Making good things happen at work

Q: As a senior-level person in my organization, I am often asked to serve on internal and external boards and committees, many of which I don’t have time for or don’t see the value in as a whole. How do I say “no” without offending the boss?A: Don’t be so quick to say no. If you’re being asked to help, someone else perceives that you will add value and have something to offer, and in my book, that’s a good sign.Serving on other boards and internal and external committees enhances your influence, viability and expands your network. Say “yes,” show up in an enthusiastic way, contribute and help get things done.Then, once you’ve done all that and, if you are still finding yourself being asked to do more than you can handle, simply have that conversation with your boss.This time it will be from a position of strength as a team player with a history of pitching in and a demonstrated willingness to make things happen. I promise that it will be an easy conversation and you will get what you want, which is not only good for you, but good for your company, too.Q. The economic crisis, and the resulting inability to give raises, is starting to bring down morale. How do I bring it back up without breaking the bank?A. Salaries are always important and usually near the top of the list for most employees. Almost everyone looks forward to the annual review and raise. And when it doesn’t happen, people are understandably disappointed and individual and collective morale often suffers.But in addition to salaries, what also shows up on most employee surveys is the desire for more and better communication. It’s a critical and seemingly universal employee concern and no matter how much and how good the internal communication is, it’s never enough and never good enough.With that in mind, the first thing to consider is this: Have we shared enough information? Have we explained why we are not able to give raises, expressed our concerns and also shared our honest hope that things will get better?Most employees understand that we are in difficult economic times and along with that understanding comes a certain amount of acceptance. People may not like that they aren’t getting a raise, but they also understand why.The second thing we can do is equally important.Given the real economic realities companies are faced with, we have a choice to make. We can suffer through it and hope for better days or we can do what “Begin with Yes” encourages and that’s to ask ourselves and each other: “Now what?” In other words, we need to shift our focus from the power we don’t have (not enough money to give raises) and look instead at what can we do to reward, honor and be respectful of our employees who make our company what it is.When we ask the question – “What can we do to show our employees we care?” – we will get answers.Turning the answers into action will send a positive message loud and clear and most employees will not only respect being respected, they will begin to feel better about an economic reality that we’re all working through.Paul Boynton, president and chief executive of Moore Center Services, Manchester, is also a personal coach, corporate consultant, motivational speaker, host of the television show, “Begin with Yes” and author of the book by the same name. He can be reached at