Monday, February 18, 2019

How do you recognise excellence?

I always believed it necessary to reward excellence wherever you find it. When I visit a shop and receive excellent service, I write a review on Trip Advisor, tell the staff I appreciate their work or occasionally leave a tip.

In Australia, tipping isn't the norm, but it does happen. In Australia we believe in paying our staff a decent salary and don't rely on tips to supplement workers' salaries. Many businesses put the tips into a common pool and share it equitably between staff at end of month or on pay day.

Australian Defence Medal
There are many other ways of showing appreciation. For example there is a large range of medals presented to people for long and loyal service, defence forces service, ethical service, service to humanity and so on.

Some firms still present employees with wrist watches for long service, often when they are retiring and time is not as important as it once was.

In the Barossa Valley where I live, the wine industry is huge, one of the largest in Australia and probably the world.

Each February, one (or more) people who have made an outstanding contribution to some aspect of the local wine industry is recognised by being made a Baron of the Barossa.

This is considered by locals to be a much sought after, honourable achievement and no doubt helps a businesses public relations and image. This year there were two new Barons appointed. They are awarded with a gown and a lanyard (see photo above) and join an elite group of local high achievers.

The 2019 Barons Crushing Grapes
I visited my first Barons of the Barossa event recently and was pleasantly surprised at how the proceedings went.

There are the usual round of speeches and the presentation of the awards. After that, the new baros crush several baskets of the first pick of season grapes and crush them using a crusher from years past.

Everyone in attendance is then offered a taste of the grape juice. The grape juice was wonderful, if a little sweet for my taste buds. I considered for a very short moment that it would be nice to just drink the juice without it being processed into wine.
Then I realised that I really do like drinking the odd glass of red wine. If nothing else, it's full of artery cleaning resveratrol and helps make one feel happy. In this region it also keeps thousands of people in jobs and provides tax for our governments - that's all important.

Does your employer provide ways of recognising loyalty, excellence, and high performing employees? Tell us about it.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Creating Your Success One Step at a Time

There are many lessons one learns during life, but perhaps the one that is most important is that if you want to be a success, you need to manufacture it. If you rely on someone else to make you successful, its never likely to happen.

Every day I read comments by people whining about the terms and conditions of Australian politicians employment. Their salaries are too high. Their superannuation is too good. Why dont they pay pensioners more pension?

The point is, any of these people could have run for a Senate or House of Representatives position.  Any of these people could have saved their own money to keep them in retirement and not have to rely on a taxpayer-funded pension.

True, a very few people have disabilities or life circumstances that have prevented them from doing well, but far too many gamble, drink and smoke and make no effort to prepare for their retirement. Then they rely on their fellow Australians to support them.

Australia, like most Western countries, provides so many opportunities for self-improvement that people who dont take them up are negligent.

Flashback to my early years. I finished school after 10 years of education and began an apprenticeship in boilermaking-welding. I never completed it because of circumstances out of my and my employers control but managed to get three years worthwhile experience anyway.

I joined the Royal Australian Air Force during the Vietnam era and served for six years. Later I worked as a police officer and it was there that I began studying. My father had degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering and a diploma of airconditioning and refrigeration - I always felt a sense of having failed him not having done so well at school.

I completed adult matriculation by attending evening college two nights per week between 6 and 9 pm for two years. After matriculation, I was qualified to apply to do a university degree. I signed up for a Bachelor of Business degree and began the part-time six-year external study program.

Fortunately, I had a very supportive wife who looked after our two young children, one severely hearing impaired, and managed to keep the home running despite my absence at work and college.

The long and short of this story is that, because I wanted to do better, I got off my butt and did something about it taking up the opportunities available.

Over the years that followed I achieved awards including a Masters degree, two Bachelors degrees, a Diploma of Teaching (Technical and Further Education), and other qualifications that led me to a number of teaching and public service positions on solid salaries with interesting and challenging work. By 40, I was the head of a department of business and computing at a post-secondary college. Not long after my 60th birthday, I won a job managing a prisoner education and training department. 

During my 51 years in the workforce and with the help of my wife who returned to work as a midwife after the first seven years of our marriage, we set ourselves up so we could retire comfortably. Now, in the latter years of our lives, we are debt free, financially secure and can afford to travel internationally and within Australia. While we are closer to the crematorium than the crib, we're making the most of what years we have left.

Why do I tell you this? Its not to massage my ego, but to encourage you to be a winner. If your life is not going the way you want, you are essentially the master of your own destiny and can do something to create your own success.

Take my advice. Get off your arse, enrol in a course, start a business, or do something else that will improve your lot.  If I could do it, you can too.


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Recognition is Better than Salary Increases

During 51 years in the workforce and life generally, one of the things I learned was that people appreciate being recognised more than they appreciate pay increases.

While a member of the Queensland Police Force (now Service), I received a framed Commissioner's Commendation for a job I did with another officer and two or three safe driving awards. The safe driving awards were issued for a specific number of years without a vehicle collision.

As a young police officer, I was delighted to receive the recognition, especially for the job I did helping convict a person for dangerous driving causing death of an 18-year-old nursing student. I still have the award although I don't display it.

Later, I received a medal for "Diligent and Ethical Service" which I also appreciated.

When you get a pay increase, in Australia, it sometimes sends you into a higher taxation bracket, so the increase can actually cause you to lose money. I know that sounds stupid, and it is.

Australia's taxation system is a "progressive" system - the more you earn, the more you pay and there are ranges eg, a salary of say $60,000 per annum may see you paying 34% (these are examples, not actual figures) of your gross salary in tax and if you go to $61,000, it might move to 38%. Overall, you lose. It's the same when you earn overtime or penalty rates.

The "joy" people receive from salary increases is brief - "Wow, I've got a salary increase!", but it soon passes as you settle into earning the new salary.

Awards and recognition are, however, much longer lasting. If you hang them on your wall, others can see them and you get a bit of prestige being known as the person with an award.

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. As a client of a credit union for 25 years, I received a lovely Certificate of Appreciation for being a client for so long. It told me that someone cared that I had been doing business with them. More, they had taken the time and effort to tell me.

Every year in some countries, people have Thanksgiving, which is an acknowledgment of appreciation to God, country and family, for all the wonderful things they have.

When I go to a shop that provides a "seniors discount", I always thank the shopkeeper for their discount. I never take it for granted that someone is willing to give me a discount because I'm over 55 and thus considered to have made a worthwhile contribution to Australian society. The shopkeeper has no obligation to provide a discount, but does so through altruism and generosity.

Have you received recognition from your employer or a business? How did it make you feel? Do you recognise your own staff when the opportunity presents?