Check out December's business management files.

Safety First With Snow Removers

TheFarmers' Almanactells us that the northern part of the country can look forward to some heavy snowfall this winter (for some areas, winter already started - back in October). Time to drag the snow remover out of the corner of the garage and ge t it ready for the season.

But having a clear driveway and walk doesn't mean much if you hurt yourself in the process. Here are some snow removal safety tips for those of you without children of shovel-toting age in the house:

  • Don't wear a n y clothing items that dangle such as real long scarves, loose-fitting parkas, etc.; they can get tangled up in the machine. A snowmobile suit is perfect.

  • Work with your back to the wind if snow is flying- even if you have to back up the entire len gth of the driveway. Impaired vision can be dangerous.

  • Never use your hand or foot to clear the chute. Turn off the machine completely and use a stick to poke out any clogs.

  • Work slowly through the deep stuff. Taking a full-width scoop can stall the machine. Work in a lower gear and take half-width scoops, pulling back to let the machine clear itself.

  • Beware of gravel and crushed rock. An immediate danger is that they can _be hurtled at someone or something. Later in the year, y ou'll find them with your lawnmower. A broken mower blade and/or hole in your ankle is no fun.

  • If you are working on an incline, steady and safe footing is essential. Consider using creeper cleats on your boots.

  • Don't overexert yourself. Even a self-propelled model requires a lot of energy to control. Work at a slow, steady pace and take breaks.

Snow removal often is performed in adverse conditions - cold, dark, snowy - making safety an even greater priority.

Get Them to Pay Attention

To encourage people to pay better attention to what you're trying to tell them, heed this advice from our friend John Clark:

  • Tell them what's in it for them at the very beginning of the discussion.

  • Be a good listener yourself. You'll u nderstand what others are saying, gain their respect and prompt good listening in return.

  • Project an attitude that makes others eager to hear you out. People listen to someone who has a cheerful can-do attitude and doesn't grumble or bad-mouth th i ngs or people.

  • Make unpopular ideas more acceptable. Being honest and forthright, even if what you say isn't popular, will add a measure of acceptance to your message.

  • Don't take things too seriously, especially yourself. When thinking a bout what you are going to say, give thought to how you are going to say it. Friendly tones create friendly minds, hearts and ears.

  • Be confident. This tactic works better than you may suspect. Success breeds respect. Being positive and confident i s contagious and tunes in the listener to what you are saying.

  • Enlist the trust and respect of your people. When you have established their trust, they will listen to you and believe what you say. Earn that trust by telling the truth and keepin g t hem in the know.

Don't Be a Mediocre Motivator

A manager who is a mediocre employee motivator is a manager who provides employee recognition under the following circumstances:

  • Recognizes the length of time employees have been with the company versus their specific successes with the compan y. A good or motivated employee is not identified by the length of time he or she has worked for the company.

  • Provides employees with a pat on the back instead of giving the successful employees more responsibility and say in the direction of the i r work.

  • Recognizes an employee for having the best attendance record versus recognizing an employee who has a great teamwork attitude. An employee who is present at work each day may also be a pain to work with for coworkers.

  • Rewards in d ividual employees when the company requires employees to work in teams. Nothing zaps teamwork more than rewarding a single employee when the whole team was responsible for a project's success.

  • Recognizes employees for all the hard work they've d on e over the past year, versus recognizing employees for their hard work right after or when it is actually occurring.

  • Praises employees only when having a good day. Many managers believe if they are having a bad day, why should anyone else be ha ppy? These managers usually end up going down with their ship.

"Yes Men" Need Not Apply

Management guru Mark McCormack reminds us that subordinates who always agree with higher-ups either aren't thinking for themselves or are too intimidated to share their honest opinions. Either situation is unhealthy for business.

McCormack suggests tha t you periodically test by saying something you know to be wrong to see if anyone corrects you, or by attacking an idea you really agree with to see who defends it. Subordinates' responses will reveal a lot about the character of individuals and health o f the organization.

Lincoln's Views on Leadership

In his book,Lincoln on Leadership,Donald Phillips passes along some of Honest Abe's leadership principals:

  • If you are a good leader, when your work is done and your aim fulfilled, your people will say, "We did this ourselves."
  • Let disputing parties work out their differences by bringing them together and guiding their dialogue.
  • Always let your subordinates know the honor will be all theirs if they succeed and the blame will be all yours if they fail.
  • When yo ur subordinates come up with good ideas, let them go ahead and try them. But monitor their progress.
  • Never forget that your organization does not depend on the life of any one individual.
  • The greatest credit should be given to those in your organization who render the hardest work.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . . Maytinis?

While the evidence perhaps is a bit less garish and more subdued this year, you'd have to have been holed up in a cave lately to not recognize the signs that holiday season is upon us. Here's a list of some of the holidays taking place in December that probably won't be noted on your typical desk calendar:

Dec. 1. Mindfulness Day (Buddhist) - Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing and acting with compassion for the poor and oppressed.

Dec. 1. Gita Jayanti (Hindu) - The birthday of Srimad Bhagavad Gita and the day the gospel of Dharma was revealed to the world.

Dec. 4. Kamolol Day (Marshall Islands) - This is Thanksgiving Day for the 60,000 inhabitants of these Pacific islands.

Dec.5. National Fathers Day (Thailand) - Of extra significance is the fact that this also is the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the father of the Thai nation.

Dec. 6. Farmers' Day (Ghana) - Celebrations and awards ceremonies highlight the value of agricultural activities in this extremely challenging environment.

Dec. 8. Hari-Kuyo (Japan) - For the Festival of the Broken Needles, participants make a shrine for broken and bent sewing needles from the past year and launch them out to sea.

Dec. 10. Human Rights Day - Celebrates the anniversary of the United Nations' adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Dec. 12. Guadalupe Day (Mexico) - The most important religious holiday in Mexico honors Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Dec. 13. Santa Lucia Day (Scandinavia) - The queen of light leads the way for the sun to bring longer days (the winter solstice used to be Dec. 13).

Dec. 16. Day of the Vow (South Africa) - With Apartheid out and democracy in, this day fosters reconciliation and national unity.

Dec. 17. Eid ul Fitr (Islam) - Festival marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan, providing spiritual upliftment.

Dec. 21. Winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere) - Even in the darkest moments, health, serenity and healing energy are available when we focus on them with positive intent.

Dec. 23. Feast of the Radishes (Oaxaca) - Huge radishes are carved into animals, humans, saints and other figures, and exhibited in a contest of creativity and skill.

Dec. 24. Maytinis (Philippines) - Evening parade with extravagantly adorned floats featuring people symbolically clad as biblical figures such as Adam and Eve, Mary and Joseph, David and Goliath, Moses, etc.

Dec. 24. Lhuentse Tsechu (Bhutan) - Religious festival highlighted by ritual mask dances in an area of the world called the last Shangri-La.

Dec. 26. Kwanzaa (African American) - A weeklong spiritual, festive and joyous celebration of the oneness and goodness of life, with special emphasis on family unity.

Dec. 26. Boxing Day (United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) - The tradition is to share the wealth and give gifts to charities, needy individuals and people in service industries.

Dec. 31. Homany (Scotland) - The self-proclaimed world's largest New Year's party involves a celebratory drink or two, fireworks and the kissing of complete strangers - not necessarily in that order.

If you happen to be planning a major bash for these or any other holiday events, kindly send your invitations to the always-ready-for-a-party "Portfolio" staff using the address listed on page 4; we'll bring a bag of ice.