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Business Management Leadership Development management systems New Managers organizational development

Why great employees quit and what you can do about it

After being in the Human Resources arena for more than twenty years (does that mean I’m officially old? Eeek!) I have seen employees quit for a variety of reasons. When the employee is a high potential, high contributing one, or a well-loved manager, it can be a devastating blow to the company. If the employee is non-performing or toxic to the culture, it’s not but shame on you for not addressing it before they resign. Here are the reasons I’ve been given for why great employees quit:

  • I didn’t see any opportunity for growth here
  • My manager doesn’t care about me
  • My manager doesn’t know what they’re doing (I’m not saying this is true, I’m saying this is what I’ve been told)
  • The company doesn’t care about me (or the company owner doesn’t care about me)
  • I haven’t received the training I was promised
  • The job isn’t what I was told it would be
  • I am not being compensated what I’m worth
  • I’ve been here X years, and have never even gotten a review
  • This is a really negative environment
  • I’m expected to work so much that I never see my family anymore. I need balance
  • We’re having/have had a baby/small children, and want to make a change so we can be home with them
  • I thought I could stand the commute but I can’t
  • My spouse accepted a transfer, so we’re moving

All of these reasons, with the exception of the last two (possibly three but I think there are some improvements to make here), are completely avoidable. The problem is, by the time someone is ready to quit over these things, there’s really nothing you can do to keep them except to desperately offer them more money, which I’ve never seen work long-term.

Retaining an engaged workforce of high-performing employees does not happen by accident.  In my experience, this only occurs when you have a comprehensive performance management system in place. Some employers try to circumvent this by implementing perks without getting to the core issue. I liken this to putting beautiful buttercream frosting on a liver pate cake (or a custom paint job to a car without an engine if baking analogies don’t work for you). It looks nice and might fool people for a minute, but won’t stand the taste/drive test. Additionally, these interventions cost money without adding to the bottom line. Some examples I’ve seen are:

  • Foosball or pool table in the break room
  • Free food
  • Unlimited PTO (that hardly anyone takes because they think it’s a trap)
  • Awesome employee benefits
  • High-above-market pay
  • Employee BBQs (Potlucks if times are tough)
  • Monthly birthday cake for employees (or cards signed by everyone in the office)
  • Bring your pet to work (if you do this, please have a plan for poo patrol)

I’m not saying any of these are bad. I think they’re great. I’m just saying they don’t do anything to retain great employees if you don’t have a robust performance management system in place.  So what does that look like?

  • Accurate documentation of the job details as well as the knowledge, skills, and ability needed to perform the job
  • Clear and accurate understanding of what behaviors lead to team and department accomplishments that lead into desired revenue and profitability goals
  • Behavior-based training for employee and managers detailing HOW to perform the job and not just what is expected
  • Correctly functioning equipment as appropriate to perform tasks
  • Clear, articulated explanation of the company goal, mission, and how each job support that
  • Accurate individual performance metrics provided weekly to employees to give them feedback on how they’re doing
  • Contingent positive reinforcement for performing tasks at or above expectations
  • Regular goals to promote job achievement, and growth
  • Personal development plan to support employee’s and organization’s growth plan
  • Ensuring struggling employees are coached and supported, and ultimately removed from jobs in which they can’t or won’t be successful

This is relatively simple, but not easy, and it’s a lot to navigate with all the other pressing business items to manage. If you’re interested in learning more about setting up a performance management system, click here to set up some time to walk through a complimentary overview of a proven performance management protocol. Or just reach out directly to carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work. 

If you enjoyed this post, please share the love, and come hang out with me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Business Management Leadership Development management systems Organizational Behavior Management organizational development Uncategorized

How performance management will improve your revenue, profitability, and give you your life back

I started my career with a degree in psychology and a professional goal of becoming a) a best-selling author or b) something that helps people somehow. By luck, fate, or something else, I ended up mentoring under a pioneer of applied behavioral science, and learned some of the most powerful performance management practices I’ve encountered to date. I thought I was diverting from my chosen path into the business world for a ‘little while’. What I ended up discovering was that understanding how to improve individual performance in a business absolutely helps people, improves lives, builds companies, and makes a difference.

There are many ways to look at performance management. I recommend a twofold approach. First, I like to train new (and even seasoned) managers on the basics of your profit and loss statement. I’ve found through the years that this is worth reviewing even with long-time managers, because sometimes there is not the clarity you think and it’s often the case that your managers won’t tell you if they don’t understand something. Make sure everyone understands your revenue lines, your costs of goods sold, and particularly the labor line items. They should also be educated on gross profit, operating expenses, net income, and EBITDA. Some company owners are uncomfortable sharing all the financial information, and some prefer open book management. Regardless of your preference, sharing the how’s of a P&L will enable your managers to make better decisions, and to start looking at the business as a business, and not a bottomless well.

Once managers have a strong business understanding, you can introduce a more robust performance management system. This intervention is where my team and I get the most excited, because this is where you get to make more money, keep more money, experience less stress, invest more in your people, and start loving your business again. In other words, this is where the fun is!

Performance management (as we teach it) is based on the understanding that a business – any business – is comprised of the activities performed by the employees. The goal of performance management is to clarify your business outcomes, identify the milestones, and map out the steps needed to hit the milestones. Once that’s done, we look for the ‘tracks’ that proper task achievements leave, figure out the most effective way to measure them, and provide feedback on those measurements to each individual employee.

If it sounds like work-process mapping, it is. If it sounds like behavior-based training, it is. If it sounds like individual performance metrics, it is. If it sounds like individual, team, and departmental key performance indicators, it is. If it sounds like the only proven way I’ve ever seen to drive double digit improvements in top and bottom line performance, it’s that too. But it’s more than that.

What I love (love, love) most about performance management is that at the end of the day it’s connecting employees to the big picture of the company, and about connecting managers with their employees. It means making sure important conversations are happening. It means that great performance gets recognized, not taken for granted. It also means that people who need help, receive it. It’s also exciting, because while there are certain predictabilities (like, you as the owner will be super frustrated at the first set of metrics because of how hard they were to get, and how much less is happening than you assumed) there are also always exciting gains, and huge increases in morale as employees come together to solve problems, figure out the best ways to do something, and feel heard.

So, while the best-selling author thing is still a work in progress, doing something that helps people has become a reality, and it’s even better than I thought it would be!

If you found this article helpful, you may also be interested in the three things you should train all your new managers (one of which is performance management, of course). If you believe your small or growing business could benefit from performance management, or other management training, please feel free to email me and we can chat.

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Business Management Organizational Behavior Management Uncategorized

Getting started: Performance management, purpose, and targeting for success

If you’re like most business owners, you desperately want your company to be an efficient, high performing operation, and most businesses also want to cultivate a fun and friendly culture. A lot of companies miss the mark by focusing so much on the performance that people feel like commodities, or else by bypassing performance and focusing solely on the perks, hoping to attract the best and brightest with the misguided expectation that this will alleviate the need to manage performance. Like most things in business and life, the reality is much less like a magic bullet, but great results are achieved through planning, perseverance and consistency.

I am a raving fan about utilizing applied behavioral science (OBM, or organizational behavior management) in organizations to identify and achieve your goals, but I’ve also become an ardent advocate for pairing it with Purpose. This was never a part of any OBM projects I facilitated before, but as I grew in my coaching and leadership expertise, I realized that it needed to be added to truly build a world-class culture and organization.

I was inspired in this by thinkers such as Michael Hyatt and Simon Sinek. The gist of it is organizations, and people, do better and last longer when they have a compelling purpose driving their actions. Sure, you might have an organizational outcome of hitting $250 million in the next five years, but if there’s not a compelling reason why, you and your team will experience burnout and disillusionment along the way.

So how do you identify your purpose? As I mentioned to a group I was speaking to last month, you’re probably getting warm if you feel a little embarrassed at first talking about it. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but a great purpose should be WAY bigger than you feel like you’re capable of. As I told my group, when you have hit on your purpose, there will always be that little voice inside (or even outside, if you’re hanging out with scared people) that say ‘who are YOU to think you can do this?’ If that’s the case, you’re probably onto something.

Having a huge, audacious purpose does (at least) three things for you: It creates a rallying point for your team, it creates context for your financial goals, and it mitigates that letdown that can happen when a goal is reached. Essentially, the purpose breathes life into your goals. And goals, and achieving them, are what performance management is all about!

OBM is an application that can unequivocally launch your organization into a high performing one, where workers are crystal clear on what the goals are and how to achieve them, and are contributing directly to the success of your company. Because of this, they are getting recognized and appreciated for their efforts and managers are spending far less time writing people up or replacing them, so efforts are spent on more positive endeavors. The result is a successful company, populated by successful people who feel supported and encouraged by their managers.

Sound good? It is. The principles of performance management are very simple, but launching it isn’t easy. There are some things you must be careful to do in the beginning, or you can waste a lot of time and energy pursuing the wrong things. The most important step is the first, targeting. This step takes the most time, but arguably brings the most value to your organization regardless of what you do next.

The purpose of the targeting intervention is to clarify the organizational outcome, the accomplishments that support it, and the team, then the individual accomplishments feeding those. At the bottom lie the individual behaviors that produce the accomplishments. During a targeting intervention, we see that any organization is ultimately a collection of behaviors. Often when going through this process, one realizes some dysfunctional processes that are impeding efficiency. The end result is that a clear pathway is lined out leading to the outcomes.

The danger is that if this is not done thoroughly, or if the right people are not included, or if incorrect assumptions are made, you can be pursuing (and achieving) milestones that aren’t the key drivers of your success. That’s the main reason why I always recommend guided targeting sessions even when launching a ‘virtual’ performance management intervention. An outsider’s perspective on your processes is critical, because we don’t assume anything ‘has’ to be a certain way. Not knowing your history, we can ask the questions that haven’t been asked in a long time.

So yes, get incredibly clinical about your targeting and your performance management, but infuse it with the passion of purpose, and you’ll be unstoppable!

Next time, I’ll expand on the subsequent interventions of performance management. If you want a sneak peak, just email me at carrie@todaysleaderhshipsolutions.com

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Business Management Uncategorized

Avoid these surefire ways to ensure your managers fail miserable and ruin your business (and do this instead)

We’ve all got our war stories about the boss from hell, the narcissist who made our job torturous or even that one supervisor who could probably be legitimately classified as a sociopath. This article is not about them, it’s about YOU – a manager or business owner who is neither evil, stupid, or sociopathic. To the contrary, you’re probably above average in intelligence (actually, you don’t necessarily agree, but a lot of people describe you as ‘brilliant’) and yes, you might be a little intense, but you care deeply about your business and the people who work for you. You know there are some people who are threatened by talented subordinates but you’re not one of them. You want your people to be successful, and you definitely want to grow your company, earn more money, and be able to provide some unique perks for your employees.

And now, your business is at the point where all these great ideas can’t come to fruition until you can get some of the responsibility off your shoulders and distributed to those chosen few…your management team! This is an exciting place for you to be so let’s look at the 6 ways to GUARANTEE your managers will fail miserably…so you can be your brilliant self and avoid these things like the plague. Ready?

  • Avoid ‘insulting’ them by explaining what you expect leaders to do in your company
  • Never explain the P&L basics and how it applies to their business segments – they’re managers, not accountants!
  • Don’t waste their time with touchy feely stuff like missions, visions, and teambuilding nonsense that won’t help them do their job better.
  • Always assume they know how to have difficult conversations and just trust that they are taking care of performance problems
  • Assume that because they’re decent human beings they are fully capable of understanding and adhering to state and federal HR laws
  • Expect that they are smart enough to know when they need help, and that they’ll ask you if they’re unsure of anything. The last thing you want to do is micro-manage a new manager and make them think you don’t trust them.

Some of these points might seem a little contradictory. After all, isn’t the current wisdom du jour that we should just hire smart people and let them do what they do best? All I can say to that is that an unmet expectation always leads to frustration, and an unstated expectation almost always becomes an unmet one. Of course, you didn’t start a manager training company so you don’t necessarily want to spend all your time on this, but rest assured the investment you do put into setting expectations, training, and providing feedback to your managers, will pay exponential dividends in productivity, employee engagement, retention, and morale. So, here’s how to avoid setting your managers up for failure and fast-tracking this next stage of growth and success for your business.

1) Provide clear written and verbal descriptions about what you expect leaders to do in your company.

Not everyone gets to be a leader, so take some time and effort to make the designation special! After all, if these folks are doing it right, they’re going to be giving of themselves constantly for the betterment of the employees and the company. This is not a job for the faint-hearted, so it’s a good idea to not only celebrate the position, but really go the extra mile in describing why and how leaders are chosen and what you expect.

I recommend leading with a brief explanation of what leadership means to you (and it will be different for everyone), why it’s important, and what you want leaders to be known for. If you have a code of conduct that’s important, you need to specify that as well (for example, when I ran HR departments, I made sure people understood that they were held to a higher level of accountability in their position).   This sets the tone and the pace for the role, and also will allow people to opt out if this isn’t what they had in mind. PS…if they do opt out, don’t hold it against them.  A lot of people say they want to be managers because that’s the only path they see to earning more money. It’s important to explain what it’s really like, and often you can use creative compensation to reward individual contributors who will not thrive in a leadership role.

2) Explain the P&L basics and how it applies to their business segments. This will help them make better choices, empower them, and increase their value.

Your managers are in charge of your largest most controllable expense…labor. It only makes sense to educate them as to what this means. If you want your managers to treat your money as if it were their own you have to educate them. I’ve seen very well-meaning managers put $30/hour people in charge of sweeping to get the sweeping done, while $12/hour people were sent home early. Your labor and overtime will be managed much more intelligently and effectively if you explain why and what it all means.

3) If you don’t have a documented company mission and vision, it’s time to get one!

No, I’m not talking about the corporate buzz-wordy mission statements of the nineties that everyone made fun of (for good reason), but the best teams are ones where the people feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Everyone needs a ‘why’, and ‘earning a paycheck’ or ‘meeting revenue goals’ doesn’t really cut it. What is your dream for you company? Where do you want to go? Don’t be afraid of being unrealistic – be afraid of not dreaming big enough.

4) Always assume they DON’T know how to have difficult conversations and are NOT addressing performance problems.

As I’ve stated before, your new managers were probably once your highest performing individual contributors. They probably haven’t ever had to be coached or disciplined for poor performance. Not only that, I’ve found that even seasoned managers often would prefer to just terminate someone rather than have uncomfortable performance talks. You’re better off assuming your managers have no idea how to have these conversations, and then make role playing them a fact of everyone’s life from here on out. The ones who need help will appreciate it, and the ones who are great at it can give everyone some ideas.

5) Assume that common sense and fairness means nothing when it comes to employment law

Even if your managers all operate on the right side of grey and have the best of intentions, this does NOT mean they are ‘safe’ to represent your business. One of the most intelligent, and well-meaning young managers I’ve worked with earnestly informed me that he always asked people how old they were and if they had kids, because that affected how well they could do the job. AAHHHHH!!  The point is, we can have biases and not even know it. Not only that, HR law does often not correlate with common sense of even fairness. Everyone needs to be updated and refreshed on what the courts are telling us these days.

6) Set up regular one-on-ones to talk about expectations and questions, because they won’t ‘just ask’.

It’s not fair to expect something of someone and not tell them what it is. Neither is it fair to assume that someone has the wherewithal to determine when they need help. Most of us are very leery to ask our boss for help because we assume she thinks we already know it – that’s why we were hired. Not only that, none of us know what we don’t know. So don’t throw someone into the snake pit and tell them to let you know if they have questions. They won’t. And I’m not saying your company is a snake pit, but you get the idea, right? State expectations, check in, YOU ask Them questions, and follow up. Repeatedly.

It’s a wonderful thing to have grown to the point where you need managers, so pat yourself on the back…but don’t think that withholding expectations, support, and communication will be doing them any favors!

I hope you found this article useful. If you are interested in learning more about training first managers, please visit us at www.todaysleadershipsolutions.com for more information or click here for a free ‘new supervisor’ assessment.

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Leadership Development management systems organizational development

Not ‘inspirational’ enough to be a good leader? Think again!

Inspiration! The word itself is infused with optimism and a sense that the sky’s the limit. When I think of inspiration I think of creativity, positivity, and hope. When it comes to managers and leaders, I’ve found there are two main camps. Those who desire above all to inspire their followers to greatness, and those who feel that ‘inspiration’ is a bit silly, or at least unnecessary, to successfully attaining performance goals.

Now before you start thinking bad things about the leaders in the second camp, I think it’s helpful to understand why they might feel this way because it’s there that we’ll find the most helpful clues as to how to be an inspirational AND effective leader.

There are only a handful of reasons why someone would dismiss the ‘inspirational’ part of leadership. One that we can take off the table is the folks who actually don’t like people or care about their success. They see people as mere tools (or ‘resources’) to accomplish their goals. These people are likely sociopaths (or narcissists) and while they certainly can show up in senior leadership roles (for reasons we’ll table for another day), they’re really not who we’re talking about, because there are other, far less sinister reasons to mistrust the more intangible aspects of leadership. These reasons have everything to do with one’s perception of oneself, and one’s perception of the leadership role.

If a leader does not see him or herself as a particularly inspirational person, they are likely to eschew that aspect of their role. This can happen if one is introverted, or just doesn’t see oneself in that light. The introverted leader has probably felt for the most part that they have been effective due to perseverance and technical excellence, and sees inspiration as the territory of his/her more flamboyant peers. As Carol Dweck so excellently explains in her book Mindset, the Psychology of Success, we tend to avoid activities that conflict with the labels we have assigned ourselves (or have had assigned to us). ‘Non-Inspirational’ leaders in this camp usually care very much about the success of the people who work for them, but feel that the best way to lead is to ensure they are hitting their goals. Goal achievement is reward enough, and the other ‘fluff’ isn’t that important (they tell themselves). These are the managers that the high achievers respect, but that many would also describe as cold and unfeeling at worst; lacking warmth at best.

But there’s another reason to feel skittish about inspirational leadership. We’ve all encountered that person who could charm the stingers off the bees with their personality. These leaders always make you feel good and motivated. You feel like they really care about you, and you’d follow them to the ends of the earth. Except they’re not going anywhere! This is the person who is great for rallying the troops, but underwhelming when it comes to actually achieving any type of organizational goal (and make no mistake, even non-profit organizations have goals). These folks (correctly) assume that people are the most important part of a business relationship and invest their heart and soul into validating, encouraging, and inspiring their people, which is wonderful. But without direction, those very people who are being inspirted will eventually grow frustrated and stagnant.

I’ve seen both types of leaders fail to fulfill their true potential simply because of their preconceived notion of what their role can or should be. The best leaders, who change lives and companies, are both inspirational and organizationally effective (and I know many people will disagree with me, but this has been my observation over twenty years, and backed by research). Of course a leader can’t be ‘in the weeds’ doing the work instead of overseeing it, but they simply MUST have the tools to enable their subordinates to be effective in their roles. They must understand not only WHAT leads to success, but also HOW to perform those tasks, how to measure them, and how to reinforce them.

At the same time, it IS true that when people believe you sincerely care about them, as people, and are rooting for their success, it brings out the best in them, not to mention elevating their morale and engendering loyalty. You show you care by getting to know them as people, learning their stories, finding out what they really want in life – and helping them attain it. Old school managers worry that by being ‘too personal’, people will take advantage, but you can rarely go wrong by looking for the gold in people.

A solid performance management system releases you from the fear of being taken advantage of, and allows you the freedom of truth. It allows you to clear away misunderstandings about performance and, when there’s a mis-fit between position and aptitude, you can handle the situation with dignity and compassion and, because you know the person, often find a better suiting role.

So don’t be afraid to inspire! And at the same time, don’t be afraid to manage performance. Mastering both will allow you to become a legendary leader!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Has leadership training really helped your managers be more effective? It’s okay to say no, and here’s why

It only takes about half a day to review trending topics on leadership, motivation and organizational culture to walk away feeling like all one has to do to have an awesome company is a) hire great people, b) treat them like adults and let them do their job and c) ensure leaders are busy removing roadblocks, managing change, fostering innovation and championing creativity and you will have an amazing fortune-100-worthy company with people beating down the doors to come work for you. I’m not saying that’s not true but if you’re a business owner, is this your reality?

The companies I work with are private companies in the manufacturing, construction, and retail industries. The owners of these businesses highly value loyalty and nearly always promote from within. They want a high performing culture with a family feel. This usually means very low tolerance for corporate red tape and bureaucracy and a fierce determination to retain as much control as possible over the employee/employer relationship while still remaining on the right side of the law. They want to manage their companies using common sense, fairness, and the underlying premise that hard work pays off, and doing the right things lead to the right results. The owner is usually an expert in the product or service that the company provides and understands that his/her value is not derived from performing the work anymore (even though that is not always possible).

 By the time these companies have grown enough to have a management ‘team’ the owners almost always have the same growth challenges:

·      How come my managers can’t seem to maintain the level of performance and morale we had when we were smaller?

·      Why do employees complain that they’re not being paid enough, or not being trained well enough?

·      Why is it so hard for my managers to quantify our team and individual performance?

·      When did this stop being fun and become such a headache, and is it too late to scale back to when things seemed to be working so much better? (Is this even worth it?)

At this point one of two things usually happens; the business owner either blames him/herself or the managers. What usually comes from this is an assumption that someone else could do better under the circumstances (whether as owner or as manager). This leads to looking for replacements or additions to the team to ‘shore up’ a lack of talent or research and training for the leaders. In most cases though, a perfectly good solution is applied to the wrong problem!

Trying to solve the above problems by simply empowering leaders to empower employees, or giving unlimited vacation time, or doing more ‘team building’ is not the answer. All those things may be good, but in absence of solid management systems, you will likely have a highly inspired team wandering around unproductively or, worse, your best and hardest working employees will become bitter and cynical. It’s very similar to what we’ve done over the years trying to instill ‘self-esteem’ in our children rather than focusing on resiliency. Just telling someone they’re great doesn’t do much if you’re not teaching them how to do great things, which requires pushing through failure.

The answer for the companies I work with is to help managers help employees do the things they need to do to make the organization successful. It means thoroughly understanding your business to know what are the things that need to be done to achieve the results that achieve your results.  It means differentiating between task purpose and task behaviors (or what to achieve versus how to achieve it). Successful business owners know this intuitively, but when their company grows beyond their own personal sphere of influence it can be hard to articulate and pass this down to managers.

Helping managers focus on employee’s behavior has been villainized because of fear of taking the humanity of the workplace, of ceasing to see employees as the creative, independent people they are and of focusing on the bottom line more than the value of the people. Which is absurd. The best environments I have ever seen are ones where everybody understands the goals of the company (revenue, profit and social), how their job fits into those goals and…HOW THEY ARE DOING performing the behaviors required to hit the goals. Absent this, companies rely on annual performance evaluations (or NO evaluations) and kneejerk responses to unanticipated financial setbacks. The result is fear and uncertainty and you don’t need a psychology degree to know what that does to performance.

So if you find the preponderance of leadership and management articles interesting, and you agree with them, but you don’t find them helpful to get the results you want in your company, it’s not you! It’s all (most of it) good stuff, it’s just not sufficient to get you where you want to be. Your time might be much better spent clarifying for managers and employees your goals, the achievements that lead to the goals, how to achieve them and how people are doing at achieving them.

If you found this article interesting, you may enjoy a deeper look at the Targeting Handout from our Organizational Behavior Management teaching series. 

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work.  As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Does measuring performance really kill morale?

We are living in what just might be the most interesting time in history in terms of the workplace. Not since the industrial revolution have we had so many cultural dichotomies warring with each other right under one roof, so no wonder I am hearing from business-owners how confusing it is to navigate. There is no question that with global competition, businesses are now tasked more than ever to run as efficiently as possible. We are also hearing that workplace culture just might be more important than anyone ever really gave credence to. Add to that an incredibly dynamic generational phenomenon and it’s a veritable cauldron of….of what, exactly?

I’ve seen a lot of experts lately championing the idea that all the ‘old-school’ systems of management – performance reviews, handbooks, behavioral interviewing, vacation time, etc. – are antiquated, broken policies that treat employees like criminals or wayward children and need to be done away with. The argument is that if you treat employees like the creative, unique professionals that they are, then they will happily produce for you. I’ll be honest, that I read those things with mixed emotions. Part of me really wants that to be true, part of me has to work at not being just a little threatened because as an HR Professional I’ve spent the last 20 years championing most if not all of these processes, and all of me knows it’s just not that simple.

If you’ve ever worked for an organization that valued dollars more than their employees, you will have known it. The primary driver in these companies is fear. Managers view employees as commodities to be traded in if they don’t perform. They are miserable environments to work in, and even top performers report burnout, fatigue and disillusionment. The result is a culture of compliance, where people do the bare minimum, when you’re watching and the hallmark of these cultures is a lack of innovation, creativity, and higher than average attrition of top performers.

However, before you are tempted to throw the metrics out with the stinky bathwater, consider the extreme polar opposite – an organization that doesn’t track anything and relies on employee engagement, enthusiasm, and camaraderie to fuel performance. If you have ever worked for one of these organizations, they are definitely more enjoyable on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the result here a bunch of highly inspired and engaged people working on the wrong things! Lack of strategic direction, and understanding of what is required to hit company goals means the goals aren’t hit. And believe me, those highly engaged people are much less so when the company can’t quite make payroll because they haven’t been tracking their receivables.

And not to complicate things, but we have three distinct generations, and multiple variations of each, all potentially populating one workplace at the same time. To grossly and unfairly (but not entirely inaccurately) overgeneralize:

  • The Baby Boomer generation represents long term employment stability, employer and employee loyalty, and rampant workaholism.
  • The GenXers desperately want work-life balance, don’t have it, and are bitter with the Baby Boomers for creating a system they don’t want and at the Millennials for challenging it and possibly getting away with it.
  • The Millennials want constant variety and more feedback and mentoring than anyone has time to provide and still get any work done.

With all that going on, we have an absolutely incredible opportunity to rework the workplace into something amazing by a simple SSCC model (Stop, Start, Continue, Change) of the current workplace. Take performance measurement for example:

Stop – using annual performance (or even semi-annual) performance reviews as your sole measure of performance.

Start – determining what ‘tracks’ good performance leaves, and collect data on that on a frequent (weekly) basis.

Continue – Handbooks – sorry, but it only makes good sense for employees and managers to know how you operate and documenting it ensures consistency and eliminates needing to hire someone just to explain your vacation policy to every single employee.

Change – Change rules that you created because of one bad apple and if you use measurements to belittle, threaten or bully people for the love of everything you hold dear change THAT!

I don’t think it’s healthy not to measure performance and given the emerging generation’s predilection for feedback we’d be foolish not to be prepared for that. In absence of performance metrics, what will you base the feedback on and how will it be received? This generation has had more information at the fingertips by the time they were in kindergarten than many of us have had for the majority of our lives. They will not be satisfied with an annual review based on a subjective sliding scale, make no bones about it.

At the end of the day, if you have employees, your largest expense IS paying them to do things for you. Does it not just make good sense to track what you’re paying for? And if you’re an employee, don’t you want to know how you can bring more value to your employer, and thus make more money? I’ll say it again – the only way people lose in a performance measurement system is if the system isn’t accurate and/or if it used to bully, demean or belittle people. I know this is a hot topic and people I greatly respect vehemently disagree with me so all I ask is respectful discourse!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work. As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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The solution to your biggest business problem is easier than you think

I recently took a poll, asking business owners and leaders what they thought the biggest obstacle standing in the way of their business achieving their targeted revenue and profitability and do you know what the overwhelming answer was?

·      No, not lack of customers

·      Not better equipment

·      Not even systems and processes (although you’re getting warmer…)

·      THE biggest obstacle to your business achieving the revenue and profitability is ‘lack of quality employees’ (according to my responders)!

Now granted, employment is at an all-time low and I have been stunned at how difficult it has been to fill some positions for some of my clients (it kind of reminds me of the glory days of 2003 or so, but I digress) but I am just not buying that the employees out there are all some lesser quality, like they are spoiled milk or something.

There is nothing wrong with employees, there is nothing wrong with the newer generation and there is nothing – absolutely nothing – standing in the way of your business achieving record-breaking potential. Nothing, that is, except for a fundamental mistake you are making in your management process.

What I’m about to share may come as a shock to you. It may go against everything you ‘know’ and everything the experts are telling you these days. That’s okay – I’ve strayed from the beaten path myself because the siren songs of the opposing ‘theories’ are very appealing. The problem is they don’t work. At least, not consistently and not in a way you can replicate with all your employees, teams and departments in any kind of reliable or efficient manner.

The system is called Organizational Behavior Management. I think it’s safe to classify it as a ‘basic’ (as in, back to the…), based on how long it’s been around and how reliably it works. The underlying premise to OBM is that there are ‘laws’ of human behavior that work all the time, just like the law of gravity works all the time, and if you incorporate these laws into a structured management system you WILL get:

·      The right behaviors, in the right amounts, at the right times. Every time.

·      At least 15% increase in profitability if you are focusing on operations.

·      At least 25% increase in revenue if you are focusing on sales.

·      Employees who understand their role in the big picture, feel appreciated, and are more engaged and less likely to go to your competitor.

I mentored under one of the pioneers of this system early in my career, Dr. D. Chris Anderson. He had applied the technology in industries such as retail, banking, real estate, teaching, manufacturing, hospitality, professional services, high tech sales…even college sports! When I met him, he was looking for projects that he thought would fail, just to test the limits of the program. Our third project together was a power solutions company in the construction industry. There were so many variables out of our control; employees driving unsupervised from site to site, a lack of any way to systematically track and record tasks, huge variations from anticipated to actual workload, lack of static work teams…you name it. And yet we were wildly successful!

Chris claimed that if upper management is committed to the program, it always works, and I don’t think he was ever proved wrong.

Later in my career I became a certified coach and studied more about theories of leadership and motivation. There is some amazing research out there concerning workplace motivation (I particularly love Daniel Pink), and what drives people, and I love incorporating them into my leadership coaching. It frankly feels like the right thing to do, and makes leadership much more meaningful and enjoyable. I’m not for a second dismissing that.  But for a management foundation that WILL drive a successful and thriving company, I’ve never found a system to rival Organizational Behavior Management in terms of not only the results you achieve, but also the morale boost it provides.

Chris always told me that I would burn out running OBM projects – he predicted a max of 3. I think I did 5 before I saw what he meant. The nature of the system requires the collection and management of a lot of data. The technology to do this effectively was just emerging 20 years ago so a big part of my job was jockeying spreadsheets. The constraints we faced then just aren’t there anymore with the advent of all the tools we have today to communicate, automate, track and report; tools you probably already have in your business or have access to very affordably!

So if you’re struggling to reach performance goals, or frustrated because it feels like your employees don’t care as much as you do, or even finding yourself at a loss at how to create a ‘workplace culture’ that engages employees and drives excellence and still get actual work done, this solution may be just what you’re looking for. I’m finalizing some resources that I’ll be publishing soon outlining the basics of the program. Until then, if you’re interested in learning more, please reach out. I love talking about this stuff!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Limitless HR Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work.  As a certified HR Professional, executive coach and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on organizational development, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@limitlesshrsolutions.com

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Is your business prepared for success?

If you own or lead a business, then for you, failure is not an option and never has been.  You know your business and you know where you want to be.  If you’re like most business owners or leaders, your challenge lies in getting your leaders and employees on the same page and performing to their optimum levels.   Almost every business owner I’ve worked with has found this to be the most exciting AND the most frustrating part of their careers!

 

How can Limitless HR Solutions help?

 

With nearly twenty years of success in building winning strategies and cohesive teams, you will be amazed at the difference we can make in your business and leadership teamThe ways we can help you are limitless, but here are some of the top ways we have impacted business owners like yourself:

 

·         Business analysis and process evaluation – we work with you to help identify your medium and long term goals as well as what is working well and where there are constraints.  This process is extremely valuable in determining your short term goals and objectives and for creating a base for strategic performance management

·         Building a Vision – Visions are more than corporate buzzwords.  This is the spark that will ignite your leadership team and company into passionate advocates for your company’s success.  We  can define your “WHY” with you and develop an incredibly strong employer brand that will increase your employee engagement, recruitment and retention

·         Managing Performance – you want to value your employees AND you want a high performance culture and you can have it!  We utilize a combination of organizational behavior management, situational leadership and professional coaching skills to take your organization’s performance to the next level

·         Talent Development – Do you know what skills your people need to help your company achieve its goals?  Do they?  We can work with you to create a comprehensive skills, training and succession planning matrix so that you are prepared for your success.  We specialize in management and leadership training and can work with you to make sure your technical skills are also being communicated effectively to your staff.

·         Total Compensation and Incentive Planning – Don’t throw away money on bad performance or ineffective bonuses.  Work with us to identify what your employees really want and reward the employees who are helping achieve your goals.  Attract and retain the best!

 

What else can Limitless HR Solutions do for you?

·         We have a vast and current knowledge of legal compliance to ensure you are meeting all relevant state and federal requirements, a proven track record of establishing HR departments within budget and extensive experience in both Washington and California labor law

·         Calm, cool, and collected: We don’t like to say we’ve seen everything, but we’ve seen a lot.  Chances are if you’re having an HR problem, we’ve dealt with that situation or something similar.  Don’t swim through shark infested legal waters on your own. We have an on-call HR hotline for on-the-spot issues. We’ve got this.

 

Call or email now for a free consultation.  949.354.1588 or carrie@limitlesshrsolutions.com

www.limitlesshrsolutions.com