Posts Tagged ‘knowledge retention’

WOW is…

Monday, December 1st, 2014




All of the great people I have meet over the past three and a half years in …

Colleagues and peers who have helped me to
Discover my true passion in my work:  Connect-Engage-Grow Talent.

Economic rebound and
Family and friends who are my foundation.

Graphic Designer Jenn Baldwin who makes WOW! look great.

Human Resource departments in organization that hire WOW! for our
Instructional design and talent development consulting capabilities.

JCE Group (Dave Turano), one of my clients who
Kept his cool throughout the design and development process.

Lots of cool clients and work colleagues who have
Made the transformation into friends, such as … Susan, Julia, Jill, Andrew, and
Nuno …

Opportunities to work with awesome people like Kathy, Colleen, Kate and Vanessa at

Queen of edits and my writing and communications partner, Cindy Miller, who I
Respect, admire and who helps me sound articulate.

Solvay who allowed me to grow with them over eight
Terrific years and became a once-in-a-lifetime client opportunity.

UMass friends and alum I have reunited with both personally and professionally.

Various networking and membership organizations (TBCXPX) who have provided me
Tons of opportunities to meet new and exciting people, and talk about WOW!

Web designer Bethany Brown of 1018 Media, a master at her job who
(e)Xcels at every website she builds, and is fun to work with, too!

Your support and loyalty as I have transformed my business from A to
Z over these past 20 years.

A big thank-you for believing in WOW! – Nettie

Give Thanks to Your Employees

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011


The job market is tight, so are corporate budgets.  That’s even more reason to recognize the contributions of employees and to consider creative ways to motivate them.


Although money is important to employees, management specialist Bob Nelson rightly points out that “what tends to motivate them to perform — and perform at higher levels — is the thoughtful, personal kind of recognition that signifies true appreciation for a job well done.”  Recognition doesn’t need to be expensive.  In fact, according to Nelson, some of the most effective forms cost nothing at all.  He gives a generous bundle of examples in “1001 Ways to Reward Employees” (Workman Publishing, 1994).  Here’s a sampling of some of his ideas along with a few of our own:

Gifts create a lasting reminder of your appreciation.

It’s easy to give employees cash, but the money is quickly spent and the reason for the recognition easily forgotten. Consider the following instead:

  • Give simple, unexpected gifts of time to make the person feel special.
  • Appliances and consumer electronic products are always welcome, especially when the item is in its early stages of market acceptance.
  • Award gift certificates for food, books, clothes or music.
  • Allow the employee to choose any item of a given value from a merchandise catalog.
  • Give new responsibilities to a team member who has demonstrated the ability to handle the work.

Make formal awards a part of your culture.

  • Establish company awards for whatever behavior you want to encourage: best attendance, highest quality, exemplary customer service.  Then hold a ceremony in which top-level executives publicly present these awards.
  • Create a trophy that moves from one high-performing department or person to the next.  You can ask the current holder help decide who gets it next.
  • Recommend the team member for an applicable company recognition award.

A simple “thank you” costs nothing.

A sincere word of thanks from the right person at the right time can mean more to an employee than a raise, a formal award or a whole wall of certificates and plaques.

  • Send handwritten letters of appreciation.
  • Post a thank-you note on an employee’s door.
  • Call employees into your office just to say thank you.  Don’t discuss any other issue.
  • Have the company president or a high-level manager phone employees to thank them for a job well done.
  • Pre-print “ABCD” (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty) cards and encourage managers and fellow employees to award them to deserving colleagues.
  • In team meetings, encourage members to recognize each other’s positive contributions.
  • Hold surprise team meetings to recognize outstanding work.

Low-cost gestures can “create a story.”

Your recognition will have a stronger impact when it creates a story that the employee can tell family, friends and associates for years to come.

  • Recognize hard work by arranging for the employee’s car to be washed in the parking lot.  Or pay for a housecleaning service for the employee’s home.
  • Rent a sports car for the employee to drive for a week.
  • Arrange for a photo session with the company president.

Food is always in good taste.

Food appeals to the senses and creates a festive atmosphere when shared with family or colleagues.

  • Deliver a fruit basket, frozen steaks or a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
  • Hold a team lunch at a restaurant or in the office to celebrate a team achievement.
  • Personalize the label on a wine bottle with a message of thanks to the recipient.
  • Treat employees to a pizza lunch or a giant hero sandwich.
  • Surprise a top-performing department with a champagne picnic at a local park.

Time off is universally appreciated.

Whether it is a free afternoon or a six-month sabbatical, this form of recognition is universally welcome.

  • Provide an extra break.
  • Allow a two-hour lunch (and pay for dessert).
  • Grant a long weekend after a particularly demanding period of work.

There are three powerful motivators in business: helping people improve their skills, involving them in decisions that affect their work, and recognizing their efforts and achievement.  Recognition, done well, may be the most effective.

Turnover Cloud

Monday, October 25th, 2010


Can you see the clouds on the horizon?

A “perfect storm” is gathering, one that will punish the unprepared and reward the nimble. The storm metaphor may be figurative, but the disruption will be quite real.  So get ready for what The New York Times (Oct. 16, 2010) called a “Turnover Storm.”

As Jon Picoult wrote: “Layoffs, cutbacks and stress inflicted on employees in the economic downturn have left many of them discontented and disengaged.  As this pent-up frustration is released, the impact on businesses, their work forces and their customers will be pronounced.”

One consequence is likely to be a mass exodus from businesses that proclaim “our people are their most precious assets,” when in fact those assets have been ignored, downsized, laid off and abandoned by the thousands.  But the casualties are not the eye of the brewing storm; it’s the survivors who have witnessed the corporate carnage who are ready to bolt.

Turnover of any size hurts business.  Costs go up to pay off those heading for the door.  Replacing them involves recruiting, interviewing, testing, hiring and training others.  Replacement costs can be up to three or four times the salary of the departing employee.  If turnover is low, a well-financed company can ride out the disruption.  If turnover is sudden and larger than expected, as it may be when the economy turns around, the impact on a company can be devastating.

Can the storm be avoided?  Of course, but it requires calculated attention to employee needs, what we at WOW! transformations call beyondboarding™.  Most companies can manage the minimum requirements of onboarding, but too many stop the process after 30 or 90 days.  Employees who haven’t learned to swim in that time are destined to tread water in the surf of the company’s culture. 

Beyondboarding™ assumes the process of onboarding should continue throughout an employee’s career. Orientation doesn’t stop when you’ve figured out where the coffee machine is or how your 401(k) is funded.  Neither does skills training, professional development, mentoring and career development.  Employees need companies to drop the slogans about people as assets and turn to the hard work of investing in those “people” assets. 

Good companies will use the coming storm as an opportunity to attract talent from those losing it.  Great companies will continue to develop talent, retain key people and attract new ones.  Here’s where their company’s brand as a ‘great place to work’ will be an important life jacket in the turbulence.  Others may be swamped in the storm.

Best Memories Are Not In The Executive Suite

Monday, October 18th, 2010


Is knowledge retention and issue you are facing or could face as the economy changes and employees bolt?  Let’s look at some don’ts and some do’s.

The following are a couple of nightmares you don’t want in your life:

  • Mr. Big, one of your best clients, calls with an angry complaint about an issue he says has been festering for months. Jane Doe, your sales rep in charge of the account, left the company on Friday. Inquiries to her colleagues about the problem produce blank stares.
  • A new HR employee comes to you in a rush to find out how to handle a complicated problem with a long history. He’s familiar with the company’s newly drafted policy on the subject, but not the intricacies of how state law has modified that policy over the years. Your lawyer advices you to address the matter quickly, but your long-time HR director just retired to Tahiti. 

Before you run off to Tahiti yourself, think about how your company retains and uses “institutional memory.”  Do you have customer-management software that tracks the relationship with key clients?  Have you assessed all your standard operating procedures to see just how “standard” they are and how new employees can master them quickly?  Do you have written histories on important issues of legal compliance?  This problem is like backing up the data on your personal computer.  Most people never think about it until it there’s a crisis.

Retaining corporate know-how is hardly a new subject; there is a lot of literature available.  But here are some bed-rock principles:

  • Dependable technological fixes are readily available: software that helps track client relationships, easy-to-install mechanisms for displaying standard operating procedures, archives for legal and compliance records. 
  • But techno fixes are not enough. You need employees willing and able to share data, records and experiences. You need a culture that understands the value of memory and how to store it in multiple places.
  • The best memories are not in the executive suites. They are on the shop floor and in the cubicles of various departments. The people who do the work (as opposed to direct it) are the best sources of what works and what doesn’t. Companies determined to capture institutional knowledge generally begin at the top and work down. They should begin at the bottom and work up.
  • Someone needs to own the process. A corporate “historian” can help determine what’s important, what needs saving, what needs passing along.  A CEO declaring “we need to retain our know-how” won’t get it done.
  • Whatever you decide to retain, it has to be accessible and easy to use. In a crisis, you need to know where to find it and how to use it, whatever the “it” is.  Transparency is important, which is why this challenge is difficult in companies with weak ties across operational functions.