Rules for Work and Keeping Employees Happy, Conclusion


As social creatures, human beings thrive on interacting with others. It’s as simple as offering a smile, a kind word or courtesy to a stranger, or saying hello to a co-worker. As a manager, one of your many responsibilities is to encourage and set an example for interaction, collaboration and consideration of others by how you lead your team. Pile on a few crucial rules for work that motivate employees even further and a winning formula for excellent performance and career satisfaction begin to emerge. This is also the theme of what I’ve been sharing over the last few weeks in my work rules blog series. Let’s take a quick look back at what we’ve covered so far …

It was earlier this year, in March 2015, Fortune magazine provided a look at a new book which shares work rules that contribute to career contentment. Written by Laszlo Bock, head of human resources at Google, “Work Rules!” promises to transform how you live and lead. A few weeks ago we started our work rules discovery when I provided the first and second parts of my streamlined view and interpretations of Bock’s ten points — rules which can help managers and leaders bring impressive impact to the work place. Take a look at my last two posts for the details on rules one through seven. Hint: these rules had to do with finding value in the work people do and how you treat, hire and trust your employees. Also included was how to craft the right equation for performance management and rewards. Good stuff on every count. For the final three elements which round out the ten we’ll be looking at the interaction factor mentioned above as well as the importance of trying and trying again until you succeed — knowing that sometimes you will fail along the way. Here we go with work rules eight through ten.WORK RULES Nudge girl

8) Nudge. Is it easy to connect with others at work? Are people sharing good news in email or snotty commentary? Everything we say and do nudges our interactions in a positive or negative way. Use this knowledge to purposely make yourself and others happier. Encourage desired behaviors by making interactions and offices open and collaborative. Share what’s going right to inspire others to join in while inducing a brighter outlook. Like opening the blinds and letting the sun shine in, do the same with your attitude and approach and light will reflect back brighter on everyone. Recall my previous blog on recognizing little wins every day – yup, it’s like that.

9) Manage the rising expectations. You know you can’t succeed if you don’t fail at times too. Messing up is part of figuring out what to do differently next time. Fess up and tell people up front, before you start, you’re trying a new approach and then get going. Being honest about your experiment will help transform critics to supporters and give you more leeway if things snarl and skew in the wrong direction.WORK RULES Try agin GIRL

10) Enjoy! Go back to number one and start again. Superb cultures don’t just happen, they have to be built, nurtured and continuously renewed. It takes time, constant learning, and trying again. Here’s what’s wonderful about it — terrific environments are self-reinforcing. Collective efforts support one another and create an organization that’s innovative, tons of fun, hardworking and hugely productive. What else does it do? It promotes a sense of family, caring, growing together.

Now the challenge ….. which of the ten work rules are you already applying? Less than five, nearly ten? Whatever the case, make things better by adopting rules you aren’t using or re-energizing those which have gone stale or been forgotten. Here’s the thing …. you don’t have to wait. Be open and honest (rule number two), let your group know you’re trying a few new approaches (number nine) and start now! Don’t jump on all ten rules at once, build. Another tip? Embrace one or two rules as part of your own personal development plan. Meanwhile, it’s great for you and your team to look forward to every Friday as a well-deserved break after a week of satisfying work rather than an escape from an unfulfilling environment. Make these work rules work for you. A better way of living and leading is in your future. *

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.

Rules for Work and Keeping Employees Happy, Part 2


Management is a tricky science. Think about all the bosses you have worked for during your career – the good and the bad. What places superb managers in a different class than the mediocre? Can the mediocre managers improve or are they destined to be lousy managers and leaders forever? Can the managers who are already great at leading others become even better? Yes and yes! Scientist filling test tubes in lab

A terrific way to start down the improvement path — no matter how minor or major the upgrade needed — is to walk through the ten work rules that I starting sharing in my last blog post. Tweaks and deliberate adjustments to basic skills and management methods can generate amazing outcomes. As a brief refresher ….

In March 2015, Fortune magazine provided a peek into a new book which, like opening the vault to elusive enlightenment, provides work rules that contribute to career contentment. Written by Laszlo Bock, head of human resources at Google, “Work Rules!” promises to transform how you live and lead. A couple of weeks ago, I provided the first part of my streamlined view and interpretations of Bock’s ten rules which can help managers and leaders bring impressive impact to the work place. Take a look at my last post for the details on rules one, two and three. Hint: these rules had to do with finding value in the work people do and how you treat, hire and trust your employees. Moving on to the next excerpt of rules from the list — for this subset think “performance management and rewards.”

4) Don’t confuse development with managing performance. It’s a mistake to rely solely on managers to accurately assess how their people are doing. To figure out development plans, get input from peers even if it means sending out a brief questionnaire. When evaluating performance, require group think with managers sitting together and aggregating input to guarantee fairness. Want to tick off a hard working employee? Don’t bother to give them the opportunity to grow and develop when they ask for feedback.

5) Focus on the two tails. Your top players figured it out … they combined skill, determination and circumstance and excelled. Look closely and gain insight from how they did it. Also look at your worst performers and don’t write them off. Most are having a tough time because you put them in the wrong role, not because they’re inept. Ask what they enjoy doing … duh. Help them find a new position or ways to improve in their current slot.WORK RULES reward

6) Be frugal and generous. Several perks often cost nothing such as giving vendors space to offer services on campus or bringing in a guest speaker. Save money for times when people are in need with their biggest tragedies or joys such as emergency medical attention or bringing home a new baby. Focusing on human moments shows your organization cares about individuals. Employees draw comfort from knowing when they experience life’s extreme ups and downs they’ll have the strength of a larger organization behind them.

7) Pay unfairly. Remember where value comes from on your team: ninety percent of value comes from the top ten percent of your people. Best is worth more than average which means you need to figure out how much more — 50% more or what?? — making sure your top performers absolutely feel it. If you can’t provide hefty pay differences, provide other distinctions and rewards which make a difference to those who bend over backwards to excel and be in the top ten percent.

As a manager, do you incorporate rules four through seven in your performance management and rewards efforts? If not, start now! It makes incredible sense that those who are busting their hump to make things happen should be recognized with bigger rewards than those who are doing an average job. Both are valued employees – absolutely. But rewards should distinguish and reflect level of contribution from those who are outstanding vs. those who are good, not great.

We’ve covered the first seven rules … three to go. Any ideas what these may be? Join me on the next round and we’ll discover more together. See you then.*

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.

Rules for Work and Keeping Employees Happy


Every week certain sounds like the trash truck rumbling down the street, signal it’s finally Friday again. Anticipation echoes across break room banter at the office, rowdy radio DJ’s and cheerfully chatty shoppers at the grocery store. We all need a weekly breather but how many of us are bent or broken from the week that was? A big chunk. From various studies by the likes of Forbes, the Washington Post, and Gallup Polls, over 70% of people don’t like their jobs. Talk about having a bad day – over and over. On the flip side, there are selected companies who have cracked the code on turning work days into great days for most employees. What are they doing right? In March 2015, Fortune magazine provided a peek into a new book which, like opening the vault to elusive enlightenment, provides work rules that contribute to career contentment. Written by Laszlo Bock, head of human resources at Google, “Work Rules!” promises to transform how you live and lead.WORK RULES trash truck v2

Curious? Of course! Here’s my streamlined view and interpretations of Bock’s ten rules which can help managers and leaders bring impressive impact to the work place.

1) Give your work meaning. Since work consumes nearly half your waking life, wouldn’t it be terrific if it meant something to you and your customers? You bet — it’s called knowing you’re making a difference. Wharton professor Adam Grant determined even a minor connection to those who benefit from your labor improves productivity, gives work purpose and makes people happier. Connect work to an idea which permeates daily effort and honestly reflects the value you’re producing. This is also the reason volunteers keep volunteering — purpose.WORK RULES happy workers

2) Trust your people. Show you believe your people are fundamentally good by being open and honest and giving them a voice in how things are done. Bock says to do this you’ll have to relinquish a little authority and give your group space to grow. If you’re part of a team, ask your boss to give you a chance, help you understand his goals and let you figure out how to achieve them. It’s about small steps which bestow ownership on others. Ownership breeds pride.

3) Hire only people who are better than you. Hiring too quickly often quashes the ability to hire well. Using committees to hire along with applying objective standards, never compromising, and periodically checking your new hires are better than old ones are part of the formula. How do you know you’re hiring right? Nine out of ten new hires are better than you are which may be hard to admit for some but should be the goal for all.

Now that we’ve covered the first three rules you won’t want to miss the remaining ones not yet discussed. I’ll pick up where we left off in my next post. In the meantime, which of the above three imperatives are you already applying? One, two, all, none? Even more telling, what management insights and techniques do you currently use to keep employees happy? Comment, share, and send my way … always great to learn how sharp management practices — like yours — are impacting day to day success. *

*excerpted in part and reprinted from Mary Elston management column with permission from Soundings Publications, LLC.