Posts tagged: job satisfaction

Are You Managing Talent Or Herding Squirrels?

The owner of a business with several hundred employees once told me, “If it wasn’t for all these people, my business would be easy!”   Heck, if we could just sit in a nice office and watch products and resources get moved around by computer-controlled forklifts while getting paid - and not deal with all these pesky people (who want to be paid and take time off) - managing a business would be a snap, right?   But in order to operate any business, we need people.   And then, we must make some difficult decisions.     

After 25+ years of observing businesses, I think there are two basic models of ’people management’:

  1. ‘Herding Squirrels’ - attempting to do business in what you believe to be unpredictable and unplanned circumstances, sometimes referred to as Managing Chaos   
  2. Managing Talent – an intelligent orderly planned process which ensures that your organization has enough of the right people in the right places doing the right things at all times

 Most organizations, if asked, would say that they operate their organization using  model #2.  (Of course, a survey has found that 64% of people think they’re ‘above average’ drivers, which is interesting).  In my humble observation, however, the organization that actually uses model #2 is the exception and not the rule.

Most organizations are managing chaos with model #1.  They spend significant (unnecessary) time  ‘herding squirrels.’   These organizations see themselves as victims rather than the controllers of their marketplace, circumstances, policies and planning (or more accurately, lack thereof).  There is a kind of, general, sort of plan but it’s mostly seat-of-the-pants flying.  Rather than building their house with a solid foundation on high ground, they live close to the river and keep a lot of sandbags on hand just in case, planning to call friends over when the flood comes.  And then surprise! it always comes.  Darn it all, they just can’t seem to avoid problems, keep things under control and make a profit!       

Is your organization 1) Herding Squirrels, or 2) Managing Talent?   Based on your responses to these 10 statements, you can determine which model is present where you work:

  1. Your organization is recognized for its great people,  just as much as its excellent products and services.  Your customers are loyal advocates and raving fans who express strong preference for your brand over your competitors.   Y  N
  2. Every key position in your organization has a clearly defined, written job description, and every person has read and understands their specific job description.  It is used as a major criteria of regular performance reviews, and compensation, promotions and rewards are adjusted based on the individual’s performance to its criteria.   Y  N
  3. Employee retention and performance in every key position is high.  Key employees seldom leave, and when they do, other employees who have already been identified and trained are ready to take their place.   Y  N
  4. Employee turnover is low, and key positions in critical areas  (i.e.; sales, executive, IT, etc.) are stabilized.  Recruiting, hiring and turnover costs are quantified and closely monitored at all times.   Y  N 
  5. All managers and supervisors are trained and have the information necessary to understand and effectively communicate with the people they manage.  They are actively involved in helping their people develop their skills in order to advance in their career with the organization.   Y  N
  6. The organization’s goals and values are clear, written, understandable and have been communicated to all employees and stakeholders.   The goals and values are regularly reviewed by all employees, from CEO to front-line, and they are the standards of accountability for every employee.   Y  N
  7. All employees understand and are committed to the organization’s goals and values.  Every employee understands how their particular job and individual performance impacts the achievement of the goals, and is rewarded appropriately for their contribution.   Y  N
  8. A hiring and employee development process is in place which attracts top talent and ensures that your organization has enough of the right people in the right places doing the right things at all times.  Only those people who ‘fit’ with the specific requirements of open positions and agree with your goals, values and organizational culture are hired.   Bad hires and under-performance rarely occur.  Y  N
  9. Your organization has a positive reputation in your community and industry, and is recognized as an employer of choice for top performers in your industry.    Y  N
  10. Levels of employee engagement are regularly monitored and are consistently high.  Employees are committed and overall morale is positive.  Problems with employee discipline or motivation (absenteeism, conflicts, poor performance, etc.) seldom occur.   Y  N

If you answered ‘Yes’ to 8 or more of these questions, you are managing talent.  It is likely that your brand is strong, your organization is a leader in your industry, you have very few major problems and your financials are healthy.  You’re on the right track! 

If you answered “No’ to 5 or more of these questions, your organization’s financial statements should probably have a line item for nuts.  It’s probably the way you’ve always done things.  There are a lot of squirrels, but it seems…normal.   Until something goes wrong, and things do go wrong, at the worst possible times, and you have a difficult time understanding why or fixing the problems.  If all of those darned people would just do their jobs…  

But seriously, there is a better, easier and far less costly way of doing business.  In my recent blog entitledThey Are Your People – Not Human Resources“, I discussed talent management – a different and better way of being successful with your people.   
http://www.onpurpose-ent.com/uncategorized/they-are-your-people-not-human-resources/  

Don’t get me wrong.  Squirrels are cute, but spending your time, money and energy trying to herd them can drive you nuts.  If there’s a squirrel problem at your organization, contact me for a confidential conversation.  We can help you implement a talent management process that will make your organization more successful and your life much easier.   

They Are Your People – NOT ‘Human Resources’

About 50-60 years ago, after WWII, the term ‘Human Resources’ came into popular useSince that time, the term has become widespread and acceptable, part of our workplace lexicon.  Universities offer degree programs, and entire organizations are dedicated to professional certification and skill enhancement in this field.  It’s now an acronym, just 2 letters: HR.‘  

After half a century, the world has changed and it’s time for something new.  My goal in this blog is to radically change your thinking; to introduce you to an all-new approach to talent management and brand development - rather than the conventional Human Resources approach. 

The term ‘human resources’ was used to describe and classify a certain thing; an asset of corporations; like buildings, equipment and financial resources.  It could be quantified and moved around by the accountants, shown in the numbers on financial statements and described glowingly in annual reports to the stockholders.

In the 50′s and 60′s, two major influences drove American business: the Cold War and Harvard MBA-style thinking.   

Harvard MBA’s were taught to manage corporations by focusing primarily on the bottom line, producing profits with efficient operations and processes.    Human Resources was a process, a line item, a department with ‘personnel’ that managed ’head count.’  You acquire some, you use it for its intended purpose and you divest yourself of it when it is no longer useful or capable of producing profit.     

The Cold War spawned the creation of many horrible weapons, including the neutron bomb.   A neutron bomb is a type of nuclear weapon specifically designed not to produce a massive explosion and significant infrastructure damage, but rather to completely irradiate an area with neutron radiation, killing all living things while leaving the infrastructure relatively intact. Though a neutron bomb does cause infrastructure damage and some long term radiation (it is still a nuclear weapon after all), they are specifically designed so that ~48 hours after the device is detonated, friendly troops can move into an area and utilize the infrastructure without fear of radiation.  Thus, neutron bombs are generally seen more as a tactical nuclear weapon than a strategic one.

Maybe it’s just me…but I think that the combination of Harvard MBA-style thinking and ‘old school’ Human Resources has created some situations in corporate America that bear a few unfortunate similarities to the effects of a neutron bomb. 

  • For the last 30+ years or so, many organizations have implemented policies (via Human Resources) that have killed all living things while leaving the infrastructure relatively intact.   
  • Mergers and acquisitions, lay-offs, down-sizing, consolidation, off-shoring, job-sharing, risk management, benefits administration and ‘strategic HR initiatives’ have all been implemented to help organizations manage corporations by focusing primarily on the bottom line, producing profits with efficient operations and processes.  The survivors, when there are any, are often in very poor shape.  
  • Wall Street executes mergers and acquisitions followed by ‘strategic HR initiatives,’ so that ~48 hours after the device is detonated, friendly troops can move into an area and utilize the infrastructure.  Out with the old employees, in with the new.  The customers are going to love them.  We think.  At least we can show a profit.  This quarter.
  • The real net impact of this thinking has generally been seen by employees more as a tactical nuclear weapon than a strategic one.  It worked in the short-term, but in the long term, things are not better.  Some skirmishes may have been won, but the war is going rather poorly. 

The results of this worldview and behavior can be illustrated in one word: DETROIT. 

Employee tenure, loyalty and engagement is now at an all-time low (or practically non-existent).  Some organizations experience 50-75% annual turnover.  Terms like ‘shrinkage’ are used instead of what it describes: employees who are so dis-engaged from their job and employer that they steal from them.  From CEO to the front-line, employees move from company to company for a better paycheck and benefits. 

Here is a statistic that I find truly baffling.  The unemployment rate is around 7.5% – YET - almost every organization is having a hard time finding qualified candidates for open positions.  If that many people need work, why aren’t they working for the employers who want them?  Maybe a different way of thinking, an entirely different approach would produce far better results!      

The sad truth is that a lot of organizations, from small to large, have forgotten what HR actually stands for.  A significant % employees think it means something different than HR professionals and executives at most organizations think it means, or would like it to mean. 

This thing - which is far more difficult to define or classify than buildings, equipment and financial resources creates every brand impression and delivers all of the products and services of the organization to the marketplace.   This thing – at every touchpoint and interaction - with customers, clients, constituents, vendors, other employees, potential employees, stakeholders, investors, partners, the community and the marketplace in which the organization resides creates the brand that the public really understands and remembers.

This thing that I’ve been describing is YOUR PEOPLE.   They are not an asset like buildings, equipment and financial resources.  They are human beings, not human resources

Every employee, each individual person at your organization, comes to the workplace (whether physically or virtually); performs tasks; creates value; generates every idea; manufactures every widget; engineers every assembly and structure; maintains every system; oversees the management of every dollar (costs and revenues); sells every product and service; attends every meeting; and serves and supports every customer. 

I close with 4 recommendations/challenges for every executive, manager or owner:

  1. Your people are THE key differentiator in a marketplace full of identical competitors.
  2. A new approach is required for change to occur.  Conventional thinking will produce ’normal’ results.  
  3. Talent management is the missing ingredient in brand development. 
  4. The organization with the best talent (people) will tend to dominate its marketspace.

If you’re ready to implement a radical change in thinking at your organization, contact Brand+People today.     

   

 

Wrath, Greed, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy and Gluttony…and other common problems of family-owned and privately-held businesses

We’ve all heard of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins.’  They’re a laundry list of ‘no-no’s’ for people; behaviors that are sure to lead to trouble.  In every business, we deal with people; and with people, we can have all kinds of problems.  In family-owned or privately-held businesses, however, we deal with some especially sensitive and unique complications and ‘people problems.’      

 As an advisor to a number of family-owned or privately-held business clients, I’ve seen the following unusually tough and difficult problems.  Do you recognize any of these situations at your company?

  1. The company founder was competent when he first started the company.  It has grown and become successful and complicated, and he now lacks the skills or abilities necessary to lead the company, but he either can’t see it or is unwilling to admit it.  Every one of his employees can see it.  He knows there’s a problem but is afraid to ask for help.  None of his employees is willing to risk discussing with him what is obvious to everyone.  Both communication and growth at this company are at a stand-still.   
  2.  The company founder was a competent entrepreneur and ‘people person’ who loved people and created fierce loyalty among her employees as she grew a successful company.  She is planning to retire and turn control of the firm over to a son who has been working at the firm.  The son lacks experience and is widely disliked by the employees.  No one has the heart to tell her.  Many key managers are making plans to leave…right after the founder leaves.  Some of her most loyal customers are entertaining proposals from competitors, in anticipation of her exit.    
  3. The founder continues to do business the same way he always has, in a rapidly changing marketplace.  He refuses to change, persists in his ways and the business is failing.  He has surrounded himself with a management team which is subservient rather than competent.  He has become angry, abusive and manipulative, blaming everyone except himself for the company’s poor performance.  He is unable to recruit and hire top talent for key positions at the company, losing them to competitors.  Key employees have left the company, taking other employees, customers and intellectual property with them.
  4. The company owner expects high performance from all employees, except for a family member (spouse, sibling, child, relative), who holds a position at the company but consistently ‘slacks’ and under-performs.  The owner overlooks the under-performance and keeps the family member on the payroll, while expecting high performance from every other employee.  Resentment is building, productivity is lagging, turnover is increasing and key employees are leaving. 
  5. The company owner/founder created a unique product that became very popular and became a leader in its market space.  In order to grow the business, the owner hired talented people in key positions.  The company has experienced aggressive growth and profits for the last several years.  Despite the key employees’ stake in the company’s success, the founder will not give credit to them, reward them for performance, or delegate important decisions or duties to them.  Lately, the company’s results are becoming stagnant, and productivity is lagging.  Key employees are leaving for positions with competitors or to start their own companies to compete against their former employer. 
  6. The founder/owner takes lavish compensation, lives in a beautiful home, drives expensive cars and is frequently absent from the business; while compensating their management team and employees at very modest or below market levels.  This owner thinks that ‘just having a job’ is a good deal for anyone who works at their company.  The company owner believes they should be able to take any compensation and perks they wish, despite the needs of employees or local/economic market conditions.  Turnover is high at the company and several senior managers have left.
  7. Family members of this 3rd generation company owner feel entitled to jobs, promotions and compensation.  They are waiting for the day when the President hands over control of the company to the next generation.  The President plans to retire but has not officially named or trained a successor.  In-fighting, rumor-mongering, ‘turf wars’, personal conflicts and jockeying for position are taking place at the management/leadership level of the company.  Rifts in family relationships and long-time friendships have begun.  The negative activity is increasing as the imminent retirement of the President approaches.  Word is on the street, competitors are beginning to poach their best employees and some of the top managers are considering leaving, rather than dealing with the continuing drama. 
  8. The founder has family members in many key leadership or management positions in the company.  A few of these family members are either 1) qualified only by genetics rather than experience, skills or competencies for the position, or 2) delivering poor results when compared to another non-family employee who would be more qualified in their position.  The founder refuses to acknowledge or deal with the problem.  Turnover and productivity issues are occurring.  No employee is willing to confront the family member, or to discuss the problem with the founder, fearing for their job security or repercussions from other family members employed at the company.  Key employees are leaving, because they see the lack of opportunity and upward mobility for those who are not family members or friends of the family.
  9. The company owner is a sales pro who has created a sales culture and aggressively grown the company.  She wants her daughter who has graduated from college with a Marketing degree to also succeed in a sales career, to ‘follow in her footsteps.’  She has placed her daughter in the Sales department and despite her nice personality, she struggles and is unable to perform in the Sales position.  The young lady complains to her parent (the owner) about the high expectations (performance to goals) of the Sales Manager.  The Sales Manager tries to coach and develop the owner’s daughter, but is unsuccessful.  The owner incorrectly blames the Sales Manager for her daughter’s under-performance, rather than recognizing her own mistake of placing her daughter in the wrong position in the company.  The Sales Manager has no criteria by which to determine and prove the daughter’s basic unsuitability for the Sales position to the owner.  The Sales Manager is in a ‘no-win’ position and leaves to take a position with a competitor.  The daughter cannot meet expectations and is also considering leaving the company.       
  10. The company founder has a key employee (C-Suite, Sales Exec, etc.) whose performance has become horribly unsatisfactory, far below expectations.  The company’s bottom line is suffering as a result.  To compound their under-performance, the employee arrives late, treats their fellow employees with disrespect, disregards company policies, has mishandled vendor relationships and shows open disrespect for the founder.  Every employee sees the problem and so does the boss.  By any reasonable standard, the employee should be terminated for under-performance.  The problem: the employee is the founder’s son, who was hand-picked and groomed’ to take control of the company upon the founder’s retirement.  The founder lacks the emotional strength and courage necessary to make the decision and terminate their son.  Key employees are leaving and the company’s reputation is suffering.      
  11. The company owner is a hands-on, competent, hard-charging leader who purchasing the company from the founder.  They’ve been successful through hard work, perseverance, good decisions and leading by example.  They have hired good, hard-working people who have performed well in their positions.  But now, the owner is getting tired – due to age and some health issues.  The owner wants to either sell the business or turn day-to-day management duties over to key employees or family members and work a little less.  The problem: no one except the owner knows ‘the big picture,’ or has command of what is necessary to run the company.  The owner has not delegated any of their key duties, nor trained, nor shared any of the key information with any employees or family members.  The owner is stuck in place; no one with whom to share the load of leadership, no time to rest and no one prepared to take their place.  It is truly lonely at the top of this company.        

Do any of these situations sound familiar?  If so, all is not lost.  They are common problems which can happen in any family-owned or privately-held business. 

PLEASE NOTE: doing nothing is not a good thing.  If left ‘untreated,’ they are like an infection and can lead to very bad things sooner or later.  And, they seldom go away by themselves. 

Now, the good news: every one of these problems is a ‘people ‘problem’ which can be solved by making the right decisions and putting the right (or different) people in the right places. 

It won’t be easy, but there are solutions to every one of these problems for the business owner who is willing to solve them.  And most of these problems are avoidable, or can be dealt with in a manner that will

  • allow the business owner to overcome their challenges;
  • have more productive, lower-maintenance employees;
  • succeed in business and be more profitable;
  • enjoy coming to work every day (again);
  • and (perhaps) retire or sell their business. 

 Those are the objectives that most founders and owners whom I’ve met have in mind.  How about you?    

Whether you’re just starting your business, considering retirement, thinking about a successor or contemplating the sale of your business – now is a good time to create an action plan and make some moves.  A wise man once shared what he referred to as ‘The Great Statistic’ with me: “One out of every one people dies.”  In other words, as a company founder or owner, YOU WILL eventually retire or leave the business…one way or another.  I promise.  Even Methuselah and Sons has closed its doors.  And they had a really long run. 

Why not get ahead of the curve?  On Purpose provides information to executives and business owners which enables them to:

  • make more intelligent and informed decisions about their people and their business;
  • put a “people strategy” in place that works to attract the best talent and keep employees engaged, motivated and productive;
  • build a strong brand which attracts customers and talent; and creates high visibility in their marketplace for increased sales.

 One final thought: the time to fix the leaking roof is a few days before it rains.  Have you noticed any ‘drips’ in your company?

On Purpose Enterprises is a talent management consulting firm dedicated to helping you make the most of your most important asset: your people.  If you’re struggling with any of the situations described above, we can help.   Contact us today for a free 30 minute phone consultation.

A College Education Is Not Necessarily The Key To Success….

Job-seekers frequently ask me for career advice.  In this challenging economy and job market, a lot of career counselors and coaches (especially those associated with educational institutions) give young people and career-changers the same advice.  It goes something like this: “Gotta go to college, gotta go to college, gotta go to college!”  

To this, I reply, “Poppycock and horsefeathers!”  About 50% of people – those who are launching careers, under-employed or unemployed - will find no monetary value in further education whatsoever.  Really. 

The fact is that many people who earned college degrees are in a career that is completely unrelated to their college degree.  So, forgive my impudence, but given that inconvenient truth, of what monetary value was their post-secondary matriculation?  My conclusion: a college degree does not necessarily equal success or high earnings.

In the process of watching how the world actually works over the past 30 years or so, I have noticed that some pretty successful people do not possess college degrees.  Take for instance – Steve Jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Dell (Dell Computer) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) as Hall of Fame ultra-successful drop-out entrepreneurs.  I would also include lots of other successful people like auto mechanics, carpenters, heavy equipment operators, salespeople, welders, homebuilders, plumbers, small business owners and miscellaneous entrepreneurs and tradesmen.    

That said, a person who is well-suited to the rigors of the college-level academic environment; who has the intellectual capacity, ability, drive and desire to succeed; and who has taken the time to determine the right major/career direction for themselves can certainly benefit from a college degree.  Companies need people like that.   There don’t seem to be enough of  them, whether the economy is booming or busting.   

Of course, there aren’t enough highly competent auto mechanics, carpenters, heavy equipment operators, salespeople, welders, homebuilders, plumbers, small business owners and miscellaneous entrepreneurs and tradesmen to go around, either!  And not one of these fairly high-paying jobs require a college education.   

I live in Boulder County, CO, a spectacularly beautiful area with one of the most highly educated populations in the US, and home of the University of Colorado.  I’ve lived here for ~36 yrs. now.  There’s a long-standing joke about college graduates here:  Q: ‘What does the MBA say to the other person at the drive-up window of McDonalds?  A: Do you want fries with that?’   In this market, where college degrees are plentiful and high-paying jobs are scarce, many people have much education and technical knowledge in their field – while working for minimum wage.  At many retailers and restaurants in this area, the person helping you is likely to have an advanced degree – and fading dreams of hitting the big-time.  This is sad but true in many college towns and major metropolitan areas across the nation. 

So, before you invest $40-100,000. and the next 4-6 years in a college education, consider a recent article in Yahoo! EDUCATION by Terrence Loose entitled “Don’t Bother Earning These Five Degrees.”   

http://education.yahoo.net/articles/degrees_to_avoid2.htm?kid=1NQM0&goback=%2Egde_42596_member_196004032

It completely busts the myth that every college degree is worth big bucks.   It just ain’t so.  (Please excuse my inarticulate prose, as I attended and dropped out of the U. of Nebraska, where people talk like that…).

So, here’s my advice for about half of all job-seekers and career-changers: consider the alternative degrees listed in the article - instead of these five dead-end degrees (if you still choose to attend college).  Consider some technical training or some courses at a community/junior college to sharpen up your skills.  Or instead, consider just learning how to do a job in some boring industry, or owning a business.   Really.   Chances are that your grandparents or parents (the people who make money, save up and actually pay for many worthless college degrees) worked for a living.  It’s not so bad.  And you just might make a good living while your friends with the fancy-sounding college degrees are at the unemployment office, figuring out how to pay off those college loans.  Hey, maybe you can hire a few of them, too!

At this point, some of you are asking yourself, “Should I go back to school, or just find a nice job?”  A new Profiles assessment called the Pathway Planner can provide you with some very specific answers to that question.  If you’d like more info, contact me.

Think about it.  When the world zigs, it can make a lot of sense to zag.   

Hey Boss, YOU Set The Tone…

While completing a few assignments for clients, I’ve had the opportunity to see how the boss really treated his employees – and it wasn’t pretty.  

A recent incident caught my attention.   A very qualified candidate, a top performer, one who would have changed the entire fortunes of the company, also saw how that boss treated his employees: belittling them, criticizing them, yelling at them, showing them disrespect and subjecting them to indignity.  As a result, this candidate decided to look for another opportunity rather than accepting an offer from the company.

It’s been said that people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.  But some bosses are actually barriers to entry for many high-potential candidates.  They see that the person who is in control of the place is not someone who will help them be successful, show them respect or treat them with dignity. 

In many cases, the boss – not the employee – is a major cause of employee under-performance and turnover at the company.  The sad reality is that many executives, bosses, company owners and managers will look everywhere for the cause of employee turnover and under-performance  - except for the ONE place where they could find the answer: the mirror. 

In these organizations, everyone else is the problem.  

You usually hear them saying, “I can’t seem to find good people!”   These bosses complain about ‘lazy’, ‘un-motivated’ or ‘incompetent’ employees.  But not a single manager or employee will dare tell them that something is wrong, and that they could use a little help.  Not on your life.  THAT is a career-ending move and a quick route to the unemployment office. 

But isn’t it strange that in the very same market or very same city, another company seems to find and keep good people, and out-perform their competition?  There is a war for talent, and you may be losing it, whether you know it or not.  And the company with the best people wins.  Unless your company motto is “We’re #2!”, that’s not the best position to be in, is it? 

Admit it.  Does this ever happen at YOUR company?  Believe me, as an entrepreneur, I’ve made the same mistakes and I understand that it’s lonely at the top. 

So, how can YOU, THE BOSS, get some realistic feedback and coaching in order to help you become more effective at working with your people?

If you are sincerely interested in being more effective with your people, you need three things:

  • First, you need a way to look at yourself accurately, realistically and transparently – in a safe and positive environment.  Assessments are an excellent way to get a good look at yourself from a third-party perspective.  
  • Second, you need some time-proven recommendations and goals for changing your behavior, and an action plan for getting it done.  Lots of people are willing to tell you what you should do.  And most will be wrong.  The truth is that most people are just as ‘stuck’ as you are.  So, if you were lost, why would you ask another lost person for directions?   
  • Third, you need a coach or a mentor to help you change; one who will give you honest feedback and tell you the truth – even if it hurts a little – in order to help you.  Changing behavior can be really uncomfortable.  But remember, what is comfortable to you is not working.  If you’re the type of person who doesn’t take feedback well (re-read this blog if you’re still not sure), you’ll need a coach who can work with a person like you.   

So Boss, do I have your attention now?  Are you feeling burned out, under-appreciated, over-worked; and sick and tired of being sick and tired?   Then, why not try something else?  At OnPurpose Enterprises, we help you make the most of your most important asset: your people.  After all, didn’t you hire those people to help you?   

If you’re ready for some positive change around your organization, let’s begin WITH YOU.  Remember, Boss, YOU set the tone…        

Humility Is WAY Under-Rated

The silent, humble producers who really make things happen don’t usually get a lot of recognition.   Hopefully, you know who they are.  They just keep doing their job and cranking it out, day after day.  They’re dependable and our organizations couldn’t do without them.  Have you told them you love them lately?   

But whoever brags the most, yells the loudest, struts around with pride claims credit and pumps their fists in the air grabs the headlines and gets the coverage on the news.  Complainers get the attention and take a lot of management time.  Seems like a lot of people have a bad case of “I” disease these days, doesn’t it?   There’s an epidemic among celebrities and politicians!

But in a recent excellent HBR Blog from Harvard Business Review, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic makes the case that less confident people are more successful.  http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/07/less_confident_people_are_more_su.html

Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic cites 3 reasons that the advantage goes to the modest, humble person over the cocky, over-confident one, as follows:

  1. Lower self-confidence makes you pay attention to negative feedback and be self-critical
  2. Lower self-confidence can motivate you to work harder and prepare more
  3. Lower self-confidence reduces the chances of coming across as arrogant or being deluded

After hiring a lot of people, and assessing many more, I can confirm Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic’s data.  I’ll take the solid, hard-working producer over the demanding, prima donna any day.  Please note that humility, creativity - and intelligence – are not mutually exclusive.  There are plenty of really bright, creative people who are very nice and easy to work with out there.  If you build your team with people like that, you and your customers will love it. 

On the other hand, build your team with a bunch of intelligent, arrogant, temperamental, demanding crybabies – and you’ll spend a lot of time and money just trying to keep them happy and managing turnover - instead of keeping your customers happy and making money

One last thought.  A mentor once told me the formula for hiring great customer service people, as follows: “It’s easier to train nice people to be good at their job than it is to train people who are good at something to be nice.  So be sure that you hire people who are nice and like to work with people.”   Self-centered, over-confident people seldom care about helping others when things get difficult.  People who are a little less confident, however, will often go the extra mile to solve a problem, give some personal attention and show they care about others.  And that will make all the difference. 

Remember, your People ARE Your Brand. 

If you need some help identifying who your silent producers are; implementing this strategy at your organization; or creating a more engaged workforce, give me a call for a free consultation. 

 

Discover the Hidden Talents in Your Workforce

In the most recent newsletter from Profiles International, a brief case study of IBM’s Tom Watson, Jr. is presented.  Read it here: http://info.profilesinternational.com/profiles-employee-assessment-blog/bid/106502/discover-the-hidden-talents-in-your-workforce?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_content=2b78c7cb-a9d9-485e-ae7d-7ec2801357a1&goback=%2Egde_1919413_member_128586049

Tom Watson, Jr. became president of IBM in 1952. He recruited electronics experts and invested billions of dollars to develop new technology and planning. As a result, IBM was one of the most successful, innovative corporations during the up-and-coming computer age.  To this day, IBM is one of the most recognized and admired brands in the world.

So what made Tom Watson Jr. so successful?  He focused on the development of research, technology and, most importantly, talent.

In light of Tom Watson Jr.’s exceptional focus on talent development, there are four steps to develop your employees to reach their full potential and succeed:

  • Assess
  • Find Gaps
  • Challenge
  • Mentor

Read this excellent article for more info.  Employee assessments are excellent tools for helping you make the most of your people by discovering their hidden talents.  Need some help?  Give us a call for a free consultation.   Let us show you how talent development and management can make all the difference in creating an exceptional organization and a market-dominating brand.

Are Your Employees ‘Engaged But Dating Around?’

The classic sad song by Hank Williams entitled ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ is about a man whose woman done left him, as they say in country music.  He says she’s gonna regret it someday.  From what I hear, Hank ‘got around’ and was a real handful himself so we don’t need to heed his relationship advice. 

My point here is that love, like employee engagement, is a two-way street.  If either party neglects the relationship, or begins to take things for granted, things can get a little…cold, distant and uncomfortable – which often leads to a costly, painful break-up.  And nobody wins in that event. 

Employees, like your beloved, must be cared for, loved, rewarded and shown some affection from time to time.  They gotta feel the love.   Treating your employees right is not that hard.  Of course, some of us could use a little relationship coaching.  But that’s another blog.  Stick with me here. 

Dis-engaged employees don’t always go away mad.  They often just go away.  It’s a fact.  With social media like LinkedIN, your BEST employees – the ones who quietly and faithfully do the heavy lifting while you take them for granted - are looking for hot job opportunities without giving you a hint of infidelity.  Some of those dis-engaged employees used to be your best, most engaged employees.  But they’ve been ignored, over-worked, taken for granted, underpaid and under-appreciated.   So they’ve gone lookin’ for love – at a competitor’s office.  You had ‘em, but you lost ‘em.   And they’re not planning to come back – once they’re gone.   

But all is not lost, dear reader.  You can keep your best people.  But you may need to make a few changes.

In June 2011, I wrote a blog entitled ‘You Don’t Miss Your Water ‘Til The Well Runs Dry’: http://www.onpurpose-ent.com/uncategorized/you-dont-miss-your-water-til-the-well-runs-dry/  It discusses the need to pay attention to your best employees BEFORE they feel under-appreciated and go away.   The latest data supports that blog.

According to the 2012 Employee Engagement Trends Report  (3/9/12, Quantam Workplace), the 3 most important factors associated with strong engagement levels were: 1) feeling valued, 2) teamwork and 3) trust in senior leadership.  (Those are the elements of any good relationship, aren’t they?!) 

Here’s a really interesting data point from an Aon Hewitt study: executive and senior management level workers were far more engaged than employees at other levels. Notably, those working in professional level positions were least engaged, even when compared to those who often have the least autonomy and variety in their work: front-line employees.  Let me see now.   The executives, the folks at the top who well paid but aren’t listening, are feeling really happy and engaged.  And the professionals – the MD’s, PhD’s, JD’s, CPA’s and MBA’s  who are counseling and treating the rest of the employees for depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts; handling their divorces and employee harassment and wrongful termination lawsuits and trying to help them get out of debt - are the least engaged of all.  Yes, I see…. 

Do things look a little ‘broken’ in the American workplace?  I’m thinking…YES!

So, what’s an organization to do?  The Aon Hewitt report lists 4 workplace activities and programs most likely to postively impact engagement.  They are:

  • Career Opportunities.  Do you like being stuck in a dead-end job?  Neither do your employees.  They have to get out of the house, experience something different and have a little fun once in awhile.  A little job rotation, career development, training, etc. will go a long way. 
  • Recognition.  Absence of criticism is NOT praise.  Catch your people doing something right and tell them they’re doing a good job.  Find something positive to say.  Reward good behavior and results.   The occasional ‘Good job!’ is just like the occasional ‘I love you!’  If it is sincere, it warms the heart, creates a bond and lasts for awhile.
  • Organizational Reputation.  The same study says ‘Employees join organizations that have a reputation as a best employer…’   And how do companies gain a reputation as a best employer?  By BEING a best employer.   You can fool a lot of people about who you are, but you can’t fool your spouse.  They know what you look like in your underwear, and they love you anyway.   Employees know the real you, and they tell other people the truth, whether you like it or not.
  • Communication.  I’d be a great communicator if my wife would just listen to me!  But seriously, when two-way communication is taking place, and everyone – from top to bottom – understands and agrees on the organization’s objectives and what is required for success, things tend to work better.  If you’re able to speak freely and handle conflict, it’s the sign of a healthy relationship.     

Engaged employees are your top performers, your most valuable assets, the ones who produce your best results.  Wayne Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Business Administration in the Florida State University College of Business surveyed 1,000 people in blue- and white-collar occupations and concluded that engaged employees work harder and are more creative and committed than disengaged employees.  But his study found that those highly engaged employees required some TLC in order to stay engaged.  If they were ignored and not cultivated, the study noted that they began to display characteristics including:

  • Increased stress
  • Lower overall productivity
  • Reduced helpfulness
  • Increased anger at supervisors

After almost 40 years of marriage, that sounds like an unhappy wife who probably deserves an apology, a hug and some extra attention.  And it sounds like an employee who’s not feelin’ the love.  Maybe they could use a little TLC and appreciation.  Or a raise?

By using the Profiles Workplace Engagement Survey and other employee assessment tools, you can get to know your best employees again.   They don’t really want to leave.  They just want  a little attention from you.  We can help. 

     

Exploding The Myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’

We’ve all heard it a million times: ‘Practice makes perfect.’  It is repeated so often that we don’t question it.

In this blog, I intend to question it, squarely.  Does practice really make something perfect?   Let’s take a look at some practical examples.

  • If I break and scramble 20 eggs (including the shells) into a skillet on a red hot stove, add 3 teaspoons of black pepper, cook for 20 minutes and serve on a plate – 100 times over and over – does that produce the perfect omelette?  Do you want me to fix you breakfast? 
  • If I have never played the piano before, and sit down by myself at the keyboard of the finest Steinway with the sheet music for Beethoven’s Fifth - and play it 100 times to the best of my ability - does that produce beautiful perfect music on my 101st attempt?  How would you like to buy my latest music CD?
  • If I am really bad at math (I am), and I perform a series of math calculations over and over – only making errors 20-30% of the time – but doing those calculations over and over – does my math ability improve to the level of perfection?   Do you trust me to balance the books at your company?

I use these somewhat absurd examples to illustrate a point.   It is not the practice which makes something perfect.  In fact, practice can make something imperfect an even greater problem.  

Habits, for instance, are the practice of something on a regular basis.  The practice of smoking can make a healthy person very unhealthy indeed.  The practice of exercise can make one fit and trim.  One person’s practice of  an inefficient method, costly process or accounting error can be magnified across an entire organization.  Take a look at Congress or the Federal budget for a good example of this.   

At the risk of offending my friends and associates in education, let me address a problem in schools.  Incompetent teachers tend to produce incompetent students, and the cycle repeats itself.  Mabe this is wy Jonny kant spel and is hukt on fonix.

I submit that it is far more important to examine the practices, processes and attitudes which underlie an organization in order to understand how to make it better.  

As leaders, we must occasionally question our most basic assumptions.  There should be no ‘sacred cows’ in a business or organization.  How we think about things is often the first and most important step in creating a more effective organization.   Here are some questions we should ask to stimulate our thinking about key processes:

  • Why do we do this?
  • Is there a different or better way to do this?
  • Could we streamline, outsource, or eliminate this entirely?
  • If we stopped doing this, what is the worst/best thing that would happen?
  • If a competitor started doing this better (and differently) than us tomorrow, what would we do?
  • If someone outside our organization saw this, what they think?
  • What do our customers say about this, and how could we improve it for them?

Here’s a better way to think about practice: In the effective organization, EXCELLENCE is the standard and its practice resides with the individual.  It must be present at every level, and will be delivered to the customer at all times.

Practice does not make perfect.  But practicing excellence can make something that is imperfect a lot better.  And that is a big step in the right direction.

Need some help with creating excellence and employee engagement at your company or organization?  Give me a call.  I’d love to help.     

 

The Real Bottom-Line Value of Mentors

Top performers want to work for organizations that will give them a little ‘extra.’  They want a guide in the organization, an experienced person who will help them excel in their position and navigate around the pitfalls that might cause them to fail in their career.  They want mentors.

So, why do your BEST employees – your top performers - stay with your organization?  Or more importantly, why would certain people – top performers – want to go to work at your company, and why would those same certain people continue to work at your organization for a long time?

In many organizations, mentoring is scoffed at as a waste of time.  They say, “With employee tenure at an all-time low, why go to the time and expense of developing a new employee?”   It’s a good question.  After all, why would you take a high value, productive, experienced employee away from productive work in order to mentor a new, unproven employee?  They’re just going to leave as soon as they’re fully trained, right?  Not so fast there, my old school management style friends.

In the 2011  SHRM Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Survey Report, the top 26 factors related to job satisfaction among American workers are listed.  Now, we ALL know the top factors, especially among young under-35 workers are pay and benefits, right?  Wrong.  The most important factors identified in the most recent survey were: 1) ‘job security’ and 2)  ’opportunities to use your skills and abilities in your work.’  But here’s the gold nugget.   Number 3 on the job satisfaction list:  Relationship with immediate supervisor. 

The takeaway: providing high potential employees with an opportunity to work with a mentor or manager who will give them the best possible opportunity to succeed is critically important for hiring and retaining top talent in this ultra-competitive market. 

But what about your current top performers?  Are you paying attention to the good people who are already making things happen for you?  Are they feelin’ the love? 

Study after study shows that people don’t leave companies; they leave bosses.  Most people have a horror story to tell about working for a jerk in some previous job.  A mis-match between a high potential employee and and their manager is a costly mistake just waiting to happen.  When a high potential employee walks away to join a competitor, the opportunity loss, recruiting and replacement cost and management headaches are great.  So, remind me again.  Why is it that we don’t manage our managers, expect high performance from them – and remove those who have unacceptable turnover rates?   

I apologize for using so many sports analogies, but please bear with me on this one.  Teams with lots of talented players tend to win, right?  However – if the coach is incompetent – that’s another story.  The best players poorly coached will not win games.  But, put talented, proven players with a brilliant, experienced coach and you have a winning combination.  Great coaches understand their players, they build personal chemistry with each one of them, and they help them play to their absolute peak performance.           

The lesson here is quite simple.  First, pick employees carefully.  Then, match the employee with the right manager.  Then, once the employee has proven themselves, provide them with a capable mentor to help them develop to their full potential.

By the way, only top performers who have proven themselves qualify for this ‘perk.’  It must be earned. 

In a recent article (Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Mentor Match) in workforce.com, Gary Kranz described a mentoring program at Covance which employs about 10,000 people.  In order to receive mentoring, employees “must meet three main criteria: they must have worked at Covance for a specified period of time; achieved a ‘meets performance’ rating; and have a well-defined objective in mind.”    Kranz also says that, “Managers also must give their approval before an employee is able to participate.”  These are reasonable criteria for any organization to use.

At the beginning of this blog, I asked why your top performers stay with your organization.  My bet is that they stay with your organization for 3 reasons:

  1. They have a good relationship with their supervisor and don’t feel the need to look for another boss who will make them feel good about themselves
  2. They have a good ‘fit’ with their job and use their skills and abilities frequently in their work in a way that is significant to them, they like that, and as a result they are productive and feel engaged and committed
  3. They produce results, are low maintenance and you like having them around – which equals job security for everybody at your organization

Good mentors are just like good coaches.  They’ll build a winning team and a winning organization.  They’ll help your best people create extraordinary results.  They’ll make your organization more attractive to the best people.  They’ll duplicate themselves by modeling the kind of attitudes and behaviors you want in every employee.  And they’ll help you retain the best people – your top performers – longer. 

If you’d like some help in identifying your mentors or coaches, or in building a mentoring/coaching program at your organization, just give me a call.      

  


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Brand Development by Garrison Everest