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Effectively Handling Internal Resistance When Leading Change

Originally published by Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Advanced Leadership Consulting

As an executive or a leader in any capacity, you’re going to seek innovation and change in order to continue growing as an organization. Change can be scary, but as a leader, it’s your job to shepherd people forward into the future.

Every time you try to institute change or propose a new way of working, you’re going to come across a handful of people who try to negate your ideas or who refuse to incorporate the new processes. Many employees and your fellow executives will experience (and voice) their insecurities and concerns, while others will actively try to prevent progress from happening.

To prepare yourself for this, you should understand the basic types of resistance and how to work with these individuals or learn how to work around them.

The Types of Resistance You Can Work With or Around

Within an established institution, it's natural to "kick up a little dust" when you start recommending a change. People will naturally be worried, but not everyone will try to undermine your suggestions. The people who do put up a fight will do so in a few ways:

“Things are working just fine for me the way they are.”

These people like to keep the status quo because they are benefiting the most from the current state of affairs. Whether this is in regard to how many sales they make, how they manage the department, or even what their salary is, they don’t want change because the change won’t directly benefit them.

You will need to help these individuals see that the coming changes will benefit them in the long run, or show that their current system is flawed. If they can’t be swayed, let them know the changes will happen without them.

“I’ll help you institute these changes if you throw me a bone.”

A number of other executives will try this tactic. Maybe they want more funding for their department or they want a personal raise. Maybe they just promise to stay out of your way and not raise a fuss if you do this “one thing” for them.

Sometimes, if the demands aren’t like a hostage situation, you can consider meeting them. Other times, you will have to seek peer or other executives’ support to help you address the situation by, in effect, out numbering them. They may need to see that the boat is leaving with everyone else on board, and they will be left behind if they don’t climb on board too.

“I’m not going to help you, but I won’t stand in your way .”

Passive aggressive resistance is probably the hardest you’ll have to deal with in your executive work. Even if they agree to your changes or accept specific tasks to move your idea forward, you’ll see that they drag their feet, miss deadlines, or make comments that they are “only doing what’s best for the company.”

While they’ll never admit that they are trying to resist, you will have to either give them harder deadlines or more specific responsibilities. Passive aggressive people hate being publicly held accountable. Knowing that they will be called out usually does the trick.

“I know more about this company and its processes than you.”

The people who believe they are vital to the workings of the company and who have (probably) been there longer than you hold a lot of clout over their fellow employees. This is going to be a big roadblock for anyone trying to institute change. Instead of trying to work with just this one person, try working with the group.

This will prevent the “more experienced” individual from miscommunicating to others and will allow your process, logic, and answers to be visible to the group. Address the concerns the team (and this individual) has head-on, and show the resistant person that the team is behind you. This person is not going to back down until he or she sees that he or she is in the minority.

Embody the Idea That Change is Good

The most important role you will ever have as a leader is showing people that change will be beneficial. No matter what kind of resistance you meet, the base of it all is fear of the unknown. As the capable leader you have planned and plotted in the face of the unknown. It’s your job to show people how you’re going to move forward and overcome obstacles and mitigate risks in ways that benefit the business and everyone involved.

Carl Robinson, Ph.D., is a business psychologist and executive coach in Seattle who focuses on the development of high performance leaders. Dr. Robinson has over 20 years’ experience using research based, proven in the trenches, motivational and performance enhancement technologies to help individuals and organizations improve their effectiveness. His clients come from a variety of industries and organizations primarily centered on companies who offer intellectually based products and services in highly competitive, volatile markets with people who are intelligent, creative and usually impatient. E: t: 206.545.1990

Personnel(ly) Speaking is a monthly comment on HR issues of importance. It is intended to provide general information and must not be construed as legal advice. Reproductions are allowed as long as credit for this information is given to PMSI. We welcome your comments, questions, and concerns. © PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, INC., Corporate Office, (425) 576-1900

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Mergers and Acquisitions from the Employee’s Perspective

What do you get when the economy is good, interest rates are low, and a whole bunch of baby boomer business owners are retiring? You guessed it. You get a lot of Mergers and Acquisitions. We have had three clients go through this process in just the last couple of months.

Of course, this is the natural evolution of small business and if done correctly, is a very good thing. Succession planning is the responsibility of every good business owner.

Because of the nature of these transactions, they are almost always conducted confidentially and out of sight from employees until they are finalized. When finally announced, the transaction can appear rushed and somewhat chaotic. This can cause real stress on the workforce. Here are some typical employee concerns that management should address as early on as possible. Doing so will temper some of the employee stress inherent in these transactions. You will notice that many of these questions deal with employees on an individual basis. The “what about me” question is always the number one question. Under stress this is what people are concerned about. The sooner you can answer these questions, the better.

• Will my job function or title change?
• Will there be layoffs?
• Who will I report to?
• Who is paying my paycheck?
• Who do I go to with questions?
• I already have time off approved. Will it be honored? Will I be paid for it?
• Will my pay structure stay the same? What about my current bonus and commission structure?
• Will my work hours stay the same?
• Will my benefits change?
• Will my 401(k) change? Will there be matching funds for the 401(k) contributions?
• Will my paid time off accruals (PTO)/vacation/sick time remain the same?
• Why are we acquiring/merging with ______?
• How do our customers benefit?
• Should we keep moving forward on current commitments? Or are we pausing?
• How should I communicate this change to our vendors and customers?
• Who are their leaders?
• Are we moving?

Every business owner should take seriously the impact to employees of any merger or acquisition. The amount of stress on an individual level should not be underestimated. HR people can help. Call us if we can be of assistance.
#hrpmsi #mergers #acquisitions

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The Changing Role of Employee Benefits

The Changing Role of Employee Benefits…. and we aren’t talking about Health Care

Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., a national insurance broker with a substantial presence in the Northwest, recently hosted a seminar in Seattle titled Innovation in Total Rewards. The seminar was very well done and showcased what top performing employers provide as benefits to their employees.

In the room were Human Resource Managers from many prominent Seattle area employers each trying to better understand the needs and desires of today’s work force. As you might imagine, the reaction to the presentation was mixed. Some HR Managers are looking for the competitive edge asking “What is the latest and greatest new benefit that I can provide to recruit and retain my workforce?” Others sat in bewilderment asking “How am I possibly going to afford these new and expensive benefits - much less have the time to administer them?” Still others simply noted how far we have come from the day where simply providing a regular paycheck and a week of vacation was pretty good.

The term “Total Rewards” refers to the idea that when we look at an employee’s compensation we need to look well beyond the basic paycheck. Total Compensation includes all cash and non-cash benefits. This may include salary, bonus, stock, stock options, health benefits, retirement benefits, wellness programs, EAP, life and disability insurance and paid time off. The list however goes on and can be extremely creative with such things as free gourmet meals, onsite massage, gym memberships, car washes, onsite yoga, oil changes, concierge services, pet care, day care, loaner automobiles, concert tickets, sabbaticals, clothing allowance, education and tuition benefits, financial planning, transportation and parking reimbursement.

What seems most remarkable is how far this has all progressed. There has been a significant evolution in the role of the workplace in American life. Employees are expecting, and employers are providing, services that would be unimaginable to our grandparents. This workplace cultural evolution is similar to what our schools have been experiencing for years. The days have long since passed when schools limited their activities to classroom learning. Today’s schools provide a whole host of other services including breakfast and lunch, health and social services, before and after school childcare. Today’s families are complex, and teachers often comment that they are part social worker as well as teacher. Children and families in general are looking for more from their local school.

Like the classroom, the workplace has certainly been redefined in today’s society. Students and workers have learned to see the school and the workplace as something beyond places to learn and work.

HR Managers and CEOs, like teachers and school leaders, must adapt to this new reality. Employees see the workplace as an extension of their personal lives, more than just a place of work. HR undoubtedly finds itself taking a much bigger role in helping the organization meet the broad expectations of employees.

If you need further assistance on this or any other Human Resource issue, call on Personnel Management Systems.

Personnel(ly) Speaking is a monthly comment on HR issues of importance. It is intended to provide general information and must not be construed as legal advice. Reproductions are allowed as long as credit for this information is given to PMSI. We welcome your comments, questions, and concerns. © PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, INC., Corporate Office, (425) 576-1900
#HRpmsi #HR #humanresources #SHRM #employeebenefits #PHR

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Workplace Investigations 101

May 2016

This month's Personnel(ly) Speaking is from Aviva Kamm

Your Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination policy must be working, because an employee has notified Human Resources about his belief that a colleague is creating a hostile work environment for another employee . . . Now what?

When the alleged offender is a coworker, as opposed to a manager who has the power to take or recommend tangible actions affecting the employee, investigating and responding appropriately to the complaint can provide an employer a complete defense to any claims of discrimination. A prompt investigation will also build employee morale by reinforcing your organization’s commitment to equal employment opportunity.

What are the features of an effective investigation? The EEOC’s Guidance on Vicarious Liability for Unlawful Harassment by Supervisors sets three high-level standards by which investigations will be measured: investigations should be prompt, impartial and thorough. Consider those standards and the following guidelines whenever you are faced with a new employee complaint.

Key Steps of a Workplace Investigation:

1. Consider Interim Measures. Depending on the severity of the allegations and the particular circumstances of the workplace and the individuals involved, are there steps you should take to prevent continuation of the alleged conduct while you investigate and determine how to respond? For example, could one employee be moved to a different shift or a different work station? Should one employee be placed on an administrative leave? Is a report to law enforcement or a referral to your EAP or a mental health provider appropriate? Is there any evidence that must be collected immediately to prevent loss or destruction, such as security recordings or text messages?

2. Select an Investigator. Sometimes a company’s internal Human Resources department can conduct the investigation and is well situated to do so because of easy access to witnesses and documents and background knowledge to serve as context. On other occasions, the senior level of the individuals involved, severity of allegations, potential or actual litigation threats, or the need for specialized skills will make it more appropriate to select an outside investigator who will infuse the investigation with neutrality and offer the option of protecting the investigation with attorney-client privilege.

3. Identify the Issues. Don’t let a relatively small employee complaint become the Investigation from the Black Lagoon! Too often, investigations grow in size and scope beyond what is needed to be “thorough.” The content and depth of the investigation will vary depending on the allegations. Sometimes, the “investigation” will be no more than one or two informal conversations. Keep it in perspective.

4. Identify Witnesses, Documents and Other Evidence. The investigation may evolve as you learn new information, but at the outset, identify the sources — people, documents and things — that will provide information relevant to the inquiry, and plan a logical order to gather the information.

4. Conduct Interviews and Examine Documents and Evidence. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. Remember the issues you identified and stay focused on those items. Note any additional issues that arise and consult with management whether those issues should be added to the investigation or will be handled in a different way or by different people.

6. Document Your Work. You don’t get credit for the homework you don’t turn in. By the same token, an investigation loses much of its value if the employer does not have a tool to remember the steps it took, the information learned and the findings reached. The level of formality in a summary of the investigation will vary with the employer’s management style, urgency and budget, complexity of the allegations, sensitivity of information at issue and other factors. It may be as simple as a short email or result in a lengthy typed report, but some sort of record of the investigation should be preserved.

7. Separate the Investigation from the Response. In some cases, the same individuals will investigate as decide whether and how to respond to an employee complaint. Even when the same person or group serves these dual roles, separate the steps wherever possible so that the decision is based on fact rather than prejudgment and the investigation retains its impartiality.

8. Acknowledge and Respect Emotions. Remember that this is an unusual and stressful event for everyone involved in a workplace investigation, from the employee with the complaint to the accused person to the coworkers who worry about the repercussions for them. Throughout the process, treat everyone with sensitivity, which can take many forms: timing interviews to avoid overlap with work deadlines; providing updates on your progress or anticipated completion when possible; conducting interviews in a discreet location. Showing consideration for people’s fears goes a long way toward earning buy-in and confidence in the process.

Aviva Kamm is a shareholder with Stokes Lawrence, P.S. in Seattle. She advises and represents both employers and employees in workplace disputes, counsels companies on employment law compliance and conducts independent workplace investigations.

#humanresources #hr #investigatons #pmsi

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Attracting and Keeping Top Talent

By Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Advanced Leadership Consulting

Make no mistake: your top-performing talent is aware of their value to the company. They also hold the company to a higher standard because they know they deserve it. Finding this sometimes-elusive talent—and keeping them—requires that senior leaders humanize their companies by investing empathy and communication and a good deal of trust in the employees who demonstrate the most potential.

Those on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For make the list based on management’s credibility, employee job satisfaction and the camaraderie they enjoy with co-workers, as well as corporate culture. The take-away from this methodology is not a huge surprise, because it reveals only that employees are people, first and foremost. To recruit, keep, and further develop the country's best talent, top management has to embrace their human resources and their own humanity.

Here's where you start.

1. Stop talking and start listening. If you have a top-down management style, let it go. Top performers want engagement and ownership, and that requires an interactive approach to managing people.

2. Listen without planning a response. It's not really listening if you're thinking about what you'll say in response.

3. Ask questions. Clarify to make sure you understand what you're hearing. It may be that a perceived problem isn't the main problem at all. Only questions can lead to the truth.

4. Give feedback. Employees like the sandwich method of constructive criticism. (It's what makes it constructive.) Point out something done right, give an example of opportunity for improvement, and give another positive boost to leave them with a good feeling and hope for a better performance next time.

5. Say the hard things. We know it's hard to say “I'm sorry,” or “I was wrong,” but why does it seem like it's equally difficult for some leaders to say “Thank you,” or “Good job”? Say the hard things every day. It makes you more human in the eyes of your employees, and it builds trust.

6. Encourage questions. Survey respondents tell us repeatedly that they want to be able to ask“why?” and not be penalized or given “because I said so” answers.

7. Give assignments but leave out the “how.” You'll be surprised what methods innovative performers will develop to do the work when given autonomy and a measure of trust.

8. Give rewards of praise, promotion, and profit. The people worth keeping are worthy of all three. Tell them they're important to your company's success with metrics, benefits, and opportunities for training that make them even more of an asset.

9. Keep your door open. A recent article, “Boost Your Employee Retention—Without Breaking the Bank” by Rick Goodman, reveals that top talent doesn't quit a company—they quit a boss. Be accessible so they can talk to you about issues before they start a new job search.

10. Make winning everyone's mission. Everyone loves being on a winning team. Focus on your top players' strengths, craft a vision and mission statement as a team, and be their cheerleader as well as their mentor. No one wants to leave a job that is rewarding and fulfilling, so make that your own personal mission.

Carl Robinson, Ph.D., is a business psychologist and executive coach in Seattle who focuses on the development of high performance leaders. Dr. Robinson has over 20 years experience using research based, proven in the trenches, motivational and performance enhancement technologies to help individuals and organizations improve their effectiveness. His clients come from a variety of industries and organizations primarily centered on companies who offer intellectually based products and services in highly competitive, volatile markets with people who are intelligent, creative and usually impatient. E: t: 206.545.1990

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Reinventing Performance Management

This month's newsletter comes from Peter Scontrino, Ph.D.

The past few years have seen organizations dramatically change their performance management practices. Why is this happening? Very few managers and employees are satisfied with performance management the way it has been done in the past.
  • 95% of managers are dissatisfied with their performance review systems
  • 59% of employees feel performance reviews are not worth the time invested
  • 56% of employees said that they did not receive feedback on what to improve
  • The cost for the average manager to follow the organization’s performance management process approaches $11,000 per year
  • The cost for the average employee to comply with the organization’s performance management process is nearly $900 per year
  • The return on this investment in performance management is negative
During the first two days of October, the Society of Industrial-Organization Psychology sponsored a conference on reinventing performance management. Experts in the field as well as a dozen corporations including GE, Pfizer, the FBI, Deloitte, Sears, Eli Lilly, Google, Walmart, Cargill, and Rockwell Collins shared their insights and their new approaches to performance management.

The best practices identified during this conference included:
  • Have very clear goals for the performance management process
  • Involve senior leadership in developing your organization’s better approach to performance management
  • Focus more on identifying performance goals at the beginning of the year with specific encouragement to change the goals as conditions change during the year
  • Identify clear performance expectations for each person
  • Eliminate forced distribution systems affectionately known as “rank and yank”
  • Eliminate ratings completely
  • Have very frequent informal conversations about performance. “Very frequently” ranged from weekly conversations to monthly conversations
  • Focus on strengths and provide feedback on things that the employee can change
  • Train raters on how to hold an informal feedback conversation. It is tougher to do than it sounds.

For more information visit

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Keep Great Employees from Quitting

By Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Advanced Leadership Consulting

Recruiting top talent represents one of the biggest challenges corporations face, as well as the biggest up-front investment. Keeping the great talent you have is therefore the ultimate goal. Yet, a recent study reveals that one-third of nearly 10,000 respondents in 8 countries are struggling with whether or not to leave their jobs. So, the question is not if you'll lose some of your best employees, but when.

Here are the top five ways you can keep great employees from sending out resumes:

1) Pay employees what they're worth.
The number one reason employees leave is a disparity between how much their pay has increased in recent years, and how much their cost of living has increased. Provide plenty of opportunities for raises, bonuses, and value-added incentives like on-site day care, car allowances, and other programs that effectively reduce that disparity. Even if a big raise isn't in the budget this year, there are ways you can show employees that you value their contribution and recognize their efforts.

2) Provide advancement opportunities.
At the top of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is the need for Self-Actualization. Top-flight employees want and need to have growth opportunities. They will not stay very long where they don't feel challenged and where they don't feel their bosses take their development seriously.

Ignoring low maintenance employees is also a mistake. Don't make the mistake of thinking that just because someone appears to be self-reliant they don't need or want feedback and coaching. In my work with top performers, I frequently hear that these folks feel guilty taking up their boss's time. Therefore, they often don't ask. You will need to reach out to them.

3) Focus on efficiency, not overtime.
Third on the list of reasons great employees quit is that they're consistently working more than 40 hours a week. That tips the balance toward an unhealthy organizational culture, and leaves employees having to juggle work and family obligations. When you force workers into choosing between having a life and a career, they will nearly all choose having a life eventually. Instead of stretching team members thin, ask for their input into best practices that encourage efficiency and productivity (see 4 and 5).

4) Encourage teamwork.
Full-time employees need a social aspect to their daily grind that also contributes to their feelings of professional fulfillment. That's where building a team-based culture can work wonders. Human beings are social, collaborative creatures with a competitive drive. Foster a dynamic and fulfilling team culture, and you'll notice an increase in productivity, efficiency, and morale.

5) Allow flexible work schedules.
Employees are facing more responsibilities at work, and at home. They need a more flexible work schedule than a traditional business day allows. That means that more than ever, employees are working compressed work weeks, and they're telecommuting and proving that it can be done well.

Make the switch to flexible schedules without reservation, because workers are wise to the backhanded tactics some companies use to discourage use of the flex schedule options. That conveys a clear message that the company is dishonest and doesn't trust employees to be honest with their time spent working from home. Just remember: autonomy is often the catalyst that propels good employees into greatness.

Jim Collins, the author of "Good to Great," found that the best leaders are known for "getting the right people on the bus." He didn't mention that the tougher challenge is keeping them on the bus. The hope is that these five steps will help you do just that.

Carl Robinson, Ph.D., is a business psychologist and executive coach in Seattle who focuses on the development of high performance leaders. Dr. Robinson has over 20 years experience using research based, proven in the trenches, motivational and performance enhancement technologies to help individuals and organizations improve their effectiveness. His clients come from a variety of industries and organizations primarily centered on companies who offer intellectually based products and services in highly competitive, volatile markets with people who are intelligent, creative and usually impatient. E: t: 206.545.1990

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Dramatic HR

Sunsets off the coast of Maui should be dramatic. Your Human Resource department should not be.

We have been providing HR services to Puget Sound area organizations now for more than 30 years. We do darn good work and have happy clients and employees to show for it. The other day a business owner was responding to one of our client satisfaction surveys and said we are boring! She didn’t say it exactly like that, but basically they said they wanted to spice things up. Things seemed too “predictable, too routine.”

Now we’ve been the HR department for this client for 20 years so maybe things might have gotten a bit stale. However, “boring” really got our attention. No one, particularly a company like ours that prides ourselves on providing amazing customer service, wants to be called boring, predictable, or routine. Our team got working on ways to spice things up, while I got to thinking about what dramatic HR really looks like.

I have seen “dramatic HR” and sometimes it is not pretty. In fact, sometimes we have replaced internal HR departments because there was too much drama! Here are some examples of “dramatic” HR:

  1. A brand new employee shows up for the first day of work. There is no one to greet him, no New Employee Orientation prepped and ready to go, no documents, no offer letter – nothing. Just disorganization and confusion. It’s a scramble. Not the best impression on the new employee.

  2. The mad dash health insurance Open Enrollment .The lack of planning creates a firestorm of activity - no time to review competitive quotes or really even understand any changes the carrier made to your plan. Employee meetings are disorganized, materials are confusing, employees are frustrated, and HR runs around for weeks trying to get all the forms completed.

  3. Safety is so far down on the priority list that it is hard to know if management even cares. I was visiting a company (not a client) one day and asked them about accidents. The owner then told the story of how the warehouse guys used one fork lift to lift another fork lift so they could reach a high point on the warehouse ceiling. Yes, this was dramatic HR but not the kind any sane employer would want to experience!

  4. Finding good people is absolutely paramount to some organizations’ survival and certainly their growth. But they have no Recruitment plan, no retention plan, and no creative ways whatsoever to help them attract, screen, and hire new people. Instead they have overworked and overstressed employees who in some cases aren’t even trained or qualified to do the job. Yes, that creates all kinds of drama!

I could also give you lots of examples of dramatic HR that result in harassment claims, wrongful termination charges, union grievances, wage claims, etc. Lots of crazy stories of what dramatic HR really looks like. I don’t think many businesses would voluntarily sign up for the “dramatic” version. Frankly, a little more boring and maybe a little more routine would be most people’s choice.

Predictable, organized, and yes, maybe even boring looks like this (using my same examples from above):
  1. New hires show up at the right place and time. They have their ID and other information necessary to complete the paperwork because they have already received a new hire letter. HR has already organized the New Employee Orientation; information is organized, professional in appearance, and ready to go. HR greets the new employee, reviews the Employee Handbook, explains the benefits, and helps with payroll paperwork. Other managers are ready to go with their part of the orientation. The new employee is impressed; Payroll has the documents they need; and the employee is launched successfully.

  2. Open Enrollment happens like other big company decisions. Management has the information they need well in advance. There is time to ask questions, consider options, and make well informed decisions. There is adequate time to plan employee meetings and get necessary paperwork completed. Employees truly appreciate and value the benefits available to them.

  3. Safety is top of mind. Injuries are rare and taken very seriously. There is a functioning Safety Committee, on-going training, OSHA logs, meeting minutes, and a written and well executed plan.

  4. The employment function is not an afterthought. There is a Recruitment plan in place to generate applicant flow and a well-thought-out screening and hiring process. Managers are focused on hiring and retaining good people.

  5. Good HR may not be all that dramatic or exciting. But good HR means you can focus on running your business. Policies are well written; managers are well trained. Efficient systems that make sense are in place and result in engaged and productive employees.

    Call us if you need well run, predictable HR for your organization. This is what we do.

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Human Equation & Business Reality

5 Tips for Winning the War for Talent in Tough Times

Written by:
Randy Boek
Professional Outsider, President

Philosophically this isn't quantum physics. Practically it is tough to do. You may be a leader with the resources of a multi-billion dollar global corporation or the owner of a start-up - it doesn't matter, even in the current economic upheaval it remains tough to get and keep talented people. There are five methodologies for balancing a quadratic equation. Here are five suggestions for balancing the human equation.

  1. Money Matters. Money isn't the only medium of exchange in the employment equation but don't believe for a minute that it isn't important. Reality may cause adjustments. Appreciate the sacrifice, commit to the longer term.

  2. Communicate - Communicate - Communicate. You've said it once. You're the boss. People should get it and act on it - now. Well, it doesn't quite work that way. In times of great change and ambiguity, direction and messages change, sometimes on a dime. When people are overloaded and distracted more and better communication is essential to keeping people engaged and focused on results.

  3. WIIFM. From the CEO to the clerk, everyone answers this question persistently and individually. Do you know how each individual you lead defines WIIFM (What's in it for me)? Does each person you lead clearly understand what the business and you expect of them? One size doesn't fit all and you don't have to control the corporate checkbook to make a positive impact here. Understanding and acting here can have a big impact when
    other aspects of the employment equation have to be out of balance due to business reality.

  4. Commitment is a two way street. Know each team member and do your best to get them what they need in order to do their best for the business. As a leader you can create something bigger than self, something people are excited to be a part of, camaraderie, appreciation, recognition, opportunity, and professional growth. People hear what you say - maybe. People see your actions that impact them - always. Whether your actions demonstrate caring and commitment or not, people know you by what you do. Employee or employer, this is the truth.

  5. Soft stuff is the hard stuff. We expect business results of all from CEO to the shop floor employee. Without growth, revenue and ultimate profitability, all bets are off. Clearly understood expectations, competitive compensation, and a valid system of measuring performance are basic price of admission factors. High performing leaders also apply the perspective and soft skills necessary. They keep talented people engaged, focused, and working effectively with others, to serve customers with excellence. They expand the
    capability of people and ensure that employees are doing their best for the business.

Leaders are accountable. Good economy or bad we still have to deliver results. We must do what we believe is best for the business and it may not always be what is best for individuals. In some cases it may simply not be possible to keep the employment equation in balance to the extent that the employment agreement must end. That is reality and I do not know any leaders who enjoy the painful process. Short of that we can be conscious of the equation and take steps to rebalance when one aspect of it must go out of balance.

Here are a few questions to ponder in the mirror:

In what ways is the quality of leadership in my business worthy of the talented high quality people that are essential to the success of the business?

What do my leadership team and I do consistently that builds a level of trust and loyalty so that employees will stay engaged and committed during challenging times?

Where is the business at risk due to the human equation being out of balance and what must be done to fix it?

Randy Boek is the President of Route2Results and has experience developing strategic plans for organizations. If you need help or have questions about strategic planning or leadership consulting and development for your business, call on us or contact Randy directly.

Republication permission: Randy Boek, Professional Outsider/President, Route2Results. “5 Tips for Winning the War for Talent in Tough times” (425) 242-5039


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5 Key Steps to Building Team Energy

By Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Advanced Leadership Consulting

A few years ago, a client of mine was leading the marketing department of a major financial services firm: high profile, internationally respected brand. Many of his people worked long hours, and some traveled quite extensively. Yet, no one ever seemed to mind. In fact, there was always an energetic buzz about them.

The group consistently met and exceeded personal and department goals. The work they produced was not only dependable, but outstanding, maybe even mind-blowing at times. And, every team member met the bonus threshold year after year. Even with the amount of known responsibilities on their collective plate, there was a long line to be considered for any one coveted position that might arise.

How was it possible? Ask any member of that team what made the difference and they would answer the same: leadership. They had a boss who knew how to motivate. They had a leader who knew how to inspire. They had a leader who knew how to bring an energy to that team that every other manager wanted to replicate.

While some of that energy can be credited to a naturally strong character/personality, any truly passionate leader can duplicate these results. All it takes is dedication to and repetition of these 5 steps:

  1. Get All Involved. Team members need to know the mission and vision; they need to understand the goals; and they even need to be an integral part of figuring out how to reach those goals. Allowing them to be a part of the entire process rather than just the “tools” will give them greater motivation to perform and excel.

  2. Make Alignments. People perform better when allowed to focus on their strengths and do what they love. Get to know your team members and really learn, if you don’t already, what they’re good at. You may be surprised at not only the hidden talents you unearth, but also the sudden burst of excitement and passion you discover as well when employees begin to feel like they’re making more meaningful contributions.

  3. Open the Loop. Don’t wait until review time to update team members on progress. Consistent and regular updates keep the goals alive, ensure everyone is always on the right track, and provide ongoing reward for acknowledged milestones.

  4. Tie Performance to Reward. This is quite simple, but very important. There needs to be associated and appropriate rewards along the path, tied directly into the performance of team members.

  5. Lead by Example. One of the most notable characteristics of the leader described above was his passion for the company, its mission, its people, and his position within it. He truly loved his job and you could tell. “I’ll have what he’s having,” is something people said frequently when around him. He knew how to energize his team by demonstrating the passion and performance needed to do the job, do it right, and enjoy it in the process.

Carl Robinson, Ph.D., is a business psychologist and executive coach in Seattle who focuses on the development of high performance leaders. Dr. Robinson has over 20 years of experience using research based, proven in the trenches, motivational and performance enhancement technologies to help individuals and organizations improve their effectiveness. His clients come from a variety of industries and organizations primarily centered on companies who offer intellectually based products and services in highly competitive, volatile markets with people who are intelligent, creative and usually impatient.
E: t: 206.545.1990

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