Tag Archives: human resources

It’s All About the People

7 Steps to Turn Employee Potential into Performance

By Brad Wolff

Brad WolffImagine on Monday, you discover that your meticulous, rule-following accountant and creative, eccentric marketing person have switched positions. How’s this likely to work out? In truth, some variation of this misalignment is common in most organizations.

The Waybeloe Potential Corporation was operating at the breakeven point for the past five years. The CEO, Harvey Waybeloe was frustrated. Another CEO told him about an employee-alignment process that was delivering amazing results for other companies. Out of desperation he decided to try it. Within two years, profits increased from breakeven to 3.2 millior dollars! The fix? Putting the right people in the right seats!

Most business leaders say that 80 percent of the work is done by only 20 percent of the workforce. This 20 percent are the top performers. They usually produce three to four times more than the others. The main reason is due to job alignment rather than attitude or drive. Here’s evidence: It’s common for top performers to be moved or promoted and then become poor performers. Likewise, many poor performers become top performers when moved to appropriate roles. Bottom line: everyone can be a top or poor performer depending on how well the work aligns with their innate characteristics.

How do you deliberately create an organization where people’s work is aligned with their innate characteristics (abilities)? Here’s an overview of a proven process that was used above.Everyone can be a top or poor performer depending on how well the work aligns with their innate characteristics. Click To Tweet

1. Shift Your Mindset From Focusing On Skills, Experience, And Education To Innate Characteristics First

It’s common for people who are “great on paper” to get hired and become poor performers. In that same vein, many top performers started off lacking in the “required” skills experience and education. When people’s work aligns with their innate characteristics, they can utilize their natural abilities and unleash their passion for their work. Also, the best training and management will not turn poorly aligned employees into top performers.

2. Select The Right Assessment Tool

Many organizations use personality assessments in the hope of gaining more objective information about people to set them up for success. However, the results are usually disappointing due to four inherent pitfalls:

a. What you think of as personality is mostly surface-level, observable behaviors; not what’s underneath, driving these behaviors. The drivers of behavior are more accurate, predictive, and stable.

b. Assessment-takers usually provide different answers based on which of the following they consider: how they actually see themselves, how they believe others see them, and how they want to see themselves.

c. Assessment-takers use a specific context or situation to answer the questions. For example, answers to questions related to “extroversion” (sociability and talkativeness) may vary depending on context differences: small vs. large groups, familiar vs. unfamiliar people, level of interest in the topic of conversation, etc.

d. If an assessment is used for a job application, the applicant often has an opinion on what traits the employer is looking for and skews the answers accordingly.

What’s a better option? Select an assessment that delves beneath the personality into what is more core or innate with people. This eliminates the biases of personality assessments and provides more valid and reliable data.

3. Establish Trust With The Employees

Inform the employees about the company’s commitment to align their work with their natural gifts. Don’t hide things or surprise people. People want to do work they’re good at and enjoy.

4. Develop An Understanding Of The Innate Characteristics Being Measured

Before you can align people’s innate characteristics with their work, it’s essential to understand what these characteristics mean. In other words, how each one impacts the way people think and behave. Now you have the basis to identify which characteristics are needed for different types of positions within your organization.

5. Develop Clarity On The Job Duty Break-Down

It’s important to know what people will do on a day to day basis in each job. The hiring team (direct manager and others with a major stake in position success) meets to gain clarity on the percentage of time spent performing each job responsibility. Group together duties that are very similar in nature (family of duties). Estimate the percentage of time spent working on each job duty family.

6. Determine Which Innate Characteristics Are Critical And Where They Need To Measure

The hiring team determines which innate characteristic is critical for each job duty family. They also agree on the desired range for each characteristic. For example, on a one to ten scale the range for creative thinking should be between seven to nine. Now you can develop an optimal range for each critical characteristic.

7. Administer Assessment & Align Employees With Job Functions

Assess both current employees and potential new hires and compare to the desired ranges. Take the appropriate action based on how strong the level of alignment is. Top performers almost always fit into desired ranges for each critical innate characteristic. If this is not the case, you need to adjust your desired ranges based on the data. Here’s more information on aligning employees:

  • When current employees don’t align with their jobs evaluate other positions within the company that do align well.
  • Openly discuss available options with employees who are misaligned. Develop a plan to shift roles or tweak job descriptions when this is feasible. Frequently, there are other employees who’d be thrilled to trade positions or some duties that better match with their own innate characteristics.
  • For applicants applying to open positions, only interview the people who align well with the desired innate characteristics. When you interview people who don’t align, you may be tempted to discount the assessment results. This rarely ends well.

In the end, the most important job of management is to maximize the ROI of its workforce. Peter Drucker said “The task of a manager is to make people’s strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant. The most important thing you can ever do as a leader is to put people in a position to excel rather than get by or fail. How are you doing in your most important task?

 

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, please visit: www.PeopleMaximizers.com.

How Human Are You?

Prioritizing People over Profits

By John Waid

John WaidHow human are you? At work do you care more about profits or people? In sales, are you and the company more interested in making quota than taking care of the customer?

If you’re being honest, business today is about profits over people and quotas over customers. So what is missing in people that keeps them from striking a balance to make companies and sales more human? Have we lost our humanity? If so, how do we regain it?

The intense pressure in companies for short term gains leads to a focus on profits over people. That focus on profits leads to selecting people that will generate them. Managers generate profits in the short term so they’re placed in leadership positions. These results-oriented managers squeeze the people to generate profits which can lead to the dehumanization of organizations. Be more conscious that you are human for a reason and remember that this very humanity is at the core of what makes your company and salesforce great. Click To Tweet

It’s estimated that 95 percent of businesses would experience huge advantages by injecting some humanity in their operations. Take for example a company that was doing really well with its employees and profits and decided it needed to undergo a higher rate of growth. The top decision makers installed a tyrannical micro manager to lead the business with a finance person as second in charge. The decisions the company made started to change. They started to cut benefits like Christmas parties, incentive trips and began to see people as numbers in a spreadsheet instead of creators of value. This led to the best people leaving, and instead of viewing this as a warning sign they saw it as a great gift as they could replace these people with others that were younger and cheaper. People became expendable. What has this change for the sake of growth caused? The company is now half the size it was in profits, earnings and people, with previously valued employees departing in droves. This company went from great to mediocre by bleeding out the humanity. The lesson learned should be that if you remove the humanity out of a company the humanity will leave, literally; and by the way, so will the profits.

Here are a few practical ways to bring the humanity and profits into balance.

  1. Live the people-first mentality. Understand that no matter what business you are in you are really in the people business. Focus on employees first, customers second and profits third for more profits.
  2. Focus on the values and behaviors (culture) of your people and hire and fire for it. Select people for attitude and train for aptitude. Become a Culture-Driven Company.
  3. Remember that business success is all about people and how they behave. Provide a transcendent purpose (other than money) and let this and your culture drive you. Your employees will serve your customers and your customers will buy more.

How human are salespeople? There is a classic joke that goes like this, “How can you tell when a salesperson is lying? His/her lips are moving.” Salespeople have gained one of the most inhuman reputations out there. The barrage of unsolicited phone calls these days continues to erode the reputation of the sales profession. One of the Noble Prize Winners of 2018 in Economics did not answer the phone call from the Nobel Committee that called to congratulate him because he thought it was a sales call and did not want to answer it.

To some, salespeople are viewed as not just inhuman, but subhuman. To make this worse, most of the sales training that salespeople receive is based on processes that make the whole thing feel “robotic.” So where has the trust and humanity gone? By squeezing salespeople with sky high quotas that force them to do everything under the sun (including even unethical things) that further erodes their reputation. Wouldn’t it be nice for the entire sales industry to undergo a transformation based on humanity, and for customers to once more see sales associates as friends not foes?

In order for this to occur, salespeople should be trained based on values and behaviors (a sales culture) that makes them pay attention to being human beings first and of helping people to buy (not sell) second. Stop the sales process trainings that further erase the humanity out of an already highly dehumanized profession. On top of that, you should train the sales managers to also coach and lead their Culture-Driven salesforce. The leaders of a salesforce at a large company decided it would be a good idea to yell and scream at their salespeople to meet objectives that were set way too high. The lack of humanity in the managers led to the best people leaving the company. The politics also started to get out of control as less qualified people were promoted to fill the spaces of the excellent salespeople which had left. Today, this company is suffering from a profit and morale problem that will not be solved until they retrain or fire the inhuman managers, bring back the humanity, and focus on people first and profits second.

Here are some tips for salesforces to become more human and also produce more growth and profits.

  1. Sales managers (who are already good at holding people accountable) should also focus on leading and coaching. Focus on creating a sales culture vs. just sales processes and strategies which do not necessarily create best practice habits. Become a Culture-Driven Salesforce to instill best practice habits in your salesforce.
  2. Focus on coaching your salespeople and encouraging them with specific praise and dramatically minimize the urge to just talk quotas. Focus on efforts to get better results. The more you praise effort and result, the less you will have to reprimand.
  3. Salespeople are humans. Treat them that way and emphasize that they treat their customers that way. Customers want to buy from salespeople they like and care about them. Respect, trust, support, fun and other values should be emphasized and practiced.

So how human are you? Be honest and see if you too have lost humanity and need to bring life back in to balance your business and salesforce. Become more conscious that you are human for a reason and remember that this very humanity is at the core of what makes your company and salesforce great. Start focusing on culture as much as you do on strategy, structure and processes for better results with people and profits.

John Waid is the founder of C-3 Corporate Culture Consulting, a keynote speaker and author of the book, Reinventing Ralph. With a specialty and passion for corporate culture, sales and global business, John believes culture is the engine that drives companies to better results, higher morale, and increased profitability. An active speaker, trainer and subject matter expert, John Waid holds an enduring belief that corporate culture is the key to success for companies. For more information on John Waid, please visit: www.CorporateCultureConsulting.com.

The Truth About Employee Disengagement

By Brad Wolff

Brad Wolff-employee disengagement Most companies struggle with employee disengagement. It’s costly in productivity, profitability and stress. Gallup’s engagement survey data published in 2017 found that 2/3 of U.S. workers are not engaged. American companies have invested billions of dollars per-year for many years to solve this problem. The results? The needle still hasn’t moved. How much has your experience been similar? Could this data simply reveal a general misunderstanding of the true causes of disengagement?

The Acme Corporation was suffering a 41 percent turnover rate. A recent survey showed that 85 percent of their workforce was disengaged. The general attitude of apathy, complaining and cynicism permeated the culture. This was puzzling to management since they attempted multiple efforts to improve engagement. These were well planned and executed programs such as team-building exercises, social events and pay raises.

All showed early enthusiasm and positive survey results that generated optimism. Unfortunately, the magic always wore off within a few weeks. In despair, Acme engaged a firm with a very different philosophy than their other advisors. This firm focused on helping executive leadership understand the root causes and solutions. Within nine months disengagement improved from 71 percent to 26 percent and turnover dropped to 19 percent.

The door to solving this dilemma opened when Acme management acknowledged that since their previous solution attempts were ineffective, their current way of seeing the problem must be flawed. This wisdom, humility and openness paved the way to learn the true root causes of their disengagement. Once root causes are clearly understood, the solutions usually become obvious. Addressing personal challenges that make you human will increase your effectiveness and fulfillment in every area of your life. Click To Tweet

Fixing engagement issues: What works?

The first step is for the company leaders to take an honest, objective view of the company culture (beliefs and behaviors that determine how people interact and do their work) that impacts and drives the way people think and behave. That’s why lasting change occurs when focusing at the culture level rather than specific individuals.

Below are the relevant human psychological needs that are the actual root causes of people’s engagement level. Examples of mindsets/philosophies that effectively address these needs follows each need. Engagement will improve when management’s actions align with people’s psychological needs.

  1. To feel valued and understood. Management earnestly listens to employees’ concerns, opinions and ideas with the intent to understand and consider their merits before responding. This replaces the common responses of defending positions or punishing employees for expressing contrary viewpoints. Management isn’t required to agree with the employees. What’s important is the sincere effort to listen, understand and consider their inputs.
  2. To express our gifts and talents. Management puts a focus on aligning roles and responsibilities with the gifts and talents of the individuals. We all bring a substantially higher energy and engagement (and productivity) when we do work that we like and are good at. As legendary management consultant Peter Drucker said, “A manager’s task is to make the strengths of people effective and their weaknesses”
  3. Meaning/purpose in what we do. This means that employees have a clear understanding of how their work impacts the mission and vision of the organization. Don’t expect them to figure this out on their own. People are much more motivated when they realize that their efforts truly matter.
  4. Internal drive for progress or development– Employees are at their best when there is “healthy tension” (not too low, not too high) to meet clear and reasonable standards. This means fair and consistent accountability and consequences based on performance relative to agreed-upon standards. Being too nice and lax harms engagement since people inherently desire growth and realize that standards and consequence help them do this. People are motivated when they focus on: “What did I achieve today?” What did I learn today?” How did I grow?”

What Doesn’t Work

In short, anything that doesn’t authentically address the root causes of disengagement is doomed to fail. If the message is “look at this nice thing we just did for you” rather than “this is how we value you as human being,” it’s highly likely to fail.

Examples of the “nice thing we just did for you” include most team-building events, social mixers, company newsletters, upgraded office environments, etc. Even pay and benefit increases have an initial rush soon followed by the familiar “right back where we were” rebound effect. That’s not to say companies should not do these things. They’re nice add-ons after the day to day essentials of human psychology are authentically addressed.

In summary, it’s understandable that we gravitate towards easy, quick-fix solutions to our problems. There are plenty of people to make these suggestions and sell them to us. They also don’t require us to identify our own personal contributions to the problems which we’d prefer to avoid. However, as in most things in life, there is no substitute for working at the cause-level and creating new habits of thinking and behavior. If you’re serious about creating the high engagement level lead to more profits with greater ease and personal satisfaction, this is what it takes. As a bonus, openly addressing personal challenges that make you human will increase your effectiveness and fulfillment in every area of your life.

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, visit www.PeopleMaximizers.com.

The Right Fit Makes the Difference

Ten Steps to Better Hiring

 By Kate Zabriskie

Kate ZabriskieI don’t understand what happened. He Difference interviewed so well. But its six months later, and it’s obvious. He’s not a good fit.

We should have known better. She’s just not detail oriented, and this job requires a lot of repetitive work. She’s a creative, she’s bored, and she’s leaving. I wish we had somewhere we could use her talents, but we don’t.

Why do we have such a hard time getting on the same page? We rarely agree on who to hire when we have a new position, and from day one it seems as if only half of us are invested in a new hire’s success. It’s just sad. We could do better. We need to do better.

When bad hiring happens, everyone suffers.

Finding the right person for a position is part art and part science. While some people certainly have gift for finding good people, everyone can improve their success rate by following a methodical step-by-step process.

Step One: Know what you want.

First and foremost, it’s important to envision what work will look like with a new person. What will he or she do? How do you envision interactions looking and sounding? What do you expect in terms of quality and quantity of work? What temperament do you envision working best? Does the person need to be creative? Is the work basically the same each day? If this person is going to interact with people other than you, who are they, and what do they want from a new hire? Knowing what you want is essential.

Step Two: Create a robust job description.

Once you are clear about the kind of person you want to hire, it’s time to put pen to paper and craft a job description. When you list the duties the person will perform, if you begin each of your sentences with a verb and write in everyday English, you’ll be well on your way to solidifying your expectations.

Step Three: Think about what it’s going to take for someone to be successful.

Experience and education are essential to success in some jobs, and for others, they’re not. If education isn’t a deal breaker, do you want to exclude candidates by making a degree mandatory? What you require can widen or narrow your applicant pool—potentially in ways that could hurt your chances of finding the right person. Think long and hard about what’s essential before moving to the next step.

Step Four: Create a strong job ad.

Just as candidates are selling themselves, you are selling your company and the position you are filling. An ad is your opportunity to attract talent. Whether you’re working with a recruiter or doing the recruiting yourself, spend time creating strong job title, telling your organization’s story, and briefly describing your essential requirements. If you have a great location, solid benefits, or some other selling point, include that information too. Your ad should quickly paint a robust picture of why you’re great, what you’re looking for, and why they should want to work with you.Great hiring is about good discipline and patience. Click To Tweet

Step Five: Promote your position.

The type of job you want to fill should dictate where you’ll promote it. Many options exist. Regardless of which you choose, it’s important to have a plan and to understand how each promotional avenue works.

Step Six: Craft your screening questions.

In tandem with crafting your ad and promoting your position, you’ll need to develop your questions for screening candidates and interviewing those with whom you eventually choose to meet. This step is essential for several reasons. First, it helps you follow a repeatable process. Second, it helps those who interview to ask relevant and legal questions. Finally, it ensures you are fair and can gather answers you can compare with relative ease.

Step Seven: Evaluate candidates and set a phone screening schedule.

Once your job closes, it’s time to review the qualifications of those who met your position’s criteria and set a screening schedule. Depending on the number of responses you get, you may choose to screen everyone or rank candidates and screen the top group. Either way, you’ll want to talk to applicants before you bring them in to meet in person. Phone interviews offer several benefits. They allow you to get an initial impression of a candidate without having people’s physical appearance influence your thinking. They are also an efficient way to address some basic questions.

Step Eight: Determine who you will invite to interview in person, and prepare your interviewing team.

After you’ve concluded your screening process, it’s time to prepare your interviewing team and invite candidates into the office. Getting ready is essential. Both you and the prospective employees are auditioning. Your interviewing team needs to be just that, a team. You should discuss the welcoming process, the interviewing order, the questions each person will ask, and how you will close your meetings with candidates and send them on their way. Leave little up to chance. You are on stage. Depending on the position you are filling, you may decide to conduct more than one round of interviews. Regardless of what you choose, you must have a plan.

Step Nine: Gather feedback, and rank the candidates.

When you’ve finished interviewing people, it’s time to rank them. Because you’ve asked each person the same questions, this should be easier than it could be if you hadn’t.

If you find your team disagrees, think before you make an offer. If none of the candidates is exactly right, again, think before you make an offer. The wrong person now is rarely as good as the right person a little later.

Step Ten: Make your offer.

Assuming there are no obvious roadblocks, it’s time to make an offer. Be excited when you do, and recognize this is only the first step in effectively integrating an employee into the fabric of your organization.

So there you have it. Ten steps can make all the difference. Great hiring is about good discipline and patience. The better you are at establishing and following a strong inclusive process, the stronger your results will be. Now go find that candidate!

 

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

Keeping Invisible Disabilities in Mind When Planning Company Events

By Tracy Stuckrath

It’s the first day of your company’s annual sales meeting for twenty-five people. While you ate a hearty breakfast at home before the meeting, you’re starving and ready for lunch. As you walk into the break room, you see that your boss’ administrative assistant ordered pizza for lunch.

Your stomach flips and your heart sinks. Pizza is not a safe or viable meal for you because you have celiac disease. What makes it worse is that despite the fact the pizza place she purchased from offers gluten-free pizza, she only ordered “regular” pizza and a large tossed “salad.” As you prepare to eat the salad, you read the ingredients on the salad dressing and find out it too, contains gluten. It will just be iceberg lettuce and a few tomatoes for lunch for you.

You felt very left out and overlooked—and now, even hungrier than before. You’ve worked here for a few years and the office is not that big. You thought she knew better.

Did you know that celiac disease, food allergies and intolerances are considered invisible disabilities? Did you know that people with celiac disease, diabetes and/or food allergies have the same protections afforded by the ADA as others with disabilities?

The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) defined a disability as any individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The 2008 extension of the Act was written to add additional terminology to major life activities—eating, digestive system, immune system, and cardiovascular system—and, in turn, providing civil rights protections for individuals with allergies, including food allergies, and other dietary needs, like celiac disease. In an essence, it was updated to better recognize invisible disabilities.

These invisible disabilities affect many of your employees, and it’s important to be mindful of them when planning office activities, meals, or outside functions. Below are some of the most commonly encountered food-related invisible disabilities, and some ways to keep them in mind when hosting meals at the office.

Food Allergies

Triggered by eating, touching or inhaling a food protein, reactions can range from mild (hives, coughing) to severe (throat closing, chest pain, fainting) and can be potentially fatal.

While more than 170 foods are known to cause allergic reactions, eight foods—wheat, egg, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish and soy—cause more than 90 percent of all allergic reactions.

Before food is served at work, ask employees if anyone has food allergies and what you need to avoid to keep them safe. Label all foods with the allergens they contain. Depending on the severity of the allergy and the trigger, inform all employees of the need to not bring that food in the workplace.

Diabetes

A life-long genetic disease requiring a person to closely manage their diet daily. A healthy meal for diabetic is generally the same as healthy eating for anyone—low in fat, moderate in salt and sugar, lean protein, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fruit. Avoid serving only heavily processed convenience foods—fried foods, food and beverages with added sugar and foods that have excess butter, cheese and/or oils—in the office.

When this discomfort or worse, life-threatening dangers, are ignored, you are not only ignoring your duty of care, you are endangering people with an invisible disability. Click To Tweet

Digestive Disorders, Such Celiac Disease

Disorders of the digestive system which cause a person’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract to not work properly or at all. Many triggers for these disorders—celiac disease, Crohn’s, diverticular diseases, colitis, colon polyps and even cancer—are food related and require people to avoid specific foods to avoid severe pain, missing work or going to the hospital.

Heart Conditions

Diet is an important risk factor in avoiding and possibly reversing heart diseases. Some medications for heart disease do not interact well with specific foods and can decrease the effectiveness and/or cause adverse effects—high blood pressure, heart failure and/or strokes. If an employee lets you know that they must avoid specific foods, they may be doing for an invisible medical disability.

These are just a few examples of the many diseases, conditions, dysfunctions, and alternative ways of experiencing the world that fall under the classification of invisible disabilities. Most who understand the world of invisible disabilities understand that the existence of ‘normal’ is an illusion.

The disability of extremely high importance is food allergies, food intolerances and other medically-necessary diets, like celiac disease. Yes, these are protected under the ADA. And because they don’t require an assistive device, like a wheelchair, cane, glasses, or hearing aid, food allergies and intolerances are an invisible disability.

In most cases, participating in meetings and events at work or while traveling for work makes it close to impossible to completely avoid allergens, either because they can’t avoid the ingredient or they can’t control for cross-contamination.

When this discomfort or worse, life-threatening dangers, are ignored by those hosting meetings in the office, you are not only ignoring your duty of care, you are endangering people with an invisible disability.

Food allergies, celiac disease, heart disease and diabetes are not choices your employees make. They are invisible diseases—and disabilities—that require managing their diet very closely and specifically so they can maintain their health, their life and their job.

As founder and chief connecting officer of thrive!, Tracy Stuckrath helps organizations worldwide understand how food and beverage (F&B) affects risk, employee/guest experience, company culture and the bottom line. As a speaker, consultant, author and event planner, she is passionate about safe and inclusive F&B that satisfies everyone’s needs. She has presented to audiences on five continents and believes that food and beverage provide a powerful opportunity to engage audiences on multiple levels. For more information about Tracy, please visit: www.thrivemeetings.com.