short term, too
(three to 12 months). Once an employee
commits to his long-term goals,
achieving them is made much easier by
breaking each down into short-term,
Written. It’s been said that the faintest
of ink is better than the strongest of
memory. Have your people set their
goals, and then commit them to writing.
This one simple step can dramatically
affect whether they’re achieved.
Get employee “buyin” by having them
restate these expectations. By having
employees restate what they’ve heard and
agreed to, it allows you to clarify any
ambiguity while making expectations
Create employee personal development
plans. Employees nowadays want to
know, “What’s in it for me?” Tell them!
A personal development plan shows the
employee the areas of improvement he
will focus on during the next six to 12
months, incorporates both his long-term
and short-term goals, details the experience,
skills and proficiencies he must
demonstrate to be promoted, and shows
the role his position plays in, and the
affect it has on, the company.
Provide an ongoing performance tracking
and feedback mechanism. Built into
the employee development plan, this
consists of monthly or bimonthly “check
in” meetings that allow the manager and
the employee to see what’s working,
what’s not and to adjust the plan accordingly.
Help employees prioritize. Have your
people provide you with a prioritized
weekly action plan that lists their planned
activities in order of importance. This
is valuable in three ways:
- First, it encourages employees to be
thinkers rather than just doers. Most people
could fill out a four-page “To Do”
list, but certain things take priority over
others. The prioritizing process lets the
employee determine those things and
thus build his critical thinking skills.
- Second, it’s a tremendous learning
tool. If you disagree with the importance
the employee places on a certain task,
you can ask why he feels that’s more
important than another and then coach
him appropriately. Who knows? You
might even stand corrected.
- Third, and most practically, it ensures
that the most important things are accomplished.
Encourage employees to share their
thoughts and ideas. Most employees are
dedicated, have integrity and want to
contribute. Allow them to do this by
actively encouraging your people to share
their thoughts and ideas. Providing an
open forum for them to be heard can be
invaluable toward building trusting relationships.
Recognition. Recognize outstanding performance
publicly. This rewards the individual
employee while demonstrating to
your other people that you care about
them and are in their corner.
Appreciation. Last, and most importantly,
appreciate your people. The great
philosopher, Dr. William James, said that
the greatest need of a human being is
to be appreciated. Management must
realize and honor this need as most
employees aren’t gold diggers and
money’s often not the major issue. They
simply want to be acknowledged and
About the Author
Roy E. Chitwood is an author and consultant
on sales and customer service. He
is the former president and chairman of
the Board of Sales & Marketing Executives
International and is president of
Max Sacks International, Seattle, (800)
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