Think Inc.
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Cheerleading works | A legacy of greed?




Remember, employees
like recognition, too

By Mary Kelly

Many managers looking at this article will immediately dismiss this with, "I already do a great job of recognizing my employees." I am not saying you don't. Many managers already know they need to help employees realize the employees are valued, important and that the work the employees do is appreciated.

But if you find this article on your desk, or in your mailbox on Monday morning, maybe you aren't doing quite as well as you think you are.

It's nice to be told you are doing a good job at work. Positive feedback works. People like to be sincerely appreciated, especially by their supervisors. Employees hardly ever complain that they receive too much positive reinforcement. But employers often overlook the necessity of strengthening the intrinsic motivation in the workplace.

In a perfect world, all employees would be intrinsically motivated. Intrinsic means innate, or within. Intrinsic motivation is the stimulation of drive stemming from within oneself. Ideally, all of us are self-starters, and we work because we love our jobs.

We are intrinsically motivated to show up every day and devote 110 percent of our energies to fulfilling the managers' directions. But wouldn't it be nice if your boss took the time to reward you?

So how do you reward employees? If you treat employees like you want your boss to treat you, it makes it easy. These eight items are mere suggestions on how supervisors can show employees they are appreciated.

Not all of these submissions are applicable, practicable or viable for all companies, but the ideas may prompt other ideas. And your employees may have ideas of their own.

Time off >> Few employees strenuously object when told to take a Friday afternoon off. People like extra time for themselves, to run errands, and to have the luxury of not rushing to the next busy appointment in their lives.

Cash >> Nothing says "I care" like a cash award from the company. It travels wells, keeps well and allows the recipient maximum flexibility to get what they want or need. People like extra money.

Public acknowledgement >> Publicly announce when people have a significant event or achievement in their lives. Give credit where credit is due, and in front of as many people, in the right forum, as possible. While not cash, at least in these instances people know that management knows what is going on.

Trinkets >> Small gift items can be a nice way to express appreciation, especially if there are many people to thank, and cash is not an option. Coffee mugs, pens, $10 gift certificates to Long's, chili coupons, or anything personalized can be presented artfully and tastefully.

Increase human capital >> Make time and resources available for relevant, career-enhancing training opportunities. Good managers look for ways to increase the personal and professional development of their people. Managers need to actively pursue helping their employees progress in the workplace. Getting employees to training or helping them get more education increases their sense of worth, further develops their skills and is ultimately of benefit to the organization as well as the employee.

Onward and upward >> Once the employee gains those significant skills necessary to accept more responsibility, help them find promotion opportunities within the organization. Look to your own organization for quality people, spend the time to increase their human capital and promote them. You will foster loyalty and teamwork. When employees believe they can be promoted within your company, they are more likely to stay with you and work hard.

Celebrate events and accomplishments >> Take time to plan joyful events honoring retirements, promotions or other important milestones. Team-based achievements are great excuses for a potluck, barbecue or golf afternoon. It provides a break from work, and gets people together in a more informal setting to build team unity.

Write thank you notes >> Your mom taught you to write them, but you still probably don't write them often enough. You definitely don't receive enough thank you notes. In the rapid-response world of e-mail, a thank you card says you cared enough to spend time to actually pull out stationary and thoughtfully compose a few words. A thank you note tells your employee, "I appreciate what you are doing" and is mostly underused. So if you are one of the few who occasionally picks up a pen and writes "Thank you for the extra effort with a difficult customer today" you have that rare occurrence when you can make an employee and your mom happy in one motion.

Bring malasadas >> Or doughnuts. Or napples. Stop by on the way to work and get enough for everyone. It tells employees you were thinking of them and that you care. And nothing sounds quite as good in the morning as a still-warm malasada with the sugar all over your fingers. You'd like it if someone did that for you, now, wouldn't you?

Mary Kelly is an instructor of economics at Hawaii Pacific University. She can be reached at




Are we bound to leave
our children a legacy
of greed over one of trust?

Stephany L. Sofos

My mother's 80th birthday is coming up next month. She was born on Sept. 11. I was her birthday present one year, coming 5 days after her day. We often take our birthdays as times of reflections as well as celebrations. This one will be important given her significant achievement in living this long and the historical impact of the events of that day a year ago.

I have often asked my mom about destiny; for if anyone would know, it would be someone who has lived so many years in these turbulent times.

She said the definition of destiny is when an ordinary person completes extraordinary tasks from time to time. She reflected that this comes with three ideals. First, have faith in yourself and something greater than you. Second, work hard everyday, whether it is at a job or with your children. Third, always be honorable in your actions.

Mom's ideals are so simple and yet so complex in these conflicting times.

She was born in St. Louis, Mo., but when my grandfather died from the effects of chemical warfare in World War I, my grandmother went back to Greece with my mom and uncle.

Mom lived in Athens until the Nazis forced her to escape back to America. In St. Louis, she educated herself and came to Hawaii as an accountant working for the Navy in 1943. She met my dad in 1946 at a dance at Pearl Harbor and they married that year. He had been born in Corinth, Greece, came through Ellis Island at the age of 2 to become an American citizen, and fought in the battles of the Pacific as a young Naval officer. Together they raised and educated my three brothers and I here in Hawaii.

She and my father built homes in the 1950s and '60s and some of my earliest memories are of being with her on construction sites and wondering how she could walk in the dirt and rocks with those very high heels and tight skirts.

When my Dad became ill and retired, she started a tax accounting business. She retired in 1997 at the age of 75 after her diabetes started to get the best of her.

Mom has always said, destiny often puts us in circumstances that define our true character forever.

Many times this definition is one moment, but more often that not, it is a series of circumstances in our lives -- continuous small events and how we act or react with them. I believe tests of character are all pass or fail. Some of these examinations of our soul have permanent consequences.

In today's world, there appears to be a tendency to deny responsibility for our actions. There seems to be a belief that accountability is always someone else's problem, whether in government or corporate America.

These denials can have many causes; among them poor parental direction and schools ill equipped to teach principles and discipline. In addition, there is a pervasive attitude in the world expressed by the Gordon Gecko character in the 1985 movie "Wall Street" as "Greed is Good."

It seems the point now is to win at all costs.

Not too long ago, your word and your handshake were your bond in business. To take on the helm of a corporation, your reputation for truth and honesty had to be exemplary.

Now we are requiring our CEOs to sign letters certifying their company's accounting practices. Today, there is no sense of ethics or integrity.

Do we want to do business this way? Is this the legacy we plan to leave our children?

My mom's destiny was to come half way around the world to raise her family in Hawaii after she lost everything in war. With hard work, principles and character she rebuilt her life.

As leaders in our community today we all need to embrace the values taught by our elders and hold fast to our reputations for honesty, integrity and decency.

We owe this to the young people coming up after us. Otherwise, what legacy will be left for them?

Stephany L. Sofos is president of SL Sofos and Co. Ltd., a real estate and business consulting company. She can be reached at

To participate in the Think Inc. discussion, e-mail your comments to; fax them to 529-4750; or mail them to Think Inc., Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813. Anonymous submissions will be discarded.

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