Thursday, May 21, 2020

How Leaders Can Fix a Negative Company Culture

Guest post from Chris Dyer:

When company culture fails, it’s usually on one of two planes: the work environment has gone rotten, or the way in which work is transacted has deteriorated. The two realms are linked, though, so once one aspect has been infected with negativity, the other one may well catch the disease.

Business leaders have two choices. We can build or rebuild culture from the ground up. Or we can address the most glaring symptoms first and make improvements from there. If you’re already suffering from an adverse cultural situation, here are some quick ways to regain control and turn things around.

Supportive Atmosphere

The purpose of workplace culture is to support employees in their quest to do their best. And culture is not “out there.” It comes from the top. Leaders should be directly involved with untangling workplace snarls. If your environment is not supportive—or doesn’t feel that way to your staff—you may need to take one of these steps:

Say yes instead of no. Negative responses are often the default when a boss wants to maintain power, or a direct report wants to avoid hassles. Instead of automatically denying requests for a raise or flex time, for instance, let your first instinct be to agree ... with strings attached. Condition the perk on something you want from the employee, such as reaching certain objectives or adding skills that increase their expertise.

If it’s managers or staff who tend to reject requests or new policies, take some time to set firm boundaries and expectations: We expect you to accept new assignments, protocols, or crunch-time duties. Create consequences for noncompliance. And add incentives for going with the flow or above and beyond typical demands.

Bridge divides with team bonding. Harmful gossip and hostile cliques can’t take hold when your workforce feels like a team. If those problems already exist, go all out to remind your people that you all bat for the same side. First, make sure that you and your top leadership don’t indulge in backstabbing or blame games.

Then, use transparency and other trust-building measures to bring everyone together. If you are transparent about the company’s financials, for example, every staff member will understand how their actions affect the organization’s viability—and, by extension, everyone’s job security. Make sure your employees know each other professionally, by sharing individuals’ roles and goals, and socially, by including ice-breakers in meetings or company get-togethers.

Recognize routine and extraordinary efforts. They don’t call work “the daily grind” for no reason. A little acknowledgement goes a long way toward showing your people that you appreciate all they do. From personal gifts to annual bonuses, gestures reinforce thank-yous and demonstrate sincerity.

It’s important for leaders to acknowledge performance in front of coworkers, and it’s a good idea to let employees broadcast their kudos to their peers as well. You might hold an award ceremony, or reserve meeting time to name names. In my company, we designed a special emoji that staff can use in company-wide chats to thank someone who helped out or saved a big client.

Unrestricted Work Flow

If we ask employees about pet peeves, a top choice will be that leaders make it more difficult to do their work. Sometimes this is a control issue; sometimes just poor planning. Removing the obstacles to accomplishing daily goals and solving problems—and giving employees the leeway to make their own decisions—turns this negative into a positive.

Ask for feedforward, not just feedback. Whether you’re setting new policies or monitoring the status quo, ask your people for their opinions frequently. Don’t limit questions to past activities. Go all out and ask what would make it easier to do their work—then act on it.

In your usual project debriefing sessions, take what you learn and apply it to the future. Pair off and have team members ask each other what they need from one another going forward. This is a way to unite teams and get an instant dose of positivity.

Redefine problem solving. Break the cycle of putting out fires by treating trouble as a learning opportunity. Use positive approaches such as appreciative inquiry, which identifies what works when parts of initiatives fail, and which uses brainstorming and strategic planning to arrive at an ideal solution.

It also helps to get out in front of a crisis by proactively setting up alternative paths before things go wrong. It’s much easier to envision plans B and C without a deadline or domino effect clouding your judgment. Include this tactic in project team meetings and larger management planning sessions.

Hire to innovate. Business and HR leaders can cover all the bases by keeping innovation in mind as they select new hires. It may feel good to have a homogeneous staff, but this stifles innovation. To avoid forced consensus, take generational and background diversity in job candidates into account.

A staff of mixed ages and personal backgrounds brings with it a healthy mix of viewpoints. Different thinking styles strike more sparks, providing more and better ideas to help face challenges and improve workflow. Broad diversity also discourages clique-forming by a majority group, actually strengthening the bonds of your teams.

Even as you address the negative aspects of your company culture, you are entering a positive zone of opportunity. As a business leader, follow the golden rule to restore or enrich your organization’s work environment: model the behavior you want to see, and then remove any obstacles toward achieving it. Good culture will follow.

Author Bio

Leadership speaker Chris Dyer is a recognized performance and company culture expert, as well as Founder and CEO of PeopleG2, a leading background check company. He has channeled what he has learned in his business and research into his best-selling book, The Power of Company Culture (Kogan Page, 2018). Chris is also the host of TalentTalk on OC Talk Radio and iHeartRadio and speaks at events around the world on company culture, remote workforces and employee engagement. He is a regular contributor to Forbes, Inc.,, the Society for Human Resources Management and many more business publications.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Brands, Leadership and the Climate Crisis

Guest post from Sean Pillot de Chenecey:

Innovation, on which any organisation is so reliant, is about to become more dynamic and challenging than ever.

Whilst hyper-relevance, ultra-personalisation, collaboration, ethics and sustainability are the crucial foundations of success; those tasked with creating that innovation are now faced with the challenge of the environmental crisis. This meaning that society and business alike are confronted with an existential dilemma.

It’s one that has, in the majority of cases, effectively been ignored. That dilemma has in fact become a ‘climate and biodiversity emergency’.

Indeed, and as we heard at the World Economic Forum, the risks that the environmental-crisis poses to business have moved from ‘potentially problematic’ to ‘potentially catastrophic’.

Major action is needed, with businesses in every industry, including the ever-widening area of innovation, having crucial roles to play.

So, the catalytic times we live in have profound implications for businesses and organisations of all varieties. Indeed, the Governor of the Bank of England, memorably declared a few months ago that “firms ignoring the climate crisis will go bankrupt”.

In the context of my new book, Influencers & Revolutionaries, the issues concerned have been epitomised by Greta Thunberg’s call for systematic change in her speeches at the UN, and via the global protests organised by the Extinction Rebellion movement. XR use nonviolent resistance to protest against climate breakdown, biodiversity loss, and the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse.

Meanwhile, despite the warning of an array of respected public figures, backed up with solid scientific evidence, it’s been staggering to observe many in the mainstream media, and the upper echelons of “yesterday’s businesses” still attempt to dismiss XR. However, it was interesting to see The FT, an early mover in understanding the movement, noting that “the word ‘extinction’ in their title isn’t just referring to plants, insects and animals. It means us.” * Green 2019

From a business-futures perspective, and standing at odds with “yesterday’s organisations and yesterday’s leaders” it's fascinating to observe how modern management theory has shifted away from the one apparently set in stone by the economist Milton Friedman, for whom the responsibility of business was purely to increase its profits.

We now see leading businesses around the world having a very different overall ‘accountable capitalism’ stance, with the ‘purpose of business’ being viewed as one that has improving society as a central aim. That is a hugely important shift, and these modernised principles reflect a very different business world than that inhabited by Mr Friedman. 

This is where, for instance, the building of trust by brand’s evidencing their ongoing actions, are of such importance. (They relate to what I termed ‘reputation capital’ in my first book ‘The Post-Truth Business’ regarding whether a brand is ‘trustworthy, reliable and competent’).

In the context of the climate crisis, the issue of why we should trust ‘the organisation behind the brand’ regarding their environmental credentials, is vital. For companies that are seen, by their behaviour, to be meeting the challenges set by the climate emergency in an effective manner; then on purely consumer-engagement and brand differentiation levels, this will enable them to achieve greater business success.

Which is where ‘real purpose’ as opposed to often vague notions of ‘brand purpose’ are highlighted by those like Extinction Rebellion.

A well-known industry saying has it that the most successful companies achieve their ongoing success by preparing for change, rather than simply attempting to adapt to that change when it appears. And movements like Extinction Rebellion have clearly acted as the ‘canary in the coalmine’ in an array of critical contexts.

The responses must be a transformation of the way in which businesses are led, strategies are developed, products are created, and of the overall approaches to be taken as we move towards a circular and more ethical economy.

In each case, creative thinking and collaborative approaches help to illuminate the way forward, and will help to ensure that, as the saying goes, ‘good business is good business’.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey has over 20 years’ experience as a brand expert, combining marketing consultancy with ethnographic activity and trend research around the world. His new book is INFLUENCERS & REVOLUTIONARIES: How Innovative Trailblazers, Trends & Catalysts Are Transforming Business.For more information, please visit:

Thursday, May 7, 2020

4 Questions to Ask to Select the Best Executive Search Firm

Guest post from Atta Tarki and Gustav Brown :
Selecting the right executive search firm can be almost as difficult as finding the right candidate for the job. As insiders in the recruiting world, our friends have often asked us to help them select a hiring vendor when we were not the right partner for them. By and large they’ve been surprised to see how differently we evaluate their potential executive search partners than they would.
The problem is: many hiring managers just don’t know how to evaluate external recruiters. Here are a few common pitfalls we’ve observed and a few questions you can ask to make a more informed decision.
The Common Approach – and Why it Doesn’t Really Work
When evaluating external recruiters, most hiring managers start by asking: “how many placements have you made in our industry?” The assumption here is that an agency that gets what you do will be more likely to find someone who fits your needs.
On the surface, this makes a lot of sense. If the agency has worked in your industry, presumably they understand what companies like yours value. They should have a network in place and a positive reputation among potential candidates. But it’s not as good a question as it seems on first glance.
First, the roles (or needs) of those previous searches may have been significantly different from yours. Put it this way: just because an agency placed a technical Project Manager at a software company doesn’t mean they can find the right Chief Financial Officer or Director of Marketing in the same industry. In many cases, placements by function or title are a better predictor of recruiter’s ability to understand your needs than by industry.
Second, what you are trying to understand is how repeatable their success rate is. How often does their process end up with clients hiring someone they are happy with? The firm might have relied on their rolodex to place a CFO  in New York City, but this doesn’t mean they can do the same and find you a candidate in Chicago.
This is why it’s important that you take a look under the hood and try to understand how they intend to find you a great candidate.
A Better Approach – Understanding How your External Recruiter Works
In the old days, external recruiters kept their methods opaque; their main bragging point was the size of their rolodex. Don’t get us wrong, the rolodex approach used to be valuable, because it used to be extremely difficult and time consuming to find people with the right skillset. After all, this information in most cases was confidential or difficult to access. But access to candidate data through LinkedIn and other platforms, as well as advances in the use of data analytics, have transformed the game.
Building off of these digital revolutions, the best recruiters have transformed their value proposition. These recruiters rely less on their own rolodexes, and instead create value by helping hiring managers understand how they can structure a search to increase their chances of success. These recruiters also use repeatable methods for finding candidates, engaging with them and evaluating them. And finally, savvy recruiters will help hiring managers stay on top of the hiring process and create a positive candidate experience – which increases the likelihood that desired candidates will accept an offer. 
In this context, HR managers have unprecedented options - but also, potentially, unprecedented insight into how recruiters do business. The choices may seem dizzying at times, but if you ask the right questions, you can make a more informed decision than ever before.  
4 Questions to Ask to Select the Right External Recruiter
1. What resources are they dedicating to your search?
The first question you want to ask a recruiter is how much of their time you are getting. Some search firms will fully dedicate a recruiter to your search. Others will split a recruiter’s time across 6-12 searches. This is obviously cost effective to the search firm, but comes at a cost in what they can deliver. We’ve seen a number of recruiting firms dance around requests from clients trying to understand how much of the recruiters’ time is dedicated to their search. These recruiters will say things like “it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality” or “we know everyone in this space, so it won’t take us long to source these profiles.” What makes these statements powerful is that there is some level of truth in them. However, in the end of the day if someone is splitting their time across too many searches, either the number of candidates they reach will drop or the quality of the profiles they source will decline. Either way, you are worse off.
As a company that has a database with over 100,000 management consulting resumes, we know that it’s not just about pulling up a list and mass-blasting them all with an email. Each recruitment search will require a customized approach that can only be achieved if your recruiter is dedicating enough of their time to you.
So ask your recruiter: “how many searches are you (or the person you are staffing on my search) running?” and “For how long do I have X% of your recruiter’s time on the search?” While it’s normal for senior level recruiters to split their time on a few searches, you want a significant amount of one of the team members’ time to be dedicated to your search.
2. Are they a valuable thought partner?
The role of the recruiter in talent acquisition has changed in a similar way as that of a good medical doctor. Both professions previously often used a black box approach and their advice was taken at face value. Now, a good doctor will inform you about your choices and give you the pros and cons of each choice. Patients can then make an informed decision that’s right for them.
Similarly, a good recruiter will help hiring managers understand what the expected outcome of various recruiting strategies are – but let hiring managers choose the strategy that’s right for them. Of course, you can still get lucky and find a great candidate by following a less viable strategy. However, as in any other field, you want to make the decision that is most likely to produce the desired result.   
This is why it’s important that you select a recruiter that can be a valuable thought partner to your talent acquisition strategy. Does this recruiter understand your needs? If so, can they help you (a) define the role mandate and (b) understand how that mandate translates to the skills and traits you want in a candidate? From here, you can ascertain whether this translates to a clear search profile.
3. How are they sourcing and engaging talent?
You aren’t hiring an external recruiter just to come up with strategy, but to help you execute on strategy. How do they plan to do that - will their recruiting team search for this profile systematically and thoroughly in a scalable way, or do they employ a “black box” approach? If you ask a recruiter how they find and engage candidates, and they respond with “we know everyone in that industry,” you’ll do yourself a favor by politely thanking them for their time and keep looking for another recruiter.
The black box approach can work sometimes, but it’s extremely hard to evaluate effectiveness if there’s no clear hiring methods. You can’t understand what has gone wrong when things don’t work out, and you can’t replicate success when they do.
As a general rule, transparent and replicable models are extremely valuable. That way, if you don't get immediate results, you can collaborate to understand what went wrong and how to expand the search strategy going forward. 

For example, ask how are they sourcing – from a pre-defined “rolodex” of vetted contacts or systematically across a broad pool of candidates that fit the agreed-upon search profile? How many candidates can you expect them to source in a given week? How are they engaging with the talent and what conversion rates can you expect, i.e., how many of the candidates they reach out to typically express interest in the role?
4. Can the agency help you predict on-the-job success?
The hardest thing to do in recruiting is predict on-the-job success, but a good external recruiter can help you do so with much more accuracy. The questions you need to ask are: how do they plan to do so, and are they capable of delivering on that promise? How do they help you screen candidates in a more transparent way?
Again, you want your recruiter to help you understand their recruiting method so that if you were to follow the same process and ask the same questions, you’d come to the same conclusion as them. Screening questions should have a clear right and a wrong answer.
Watch out for recruiters who don’t use a standardized approach to screening candidates or who tell you “there is no right or wrong answer” to their interview questions. These recruiters screen candidates using “I’ll know it when I see it” type intuition. You want to listen to their advice as much as you want to listen to the advice of a doctor who just relies on their intuition as opposed to trying to follow an evidence-based approach.  
There’s no silver bullet when it comes to choosing an external recruiter. On the one hand, even the best, most carefully chosen firms sometimes fail to find the right candidate for their clients. Meanwhile, fly-by-night operations can sometimes get lucky – as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. But by asking the right questions and making informed selections, you can greatly improve the chances of a hire – ultimately driving value for your company.

About the Authors:

Atta Tarki is the founder and CEO of ECA Partners, a 120 person data-driven project staffing and executive search firm, and the author of upcoming book Evidence-Based Recruiting (McGraw Hill, February 2020). Prior to starting ECA Partners, Atta spent 6 years as a management consultant at L.E.K. Consulting.
Gustav Brown is an Engagement Manager with ECA Partners, where he helps private equity, consumer goods and entertainment companies identify and fulfil their talent needs. Prior to ECA Partners, Gustav was a Fellow with the National University of Singapore's Asia Research Institute - where his work focused on the hiring practices and community outreach protocols of international NGOs. Gustav received his PhD in Sociology from UCLA.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

7 Ways to Earn Respect as a New Leader

Guest post from Peter Economy:

Are you newly promoted? A recent leadership hire? Slowly advancing in your company or organization?

When youre the new leader on the block, earning respect from peers and employees who dont even know you can certainly be a struggle. A higher leadership status wont automatically give you the authority or trust with your people that you need to get things done. You’ll have to earn that authority and trust to become an effective and successful leader or boss.

New leaders are stepping up every day. If youre one of them, here are 7 ways that will bring you a level of respect that is meaningful and well-deserved.

1. Have an open door. Let your colleagues and employees know you are always available for them. The last thing you want is for the people you are leading to think you are unapproachable and unavailable, so let them know their wants, needs, and feedback are valued and a priority for you. If you are out of the office a lot, be sure to provide your people easy ways to contact you by phone, email, text messages, or other forms of communication.

2. Appreciate effort. It is surely demotivating for employees when their hard work doesn’t seem to be appreciated by the organizations that employ them, or the men and women who lead them. Let workers know that you have noticed their effort, and even make a point of rewarding it when appropriate.

3. Care about employee well-being. Respect is easily earned when you show how much you care about the well-being and success of your peers and employees, both collectively and individually. Listen to what your team is saying whenever they discuss work or personal matters.

4. Be personable. Not everyone has to be your best friend, but a respectable leader is often a personable one. A focus of yours as a new leader should be to strengthen your relationships with those around you. Be aware of your own behavior and the way you come across to others. Be helpful, welcoming, and pleasant. Keep your relationships positive and amicable and success will surely follow.

5. Provide a real sense of autonomy. If you’re a boss who micromanages, the people who work for you will invariably become frustrated because you’re sending a loud-and-clear message that you don’t trust their ability to do the work. Trust the people you’re leading to make the right moves and do their work well and empower them when possible.

6. Be consistent. Follow through with what you say you’re going to do. Be on time to meetings so your employees aren’t twiddling their thumbs, waiting for you do show. Stick to deadlines. Don’t tell others to do one thing and then you do another. People will respect you more if they know you don’t offer only empty promises!

7. Be patient. New leaders require a great amount of patience—both with their teams and with themselves. Learning effective management will not happen overnight; it takes time (and, sometimes, mistakes) for you to learn the ropes and for others to acclimate to a new leader. Don’t worry—stick with it and you’ll get there.

Peter Economy is the bestselling author of Managing for Dummies (more than 600,000 copies sold globally) and is The Leadership Guy at INC.COM who averages more than 500,000 page views a month for his more than 1,500 columns published to date. He routinely works with C-level executives, executive coaches, and business consultants worldwide. His new book is called Wait, I’m the Boss?!?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Generation Why Not: A New Way to Lead and Get the Most Out of Our Inter-Generational Workforce

Guest post from Ruth Klein:

Much has been written about generational tension in the workplace. As is often the case, the tension stems from a fundamental misunderstanding.  And, like most misunderstandings, perception issues and a lack of communication are at the very heart of it. As leaders, we have to understand what’s true about those we lead. Believing a misconception will keep us from doing our best and that’s not acceptable.  

So, let’s take a look at just one misconception. Baby Boomers complain that Millennials are too high maintenance, they need a lot of attention, and they only want to do work that is part of their overall life mission and purpose. Perhaps all of that is true, but, as it turns out it’s not just true of Millennials, or Boomers or Gen X’ers. It’s true for every demographic. Who among us does this not describe?   

Actually, The Boomers, Gen X’ers and The Millennials have more in common than they think.

For example, The Baby Boomers today are changing careers, doing the things they’ve always wanted to do and starting second and third acts, and they have the health and the time to do them, unlike the generation of Traditionalists before them. Generation X’ers are also changing careers as often as necessary to find fulfillment and grow. Boomers see this as a lack of stability and commitment in Millennials. But, the fact is, Boomers are the ones that started this trend, way back in the Sixties. Maybe they’ve forgotten and that’s understandable. It’s been a while.   

There are other similarities and commonalities among all three—Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials:

·         - They all are suspicious of authority.

·         - They are highly educated.

·         - They have high job expectations.

·         - The environment is very important to them…the Baby Boomers started the hippie movement with their green thumbprint and environmental advocacy.

·         - Baby Boomers started sharing a lot of enlightenment and spirituality in their youth…similar to what Millennials are doing now.

·         - Both want to have a big impact to make this a better community and world.

·         - They are extremely loyal to their children.

·        -  Personal gratification is important
It becomes apparent then that age and gender, the old demographic lenses we used to look through, are no longer clear or helpful measurements to be used by businesses and consumers, managers and staff, founders, innovators, and creatives. It is clear that something else is going on in business and personal development. If we “see” the workforce and ourselves through the lens of being a Millennials or a Boomer then that is likely what we’ll receive while they’re working with us.

It’s often said by Baby Boomers that Millennials need a lot of attention and the fact is, most people that want to do a good job (particularly perfectionists) do need a lot of attention. That’s not a demographic issue, that’s a human issue. High performers have lots of questions about everything and they want to know more. They want all the information on anything they undertake so as to give them the best chance to succeed.   

This New Demographic Shift helps businesses expand their creativity and fosters innovation and problem-solving on a large scale without consideration of age, gender, but rather, driven by a mindset and heart-centered model of seeing the person as they are…not as a Baby Boomer, Millennial, etc.

So, who is prospering in the middle of all of this inter-generational chaos and conflict? A new generation that I call Generation Why Not?® is figuring out that the roadblocks in their way are movable if only they will change their context and discard the conventional wisdom about what is possible and by whom it can be done. This new socio-statistical population entity believes that great things can be done by anyone, no matter their gender, age or socioeconomic background.

The Generation Why Not?® framework of people’s buying habits and interpersonal communications is based more on their internal traits or their Intentions, Thoughts, Beliefs, and Actions regarding what they want and what they’re doing. They are aware of making their words intentional as they know words matter---both to themselves and with others. Their old beliefs that no longer serve them have been tested, discarded and new, updated beliefs have been adopted; they commit and make decisions; they take inspired action; they take the momentum they create and sustain it; they have an awareness of their environments—from their emotional to their physical environment.

Generation Why Not?® embraces and engages with leaders and high performers by looking at how each older demographic model shares similarities. It is the similarities of these demographic generations that will create company harmony and, as a result, far less employee tension and management turnover, and higher productivity and profits. And, as an extension, the acknowledged similarities will create internal harmony within businesses, families, and communities. We have the opportunity to forge a new way to understand and communicate between these different age groups, focusing on similarities, as well as positive reinforcement and transparency, which are all key leadership core values and qualities.

As leaders, we need to help our inter-generational employees and teams figure out how to get past their biases and pre-conceived notions and begin to work together and understand each other. It’s doable, and it’s time.

 Ruth Klein, brand strategist and productivity coach for CEO’s, entrepreneurs and sales teams and the author of the upcoming book, Generation Why Not? 7 Principles to a Purposeful Business & Life, Driven by Attitude, Not Age.”  

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Getting Transparent: Make Every Deal a Fair Deal

Guest post by Marc Effron:

Many companies still refuse to be transparent with their employees about their potential to advance. Those companies often say they’re concerned that if some employees are told they have high potential to advance, it will disengage employees who learn they’re not in that category. That’s true only if being a high potential is seen as the only “fair deal” at your company. We believe that it’s beneficial to be transparent with every employee about their potential, and that these conversations will be far easier if every deal is seen as a fair deal.

By “fair deal,” we mean the investment that you make in an employee based on their performance and potential to advance. While being assessed as a high potential leader brings you one type of investment, everyone should get the deal that reflects their expected contribution to the company.

How Fair is the Deal?
Before we differentiate, let’s ensure that every employee has a great baseline experience that includes working for an organization they can be proud of, having a quality manager and the opportunity to develop. That baseline ensures that everyone is working in an environment that supports their performance and engagement.
Above that baseline, every employee should get a deal that’s based on their current and likely future contribution. It should include their compensation and, more importantly, their fair share of the other development resources the company offers. This may include critical experiences, exposure to key leaders, internal and external development courses, highly visible projects and high potential programs, among other investments.
The different deals should clearly differentiate your investment in leaders, with higher performing and higher potential leaders receiving disproportionately more investment.
How disproportionate depends on your Talent Philosophy.
We find a simple way to determine the deal is to use our Talent Investment Grid (TIG). The Talent Investment Grid is a performance and potential grid that details how you plan to invest in leaders in each box. It’s a simple tool but it requires that you have either an executive Talent Philosophy or a very clear understanding of how your senior leaders want to differentiate people investments.
With that Talent Philosophy guidance in hand, gather a small number of senior HR leaders for a 90 minute, highly focused exercise to fill in your TIG. The process is as simple as:
Step 1: List all of the major development and reward elements that an employee might receive in a differentiated way. That includes the items listed above and any other performance-related benefit. This excludes any reward based on tenure and any benefits available to everyone.
Step 2: Identify how you want to allocate each element. Classify each element as Yes, No, Consider (i.e. expatriate assignments may be Yes for Hi Po’s and Consider for those in the center box) or Preferred Access.
Step 3: Get input from the important stakeholders in your organization and revise the grid accordingly. Your goal is a practical tool that helps managers better align the company’s investment with an individual’s performance and potential. A finished grid should look something like Figure 1 on the next page.

Talent Investment Grid Example:

Using the TIG to Support Transparency
After you’ve developed the TIG, educate managers about the tool and how to use it. They should understand that the TIG provides guidelines, not rules, but that similarly placed people should have relatively similar investments. Your high potential leader should have a meaningfully different investment than your average performing, well-placed leader. Ask managers to use the grid as a guide when considering assignments, experiences, projects, bonuses, etc.
This next step is optional but, if you want to be transparent, strongly recommended. Communicate the TIG to your employees. Transparency about the fair deal means that they should understand their deal and the other possible deals as well. This will lead to a few uncomfortable conversations but many more productive ones. Employees will know their deal and will understand what to do in order to get a different deal (increase their performance, demonstrate more potential, or both).
We understand that it’s not easy to decide how transparent to be with your company’s employees. We believe there are a few good reasons to not communicate potential ratings (they’re not accurate, there’s no differentiated investment associated with them) but many more reasons to share them (reaffirm to your best talent that they’re your best, create a culture of transparency, help managers to make smarter and more consistent talent decisions).
Transparency isn’t easy but, if we shift our mindset away from high potential being the only fair deal, it makes if far easier to be honest with everyone about where they stand.

Marc Effron, top 100 Influencer in HR and founder and President of the Talent Strategy Group and Talent Quarterly magazine. Marc helps the world's largest and most successful companies improve the quality and depth of their talent. In his latest book8 STEPS TO HIGH PERFROMANCE: Focus on What You Can Change (Ignore the Rest), he separates the behaviors you can control from the traits you cannot so you can deliver your highest potential performance at maximum efficiency.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Why Leaders Need to Role Model and Live Your Company Values

Guest post from Debra Corey:

My 18 year-old daughter has entered the workforce, full of energy, full of passion and full of some very strong opinions. And her top opinion, her absolute top pet peeve is when a leader or manager says one thing and does another. In her words, she hates hypocrites! And yes, she may be young, and she may still be learning her way around the workplace, but she is actually right - our employees deserve leaders who walk the talk!

One area where this is absolutely critical is when it comes to company values, the subject of my new book, ‘Bringing Your Values Out to Play’. It’s so important that I devoted an entire chapter to it, talking about why it’s important that leaders role model their company values, showing their workforce what they mean and how they should be lived.

But why are values important? What purpose do they serve to your company? Here are three answers to this question:

1. Values define who you are.
Values define who you are as a business, what you stand for (and against), and what you are willing to fight for. This is important because it tells potential and existing employees and customers what you believe in and how you’ll behave, clearly defining this upfront in a meaningful way. And in this competitive world, the better we can do this through our values, the better chance we have of standing out from our competitors and attracting and retaining talent and customers.

2. Values guide decisions and actions.
Values act as guidelines, guiding principles, or guideposts to your employees, helping them make everyday operational and strategic decisions, even when leaders are not around. When used properly, employees use them to ask questions such as, “what do my values say about this?” and “how can my values help me choose a path and make a decision?” This is important at all times, but especially in bad or challenging ones, where values provide the focus and guidance we need to persevere.

3. Values fuel your workforce.
Values give your employees the energy and passion to not only make decisions, but to get things done. This passion, this energy, is so critical in the business world, and when being led by values, it ensures that it’s being done in the right way and in the right direction.

Company values can and should be one of the most strategic tools a company has, helping your employees and your company achieve its mission and purpose. Which is why it’s worrying that according to data from Reward Gateway only 32 percent of employees say they feel informed about their values, and according to data from Gallup only 23 percent of employees use them as they go about their work.

To change these numbers we need our leaders to start leading from the top, for when it comes to company values - it all starts and stops from the top, with our leaders!

Start by making sure that your leaders fully understand your company values, don’t assume that they do. Ensure they know what they mean, how they impact their decisions and actions, and how they should and need to be lived. Take the time to help them understand them, making them more than words on a wall, but something they use over and over again as a filter for their decisions and actions.

Next, hold your leaders and managers accountable for role modelling and living your values - never ever let them off the hook for something this important. Remember, they are setting the tone and direction for others to follow, signalling what should and shouldn’t be done. If they’re not doing this, they’re taking their team down the wrong path!

And last, but certainly not least, is to be brave and let go of any of your leaders and managers who after all you’ve done to support and develop them are not role modelling your values. It’s the right thing to do for your business, and the right thing to do for your workforce. It may be difficult, but your values will never do what you need them to do if your entire workforce is not bringing them out to play.

Remember, we don’t want hypocrites leading our business, we want and need leaders who truly walk the walk, using values to help and guide them at every step.

Debra Corey is a much-admired, charismatic and highly respected figure in the Human Resources world, recently being named one of the top 101 global employee engagement influencers. She’s had a varied and exciting career over the last 20+ years, working for global companies such as Gap Inc., Honeywell, Merlin Entertainments and Reward Gateway to name a few, where she’s developed and delivered HR strategies in a rebellious way, pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo to truly drive employee engagement.

She’s a three-time author, with her latest book on company values titled ‘Bringing Your Values Out to Play’, and her previous books being ‘Build it: The Rebel Playbook for Employee Engagement’ and ‘Effective HR Communication: A framework for communicating programmes with IMPACT’.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Hire People with Common Sense and Good Critical Judgement

Guest post by Stan Silverman:

During a recent event to launch my book, Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success, I spoke about the importance of hiring people with common sense and good critical judgment because at some point, you want them to violate policy when it is in the company’s best interest to do so.

I described an experience early in my career while serving as national sales manager for one of my company’s operating divisions. I was informed that production of a batch of product was found to have trace contaminants and needed to be recalled. Every day that passed, the cost of the recall would rise as the contaminated product flowed deeper into the distribution network. If the product was used in the production of a customer’s product, the cost of the recall would rise exponentially and damage the company’s reputation.

My boss, who had the authority to order the recall and the CEO of the company were traveling and were unreachable. This was before the days of smart phones, email and text messages. I didn’t have the authority to order the recall, and was told by my direct reports that I would either be celebrated or terminated for the recall decision. I ordered the recall.

When my boss and the CEO returned from their trip, I told them what I had done. They both celebrated my decision. That’s when I learned that you must hire people with common sense and good critical judgment, because someday they will need to make a decision in the best interests of the company that violates policy or is beyond their authority level.

A few days after I shared this experience, I received an email from one of the attendees, a senior leader at a bank, who wrote:

Your presentation last Thursday evening was very impactful. You said some powerful things that any company or leader would be smart to adopt. I think the one that was most surprising to hear was that companies should hire people who are willing to break the rules for the good of the company. It is so true, but no one ever states that openly for fear people will totally ignore the controls that have been put in place for all the right reasons. 

I remember the week when I was filling in for my boss who was out of the country and I made a decision to close all the bank branches in Eastern Pennsylvania on 9/11, about 15 minutes after the second attack. I had no authority to do it, was told by many I better not do it because I did not have the authority, but I knew I’d be wrong in my heart to not close … [risking a possible] run on the bank if I did not do it.  I also believed I would not have a job the next day for doing it.
The bank made a decision about an hour later to close everywhere in the footprint.  I still had my job … and we were the first to open the next day while most [banks] continued to be closed for another day.  It was real important that America knew the banks were open for business.

A company’s reputation can also be damaged when an employee makes a decision that is not consistent with common sense and good critical judgment. In April 2018, a barista at a Starbucks in the Rittenhouse Square section of Philadelphia exercised poor critical judgment and called the police on two African American men who had not yet ordered anything, but were just waiting for a friend to arrive. The two men were arrested.

Starbucks promotes its cafés as a comfortable and inviting place to meet friends, hang out, enjoy coffee, food, conversation and use its Wi-Fi network. This is the business model that has made Starbucks successful. It is not unusual for people to arrive and not make a purchase as they wait for their friends. This Starbucks barista violated a core value of the Starbucks business model.

To say that the arrest of these two individuals caused an uproar, accusations of bias and discrimination against black customers and loss of brand reputation is an understatement. There was a call to boycott Starbucks. The company apologized for the incident. A month later, Starbucks closed all of its 8,000 U.S.- based cafés for racial bias training.

What is the lesson? Hire people with common sense and good critical judgment, especially if they interface with your customers. Their decisions will help protect your reputation.

Stan Silverman is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and author of “Be Different! The Key to Business and Career Success.” He is also a speaker, advisor and widely read nationally syndicated columnist on leadership, entrepreneurship and corporate governance. For more information please visit

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Leaders Lessons from an Outward Bound Wilderness Instructor

Guest post from Mark Brown:

Leaders in the outdoor leadership space are quite familiar with a wilderness ethic and organization called Leave No Trace. Originally a program created by the United States Forest Service in the late 1980s, the organization offers guidelines to people who venture into the wilderness to help reduce their negative impact and preserve it for future generations. LNT has become the gold standard for organizations who operate in America’s backcountry environments.

LNT is not a well-known philosophy beyond the outdoor industry. But perhaps it should be. This argument was introduced by New York Life CEO Ted Mathas, while speaking at an event hosted by Outward Bound USA that honored New York Life Foundation's work with grieving teens. Mathas, himself an alumnus of Outward Bound’s wilderness programs, made the connection as he discussed his journey to becoming an effective CEO. He highlighted the importance of leaders putting their egos aside and “leaving no trace” by respecting the culture that exists and supporting people rather than focusing on their own agendas.

Mathas’ insights could be expanded to include many of the seven principles listed by Leave No Trace:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: Business leaders who know the environment in which they are leading can greatly minimize any negative impact, whether on the people they lead or the communities/environments in which they operate. Deliberate planning to minimize impact will ensure more positive outcomes. Too many leaders make either/or decisions regarding both human and environmental impacts, but this is a false choice that can be negated with proper planning and preparation.
  2. Dispose of Waste Properly: Waste disposal builds upon planning and preparation. LNT philosophy requires nothing be left behind that would negatively impact the environment. Business, particularly manufacturing has embraced the Japanese concepts of Muda and Kaizen, which have been widely adapted across industries as Lean. Muda is waste and Kaizen is the process of reducing that waste made most famous by Toyota’s Production System. Mathas actually takes this even further in his presentation, connecting this concept well with what is known as the “8th waste”—that of unused human creativity. An effective leader is one who taps that potential.
  3. Leave What You Find: Mathas honed in on this as an important aspect he paid attention to when he became a new CEO. New York Life has existed for 175 years. It has a rich history and culture, and as a new leader he recognized that his most important leadership was to preserve the good that was there as he guided the organization forward. Even struggling organizations have good things about them, and good people within who may be hunkered down waiting for better leadership. LNT advises us to see what is there and to preserve it for future generations.
  4. Be Considerate of Others: The wilderness holds a special place for those who travel into it. LNT asks that travelers respect not only the place, but the experience as well. Trail etiquette and minimizing noise to respect others are large parts of this principle. In a business setting, this principle has huge implications for the role an organization plays in its community and the world. The Conscious Capitalism movement has a tenet it calls a “stakeholder orientation.” This tenet reflects the importance of consideration to everyone who has engagement with the organization, from customers to vendors and the community in which it operates. Following this principle elevates the place of corporations in the lives of people.
All of our institutions are currently under tremendous strain. Rapid change and technological advances are only going to accelerate. Corporate leaders would do well to follow the words of Mathas and look to organizations that have been advising leaders about how to navigate the wilderness, where leaders have been successfully and safely guiding into the unknown.

About Mark Brown:
Mark Brown is the author of Outward Bound Lessons to Live a Life of Leadership: To Serve, to Strive, and Not To Yield. Originally a native of Northeastern Ohio, Mark moved to Naples, Florida where he worked as a writer and magazine editor. At the age of 25, he decided to attend a 23-day trip to an Outward Bound course in Utah. After taking a temporary job as a van driver for Outward Bound in Minnesota, he helped successfully search for and rescue a teenage boy that had become separated from the group. After this, Outward Bound asked him to become an instructor which began a 22-year working relationship with the organization. He accrued over 1,000 days in the wilderness as an instructor. He earned a master’s degree in business/entrepreneurship from Western Carolina University and has since served as a transformational leadership consultant in a variety of industries.