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!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Real People Challenges, What are They?

I have walked away after listening to people talk about our region with a “doom and gloom” attitude. According to the Center for Regional & Business Research located at Atlantic Cape Community College, the “Baby Boomers” will be changing the market and not necessarily for the better. Boomers are buying second homes that they are not renting. In some towns like Sea Isle City, over 79% of the homes are for vacation or second homes and it estimated that 85% of these homes will not be rented. Starting in three years, “Boomers” will be retiring at a 10 million clip per year for the next ten years. Many will continue to work but will work only where and when they want to work. This will leave us with a lot of part-time employees that require flex-time as a benefit. We will be at their scheduling mercy. The Department of Labor has been forecasting a major labor shortage of young people to fill our ranks with a $10M deficit around the year 2010. So let’s get going. Where? I do not know.

In an interview The Conference Board of Canada conducted with leading management guru, Dave Ulrich, he emphasized that the 21st century will belong to human resources and to organizational capabilities. I agree with him as did the Conference Board of Canada. For the first time in the history of management, it is the human mind that is the primary creator of value. The quality of people and their engagement will be critical factors in both corporate and small business vitality and survival.

Companies must start building their leadership pipeline by formulating a developmental plan for its people. Leadership must be considered a role rather than a function, and individuals within a company must be called upon to exercise leadership within their spheres of influence internally. Succession planning by position and defining the importance of that position to the overall success of the company is a must. What is your succession plan for the future development of your company? What does it look like?

No market is more competitive than ours for employees. No market is more competitive than ours for management talent. In a tight labor market, like the one in which we are about to enter, a strong employment brand identity must be present. You will have to capture a larger portion of the employee mindshare by setting your company apart from the competition by branding your attractiveness to engagement. You will have to make sure that your employees are engaged and that they understand the real purpose of the organization. In our management development courses, we talk about “connecting the dots” for all employees within the company. Managers must exhibit the ways and means to motivate employees to become engaged and make sure at the same time they are connected to the mission and vision of the company. It is even more important that they understand the purpose. We need to provide an environment where the rate of learning exceeds the rate of change. Not an easy task even for the high achieving manager.

This culture of engagement and purpose can be achieved if we hire the “right person” for this culture. As business owners, we need to develop a Hiring and Selection Process that both demonstrates the flavor of our company in terms of a “brand” that attracts the candidate that is the “right person” for the position. What does your Hiring and Selection Process look like? You better get ready soon because us “Boomers” are coming!

Author: Richard J. Hohmann Jr.
P:(609) 390-2830
E-mail: rhohmann@innovativeleadershipdv. com

Friday, January 15, 2010

I am sitting on the plane reading an article titled, “3M CEO emphasizes importance of leaders”, which is in the format of an interview with George Buckley, CEO of 3M. 3M was rated the best at developing future leaders by Chief Executive Magazine and the Hay Group in 2009.

He was asked, “How long should talented people stay in one job”, and his response was, “there is a point somewhere around four years where you need to get refreshed”.

He responded to the question being presented in many companies today, “Should we be spending money on leadership training when these people may very well leave”? His response was, “What if we don’t offer them leadership training and they stay?”

He was also asked, “Why not save money on leadership development and recruit top talent from others?” and he responded, “I’d sooner own a fish farm then be reliant on catching a few fish”.

It is time for the HR professional to stand up to the CEO and reflect a similar philosophy to of Mr. Buckley. The strengths of your top producers are your most valuable asset of your company. It takes time and money to not only hire the person with high potential, train and develop the top producer and provide the work environment and career opportunities to insure retention of the top producers. This leadership attitude requires a people management plan of action which most companies are not willing to develop.

The Human Resources professional must be the champion for the “great” employees and make sure that the programs and development opportunities satisfy the needs of the top players in the organization. Processes must be developed and events must be discarded. This includes processes relative to hiring and selection, people development, performance management, and succession planning.

So what does your People Management Process look like? When will CEO’s realize the HR professional holds the key to their future? Let’s hope it starts in the near future.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Time Management Tip

Peak performance in the work environment is usually pre-determined.

Last month, an employee survey revealed that the majority of employees (over 70%) performed best between the hours of 8 AM and noon. I have always felt and promoted that the peak performance period for most of us was approximately 2 to 2.5 hours after you got to your work environment.

Less than 18% of those surveyed stated that they performed at their best after 2 PM. It is important that you perform your high payoff activities when you are in your peak performance period and hold your least important projects for the afternoon.

Maybe we should ask Nike to change their slogan to: “Just Do It! – before lunch.