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Topics & Tools - Feb 2008


Alan's Topics and Tools
February, 2008


Welcome to the February, 2008 issue of Alan's Topics and Tools. 
In this issue I share my thoughts about what motivates employee performance, and reflect on those things in the workplace that really drive us crazy!
Please read on, enjoy, and be in touch with me to share your thoughts.
In This Issue
Motivating Performance: Does Salary Matter?
New Partnership with Leadership Momentum Group
Office Pet Peeves
IWCC: Growing and Changing!
Coming Events
Motivating Performance:  Does Salary Matter? 
I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about the topic of motivating performance.  While working on the implementation of a major new performance management system in the public sector, I've spoken with literally hundreds of employees about what it is that motivates them.  My reactions are based on anecdotal evidence, but I am developing some strong feelings about what actually does motivate the majority of people in the workplace.
If you've reviewed any of the research about what motivates performance, you know that the results are quite consistent.  Typically "being well informed about what's happening in the organization" or "communicate well with my supervisor" are at the top of such lists.  Salary is usually quite far down.
Is it possible that when employees are surveyed about what motivates them, they think it impolite to confess that salary is important?  I honestly don't know.  I do know that a "pay for performance" system can cause anxiety and controversy.  Certainly, with economic statistics showing us how many of us are so very far in debt, what shows up in somebody's paycheck assumes great importance.
I'm thinking a phenomenon may be happening in workplace motivation research related to something that has happened in this year's primary election process.  In several cases, polls taken of voters as they have left the voting booth have ended up being highly inaccurate.  Several analysts have surmised that voters expressed one opinion because they felt it was "politically correct," but actually voted another way in the privacy of the voting booth.  Could surveys about what motivates performance experience the same phenomenon?
The debate about what truly motivates performance in the workplace will definitely continue.  I'll be watching with interest.  Based on my experiences, I'll be more skeptical of survey results.
New Partnership with Leadership Momentum Group 
Over the past several years, I have worked frequently with my New Jersey colleague Debra Hamilton.  I value my relationship with Debra, and highly respect her.  She and her business partner, Ken Giglio, have formed the Leadership Momentum Group - an organization focused on providing customized leadership programs with an emphasis on targeted follow-up to sustain workshop learning.  I'm pleased that I will be partnering with Leadership Momentum Group as an instructor, and will also represent them with clients here in the Washington, DC area.
Debra and Ken's model is called the Leadership Development Framework.  The framework offers three levels of leadership development:
  • Becoming an Encouraging Manager
  • Becoming a Leader
  • Executive Mastery

Each level begins as a customized three-day workshop and is expanded to include participant action plans, one-on-one coaching sessions, peer coaching groups, job aids, and post-training follow-up surveys.  This targeted follow-up provides participants with the opportunity to practice their leadership skills and behaviors while meeting real life business challenges.  They gain support and constructive feedback in real time to more effectively transfer training into improved performance.

Interested in more information about the Leadership Development Framework?  Feel free either to get in touch with me, or go to the Leadership Momentum Group website at
Office Pet Peeves
What are your biggest pet peeves in the workplace?  Are there things that drive you absolutely crazy?
In a survey released in October, 2007 by Harris Interactive, the top seven pet peeves in the workplace were identified.  Based on responses from 2, 429 American workers, the list included:
  1. Gossip - 60%
  2. Poor Time Management (personal phone calls, surfing the Internet, etc.) - 54%
  3. Messiness in Common Areas (kitchen areas, etc.) - 45%
  4. Potent Smells (perfume, smoke, etc.) - 42%
  5. Loud Noises (speaker phone, loud talking) - 41%
  6. Overuse of Personal Communication Devises in Meetings - 28%
  7. Misuse of E-mail - 22%

As someone who provides training in a variety of communication skills, I find the number of peeves related to communication skills (or lack thereof!) to be fascinating.  It's also interesting how many of these simply reflect a lack of common sense!

IWCC: Growing and Changing!

Better Speakers |  Better Writers | Better Business

As many of my colleagues and clients know, I have worked extensively with a Toronto based organization, IWCC Training in Communications, for the past seven years.  IWCC is a great organization that provides effective, high quality training.  I value my relationship with them highly.
During the past year the long-time owner of IWCC, Jean Findlater, decided the time had come to sell the business.  She set out to find a buyer who would grow the business, while upholding the quality and high standards that she always instilled.
Jean was fortunate enough to find the perfect buyer in Tim Duffy, the new President and CEO of IWCC.  Tim possesses a perfect combination of training and leadership experience, and was looking for an opportunity to lead a training company such as IWCC.  His background includes experience as a national training manager at Apple Computer, and as a Sr. Performance Consultant at Acclivus Corporation.  His executive level experience is as Vice President and GM of Siemens Canada Limited, and President and CEO of Burntsand Incorporated.
I've been totally impressed with Tim's motivation, energy, and creative ideas.  I'm confident that he is going to help IWCC grow to the next level, while maintaining the integrity and quality that are so important to IWCC's success.
Part of the deal also included Jean, with whom I have had a long and excellent relationship, staying on board as Executive Director.   Now she'll have the time to do what she does best...bring creative training solutions to IWCC's clients.  She has already designed a brand new program, Executive-Ready Presentations.  Geared for people who have to present to C-Suite or executive level audiences, ERP focuses on strategic messaging as well as delivery skills.  IWCC's mid-west clients are already enjoying the benefits of this powerful new workshop.
For more information about IWCC's programs, please visit the IWCC website at
Coming Events
I'll be speaking at two major conferences in the next few months:
ASTD TechKnowledge
February 26 - 28, 2008 
San Antonio, Texas
ASTD International Conference & Exposition
June 1 - 4, 2008
San Diego, California
Be in Touch!
Can I assist you in helping your employees to be more productive?  Let's talk about how I can help!
Send me an e-mail at, or call me at 571-212-5405.

Alan De Back
Alan De Back, Learning & Communications
Alan De Back
Alan De Back
Learning & Communications
  • Career Development
  • Management & Leadership Development
  • Communication Skills
  • Customer Service


phone: 571-212-5405
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Alan De Back, Learning & Communications | 9152 Bloom Court | Burke | VA | 22015