Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Evaluate Your Company's Policies

Quick Tip: Evaluate your written policies to see if they reinforce or contradict your department or company's objectives. Do you say you believe in innovation and risk-taking but then hobble employees by requiring multilevel approvals for even the tiniest decision?

Create rules that support - not thwart - your goals.

- Adapted from "180 Ways to Build a Magnetic Culture," Eric Harvey

Reap Community Service Rewards

Shoemaker Timberland's full-time employees can take off up to 40 hours a year to volunteer in the community; part-timers are eligible for pro-rated service hours.

The New Hampshire based company has reaped many benefits from its community service program. Here are a few:
  • Increased Employee Loyalty. Employees report they feel proud of the community service opportunities that Timberland provides, and it's one of the benefits that keeps them with the company.
  • Heightened Public Awareness of the Company. The program acts as a "candidate magnet" for those who share Timberland's values, which reduces the company's overall recruitment costs. People who value the spirit of volunteerism select Timberland as an employer of choice.
  • Enhanced training Opportunities. The community service experience has been a surprisingly effective development tool. Employees get to try new skills, work with teams and manage projects. Example: One employee gained great hands-on experience managing a project team of 30 people to build a set of docks for the local YMCA campground.
- Adapted from "Indispensable Employees," Martha R.A. Fields

How to Detect an Employee Leaving

Do you know whether any of your staff members are thinking about leaving the organization? Find out by watching for these early warning signs of dissatisfaction and withdrawal:
  • A change in behavior, such as coming in later or leaving earlier.
  • A decline in performance that's unrelated to external factors.
  • Sudden complaints from a person who hasn't previously been a complainer
  • Wistful references to other companies. Example: "I heard that so and so got a huge signing bonus at XYZ Corp."
  • Reclusive behavior. Example: An employee who previously participated in meetings or volunteered for projects suddenly stays in the background or does just enough to get by.
If you recognize these warning signs, arrange to meet with the employee as soon as possible. Use probing questions to identify the source of the problem. Indicate that you value him/her as an employee, and ask how you can work with him to create a better work experience.

Suggestion: Some companies periodically conduct what they call "stay interviews": They ask people how they feel about their assignments, company policies and the working environment.

At Hartford Life Insurance, the process starts within six months after an employee starts work. Managers hold formal sessions with each individual and ask for evaluation of the company.

- Adapted from "Hiring and Keeping the Best People," Harvard Business School Press

Take an Employee Under Your Wing

An employee has asked you to be his mentor. You're flattered, but you don't know where to begin. Use these tips to help you guide your protege:

  • Take time to get to know the person. Resist the temptation to turn your mentoring relationship into a monologue rather than a dialogue. It may boost your ego to bombard your protege with stories from your past, but your relationship will be more productive if you get to know what the other person's values are, where he'd like to go with his career, and what struggles he's currently having.
  • Learn how to teach effectively. Think back on the various teachers and bosses you've had in your lifetime. Draw on the best examples as you guide them. Also, remember what techniques were not helpful and steer clear of those techniques.
  • Learn how to give negative feedback. It's tough to criticize people in person, but that's what's necessary in many mentoring relationships. Learn how to present your points tactfully and always keep your criticism as constructive as possible.
  • Celebrate each victory. Since your role as a mentor involves offering criticism, it's also important to seek out every victory and celebrate it.
- Adapted from "Be a Better Mentor," Bob Rosner

Get feedback on Your Feedback

You give your employees feedback about their performance, and you expect them to improve as a result. But many managers don't realize how their feedback is received by the employees they are trying to help. It may be time for a reality check.

Here's how to evaluate the effectiveness of your feedback:
  • Review the three most recent times you offered feedback to one of your employees. Answer these questions about those sessions: What prompted you to give feedback on that matter at the time? Did you check your facts first? What was the substance of the feedback? Did any concrete action result?
  • Ask employees to answer the same questions. The comparisons make for interesting reading. You may find that your feedback isn't having the effect you anticipated. It may even be having the opposite effect of what you intended.
  • Think of the people who work for you as "customers" for your feedback. Determine whether the feedback you're providing is working for them
- Adapted from "How to Give Good Feedback," Gina Imperato

What do employees want from you?

To find out what your employees need from you, have them complete a "want" list. Knowing what people want will help you align their goals with the organization's goals. Have staff members complete the following statements:
  1. I want straight feedback on _______________________ because _____________________________________________.
  2. I want to learn specific skills such as ______________________
    because __________________________________________.
  3. I want to receive information about ______________________
    because __________________________________________.
  4. I want to have some help with __________________________
    because __________________________________________.
  5. I want to take on responsibilities such as ___________________
    because __________________________________________.
  6. I want to change the way we ___________________________
    because __________________________________________.
Adapt and expand this list. Encourage employees to come up with their own additions.

- Adapted from "Up is Not the Only Way", Beverly L. Kaye

How to Assess What Training Your Employees Need

This training needs assessment works best in small to mid-sized organizations. It will give you a quick assessment of the training needs of an employee group. It helps find common training needs for a group of employees.

Difficulty: Average Time Required: Approximately 1-2 hours
Here's How:
  1. Gather all employees who have the same job in a conference room with a white board or flip charts and markers.
  2. Before the meeting ask each employee to write down their ten most important training needs. Write specifics, like disciplining an employee when late or communication with other management.
  3. Then during the meeting, ask each person to list their ten training needs. As they list the training needs, you capture the needs on the white board or flip chart. Make a tick mark when there is a duplicate need, some may seem a little different, but may be the same underneath the surface.
  4. When all training needs have been listed, use a weighted voting process to prioritize the training needs across the group. In a weighted voting process, you use sticky dots or numbers written in magic marker to vote on and prioritize the list of training needs. Assign a large dot 25 points and smaller dots five points each. Distribute as many dots as you like. Tell needs assessment participants to place their dots on the chart to vote on their priorities.
  5. List the training needs in order of importance, with the number of points assigned as votes determining priority, as determined by the sticky dot voting process. Make sure you have notes (best taken by someone on their laptop while the process is underway) or the flip chart pages to maintain a record of the training needs assessment session.
  6. Take time, or schedule another session, to brainstorm the needed outcomes or goals from the first 3-5 training sessions identified in the needs assessment process. This will help as you seek and schedule training to meet the employees' needs.

Note the number one or two needs of each employee, that may not have become the priorities for the group. Try to build that training opportunity into the employee's performance development plan.

Tips: Training Needs Assessment can be, and often needs to be, much more complicated than this. But, this is a terrific process for a simple training needs assessment.
Make sure you keep the commitments generated by the training needs assessment process. Employees will expect to receive their key identified training needs met.

To discuss your employees needs call Innovative Leadership at 609-390-2830 or email us at info@innovativeleadershipdv.com

Management and Leadership Training Sales Training Performance Coaching

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How to Motivate Employees

How will you motivate employees, improve staff retention, increase productivity, and boost morale this year? All of this can be and should be summed up into one word: TRAINING.

Take for example Derek Christian's business, My Maid Service. He had extremely high turnover, two out of three new employees were leaving, which meant a less experienced and productive staff. The quality of work also lacked and it was having a huge impact on his business.

Once training was introduced, there is now virtually no turnover, his employees and customers are happier, which all translates into loyal customers and a bigger bottom line. Read His Full Story

So, what are you going to do this year? You can still give them a box of candy, but we highly suggest you take a serious look at the coming year and how training can help your company tremendously.

Innovative Leadership is a performance improvement company that provides solutions for today's business, small or large, challenges. Unique programs, products and processes all of which can be customized to fit specific needs of your company is what sets us apart.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Heading Off Employee Burnout

In today's "do more with less" environment, employees are especially susceptible to burnout. So what for signs of excess stress in your staffers. Decreased enthusiasm, increased irritability, sudden changes in performance and high absenteeism all signal possible burnout.

If your employees are exhibiting these signs, use these stress-management options:
. . .Shift some of their work to others temporarily. Often all a good employee needs is a little break. Find someone who can assume some of his/her duties for a short time. After they've recharged their batteries, you'll find they are probably itching to resume former responsibilities.
. . .Encourage people to take breaks, shorter more frequent breaks that is. Several short walks around the block are more refreshing than a lengthy coffee break.
. . .Get rid of electronic leashes. Give them a break from "electronic leashes." Example: Declare a beeper-free, email-free and cellphone-free Friday morning.
. . .Look at the role you play. If you want them to balance their lives, you should be a model. Share your stress-reduction tips. And be careful not to reward stress-inducing behavior. Example: Stop complimenting employees for working long hours. Thank them for the quality of the work they complete.

Adapted from "Love 'Em or Lose 'Em"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting Ahead by Slowing Down

by Marci Taub, M.A. and author of Interview Yourself for Working Moms: A Guided Journal

Late work nights. Missed school plays. Sporadic dinner dates. Cancelled self-care appointments. Getting ahead usually evokes images of long hours sacrificing your personal life for the sake of your career. Do you ever fantasize about having it all - growing your career, your family and yourself without wildly tilting the balance from day to day?

I recently re-read my personal journal entries about turning points in my work and family lives. These situations often have required me to choose whether or not to take on more career responsibility and pursue dream projects, as well as to figure out how I would balance my work and personal lives if I did.

When faced with such tough decisions, I've tried a variety of strategies for having it all. Once I launched a "Get Organized" campaign. Three new black, shiny file cabinets, two new "to do" list approaches, and a new high tech office makeover later, I was more organized, but was equally unsure why the texture of my life still felt rough and uneven.

Another time I devised an "Early Riser" plan to devote a couple of hours to quiet, uninterrupted work every morning. It worked well for about a week, until my night owl instincts overthrew my common sense and demanded the return of my evening routine. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. and staying up until midnight quickly took its toll. After a couple of sleep-deprived, grumpy days, both my work and I drooped, and my inner voice, my husband and my children begged me in unison to try something else.

So I turned to what I called my "Boundary Watchers" program. I told myself that protecting my work periods from draining tasks and people would be "the answer" to my problem. I stopped running errands that I could accomplish by phone or on-line, and started only dealing with people who said and did mostly kind, uplifting things. I reclaimed about an hour of previously-squandered time and immeasurable amounts of energy a day. In these respects, this approach was a success. But it wasn't a panacea. My latest project looked like a half-eaten sandwich -- my ideas being endlessly chewed, not swallowed and digested, leaving me hungry for more.

What did I learn from these experiments? Getting organized, designating time, and prioritizing tasks and people are all good first steps. To really get ahead while balancing your life, it takes a powerful, multi-strategic approach. The ironic secret of the following advanced strategies is that they help you to slow down - get perspective, rejuvenate yourself, and live deeply.

They allow you to progress at a comfortable pace in all areas of your life for the long haul. So you get to cross the finish line with your head high, smiling at an annual marathon, instead of sprinting across the finish line stooped and breathless at a quarterly race.

Here are my top ten strategies for slowing down to get ahead in your career and your life:

1. Assess your risk: Be honest with yourself about how much risk you're willing to take at this point in your career. Factor in your personal obligations as well as how much risk you really need to take to reach your career goals. More is not always better. Taking just the right amount of risk - without jeopardizing your financial, emotional, physical, and familial well-being - is the key to advancing your career.

2. Ignite your passions: Actively pursue your passions at work. Request an assignment you'd love to do. Explore transferring to another position within your organization or field. If there's no immediate way for you to hold your dream job, pursue your interests on the side - through volunteering, taking classes, reading, and networking with people who do what you want to do, informally and at professional association events. By immersing yourself in what you love, you'll be happier, motivate yourself to succeed, and opportunities will follow.

3. Under-schedule yourself: Rushing through your days and nights with little down time won't help you get ahead; it will just wear you out. And you'll miss spontaneous opportunities to meet people and do things that could help your career grow and enrich your life overall. Pause to review your weekly calendar and make sure you're not too booked to leave room for the unexpected.

4. Be fully engaged: Focus on what you're doing at the moment rather than on what you'll be eating for lunch in an hour; what's going on at home when you're at work or at work when you're at home; or what crisis may be erupting at work while you're on vacation. It's only when you fully live in the present that you'll make significant progress.

5. Leave your mark: Stand out from the crowd by showcasing your distinctive approach to your work. Take the time, for example, to hand-write thank you notes to your clients or to highlight your unique combination of talents and experience that make you the obvious choice for receiving the next big promotion.

6. Learn your way: Knowing how you learn best will give you an edge. You'll absorb and integrate new ideas faster and deeper, making you a star performer. Pay attention to how you seem to learn naturally - by reading, listening, doing, or some combination of these and other methods.

7. Track all trends: Notice how you could incorporate trends about when, where, and how people work into your career both to better serve your clients and to better balance your work and personal lives. For instance, you could begin and leave work earlier, provide on-site services at clients' workplaces, and arrange on-line or teleconferences.

8. Play at work: Take a cue from your children and let work equal play. Decide what the most fun activities are in your work and family lives and transfer the best ones to each world. Make getting to know new people a priority in your home community as much as it is in your workplace, and import activities like storytelling, role-playing, and cloud-watching from your family life into your creative brainstorming sessions at work.

9. Reflect every day: Review your performance as a working mom on a regular basis - gently and constructively - and keep records of these reviews in a journal or folder with letters of praise, thank you notes, ticket stubs from special events, and other mementos of good times.

10. Keep it fresh: Rotate your work projects, leisure activities, and family rituals to keep your interest and energy levels up. Shake up parts of your daily routine, like how you get to work, when you do your tasks, and what you eat for lunch, while still maintaining enough structure and consistency to feel grounded. By regularly energizing your mind, body, and spirit, you'll make it easier to get ahead - and a life.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

21st Century Business Women

By: Ann Williamson

When the first generation of women entered the workforce in earnest in the 1970s, they succeeded in the only way they could by imitating men. Authoritarian leadership and tight control was the hallmark of that days businessman, and women were not exactly welcomed into the ranks of management. Well ladies, that was yesterday, and today is today!

Forget what your mama or your boss told you, because following the rules can be bad for your career. Today a CEO/Entrepreneur can no longer maximize her company full potential using a command-and-control style. The 21st century business woman needs to be able to build a vision based on the awareness of economic transformation, then help her partners and staff fulfill that vision. She must draw on a wide range of skills to get to the top and stay there. Following are 7 Key Characteristics that are essential:

1. Sell the Vision. A leader with a fresh, independent plan for her company's growth and future has a distinct advantage in luring and keeping great talent and investors. Vision is not some lofty ideal, but an obtainable concept that is easy to understand and will make the company grow to another level.

2. Reinvent the Rules. While women have traditionally been socialized to please others, the 21st century leader knows that good girls rarely post great returns. The strong managers/owners today not only anticipate change, they create entirely new organizations that respond to shifts and search for innovation.

3. Achieve With A Laser Focus. Go where others fear to tread! Being aggressive and ambitious has long been considered male traits, but they are key qualities for new leaders. Today's business woman has the ability to home in on opportunities that others may simply not see, and then excel in that uncharted territory.

4. Use High-Touch in a High-Tech Era. When a number of leaders are conducting business by e-mail, voice mail, passwords, and PINs, the female entrepreneur succeeds because she guides with a strong, personal, bed-side manner. Today's business woman is just as technologically savvy as her peers, but her skill with staff and customers is high-touch, which gives her a critical edge and separation from the pack.

5. Challenge or Opportunity. Women are great at turning a challenge into an opportunity instead of using the slash-and-burn approach. They are able to make bold strokes, but they also win the cooperation of others in the organization in making any transformation a success.

6. A Customer Preference Obsession. In this information age, which makes it easier to shop around for the best whatever, businesses must work harder to give people what they want before their competitors do. There is no substitute for spending time with clients to become expert at their businesses and learn their demands. Female leaders are almost intuitively adept in doing just that, and without the client even suspecting.

7. Courage Under Fire. Show me any career woman or female entrepreneur today that is not able to stand-the-heat in any tough-call situation. Their decision-making skills are rooted in a high level of confidence, because they have had to weather and surpass any and all corporate storms they have encountered over time.

It takes a certain mind-set and bravado for anyone to start their own business and succeed, but it is even more difficult for a female entrepreneur. Let us face it, ladies! We have always had to be twice-as-smart and twice-as-confident as any male counterpart in the corporate world. After all, if we can bear and raise the future generation, how can running a successful business scare us?

To read more from Annie and to find the top home based businesses for women on the Internet visit her blog: Annies Home Journal www.annies-home-journal.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Use the “Gap of Silence” more Effectively

I have always used the term “pregnant pause” when I facilitate any sales program where I ask people to sit back and fold their arms and just listen to what the other person is saying. The need for silence is real in most communications, yet most sales people find silence to be threatening to their presentation environment. An article that appeared from justsell.com, the author changed the term from “pregnant pause” to “gap of silence”. This is certainly the term I am going to use moving forward.

The use of this “gap of silence” within a sales presentation is an art and it is important to hesitate in terms of providing a response immediately following what your customer has said and providing the proper response.

The use of this “gap of silence” allows the customer continue on with the conversation providing clarification of their real needs and allow them to offer additional specifics relative to you having the ability to provide a solution. This additional information can be very useful when determining which features and benefits of your product may satisfy their specific needs. It can be an integral component for gaining clarification of their real “prime buying motives”.

Many feel that silence reflects a disconnect, when in reality it can provide a much improved connection between the sales representative and the customer. In fact, it can improve the connection between the employer and employee, and even your relationship with your spouse or a friend.

Remember, listening is the most important skill-set or competency for excellent communication. This “gap in silence” technique can take your listening skills to a higher level. It is important to realize that communication is the connection between two or more parties. Empathetic listening is when you can feel the meaning behind the words and this “gap in silence” can in many cases enhance your empathetic listening while clarifying the meaning and desired outcome.

This “gap in silence” can be used even more effectively if you understand the behavioral style of the customer, employee or friend. Our Communication and Selling Workshops like “Stop Selling…Build Relationships” can help you understand behaviorally when silence may be the best response.

You can sell more by using the “gap in silence” technique and using it more effectively to close the sale when you understand the customer’s behavioral style and how it relates to their “prime buying motives”.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

3 Signs of a Dysfunctional Company

Like a car with an engine that can't fire on all cylinders, a business that's dysfunctional may move forward for a while. But eventually it stops running.

Companies don't start out maladjusted, of course. It just tends to happen over time.

"The hallmark of a dysfunctional organization is a gap between reality and rhetoric," says Ben Dattner, a New York organizational psychologist. When resources are not used effectively or fairly, when plans are heavy on talk but weak on action or when barriers to communication cripple performance, you're dealing with a dysfunctional company.

Once diagnosed, the corrosive effects of such problems can be corrected. But make no mistake: It's neither easy nor immediate. You need to be tough-minded about identifying the source, particularly because it often starts at the top, where the power resides.

Here are three telltale signs that your company is unhealthy and some possible ways to get it well again.

1. You've got leaders who fake it.

Recently, management consultant Linda Hanson of Dallas-based LLH Enterprises was called in to help turn around a Houston construction company that had about 50 employees, annual gross revenues of $160 million and senior managers who were at each other's throats.

"People were snarly and mean," Hanson says. "There was in-fighting and lots of yelling. They had lost respect for one another and weren't working as a team." A prime example was the information technology (IT) manager. Although every department depended on him, the other managers complained that he "didn't care about their problems, didn't have time, didn't listen, didn't support them and marched to his own drum," Hanson says.

The atmosphere got really heated when the chief executive officer, in an attempt to change the culture, hired a new, buttoned-down sales manager who began instituting very different policies and rules. The hiring drew such fire from the other managers that Hanson was tapped to address the company's ailments.

She began with exercises in "process mapping." At a meeting of the managers that included the CEO and president, she asked everyone to look at work flow and operations, focusing on inbound orders, external sales, delivery and so on. She asked each manager to stick up a Post-it note whenever he saw a glitch or something wrong, without finger-pointing, of course. "That caused great excitement," Hanson says. "They began to see the duplications and the weaknesses." More importantly, the CEO and president, who were usually removed from such details, had their eyes opened to what was going on.

Later, she confidentially asked each manager to evaluate himself and all the other managers. Then she went back to each to report: "Here's how you see yourself and here's how the other managers see you." That stopped a lot of the backbiting.

Hanson also required the managers to meet one-on-one for lunch, for a golf game or the like, every month. Each executive was given specific and corny assignments for such meetings, such as being told to talk about a hobby or an interest — anything but work. The idea, of course, was to build relationships. Within four months, she says, managers set up meetings to discuss business scenarios rather than to fulfill assignments, which was the result she intended.

Still, the real problem stayed at the top. The CEO and his friend of 10 years, the president, "were both volatile people and they weren't changing," Hanson says. Even though they were asking senior managers to evaluate their work habits and improve peer relationships, the chief executives themselves were unwilling to do the assignments or to work at transformation.

"Within four to six months, the company was functioning much better," Hanson says. But it needed another nine months to a year to really come together. And that didn't happen. "You need to set a picture at the top of what the company should look like. It's very hard to say to the CEO, 'You're the problem.' "

Lesson: The discrepancy between what leaders say they want and what they really want often causes company dysfunction. You can't ask employees to do anything you're not willing to do yourself.

2. You've got bosses who like to point fingers.

No company can flourish in an environment that penalizes experimentation or trust. While that sounds obvious, on a day-to-day basis the nature of risk-taking inevitably means a great number of dead ends before any breakthrough. Very few managers remain calm after hitting the wall.

But how you handle those crashes — and how you encourage employees to pick up the pieces and start anew — makes all the difference between a company that encourages innovation and one that stagnates.

"When you see a pattern of blaming and people trying to protect themselves and their particular turf, something is wrong," says Russ Moserowitz of Franchise Insights, a Bedminster, N.J., consulting company.

Lesson: The remedy is to put your trust in the people you hire and give every employee sincere responsibility. Hands-on, my-way-or-the-highway entrepreneurs won't find this easy. But that's how the business gets better.

3. You've got a CEO who doesn't set priorities.

Fast-growing companies are often so intensely focused on moving to the next level that no one is actually in charge. That's how dysfunction creeps in and takes hold.

Paul Glen, an IT management consultant in Marina del Rey, Calif., tells about a 20-year-old software company that hired him to create a new product management department. The business had released several successful products and grown to 100 employees with 13 departments, each headed by a different executive. Every one of the managers reported directly to the CEO, so no one had to talk to anyone else about his department's work.

When Glen asked each executive what the new department would do, he got 13 different answers. It turned out that the company didn't need a new division at all. What it needed was someone to coordinate the company agenda and get the managers to share information.

The idea for a product management department was how the executives expressed their need for better coordination. "The product development department didn't take direction," Glen says. That meant the group simply created products and released them without checking with any other department. So sales didn't know about the features of the new products, or when to sell them. Support and consulting were also in the dark. They couldn't help customers implement products or fix any problems. And so it went.

"Each department flew off on its own, trying to do what was right." Priorities were constantly shifting. Decisions were continually made and unmade. "The CEO assumed the executives had the authority to make product decisions and it wasn't her job to tell them what to do," Glen says. While everyone had the very best of intentions, chaos reigned.

Lesson: Company leaders must set the mission and the agenda. A hands-off policy can only go so far.

Epilogue: Time for a checkup

Smaller businesses are both more susceptible and harder hit by the ripple effects of dysfunction. With a close-knit staff, it's easy to make allowances for people's tempers or bad moods or refusal to take responsibility. But, sooner or later, that kind of thinking catches up with you and the business.

Lesson: Take the time now to check the health of your workplace. And make the course corrections you need. Starting now.

From Microsoft's Small Business Website

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Showcase Advantages for Busy Business Professionals

Convenience-the benefits can be enjoyed with minimal time spent away from your business as well as minimum study time. All Courses are less than 3 hours in length per session.

2. Spaced Repetition is part of a unique adult learning technique that gives you a head start in establishing effective habits.

3. Multi-sensory perception is used to increase the amount of knowledge you retain and have available for use.

4. Action-oriented Learning - a learning platform that allows the participants to evaluate the program’s information as it relates to their work situation. Each participant becomes goal-oriented and the action-oriented learning is achieved by asking the participants to perform several action-oriented exercises that will allow them to accomplish more in less time in the work environment.

See Available Showcases

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

15 Strategies for Personal Management

1. Always be willing to learn something that makes you more interesting or productive

2. Focus on self-empowerment as a responsible action

3. Accept responsibility only if you are willing to be held accountable

4. Don’t let stress ruin a good environment or relationship

5. Be enthusiastic and exhibit positude on a daily basis

6. Take care of your mental and physical health

7. Demonstrate a good work ethic at all times

8. Integrate your values and beliefs with your business goals

9. Use trust to build relationships and be respectful

10. Voice your opinion when needed but be a better listener

11. Focus on priorities in all areas of your lifeLink
12. Don’t confuse efficiency with effectiveness…know the difference

13. Use your emotional intelligence to exhibit self-discipline

14. Strive to improve your performance daily in all areas of your life

15. Realize that success is a journey that continues throughout life

Learn about our Making of an Effective Manager Course

Monday, August 16, 2010

Women in Leadership; It's a touchy subject

Women in leadership; it’s a touchy subject, or is it? Maybe for the females it is. Women face multi-dimensional obstacles in today’s workplace. Women have been overcoming challenges since the beginning. Although there have been quite a few women in high leadership roles, it hasn’t changed the day to day for women. For them it’s a delicate balancing act.

A study called “Holding Women Back” surveyed 10,000 leaders. It states that as both men and women rose through the ranks, the gap widened between the genders in involvement in leadership development programs. At the first level of management, the study found, 19% of men and 15% of women were in high-potential programs. By the time they reached the top executive level, 39% of men compared to 26% of women were considered high-potentials. A lot of the recommendations tend to be unconscious, i.e. “Mark is like me, he’ll be a good candidate.”

Women are expected to combine leadership with compassion, rightly so. I’m sure their employee’s mothers were compassionate while growing up. Women must conform to two very conflicting sets of expectations, too pushy, too soft, too accommodating, too sexless, and too sexy. With this narrow defined set of expectations, how are women supposed to react and how are they to act while in a leadership position?

“Holding Women Back” study says “We’re recommending formal programs…Does the program have fairness and common standards? Do we have ways to evaluate who’s in the program? Once you do [this], you start to see the gender differences disappear.”

They also stated that women need to make their career aspirations known to managers and observe how others get opportunities and promotions, reaching out for similar chances rather than waiting to be approached by management.

As a woman in leadership, or a woman in her early career, she must voice her career needs and wants. Push past the obstacles holding her back and learn to soften her image while maintaining authority, determination, and competency. She must learn strategies for giving and receiving feedback and set clear goals.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Productivity Depends on Management

News Flash: The Labor Department reported that productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.9 percent in the second quarter of 2010.

It is all over the news that worker productivity dropped this spring for the first time in more than a year. Some people believe that this should be an indicator for companies to step up their hiring if they hope to grow in this economic downturn.

I do not find that many companies are taking the appropriate measures to ramp up their hiring practices. Most companies are still depending on doing more with less and the stress of that philosophy is starting to take its toll on management and other key employees. It is more important than ever that management has a complete knowledge of the work itself, exhibits strong interpersonal responsiveness, continues to be creative, and provides useful ideas to be successful.

Most people today believe that being “busy” is the answer. That the more tasks we do right will produce the desired outcome. Management needs to realize that efficiency does not necessarily bring results. It is the effectiveness of the activities that everyone performs on a daily basis that is the key to success. It's not the number of hours you work, but the results of your activities at the end of the day.

Some techniques that management can use to improve employee productivity may include the following:
• Improve the effectiveness of your supply chain
• Improve the pattern of workflow; less duplication of efforts
• Increase quality by focusing on the reduction of error rates to avoid reworks
• Setting up a schedule to reduce or eliminate down time
• Make sure everyone is performing only value-added work
• Improve morale (read article: 9 Ways to Boost Morale)
• Provide an effective development process to improve productivity
• Understand the need for everyone to reach their potential and be goal-oriented.

Most management today has not been taught how to be more effective. If you are not going to ramp up your hiring, then you better make you workers more effective first and foremost. If everyone improves their performance and productivity while lowering their stress, you will reach your company goals.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nine Tactics to Boost Employee Morale

One of a manager's most important jobs is to keep spirits up in the workplace. With stress levels at an all time high, this isn't always easy to do. However, there are some strategies you can use that will get the job done - - without hurting your budget!
  1. Sponsor a "Noon Movie". Once a week, depending on employee schedules, set up a DVD in the lunchroom and show a funny movie during lunch. If time is limited, show reruns of Seinfield, Frazier, or other situation comedies.
  2. Set up a "Humor Corner". Designate one section of the office as the place for humor and encourage employees to post cartoons, jokes, or other funny material.
  3. Get out of the Office! Whenever possible, hold meetings outside the office - at the coffee show down the street or at a local restaurant. If weather premits, don't be afraid to hold meetings outside from time to time.
  4. Liven up your memos. Buy a book of one liners, and include a joke at the bottom of your memos.
  5. Run a "Guess the Baby" contest. Ask the staff to bring in baby photos and post them on the wall. Award a free lunch to the employee who can guess who's who.
  6. Have "Late Day Mondays". If possible, once a month allow your employees to arrive an hour late on Monday morning - or leave an hour early on a Friday.
  7. Take pictures! Every office has an aspiring photographer. Ask that person to take candid shots of employees, and add them to the "Humor Corner".
  8. Play with the dress code. If your culture allows it, hold an "Ugly Sweater", "Ugly Tie", or "Ugly Pants" day. Award prizes for the winners.
  9. Bring your smile to work. You'll be surprised at the difference it makes. If the manager consistenly has an upbeat attitude, that staff will as well.
** from The Manager's Intelligence Report

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Is Management Limited Their Employees?


Following my reading of an adaption from Making It Work by David Allen, I certainly was in agreement with the author that the two key ingredients for self-management are control and perspective. The author believed that if you can maintain a sufficient level in each, your world will be in order and you will be focused exactly as you should be.

Others believe that individuals who need change are more likely to succeed if they are in control of the change process. Getting people to learn and apply the appropriate principles is not very easy. Hence, to most, this self managed change is not an easy thing to do. Where do you start on such a task?

1 - First exhibit awareness of what changes are needed. Ask yourself, “What behaviors and attitudes am I using today that are prohibiting me from moving forward?” Once the inhibitive behaviors or actions are identified, then a plan must be developed to enable us to use new solutions or behaviors that will reflect our growth and development objectives. What does that mean? You must change your reactions, or habits to get a different result.

2 - For implementation to take place, we must translate our plan into goals that will bring us the desired change. This goal-orientation process is the most important component of self-management because it can be measured and the results are clearly defined. This allows us to be focused on the things that matter most, as I like to believe it is a contract with ourselves. This holds true for all areas in our life; not just work but home life as well.

3 - We also must have the right attitude because goal-orientation requires coaching and self-management. It is a model that is used by many professional coaches today. Positive attitude provides an overwhelming edge for our success. Our non-verbal communication, which is 60% of communication, is a direct reflection of our attitude. Our perspective on life will also certainly be reflected by our success in reaching our goals.

But are we ready for Self-Management? An article that appeared in the September 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review by James Haskett, stated that “Predominant reactions to notations of self-management explored in this month’s column could be described best by two words, “enthusiasm” and “skepticism’”. Many respondents felt that the concepts of self-management should be implemented in organizations while others felt that obstacles to their implementation was real, and that management itself was the main culprit. As managers, are we our worst enemy for not allowing people to become self-managers?

Employees need to focus on the skill-sets and competencies that will help them manage themselves better both in the workplace and at home. Every worker must be considered a leader and their initial leadership focus should be on self-management. Self-management is not only understanding what is needed to be more productive, but it is also asking “How do I become a goal-oriented individual and learn to control priorities?” and “Do I really practice self-empowerment or even know what it means?”

I would like to see everyone conduct a S.W.O.T. analysis on themselves and understand that personal management can dramatically improve both your productivity and performance. If we learn and initiate the skills for effective personal management, then we just may be ready to accept the principles of self-management and its related components in the workplace today.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Process for Employee Alignment and Achievement

Here are ten steps to take today and in the future to align your employees so they will positively effect your bottom line while achieving their goals.

1. Separate the strategic and tactical thinking processes

2. Define the business strategy in all areas of the business (Revenue, Operations, Personnel, and Financial)

3. Make everyone aware of the business strategy and plant the seed that will allow them to achieve those goals

4. Make sure clarity of the business strategy is established for all

5. Break the Strategic Business Plan down into goals by business unit, division and/or department (Eat the Elephant in small bites)

6. Develop a goal-orientation culture within the company

7. Formulate specific, time sensitive, prioritized goals that provide each employee with a clear sight to the strategy, department goals, and reflect upon their own roles and responsibilities.

8. Let the employee develop the metrics and reporting structure that will continue to provide clarity and measure achievement

9. Set process meetings to determine your success or failure with opportunity to recommend changes demonstrating their value in the process

10. Be satisfied that the overall business strategy must be changed to reflect the highly competitive and volatile marketplace.

Achieve Greatness - Each Employee has a Major Impact on the Bottom Line

Today I visited several companies of various sizes in a variety of industries and I would like to tell you that it is not a very bright picture for Strategically-Oriented Human Resource Professionals. The majority of executives continue to have an “accountant” attitude toward business. . .cut costs. . .cut expenses. . .cut people. . .more cuts.

I even heard of one CFO that feels people development is a waste of time and doesn’t have any understanding of the ramifications of almost 65% of his management team is retiring in less than 24 months! Forget succession planning; let’s just go with massive hiring and selection without talent development. Other HR Professionals that I visited today are now back to only performing a variety of administrative duties and no longer have a budget for people development or anything else for that matter. On my next to my last call, I visited with an HR professional whose executive management team anointed her the saver of the company. She was told that they wanted her to be part of the executive leadership team in the development of a new management team that would take the company to the next level. I cannot tell you how much fun it was to sit and listen to her plans and ideas for accomplishing her goal.

Upon arriving home, I became I read on an article titled, "Alignment Drives Employee Engagement and Productivity" available from Taleo Research. It points out that the HR role is key in driving the process and selecting the tools needed to achieve alignment. It also demonstrates that statistically most managers do not see HR as being up to the task. In the majority of companies I visited today, their managers felt that way as well.

The fact of the matter is HR cannot execute the strategy without the commitment of the front line managers. Most HR professionals would also agree that aligning talent to business, providing current job roles and responsibilities, and measuring performance creates an environment where the employee’s passion for the business can grow and drive the overall performance of their company.

Isn’t it time for the executives and cave dwellers to wake up? Numerous studies have proven that goal alignment and engagement improve productivity and company performance. When your employee is engaged, and aligned, each employee can have a major impact on the bottom line of a business.

Engagement improves productivity, creates top performers, and improves employee retention while alignment ties the business strategy to personal goals, improves engagement and promotes achievement. But we must be forward thinkers and align the two; it provides focus and a clear line of sight for all involved while decreasing lost productivity and increases revenue per employee. The impact of all of this lies in productivity and process improvement, risk reduction and organizational impacts.

So what’s left for us to do; train the management and employees to be better goal setters? It is believed that only 15% of all employees really think that their goals will help them achieve great things. An employee achieving great things will impact the bottom line and insure that the company is achieving great things. Your front line managers define the culture for achievement and the employee demonstrates that a results-oriented company will achieve greatness.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ease the Stress of Change

The key to improve employee morale and loyalty - two attitudes crucial to productivity and business success - is communication. And communication is never more important than in times of change.

Results of a recent survey conducted by staffing specialist Randstad North America suggest the following tips for improving communication during workplace transitions:

  • Let employees know about any decisions that affect their jobs - immediately. In uncertain times, don't sit on information - good or bad. 7 out of 10 employees say they want to receive information during times of change.
  • Keep it simple. Employees want clear and easy to understand information about what's happening. Clarity is crucial. During periods of change, half of employees say that things at work seem disorganized. Cut through the confusion and give staffers a straight forward weekly breifing. That means no hiding behind jargon or double-talk.
  • Tell the Whole Truth. You can't hold back information in the hopes that employees will be in a better mood to accept bad news later on. They'll resent not hearing the whole story at one time.
  • Provide a Road Map. Employees want to hear where you think the company is headed. While 83% of employers say they give workers that kind of information, only 68% of employees report receiving it.
  • Gather Feedback from Your People. Employees want to be heard. When companies implement employees' suggestions, 78% of employees say morale is excellent or good.
- Adapted from "10 Tips to Improve Employee Communication" - Auerbach

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Work-Life Balance is Personal Management

Leadership is managing yourself; it's not just managing people. Leadership is also being more productive by making personal management a priority, and time management is often defined as this, personal management. How you manage your time can help define your status relative to Work-Life balance.

Work-Life Balance is a combination of goal-orientation and time management. The first thing that anyone has to do is to prioritize the importance of what is most important in the two key areas: work and life. What is important to you?

If something is important to you, then schedule that activity or event that relates to that happiness, work or life activities. All I hear in conversations with busy business persons that they all wish they had the time to do what they really wanted to do. They can’t seem to find time for themselves. I respond every time with, “Well, are you scheduling time with yourself for yourself?” The answer is usually a big "No."

Work-Life Balance is such a vague term. Work-Life balance is individualistic in nature and can vary over time. What success in this area means to one person does not always compare to another. Success is most commonly associated with the term happiness so I would like to say that real Work-Life Balance brings joy and happiness to those who achieve that state of mind. Most people find that Work-Life balance is designed to provide a stress-free environment or at least reduce stress. Your success should only be benchmarked to what you want happiness from, more family time, more lead generation, etc. Leadership is finding the “slight edge” to become more effective.

Most people today are so impressed with their “Busy Bee” approach that making others think they are busy is their major goal. Your goal should be to improve effectiveness as opposed to improving efficiency. Doing the things right is different that getting the desired results. Scheduling time with yourself and leaving time for the unforeseen are two practices that can make your more effective in terms of Work-Life Balance.

Personal Management is your responsibility. It takes a willingness to change and a commitment to follow a planning and administration system that is goal-oriented so you can measure your results. As Peter Drucker once said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. That certainly goes for the personal management process and other leadership competencies as well.

Monday, May 10, 2010

7 Traits of Effective Leaders; Do You Share Any?

Are leaders born or made? Can you learn superior leadership skills? Experts have noticed seven specific actions that successful leaders carry out, regardless of the organization or cause they lead.

Effective Leaders. . .

. . .Make others feel important. If your goals and decisions are self-centered, followers will lose their enthusiasm quickly. Emphasize their strengths and contributions, not your own.

. . .Promote a Vision. Followers need a clear idea of where you're leading them and they need to undersand why that goal us valuable to them. Your job as a leader is to provide that vision.

. . .Follow the Golden Rule. Treat your followers the way you enjoy being treated. An abusive leader attracts few loyal followers.

. . .Admit mistakes. If people suspect that you're covering up your own errors, they'll hide their mistakes, too, and you'll lack valuable information for making decisions.

. . .Critcize others only in private. Public praise encourages others to excel, but public criticism only embarrasses and alienates everyone.

. . .Stay close to the action. You need to be visible to the members of your organization. Talk to people, visit other offices and work sites, ask questions, and observe how business is being handled. Often you will gain new insights into your work and find new opportunities for motivating your followers.

. . .Make a game of competition. The competition drive can be a valuable tool if you use it correctly. Set team goals, and reward members who meet or exceed them. Examine your failures, and celebrate your group's success.

- Adapted from The Toastmaster

CEO's Role has Been Transformed

The role of the CEO has been transformed over the years while the demands on the position remain the same. The CEO is now expected to be a highly productive team member that holds and develops a set of values and ideals that relate to both the employee and the customer, inspiring and recognizing the leadership skills exhibited by their staff, providing and distributing intelligence, maintaining and managing the structure of change, and of course, getting the desired results.

As Edward R. Shapior, MD points out in his article, “The Changing Role of the CEO” – the passions of leaders can be used to discover a focused and meaningful organizational engagement in the larger society.

As an executive coach for over ten years, I ask the following questions of almost every coaching candidate:

  • Are you making all of the progress you would like to make and are capable of making?
  • What is in it for you if you are successful in reaching your goals?
  • What is the value to you if you reach your goals?
  • What have you done to date to reach this goal?
  • What are you willing to do to reach that goal? Is it time, money or energy?
  • Who else is involved that can affect the result?
  • How do your actions affect others?
  • Is it a choice or circumstance?

On many occasions, my goal as a coach is to get someone to make choices that take them out of their comfort zone. Effective Leaders are honest, competent, forward looking, and inspirational. Since leadership skills are learned, and the role of the leader is changing daily, it might just be the right time for the Leadership Team of organizations today to rethink their position and commit the team to a Leadership Training and Coaching Process.

Remember, 3% make it happen, 77% watch it happen, and 90% wonder what the hell happened. Leadership is no longer a position, it is a competency that we all must present in the workplace today. Coaching is much like the role of a leader, designed to get results.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Use These Strategies to Make Exit Interviews More Meaningful

Why do workers leave? Here's how to ensure your exit interviews provide the answers:
  • Get Outside Help - Short-circuit emotions by using an objective third party to conduct exit interviews. Departing workers are more likely to believe confidentiality claims of vendors who have no stake in their comments. And interviewees will be less inhibited with interviewers who are compiling data rather than collecting gossip or defending the company.
  • Escape Immediate Surroundings - Treat exit interview with the same confidentiality shown in performance appraisals or disciplinary meetings. Don't allow departing workers to become intimidated by passing traffic or big ears in nearby cubicles. Hold interviews in a conference room, cafe, or park where people can speak freely.
  • Compile Useful Data - Create a written policy explaining that exit interviews will be used to compile data that will be reported in composite form only. Don't share plans to use exit data to investigate specific problems or individuals. Make sure data is reliable by using a uniform questionnaire.
  • Let time Work Its Magic - If you insist on conducting face-to-face interviews with departing workers on their final day of service, you'll probably get a high level of participation. But you probably won't get an accurate assessment of why these people are leaving. Departing workers may be bitter about personal conflicts or the company's failure to, say, make a counteroffer. Or they may be caught up in the emotions of their good bye parties. Wait long enough for them to gain perspective and feel confident that burning a bridge won't damage their careers, then mail your questionnaire. Increase the likelihood of a response by offering a cash bonus or gift certificate to those who return the survey. Even if your response rate declines, you'll know the responses you receive will be more likely to offer useful insight.
Adapted from "This way to the Exit Interview" by Ken Gaffey

Monday, April 19, 2010

Funding Cutbacks Curb Achievement

Some of the new barometers for Training and Development in 2010 are starting to show signs of improvement. It sounds like we can expect to see old times again for training and development shortly. But I still feel that businesses sense the pressure of the economy. In my travels, I have not heard that many companies have opened up their training budgets. The economy certainly plays a major part of the decision making process to fund employee training. Most companies have reduced their workforce while also reducing or eliminating resources that provide learning opportunities like meetings, courses, etc.

Funding these programs and realizing the fact that training and development can often makes the difference between companies who are the industry leaders and others who are on a lower tier of success.

What has all this reduction in training and learning opportunities done for your workforce? The 2009-2010 U.S. Strategic Rewards Survey reported that employee engagement levels for key personnel dropped almost 25% as a result of restructuring, and employee benefit cutbacks, including professional development and training, indicating a significant slump in employee morale and productivity!

In most of the companies, a reduction in the workforce usually elevates the workload of the remaining staff while adding stress and frustration to those having to put in the extra time. Companies are put in position where they must start focusing on their key employees and start developing a Talent Management process that will enable them to retain their top producers and hopefully develop their high potentials. It certainly is a vicious cycle that creates a revolving door to top talent when the economy comes back.

Are you prepared for the exodus?

Leadership in business today needs to focus on their current staff and analyze their talent needs for the future. Funding for training compared to losing a key employee to the competition is nominal. The same is true compared to losing a high potential staff member that will be needed in the future. It is important that companies realize that people are applying for a position that leads to a better future and they feel it is the company’s responsibility to provide the opportunity for a career. Talent management is key to the future of all businesses and the funding for people development should never take a backseat to anything else.

Richard Hohmann
Senior Consultant
Innovative Leadership Business Consultation
Phone: 609.390.2830
E-mail: rhohmann@innovativeleadershipdv.com
Website: www.ILDV.org

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Talent Development

We changed the name of the personnel department to Talent Management Group so now let’s change the term we now call Succession Planning to Talent Development Group or Talent Management Development. It is our job, at Innovative Leadership, that we wake companies up to the fact that there is a shortfall in the skills of our newly appointed managers or our hires with management potential.

Talent Management Development, as we now call Succession Planning, is an overall process that focuses on the commitment to productivity, performance, and passion with the overall effectiveness of the organization and peopled development as the defined outcome.

Let’s look at the facts:
• One in five C Level members are eligible for retirement right now
• Almost 50% of the US Government workforce is eligible to retire now
• 55% of today’s registered nurses can be expected to retire within three to fifteen years

The statistics coupled with the fact that a January 2006 study by Manpower finds that 44% of employers are experiencing difficulty today finding employees with the right skills. These facts along with the ever-changing demands of a highly competitive marketplace will not solve our problems or satisfy our needs. We need to focus on the development of people not the replacement of bodies. This is the only way a company will be able to sustain growth and be competitive.

Some of the tell tale signs for needing a Talent Development Process are:
• Workers complain that promotions are made unfairly
• The time it takes to fill positions is too long
• Company does not know when the key employees plan to depart
• Key employees leaving at a faster rate than the average performer

It is important that Talent Management and Development processes start now. Do not wait to start developing this process, START TODAY! Here are my highly recommend steps:

1. Create a vision and expectation from your leadership team regarding people development.
2. Develop competency models that will focus on the core skill set that will lead to the success of the individual and the effectiveness of the company.
3. Make sure that you have a Performance Management System in place that focuses on performance and development, not just one.
4. Implement a Performance Coaching or Mentoring Program to foster individual growth and development coupled with shared knowledge
5. Use a variety of assessment tools designed for individual and organizational development coupled with the use of competency and leadership modeling.
6. Implement the use of a Developmental Plan (or Achievement Plan as I like to call it) and incorporate it as the most important aspect of the Performance Appraisal Process.
7. Formalize a plan that uses quarterly developmental counseling sessions with the individual and their manager and his manager
8. Create a Talent Management Pool based on strengths or the individual and the potential of the individual.
9. Monitor the Talent Development Process to make sure the pool is growing or the flow of talent achieving higher positions and reaching their goals
10. Make Talent Management part of your annual Strategic Planning process with analysis and progress noted no less than semi-annually.

I really believe that our under-estimation of this Talent Management Process will be the downfall of many a small to mid-size company. Don’t over-look your need for talent and it’s the talent in the management and leadership positions that will make the difference.

Article written by Richard J. Hohmann Jr., Senior Business and Management Consultant for Innovative Leadership, a performance improvement company that integrates business consultation, training and development, and coaching with Leadership and Strategic/Forward Thinking to enhance organizational effectiveness and people development. Richard is a member of the Collaboration Team for Leadership Management International and a strategic partner with the accounting firm of Fitzpatrick, Bongiovanni, & Kelly, PC.For more information visit www.ILDV.org

Monday, March 22, 2010

Engage and Align Your Employees with Your Business Strategy

How do you engage and align employees and how do you go about it? Employee engagement is achieved by strengthening and developing the competencies and skill sets of your people coupled with a communication plan to clarify both the business strategy and workplace expectations.

That’s a tall order, you say? Here are 10 steps that can help you improve your employee engagement:

1. Focus on Development of a Communication Plan – this plan of action enables everyone to understand the overall business objectives and how their role and responsibilities relate to the strategy of your business.

2. Focus on Responsibility, Accountability and Self-Empowerment – encourage individual ownership of a project or task, and have each of your employees design a plan of action that will create the willingness by all to be held accountable.

3. Create a Goal and Results-Oriented Culture.

4. Use Appropriate Metrics to Measure Progress – Use a tiered system of goal-orientation both upward and downward toward your businesses goals.

5. Ensure Consistency by Thinking in 3’s – Three goals relative to the company, each department, and each person.

6. Monitor – Review compliance of the goal-oriented process and the results at all levels helps maintain your culture of goals.

7. Identify performance gaps – When a gap is spotted, determining which learning and training initiatives to focus on makes decisions easier.

8. Review Your Performance Management Process – Ensure your process maximizes the use of individual development plans to reinforce the overall goal-orientation plans.

9. Create an Internal Employee Action Marketing Plan – This compliments the achievement of your business strategy.

10. Revisit the Vision, Mission, and Purpose of Your Company - Upgrade if necessary.

It is important that HR Professionals focus on the Five C’s of Engagement to gain alignment. If you focus on the Five C's , you will certainly give your company the “Slight Edge”. In other words, a competitive advantage in this highly competitive global marketplace. It is time to realize that people can make the difference but only if they are totally engaged.

Richard Hohmann
Senior Vice President
Innovative Leadership
Phone: 609.390.2830
Cell: 609.980.0086

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Five C's of Employoee Engagement

It is important that HR Professionals focus on the Five C’s of Engagement to gain alignment:

1. Connection - An organization must demonstrate employee focused initiatives by their management team.

2. Communication - Management must communicate more effectively with their staff to both clarify the position of the company in relation to the business strategy but also clarify the workplace expectations of each and every employee

3. Career - Management must encourage personal and career development in each and every employee centered around both advancement and reaching potential

4. Compliance - Management must provide feedback to all employees in a timely manner and be consistent with their adherence to processes, policies and procedures.

5. Celebration - Management must not only allow for individual contribution and self-empowerment but celebrate success with appropriate recognition and praise.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mentoring Relationships - How to Foster Them

Assigning mentors is an important way to bring new hires up-to-speed or groom promising workers for better thing. But the strategy is only as good as the relationship between mentor and mentee.

Follow this advice:
- Choose Wisely - Of course, anyone would be thrille to work with a company or industry superstar. But you should select mentors based on what they can offer a particular worker rather than their glowing reputations. Talk to perspective mentors about their backgrounds and how they got from here to there, then pair them up with workers who have similar histories. Mentees should be able to look at their mentors and envision themselves having the same success.
- Offer Instruction - Ask mentors to make first contact to avoid putting the pressure on those in the subordinate role. Request mentors dedicate uninterrupted time to working with their mentees rather than allowing meetings to be disrupted by phone calls and other distractions. Mentees should be made to feel their advisors want to help them. And you may also suggest that inital meetings take place in neutral territory, such as a conference room, so worker won't be overwhelmed by ego walls and other trappings of success.
- Follow Up - Solicit regular updates from both parties - to ensure they are in fact meeting and to learn whether the relationship is having the desired effect. Street to mentees that they should be honest regarding how they feel about the process and not fear retaliation if they'd prefer to be assigned to another mentor. If they are not benefiting from the program, it's a waste of time for everyone involved.

Adapted from "Handle the Awe Factor" by Linda Phillips-Jones

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Reinforce Teamwork with Performance Appraisals

Why should workers strive to help their teams succeed then their performance appraisals - and salary increases - focus on individual achievement? If your company uses team performance rather than individual performance, your appraisals must reflect those objectives.

Make sure to follow these pointers:
- Set both individual and team goals - Work with employees to get two sets of goals - one addressing individual performance issues and the other addressing team performance. For example, you may want employees to take the initiative in their individual duties rather than over relying on you for guidance. But when they're operating as part of a team, they need to work cooperatively with other team members rather than striking out on their own. Make clear that difference roles have different expectations and it's important for workers to adapt well to each situation.
- Link pay to team performance - How important is a given work team's activity to the overall performance of your department? Does it account for 20 or 50 percent of your workload? Determine what weight should be given to team activities, then rework pay and bonus structures to reflect those percentages. If 50% of an employee's time is spent acting as part of a work team, then 50% of the employee's compensation should be tied to the team's performance.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Development of Your Employees

Tough Times – Better Leadership

Tough economic conditions usually demand the need for most human resource departments to change their strategies and focus on the immediate needs like layoffs, hiring and wage freezes, reduction in benefits, and more. These are the same quick fix measures that have been used every time we slip into a downsizing mode or economic recession.

Maybe it is time for Human Resources to try alternative measures to contribute to the business objectives of the company rather than just using a band-aid that doesn’t fit. If we really believe that our people are our most valuable resource, then why are we not more concerned with the development of our future leaders and retaining our good to great employees, particularly our middle managers? For any company to weather this storm, it must develop its high potential employees and improve the productivity of its already high-achieving workforce.

Let’s just focus on two premises. The first is that employee development is the ultimate responsibility for any manager working in any organization. Those that focus on stretching people toward their potential will be the most successful managers moving forward and always have been. Second, improving individual performance and development drives business performance and result in improved organizational effectiveness. Now is the time that all Human Resource professionals need focus on their people development, succession planning, and goal-orientation.

Most people realize that being effective is more important then being efficient. HR must demonstrate how people development can produce the desired results in good times and bad. Most employees, including the HR Department, spend the majority of their time working on tasks and events that mean very little to the business strategy of the company. All employees need to spend more time on their roles and responsibilities that make a difference in the company’s achievement.

There has never been a better time to demonstrate the return of investment to your executive management team by developing the potential and leadership abilities of your people. People are your most valuable resource. It is more important than ever that the employee is viewed as a “Total Leader” and their potential growth and development is what will enable us to weather this storm and be more successful in the future.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Small Business Desired Outcomes

It has always been my philosophy to focus on the desired outcome and then determine a plan of action that will ensure business success in relation to that goal or objective. It is apparent that most businesses do not focus on the desired outcome since the majority of employees are not focused on the strategy of the company.

It is imperative that employers focus on their talent management but which of the talent management areas do we focus on first, hiring and selection, retention, engagement, or development? Forget about all the talent management trends and recommended solutions. Create an employee engagement vehicle that will provide the opportunity for the employee to focus on the strategically developed outcomes.

So, what are the challenges facing your organization in the next year or so? Do the majority of your company or corporate challenges center around revenue generation, systematic cost reduction in operating expense, profitability, customer maintenance, etc.?

Now that we understand the company or corporate challenges and we have formulated a strategy to overcome those challenges to provide the desired outcome in terms of revenue, cost reduction, personnel succession, or profitability, isn’t that when we should provide a talent management assessment.

I find that most HR Professionals either are not asking themselves the following questions or they are not being asked by the executives of their company or corporation to provide answers for those questions.

- “Do our employees feel connected to this strategically developed plan of action?” I would review the process to determine if clearly defined goals were established and how far down the organizational chart have they been presented and understood.

- “Do we have the right people in the right places to allow us to accomplish our goals and objectives moving forward?”

- “Do we have turnover concerns at any or all levels within the organization, particularly the front line?”

- “Do we have any key employees leaving the organization over the next twelve months and what does our succession plan look like with those positions?”

There is a real disconnect. When are companies or corporations going to realize that the strength of their organization is based on the strengths of the individual employee? We have not only lost focus of the desired outcome, we have lost focus on what will allow us to grow and to sustain this growth moving forward. It is the strengths of our people from the latest hire to the most senior officer.

So HR Professionals, what does your executive summary and recommendations for implementation of action plans for the strategic development process look like in terms of providing solutions to turnover, engagement, lack of talent or skills, and providing the employee with the needed resources to do the job?

The People Development and Organizational Effectiveness should start with a plan and this plan should be evaluated periodically using an assessment process that tells the company or corporation how they are doing in terms of engagement, skill development, and encouragement using strengths as a basis for success, and sharing information among peers and management to improve communication and outcomes.

The real problem in my opinion is that HR must take a proactive role in the people development and organizational effectiveness and be willing to be measured for achievement in the areas of turnover, retention, engagement, and achievement. Human Resources must exhibit their leadership skills and take charge of maximizing the effectiveness of their employees to achieve the goals and objectives of the company or corporation. Make sure your talent management processes include middle management particularly if they are the hiring manager. Remember to “eat the elephant in small bites” because when we try to eat the whole elephant in one sitting, we tend to have difficulty swallowing”. Start small and look for significant and meaningful results. Focus on the challenges and the talent needed to meet those challenges.

That’s what business is all about.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are you too blunt?

Take these steps if coworkers and close friends say you come across as blunt and hurt others without knowing it.

  • Watch your choice of words. Don't preface remarks with dismissive or hostile works or phrases. Don't Say for Example: "It's obvious to me . . ." "I don't see how . . ." or "I can't believe . . ."
  • Monitor your tone of voice. Even when your words are positive, your tone can convey hostility. How would you feel if someone said with a sarcastic edge, "That's a great piece of work"? You'd probably take the comment as an insult.
  • Listen to yourself. Many people don't realize that their tone is gruff or negative sounding. One way to tell is to record yourself during a phone conversation. Listen to the take carefully. How do you sound? Friendly? Matter-of-fact? Or is there an unfriendly edge to your voice? Hearing what you sound like to other people can be a revelation. If there's a hostile edge to your voice, you'll need to consciously modify your tone.
- Adapted from "Bluntness," Tony Alessandra

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Delegate More Effectively


Delegation is one of the most valuable training tools available to the manager. A manager must make it a valuable experience for all parties involved.


Delegation can be one of the best motivational tools available to a manager. Providing a developmental plan for an employee is one of the best methods for retaining good employees.

Time Management

Delegation is the key ingredient to time management and allows the manager to concentrate on the important tasks, not just the urgent tasks. The use of a planning and administration system that allows you to track delegated assignments can improve performance and communication.


Delegation can help maximize the interests, strengths, and contribution of both the employee and the team. Stretching the employee can be essential to their growth and development.

Multiplier of Productivity

Delegation can be a multiplier of productivity. Productivity and performance improvement are key components to a results-oriented culture.


Delegation takes planning. Make a special plan for delegation by listing all of your tasks and then creating categories such as the things only I can do, things that can be simplified, things that can be eliminated, and things that can be delegated (Simplify, Eliminate, or Delegate).

Monitor Progress

Delegation must be monitored by providing appropriate feedback with measurable results.

Set Levels

Set levels of delegation and formulate goals to move as many people as possible to the highest level.

Challenge the Potential

Consider delegation to be the greatest challenge for you to develop their potential and to use more of their abilities. Succeeding with these challenges will move the entire organization forward.


Provide feedback on performance and make it a continuous process. Feedback must be given daily, weekly, or monthly. Communication is the key to organizational success in a results oriented culture.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Leadership is the Main Ingredient

One of the leading training organizations in the world sent me an article titled, “Is there a recipe for a winning team?” The opening paragraph states that there is not a specific recipe and then in the second paragraph they start listing the competencies needed for the recipe.

Everyone today wants a specific recipe for every course of business activity. There is no cookbook or guarantee for success in business. Teamwork should be viewed no differently than we view organizational effectiveness. The effectiveness of an organization or team eventually comes back to the leader. Without question, leadership is the competency most needed in any recipe designed around the achievement of a team. The development of the leadership within any company should be the goal of every executive team. Leadership training is the number one most recognized form of training needed by companies in 2008.

Most surveys today say the companies are very concerned about the development of their future leaders but most are not doing anything about it. Companies talk a good game about the need for leadership and people development, but when the water starts getting a little rough, they start treating their people as an expense and don’t hesitate to throw them overboard. As we are starting to see today, investments in people are often the first to go. Yet, the employee is listing their development and the opportunity to participate in training programs as their number one reason for selecting companies for employment.

In a conversation with an HR professional, she noted that their employees relate their training and development to compensation. In employee surveys, most employees get very discouraged when training and development is eliminated due to cost cutting measures. We need to understand that treating people as our most valuable asset will pay dividends for the future growth of our companies.

Teamwork is based on trust and commitment. This is the same trust and commitment that elevates morale and compliments the values and beliefs of the individuals. Collaboration and consensus must evident in the decision-making process while the focus must be on the desired results. These are some of the minor ingredients needed for team development. Attitude and interpersonal skills inhibit the speed of the process or the productivity of the group at times but it is not the cure-all for team effectiveness. They can be added to the recipe to add color or flavor but the ingredient that cannot be missing is leadership and unfortunately, leadership needs to be trained but is being cut from the budget.

If you’re a leader and maybe have leadership under you, start thinking about a strategic plan that gets your teams moving in the right direction. Leadership Training and Coaching encourages and motivates all levels of the company. Sit down and contemplate what direction you want to move in, and act on it!