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?


  • 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.  

  • 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.