Michelle M. Smith

Michelle M. Smith is the Vice President of Business Development at Salt Lake City-based OC Tanner, an international appreciation company that helps more than 6,000 clients worldwide appreciate people who do great work through consulting, training, and creating customized award and recognition programs. Michelle is a renowned speaker, writer, consultant and trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and governments, and President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association.

Articles by Michelle M. Smith

Classic TLNT

Managerial Malpractice, or Why You Just Can’t Ignore Employees

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Editor’s Note: Sometimes readers ask about past TLNT articles. That’s why we republish a Classic TLNT post every Friday.

We’re all leaders in the workplace.

Whether you manage a small, medium, or large staff, or are solely responsible for your own conduct during the work day, you are a leader. Others are watching, learning, and evaluating everything you do and say, whether they report to you or not.

Leadership boils down to the choices you make about treating others and leading by example through your behavior. Read more…


Building Lifeline Relationships, and Why It’s Critical to Leadership Success

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Behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you’ll find an indispensable circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues.

These groups come in all forms and sizes and can be found at every level and in nearly all spheres of professional life, and what they all have in common is a unique connection with each other defined as lifeline relationships.

These relationships are, quite literally, why some people succeed far more than others, says Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success — And Won’t Let You Fail. Read more…

Culture, Talent Management

The 5 Keys to Creating a Meaningful, Productive Work Experience


Does work need to be meaningful?

Many of us have resigned ourselves to the notion that work is something we do primarily to earn income. Those earnings then allow us to purchase goods and services we can use to improve our lives and the lives of those we love and want to help.

Increasingly, however, both employees and employers are being encouraged to see work in a whole new light — as something we do to gain productive experiences that become the basis of our happiness.

In her book The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here, Lynda Gratton, a professor at the London Business School, suggests we should be seeking work opportunities that help us grow, keep our knowledge fresh, and push the boundaries of what we can become. Read more…

HR Insights, Talent Management

Just Doing What You Do Is the Real Path to Personal Development

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Whether you label it professional development, personal growth, self-actualization, or transcendence, many of us fiercely pursue “development” in order to improve our job options, get ahead in life, and achieve our own definition of success.

We assume focusing on developing ourselves is something we must do in order to become more accomplished and build a successful career.

And we would be so wrong. Read more…

Leadership, Rewards & Recognition

Increasing Motivation: It’s Determining Just What Is the Right Approach


Second of two parts

We all strive for a harmonious workplace that offers us the opportunity to bring out the best in ourselves and others and to do meaningful work we believe is important.

However, many of us find something much different — strained interactions with leaders and colleagues that sap our motivation rather than helping us to excel.

Talented leaders know the strategies that help them thrive may not help their colleagues or direct reports, and may even prove counterproductive for others. In part one of this article Motivating Employees Can Simply Be a Choice of Promotion or Prevention, we learned about two powerful — but very different — personality attributes that define employees’ preferred working style and performance. Read more…

Leadership, Rewards & Recognition

Motivating Employees Can Simply Be a Choice of Promotion or Prevention

Photo illustration by Dreamstime

First of two parts

In which kinds of situations are you most effective? What factors strengthen — or undermine — your motivation?

People answer these questions very differently, and that’s the challenge at the heart of good leadership — whether you’re managing your own performance or someone else’s.

One-size-fits-all principles don’t work. The strategies that help you excel may not help your colleagues or your direct reports; what works for your boss or your mentor doesn’t always work for you. Read more…

Talent Management

Triumph of the Underdog — and Why You Want Them on Your Team


Who among us hasn’t felt like an underdog at some point in our career?

Dig beneath the surface of any professional success and you’ll often find harrowing tales of failed pursuits, repeated rejection, and various roadblocks encountered and eventually overcome.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, he argues that being the underdog and experiencing disadvantages breeds “desirable difficulties.”

But challenges don’t improve us merely because they exist —  have to reflect on them and proactively adapt their lessons into our life and work habits. Read more…

Best of TLNT

Want to Engage High-Potential Employees? Don’t Take Them for Granted

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Editor’s note: TLNT is continuing an annual tradition by counting down the most popular posts of the year. This is No. 16. Our regular content will return next Monday.

Employees aren’t human capital assets or resources — they are unique and talented individuals entitled to respect and the pursuit of purpose in their lives.

They congregate in organizations to perform meaningful work in a community with others of like mind to achieve their own goals and to make a difference in the world or in other peoples’ lives. And, they like to feel good about and enjoy the time they spend working in those organizations. Read more…

Best of TLNT

The 7 Characteristics That Set Great Leaders Apart

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Editor’s note: TLNT is continuing an annual tradition by counting down the most popular posts of the year. This is No. 32. Our regular content will return in January.

No one is perfect, and that goes for our leaders too — even though we may wish differently for them.

We want them to be near perfect in their ability to inspire us to do great work, accomplish important things for the organization, and lead us with humanity and unquestionable character.

Great leaders spend a lot of time thinking about how to improve their organizations and the people within them. Deb Cheslow, author of Remarkable Courage, has spent a lot of time thinking about what makes a great leader, and the characteristics below are adapted from her writings. Read more…

Best of TLNT

Here’s What CEOs REALLY Want to Get Out of Their HR Leaders


Editor’s note: TLNT is continuing an annual tradition by counting down the most popular posts of the year. This is No. 37. Our regular content will return in January.

Your CEO doesn’t want you to be a human resources leader — they want you to be a business leader with human resources expertise.

While that may just seem like a clever turn of phrase, there’s a growing body of research that supports this concept and HR leaders would be well-served to heed the advice.

Consulting firm Schuster-Zingheim provides research and guidance for HR through direct interviews with CEOs, COOs, and CFOs on how the C-Suite expect HR professionals to align employees with their organization’s future. Read more…