Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Bad Case of Indecision


Leaders at large seem to be plagued by chronic indecisiveness, and as they stall on making important decisions, they effectively paralyze the rest of their organizations.  In fact, 53% of employees feel there is too much red tape in their organizations, according to Discovery Surveys.  

The most common for slow decision making include:

  • Too many priorities.  Projects continually move to "next quarter".
  • A perceived role/title of authority without any real power.
  • Velocity of business today and rapidly changing organizational goals.
  • An out of balance focus on "what" needs to be done over the "how", creating a gap in the knowledge and understanding required to make wise decisions.
  • Multiple bosses and competing agendas.
  • Lack of leadership resourcefulness, patience, and transparency in soliciting help and gathering information.
  • Fear of making a mistake or rocking the boat.
  • Chronic procrastination.
  • Hope that the situation will go away or resolve itself.
Regardless of the reason, leadership indecision is a destructive virus, gradually weakening organizations from the inside out.  Consider the following story that demonstrates the broad range impact of waffling.

In one large, national company there has been a change in executive leadership for positive reasons - the organization is growing and expanding into new markets and needed an experienced leader to set strategies and guide them through previously uncharted territory. 

The executive came aboard, conducted a thorough assessment, and then directed the functional leaders to do three things:  1. Restructure (without lost headcount),   2. Realign resources, 3. Create strategic plans that would lay out the framework for taking their respective departments to the next level of performance. The new company banner was accountability, accountability, accountability. 

A strong start, indeed; which makes what has happened since all the more baffling.  Half a year has passed and no visible changes have occurred.  Yet there has been no shortage of management meetings (or the cost per hour in salaries that come with it) or a lack of discussion, a lack of bench strength, or a lack of resources.  Committees have been formed, surveys have been conducted, and clear answers have emerged from employees at all levels.

If not manpower, time, or resources then what would prevent a clear mandate like this from coming to fruition?  The source of the stagnation most often stems from the department heads concern over ruffling feathers, breaking traditions and a general fear of rocking the boat. 

Now, let's be clear.  We are the first to preach the importance of leaders being tuned in to the needs and emotional climate of their workforce.  However, there is nothing advantageous or employee-centric about making your staff tread water while they sit and wait for final changes they have been told are coming. 

Management by consensus sounds great in theory.  We all know that employees who are involved in the decision making process are likely to be more engaged.  But, if management by consensus is overused it can take too long and create contagious indecisiveness. 

"Indecision is debilitating; it feeds upon itself; it is, one might almost say, habit-forming. Not only that, but it is contagious; it transmits itself to others." - H.A. Hopf

Much like boarding people on a plane without a destination, leaders risk losing employee's interest, motivation, and patience.  What earns you more employee engagement - to make decisions slowly, by popular vote or to lead with vision making swift changes that are thought out and clearly explained? 

While leaders doddle, trying to figure out a way to gently sneak the company into change, employees long for some good old fashioned, give-it-to-me-straight direction.  

Most managers overlook the destructive impact delays and flip-flopping have on employee performance.  By leaving them in no man's land (not operating in the past and not fully working in the future), they create a performance patchwork of people.  Some behave in the old way, some do things their own way, and some unsure of what to do, do nothing at all.  A sure fire recipe for inconsistency, quality erosion, and falling morale. 

To make matters worse, when decisions are finally made, they are often done at the wrong level to create real impact.  In a study by author and organizational psychologist Bruce Katcher, 63% of employees say that decisions in their company are usually not made at the appropriate level.

Admittedly, some leaders suffer alongside their people.  Innovative solutions at middle management get smothered because budgets haven't been approved. Financial incentive is out of alignment with the company's new direction as revised compensation plans sit waiting for approval. Customer opportunities are lost because sales support is off pace with market demands.   

So how can organizations get off the dime and start making some real progress?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Set hard deadlines for publicly announcing strategic direction and hold people accountable to keeping them.
  • Stagger authority, especially if the new direction is complex, involving many layers of people to produce something. Give latitude to begin the process instead of keeping it all top secret until the entire plan is perfect.  Plan for small wins along the way.
  • Don't be afraid of hurt feelings.  It is impossible to make everyone happy at the same time.  Figure out who your most valuable employees are and who your most valuable customers are and make decisions based on what is best for them.
  • Be clear on your Purpose, Process, and Performance Measurement.  What is the potential value gained or lost based on this decision? Has my process taken into consideration all parties affected?  Have I sought impartial expertise?  What value or momentum will be lost if I wait?  How will I measure the success of this decision?
  • Timing is everything.  By postponing proactive changes you force your organization to be a fast follower instead of an industry pace setter.
  • Investigate delays.  Push past the standard "these things take time" and get involved in the construction stages.  Leaders must not stop at visioning and delegating.
  • Surround yourself with people who can make their own decisions and accept accountability for the results.
  • Educate front line and middle management on strategic decision making.  Given solid information and an understanding of the stakes, they will do the right thing for the business.  Trust them.
Effective leaders know when and how to orchestrate smart decision making and often rely on their front line to make big plays and execute serious decisions.  Employees want a leader who will lead, not a good survey taker.

As Theodore Roosevelt so wisely put it, "in any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Truth About Lies




According to a survey by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), over 53% of all job applicants lie on their resumes and more than 70% of all college students said they would lie to get a job. In this week's blog we'll discuss the truth about lies in the hiring process and how effective reference checking helps separate fact from fraud.

The Truth About Lies

It's no surprise that exaggeration, storytelling, and outright deceit are commonplace in the interviewing process. A study published in the Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies.

This truth about lies probably doesn't come as a shock. What does come as a surprise is the number of organizations who acknowledge the importance of checking references but feel they've gotten no real value from it so they don't do it at all. The most common reasons companies bypass this important step are a lack of time, belief that the references were coached, fear of bad news, or perceived liability due to defamation of character claims.

Despite the fact that in reality only a small number of defamation suits are brought against employers each year (fewer still are successful), this "don't ask - don't tell" mentality has become a sad reality in US businesses today.

In fact, most hiring managers would be surprised to know that each year there are twice as many legal actions brought against employers for negligent hiring because an employer has neglected to perform due diligence in researching someone's references to assess if they are a risk to the work environment.

Sadly, employers have lost 72% of these negligent hiring cases with an average settlement of more than $1.6 million, according to AAA Interactive Search Technologies. A clear statement the courts believe the majority of cases were preventable with the proper screening procedures in place.

Aside from the serious legal implications of not checking references, consider the other costs of an incomplete selection process. According to Leadership IQ, 46% of all new US hires fail in the first 18 months on the job--- because of bad hiring decisions.

The fact is reference checking is interviewing. It is not a task but rather a learned skill that requires focus, practice, and a few good insider how-to's. Let's review some best practice tips for effective reference checking:

  • Always check education references. They are easy to check now that most everything is automated or online. It is also one of the most common subjects candidates lie about.
  • Request that you are given a reference of a former supervisor (and/or co-worker) who no longer works with the company.
  • Ask for a reference from a reference. Let the reference know that you are very interested in learning more about the candidate and ask them if they know of anyone else whom you could speak to. By getting in touch with a reference that hasn’t been hand-picked or coached by the candidate directly, you might be surprised at the candid details you can unearth.
  • Place the burden on the candidate. Make the candidate responsible for getting people to call you back. If they want the job bad enough and have nothing to hide, they will be motivated to find a way to get you in touch with their references or them in touch with you.
  • Use the Behavior Based Interviewing technique when you check references. Keep in mind; checking references is a form of interviewing. You should probe for specific details regarding past behavior and events. For example, if you ask the reference about the candidate's 3 greatest strengths/weaknesses follow that up by asking them to recall a time when they demonstrated each of those behaviors.
  •  Always prepare a list of questions in advance by reviewing your interview notes and choosing situations and information you want to verify or want another perspective on. Use these targeted questions to help confirm or deny exactly what the person told you in the interview.
  • Use probing questions to dig for details. For example, if the candidate describes an important accomplishment or project, probe for specifics to get the whole picture. What was the scope of the project? What was the candidate's role? Who else was involved? What was the outcome? What specific impact did this candidate have on the project results? You get the idea.
  • Consider using the services of a reference checking company. Digging deep is their specialty.

Effective reference checking doesn't just uncover the truth about lies or protect your team from danger, it also helps you learn more about someone's talents, training needs, goals, and personality to help you know how to grow and motivate them once they're on board.

Is your candidate a diamond or a CZ? Time to find out.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Month in a Minute

Clockwise from top left: CHG Team in Salt Lake City, Steve and me at Commonwealth Financial,
Me speaking at SHRM, 4/5 of our team at The Copper Door, speaking at Merrimack College in MA.

Wow, what a whirlwind April was, and it flew by in a flash! We did work in six states, on-boarded three new clients, processed hundreds of style and EQ assessments, and the team logged 29,000 miles this month alone.

The highlight of the month was the day I arrived in Chicago to speak at the SHRM National Talent Management Conference. Upon landing and turning my phone back on, I received several messages, most of them going something like this, “Jen, where are you? Your session started 20 minutes ago. It’s not like you to be a no-show. We hope you are safe and everything is okay.” As a speaker, it is your worst nightmare that you missed the event you are hired to present at. I had expected to speak the next day, so I panicked and checked the trail of messages between us, only to discover that they were right and I was wrong. I was arriving in Chicago a day late. I had put the wrong day on my calendar, I totally screwed up. The wonderful people at SHRM were able to find me a breakout room and time slot for the following day, adjusting graciously to my mistake. I was so grateful. Too much going on and not enough attention to detail!

You may have also read in one of my previous posts that I tend to be forgetful when I am too stressed. This week, I drove off and left my ATM card still sitting in the ATM machine after I got cash. The bank called the next day to let me know they had it, before I even noticed it was missing! So, if you happen to see me this month, be a little patient with me. I am clearly a little out of sorts.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Gratitude

As I am cleaning up my house, preparing for a move I found a newspaper clipping I had saved with a poem on it. It appeared in Dear Abby on May 17, 1983. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.


Today, upon a bus, I saw a lovely maid with golden hair,
I envied her, she seemed so gay, and I wished I were as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobble down the aisle; she had one foot, and used a crutch, but as she passed, she had a smile.
Oh, God forgive me when I whine; I have two feet, the world is mine.

And when I stopped to buy some sweets,
the lad who sold them had such charm. I talked with him, he said to me,
"It's nice to talk to men like you. You see," he said, "I'm blind."
Oh, God forgive me when I whine; I have two eyes, the world is mine.

Then, as I passed along the way, I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play; it seemed he knew not what to do.
I stopped for a moment; and then I said, "Why don't you join the others dear?"
He looked ahead without a word, and then I knew he could not hear.
Oh, God forgive me when I whine; I have two ears, the world is mine.

With feet to take me where I'd go,
with eyes to see the sunsets glow,
with ears to hear what I would know,
I am blessed indeed.
The world is mine.
Oh, God forgive me if I whine.

Author Unknown

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Paradox of Letting Go



I continue to run into leaders with serious control issues. They work so hard to micro-manage every aspect of their business (including all the people in it) that they don't even realize the consequences it has on their overall results. No one wants to be caught by surprise and we all want the best possible outcomes from our decisions but how much control is too much?

Every leader struggles with trust; how much to delegate? How important should the tasks that are delegated be? How do we know when someone is "ready" for the next level of accountability? Is there a balance between micro-managing and complete autonomy?

This points to the differences between management and leadership. Consider, "the paradox of letting go" from Lao Tzu. This philosophy says, "when I let go of what I am I become what I might be."

We never intend to come across as controlling or distrusting, but when we insert ourselves in the middle of projects without being invited, it sends a message that, "the situation is clearly so out of control it deems my immediate attention". It forces people to take the defense, disrupts any momentum they may have, or causes them to check out completely and disengage from the project and from you. They think, "Why invest the time and energy if you are just going to take over and do it your way anyway?"

There is also some law of nature at play when it comes to control; sometimes the things you work the hardest to command just slip through your tightly grasped hands. Instead, the more relaxed and centered you are about outcomes the more positive energy is drawn to you. If you aren't getting the results you want, raise your self-awareness about the issues that you chronically attempt to control. Ask for feedback on the times when you get in the middle "trying to help". And trust in the people and process around you. You may find a calmer peace of mind to go with it. There is no greater self-imposed pressure than the need to control the entire universe around you.

Hint:    It isn't about you - let it go

There is a certain sense of serenity that comes with surrendering and accepting that unintended consequences aren't always terrible.

Think of the power of leadership over management:

  • When I give up trying to be in control (management), I have greater influence (leadership).

  • When I let go of my fear of failure (management), I am stronger (leadership).

  • When I stop dictating to my team (management), I allow them to show me their capabilities (leadership).

What I learn by trying to control others is that my team can follow instructions; what I never learn is the potential waiting inside them. Management is about power, leadership is about liberation. In the moments of greatest desire to control, consider letting go. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Optimizing Development Plans


The development planning process can be just another HR initiative that usurps precious time from your "business" activities. However, when you calculate the impact your employees have on the bottom line - both as an expense and a source of potential revenue - you can see the benefit of more strategically managing your one of your largest investments.

Consider this: A downturn in business presents an opportunity to retool and refocus your talent pool because when the market turns around you will be poised for dominance. Those who squander this chance to look inward risk lost revenue and market share as your competitors with better qualified talent surpass you. Therefore, as a part of your business planning process, you create a road map to refine your strengths, develop new skills or reach new markets, and mitigate your weaknesses.

Since company performance ultimately depends on the performance of each individual employee, you cannot afford for employee performance to remain stagnant year over year either.  This is where your development planning process plays an important role: the development plan is the business roadmap translated down to the employee level.

So how do you get started?

1) As a starting point, take your company and/or your team goals and have each employee identify 3-5 main objectives that align with those initiatives.
  •          Does the employee need to learn new skills to help them reach their objectives? Add that to the training plan.
  •          Does at least one of those objectives stretch and/or challenge the employee? If not, refine the list to include one.
  •          How will you know when the objective has been reached? Be sure to be specific enough that you can follow up on progress.


2) Additionally, choose at least one strength and evaluate how you as a supervisor can leverage that strength, while giving the employee more opportunities to stretch, grow, and refine.

3) Also, choose one development area and plan out how can the employee can improve. Think out of the box: shadowing, on the job training, formal training, research, mentoring, special project assignments.

4) Choose a time to discuss the plan with your employees. Remember this is a development discussion (proactive) not a corrective action discussion (reactive).

5) Write everything down. This ensures you have a visible reminder of your conversation.

6) Set a time to follow up. You might need to have formal monthly check-ins with the employee or informal conversations. Either is fine, but just remember to track progress and provide feedback regularly.


Remember, if you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there. Using a development road map helps ensure your employees and your company reach their maximum potential.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Courageous Leader, Cautious Team Paradox Part II


Part I of this article can be found HERE.

Here are just a few ways to get started:

1. Developmental "play" - Take it apart and rebuild it

Some of the most effective developmental toys for children involve taking the toy completely apart so the child can learn to put it back together.  Many times there are several ways it can be done, allowing the freedom of experimentation without being restricted to one "right" way.

The beauty of applying this learning design to daily work is that every person will approach tasks in a new and different way. Because they have a unique vision of what they would do if they could completely reinvent something, this process of experimentation is rich with discovery. 

It is easy to find ourselves in a confidence rut because we live in a world of routine.  If you do things the same way every time, it is hard to feel the thrill of purposeful excitement that only comes from providing a unique contribution to a successful venture.

Leaders can encourage creativity, fearlessness, and independent thinking by assigning employees the task of taking apart certain routine procedures or projects and rebuilding it in a new way.  It may mean only a slight change, but giving them permission (and accountability) to rethink the familiar can have a big effect on their confidence and willingness to accept responsibility.  It can be fun too!

2. Make friends with your fear

The most courageous people are not immune to fear.  They just don't believe all its hype.  Contrary to popular belief, self-confidence is not the opposite of self-doubt.  They are, in fact, quite intertwined.

Genuine confidence is gained by having the courage to try something even when there is a risk of failure.  As Eleanor Roosevelt so aptly put it, "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face....You must do the thing which you think you cannot do". 

Pay attention to possible areas of fear or insecurity in your employees (i.e. avoidance behavior) and engage them in dialogue about it.  It is important to remember that people also avoid what doesn't interest them, so be sure to probe whether it is more a matter of a lack of motivation for the particular task.  Strategic division of labor is a major factor in high performance teams but is often overlooked as a means of improving employee's performance.

Ask permission to partner with them in overcoming this perceived obstacle.  For example, a leader noticed an insecurity one of their employees had in dealing with numbers and financial data.  After exploration and discussion of the employee's needs, she provided them with an instructional DVD set for basic accounting and financials that they could study in the privacy of their home. 

Remember, it is in our nature to avoid what we fear.  Instead of focusing on only their strengths or wishing they'd just "get over it", spend time understanding what holds them back.  Find ways to give them safe (and not too public) opportunities to stretch into the areas where fear holds them back.

3. Highlight the most "successful failures"

The best way to make someone feel safe to take risks around you is to prove that you understand and appreciate the value of failure.  Successes are obviously worth our attention, but our failures are often better teachers.  Instead of just broadcasting the wins, make it a point to highlight the losses that resulted in big learning gains. 

Start with your own and the habit will catch on.  Work toward freeing your employees of their failure inhibition and you'll be blown away at what they are capable of. 
The bottom line is this: 

You will not reach your performance goals without a confident, accountable, motivated team.

You have the power to create the team you desire.

Your belief in others should be based on a genuine desire to see THEM succeed, not in your terms but their own.  This is the difference between helping them soar on your confidence and freedom or watching them sink from your pressure.


YOU don't have to take on everything yourself.  Create a team just as courageous as you and imagine the possibilities.

The Courageous Leader, Cautious Team Paradox Part I


Mary is a strong leader.  She approaches everything with confidence and determination.  She makes a point to lead by example by modeling a positive attitude and a zero tolerance for failure.  Mary's team sees that she has a high degree of self-esteem, enjoys being involved and thrives on taking risks and tackling challenges head on.

But Mary has a puzzling problem.  She is a courageous leader with a cautious team.  She struggles to make sense of their lack of enthusiasm and initiative.  How can she do anything more than what she is already doing by putting on display the kind of go-getter, confident achiever she expects them to be?

Mary is certainly not alone in this frustrating scenario.  An inability to rally their troops is a common complaint we hear from leaders.  They are dismayed at the amount of work they take on because their team appears to be asleep at the wheel, or rarely taking it out of first gear.

Mary wonders if the only solution is to lower her expectations and continue to rely only on herself to drive the team.  She is beginning to believe that stepping up when no one else will is what defines leadership. 

This line of self-questioning is a crucial crossroad for leaders.  The breakneck pace of business seems to imply that the path of quickest gain is the road best taken.  This flawed belief explains the widespread yet ineffective "done right, do it myself" leadership mentality.
These leaders are making a crucial mistake.

By merely expecting their own enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity to catch on via modeling, they've unwittingly done one of three things:

1) Enabled their team to become lazy and dependent by a lack of accountability.

2) Failed to get to the bottom of why their team lacks energy and purpose.  Often, we see talented employees languishing because they are assigned tasks within their skill level but outside their interests.  Just because we do something well doesn't mean we want to be doing it.

3) Sent an unspoken message to the team that they are a one man show and the rest of them are non-essential.  Team members begin to disengage simply because they cannot keep pace with their driving style or continually fail to measure up to unrealistic expectations. 

In their book, Primal Leadership, Goleman, McKee and Boyatzis defined this third leadership mistake as part of the downside of a "Pacesetting" leadership style.  "The phrase that best describes the operating mode of the pacesetting leader is "Do as I do, now."  One of the perks of the Pacesetting style is they are quick to get results.  On the other hand, they are just as quick to burn through people.

Employees are often overwhelmed by the speed and demands placed upon them, resulting in rapidly eroding morale.  "The pace under this leadership style is so quick that instructions may not even be clear. And to make matters worse, the leader has no patience for those that need to learn or are not picking up new work fast enough," says Goleman, McKee and Boyatzis.

While leading by example is indeed a crucial component of successful leadership, this method alone is not sufficient to ignite engagement or build the catalyst ingredients of star performance - CONFIDENCE, ACCOUNTABILITY, and MOTIVATION MATCHING.  We're going to focus on the confidence component.

Leaders often overlook the significant influence a sense of confidence has on the performance, or lack thereof, of their team members.  This cause and effect, confidence to performance relationship has been largely misunderstood.  Thought to be something yielded primarily from in born personality, observation or inspiration, leaders are often puzzled why their high drive and fearless attitude doesn't catch on. 

Paradoxically, some of the most hard-hitting, self-assured leaders produce the weakest teams.  They cast long shadows, a tempting place for their team to hide.  Certainly, confidence can be air-borne contagious, but merely being in the presence of a strong spirited leader produces only temporary esteem building effects.  Because at its core, self-assurance is a belief system, true confidence must be infused and internalized to have real, long lasting effects.  One cannot merely feel it, they must BELIEVE it. 

So what exactly is confidence?  Confidence is defined as self-assurance or a belief in one's ability to succeed.  A confident person is made, not born.  Our level of self-confidence is impacted daily by our actions and the response from those around us.  As such, it requires development and nourishment to realize its full potential.

Employees with a high degree of confidence demonstrate APPROACH instead of avoidance behavior with new tasks, consistently produce high quality work, and resist the urge to let failure define or restrict them.


Through a series of targeted, ongoing developmental exercises, leaders can build individual as well as team confidence.  You might just find yourself with a "new" team, without the hassle of costly staffing changes.

Continue Here

Friday, March 31, 2017

Month in a Minute

 
Steve and me at CHG in Salt Lake City
March came in with snow and is ending with snow, needless to say I am ready to say goodbye to March. Thankfully most of our work was local, except for a quick trip out to Salt Lake City.  We weren't able to escape the weather, but at least we didn't have to do much traveling in it.

Book update:  The manuscript is now finished, and we are printing a test copy this week. We anticipate a late May publishing date.  I will be presenting a free companion webinar on April 14.  There are only a few seats left so register here for your sneak peek of Choose Resilience.The website is nearly finished, stay tuned, we will share it with our loyal blog subscribers first!

House update:  No buyers yet. If you're looking for a great house in Bedford, NH please let me know. Or you can contact my realtor Cheryl, directly. I have also decided to move our office to ease the transitional burden of having to do it all, all at once.

We are gearing up for an extremely busy April and May.  I will be in Chicago on April 25th for the SHRM Global Talent Management Conference and ExpositionIf any of you are going to be there please be sure to stop and say hello to Steve and me.



Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Case of the Cursed Position


What can you do about a position that seems “cursed” with chronic turnover? Before you resign yourself to affixing a permanent “just visiting” sign over the desk, consider the following ideas.

If you go to the doctor’s office complaining of a chronic ailment they will typically walk you through an inventory of questions to uncover potential causes of the reoccurring symptoms. 


Once all common causes are considered, they continue to rule out each possibility in order to isolate the core issue.

So what exactly is a “cursed” position? The job with the revolving spot on your open positions list, the ad most frequently placed, the “how long do you give them?” wagers at the water cooler. If this sounds familiar, it’s probably time to stop ignoring the signs and wasting time with “cross your fingers” hiring. Now is the time to establish a strategy to fix the problem once and for all.

Let’s review the key areas to examine:

Job Description and Hiring Process

  • How accurate does the job description reflect the day-to-day work experience?
  • Does it include specific skills AND measurable behaviors? In other words, what does this person need to do with those skills in order to be successful? For example, an important skill might be Interpersonal Skills. The measurable behavior that will demonstrate this skill might be “to demonstrate good interpersonal skills by having a positive, team-oriented attitude”. This helps you hold them accountable and helps them avoid inconsistent interpretation of performance standards.
  • Are you conducting Motivation Matching to be sure you aren’t asking for a major league player in a little league role? (email us for the full article on MM)

Performance expectations / Goal prioritization

  • How clear is the scope and focus of this role?
  • Have you identified the top 3-5 goals for this position and assisted them in prioritizing through regular check-in meetings?
  • Are you consistent in reinforcing these priorities or do you give mixed messages by allowing crisis management to dictate daily/weekly goals?

Onboarding training 

  • Have you taken an inventory of their current skill base at the time of hire in order to plot out a comprehensive training calendar?
  • Was their experience as a new employee so positive that it reinforced their decision to join your company? Or did it drive them to keep interviewing elsewhere?

Availability of information/resources

  • Is it clear where to go to get the answers they need to perform their job effectively?
  • Are they dependent on others to get certain goals or tasks accomplished? How pleasant or painful is that process?
  • Are you enlisting the help of various subject matter experts to assist you in training your new hire and expand their network of resources?

Leadership contact

  • How often do you set aside quality time for the person in this role?
  • Do they really feel known by you? Not just as an employee but as a person?
  • Do they expect it must be bad news if they’re called into your office?

Performance feedback

  • Can they rely on you for clear, consistent, and candid feedback on their performance? Not at review time, but in the moment when it really matters?

Volume of work

  • Is the amount of work reasonable for the time allotted?
  • Do they go through spurts of chaos and periods of boredom?

Salary

  • Is the compensation realistic for the caliber of person you desire?
  • Have you laid out a clear path for career development and salary growth?

Atmosphere / Co-workers

  • Is there anyone poisoning the water cooler? Check for common denominators amongst the team. Those who have interacted with the people in this role and curiously outlived them all.
  • Do people genuinely enjoy their jobs? How does it show?

The Departed

  • Are you conducting thorough exit interviews to look for feedback patterns?

This is a thoughtful process that takes time. Too often we get so busy trying to fill the spot we don't stop and take the time to diagnose the real causes in order to break the pattern. As you go deeper and see the position through the eyes of those who have left it, you just might discover there was never a curse at all. Just questions unasked, truths untold, and ideas unimagined.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The FAQs of Talent Management




How is talent management different from Human Resources?

Comparing talent management to Human Resources is like comparing apples to oranges. Talent management is the complete system of designing, administering, implementing, and measuring the policies and processes related to employees. At its core, talent management is a mindset that influences management's interactions with employees. Human Resources is the organization in a company which typically owns the administrative aspect of people processes like compensation and benefits, staffing, and training. The Human Resources organization can help you implement your talent management strategies, but is not, in and of itself, your talent management solution.

Which department in a company should "own" talent management?
The primary owners of talent management are those who directly manage talent in the organization. However, because talent management is a complete system, management, human resources, and even employees play a role.

Where do I start if I want to implement a talent management strategy?The first step in implementing a talent management strategy may look different in every organization. The key is to start somewhere. Choose an area - staffing, compensation and rewards, performance management, training, etc - and identify one process or program to improve. Remember that processes in different areas are often linked together, so the scope of your project may naturally grow in size as you begin to make changes. Don't be frustrated when your company does not adopt a talent management mindset overnight. See change management as a process, and take it step by step, building upon small successes as you go.

How does considering employees a part of the talent management system benefit management?
All managers are ultimately concerned with contributing to the bottom line. In a white paper entitled, "Employee Engagement: The Key to Realizing Competitive Advantage" released by Development Dimensions International (DDI), authors cited a Gallup organization study which revealed that "business units that reported employee engagement above the median had a 70 percent higher likelihood of success than those below the median." When managers realize that engaged employees are the most critical component to the success of the company, the benefits of talent management become tangible.
Additionally, employees are often the best marketing tool in a company's toolbox. Employees who love their jobs and feel personally invested and connected to the company spread positive messages that can profoundly impact the image of the company in the marketplace. And the idea works in reverse: disgruntled employees can cause tarnish a company's reputation in the eyes of current and potential customers.

How do employees benefit from being a part of a talent management system?
When a company seizes the opportunity to invest in its human capital, employees receive both tangible and intangible benefits from a talent management system. Matching an employee's skills and interest to his or her job description increases employee satisfaction. Compensation and rewards aligned with performance actually motivates employees. The employee also gains competitive skills through training and experiences. An employee will begin to see work as more than just a paycheck, but a place of growth, challenge, and enjoyment.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Dialing Down Fear: Tips for Change Management


Change can be a very scary thing for many people, there's no doubt about it.  But change can also be an incredibly wonderful, empowering experience. In this week's blog we will look at a few easy tips that might lessen the fears that are connected with venturing into territories unknown. 

There are a few main Emotional Intelligence competencies that move to the forefront when it comes to change management: two of them are Stress Tolerance and Flexibility. You can help coach these skills in others and use them to ease people through an uneasy time.


Stress Tolerance
  • Discuss their awareness of their stress triggers. All of us have tell-tale signs that our blood pressure is rising and our anxiety is increasing.  Helping your employees know what their unique physical symptoms are will help them be proactive in removing themselves from difficult situations before they lose control.  
  • Provide group relaxation activities. There has probably never been a better time to consider sending a reminder out of health benefits they are eligible for under your health plan (gym membership, smoking cessation, etc) and bringing some healthy resources on-site: massage therapists at lunch, a walk club after work, a company sports team.  Even having live music brought in can change the mood and lighten up a stressful work environment. Or how about a Guitar Hero or Rock Band competition to blow off some steam? 
  • Discuss factors in and out of their control. By helping people separate what they have a direct influence on (their attitude, their job performance, their pursuit of personal goals) and the things they cannot control (a merger or acquisition, cyber gossip, a layoff) it minimizes worrying about things that may or may not happen. Help them channel their anxious energy into activities that move them closer to a goal or a healthier mindset.  

Flexibility
  • Encourage them to take time to respond to unexpected events and not reject them out-of-hand. It is easy to have an immediate negative response to something we don't understand or want to have happen. A lot can be said for "sleeping on it" and the more time you give people to digest bad news the better. 
  • Brainstorm, preferably in a group context, to harvest ideas for handling dynamic, changing demands.  Some members of your team probably have demonstrated a high level of flexibility (think of those unflappable folks who never seem to let anything get under their skin). Leverage the strengths of your resources and either try a group consultation or partnering members together for some mentoring.
  • Use change as an opportunity to learn and develop; consider how past experiences and current skills are applicable to new challenges.Remind them of a past experience when a change seemed daunting and scary at first but resulted in some unexpected, but positive outcomes. What are the old processes or cultural norms that have needed a face lift? When things are moving at high velocity speed they are the things we put in the "To Do" pile and hope to get around to them one day. One day is here. Open the file and see what positive learning can happen right now.



There are some things you can do as the coach, including framing new information to include "How this is impacting you is...”  Also, the sooner you can give people information the better. Sometimes partial information can be more reassuring to others than waiting to have the complete picture and keeping them in dark until you get it.  
 
It is important to help each other and offer emotional support to those who need it. If you have real concerns about someone's ability to weather the stormy seas, please refer them to professional help. It is true that things are challenging, but these times will pass and make our companies stronger for going through them. Just like the difference between the lowest points in a deep lake to the peak of a neighboring tall mountain, the terrain can change quickly. And the view from the mountain top sure is sweet.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Month in a Minute

Steve with the HR team at Atlantis, Bahamas
Even though February is a short month, we have packed a lot into it busy with clients across the US, and even a trip to the Bahamas. I made a trip to Salt Lake City to work with Steve, and he made a trip to see us in NH to co-facilitate a program with me at SNHU. Steve also made a trip to Dallas to see a new client and was also lucky enough to go to the Atlantis Resort and work with their Human Resources team there.
 
Steve and me at SNHU
I have been amused by some of the recent events in the entertainment industry, from Mariah Carey’s foible at the New Year’s Eve show to the Academy Awards mishap with the Best Picture award. Although I am sure the likely root cause of both problems can be blamed on human error or incompetence, the way they were handled lacked emotional intelligence. A key component to EQ is “reading” – having the situational awareness to plug-in to your surroundings and respond appropriately. It seems in neither case did the Academy producers or Mariah know how to deal with an unplanned, unscripted situation. In our lives, we luckily don’t have TV cameras on us when something goes wrong, but we all have moments when we need to react in real-time. It’s important to ask yourself if you respond to unexpected events with professionalism and creativity or do you panic and freeze up? It’s the big difference between credibility and amateurism.
 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tough Advice

I am the one who says comfort zone is the enemy of EQ and the way to greater happiness is by putting yourself through moderate stress. Taking my own advice is miserable. I am currently doing something that is making me feel very uncomfortable. I am selling my house. This is the house I have lived in for twelve years and it's a source of pride and been part of my identity since I moved to NH. It's the house I fought to keep when in 2010 I was 90-days late on my mortgage. It is a big house, much too big for our needs and it requires a lot of maintenance which is a huge hassle, especially because I travel so much. But, it's my known hassle. It's the longest I have lived anywhere since I was 17.

Part of my anxiety is I have no plan yet on where I will go next. So much of moving is timing and much depends on how long it takes to sell and how long I will have until I have to leave the property. Logic says to sell my house because I can spend much less a month by renting an apartment, with little to no upkeep, and have much more flexibility. It is "smart" to move. My heart is aching, saying I can't put a price on what is comfortable and familiar. Honestly, I was getting a little worried that if I waited too much longer I would chicken out and not do it. The time is right and I need to let go of the past and instead look forward to a new future. Upon reflection, I do have a pattern of doing multiple hard things at once. I enrolled in grad school when I had a toddler, was pregnant and supporting my family with a start-up business. Then during the year I wrote my first book I went through a divorce. Now I am about to publish my 2nd book and am relocating my home and office. Why do this to myself? But I have not regretted the last big changes and I know I won't regret this one either. If you are in the middle of a change yourself, hang in there. Life is good on the other side of it; we just have to get there.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Development Planning Process

Our topic this week is development plans, which is timely for the start of a new year but also very appropriate when employees are asked to do more with fewer resources.

When times are lean, you need everyone working at peak performance and learning new skills. This is the perfect chance to encourage folks to flex and consider their development opportunities: an opportunity good for them and good for the company.

In the year ahead, I believe we will all be tested and challenged. Providing your employees with an ongoing development plan gives them the tool they need to take responsibility for their own professional growth. 

The development planning process can be just another HR initiative that usurps precious time from your "business" activities. However, when you calculate the impact your employees have on the bottom line - both as an expense and a source of potential revenue - you can see the benefit of more strategically managing your one of your largest investments.

Consider this: A downturn in business presents an opportunity to retool and refocus your talent pool because when the market turns around you will be poised for dominance. Those who squander this chance to look inward risk lost revenue and market share as your competitors with better qualified talent surpass you. Therefore, as a part of your business planning process, you create a road map to refine your strengths, develop new skills or reach new markets, and mitigate your weaknesses.

Since company performance ultimately depends on the performance of each individual employee, you cannot afford for employee performance to remain stagnant year over year either.  This is where your development planning process plays an important role: the development plan is the business road map translated down to the employee level.

So how do you get started?

1) As a starting point, take your company and/or your team goals and have each employee identify 3-5 main objectives that align with those initiatives.
  •          Does the employee need to learn new skills to help them reach their objectives?       Add that to the training plan. 
  •          Does at least one of those objectives stretch and/or challenge the employee? If not, refine the list to include one.
  •          How will you know when the objective has been reached? Be sure to be specific enough that you can follow up on progress.


2) Additionally, choose at least one strength and evaluate how you, as a supervisor, can leverage that strength, while giving the employee more opportunities to stretch, grow, and refine.

3) Also, choose one development area and plan out how can the employee can improve. Think out of the box: shadowing, on the job training, formal training, research, mentoring, special project assignments.

4) Choose a time to discuss the plan with your employees. Remember this is a development discussion (proactive) not a corrective action discussion (reactive).

5) Write everything down. This ensures you have a visible reminder of your conversation.

6) Set a time to follow up. You might need to have formal monthly check-ins with the employee or informal conversations. Either is fine, but just don’t forget to track progress and provide feedback regularly.

Remember, if you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there. Using a development road map helps ensure your employees and your company reach their maximum potential.