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Bottom-up Thinking Through Messy Strategy: Creating Alignment Within Organizations

H ow do we do what is right by the people of our organization while protecting the company’s bottom line? The answer lies in reimagining the way we plan our strategies. Rather than relying on the age-old method of “top-down” thinking, we need to consider a new, more effective approach, that begins at the bottom and works its way up. This is a method we employ at TTI Success Insights and it works.

The concept of Messy Strategy is based on a “bottom-up” strategic planning process. Messy Strategy involves every employee seeing themselves in the company’s overall plan. This strategy succeeds when all employees have input in the plan and work toward a common goal. When the entire staff feels like they are a part of the planning process, they take ownership of the plan, even if their own personal contribution is a very small part of the overall strategy.

Messy Strategy involves every employee seeing themselves in the company’s overall plan.

What is Messy Strategy?

What if an organization had a roadmap to achieve consistently high-levels of success? What if the organization was able to bubble up all the unique and diverse ideas from the receptionist to the CEO, hearing the voice of every employee and incorporating that into the strategic plan? Imagine the results a company could achieve if every employee felt heard. What would that do for employee morale and engagement?

At TTI Success Insights, we use this approach and have been extremely happy with the results. It starts out with leadership asking the staff for candid feedback to an annual company survey. Year after year, our people contribute more and more constructive feedback, which gives us a better perspective of where we are and where we need to go.

An important thing to understand about the process is that it can be a significant investment of time – and messy – thus the name, Messy Strategy. In our case, the process involves reading hundreds of pages of feedback from employees. Going line by line, we read every single word that is written.

Messy Strategy may be intense, but it is also very invigorating. It gives us the intelligence we need to be able to formulate a plan that makes sense for our business. As leaders, we may believe we know exactly what the organization needs, but it’s not until we get the feedback from the entire staff that we fully understand the breadth and depth of the organization’s challenges.

Messy Strategy gives us the intelligence we need to be able to formulate a plan that makes sense for our business.

Once all the feedback is read, we brainstorm ideas, pasting a countless number of sticky notes on the walls. This helps us sort out what to do now, in the near future, in the distant future and whenever we get to it.

The key takeaway is that it’s not top-down, it’s bottom-up. Messy Strategy means hearing, feeling and understanding what every employee is thinking. Employees want to see themselves in the company plan. When they feel they are heard and that their input matters, they buy in. Having the ability to achieve a bottom-up strategy will give you a top-down confidence to execute your strategic plan.

 

How to make Messy Strategy work effectively

A few basic tenets need to be in place for Messy Strategy to work effectively. Organizations need to have a tolerance for failure, but not be willing to accept incompetence. Experimentation is acceptable if implemented with a highly disciplined approach. Brutally candid communication throughout the organization allows recalibration if the plan veers off course. Any member of the organization should be encouraged to speak up if something is not working.

Collaboration with individual accountability ensures everyone does their part. Finally, over communicate! Too much communication, rather than not enough, helps to address any uncertainty and confusion that may arise within an organization.

7 Techniques to Messy Strategy

Make sure the process fits your organization. Consider your company’s culture and employ a process consistent with that culture so the process feels natural. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Messy Strategy. Do what feels right for your company.

Plan for planning. Be very strategic about dates and times. If possible, break up planning sessions to provide time for reflection. Start with a deep dive, then pause and reflect. We tend to get overly optimistic during planning, so having time to reflect brings real-world perspective back into the process.

For us, taking a break between sessions, or having a day to contemplate the multitude of ideas, provides perspective. Time gives us a true feel for whether or not a strategy makes sense and is viable.

It’s recommended to do the planning on-site if your company has the right space. When employees see the leadership team working diligently to create a solid plan, it’s energizing to the staff. Off-site strategy can easily be misperceived by employees as leisure time for leaders. Let them see you working hard!

Give voice to the entire organization. Get a pulse on the culture. A great question to ask is, “If there is one thing you can change about the organization today, what would it be – and why?” Be sure to ask that question! It’s better to know what issues your employees have with your organization now, so you can make every attempt to correct any shortcomings. Try to ask the same questions year after year to find trends and common themes.

We didn’t realize our need as a company for a human resources professional until that fact came to light consistently during our surveys. Once we had that information, we took action by creating a new position and hiring a great candidate to fill it. The employees know they are being heard.

Identify “start, stop and continue” behaviors and actions. Figure out what is working, what isn’t and what is currently missing. This concept pertains to individuals and the organization as a whole. This recognizes jobs well done, while also pointing out areas of improvement. It’s just as important to celebrate the victories as it is to address the problems and challenges.

Start with actions, end with numbers. Once you can identify what needs to be improved, you can more effectively translate that into numbers, creating much more accurate goals. Taking this route usually results in higher-stretching goals compared with processes that start with the numbers.

Make the plan presentation special. In today’s virtual world, be sure to keep it tangible. At TTI SI, we hand out binders and schedule a full-staff presentation around the year’s strategic plan. We end the presentation with a Q&A session encouraging employee feedback. This interaction makes the strategic plan become a two-way agreement.

When presenting the plan, look for employees who light up because they see themselves in the plan. Positive energy is contagious! Once employees know they are being heard, it encourages them to be even more candid and forthcoming in the future.

Create a meeting cadence and follow it. There’s no “right” formula when it comes to best practices for meetings. Do what works best for your organization. Once you’ve identified a certain cadence, do your best to stick to it.

Circumstances may dictate making changes to the meeting schedule or format throughout the year, which is ok, as long as you clearly communicate those changes with the organization. Employees want to know that leadership has a firm grasp on the pulse of the organization.

Leading by example will help you accomplish strategic alignment with complete buy-in from the organization. Several times throughout the year, we follow up by sending short surveys to the staff enabling us to understand the pulse of the organization. This process lets us know if we are on track or need to make adjustments.

Final thoughts

Every organization has its own culture and its unique way of doing things. How Messy Strategy is implemented will vary company to company. The key is to make it work for your organization. The good news is that this is not the same old way of conducting business. Messy Strategy is an invigorating process that leads to positive results.

At TTI Success Insights, we believe in being as authentic and transparent as possible. Involving your staff and gaining their buy-in throughout the planning process will provide an organization of happy, productive employees aligned to the company’s strategic plan.

Article written by Ashley Bowers, President and Chief Strategy Officer for TTI Success Insights Global Consulting.

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The New Super Hero Team – Business, IT and HR

T he ongoing disconnect between business, HR, and IT is legendary and many managers and even some executives may believe this thrilling threesome has nothing in common. Business can no longer operate without good talent management and HR can no longer be effective without IT. Why do these three bickering siblings need to get along for a more successful future?

One might say that business is the hero that built America.

The Business of Business

America, unlike many believe, was not founded for political or religious reasons. When Queen Elizabeth I of England sent people to explore the New World, it was in pursuit of riches. Business helped grow those riches for England and America. Business has spawned many other heroes in the building of America. The United States is still one of the few places on the planet where anyone can build their own empire.  One might say that business is the hero that built America.

The business of business is all about another hero, its people. There will be no numbers to crunch, no products to sell, and no services to deliver without people. While there are giant heroes in America’s past, these are the everyday heroes who continue to build organizations. Boards and CEOs are staying awake at night worrying about recruiting and hiring good talent. This is particularly troublesome for organizations that are not born digital. Many an article has been written about the need for in-depth recruiting, good hiring processes, and fitting the right people to the right job. Oftentimes, an organization will get all that right but fall short once their valuable heroes are on board.

“The workforce continues to change, and people today need different requirements for recognition, communication, engagement, and motivation. A more individual approach is necessary to address these needs and ensure that every worker realizes his or her hero value. The other side of this coin is that organizations need talent that can adapt, be agile, and embrace changes brought about by the market, the economy, customer demands, and of course, technology.

IT is It

Years ago, I remember the sales department arguing that nothing would happen in business without them. They thought they were the business hero. HR would argue that if it wasn’t for them, there wouldn’t be any jobs because there would be no one to fill them. They thought they were the business hero. Today, IT may very well be the hero because neither sales nor HR can function efficiently without them. Technology touches every part of our lives and is now recognized for making valuable contributions to business success, customer service, including making life easier for HR. Indeed, technology touches every part of business playing a significant role in keeping every department operating smoothly. That’s a heroic feat if ever I heard one.

Many of the jobs available today didn’t exist just a few years ago and many new jobs are not too far away on the horizon.

While everyone is smart to keep abreast of trends, IT must do it on steroids. While change is rampant, changes in technology come at blinding speed. Technology not only changes how we work, but the jobs we do, as well. Many of the jobs available today didn’t exist just a few years ago and many new jobs are not too far away on the horizon.

 

HR The Caped Crusader

Having been in HR, I can appreciate the effort it takes to walk the fine line between the dictates of business and keeping up morale. Or, between dishing out discipline and building a friendly culture. And finally, between building diversity and being fair to everyone. Any manager who has forgotten to dot an “i” and cross a “t” who has had HR swoop in, bail them out and, magically make all the distress go away, will call HR a hero. However, HR must now enfold business and IT under its collaborative cape as “friendlies.”

Now HR must become a business partner. It’s not enough to know the organization sells stuff, money comes in and everyone gets paid. Now HR must understand business strategy, marketing, sales, and profit margins. Now HR must understand a lot of technology and partner with IT to operate efficiently, attract hero talent, and use technology to help the business grow and prosper. Technology is changing every aspect of business including HR. It’s changing the way jobs are posted, the way people apply, and employee development.

 

Stay in Your Own Lane

Recently I was at an international conference and the audience had the opportunity to ask questions to a panel of executives. I asked for their thoughts on the CEO, the CHRO, and the CFO becoming business partners. I was told that everyone should stay in their own lane.

Business heroes who might not have thought about being collaborative in the past must change their thinking pattern must solve problems together.

Business heroes who might not have thought about being collaborative in the past must change their thinking pattern must solve problems together. The same can be said for business, HR, and IT.

Article written by Diane Bogino, President of Performance Strategies, Inc.

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How Emotional Intelligence Can Help You Succeed in Work and in Life

E Q, or Emotional Quotient, was once known and understood by only the most savvy business executives who understood its importance in the marketplace. Those in the know knew that having a high EQ was often as important, or maybe more so, than possessing a high IQ. There was a time when EQ had a modest, at best, following. Not anymore.

There was a time when EQ had a modest, at best, following. Not anymore.

Much in the way that a band may enjoy nothing more than a cult-following before being thrust into mainstream stardom with a hit record, there was a time when EQ was generally unknown and often misunderstood. The select few who did understand the importance of EQ were small in numbers and their beliefs and management tactics may have been considered against the grain by mainstream’s thinkers of the time. Not anymore.

 

EQ goes mainstream

Today, EQ has gone mainstream. Less and less hiring managers are focusing on skill sets, extensive experience or IQ, instead focusing on candidates who possess a high EQ and appear to be a solid culture fit.

Savvy leaders understand the true value provided by a person possessing high emotional intelligence.

Savvy leaders understand the true value provided by a person possessing high emotional intelligence. EQ has reached the big time.

 

The importance of EQ

EQ is short for Emotional Quotient, also known as emotional intelligence. A foremost expert in the field, Daniel Goleman says that EQ refers to being aware of how our emotions drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively) and being able to manage those emotions, especially when under pressure.

Everyone has high EQ when things are going right. It’s easy to get along with people, have positive conversations and be an upstanding member of the organization, or society as a whole. What sets those with high EQ apart from the rest is how they operate under pressure.

 

Challenges to EQ

EQ can be challenged in a number of ways, and it can happen in an instant. For example, maybe you received some negative feedback. Your first impulse may be to get on the defensive and fight to protect your reputation. Do you act on that impulse? Do you tell that person exactly how you feel, for better or worse, or do you accept the feedback? Accepting and learning from negative feedback is a sign of higher EQ.

What happens when you are close to a deadline and have more work to do than time left to do it? Are you able to stay calm and systematically knock out the necessary tasks? Or, do you panic, begin to freak out and lash out at the first person you see because your world is coming unraveled? Staying calm is a sign of higher EQ.

Certain people can be a huge challenge to EQ. Some people are simply hard to get along with and can be a source of continuous conflict. How do you handle that coworker, customer or family member with whom you regularly clash?

If you are able to stay calm, keep the peace and show restraint, even when they push your buttons to red alert, you probably have high EQ.

If you are able to stay calm, keep the peace and show restraint, even when they push your buttons to red alert, you probably have high EQ.

 

EQ is not engrained

The good news is that EQ can continuously be improvedEmotional Intelligence should be looked at more as a journey than a destination. Every single day we can be a little better than we were yesterday, and it all starts with becoming more aware. The more aware we can be of our own emotions and the emotions of those around us, the more in control we will remain, and the more respect we will gain.

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Secrets for Attracting High-Performing Talent in Today’s Competitive Marketplace

T oday’s workers have different wants and needs compared to those of previous generations. Security and predictability have given way to preferences for flexibility, culture fit and a people-first focus.

Google recently published an article stating that psychological safety can be the number one dynamic that sets a successful team apart from others; more important that actual talent or resources. Psychological safety speaks to an environment where individuals can take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.

Psychological safety speaks to an environment where individuals can take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.

Defining employee experience

The employee experience can be defined as a set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organization. The employee experience (EX) signifies the entire life cycle an employee has with a company, from onboarding to departure.

When unemployment was higher, posting a job opening could often attract hundreds of candidates eager to find employment. That dynamic has changed. Now it can take several months to find that high-performing employee that possesses all the desired attributes. A great culture, people-focus and employee experience will be the components that will attract the best candidates.

The employee experience is all about people feeling good about the work they do and the company for which they work. It’s about being excited to go to work. A positive employee experience gives workers a feeling that they are a part of something special and that their contributions are meaningful to the organization.

A positive employee experience is not reserved for the elite workplaces in the world such as Apple, Zappos and Disney. EX is something that all organizations should aspire to in order to compete for top talent in the modern workplace.

“Employers must provide development more quickly, move people more regularly, provide continuous cycles of promotion and give employees more tools to manage their own careers.” Employees don’t want to come in and do the same thing day after day, week after week, year after year. They want to be challenged, know someone is listening to their ideas and that their ideas can and will take the organization to the next level.”

Components of a great employee experience

If an employee leaves the office exhausted day after day, or gets knots in his or her stomach every Sunday just from thinking about the upcoming work week, he or she is probably not having the best employee experience. Companies need to create an environment that attracts people; an environment where current employees want to recruit their friends to work. Imagine the productivity of a company where every employee loves his or her job!

One of the most successful entrepreneurs of our lifetime is Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. He breaks down employee experience simply and succinctly in his quote, “There’s no magic formula. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated. Think of it as the Golden Rule for creating an exceptional employee experience.” Leaders need to think about what type of experience they themselves want and how that experience can be translated to the entire staff.

Leaders need to think about what type of experience they themselves want and how that experience can be translated to the entire staff.

According to a recent Deloitte report, “Employers must provide development more quickly, move people more regularly, provide continuous cycles of promotion and give employees more tools to manage their own careers.” Employees don’t want to come in and do the same thing day after day, week after week, year after year. They want to be challenged, know someone is listening to their ideas and that their ideas can and will take the organization to the next level.

The cost of finding a new employee

For general employment, it can regularly take between 45-75 days, on average, to find the right person for the right job. Hiring for specialty positions can take significantly longer, sometimes many months. Most high-performing workers are currently employed, though they realize they have choices.

A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that employers need to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of an employee’s salary in order to find and train their replacement. Hiring mistakes are costly. A new employee can take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member, according to business expert Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte. A new hire will need to acclimate and be trained, likely taking productive work time away from co-workers.

The Harvard Business Review points out that as much as 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. While organizations may be anxious to fill positions, a more prudent approach is to put a little extra time and effort into hiring to ensure getting it right the first time.

Engagement

Employee engagement is getting a lot of publicity these days. Despite engagement being on the upswing, the majority of workers (53% of them) remain disengaged according to a recent study by Gallup. The question an organization needs to ask is…what’s missing? What can we do to tap into to true talent and abilities of that 53%?

Imagine the possibilities if organizations started to get high-level production from workers that are just working to get by.

Imagine the possibilities if organizations started to get high-level production from workers that are just working to get by. Putting more focus and attention on soft skills may be the answer to moving some of those disengaged workers to the engaged side.

Putting people first

Putting people first – sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Companies that put people first will have a staff of employees that say “I love my job and I’m excited to do what I do.” Not only will these employees do better work, they will act as the company’s own recruiting arm by promoting the virtues of the company to their peers.

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7 Keys to Successful Organizational Development

B usiness is no longer business as usual. In fact, those who don’t embrace change in the modern workplace run the risk of becoming yesterday’s news. Today, the organization needs to be working in unison, aligned with a strategic plan that has the buy-in from all members of the team, regardless of position.

Organizational development can be defined as the theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs and values of employees.

Organizational development can be defined as the theory and practice of planned, systematic change in the attitudes, beliefs and values of employees. How does an organization get all of its employees to be part of the process? These seven strategies proposed in a recent humanresourcesmba.net article can help an organization create a unified company direction, rallying around a strategic plan created and embraced by all employees.

Involve all employees in decision making

In the days of old, leaders and managers sat in boardrooms and created strategic plans. Once they were done planning, employees were expected to follow the newly implemented plans and be fully on board, even if they had nothing to do with the plan or no say in it. It’s pretty easy to see how that might not be the most successful way to go about it.

“Involving employees in the entirety of the planning process serves the single-most important purpose of giving them input into the company plan. If they have a say in the plan, how could they not be on board with it? By believing they are part of the change, they are more engaged and more willing to go along with the plan, even portions of it that they may not necessarily embrace.

The key is to empower employees with the tools, including the necessary decision-making abilities, to do their job unencumbered. Let them own their unique part of the company’s universe and be fully responsible for it.

Change should focus on groups and departments

Each specific department should be analyzed to see where it is highly functional and where it can be improved. The change should be department wide, not necessarily put on the shoulders of certain individuals. Look at the whole of the group and try to identify common themes. Are certain deadlines not being met consistently? What might be the cause of this? Are there recurring bottlenecks that are inhibiting a smooth work path? What can be done, department-wide, that might improve these workflows?

Build trust throughout the organization

Employees simply will not give their full effort and attention to a company that they do not trust. Building trust with the employee is paramount to getting the employee’s buy-in to the company’s strategic plan. Trust and respect are the building blocks upon which all good company/employee relations are built.

Trust and respect are the building blocks upon which all good company/employee relations are built.

Building trust should not be an afterthought. Without this important component, nothing else really matters. Everything starts and ends with mutual trust.

Encourage collaboration over competition

It used to be common to create internal competitions to spur action. But for every competition, there needs to be a loser. When someone loses repetitively, they may eventually decide to stop competing. A better alternative is to create an environment of collaboration over competition.

When people work together, they all have a part in the success and no one has to lose. Of course, ensuring a smooth workflow free from bottlenecks is paramount to ensuring the success of the collaboration, but as long as safeguards are put in place, a collaborative work environment can produce higher quality work with less stress on individual employees.

Invest in education, benefits and incentives

Helping your employees become masters of their own personal universe empowers them to excel at their activities. Investing in education to help them learn the necessary skills to do their jobs to the best of their ability. On or off-site training can help improve specific skills and keeps employees current on new methods, techniques and information.

Helping your employees become masters of their own personal universe empowers them to excel at their activities.

Create the opportunity for employee feedback

Having open channels of communication is key for an organization to ensure it’s strategic plan gets carried out. Not only should employees have an unrestricted ability to give meaningful feedback, including constructive criticism, during the planning stages, but they should also have the ability to openly communicate all along the way should unforeseen problems arise.

This two-way communication should not be restricted to annual performance reviews or monthly one-on-one meetings. Employees should be able to voice their opinions at any time in order to ensure that operations continue to run smoothly.

Involve all members of the organization

It’s important to showcase the importance of diversity of thought, and the need for every member of the organization to participate in strategic planning sessions. The greatest ideas may not always come from the person with the most prestigious title.

It just may be the janitor that sees something that needs attention that others may miss. It may be the receptionist who talks with people on a daily basis that has the true pulse of the organization and some of its customers’ concerns. Never discount a person’s opinion simply because of their position within the company and get feedback and input from every single member of the organization.

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3 Easy Steps to Building a Solid Company Culture

I t’s readily accepted that having a positive company culture provides advantages in the marketplace. If developing a company culture that attracts and retains employees is the goal, then how does a company go about making that happen? It all starts with appreciating the value a company’s employees bring to the organization.

Loyalty is a two-way street. When your employees feel that they are a part of the process, the building of the culture, and the business as a whole, they will feel they are a part of the success.

According to a recent article from blogger Nick Kasik, he states, “Loyalty is a two-way street. When your employees feel that they are a part of the process, the building of the culture, and the business as a whole, they will feel they are a part of the success… As they should. Because they are. As simplistic as that sounds, it is a radical departure of the cultures of past.”

Kasik cites three components that are integral to building a solid company culture. And, it’s hard to disagree with his assessment.

Be relevant and meaningful

Employees want their employer to understand them as human beings, having a firm grasp of what is important to them. They want a relationship where they feel as if they are a part of something meaningful, playing an important part within the organization. Treating all employees the same simply doesn’t work because different employees value different things.

Regardless if an employee values money, time, recognition, or otherwise, there is something that makes every employee tick. Think of how you feel if you take part in an event and win, and then come to find that everyone who participated got a trophy. It makes winning kind of pointless, right? The same thing holds true at work.

“If everyone gets the same bonus, pay, or treatment for different outcomes, then it’s not personal. And if it is not personal, it’s not meaningful. Companies should instead explore ways to create flexibility in their rewards programs that allows employees to apply them in ways that are personally fulfilling.”

Looking at it from a personal perspective, nothing is more valuable to me than time. Sure, I value money highly, but I understand that time is the most valuable asset in the universe. Once time runs out, the money really doesn’t mean much, does it?

For me, the way a company can appeal to me personally is by understanding how much I value time and reward me for a job well done with time off. Some people may prefer a bonus check while others may prefer to be publicly recognized in front of their peers. We are all different. I couldn’t care less if someone gets up in front of the room to tell me I did a good job, but I would be ecstatic if I could earn an extra day off here and there because I applied myself and produced quality work. That’s what is relevant to me. Companies need to think in these terms to truly make a long-lasting connection with their employees.

Appeal to the individual

I am unique. So is every other employee. Companies would be wise to get to know their employees on a personal level and find out what is truly important to each and every one of them. Then, create a unique plan for each person that helps the employee achieve what he or she strives to achieve.

Maybe one employee desires a four-day work week, while another one wants to make more money. The third employee may crave professional development in hopes of a better job title. Why can’t each employee have their own pay scale, work hours, ability to work from where they work best and under conditions that are ideal for maximum production?

Companies need to reimagine how they attract – and retain – employees by giving them what they desire, resulting in keeping them happier and more engaged.

Companies need to reimagine how they attract - and retain - employees by giving them what they desire, resulting in keeping them happier and more engaged.

Invest in fun

I’ve met a lot of people in my life and almost all of them have jobs. The funny thing is, I never met anyone who works because they want to; they work because they need to. While working may be a necessary way of life for those not born into a fortune or gifted with the ability to regularly hit a baseball 400 feet, employees will eventually lose interest if their interests don’t align with the company’s way of operating. Eventually, without alignment, employees will lose interest and look elsewhere for employment opportunities. Who wants to work at a place where they are miserable most of the time?

Kasik made another notable point when he said, “Any culture that integrates having fun as equally important as getting things done, is set up for a culture of employee productivity, engagement, and loyalty. Who would ever do anything to leave a job that they absolutely love coming to every day? Don’t just make time for fun, but invest in having fun. Make it a priority.”

Don’t just make time for fun, but invest in having fun. Make it a priority.

When work is fun, it really doesn’t feel like work at all, and that’s the difference between creating a culture that attracts versus having a culture that repels.

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How the Difference Generations Stack up in the Workforce [Infographic]

A ccording to Pew Research Center data of 2017, the most recent year for which the data is available, Millennials are the most populous generation in the workforce, having surpassed Generation X’ers in 2016. The numbers will change significantly in the coming years as Baby Boomers retire and more members of Generation Z join the workforce.

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5 Reasons Why Training is Important

T  here was a time in my previous life when I worked in the beer world. Being on the craft side of the industry, knowledge and training were vital to the success of our brands. My job took me inside hundreds of food and drink establishments every year and I was simply amazed at the absolute dearth of training in the industry, as a whole. Not only was finding a well-trained bar or restaurant staff the exception instead of the rule, it was truly like finding a diamond-in-the-rough when I did encounter one. I often wondered why it was this way and what could be done about it.

This real-life experience left a lasting impression on me, but by no means was a lack of training confined to the beer industry. Have you ever called a major corporate entity and suffered through a painful conversation with a robotic call center employee? Or maybe, you’ve had a less-than-stellar experience at your local post office or DMV?

Have you ever called a major corporate entity and suffered through a painful conversation with a robotic call center employee?

Some companies find success in spite of their training techniques (or lack thereof). Can you imagine a world where training was deemed as important as the products the companies were selling; where training was considered part of the very DNA of a business’ modus operandi? Here are five good reasons to make sure your employees have the best training possible, and what happens when they do.

Employees work harder

When an organization takes a genuine interest in an employee, the employee feels the need for reciprocation and tends to put forth a better effort. Work becomes more meaningful and a the employee feels a certain responsibility to execute the job tasks to the best of his or her ability. It’s human nature to want to work for someone that respects us and shows that respect.

Company loyalty increases

When a person feels as if they are a meaningful part of an organization, they become and stay more engaged. Employees who are engaged will outperform those who aren’t. Companies that support its employees build loyalty, resulting in deeper dedication, better efforts, less sick days used and other ancillary benefits.

When a person feels as if they are a meaningful part of an organization, they become and stay more engaged.

Untrained workers equal lost customers

Who wants to do business with a company that appears to be inept? A negative first impression is hard to overcome and if you have a negative experience the first time you deal with a company, chances are you won’t be inclined to give them a second chance. The opposite of that is also true.

If you have a consistently good experience with a company, then run into an isolated incident where something isn’t right, you are much more likely to forgive that company and overlook the indiscretion.

Untrained workers are inefficient and mistake prone

When a worker is going through the motions, their heart and mind are not on the job they are performing. Because of this, they are more likely to make careless mistakes by losing their focus. Mistakes cost companies money, especially if it means lost customers.

These non- or disengaged employees feel much less inclined to work hard since they are, effectively, just going through the motions to collect a paycheck. They might be marginally useful and still perform to some degree, but there is still a level of loss for the company since that position could be filled by someone who engaged who would work harder.

Workers want to advance

Talented employees take an interest in a company and want to grow within that organization. These employees are good contributors and they typically want to stay onboard longer since they feel like they are a part of something exciting.

Talented employees take an interest in a company and want to grow within that organization.

It’s important to distinguish between training and developing employees. Training usually focuses on the acquisition of new skills, according to lessonly.com, while development is concerned with the improvement or extension of existing skills. Once a person is trained, they need to be regularly developed in order for them to continue to grow.

Conclusion

Going back to the beer industry reference earlier, I challenge you to pay special attention to the staff’s training next time you go into your favorite establishment. Does your bartender put your beer mug into the spigot when they pour your beer? (They shouldn’t!) Can they ably explain the differences between the beer styles that are currently on tap? (This should be a prerequisite before hiring.) If they don’t know, do they at least find the answer and get right back to you? (Let’s hope so.)

Think about how much happier you are when you go into an establishment that seems well run by an engaged and knowledgeable staff. Sometimes the service can leave more of a lasting impression than the food or drink itself. Now take that thought process and apply it to your business. If everyone who does business with your company can feel that same sense of satisfaction when they do business with you, then you know you are doing things right.

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My Personal Civil War: What Happens When Behaviors or Motivators Clash

S ome people call it an internal struggle. Others call it a “me-me” conflict. I like to call it my personal civil war. Many of us have one (or more) of these internal conflicts and they tend to cause us mental anguish, often on a daily basis.

This “me-me” conflict comes when either primary behaviors or motivators are contradictory to each other and clash. These conflicts make us want to go in more than one direction at the same time, creating internal discord. Learning to manage these internal conflicts is necessary in order for us to maintain our sanity, let alone be productive.

Many of us have one (or more) of these internal conflicts and they tend to cause us mental anguish, often on a daily basis.

These conflicts explain why some people want to win the lottery but won’t buy a ticket. Or, why others who pledge to get in shape in the morning are spotted at the donut shop and fast food restaurant by lunchtime. With these opposing mental forces pushing and pulling us in different directions, we often concede to the behavior or driver that is strongest.

Understanding behavior

Based on the behavioral science known as DISC, there are four very different and unique behavior stylesDominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. Nearly all of us have one factor that has a stronger intensity than the others, making it our primary behavioral style.

Dominance refers to how people address problems and challenges. A high-D usually embraces challenges and places a high value on hitting goals. Whereas, a low-D is cautious and calculating when dealing with conflict or challenges.

Influence refers to people and contacts. A high-I is often seen as a people-oriented communicator and an optimistic team player. Someone with a low-I style, may excel behind the scenes and preferring to work alone.

Steadiness refers to a person’s pace and consistency. A high-S is composed and resistant to change, wanting to focus on one task at a time. On the flip side, a low-S may have an impatient and impulsive nature and enjoy multi-tasking.

Compliance refers to how people respond to procedures and constraints. A high-C style is a conscientious perfectionist. High-C’s think very systematically and make calculated decisions based on detailed facts. Yet a low-C can be opinionated and unsystematic, not always based on facts.

Behavioral conflicts

As a high-D with an extremely low-S, I tend to focus on completing tasks in record time. The low-S indicates a need for speed, that, coupled with my high-D, means I love to dive into things quickly and I am eager to drive for results, which can make me impatient.

When I am editing my blogs, I raise my C to focus on my attention-to-detail. Doing so slows me down tremendously, to ensure that every word is the right word in the right context, placed in the proper tense and spelled correctly. Since I don’t believe in Spellcheck, maintaining a laser focus is essential to execute the editing. (Yes, the “e-based” alliteration was by design, another factor that requires a very specific focus.)

Making myself slow down and focus on such minute details conflicts with both my desire to complete my project (high-D) and my need to do it quickly (high-S). Therein lies the conflict.

Understanding motivators

Motivators are the things that make us get out of bed and do the things we do, day in and day out. These are the why behind our behaviors.

When viewed through the science known as 12 Driving Forces®, there are six key areas that each possess two distinct drivers or different motivations that impact your decisions. These six areas on which the drivers are based around are knowledge, utility, surroundings, others, power and methodologies.

Motivators are the things that make us get out of bed and do the things we do, day in and day out.

Motivator conflicts

Resourceful vs. Harmonious

Conflicts can abound within the Driving Forces. For me, my biggest conflict occurs between two of my strongest drivers, known as Resourceful and Harmonious. Harmonious speaks to enjoying the experience, living in the moment and having balance in one’s surroundings. Resourceful speaks to driven by maximizing efficiency and returns for investments of time, energy and resources.

While Harmonious indicates that I want the space I occupy to be visually appealing, it costs money to beautify one’s surroundings. My Resourceful driver often feels like “luxuries” such as nice living spaces isn’t maximizing my resources. Thus, a conflict arises.

These same two drivers do battle anytime I want to plan a vacation. Creating memories by traveling to exotic lands are something that I truly enjoy because my Harmonious driver craves this. My Resourceful driver, however, has a hard time justifying spending thousands of dollars on a week or less of enjoyment, money that could be “maximized” better paying off the car, house or credit card bills.

Harmonious vs. Receptive

The Harmonious driver also conflicts with another one of my leading drivers, my Receptive driver. This speaks to me driven by new ideas, methods and opportunities that fall outside a defined system of living. Simply stated, it means I like to try new things. Sometimes, however, when I begin to juggle too many different things at once, it negatively affects my Harmonious making me not “enjoy the moment” and ultimately resulting in increased stress.

Behavior and motivator conflicts

The “civil wars” don’t just happen inside the realm of behaviors and motivators exclusively. There can be crossover conflicts, as well.

High-D vs. Harmonious drive

For example, my high-D behavior that focuses on results is often in competition with my Harmonious driver which likes unity and balance in my surroundings and relationships. Often, it’s hard to achieve balance when you are up against deadlines trying to get results.

The “civil wars” don’t just happen inside the realm of behaviors and motivators exclusively. There can be crossover conflicts, as well.

High-C vs. Harmonious drive

Conversely, when I raise my C in editing mode, it sometimes also conflicts with my Harmonious driver. Case in point, the chorus of a song I wrote entitled “Lonely No More.” Music is all about creating something that sounds pleasant to the ear. The chorus of my song contains the words, “I’ll never be lonely no more.”

These words, with the music behind it, flow free and easy and sound exactly as I intended when I wrote the song. But then my adapted high-C kicks in, and reminds me that I have created a double negative that makes no sense grammatically. If being a writer wasn’t my day job, it probably wouldn’t be a big deal. But I am, and knowingly creating something grammatically incorrect makes me feel very uneasy, even if it sounds good.

I fully understand that the song would be grammatically correct if I were to change the line to be “I won’t be lonely anymore” or “I will be lonely no more.” However, my Harmonious will have none of this, because it simply doesn’t sound as pleasant sung with either of these two variations. (Trust me, I’ve tried it, and I hate it.) I wrote this song in 1996 and this internal struggle still bothers me almost daily.

High-I vs. Altruistic & Resourceful drivers

An interesting fact is that while my Influence (people-oriented) behavioral style scores a 93/100, indicating that I’m clearly a people person, I score a 0 on my Altruistic driver. I generally like people and prefer to be around them, especially socially, but I feel no responsibility to fix the world’s people problems. I sometimes feel guilty when I don’t give the homeless guy my spare change, because I am people-centric, but between my lack of Altruism and high Resourceful (wanting to maximize my resources), I ultimately decide to keep that spare change in my pocket.

Conclusion

We all have daily internal conflicts that we have to fight through. Understanding and identifying these issues, especially what they are and how much power they have over us, can be a huge factor in learning how to properly deal with the conflicts. Doing so can help create a little more balance and a little less stress in your life, which can be great, especially if that sort of thing appeals to you.

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Practice Rescue: 3 Tips to Hiring the Right Candidate

T he unemployment rate is at an all-time low, and the war for amazing talent is at an all-time high. What can employers do to find the best fit for the position they seek to fill?

A dentist client recently told me that she was so desperate to fill an open dental assistant position in her practice that she hired the first candidate that applied, despite the “yellow flags” she sensed when she was interviewing the candidate. These same warning signs resurfaced during the employee’s 90-day onboarding/contingency period.

What are yellow flags?

Yellow flags are indicators that a candidate or new hire may not meet all our requirements from either a skills, personality or cultural fit level. The applicant does not quite give us the obvious red flag that would disqualify that person from consideration, but rather shows elements that cause some sort of underlying concern that he or she may not be the ideal fit.

Yellow flags are indicators that a candidate or new hire may not meet all our requirements from either a skills, personality or cultural fit level.

Often, we feel in our gut that something just isn’t right, but not being able to pinpoint exactly what it is, we may be inclined to hire anyway. Dismissing those gut feelings can come back to haunt us, especially if we overvalue the candidate’s potential due to an urgency to fill the open position.

Three examples of yellow flags during the interview process may include the following:

  1. Workplace timelines do not add up on the candidate’s resume.
  2. The candidate is very eager, or even aggressive, about securing employment with your practice.
  3. The candidate offers openly negative discussions regarding a previous employer and that employer’s work environment.

3 tips

How do we avoid getting sucked into a yellow-flag employee?

  • Use words in your job posting to describe your practice and the position that would attract the type of candidate you are looking for, such as “growth-minded” or “fast-paced.” You want to sell the position. Great candidates are not just looking for a job, they are also looking for a great fit. You want a candidate that is as particular about where they work as you are about hiring the right person.

You want a candidate that is as particular about where they work as you are about hiring the right person.

  • Ask yourself if the candidates applying for the position are hungry for more. Are they teachable and passionate for growth in your business? Initiative cannot be taught.
  • Ensure you have a system in place for true references, background checks and interview processes with several current members of the staff prior to making an official job offer.

Green, yellow, red

In some cases, you just know when you’ve stumbled upon a great candidate. The signs point to green from the beginning and nothing throughout the process gives any indication to doubt those signs. Yellow flags are more common when you find someone that has some, but not all, of what you are looking for in an ideal candidate.

In some cases, you just know when you’ve stumbled upon a great candidate. The signs point to green from the beginning.

These yellow flags are not to be confused with red flags that come with candidates who have a criminal or drug history, are not a cultural fit with your organization or simply possess an incapacity to do the job. On the racetrack, yellow indicates caution. If your candidate is causing you to raise the yellow flag, I suggest you proceed with caution before offering that person a position.

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