The Business Management Files

New Breed of Happy Workers

As recently as a decade ago, most employees considered themselves satisfied if they had a job with good pay and benefits. But there's been a shift in employee values, according to a report by the Wirthlin Group, an independent market research firm.

Today's more sophisticated workers include an emerging group who value pay and benefits as a means to better balance work and family life. More people look at job security not so much in terms of the employment policies of their company, but of the company's ability to perform well in the marketplace over the long run.

More employees are starting to measure their job satisfaction by having the right resources they need to do their jobs, educational opportunities, good communication and qualified managers. Employees then feel they can maximize their performance, leading to higher quality projects, satisfied customers and strong performance. This strengthens both the company and the employees' commitment to it.

From a Different Perspective

Stop thinking about managing your employees. That's the advice we get from the good folks at United Technologies Corp., who suggest that we take a look at management in a slightly different way.

People don't want to be managed. What they really want is to be led.

Who's ever heard of a world manager? World leader, yes. Educational leaders, political leaders, scout leaders, community leaders, labor leaders, church leaders, business leaders - they all lead. They don't manage.

The carrot always wins over the stick. Ask your horse. You can lead your horse to water but you can't manage him to drink.

If you want to manage somebody, manage yourself. Do that well and you'll be ready to stop managing - and start leading. The difference will be quite noticeable in very short order.

Advice on Customer Service

Management consultant F. John Reh offers these tips to bolster your company's customer service performance:

* The single most important aspect of your business is your customers. Make sure your entire team understands that - and acts like they understand that.

* Follow through on promises. Don't let people make promises the company can't keep. If they tell a customer a project will begin next Tuesday morning, it had better. Nothing loses customers faster than broken promises.

* Keep your focus external. Stay focused outside your company so you can watch and learn from customers (and competitors). Don't get too hung up on internal processes and procedures if they interfere with outward vision.

Remember these three essentials: respect, value and a human approach. When you first apply these to the way you manage your own business, your company will be able to apply them toward customers.

This Month's Calendar Note

The idea for Flag Day (June 14) is believed to have originated in 1855 when a Wisconsin schoolteacher had students observe the 108th birthday of our nation's official flag.

Back when the War of Independence began, various flags were used. In January 1776, Gen. Washington proclaimed the organization of the Continental Army and raised the Continental Colors. This was the first red-and-white, 13-striped flag; it had the British union Jack in the canton (upper left corner). The Continental flag remained as the unofficial flag until the Continental Congress adopted the 13 star-and-stripe U.S. National Flag on June 14, 1777. It was decreed that there should be a star and stripe for each state. As more states entered the Union, it was clear that there would be too many stripes. The decision was made in 1818 to keep the original 13 stripes and add stars as states were admitted.

No one knows with absolute certainty who designed or made that original stars-and-stripes. Various theories and claims have been advanced. Many are possible, none proven. Few historians believe the most popular story - that of Betsy Ross sewing the first flag. It does makes for a nice story in history books (always 100% truthful and accurate) and nice paintings in libraries. The best guess of most independent historians is that Francis Hopkinson, a New Jersey congressman, signer of the Declaration of Independence and a recognized designer, was responsible. A record was discovered of Hopkinson submitting a bill to Congress for "currency designs, design for the Great seal of the U.S., a treasury seal, a design for the Flag." An interesting - if not moot - debate lingers.

Over the decades, more and more cities and states established flag celebrations on June 14, but it wasn't until 1949 that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating the official National Flag Day.