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Monthly Archives

February 2016

Avoid Faux Pas in Business by Adapting This Precarious Personality Trait

By | Blog, Executive / Entrepreneur Leadership | No Comments

People, especially business leaders, who obsess over goals or demonstrate obsessive behaviors need to avoid making choices that reject good sense – even if they drive great results.  Obsessive thinking and behavior can be a good thing in personal life and in business if managed correctly.  However, when they drive people away and/or create a culture steeped in “my way or the highway” thinking, that will kill motivation, enthusiasm and any great results achieved will be only short term.

It appears that business leaders around the world are finally getting the message — they can no longer continue with their obsession over short-term profits growth at the expense of a healthy society. (Survey by Price Waterhouse of 1400 chief executives – Huffington Post by Jo Confino 1/20/2016).

As outlined in an article appearing in Business Insider, the CEO of one of the largest fast food chains had a misguided obsession with a competitor that could drive his business into the ground.  He is targeting any customer by stealing market share from the competition and other chains instead of focusing on his core customer base. Thus, the business suffered financial losses for several years. The new CEO of a major internet search engine provider is described as “absurd in her obsession with details”.  The co-founder of another search engine provider is described as “obsessed with efficiency and possessing tunnel vision”.

In each of these instances described above, the CEOs ultimately were successful in varying degrees by turning their companies in the right direction and getting back to profitability but at what price with their stakeholders, customers, employees, Wall Street and the court of public opinion?

What do top logistics companies have in common? “Shrewd and experienced management teams and an obsession with service and operational details.” (Logistics Management, John D. Schultz, April, 2011)

This obsessive behavior makes total sense when it provides high levels of customer satisfaction and expectations.   Making the right choices and imposing high standards in transportation and logistics companies’ operations may be obsessive, but stakeholders understand and support the results. It doesn’t work when obsession without reason or following good business principles dominates the CEO’s thinking

Are you obsessive? Are you managing your passions correctly or are you obsessed with whatever is important to you at the expense of good results, respecting your workforce or being a good leader?

If you know you have an obsessive desire to achieve specific outcomes and recognize that you need to tone it down, then maybe change is possible and necessary.

Want to change? Consider whether these statements apply to you:

  • There are some things that I can’t let go of or delegate
  • I am reluctant to change even when given a reason to do so
  • I am hard driving and very detailed oriented
  • I am firm in my position when dealing with others
  • As a leader, I impose my personality on others

A good example is the small trucking company owner in the Midwest who was obsessed with buying a piece of land and building his own truck terminal rather than continuing to rent. Economically it probably made sense, however, the company was struggling to become profitable.  The CEO’s banker discouraged the project, preferring to postpone it for a year or two.  Then came the economic meltdown of 2007 and the business came very close to collapsing.  It was essentially bankrupt but the owner refused to back off his fixation on the building that had to be built.

The banker terminated his business relationship for fear of the company closing; the owner refused to stop the project and had to resort to some very expensive sources of capital to keep afloat. It took 5 years, enormous anxiety and stress to get right side up financially. This was obsession on steroids.

How can an obsession be useful without overwhelming positive behaviors while still allowing for a success path?

Learn to manage your obsessions and passions – be confident, but don’t be a narcissist—self-centered (instead of success-centered), singularly focused, inflexible and reckless. Leaders who are humble and who focus on others are more successful and capture the cooperation and passion of their subordinates.

Stop believing that you are “special” and no one else can do what needs to be done.

  • Take criticism well and do not be offended or supersensitive to constructive comments about your behaviors, passion or unwillingness to compromise
  • Have empathy for others and their points of view
  • Control your feelings of brilliance, power and unlimited success at the expense of alienating others around you
  • Refrain from soliciting and requiring others to admire you

Managing Your Obsessions for Better Interpersonal Relationships and Results

Being obsessive can have advantages if controlled and if you truly care about results and those that help you achieve them.

Discard your obsessions in place of maintaining a passion for what you believe in and who you are –but make it work for you and not against others.

  • Make a great first, but lasting impression and make it real; don’t disguise your obsessive personality only to have it surface later
  • Give credit to others and take blame when appropriate
  • Be nice! Project integrity, honesty and competence

Consider that in business even achievement can become—in and of itself—an obsession. You can be obsessed for the right reason and right outcome. But when it is blind obsession, it will lead you to negative outcomes.  The true test of an obsession that won’t result in a positive outcome is the notion that you can’t argue with an obsession—it’s there and will appear nonnegotiable.

Things to Think About

  • Lesson #1: Don’t confuse efforts with results. Obsession doesn’t always rule.
  •  Lesson #2: Look at the reason for your motivation, decisions or actions and question them. Don’t move ahead for the wrong reasons and don’t rationalize your decisions based on illogical thinking.
  • Lesson # 3: Let others you trust become part of your thought process and goal setting –make it a team effort.

Do you consider yourself a great leader of people and a good CEO of your business, your department, your job? Take the Self-Scoring Seven Habits Profile Quiz and find out.

For more information and a free sample of the Profile Quiz, contact me atnorris@rredinc.com or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in.norrisberen

“I Appreciate You.” Three Valuable Words to Solve the Truck Driver Retention Problem – Part 2

By | Blog, Transportation | No Comments

In Part 1 of this article, the importance of an “I Appreciate You” program was discussed. The impact of such a program on the culture of a company and, consequently, on its employees cannot be understated.

Employee recognition can take place in one or two ways or both:

  1. First, pay attention and look for opportunities when spur-of-the-moment, oral or written recognition is appropriate and will help excite and motivate the employee receiving your attention — and show all others that this is now part of the company culture.
  2. Next, make something happen.  Follow-up an oral praise moment with a written memo such as the sample below.

Here is an example of how easy a simple message can be:

What does it cost to have a company-wide employee recognition program?

Virtually nothing!  The sample above can be printed in tear-off pads of paper for very small cost.  Giving these to key employees with a few instructions is all that is needed to begin to make a huge difference in reducing your retention turnover problem:

See or hear something special about an employee or independent driver?

  1. Use one of these “I Appreciate” forms and write a special message and hand it to the recipient, whenever possible, or include in paycheck or settlement envelope.
  2. Do not send by mail.
  3. Write no more than three sentences.
  4. Sign and date.
  5. No limit to who gets them.

There is a residual cost, however, and it is the issue that may be uncovered by the conversations between the employee and the manager or executive giving the praise could require some actions or changes in a company that could be significant. In any case, the benefits of such a program are large when implemented effectively.


  • Your company may experience increased individual productivity – greater employee satisfaction and enjoyment of work – more time spent focusing on the job and less time complaining.
  • Happy employees are more loyal, satisfied and supportive of the company.
  • Happy employees tend to satisfy customers more than minimum standards require.
  • The big one: Retention of happy employees increases which reduces employee turnover.
  • Companies with happy employees experience better safety records and fewer accidents on the job than companies with little communications with employees on their issues.
  • Happy employees show up for work more often and experience less stress than unhappy employees.


There are costs to design and execution – but they are so minimal compared to the benefits.

  •  Developing a program to train key employees to become the administrators of the “I Appreciate You” program
  • Time taken to give recognition
  • Dollar cost of the recognition items given
  • Time and cost of teaching people how to give recognition
  • Costs of introducing a new process

You can spontaneously praise people – this is highly effective. For many employees, receiving sincere recognition and thanks for their effort far outweighs giving something physical such as a gift card or promo item (hat, pen, shirt, etc.).

Your employees will enjoy recognition through written praise from those they respect at work, praise given in a timely, specific and sincere way.

I have seen employees who have received more than one of these “I Appreciate You” acknowledgments hang them up in their work area for all to see.  They are proud, loyal, happy and “keepers”.

The best format for showing your appreciation to an individual for their efforts is:

  • Thank them by name. “I appreciate you, Bob…” (Mary, Suzy, Mohamed)
  • Be specific about what your appreciation is for: “for taking the time to make that delivery despite the difficulty you experienced…”
  • Recognizing a specific reason for your recognition reinforces good behavior and shows others what is valued at the company and that it goes for everyone.
  • Let employees know that what “Bob did” helps the company in many ways. “…your efforts, Bob, go a long way to showing our customers how much we value their business…”
  • Point out the value added to the team or organization by the behavior.
  • Thank the person again by name for their contribution.

The Recognition Process

We are a better company for the ability to have happy employees.  Happy employees are likely to stay longer and that helps our retention thus reducing our costs to replace people.

Using praise and recognition through a simple and inexpensive method like the “I Appreciate You” memo goes a long way to establish a positive culture where ownership and management respect their employees and show them how much they are valued.

Employees who are shown respect, appreciation and recognition make a company great for their support of mission, customer relations and helping yield a better bottom line.  Ultimately, it helps everyone benefit.

The cost of a program of appreciation is small compared to the ROI benefits.

…and I appreciate you for reading this article.

I would appreciate your comments on my recommendations and/or how well this program is working or will work in your company if adopted.

“I Appreciate You.” Three Valuable Words to Solve the Truck Driver Retention Problem – Part 1

By | Blog, Transportation | No Comments

Job satisfaction is not always and only about money.  In fact, survey after survey of employee satisfaction shows that money is normally number 3 in the hierarchy of what people value from their jobs, their company and their career.

More often than not, the number 1 factor expressed is “I want to be appreciated and recognized for my job performance”.

The Boston Consulting Group recently surveyed over 200,000 people around the world and found that the #1 factor for employee happiness on the job is to get appreciated for their work. (Forbes Dec 15, 2014, Jacob Morgan)

Create an “I Appreciate You” culture. 

Employees and, in the specific case of the trucking industry, their company drivers and their independent contractor drivers/owners, too often leave a company for a variety of reasons. If those reasons can be summarized simply — they just are no longer happy being at their present motor carrier.

When a corporate executive or manager takes the time to praise, recognize and acknowledge their people individually, it changes the game and will open the door for a conversation that needs to happen to ensure that the employees are happy.

When they are happy, they probably will stay. If they are not, then you will know and will have an opportunity to at least surface unhapppiness and perhaps provide an atmosphere where being heard can be a solution even though a specific problem cannot be addressed adequately, if at all.

More often than not, truck drivers, whether employees or independent contractors, would welcome the opportuiity to let their company executives know how they feel about matters that affect them. In most cases, they know that to do so is risky because it would be received as a bad attitude, non-constructive criticism or just complaining  Drivers need to have an opportunity to be open about the company, people, customers or even vendors.

Drivers too often leave over misunderstandings or minor issues that if addressed might improve the driver experience for the whole company and be a major source of driver retention instead of defection.

What if ownership and management could benefit from anonymous but useful and truthful information about the company that prevents drivers from being happy?

What if drivers could self-rate their satisfaction with the job, the people, the customers and the company? This could lead to preventing small or large issues from being ignored — those issues could be addressed routinely by messaging drivers, especially if a pattern or theme develops that might require a review and action steps to be taken by the company.

This does not mean that every issue has to result in the company taking actions to just satisfy the drivers. However, recognition and acknowledgment of the company’s position would go a long way to helping drivers understand why things are done the way they are.

Praise and employee appreciation are critical elements of a great workplace. You as owner, executive or manager want to be respected and valued for your contributions and so do the people you work with.

 An “I appreciate you” culture should include everyone.

An “I appreciate you” culture should include everyone.  It’s not just about executives, managers and supervisors showing appreciation to subordinates.  It’s about subordinates showing appreciation to their supervisors, managers and executives too. It’s about co-workers showing appreciation for one another.  While it is important that the program start from the top down, it also needs to be instituted from the bottom up and across the entire organization.  People appreciate a simple thank you no matter who it comes from.

Stay tuned for Part II of this article which will include detailed information on how to have a successful “I Appreciate You” program.