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Category Archives: Best Practices

Meaningful Ways of Rewarding Others – Find Your $100 Handshake

What’s a $100 handshake?

Meaningfully rewarding others doesn’t have to be complicated. A while ago, I listened to a podcast called “The Leading Creative.” The author mentioned the importance of rewarding people in ways that actually matter to THEM; as an individual. He told a story about a sales manager who gave “$100 handshakes” to his sales team members for a job well done. Literally… he’d fold up a $100 bill into a small square and place it in the cup of his hand. As the manager shook the salesperson’s hand, the bill would be passed to the salesperson. Now, many sales people are money-minded. Getting a cool, crisp $100 bill might really resonate with them. But, is money equally motivating to everyone?

Rewarding others – How to know what’s meaningful?

Listen to what a person talks about, stories about how they spend their free time. Pay attention to what gets someone excited when they’re speaking. Then, find a creative way of rewarding others with that special “thing!” For example, if someone is always talking about golf, then paying for a round of golf for them might be a “hole in one!” If they’re always talking about coffee, a gift card to a local coffee shop might really “buzz” with them

What is my equivalent “$100 Handshake?”

It got me thinking about what my “$100 Handshake” would be… It quickly came to me: receiving a Disney gift card. My family goes to Disney 2-3 times per year, it’s “our thing.” We’re always talking about Disney trips (past and future) and things that we love about it.

One day, I agreed to be a guest speaker at a business networking meeting. Afterwards, the event coordinator thanked me for my great work and passed along a thank you note. Inside the note I found a Disney gift card enclosed! I was over the moon! The fact that someone had paid attention to my passions and knew how much this gift would mean to me touched my heart.

When rewarding others – small, personalized recognition really matters.

In today’s world, it seems that the details about a person can get overlooked. Take a moment to listen – people will clue you in to what they find meaningful. Successfully rewarding others just takes paying attention and finding a way to personalize the reward. It’s so easy to do, and its impact is longer-lasting than you may realize.

Want help finding creative ways of rewarding others at work? Or help with Employee Retention Strategies in general?


Great Tips for Creating More Respectful Workplaces

Creating “Respectful Workplaces” begins with the definition of respect: “Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others.” and “Appreciation of a person or idea for their qualities or traits.” It’s a simple idea – that makes a huge impact one way or the other.

Imagine having to go to work every day, in an environment where no one seems to have any regard for you, your privacy, your physical boundaries and belongings or even your point of view. UGH! Just thinking about it is enough to make a person feel exhausted (or at least in a negative frame of mind).

Disrespect can derail a person, a team or an entire business. Some forms of workplace disrespect are fairly obvious such as: gossiping, shouting, rude comments or outright bullying. However, these are not the only types of disrespect. Think about how you might view your workplace if it were full of smaller factions or “cliques.” Perhaps it’s a situation where one coworker’s time is valued as more important than another’s. Maybe it’s that the company lacks transparency and allows unfounded rumors to circulate among the employees. To say nothing of the “bottom line” sense of disrespect; where employees are underpaid by industry standards implying their work is either “sub-par” or undervalued by the company.

There are many, many ways an employee may feel disrespected in the workplace. Creating a respectful workplace isn’t just “the right thing to do,” it reduces stress and increases productivity! Respect in the workplace increases employee satisfaction and decreases employee turnover. It can even increase the likelihood of employees being collaborative, which can lead to amazing achievements!

So… how do you build a culture of respect in the workplace? Great question!

Here are a few of the basics:

  • Don’t allow the “classic signs” of disrespect to erupt or continue in your company. Explicitly explain which behaviors and language constitute “disrespectful conduct” and DO NOT BACKSLIDE. Consistency is KEY!
  • Listen to the ideas and complaints of ALL of your employees. Everyone’s voice matters.
  • Don’t just listen to what your employees say, pay attention to the way in which they say it. Pay attention to their tone and body language too.
  • Trust your employees with the truth. Be transparent.
  • Help your employees feel great about their work by providing quality and meaningful feedback.
  • Include all of your employees in discussions that will directly impact their work.
  • Don’t publicly discipline your employees.
  • Make a commitment to ensure none of your employees feels disrespected by providing training on developing and maintaining “Respectful Workplaces.”

Your employees are your biggest asset. Treat them the way in which you’d like to be treated. Ensure they understand you respect them and they will reciprocate.

Interested in ensuring Respectful Workplaces for your employees?



Stop Interrupting-Communicate Better

We’ve all done it… interrupted someone when they’re trying to tell us something.

Have you ever wondered why conversational interruptions are so common?

Fun fact: The average human being speaks at 125-150 words per minute. The typical human brain processes 600 words per minute.

In short, when we’re listening to others, our brains are being underutilized, and our minds begin to wander. One of a few outcomes is possible in this situation. Our minds can begin to drift into our own thoughts… “What am I going to have for lunch?” “Did I send that email?” “Don’t forget to make an appointment to get my teeth cleaned…” Conversely, we may try to stay involved in the present conversation. In order to keep our own random thought at bay, we start to think ahead of the speaker. We interrupt to add a comment or suggestion.

If this is a problem for you (as it has been for me in the past) you could try:

1. Keeping your finger held over your lips while listening to others (as a cue to you to hold your interruption).

2. Count 5 seconds before you speak after the other person has finished. This polite pause can signal it’s your turn to talk.

3. Write down your ideas (take notes) when someone is talking so you can catch your wandering thoughts before it escapes your brain.

4. Ask a friend to help you by pointing out when they see you interrupt. That kind of input can go a long way toward changing your behavior.

What we need to remember is that verbal communication skills are more than just our ability to clearly convey a message; they also include our ability to receive messages and process the information. This includes all the “non-verbal communication” a speaker is transmitting as well. When you stop yourself from interrupting another person you improve the quality of information you’re receiving, regardless of whether it’s in business or personal communication.

Interested in designing a program to help your employees become better leaders

through better listening skills?



Top 5 Reasons To Have A Employee Handbook

Top 5 reasons a business needs an Employee Handbook:

5. Employees appreciate knowing the rules, and how their employer will handle a given situation. I like to think of a handbook to being similar to the white-lines along the side of the road (they’re called guidelines for a good reason). They are there to help drivers know what the boundaries are. They keep everyone out of the “trouble zone.”

4. Employees don’t need to come to you with every question they have. Many of their questions can be answered just by checking in the handbook. This is particularly effective when managers encourage using the Employee Handbook like a tool.

3. Handbooks give employers protection when hiring, firing, and making any number of other employment decisions. Employers have a greater chance of winning unemployment claims and discrimination/wrongful discharge claims if they have a quality employee handbook. Quality, in this instance, requires policies that are written to reflect legal compliance.

2. Managers make better, more consistent decisions when clearly written, easily understood policies are readily available to reference.

1. An Employee Handbook gives your employees the sense their work environment is professional. They understand they work for a business that knows it is a BUSINESS; and isn’t being run as if it were a “hobby.”

A word of advice to business owners — NEVER, NEVER, NEVER use someone else’s handbook or download one from the internet. You are legally-binding your company to those policies. Even if you think you’ll revise the handbook later, you may not be familiar with all the potential legal issues that can arise from having policies in place that don’t pertain to your company. You need an employee handbook written to be legally compliant for your business.

For personal attention to personnel matters, call Kathleen Lapekas – SHRM-CP, PHR @ 812.457.1068.

Need help putting together a handbook that’s meaningful for your employees?


It’s Always Best To Be Gracious

My mother, by her example, taught me that we should always do our level best to be gracious. As I see people serving the public in retail, restaurants, housekeeping, home services, hotels, etc., I remember that these folks recognize and truly appreciate kindness. And they really need it daily.
Tip servers, leave kind notes (and tips) for housekeeping staff, write Google reviews about a company and specifically highlight the person who made your experience worthwhile. And if you didn’t experience an exceptional “over-the-top” event, still be gracious. We all have occasional bad days.
Kathleen Lapekas and her son Jacob
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Accountability in the Workplace

I believe that accountability in the workplace has been given a bad rap over the years.  We associate the word, “Accountability” with something negative. Hearing the phrase, “I’m going to hold you accountable” feels like a a finger pointed at us. 

However, what accountability really means is our performance will be “noticed” by our manager.  A manager who pays attention and tells employees, “I’ve noticed,” understands – accountability motivates employees to perform.

Good performers actually WANT accountability. They WANT their performance to be noticed.  It’s very un-motivating to work very hard on something, only to have it go unnoticed.  I once saw a sign at a dentist office that said, “If you ignore your teeth, they’ll go away.”  The same is true for ignoring a good performer. If you ignore a good them, they’ll go away and work for someone who will give them accountability and recognition for their good performance.

Bad performers prefer that their actions are overlooked. They’re the ones who truly need accountability to keep their feet to the fire.  Accountability does a beautiful job of naturally weeding out people who don’t want to work, and rewarding those who do.

Need help establishing a processes for accountability in the workplace?