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Business Observer Friday, Feb. 20, 2004 15 years ago

Be Good to Your Employees

International speaker and employee motivator Barbara Glanz might sound corny at first. Then she cites statistics and the bottom line. CEOs are listening.

Be Good to Your Employees

International speaker and employee motivator Barbara Glanz might sound corny at first. Then she cites statistics and the bottom line. CEOs are listening.

By Janet Leiser

Managing Editor

Barbara Glanz is on a mission to bring joy to the workplace.

Her work as an author, philosopher and motivational speaker has taken her to five continents and all 50 states. And in May, the Siesta Key resident will speak in South Africa, her sixth continent in eight years.

The woman, whose motto is "spreading contagious enthusiasm," is out to change the corporate world one person at a time.

"Even though your work may not always be joyful, you can still create an atmosphere of caring, creativity and joy," says Glanz, a fireball who has spoken at events with some of the most successful CEOs and authors in the country, including authors Rick Warren ("The Purpose-Driven Life"), Ken Blanchard ("One Minute Manager"), Chief Operating Officer Don Soderquist of Wal-Mart and CEO Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A.

A joyful workplace may not be at the top of a CEO's list, Glanz says. But it should be. It improves motivation, retention and productivity, she says. "It's directly related to the bottom line."

Studies show that only about 15% of U.S. workers give their best to their employer; another 10% are burned out, Glanz says. "What would happen if that 75% to 80% were excited and inspired to give their very best to your company?" she asks.

Companies call Glanz when they want to boost people's spirits, "to give them a sense of value and a mission," she says. "They don't realize people need to feel a part of things. They need to feel they're important. They need to be part of the bigger picture instead of just a little cog."

Employee dissatisfaction isn't usually about money, even though that's what many employers assume, she says. "They get all hung up on raises, benefits, real costly items.

"They talk about money because it's easier to talk about money than to say, 'I want respect.' It's hard to go to your boss and say, 'I want you to respect me more, I want you to trust me more.' "

Spreading the word

So Glanz, 59, travels the world, spreading her message.

Her work schedule is often a whirlwind. St. Louis. Denver. Seattle. Portland. Boston. Cleveland. St. Petersburg. Phoenix. Birmingham.

"I've spoken to most all of the Fortune 500 companies," she says. Other clients include the IRS, postal service and state drivers' license offices. (Believe it or not, she says, the driver's license people do care about improving productivity.)

She receives about $6,000, plus expenses, to be a keynote speaker. And she tries to keep her presentations down to about 70 a year. "If you only have 45 minutes to win over an audience," she says. "You have to have a passion for it."

Prior to each speech, she says a prayer written by Mother Teresa. "Let the light of Jesus shine through me, and let the people not see me but see his love."

In between trips, there are Web casts from her eighth-floor Siesta Key condominium, a place she has called home for about a year.

Last month, Glanz, with the telephone and Internet, made a presentation on "Healing Your Way Through Change" to about 1,000 employees of Nursing Spectrum and Nursing Week, two nursing magazines that recently merged.

She glances out her living room window at the Gulf of Mexico as she discusses healing.

"You have to go through a transition period," she says. "I call it the struggle. You really have to look at what is it you have to let go of to move forward, to make a new beginning. A lot of change, whether it's good change or bad change, is about loss. What is going to be different? What are you losing?

"If it's a promotion, you are losing status with colleagues, the comfort level," she says. "You're losing your ability to crab about senior management. You're losing a lot of that camaraderie to move up. Even with positive change there are going to be losses. It's that scary part in between: What's it going to be like on the other side when you let go?"

From the bottom up

Change should start at the top of a company, she says. But it doesn't have to.

She tells her listeners about Johnny, a bag boy at a Midwest grocery store, who heard her speak. The next time she saw Johnny, who has Down syndrome, he told her that each night he finds a saying or writes one himself. Then he prints it out on paper. The next day, he gives a signed copy to each of his customers.

Before long, the line at Johnny's checkout counter was far longer than the others. Customers refused to switch lanes for faster service.

The store manager called and said one woman who used to shop once a week now comes in every time she drives by.

It started a chain reaction. Soon, other employees were doing creative things for the customers.

The floral department would give away broken or older flowers to the elderly customers. Last year, the store was named store of the year by the chain, which she declined to identify.

Getting started

Glanz grew up in Harlan, Iowa, a town of 4,500. Her father was the postmaster. A piano player who once played with the Kansas symphony, she graduated from the University of Kansas with an English degree.

At 21, she was a high school English teacher in Western Springs, Ill., when she married Charlie Glanz. In the summers, she taught theater. They started their family, and she stayed at home to care for their three children.

"I made the kids my career," she says. "I had a business plan, not a real formal one. But I had goals."

During those 19 years, she obtained a master's degree in adult education from Northern Illinois University, taking one class a semester for five years. In 1988, the couple's oldest child, Garrett, started Dartmouth University, and Glanz went to work for Kaset, a Times Mirror company based in Tampa, as manager of training. She worked from Illinois.

She spoke at Kaset's conferences. Then the company's clients started asking her to speak at their conferences. "I realized I could impact hundreds of people as opposed to a classroom," Glanz says.

"We were telling everybody to be good to customers. But no one was talking about being good to the employees. That really became my passion of wanting to help create workplaces of joy because we spend half our life in the workplace."

In 1995, Glanz left Kaset to go out on her own. That same year, her husband retired from the Chicago Tribune. He traveled with her on speaking engagements to Greece, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, to name a few.

Then he was diagnosed with lung cancer during a routine checkup. He died in May 2000.

"People tell me I'm so happy that I must have a perfect life. I don't," Glanz says. "It's just a choice. Ninety-nine percent of the time I choose to be a happy person. This has been the hardest year of my life."

She had left the place she'd called home for 34 years to start over in Florida. "I knew five people when I moved here," she says. "Sometimes the loneliness seemed unbearable."

But she keeps her perspective. Glanz looks out at the white powdery sand and water sparkling in the afternoon sun. "When you look at the vastness of the ocean," she says, "it puts your life into perspective."

She counts her many blessings. She has three smart, beautiful grown children and two young grandchildren. And she has the power to motivate, inspire - which she says is a gift from God.

And after Africa, one more continent awaits: Antarctica.

Make a Difference

Barbara Glanz created a model of what change looks like through the use of a three-column chart.

"This is one of the most profound things I've ever done," she says. "It basically says any interaction you have with anybody, you have a choice. You can create for that person a minus, a zero or a plus.

"If you make them feel less important then they leave with a minus. If you just take care of them enough to get by, then it's a zero. My mission is to get people to move over here to the plus."

Interactions between business associates occur on two levels, she says. There's the business level and the human level, "which is all about how they feel."

"Which level builds customer loyalty? It's not the business level," she says. "That gets you in the door. It's the same thing with employee loyalty. There's so little training on the human level interaction. You have those interactions where you can really choose to make a difference.

"Every person we encounter in our life is a gift. We have the option of opening that gift or passing it by."

- Janet Leiser

Janet Leiser

To build customer loyalty, employees must make a lasting positive impression, which involves far more than the exchange of goods, says Barbara Glanz.

Advice from Glanz

1. Send something to their home to thank their spouse, significant other, and/or family - tickets, coupons, a video or DVD, a food treat. Involving families will help them be more understanding when your employee has to put in extra time at the office!

2. Invite employees to have breakfast or lunch with you, one on one. Ask them what they love about your organization and what their ideas are to make it better. You will be amazed at the important feedback you will receive in a relaxed and trusting atmosphere.

3. Give them something that relates to their passion - a book, article, tickets, a tool, etc. First of all, learn what is their passion - what they love to do in their free time, what makes them "come alive" when they talk about it, and then remember that passion and mention it to the employee from time to time. This shows them that you care about them as a human being with a life outside of work and will build loyalty and connection. Don't forget to share your passion with them, too.

4. Give them an opportunity for some learning completely unrelated to their job - financial planning, music lessons, a wine seminar, dancing lessons, presentation skills, golf lessons, creative writing. You are helping develop an individual in all facets of his/her life, which will make for a better and more well-rounded worker and perhaps helping a dream come true.

5. Surprise them at the holidays by giving them an extra hour at lunch for Christmas shopping. (If times are good, give each employee $25 or $50 to buy something for themselves and then share what each purchased.)

6. Call someone in the employee's family (mother, spouse, significant other) to thank them for sharing such a great person with your organization. This will be an experience that none of you will ever forget!

7. Write them a note telling them all the specific things you value about them. Many people will save these letters forever because no one has ever done this for them before.

8. Give each employee five paper cutouts of your hand. Each paper hand represents one hour of your time to do anything for them that they desire (within reason, of course!) They will have the most fun teasing you with all the things they threaten they are going to have you do.

9. Serve your direct reports breakfast or lunch. You cook! Or bring a brown bag lunch you have prepared for each employee and show a fun video while you all eat lunch together. We need more joy in our workplaces!

10. Invite employees to your home for a party. This may be for families if you choose. Just seeing you in your own environment will create a special bond that can last forever. When I was a high school English teacher at Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Ill., I always invited all my students to our home for a Christmas open house. Just last week, 35 years later, I was invited to dinner with one of my former students when I was speaking in Chicago. He told me that of all the teachers he had ever had, I was the only one he remembered!

Barbara Glanz can be reached at (941) 312-9169; or e-mail: [email protected]; web site:

books by Glanz

"Balancing Acts - More than 250 Guiltfree, Creative Ideas to Blend your Work and your Life," (Dearborn 2003)

"Handle with CARE - Motivating and Retaining Employees," (McGraw-Hill 2002)

"CARE Packages for the Workplace - Dozens of Little Things You Can Do to Regenerate Spirit at Work," (McGraw-Hill 1996)

"The Creative Communicator - 399 Ways to Make your Business Communications Meaningful and Inspiring," (McGraw-Hill 1998)

"CARE Packages for the Home - Dozens of Ways to Regenerate Spirit Where You Live," (Andrews McMeel 1998)

"Building Customer Loyalty - How YOU Can Help Keep Customers Returning," (McGraw-Hill 1994)

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