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14 Quick Tips for a Top Workplace

The Washington Post just ranked Excella Consulting the #14 Top Mid-Sized Workplace. That inspired me to appreciate all the little things people do at Excella that make a great place to work.  Since many blog posts direct you to embark on grand missions and sweeping changes, I thought it might be refreshing to provide a […]

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June 30, 2016

The Washington Post just ranked Excella Consulting the #14 Top Mid-Sized Workplace. That inspired me to appreciate all the little things people do at Excella that make a great place to work.  Since many blog posts direct you to embark on grand missions and sweeping changes, I thought it might be refreshing to provide a tasting menu of tiny tips that serve as starters toward a top workplace.

We all know that the most important element of ANY top workplace is the individuals inside it. The little things those individuals do every day – every minute – can drive an organization to emerge as a top workplace. Instead of creating a list for leaders, or CEOs, or hiring managers, I decided to make a list of little things ANYONE can do. So whether you’re an employee, boss, owner, or temp, try these tasty morsels to push your workplace toward the top:

  1. Lighten Up. Everything we’re working on right now seems so important, so critical, that the dynamic between people can become intense. Life in our civilized 2016 is infinitely better than our ancestors’ lives, yet we still find ways to dramatize this blissful existence into an apocalyptic cliffhanger. Making a quick joke or simply not taking yourself so seriously can let everyone exhale and can be powerful. When people smile and laugh together, they’re not afraid to confront a little stress or even conflict.
  2. Get your Hopes Up. Everyone tells you NOT to get your hopes up, but optimism is contagious, and it’s what drives history-makers. Exuding confidence and positivity makes people believe in the mission, and when a team believes, the mission gets accomplished.
  3. Focus the Team on a Simple Goal for the Week. Sometimes our finish line is so far off, or so blurry, that the drudgery of work can devolve into aimless weeks and months. What can we accomplish this week? Let’s aim toward that, and earn our weekend.
  4. Say No to Something, then Shut Up and Move On. One of the most important lessons is that successful people say no to more things than they say yes to. Filtering out the mediocre and focusing on only the truly exceptional ideas and initiatives magnifies your focus like a laser beam. Once you’ve made that decision, resist the common urge to keep talking about it.
  5. Try a Breakfast Meeting. Starting the day in a non-traditional place over waffles, yogurt, and oatmeal can get the creative juices flowing. One of my former colleagues even took it a step further and actually cooked breakfast for his team. Why not?
  6. Use Trello. What a simple and free way to organize everything. There’s really no excuse not to use this thing for everything you do, whether it’s for teams or just you. And there’s nothing you can’t organize and share with this thing. {I have no association with Trello, other than I’m a big fan.}
  7. Don’t Make Excuses…Just Own it. Authenticity earns huge points, and earns much more respect than wisdom, intelligence, and even results. People like to hear “I don’t know” or “This isn’t what we planned” rather than the all-too-common talking points that get polished because we don’t want to divulge the truth. Just connect your tongue to your heart and say whatever’s truthful. People are drawn to it, and they can smell a polished talking point a mile away.
  8. Hire yourself as a Consultant. Imagine you brought in an outside consultant to spend 30 days conducting a full review of your performance. What would they write? You probably already know this, but we’re all in denial about our shortcomings. Face the truth of what’s in that report, and start acting on those findings.
  9. Write an Article. The internet has removed all excuses for why you’re not a published author. Write your thoughts down and share them! It’s cleansing, and I guarantee it won’t be the dumbest blog post anyone’s ever read. The real benefit is that many people you meet – colleagues, recruits, clients, vendors – read your thoughts and know something about you first.
  10. Arrange for an Employee to spend Quality Time with a Customer. No matter the business, and no matter your position in it, this is where the magic happens: employee-to-customer interaction. And surprisingly, most organizations ignore it. The good ones don’t. Find a way to create a moment – even just 15 minutes – where an employee can have a real conversation with a customer. Something good is going to happen.
  11. Address what’s been Nagging at You. One of life’s most common regrets is that people wish they hadn’t ignored a chronic problem for so long. If you’ve had the same complaint about your life for several years (which is incredibly common), stop avoiding the issue and address it once and for all.
  12. Don’t click SEND until Tomorrow Morning. You know that some emails contain some strong messages, but they have to be sent. In fact, that’s why they have to be sent. Emails like that deserve a second look the next day. There’s almost no case when they can’t wait until morning. Seeing your message and polishing it with a fresh set of eyes always produces a better outcome. Frequently it results in the email never being sent, because you find a better way to send your message.
  13. Start Measuring Something You Need to Improve. We all know that what gets measured, gets fixed. Whether it’s your bank balance, employee retention, or customer complaints, put it on a white board and start tracking it every day or week. Setting up a scoreboard is simple, it just takes a little courage.
  14. Ask for Help. Here’s one I’m working on right now. For some reason, asking for help rarely occurs to us, but it works every time it’s tried. Your colleagues and friends feel valued when you ask for help, and to pretend we’re all masters of our own domain is foolish.

There you have it…14 little morsels that you can do to push your organization toward the top. An organization populated with people who regularly do these things would brim with accountability, focus, and positive energy. And it’s my privilege to work at such a place…I appreciate my fellow Excellians who practice these (and so many other) small but meaningful things every day. Here’s to #14!

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