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Stepping Up During Tough Times

Here are seven suggestions to help you improve morale, motivation and productivity in your in-plant.

January 2013 By Wes Friesen
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One approach during the tough economic times we live in is to stick our heads in the sand, and wish all of this would just go away. I suggest there is a better approach: meet the tough times head on and be proactive. How can we be proactive and weather the economic storm? Here are seven suggestions for your consideration:

Build Credibility. It is important to constantly enhance the reputation of your operation. This will help you avoid excessive budget cuts and improve the probability of acquiring the resources you need to be successful. Here are tactics to help build credibility:

  • Use internal communications channels (e.g., company newsletters, e-mail, intranet Web page, etc.) to let others know of your team's accomplishments.
  • Sponsor an open house and have tours so people better understand what you do and the value it brings.
  • Develop a team promotional brochure that describes the services you provide and has pictures of the staff and equipment.
  • Develop a professional looking and informative service guide. Consider doing a periodic newsletter.
  • Make sure your team members that deal with internal and external customers dress professionally. Provide phone and communication skill training for all.
  • Pursue personal certifications. Attend IPMA conferences and earn a certificate or awards. Frame and display prominently all certificates and awards.
  • Get involved with trade organizations like IPMA and your local Postal Customer Council (if you have mail responsibilities).
  • Develop and tell a great "green" story.
  • Finally, provide great customer service and consistently high quality. Do a periodic customer survey and work together as a team to improve on the results.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Studies have shown that employees want to know how the team and the organization are doing, and the person they most trust for this information is their immediate supervisor. Our employees want to hear both the positive and negative news from us. If we fail to communicate, a vacuum is created—and that vacuum is filled by the "rumor mill," which invariably is negative and destructive to morale and motivation.

About the Author

Wes Friesen is the manager of Billing, Credit & Special Attention Operations for Portland General Electric. He manages CIS Billing, Specialized Billing, Electronic Bills & Payments, Credit & Collections and OPUC & Special Attention Operations. Wes and the PGE print and mail team have earned many national awards, such as the IPMA Management Award, four NAPL Gold Awards and numerous PCC awards. Wes received the Franklin Award in 2010 for his contributions to the mail industry. For the past 27 years Wes has been a university instructor and a speaker at conferences. He has written numerous articles for trade journals. Wes earned a B.S. in Business Administration from George Fox University and an MBA from the University of Portland. He can be contacted at



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