You Can Love a Company, But Can a Company Love You Back?

THIS ARTICLE IS A MUST READ!!!

company love

Since my first job selling television ad time in the early 17 century, I believed working for a company was about more than just cashing a paycheck. For me, there was always a very deep emotional connection to the place I worked. I was always proud to tell people where I worked and had great pride in the companies I worked for when I crossed the threshold every day.

It may sound naïve, but I was convinced the ‘company’ was this sentient entity that would always have my best interests at heart. I really did love it, and I believed it loved me back.

Years ago, when I had grown deeply disappointed in the company I worked for, my wife Heidi said something profound, “You can love a company, but a company can’t love you back.” She didn’t mean it as an indictment of all organizations, but as a realistic assessment that companies are collections of living breathing human beings. Some of the bosses you work for will live up to your standards and the values and direction of the corporation, but some will not. Things change, directions change. When they do, it’s time to decide if you can change to suit them, or if you need to move on.

I realized I did need to leave that company. I had been staying out of a sense of allegiance that wasn’t being reciprocated. I was going crazy watching my new leaders who I thought were headed in the wrong direction, and in turn I was driving those people crazy. It was bad for both of us.

Now, after a few decades spent consulting with some amazing organizations and leaders, what I’ve found is that while companies can’t love, great leaders and co-workers can. And those kind of positive relationships are fueled by deliberate, sustainable and vibrant corporate cultures.

The exceptional bosses who run these cultures care about their people, they challenge them with clear goals, cheer for their successes, and want them to be happy in their business and personal lives. When we find leaders like that, we typically go the extra mile and don’t want to disappoint. As the Clinton campaign might have quipped, “It’s about the boss, stupid.”

But then our boss gets promoted or transferred, and everything can change.

In its most recent research, The Gallup Organization estimates only one in 10 people truly have the potential to be a good manager. And yet in their paper “Why Great Managers are so rare,” the researchers estimate a manager accounts for at least 70 percent of employee engagement across an organization. Wow. That might explain why only 30 percent of U.S. employees are engaged. It’s as low as 13 percent worldwide.

So, what to do?

Obviously we must add value in our positions and be good at what we do. That’s a given. But what follows are three other simple things you can do to protect yourself from changes that will inevitably come in your company, so you can maintain a good attitude and positive career trajectory:

1. Surround yourself with good people.

People are the culture of a company, not the values or mission posted on a wall. Spend time with people who encourage you. Those who survive big changes often have several high-level mentors, who are not their bosses, who they can turn to for advice and who will have their back. They also choose a network of work friends as carefully as they chose their friends in their personal lives, and they nurture those relationships with time and effort.

2. Stay clear of bad bosses.

This may sound like officious advice, but it’s amazing how often individuals choose to go to work for a new boss without doing even the most basic of background checks. Bad leaders get into even the best of organizations, which means there are egotists and narcissists out there who feel lifted up when others fail, pit workers against each other, and relish in wielding unholy power. Before you accept a job with a new boss, ask a few friends who’ve worked with them about their reputation. Do they listen, do they care, do they develop others? Don’t think you can change a bad manager, you can’t.

3. Get some advice.

When things do get tough, or you are presented with an opportunity that looks promising, seek council. History’s most wise leaders all had councilors, and so should we. Seek the advice of people who have your best interests at heart: past leaders, mentors, and most of all friends and family. Trust their advice the most, just as I did with my wife Heidi. -Chester Elton

I’d love to read in the comments how you made it through a tough situation at work, or how you’ve tried to bullet proof your career against leadership changes.

Employees Quit Management, Not the Company

I quit

I have the opportunity to do a lot of Consulting for Companies – Big and Small Companies, Companies in several different industries, Newer Companies and Established “Dinosaur” Companies, etc. The point is, I have had the privilege of Consulting for just about every type of business there is out on the market. And there is almost always the same problem – companies are experiencing higher turnover than they should – generally speaking of course.

Cost of Turnover

The obvious immediate problem is the cost of replacing an employee. Dun & Bradstreet have a great article where they reference a study done by Institute forResearch on Labor and Employment at UC, Berkley. The average cost of replacing an employee is about 1.5 times their Salary. For instance, if you are filling a $60,000.00 position, with all costs incurred, it will cost your company around $90,000.00.

Instability for Customers and other Employees

When you have employees rotating in and out, and customers dealing with new people on a semi-regular basis, regardless of the viability of the company it gives the appearance of instability and a company that employees don’t even like. Turnover can be a huge cancer to your employees as well, as employees have to unexpectedly take on extra responsibilities or duties that they do not have the skill set for, yet are held accountable for their errors.

Cause of Abnormal Turnover

In almost every case, when an employee leaves a company voluntarily, it is Managements fault. Yes, there are the proverbial “nails in the coffin” which Management loves to deflect to – such as “they got offered more money”, “their work load is easier over there”, and on and on. But if Management was doing their job correctly, in almost every case none of these reasons would be enough to make them want to move to a different company.

How to Keep Low Retention

Every company is different, but these principles stay the same. Use these ideas and suggestions, but also build off of them and create custom policies that fit your company, your employees, and your companies “personality”.

  1. ALWAYS DO EXIT INTERVIEWS!!! Unless the employee is extremely hostile, make sure an immediate exit interview is done with employees that tender resignations to understand why they are leaving. And listen – do not try and persuade them that they are wrong. Just listen. For instance, even though you may know that a particular action is not happening, there may be an issue somewhere in the company where there is a “perception” problem which are making employees unhappy that needs addressed.
  2. Work Atmosphere – Work Hard, Play Hard. Create a fun atmosphere at work. Never before, especially in the US, have we demanded more productivity out our employees since we are competing in a Global Economy now. And guess what, it is tough on everyone and will run you into the ground if you let it. This is a great time to get ideas from employees – game room, relaxation room, fun “brainstorming” sessions (I will do a separate article on this at another time), daily competitions for particular KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators – Sales, Revenue, Net Profit, Calls, etc). I am a big believer in spiff’s for winning a competition or if an employee does something particularly outstanding) – whether it is a small gift card, cash, company gear – use your imagination.
  3. Knock Down The Wall Between Mid-Management and the “C” Level – One of the biggest problems are C Level Executives not knowing about problems. I am not letting C Level Exec’s off of the hook, as even though they have Managers to handle the day to day Operations, C Level Exec’s need to be “keyed” in on what is going on, and make sure that employees can confidentially come to you with an issue to be addressed before it becomes a bigger problem. But it is amazing how good some Mid-Management get at putting up a wall where if there is an issue, that employees find it difficult, if not impossible, to voice a concern that may need to be addressed.

This is just a start, and meant to keep you aware of the high cost of turnover and to be constantly improving the company to make people want to stay. No companies have zero turnover, but I have Consulted for companies with both high turnover and low turnover. For companies with a high turnover problem, if it is handled aggressively and correctly, you can turn around extremely fast. – Jacob Franklin

Here’s What Really Motivates Your Employees (It’s Not What You Think)

Dangling a carrot

In Daniel Pink’s book Drive, the underlying message is that a leader can provide a motivating environment but can’t motivate his or her employees; motivation comes from within each individual.

This goes entirely against the common belief that given more carrots, an employee will be motivated to behave in ways that will increase the success of a company. Yet, time and again, leaders have found that providing more money and better benefits, extrinsic motivators, only provides a short-term effect on behavior. Extrinsic motivators are not sustainable.

In yesterday’s article Top 5 Leadership Mistakes, one of them was misunderstanding motivation.

I outlined the three attributes that, when implemented effectively within the organization, can increase the long-term behavioral changes the leader is looking to instill in the organization.

And what can a company expect from its employees when they provide an environment that provides for autonomy, mastery, and purpose?

An academic study by Richard Ryan and Edward Deci in 2000 issue of American Psychologist showed that focusing on internal motivators can lead to higher self-esteem and self-actualization, while a focus on external motivators, on average, leads to lower self-esteem and self-actualization.

In turn, employees driven by internal motivators demonstrated a greater level of persistence, creativity, energy, and well being, which increased the performance level of those employees.

So if, in fact, employee performance increases with intrinsic motivators, why aren’t more companies creating and implementing a plan to transition to a culture of autonomy, mastery and purpose? Because it is not easy! It is a massive shift in long-term beliefs and requires both employer and employees to change their mindset as well as the way they work.

What are the critical success factors to transitioning your workplace to an intrinsically motivated organization? They are the three C’s:

  1. Creativity: Be able to devise innovative ways of working outside the traditional mode. Bring in outside assistance if you don’t find you are making the progress you desire.
  2. Communication: Changes to the work process need to be communicated to all employees via multiple methods. Communication should be ongoing and frequent and provide employees with the opportunity to have their questions answered.
  3. Change Management: Demonstrate how the changes will positively affect employees, create methods to identify employees who may be struggling with the changes, and have resources available to help them adjust.

Beth Armknecht Miller, CMC

Author: Are You Talent Obsessed?, Leadership Development Advisor, Vistage Chair, Speaker, Executive Coach

Want to play and learn along side of Special Ops like the Navy SEALS?

Watch this video and find out!

http://www.10news.com/news/ceos-go-to-war-with-navy-seals-to-make-their-businesses-better-04302014

The Jenks Group, Inc., a Solana Beach based firm has launched their newest program,  Strategic Operations Skills Training (S.O.S.T.) that brings Special Forces such as the Navy Seals, CEO’s and their Executive Teams together through mission critical exercises including uniforms, gear, guns and simmunitions.

S.O.S.T. can be a rigorous two or three-day program. In the end, CEO’s and their executive teams come out the other side learning how to take chaos, which exists in all organizations, and make it organized chaos, such like the Navy Seals do when they are on a mission.

It is Hyper Realistic ™, down to hostiles, loud noises and smoke. In other words it’s not your grandmother’s team building session. And it is done right alongside the best team in the world, the Navy Seals. After each mission CEO’s and their team are debriefed on what they learned in combat and how that hard skill is transferred into their workplace specifically on carrying out their Strategic Plans.

This program is a win/win because it is employing veterans in a meaningful way, using their amazing skills and intelligence to help CEO’s positively affect their bottom-line.

For more information on this program tailored to your organization contact Sharon Jenks, President The Jenks Group, Inc. – 858-525-3163

jnkslogo2

Four Reasons to Quit Your Job

quit job

What criteria can you use to determine if you have been with the same company too long?

A friend of ours, an investment manager at a highly regarded company in the Midwest, who drove to work one morning, parked his car in the usual spot, and then found he simply could not bring himself to get out of the car. “I guess I stayed on the farm one day too long,” he joked later. When we asked him what went wrong, he answered, “It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.” No wonder he drove home and called in his resignation.

Obviously, most people don’t decide they’ve overstayed at their companies in such a dramatic fashion. Usually, angst about work creeps in, and then builds until it consumes you. And that can happen early or late in a career. Gone are the days when, after graduation, you took the best available job and stayed for as many years as you could possibly stand, frustration be damned. These days, it is not unusual to hear of perfectly legitimate careers built on multiple job stints.

So, to your question, how can you tell when it’s time to move on? We wouldn’t set out specific criteria as much as offer four questions to help sort out an answer.

The first is so simple it almost goes without saying, but the fact that a lot of people don’t confront it, including our friend who ended up stuck in his car—a Harvard MBA, by the way—suggests we should go ahead and put it out there: Do you want to go to work every morning?

This is not a matter to be over-brained. Does the prospect of going in each day excite you or fill you with dread? Does the work feel interesting and meaningful or are you just going through motions to pull a paycheck? Are you still learning and growing?

We know of a woman who worked in consulting for seven years. She loved her firm and had originally planned a career with it, but suddenly started noticing that she wished every weekend was five days long. “Basically, I felt like we were putting together massive books in order to make recommendations to people who knew more than we did,” she said. “Every day at the office, I felt a little bit more of a hypocrite.” She now happily works on the “front lines,” to use her phrase, in the marketing department of a retail company.

Second, do you enjoy spending time with your coworkers or do they generally bug the living daylights out of you? We’re not saying you should only stay at your company if you want to barbecue with your team every weekend, but if you don’t sincerely enjoy and respect the people you spend 10 hours a day with, you can be sure you will eventually decide to leave your organization. Why not make the break sooner rather than later and start cultivating relationships at a company where you might actually plant roots?

Third, does your company help you fulfill your personal mission? Essentially, this question asks whether your company jibes with your life’s goals and values. Does it require you, for instance, to travel more than you’d like, given your chosen work-life balance? Does it offer enough upward mobility, given your level of ambition? There are no right or wrong answers to such questions, only a sense of whether you are investing your time at the right or wrong company for you.

Fourth and finally, can you picture yourself at your company in a year? We use that time frame because that’s how long it usually takes to find a new, better job once you decide to move on. So peer, as best you can, into the future, and predict where you’ll be in the organization, what work you’ll be doing, whom you will be managing, and who will be managing you. If that scenario strikes you with anything short of excitement, then you’re spinning your wheels. Or put another way, you’re just about to stay too long.

To be clear: We’re not suggesting people quit at the first inkling of discontent. No matter where you work, at some point you will have to endure difficult times, and even a deadly dull assignment, to survive a crisis or move up. But it makes little sense to stay and stay at a company because of inertia. Unlock your door and get out. – Jack and Suzy Welch

5 Things Super Lucky People Do

BY KEVIN DAUM Do you feel lucky? Here’s a clear-cut approach for improving your luck today.

lucky people

“The Luck of the Irish” is an American phrase that comes from the days of the gold rush in the 1800s.  Intolerant Americans figured the Irish people weren’t smart enough to find gold, and blamed their success on being lucky rather than skilled. In reality, America’s early immigrants have time and again proven themselves to be hardworking and smart enoughto generate their own good fortune consistently.

So often I have witnessed people excuse their own inadequacies by crediting the success of others to luck.  Salespeople I know disparage their more successful competitors as lucky. If those salespeople would make as many calls or work as many hours as their competitors, they would realize that their probability of closing is fairly equal. The competitors are simply swinging the bat more often.

The truth is that seemingly lucky people are opportunists. They do the things that allow them to take advantage of the world around them. For them, it’s not about being in the way of good luck or bad. It’s the actions they take to get what Jim Collins refers to as a high return on luck whichever way the pendulum swings. Follow these five tips and you can be as lucky as anyone, no four-leaf clover or rabbit’s foot required.

1. Play to your strengths. So much time and energy is wasted trying to do things you probably don’t do very well. Author and Inc. columnist Lewis Schiff learned from his survey of incredibly wealthy people that they got that way by focusing only on what they do best. Everything else you can delegate, or you could find a partner to compensate for your weaknesses. That way, you will shine where you excel and attract opportunity. Good things come to those who emanate success.

2. Prepare in advance. Unlucky people often get that way because they’re reactive and unprepared for whatever comes. People who have stored food and water in their basements aren’t lucky to find themselves prepared when disaster strikes, they used forethought to make sure they had what they might need just in case. I personally scoff at this horrible recent trend of disparaging business plans because things change constantly. The point of a business plan isn’t to follow it no matter what, it’s to establish a structure for smart decision making that allows you to succeed no matter what the future might bring.

3. Start early. Some people seem to have more hours in the day. I myself don’t need more than six hours of sleep and am constantly finding ways to be more efficient. I use that extra time to start my projects well in advance. My rewards aren’t dependent upon the time of day that I take action. (This column is being written at 3 a.m.) But it does matter that I’m beginning to explore projects I expect to complete months or years from now. So many people only want to put their energy into things that provide immediate gratification. The most fortunate people I know are the ones who planted seeds early and now reap thatharvest of happiness.

4. Connect with as many people as possible. The key to success is access to opportunity. Access comes from influence. If you’re influential, people will come and bring opportunities to you. The bigger your following, the more powerful your influence. The only way to build a big following is to provide value to many people. You have to provide the sort of value that will cause people to spread your thoughts far and wide, attributing credit to you when they do. Are you creating that kind of value? If not, figure how you can.

5. Follow up. Opportunities often come and go because people don’t respond in a timely manner. I’m always amazed when people ask me for something and I respond only to never hear from them again. Three months ago, a young woman asked me if I hire interns or assistants. I replied immediately saying I’m always willing to consider hiring people who bring value to my work. I asked her how she thought she could enhance what I could do. I never heard from her again. Perhaps she now considers herself unlucky that opportunity doesn’t come her way. I believe that following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating.

May you be so lucky to have people in your life that follow up. – Kevin Daum

How To Become A Great Negotiator

Negotiation, Win-Win, Trust

Negotiations are a fact of life. We constantly negotiate both in personal and professional areas of life.

Still, many people don´t like negotiating, and as such try avoiding it. As a result it could make resolving and/or progressing problematic.

Others, often success-driven managers and businesspeople, are so competitive that only “winning” would make them a great negotiator in their eyes. Causing, of course, the other person to “lose.” Helpful? Most likely not!

Applying below-listed four negotiation principles and executing the outlined three-phased negotiation process will significantly increase the quality of your future negotiations.

NEGOTIATION PRINCIPLES

Often negotiations fail when the following 4 key negotiation principles are not being taken into consideration:

Aim At Win-Win Outcomes
Those are the results which satisfy all stakeholders involved. They represent the basis for further business and sustainable relationships.

Stay Always Open-minded
Successful negotiators look at each major aspect from multiple perspectives. They´re prepared for anything.

Focus On Long-Term Business Relationships
With this in mind it´s rather impossible to fleece the other party.

Show Respect And Appreciation
Honoring the other person as equal is crucial to any successful negotiation.

NEGOTIATION PROCESS

A professional negotiation process consists of 3 stages: The preparation phase, the negotiation phase, and the follow-up phase. You need to excel in all three of them in order of becoming a master of negotiation.

Preparation Stage

If you think that negotiating only starts once you meet the other party, then most likely you´ll not chalk up the best possible outcome: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin).

In this very first phase define your negotiation targets, strategy and objective criteria based on which you later measure the achieved agreement. Be clear about your alternatives and fall back positions; also known as BATNA: Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement.

Crucial to collect all accessible information about the other party and your negotiation counterparts: What are their objectives and potential strategy, what might be their perspective, their motivations, and their opinion on relevant topics? Which is their interest and their reservation price (i.e. when would they walk away)?

Negotiation Stage

During the opening phase of the negotiation stage listen well and frequently ask (open-ended) questions. As a rule of thumb you should listen more than you talk. Use silence as a tactic and mimic your opponent. Sooner or later they will talk. Try to detect commonalitiesrather than differences to generate mutual engagement and to establish a first basis of trust. In general it is essential to separate the people from the issue. Don´t take things personal. Many people consider negotiations as a kind of game. So, stay relaxed and enjoy playing the game!

When you´re about to start the actual negotiation be brave and bring forward the first proposal. Why should you do that? The opening offer always serves as a reference point. It´s what I call an “unconscious anchor.“ In other words: If you’re selling, be first and start the bidding high. And if you’re buying, start the bidding low.

Often it might be appropriate making two to three equivalent, simultaneous offers. This shows that you understand and respect the other position and possible concerns. Even more importantly, it creates a variety of options and helps avoiding cornering the other side. You should ask for more than what you´re actually looking for. That gives you flexibility and room to maneuver.

Don´t be afraid to give in first. It´s an excellent opportunity to inject an additional layer of trust. When doing it in a pro-active manner you should be able choosing something which has significant meaning to the other party and is of low cost to you. Usually whenever you give you should also take. Every concession you make should involve a trade-off of some kind. By doing so focus on interests rather than positions.

Saying that, and in order to get around cognitive dissonances of your negotiation counterparts, you are well advised to engage in the theatrics of negotiation: e.g. when being attacked or confronted with unreasonable proposals and demands you should look visibly put off, or you even might want to flinch. By the way, that´s the only time when you get “emotional.“

Experienced negotiators are creative solution seekers, they enjoy thinking outside of the box, and they constantly look for ways to broaden the pie instead of haggling over every little detail. However, they also stand their ground, if the other party is not willing to move or if they were to become (too) aggressive. Temporary confrontations are a normal and stimulating ingredient of serious negotiations. That´s life. Consequently good negotiators take their time and let things cool off. They are not in a hurry to close the deal. And – when push comes to shove – they might walk away as they know that reaching no deal is better than a bad deal.

Follow-Up Stage

After you have closed the deal there is still some final – and very important – work to be taken care of. Write and send out the first draft of the minutes to the other party withing 24 hours after the negotiations have finished. Ask the other side for their input and feedback to your minutes and get them finalized by latest 3 days after having agreed on the deal. Minutes should be as short and as clear as possible. They contain what was agreed upon, and list what has to be executed by when and by whom. Finally, you need to walk your talk, i.e. you must stick to the agreed points and make sure that the other party will do so as well.

Final advice: Try to conduct important negotiations in a face-to-face setting. Sure, an excellent preparation, a clear negotiation strategy, and profound knowledge of key negotiation tactics are required to negotiate well. Of paramount importance, however, is the personality of the negotiator. And that´s delivered and reflected best when you can directly look in each others´eyes.

– By Andreas von der Heydt who is the Country Manager of Amazon BuyVIP in Germany.

10 Ways Companies Drive Away Talent

If there’s one word that’s almost certain to appear somewhere on every business’s website, that word is talent. Companies of every size love to talk about talent! They can talk about talent all day long.

It’s easy to talk about talent on a website or in a recruiting brochure. It’s easy to say “We value talent more than anything!”

Talk is cheap. Attracting talented people into an organization and hanging onto them — now that’s another story.

Most employers, sad to say, do a better job of driving talented people away than reeling them in, both during the selection process and after the talented person comes on board as a new employee. They don’t do it intentionally, of course. They can’t see how their systems, policies and attitudes frustrate and repel great people. It starts with the ugly and tedious, Black Hole processes by which new employees get hired.

black-holes-belong-in-space-not-recruiting

Those Applicant Tracking Systems are horrible talent repellents, but most of their owners don’t know they serve the same function as massive, barking, teeth-bared attack dogs at the gate.

Fearful people who believe they don’t have any power in their job search will submit to those awful systems. Switched-on people with alternatives will quickly say “Yikes, I’m not sticking around here” and apply for a job somewhere else.

Bring-Yourself-to-Work-Poster-from-Human-Workplace-poster-size

Once a newcomer starts the job, there are more talent repellents waiting. Some of them are cultural. Some of them are operational.

Here are our Top Ten favorite Talent Repellents — ten ways employers drive brilliant people away from their doors.

ZOMBIE-FIED JOB ADS

If your firm likes to talk about talent, first take a look at your company’s job ads. Most job ads do a better job of explaining what the candidate must have than of selling the job to a possible applicant! If your job ads don’t use a human voice and spend as much time selling the job as tossing around Essential Requirements, all the talent-talk is merely lip service.

BLACK HOLE RECRUITING PORTALS

If it takes a job-seeker an hour to complete all the mind-numbing fields in your Applicant Tracking System, the best people have already fled for greener pastures. If you’re a Recruiting Director or a curious CEO, ask your ATS vendor what the abandonment rate is on your recruiting site. How many people, in other words, start the process and then drop out of it? There’s your talent on the hoof, off to a friendlier welcome mat than you were able to lay out.

ROBOTIC COMMUNICATION

Once you start to communicate with applicants in the selection pipeline, what kinds of messages do you use? The evil Passive Voice type (“Your application has been received”) is a surefire talent barrier. Why not say “Wow! Thanks for applying for a job with us. Give us a few days to look at our openings and your background. We’ll be back in touch, either way!” Then, actually close the loop. None of this mealy-mouthed “If we want to call you, we will” stuff meets the Human Workplace test. You can do better than that.

INFLEXIBLE TIME OFF POLICIES

Once a new hire comes on board, he or she can only dive into the job whole-heartedly if the rest of his or life is attended to. A client of ours took a job and quit on the first day, during orientation, when she asked the orientation leader “How would it work if I have a court case three weeks from today, a half hour away in the city? I only need to leave an hour early.”

The orientation chickadee said “There’s no provision for that. You have to come in. You don’t get time off benefits for sixty days.”

The new employee, sensing danger, said “No problem, I’ll talk to my manager about it” and the orientation gal said “I’ve already noted your name and the date. You must change your personal schedule that day.”

The newbie bailed, her hiring manager called her to say “But I would have figured it out for you!” and the ex-employee said “Culture is everything. I’m not taking a job with a manager whose response to Godzilla process is to sneak around it.” If you don’t find your voice in a case like that, when will you ever do it?

HEAR NO EVIL FEEDBACK SYSTEMS

My science friends tell me that entropy is a feature of closed systems. When no new information comes in, things break down. So it is in corporations where there’s no upward feedback, such that executive leaders are spared the inconvenience of reacting to messy reality and permitted to bask in the awesomeness of their delusional plans undisturbed. If your employer doesn’t have robust, active, constant feedback mechanisms in place and an appetite for hearing about life on the street, you’re pushing away talent as we speak.

SCROOGETASTIC COMPENSATION PLANS

I was a corporate HR leader for decades. If you want to gauge an organization’s ability to snag and keep talent, look at its pay policies. When you knock the ball out of the park and your manager says “I’m really sorry, but I can only give you a two percent raise, because, you know, it’s our policy,” you’ve learned all you need to know about the importance of talent in your shop.

HEY, YOU STOLE MY IDEA

They say information is power. If people use information like a club to beat one another with, nothing good will happen for your clients or shareholders. If your organization is the kind where people keep quiet about their ideas to prevent them from being stolen, the universe wants you to hightail it out of there. If you’re in charge of a joint like that, you’ve got some trust-building work to do.

GODZILLA PROCESSES

Some processes are good, but lots of them are cumbersome, slow and stupid. Check out our Nine Signs of a Bad Process wheel below to see what I’m talking about. If people who come to work ready to rock it are prevented from doing their work because some fear-based process is gumming up the works, I guarantee you’re losing talent. People might be sitting at their desks when you walk by, but their hearts and brains are elsewhere.

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CONSTRUCTIVE SNIPING

Leaders who can coach and inspire employees are one in a million, and thank God for them! Leaders who pick and quibble and snipe are people who fear that a Mojofied team might threaten their own petty power. If your environment is a snipe-fest, good people won’t stay. How can you get anything important done in a place like that?

TRIUMPH OF THE BEST AND BROWN-NOSIEST

The last Talent Repellent on our list is a culture that rewards brown-nosing and punishes honest dissent. Most of us have seen organizations like this, where Yes Men and Women are exalted and passionate people asking tough questions are silenced. Life is too short to work in a place like that. The world is too big, there are too many meaty problems to solve, and too many brilliant people for you to collaborate with in trust-based, forward-looking organizations for you to waste another femtosecond among Godzilla’s handlers.

In your job search and on the job, only the people who get you deserve you. Your gut knows the difference. Can you listen to it? -Liz Ryan

How to Get Your Employees to Think Strategically

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Studies show that strategic thinking is the most important element of leadership. But how do you instill the trait in others at your company?

What leadership skill do your employees, colleagues, and peers view as the most important for you to have? According Robert Kabacoff, the vice president of research at Management Research Group, a company that creates business assessment toolsit’s the ability to plan strategically.

He has research to back it up: In the Harvard Business Review, he cites a 2013 study by his company in which 97 percent of a group of 10,000 senior executives said strategic thinking is the most critical leadership skill for an organization’s success. In another study, he writes, 60,000 managers and executives in more than 140 countries rated a strategic approach to leadership as more effective than other attributes including innovation, persuasion, communication, and results orientation.

But what’s so great about strategic thinking? Kabacoff says that as a skill, it’s all about being able to see, predict, and plan ahead: “Strategic leaders take a broad, long-range approach to problem-solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead, and planning. That means being able to think in multiple time frames, identifying what they are trying to accomplish over time and what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, in three years, to get there,” he writes. “It also means thinking systemically. That is, identifying the impact of their decisions on various segments of the organization–including internal departments, personnel, suppliers, and customers.”

As a leader, you also need to pass strategic thinking to your employees, Kabacoff says. He suggests instilling the skill in your best managers first, and they will help pass it along to other natural leaders within your company’s ranks. Below, read his five tips for how to carry out this process.

Dish out information.

Kabacoff says that you need to encourage managers to set aside time to thinking strategically until it becomes part of their job. He suggests you provide them with information on your company’s market, industry, customers, competitors, and emerging technologies. “One of the key prerequisites of strategic leadership is having relevant and broad business information that helps leaders elevate their thinking beyond the day-to-day,” he writes.

Create a mentor program.

Every manager in your company should have a mentor. “One of the most effective ways to develop your strategic skills is to be mentored by someone who is highly strategic,” Kabacoff says. “The ideal mentor is someone who is widely known for his/her ability to keep people focused on strategic objectives and the impact of their actions.”

Create a philosophy.

As the leader, you need to communicate a well-articulated philosophy, a mission statement, and achievable goals throughout your company. “Individuals and groups need to understand the broader organizational strategy in order to stay focused and incorporate it into their own plans and strategies,” Kabacoff writes.

Reward thinking, not reaction.

Whenever possible, try to promote foresight and long-term thinking. Kabacoff says you should reward your managers for the “evidence of thinking, not just reacting,” and for “being able to quickly generate several solutions to a given problem and identifying the solution with the greatest long-term benefit for the organization.”

Ask “why” and “when.”

Kabacoff says you need to promote a “future perspective” in your company. If a manager suggests a course of action, you need to him or her ask two questions: First, what underlying strategic goal does this action serve, and why? And second, what kind of impact will this have on internal and external stakeholders? “Consistently asking these two questions whenever action is considered will go a long way towards developing strategic leaders,” he writes. -BY 

Are You the Smartest Person in the Room? Let’s Hope Not.

Smartest person in the room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best thing that can happen to you as a boss is hiring a person who is smarter, more creative, or in some way more talented than you are. It’s like winning the lottery. Suddenly you’ve got a team member whose talent will very likely improve everyone’s performance and reputation. Including yours.

Yes, it’s human nature to feel fearful that a “superior” employee could make you look, well, inferior, and perhaps slow down your career progress. But in reality, the exact opposite usually occurs.

The reason is that leaders are generally not judged on their personal output. What would be the point of evaluating them like individual contributors? Rather, most leaders are judged on how well they’ve hired, coached, and motivated their people, individually and collectively—all of which shows up in the results. That’s why when you sign up top performers and release their energy, you don’t look bad. You look like the goose that laid the golden egg.

So keep laying them. It is a rare company that doesn’t love a boss who finds great people and creates an environment where they flourish. And you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to do that. Indeed, when you consistently demonstrate that leadership skill and come to be known as the person in your company who can land and build the best, watch your career take off.

Now, we’re not saying managing “superior” employees on your team is necessarily easy. We received a question from an audience member at a speech in Chicago several years ago who said two of his seven direct reports were smarter than he was. He asked: “How can I possibly appraise them?”

“What the heck happened to the other five?” was our attempt at a lighthearted response. But we took his point.

How in the world do you evaluate people whom you feel are more talented than you?

You don’t. That is, you don’t evaluate them on their intelligence or particular skill set. Of course, you talk about what they are doing well, but just as important, you focus on areas in which they can improve. It is no secret that some very smart people have trouble, for instance, relating to colleagues or being open to other people’s ideas. Indeed, some struggle with becoming leaders themselves. And that is where your experience, self-confidence, and coaching come into play.

In that way, then, managing superior employees is just like managing regular types. You have everything to gain from celebrating their growth and nothing at all to fear. -Jack and Suzy Welch