Thursday, December 29, 2016

Interviewing and Selection: The Invisible Cost

What does it say about us as leaders when we have reoccurring turnover? The loss of respect, credibility and trust can be the most damaging long term effects of turnover.

The Invisible Costs

As a strategic business leader, selecting and retaining good employees is a key skill that must be learned. And that is the good news! It can be learned. There is a wealth of resources available to today’s candidates, yet most interviewers are not up- to-date on latest trends. As you are looking to continually develop your professional skills, don't overlook the importance of keeping your interviewing skills current. Candidates today are savvy and well trained, can we say the same?

We all know the pain of a bad hire. Often our focus is on the hard costs of turnover, expenses such as advertising, training, equipment, and payroll. While these are significant, they can distract us from the intangible consequences of lost human capital; the “invisible costs”, those which can be felt and observed but not measured.

Every time an employee walks away, it slowly chips away at our leadership credibility. This “revolving door” may be the result of hiring mistakes or even the loss of star employees fed up with working with those mistakes. Our team trusts us to select and retain the right people to work alongside them. They rely on us to make the decisions they cannot, choosing people who will enrich instead of erode team morale.

Customers also take notice of office instability and wonder about our inability to keep an intact team. Our competitors get wind of yet another lost employee and see opportunity in the weakening of our workforce. Both active and passive candidates observe the same open positions and wonder why people don’t stay.

We ourselves may even begin to question our abilities or feel defeated, seeing hiring as nothing more than a crapshoot. Often, the deck is stacked against us from the start. How often are we given the responsibility to interview and hire but no resources to learn how? But there IS hope! Great interviewers are made, not born. Interviewing is a learned skill set, requiring practice and precision. By seeking out resources to increase your hiring effectiveness you can replace the "invisible costs" with visible results.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Meeting of Minds(and Emotions)

Managers achieve results through people. Strategies, goals, service and innovation all depend on a team’s ability to envision a common outcome and make it happen. According to Robert Kelley of Carnegie-Mellon University, there is no choice-we need each other. Since 1986 Kelley has asked workers from many industries: “What percentage of the knowledge you need to do your job is stored in your own mind?” In his book, How to Be a Star at Work, he reports that at first the answer was typically 75 percent, but by 1997 it was between 15 percent and 20 percent.

The most common unit of collaboration is, of course, meetings. A recent business-school review of meeting research over several decades found that managers spend as much as 80 percent of their day meeting. While many believe much, if not all, meeting time is wasted, it is how management’s work gets done. What’s more, data suggest that using your Emotional Intelligence (EQ to distinguish it from IQ) contributes to meeting and team success.

A study of sixty work teams found the single most important dimension of success, was how members interacted with each other and with those outside the team. Another found that emotional competencies distinguished “star teams” from the others studied, based on objective performance data. Among those competencies were: flexibility in how they addressed tasks; unified effort; learning to improve by listing to performance feedback; open communication; setting expectations and confronting low performing team members. The good news is that these skills can be learned and applied quickly to improve the quality of collaborative work.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Month in a Minute

Steve and I with Lindsay Mattes at SLC SHRM, Steve and I with Dennis Pratt at Alkermes in Waltham MA, with Mike Kleis and Katie Douglas at Iowa CEO Conference in Des Moines, Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, AICPA Conference in Boston, Steve and I with Amy Blackmore at Moorings Park in Naples FL
I am having a hard time believing it is December already, are you? It seems summer was just a month ago and here we are with the new year less than 30 days from now. The year started out pretty quiet in our business, but it has picked up so much steam we have been traveling almost every week since Labor Day. I am incredibly grateful for the business and love being out with clients and seeing the country, but I am exhausted with the extra travel combined with being a single mom, visiting a boyfriend who lives 3,000 miles away every chance I get, and did I mention, I just finished my 2nd book? As a result of fatigue and stress, I have a bad habit of forgetting things. Not things like names or directions: I forget items. It is my warning system that I am overtired or brain dead. As a result, in the last 30-days I have left my laptop in a restaurant, my sunglasses at the movies, my jacket at a hotel, and if you happen to be flying Delta and find a blue iPod in the seat pocket, it’s mine.

Friday, December 2, 2016

8 Tips for Better Stress Tolerance

Well, it's that time of year again! Time for family, friends, food, and...stress. Just to keep things spicy, this holiday season has also arrived on the heels of a very tumultuous election.  If the ladle to your bucket of goodwill and stress tolerance is scraping the bottom, I have a few tips to replenish your stores.  

Believe it or not, having an entirely stress free life is not necessarily always a good thing. Stress keeps us in motion, nudging us out of our comfort zone and helping us grow. It serves as a motivator, prodding us toward positive change. Successfully coping with stress builds our confidence, too, so we're better prepared to face the bigger challenges that may come our way. Tolerating stress is important no matter what your life looks like right now, but especially when you are facing an exit out of your comfort zone, whether that exit has been pushed upon you or you've chosen it.  

Taking on risks, wrestling with challenges, and giving yourself the opportunity to succeed and to grow, is definitely where the stress occurs, but it's also where the magic happens. With challenge comes stress, and to be effective outside your comfort zone, you need to be able to handle that stress. Stress tolerance is a vital emotional intelligence skill because it provides you with a toolkit for coping. It gives you perspective, so you don't overreact when things go wrong. It helps you stay healthier, because stress tolerance helps control anxiety and its physical side effects, like high blood pressure. It helps you get comfortable with adversity, you widen your tolerance for stress - which, in turn, increases your ability to take on risks and meet goals.

How to Replenish Your Stress Tolerance

1. Use all your allotted vacation time.

2. Stop checking your work email after hours and working on weekends.

3. Remember you are not alone; don't be afraid to turn to others for help.

4. Get outside: The fresh air will help clear your head and give you a new perspective.

5. Prepare your body to handle stress by eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep.

6. Make exercising a regular part of your routine and increase the chances of sticking with it by doing something you love (be creative!)

7. Cultivate a hobby that you can enjoy on weekends or a few times a month.

8. Practice gratitude. Make it a habit to reflect each day on the good in your life and everything you have to be thankful for.

No one's life is free of stress. Maybe you have been caught off guard by a surprise crisis, or you are feeling the pressure of too much work, or maybe you're in a time of self-directed growth right now. Even if you've been fortunate enough never to have your world rocked by true crisis, isn't it better to build more tolerance now, so you're prepared when the unexpected happens? Stress tolerance also helps you navigate the regular day by day with more poise and joy. By building your reserves of stamina, you empower yourself to get through life's challenges more quickly and more effectively.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Hiring Fit-ness

Ask experienced managers “Have you ever made a bad hiring decision?” and most will confess to at least one. Ask “Why was it a bad decision?” and the answer is usually “They were a really bad fit.” But what is “fit” and why is it so important in hiring? Certainly one element of fit is identifying the right functional and technical skills, but even the most technically qualified employee can crash and burn (and take morale and productivity with them). Beyond functional skill - the ability to perform - fit requires personal motivation, stress tolerance, communication, social and other skills, - the motivation to perform.

In one study almost as many managers said fit and potential were the most important factor in hiring and promotion as those who cited functional competency. Poor job fit is the main reason for turnover and job dissatisfaction. It drains resources and negatively impacts organizational performance and profitability. Since managers spend 60% of their time resolving people issues, improving job fit in hiring directly improves performance.

To improve your hiring “fit-ness,” first, clearly define the job and the competencies critical for success in the role. One way to do that is to model your most successful performers in that role, or similar roles. Next, create behavior-based interview questions and use valid assessment tools to determine each candidate’s potential fit. Finally, train every hiring manager to objectively and consistently evaluate each candidate.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Feedback Without Tears

Managers often hesitate to give developmental feedback for fear of damaging the work relationship. Yet, at least one survey has shown that accurate and supportive informal feedback can increase an employee’s performance potential by over 30 per cent. The key to delivering feedback “without tears” is preparation.

Before offering feedback, prepare by answering a few questions, such as: 

  • What do you want the feedback to accomplish?
  • Is it related to work and if so does it benefit the organization? 
  • Is it something the receiver can fix, and if so, do they have the resources to fix it? 
  • Do you have all the facts? If not, do some research to clarify the situation. 
  • Does the feedback benefit the receiver? 
  • Will it help them produce better work? 
  • What’s in it for you? Don’t deliver developmental feedback just because “they need to hear it,” or to gain status, or avoid/displace responsibility. 
  • Is the feedback welcome?
  • Do you have the receiver's trust or just authority? 
  • Can you help? Do you have the expertise, information, authority, resources, etc. to help the receiver be successful now and in the future?

Answer these questions BEFORE offering feedback, and if there isn’t a big payoff for the receiver and for the business, it probably won’t benefit you either. When you do deliver developmental feedback, be prepared to ask more questions than you answer and to help in any way you can.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Month in a Minute

 Dress Rehearsal at the MGM Grand Convention Center for Rodan + Fields, that's a lot of chairs!

Fall is in full swing and we have been criss-crossing the country this month to do some exciting work. The whole team gathered in Las Vegas in the early part of October to spend some team building time and work with a new client, Rodan + Fields who asked me to be part of their Annual National Convention. What an event - I have never seen such long lines at a Starbucks in my life (about 100 people long!). I want to give a huge shout out to all the wonderful people in my breakout room who came up to speak with me and share your own stories of challenge and resiliency. It was an honor to be with you all! If you haven’t heard of Rodan + Fields yet, check them out. I can attest to the quality of their skincare products having been a customer for several years now and highly recommend them.

Clockwise from top left: CHG Healthcare Leadership Conference; Hangin' with my buddy Steve; AMN Workforce Summit; Me, Courtney Millspaugh, and Sharon Johnson from Nationwide Insurance
I also had the opportunity to work with UniFirst in Boston, Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, be part of the Healthcare Workforce Summit in San Diego, present at the CHG Healthcare Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City, and work with Alkermes in Boston along with Steve. It has been a busy but exciting month. I am looking forward to some upcoming events as well in Boston, Salt Lake City, Des Moines, and Phoenix. Hope to see you at one soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Want to Raise Your Emotional Intelligence? Focus on These 3 Components

Written by Tamara Rosin for Becker Hospital Review
October 17, 2016

What was regarded in the past as a "soft skill" has emerged as one of the most critical determinants of career and leadership success: emotional intelligence.
"Most often, success or failure in a job comes down to how we manage ourselves and how well we manage relationships with our co-workers, not how much we know," Jen Shirkani, CEO of talent management solutions provider Penumbra Group, said at the AMN Healthcare 2016 Workforce Summit in San Diego.
The ability to manage one's emotions and relationships is tied to emotional intelligence, which is defined as the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions and the emotions of others.
A leader's EQ — emotional quotient — has a direct effect on the way he or she communicates with others, approaches challenges and reacts during crises. It is also a significant influencer of employee engagement, which has hovered near 30 percent since 2000, according to Gallup.
While one could reasonably assume that those at the top of the corporate hierarchy have the highest EQs, this is not the case, according to Travis Bradberry, co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. His research shows EQ scores increase with rank from direct report to manager, but steeply decline beyond that. On average, CEOs have the lowest EQ.
Why is that? "Once leaders get promoted they enter an environment that tends to erode their emotional intelligence," Forbes wrote of Mr. Bradberry's findings. "They spend less time in meaningful interactions with their staff and lose sight of how their emotional states impact those around them."
Ms. Shirkani argues emotional intelligence is largely garnered through experience, not learning. However, determining an EQ score and identifying problem areas can help leaders improve their communication and overall leadership techniques, she said.
Ms. Shirkani outlined three tenets of emotional intelligence, or what she coined the 3Rs.
1. Recognize who you are socially and emotionally.
2. Read people and situations accurately.
3. Respond appropriately based on who you are interacting with and what the situation calls for.
Each of the 3Rs can be applied when it comes to key EQ skills, according to Ms. Shirkani. For instance, one of the most important factors of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which encompasses both emotional and social self-awareness.
"Social self-awareness becomes quite important to long-term career success, but it's a moving target," said Ms. Shirkani, who noted many professionals plateau or derail in their careers because of a lack of self-awareness. "People assume bad leaders are the way they are because they don't get any feedback, but sometimes just the opposite is true." In some cases, the leader is so beloved among their closest colleagues that they are shielded from candid feedback that could help them gain an accurate sense of self-awareness. In this scenario, leaders must recognize others' perceptions of them, read the particular situation at hand and respond appropriately, perhaps by asking a trusted co-worker for honest feedback.
When it comes to empathy, another major factor of emotional intelligence, Ms. Shirkani said it is easy to assume more is better. But in healthcare, "too much empathy in a physician isn't always better," she said. Physicians must keep some emotional distance between themselves and the patient to remain objective and make the smartest clinical decisions. However, there is a balance. Physicians with higher empathy scores tend to fare better when they are sued for medical malpractice, according to Ms. Shirkani. Here too, physicians must employ the 3Rs on a situational basis.
Self-control is a third significant factor of emotional intelligence. When we hear "self-control," we tend to think of employing meditative breathing or some other coping mechanism to prevent ourselves from displaying anger or having an emotional outburst. But like empathy, self-control must be scaled up or down depending on the situation. Ms. Shirkani gave the example of a meeting between a hospital administrator and the family of a patient who had a negative experience in the hospital. As the family members grew angrier and more emotional, the administrator deliberately became calmer in an attempt to pacify the situation. However, the administrator's calmness had the opposite effect — the family interpreted her calm tone as apathetic or not understanding the gravity of the situation.
While leaders may not be able to change the aspects of their personality that others find unappealing, adding communication and thinking strategies such as the 3Rs can help improve their interactions with others, and ultimately lead to higher career success.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Month in a Minute

Top: Steve, Me, and James Symons CEO of LockNCharge; Bottom Left: Me
with Lee Self; Bottom Right: Meeting room in Nashville at Alkermes
September was a whirlwind, but filled with a lot of fun. It included getting to work with Renaissance Executive Forums, at their Washington DC All Member meeting with Lee Self and her group of CEO’s. Another highlight of the month was working with a new client, LockNCharge who invited me and Steve to work with their global team convening in Madison WI.

I heard a story this month that I really enjoyed and thought I would share it with you. A man was on a white water raft trip, it was his first time and despite many places during the ride when he thought for sure they would tip and land in the water, their guide deftly guided the boat around the rapids and they never went over. Being quite impressed with the guide, at the end of the day the man asked him how he learned to be so skillful, assuming he had just been on hundreds of rides to learn the maneuvers. To his surprise, the guide said he hadn’t been on that many boat trips, but instead focused on “reading the water.” He mentioned to me that it was a great metaphor for EQ and the importance of reading the environment and adapt accordingly. 

Sounds exactly right to me!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

6 Ways to Bring EQ into Your Organization

Once people find out about EQ, they often want to share it with others and integrate it into their own organizations, so we get asked for our advice on the best ways to introduce the topic and entice others to work on their own EQ.

Here are 6 ways to bring EQ to your organization:

   1. Host a lunch and learn – Bring in a speaker or give a presentation yourself on the topic of emotional intelligence. You could highlight some examples of high and low EQ behaviors that are observable within your organization along with some tips on how to develop it in yourself.

2. Adopt 360-degree assessments, including for the executives – These types of assessments provide quantitative and qualitative data on someone’s effectiveness and give an immediate measurement of social self-awareness, we use and recommend the ESCI .

3.Tie EQ to personal values – Every executive has a business metric they are most focused on, things like increasing revenue, better profit margin, reducing errors, increasing stock value, reducing employee turnover. All of these can be tied directly to an EQ initiative so you can make a business case that more EQ can benefit the company’s bottom line, and who says no to that?

4.Start a book club – Pick some of your favorite books on emotional intelligence and provide a copy to those interested. Once a week or once a month get together and discuss a chapter as a team. Ask and encourage examples of ways EQ is being demonstrated in daily interactions with others.

5. Look at your performance reviews – If you do annual, formal performance ratings there is a very good chance that you are measuring EQ behaviors already without calling it that. Some examples include; teamwork and collaboration, positive attitude, professional conduct; adaptability with change. So, by adding EQ training you are supporting the skills employees are expected to demonstrate anyway.

6. Conduct an EQ talent study – This is a powerful technique to identify the skills your high performers have that your low performers lack. By using a validated EQ assessment and a group report, you can better recognize the critical skills that predict success in a role and then use that data to do better hiring and promotions and identify training needs.     

There are numerous benefits of bring emotional intelligence into your interviewing, management, and coaching practices and creatively weave it into your talent management strategy.    

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Video Interview with Greg Hawks: CEO of Hawks Agency

Last September I spoke at a SHRM conference in Charlotte, North Carolina.  After scoping out where my room was going to be, I started setting up a small table outside with stacks of Ego vs EQ.  Suddenly, I heard someone shout, "Jen! Jen Shirkani! Hi, my name's Greg Hawks, and I'd like to interview you on Periscope!"

I had no idea what Periscope was, and I had no idea who this infectiously energetic man was, well technically he did tell me his name.  After a rapid 90 second rundown of what he was actually going to be doing, I said "Sure," and away we went.

He has become an extremely supportive peer, thoughtful friend, and is a captivating speaker.  He has grown his business exponentially over the past 12 months, and I couldn't be happier to have him as my guest in this month's vlog interview!  

Watch here.

As a Corporate Culture Specialist, Greg brings an expansive leadership portfolio to your service. For two decades he’s mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture and empowered employees. He’s intensely motivated to grow high capacity performers who work, serve and sell with excellence, consistently.

As a Keynote Speaker, he is an enthusiastic character. His style, wit and energy consistently capture the attention and imagination of audiences. His forward thinking contributes fresh perspectives that work. He’s annoyingly optimistic, contagiously energetic and slightly mischievous. People tend to like him and he gives killer keynotes!  To learn about Greg and Hawks Agency click here, or contact:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Pausing Technology...If Only For an Hour

I was facilitating a workshop last week at a client we have worked with for several years. They are a successful firm that has had continued growth for many years. I noticed something about the participants that caught my attention. They were all actively participating, using paper and pens to take notes and giving me pretty consistent eye contact. It is sad to say this experience is becoming more and more rare. When I facilitate or speak today, I am often looking out at just the top of heads because attendees are looking down at phones, iPads and laptops.

Some people claim that they hate to write or can’t read their own handwriting and want to take electronic notes which I understand, but I can also tell you that every time there is a physical laptop barrier between me and you, a degradation of quality and communication occurs. You will likely only receive half of what I am sharing as you also respond to emails, look at your calendar and read social media alerts. And you also minimize your coworkers’ ability to absorb new information as well, distracted by your typing on the keys, or wondering what you are working on not related to the meeting topic.

One reason that group in front of me that day was so attentive? Their firm has a strict “no electronics in meetings” policy. The three owners of the business comply with it and role model its importance so everyone else follows the rules too. I am convinced it is one of the reasons why they are so successful, and would encourage you to implement one in your office too.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

How Are You Being Judged?

Seeing It From the Other Side 

Stephen Covey has said that we judge others on their behavior and we judge ourselves on our intentions. What would happen if we reversed that thinking?

Wouldn't your team be more creative if they experienced less judgment in the workplace? Wouldn't there be less stress if everyone felt accepted and understood? 
Consider doing a brief, but easy exercise to learn more about perceptions.

Imagine seeing yourself from someone else's point of view. They do not have the benefit of knowing how you think. They do not get insight into your rationale when you make decisions. They only see what you do and what you say. For one week, spend the last 10 minutes of each workday writing down the names of the people you interacted with that day and, thinking about your behavior only, list the adjectives they would give if asked to describe you. Now make a list of everyone you interacted with and how you judged them that day.

On the flip side, since we don't have the ability to read someone else's mind, we make a lot of assumptions about why someone behaves the way they do. What if you spent one week conscientiously assuming everyone had the best intent?  Even bad behavior can be driven by someone trying to do the right thing and being stymied by the actions of others. Catch yourself before judging someone else negatively and instead consider any and all positive motives. Choose one of those. 

Done earnestly, this will be a very enlightening exercise increasing your self-awareness and empathy.
What have you got to lose?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Month in a Minute

Clockwise from top left: Presentation at  SMPS, Speaking at the Nebraska State SHRM confrence, Taylor Shimberg and me at Altman Vilandrie & Co., Steve and me at SHRM, Angela and me at SMPS

August was a very busy month for us at Penumbra, highlights including the SMPS Conference in Philadelphia and the Nebraska State SHRM Conference plus work with new clients in New York, Boston and Utah.
Funny story from the road. I was on a Southwest flight with a stop in a city that required me to stay on the plane, we had to wait for the local passengers to deplane and new passengers to board before continuing on. Every time that happens, the flight attendants make an announcement:
“For those of you continuing on with us please remain seated and we will come through and count you. Then you can get up and change seats or use the restrooms: one in the front and two in the back.”
There was a couple sitting next to me and the woman turned to her husband  and said, “Well I have to go #2 so I will have to wait for these people to get off and go in the back.”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Pleasant Surprise in Philly

You know that fear we all have about speaking in front of a crowd and having your mind go blank? Well, it happened to me recently when I was speaking to a group of about 200 people at a conference. I was about ten minutes into my talk when this music started playing. At first it was low so I kept talking, then it got louder and louder. At that point, it was so disruptive a few people in the audience got up and headed out the doors, many others started talking to each other. I paused to try and understand what was happening and where the music was coming from until I finally just had to completely stop and wait for things to calm down and hope someone was working on the problem. We were in a hotel with adjoining ballrooms and apparently, the presentations in the two rooms next to me both had loud music that coincidentally started at the same time, and completely drowned us out.
After a few long minutes the room was quiet again and back under control and then all eyes were back on me. I tried to think, where was I? What was the last thing I said before I stopped?  The silence was now getting uncomfortable as my mind scrambled to figure out what to say. I finally realized there was not going to be any faking it, I couldn’t come up with anything, and decided to come clean. I looked out at the crowd and said with an embarrassed laugh, “I have completely lost my place. Can anyone help me? Where was I?” Several audience members shouted out to me my last statement before the break and many laughed along with me, I am guessing having been there themselves at some point. Instead of it being the mortifying experience I  had always feared, it was a lovely moment of shared connection that I never expected. Sometimes, as scary as it is, just being genuinely real is the best approach.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

20 Things the Most Respected Bosses Do Every Day

I stumbled across this fantastic article written by Bill Murphy Jr., for Inc.  How many boxes can you fill with check marks? 

Think about the best boss you've ever had.
Maybe you're fortunate, and we're talking about the person you call your boss today. Maybe it's someone you recall fondly from years ago. (Maybe you don't have a boss--good for you!--but I'll bet you've had one at some time in the past.)
Regardless of who this person is, I'm confident I can describe him or her. That's because highly respected bosses often have a lot in common with one another. Here are 20 of the key things they do almost every day.
Bonus content: The Big Free Book of Success (free 133-page e-book)

1. They share their vision.

The most important thing a leader can do is provide his or her team with a goal that is worth their time. Granted, the boss doesn't always get to set the agenda, but a great one will advocate for something worthy, and ensure that he communicates it effectively and often.

2. They develop expertise.

What's more annoying than working for a boss who doesn't actually understand the job, and whose authority vests entirely in the job title? The boss doesn't have to be the number-one expert in every fact of the job--that might be impossible--but he or she had to be competent at all levels.

3. They respect people's time.

Great bosses have little tolerance for boring meetings, mandatory fun, and making others wait unnecessarily. They also avoid long-windedness when shorter remarks will do.

4. They set priorities.

When you try to focus on everything, you're not focusing on anything. A smart boss understands that, and realizes that lack of focus can easily metastasize when your lack of priorities means the team isn't moving in the right direction together.

5. They share information.

Some bosses parcel out information like misers, often because they're afraid that if their team had all the facts, they might not be able to lead. There are legitimate reasons to control the timing of information sharing, but overall the more transparent a boss can be, the more respect the team will ultimately have for him or her.

6. They make decisions.

Decisiveness. Super important. Enough said.

7. They offer praise.

People wonder how they're doing. Great bosses let them know, and they're especially vocal and public about it when they're doing well. 

8. They demonstrate empathy.

Great bosses are able to see things through other people's eyes, especially their employees'. Of course this doesn't mean that they are pushovers, but it does mean that they're concerned about their team on multiple levels.

9. They offer thanks.

Building a culture of gratitude starts at the top. If the boss doesn't take time to offer thanks to those around him or her, why would we expect that anyone else would?

10. They pull everyone together.

You might have heard the phrase "gung ho." Reportedly, it derives from a World War II saying that combined two Chinese words meaning "work" and "together." A great boss recognizes the talents of members of his or her team, and strives to lead in a way that lets everyone maximize their effectiveness together.

11. They ask smart questions.

They double-check assumptions in a non-annoying but thorough way that sends the message that they're on top of things. They aren't willing to accept that things should be done a certain way just because that's how they've been done in he past.

12. They have respect for people's lives.

They also recognize that people are just that--people. Work has to be a priority, but that doesn't mean it's the only thing in their lives. They recognize that their employees have spouses, children, friends they need to care for, not to mention outside interests and ambitions. 

13. They hire thoughtfully.

There's a saying: personnel is policy. In fact, this should arguably be the first item on the list. A leader's most important role is sometimes about assembling a team of great people--and, just as important, avoiding letting toxic people join.

14. They accept blame.

Ethical people accept blame for their failings. Maybe they don't dwell on it, but they accept it. Great bosses go a step further, accepting the collective blame when the team comes up short, and then guiding everyone to move forward.

15. They have a sense of humor.

Life is hilarious. Great bosses don't have to be cutups, but they do have to have a sense of humor. They recognize that the crisis of today is the joke of tomorrow.

16. They communicate effectively.

No mumbling, no backpedaling. Great bosses find the words to explain what they mean--and they back up what they say.

17. They model ethical behavior.

It's often true that more progress is made when we seek forgiveness than when we seek permission. However, there are rules, social norms, and basic decency. Great bosses strive to uphold them.

18. They celebrate wins.

Nobody likes a boss who thinks the only reward for great work should be more of the same. Great bosses look for milestones to celebrate--whether that means a 15-second recognition or a full-blown party.

19. They strive for excellence.

Because really, who wants to work for someone who strives simply to be adequate?

20. They make more leaders.

Great leaders don't just make happy followers--they inspire more leaders with their examples. Just as important: They're thrilled, not threatened, when members of their teams go on to even bigger and better things in life.
Got other attributes that should be on this list? Let me know, and don't forget to check out the bonus free e-book: The Big Free Book of Success.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

All Kinds of Exciting

I have an announcement(clears throat), we are now officially a SHRM Recertification Provider! 

Penumbra Group is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDCs) for the SHRM-CPSM or SHRM-SCPSM.  For more information about certification or recertification, please visit

Stay tuned, there's more to come!

I also wanted to take a moment to mention that I am hosting a FREE webinar, Intro to Ego vs EQ, September 8, at 2pm EST.  Register here to save your seat, space is limited.

We are also offering some brand new webinar topics this fall!

September 13, 2PM EST

September 27, 2PM EST
October 11, 2PM EST

All sessions are recorded in the event a scheduling conflict arises. 

Enter code JPGCLIENT in the discount box and click "Apply" to receive $10 off!

For group discounts/pricing contact

See you on the interwebs!


Wednesday, July 27, 2016


I have been specializing in the subject of emotional intelligence for about 15 years now so we thought it would be fun to share some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from people on the topic. Just as a quick point of reference, you can learn more about the subject of EQ on this short 3-minute video.

This is a continuation of the July Performance Pointer.  To subscribe click here.

5. What is the best way to develop more EQ?

There are many ways to develop emotional intelligence, and the method that leads to the most permanent results is via coaching. Hiring an executive coach can help you identify your unique combination of strengths and weaknesses and ways to balance them to leverage the best of you to reach your professional and personal goals. There are also many self-paced resources available from books to webinars.

6. Can EQ be tested?

Yes. There are several validated instruments on the market. We provide the EQi 2.0 as a self-only online assessment tool best used for pre-employment testing, personal development or individual contributors. This comes with a personal debrief session and costs $200 each. We also offer the ESCI from the Hay Group. This is a multi-rater (360°) online assessment best used for leaders at all levels. This comes with a personal debrief session and costs $600 each.

7. Is your EQ level set at a certain age like IQ, or does it change as you mature?

Unlike IQ which is set at about 18 years old, EQ continues to develop as you mature, with a peak at about age 60.

8. Can developing EQ help me at work and at home too?

Yes, we at our firm focus on the ways to use emotional intelligence to be better professionals but there are also some significant personal benefits to increasing your EQ. Most report increased satisfaction with friendships, family and spouses. And people with high EQ are also happier.