Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is anyone still listening?

The confidence from the C-suite to the employee is down in most companies. The conversation is focused on cost containment and expense reductions. Budgets again are being slashed and people are being asked to “do more with less”.

Many companies are discarding the talent that took them to the top. Experts today note that Talent Management is more important than ever but it appears to be falling on deaf ears.

Are you listening?

Changes in the economy are often precursors to changes in the ways we do business. Why are we still focused on everything except what we need to do? We need to retain top talent and develop the future talent for our company needs. The ASTD just published a major report titled, Mission Critical – Keep Learning. This publication demonstrates “How to Communicate the Value of Learning in Difficult Economic Times”. Their publication is calling for all learning professionals to get in involved and make sure they contribute to a successful talent management strategy. The author feels that the ability to get the right people with the right skills into the right jobs in a cost-effective way makes it possible for a company to respond strategically. The publication also goes on to say that the entire organization must make the learning function support the organizations goals. The key decision makers in the organization must see a meaningful relationship between learning initiatives and results. Now there is a thought! Be more effective than just focusing of efficiencies. Isn’t it time to make sure that all programs focused on people development are directly linked to business goals?

Are you still listening?

The next thing is for everyone to realize that our middle management is the “glue that holds the company together”. I just recently read an article in HR Daily Advisor titled, “Top Five Mistakes Leaders Make in Tough Times”. In her opinion, Ellen McDargh,CSP, CPAE, felt that in tough times, leaders become reactive and reactionary, huddle with only the corporate folks, subscribe to the “cut…cut…cut” philosophy, target new clients and customers, and subscribe to the “do more with less”. Middle management is the leader of the majority of the staff. They must focus on being effective and producing the desired results in areas that have been bludgeoned to death by cost containment measures and layoffs.

A recent survey of the American workers demonstrated that “Good Management” is the most important thing that employees want in the workplace. Things that finished far behind “Good Management” included respect of colleagues, money and benefits, learning new skills, and having a fun environment.

Is anyone listening?

We need to make leaders out of every employee but the most important ingredient for business success is the development of the middle manager. Middle management must elevate morale in poor economic times, retain and motivate the high achieving employee, their team is expected to comprehend the “bigger picture” in terms of strategy and recommended plans of action. It is more important for the middle manager to break down the strategy into goals that can be comprehended and implemented by the action of the staff. They need to give direction, monitor performance, discipline the staff, and demonstrate organizational effectiveness by getting results. In addition to all of this, they have to understand that their actions may put them in the same legal liability position as that of their company. That’s quite the responsibility! Shouldn’t they continue to learn how to manage their employees as well as themselves?

I have read article after article on the Benchmarks involved with Human Resources Departments and have not found Mid-level management development as one of the major benchmarks for success. I have heard about the metrics associated with organizational performance, HR service and delivery, employee engagement, voluntary turnover, HR practices, budget management, technology assessment, and more. What is HR and the C-Level doing to continue their company’s success??

Here at Innovative Leadership, we have focused our company on the development of middle level managers and our programs compliment all of the metrics ever associated with a strategically oriented HR Department:

  1. Tools that qualify potential management candidates from the date of hire.
  2. Training and Development Courses that highlight goal-orientation and business results
  3. Provides an organization with the ROI prior to the start of the program
  4. Offers a variety of cost effective platforms including online application.
  5. Course evaluation processes measure the changes in the behaviors and skill-sets associated with high achieving mid-level managers

We do things differently and our results demonstrate just that. Please tell me just one thing . . . Is anybody still listening?

Thursday, July 9, 2009


By Richard Hohmann Redeem 2 Free Assessments from Innovative Leadership

On Monday June 29, 2009, The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision ruling favored white and Hispanic fire fighters advancing the case for validated testing and assessments in the workplace in America.

In 2003 Lt. Ben Vargas was one of 56 New Haven, Conn. Fireman who passed the test for promotion to Captain of whom 15 were black or Hispanic. When the city discovered that only two out of the 56 were likely to be immediately promoted (due to lack of job openings) the city threw out the test for fear of being sued by minority candidates who might allege discrimination.

However, 17 white firefighters plus Vargas (a total of 18 firefighters) filed suit against the city for throwing out the test. The Supreme Court has now ruled in behalf of the 18 who filed suit against the city for throwing out the test . This ruling delivered the message that rejecting employment test results because of the lack of minority candidates eligible for promotion violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority, “Fear of Litigation alone cannot justify an employer’s reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions.”

The 18 plaintiffs in the case studied intensively for the test, giving up second jobs and missing family celebrations. The lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci was dyslexic and had studied 8 to 13 hours a day, and had hired an acquaintance to tape-record the study materials for him.

In the case before the court, Ricci v. Stephano, No. 07-1428, the majority said there is no evidence, let alone strong evidence, of any problem with the tests. With this ruling, the Supreme Court has in reality sent a variety of messages to employers in both the public and private sector:

When using a validated job related test that has proven to be nonbiased by race and sex
that test or assessment may legally discriminate against minority groups who do not have the qualifications for the job. In this case black fireman who took the test failed to learn the necessary material to pass the test.

Would we allow Doctors to practice medicine who do not pass the medical exam? Lawyers who don’t pass the bar exam to practice law? or CPA’s who haven’t passed the CPA exam to offer their services as a CPA---Obviously the answer “NO”. Employers have the right to require people to be qualified for the jobs they are hiring them for or promoting them into and the Supreme Court has just upheld that right.

In this case the Supreme Court sent a clear message that being in a minority group who failed a validated job related test is not an acceptable basis to file a discrimination complaint.

The Supreme Court Decision further sent a message to employers that job related validated tests and assessments are usable and defensible in both the hiring and promotional processes and are clearly some of the most validateable parts of an employers hiring or promotional process as a result of the clear cut rules established for validation in the Uniform Employment Guidelines published in the Federal Register in 1979.

This Supreme Court Decision is a job win for companies like Innovative Leadership and its Achiever Series of Assessment Instruments. (, The Achiever Series are job related assessments that has been repeatedly proven to be validated and nondiscriminatory by race, color or sex which does identify individuals who do not fit the requirements of the job. The Achiever is now America’s premier job-related assessment instrument for use in both applicant selection and people development processes. There as never been an adverse finding, or settlement out of court, against any employer for its usage. Information on the validation of the Achiever and validation of tests and assessments in general and their optimum usage is available at

Please call for more information on America’s Premier Assessment Instruments distributed by Innovative Leadership at 609.390.2830 or contact us here:

Richard Hohmann is the senior consultant/Vice President for Innovative Leadership of the Delaware Valley, LLC. He is a graduate of the Ohio State University and has over thirty years of Leadership and Management Development experience. His focus is on the effectiveness of the organization and the development of their people to enhance performance and improve productivity. He teaches managers and leaders to know what it takes to be successful and then uses a defined plan to teach them how to do it until they succeed. He has written numerous articles for national publications and speaks at many association meetings nationwide. He is very involved with his community organizations and professional affiliations.