Join Me at Startup Grind Minneapolis

Startup Grind

Join me on Monday, September 12th @ 6:30 at COCO Downtown Minneapolis for a Startup Grind Fireside Chat.  I’ll be spending an hour or so with  talking about entrepreneurship, Intertech, and my latest book.  Here’s the agenda for the evening:

6:30 pm Networking and Food
7:30 pm Fireside Chat
8:30 pm More Networking

Thoughts from The 100: Getting and Staying Engaged at Work

In my last two The 100–related posts I shared my thoughts around happiness and getting clear around goals (yes, they are connected!). For me, and for most everyone that works at Intertech, being engaged with what we do also is a huge part of what makes us and our clients happy. Engagement is made up of many factors.  It ranges from having employees understand how they fit into the big picture to continuous feedback on how they’re doing in their jobs.

Employee engagement has become a hot topic for many in business and for good reason: not only are more engaged employees more satisfied, they happily give extra discretionary effort in their jobs.  According to a Gallup poll, engaged employees, when compared to non-engaged employees, are more than 20 percent more productive at work. They also are absent nearly 40 percent less than their non-engaged counterparts.

The good news is that fostering employee engagement is not expensive and it pays off big time. When companies can pair engaged employees with engaged customers, outcome-oriented business performance increases by 240 percent over companies where neither group is engaged (Gallup, 2013).

In my new book, The 100: Building Blocks for Business Leadership, I define concrete actions to improve a company’s performance in all the major areas of engagement.  Here is a high-level quick summary (check out the book for more detailed information):

  • Leverage teamwork – It starts with hiring professionals who understand the value of pulling together.
  • Use goal alignment – Work with employees to set achievable goals, provide training and support, and hold them accountable.
  • Build coworker trust – Find ways to foster communication and trust among coworkers, including social outings and things like Fantasy Football if that fits with your culture.
  • Recognize individual contributions – Consciously create a culture that celebrates employee success, particularly when it happens as part of a team effort.
  • Cultivate managerial effectiveness – Think of managing like coaching, helping others to see their part in the bigger picture and taking pride in their accomplishments.
  • Cultivate trusted senior leaders – To earn trust, senior leaders must lead the way, admit mistakes and communicate that it’s ok to be wrong.
  • Cultivate feeling valued – People are the lifeblood of your business. Make sure they know you could not do it without them!
  • Encourage job satisfaction—Have systems in place to encourage consistency, communication and teamwork. Provide interesting work opportunities in a friendly and respectful environment.
  • Be smart about benefits and pay—Pay people as generously as possible and provide creative benefits without breaking the bank. (Hint: it starts with asking people what they care about most.)

Next time:  Building a High-Performance Team One Employee at a Time

My Interview with Investor’s Business Daily


My thanks to writer Michael Mink and Investor’s Business Daily for interviewing me for the article “Build Business On A Foundation Of Efficiency And Engagement“.  Below is the start of the article with a link to the complete online article.

“Oganizations that create engaged employees have performance measurables that far surpass companies that don’t, according to Gallup.

“To win Customers — and a bigger share of the marketplace — companies must first win the hearts and minds of their employees,” the research company says in its 2013 report, “The State of The American Workplace.”

That’s certainly been the experience of Tom Salonek, the CEO of technology consulting and training firm Intertech and the author of “The 100: Simple Steps for Building a Winning Business.” He and Steven Gold, author of “How We Succeed: Making Good Things Happen Through the Power of Smart Experiments,” share across-the-board tips on making your business and yourself more efficient.”

Read the full article here.

Trick or Treat! The Leadership Lucky 13

halloweenWith the leaves changing and my kids asking to try out their costumes, it can only mean Halloween is just a short few weeks away.  Whether or not you’re not superstitious, here’s my Leadership Lucky 13:

  1. Think and act positively.  Earle Nightingale said we become what we think about.
  2. Match words and actions.
  3. Plan goals.  “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can take you there.” –Lewis Carroll
  4. Insist on results.  I remember an Intertech board meeting where I was going through a litany of accomplished “to-do’s” for the past quarter.  A board member stopped me and said, “I don’t care what you do.  I care what you delivered.”
  5. Solve problems.  I’ve not seen a dedicated course on solving problems.  The closest I’ve seen is in a Dale Carnegie leadership course where a section was focused on a problem statement… “In what ways can I solve [enter problem here]”, sort worst to first, then get going on execution.
  6. Delegate.  I used to take pride in arriving early, staying late, and doing it myself.  Now I realize delegation is a key part of leadership.  As Tina Fey said, the job of a good leader is hiring the right people and getting out of their way.
  7. Give away credit.  Jim Collins stated “Leaders look out a window when there’s problems and in a mirror when there’s success.”
  8. Correct, correctly.  In private.  With clear examples and not sandwiched between praise.
  9. Care.  In Rudolph Giuliani’s book on leadership he shares “Weddings are optional.  Funerals are mandatory.” I’ve rescheduled sales calls, business meetings, and vacations to be available or present for those going through a rough patch.
  10. Accept the importance of communication.  When in doubt, over communicate.  You can’t hold someone accountable for something you’ve never communicated.
  11. Give meaningful feedback.  “You did a good job” isn’t impactful.  Meaningful feedback is specific and shares what it means to you specifically.
  12. Tell the truth.  My dad told me, “Tom, you’re not smart enough to remember two stories.  Tell the truth.” It also makes life a lot simpler.
  13. Listen.  I asked a board member for the one piece advice to follow in business and life, he paused and said, “Seek first to understand… things aren’t always what you think.”

Tip a hat or raise a glass… here’s to The Lucky 13.