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Right Person, Wrong Role? Or Wrong Person, Period?

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

People get into the wrong roles for a number of reasons.

Perhaps there was a reorganization and the company didn’t want to lose them, so they were reallocated without consultation or training. Maybe they were promoted beyond their capability without a training plan. Or maybe they were hired to do a project that’s now irrelevant and they’ve not been redeployed to produce meaningful results elsewhere. And then there’s our all-time favorite, the Untouchables.

Do you have Untouchables? Also known as Sacred Cows? These are people who were hired because they are related to (or friends with) the CEO or other powerful team members. Even though their performance is sub-par, they get promoted or allowed to stay on for emotional reasons.

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Case Study: Company X

Company X was a tech consulting firm with a $37 million in annual revenue and approximately 270 employees, about two-thirds of whom were consultants. They were tracking at $137,000 in revenue per employee… ouch! The company was run by a married couple, John and Sarah, who initially contacted us about perfecting their sales process. They felt that their salespeople could be performing much better. What we found was a much bigger issue.

Assess: What We Found

The findings were grim: a fear-driven culture with 53% employee turnover each year. Company X did an exceptional job of technical training for new hires, only to see them leave for higher pay within a year.

The two owners of the company had virtually opposite Meta Programs, and this was causing chaos. Sarah (Active, Toward, Options, Difference) would proactively start an initiative, rally the troops to move toward the new goal, then jump to the next option/project. John (Reflective, Away, Procedures, Sameness) would want to analyze before launching the new initiative, so he would kill it or block it, minimize exposure, and set up a procedure to handle the proposal through testing, no matter how much or little the cost associated risk. The resulting chaos was confusing to the team and sending them deep into Critter State.

The glaring gap in the consultant’s training curriculum was in sales. Even though their role was heavily client-facing, the consultants weren’t trained in the basic selling skills and had no incentive to do anything but fix technical problems. They also had no interaction with the sales team — which was sequestered in a different area of the building. The consultants were the right people in the right role — but with no support to perform their best.

Harry, the new sales manager, had been with the firm for three months. Shortly after hiring Harry, the company had reorganized to close a failing business unit. Sarah and John had moved their niece, Toni, the VP of the failed unit, into a new role as the VP of sales and marketing — wait a sec! What? Did we read that right? Yep, the niece was given one of the most important roles in the firm after killing an entire business unit. Sounds like a sacred cow to me.

There were three problems with this scenario:

  • Harry (who now was sales manager) had no sales expertise — his entire background was in Internet marketing)
  • Toni was an experienced sales manager but wasn’t strategic and had no marketing expertise
  • The two disliked each other — Toni was threatened by Harry and Harry thought Toni should have been fired for her lackluster leadership of the failed business unit

To make matters even more fun, Toni’s boyfriend, Taylor, had been hired as director of client care. He had solid experience, but a perpetual mocking smirk when interacting with anyone but Toni.

Act: What They Did

The first thing we had John and Sarah do was to create clear and compelling mission, vision and value statements. This would help everyone know why they were coming to work, and where they were going together, and how they agreed to behave. They posted these statements in the lobby, and the managers worked with smaller teams until everyone was on board.

Next we established Needle Movers together (first for the executive team and later for everyone) in line with the new mission, vision, and values, and radically increased accountability using weekly reporting and the Accountability Equation. We created a reporting process for the sales pipeline and marketing effectiveness metrics and set up an incentive plan for the consultants to source future sales.

We also redefined the roles and responsibilities throughout sales and marketing to get the right people in the right roles. Some people were reallocated, and one or two were let go respectfully. Since the company had a history of high employee turnover it was key to minimize Critter State via thoughtful communication.

John, Sarah, Toni and Harry worked on their on key challenges. Toni got the tools to turn her department around. Harry was moved out of sales management and into the right role — marketing — where he is brilliant and a perpetual learner. He still reports to Toni, who now manages the sales team directly. Harry’s initiatives have made Company X top of mind in their target market. Now that John and Sarah communicate more explicitly, they are no longer creating chaos, and Toni and Harry have developed mutual respect for each other. Taylor had to be let go. He didn’t want to uphold the company values, and had burned too many bridges to be salvageable.

ROI: What They Got

About six months into the change process, things got pretty scary. The consultants became resistant and didn’t want to work on internal projects for which they had no billable hours, and John and Sarah almost pulled the plug and reverted to chaos. Instead they applied energy management tools, worked through their own resistance, recommitted, and held their team accountable to the direction they had chosen together. The results were not all immediate — patterns occasionally resurfaced and to be readdressed — but overall the results have been phenomenal. They zoomed through the $50 million inflection point and are preparing for $100 million. Their employee retention is now normal for their industry, and employee surveys show that engagement and satisfaction continue to improve.

Two Myths About Strategy — And Two Tools To Make Yours Work

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

We all know that setting a strategy matters. It’s one of the first steps to steer your company to achieve its goals and fulfill its mission. So why do strategies so often fail?

Because making strategies work requires execution.

Why Strategies Fail

Strategies fail when the average bear doesn’t know how to execute, and they aren’t empowered to adjust to meet the goals. When strategies stay in the clouds, employees get lost in the woods. Meanwhile, back on Earth, they’re trying to figure out exactly what to do to execute the strategy.

When organizations chunk down their strategic plans into tangible, measurable, specific quarterly goals, their teams know what to do. They can keep moving and course-correct if they get off track.

Two Myths About Effective Execution

In a recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes, and Charles Sull report on their effective strategy execution research. They interviewed 7600 managers in 262 companies across 30 industries to gather their data. Organizations studied in their sample were typically large (6000 employees on average, with median sales of $430 million), and across volatile sectors including financial services, IT, telecommunications, and oil and gas.

The research busted several myths about effective strategy execution. Two of which I find essential to discuss in the context of why strategies fail. I’ll also share two simple tools that will help you put your strategies to work!

Myth # 1: Execution Means Sticking to the Plan

No strategic plan can accurately predict the future. Even if a plan includes detailed roadmaps that specify who should do what, when it should be done by, and what resources are needed. In practice, unforeseen crises or unexpected opportunities can throw plans off.

Leaders must make it safe to adapt to address obstacles and capitalize on opportunities. Because sometimes sticking too rigidly to the plan can run counter to the strategic objectives.

That’s why I find one of the most important activities any organization can undertake is to create the right decision-making spaces when setting accountabilities.

TOOL #1

Decision spaces cover what someone fully owns, and can make autonomous decisions about. So when something unexpected happens, they are empowered to make decisions swiftly, effectively, and in accordance with their competency. Put simply, they don’t need to call on anyone to make the call!

Compiling a list of answers to the following will help you when setting decision spaces:

  • What you can make decisions about
  • What you can’t make decisions about
  • Who to escalate a decision to that is outside of your space

Myth #2: Communication Equals Understanding

It is true that people in the organization need to know exactly what the goal is, why they are doing it, how their department is going to achieve it, how each team member is going to contribute, and what the success metrics are.

However, many executives believe that communications (e.g. emails sent, presentations delivered, etc.) are automatically understood. Not so! Sending out communication pieces does not guarantee they are understood. Just like sharing a lot of words with someone doesn’t guarantee they are heard properly, nor does it mean it will inspire the right actions.

TOOL #2

One of the simplest tools you can use to help staff understand and connect to a strategy is the Outcome Frame (OF). The OF simply helps chunk your strategy down — it brings great clarity as to the “why” and “how” of it, and then you can distribute this clarity to the relevant areas of your organization.

In addition to helping people understand their accountabilities, the OF also emotionally engages the team in the outcome that we hope to achieve from the strategy. This is helps them have their own insights around it — which is key.

Employees must feel connected to the strategy. Human beings make decisions based on emotion, and they will default to activities that lead to the best-feeling. No emotional connection, no engagement. Period. 

This doesn’t mean work must be all about joy, happiness, or inspiration.

Here are some of the OF questions I recommend using to elicit detailed responses from people. I’ve provided sample responses for clarity’s sake:

1. What would you like? “I want to double our client retention rates.”

2. What will having that do for you? “I will feel happy, fulfilled, and excited about the work I do — and the team I have! It will also give me more commissions to send my kids to the best colleges, making me a proud parent!”

3. How will you know when you have it (specifically)? “50% of the existing client base I oversee will agree to renewing and extending their contracts with our company for at least another 2 years.”

4. Where, when, with whom do you want this? “At this main office which is responsible for 2 major global markets (U.S. and U.K.), by the mid-year, with my team of four.”

5. What of value might you risk or lose to ensure you achieve this outcome? “I would be willing to let go of clients who are no longer aligned with our mission, vision, and values — so we can focus on those who are. I will overcome my disagreements with Sales and collaborate with them to help identify and secure new client accounts that are better aligned with us. I’d also have to spend more time cultivating my team, so I’d likely lose a few hours of strategic time each week for the first 3 months of this change.

6. What will likely happen if you don’t solve this the way you want? What will be the impact on your business and life? “Not achieving this outcome would delay funds available for reinvesting in product development. If we don’t fund innovation, we might lose market share to our competitors. Personally, this places financial stress on me as a parent providing for three children at home. Since part of my commission is based on retention metrics.”

7. What are your next steps? “Schedule a meeting with the sales team to define the optimal client profile, meet with marketing on retention programs and outreach to new prospects, set up recurring meetings with my team to mentor them on our new approach, set monthly targets and celebrations as we approach our goal.”

Try these tools to boost the success of your strategies. Then let me know your results!

Why Smart People Make Stupid Decisions

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

We’ve all been there.

We make what we think is a rational decision. And then seconds, minutes or days later we wonder “What was I thinking?!” Was it a temporary lapse of sanity? Were we just distracted and decided anyway?

We knew it wasn’t the right decision or the best decision, but in that moment, we made a decision anyway. And it ended up being a stupid one. Why?

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The Science Behind “Stupid”

Does this mean that we are indeed stupid? Nope. It simply means that not every decision we make is actually rational. We see what we want to see filtered through our inherent biases, and then we make decisions based on those biases. These biases are called cognitive biases and we all have them.

cognitive bias refers to the systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment. These biases cause conclusions, inferences, assumptions about people and situations to be drawn in a less than logical fashion. We all create our own “subjective social reality” from our perception of the input we receive — both from outside of us and inside of us.

How can we stop making stupid decisions and start making smart ones? By spending time understanding our cognitive biases.

When we understand, we make better decisions.

Check out this graphic, then in a few minutes I’ll walk you through how I used it to help a client make a smart hire instead of a stupid one.

What’s Your Bias? Or How Bias Impacts Business

Neil Jacobstein, an expert in artificial intelligence, notes that we all use AI and algorithms to mitigate and compensate for many of the following heuristics in human cognition (thinking):

Anchoring bias: Tendency to rely too heavily, or “anchor,” on one trait or piece of information when making decisions.

Availability bias: Tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater “availability” in memory, which can be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes.

Bandwagon effect: Tendency to do (or believe) things because many people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior.

Hindsight bias: Sometimes called the “I knew it all along” effect, the tendency to see past events as being predictable at the time those events happened.

Normalcy bias: Refusal to plan for, or react to, a disaster which has never happened before.

Optimism bias: Tendency to be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes. 

Planning fallacy bias: Tendency to overestimate benefits and underestimate costs and task-completion times.

Sunk-cost or loss-aversion bias: Disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it.

Click here for a complete list of all cognitive biases.

Jacobstein is fond of pointing out that your neocortex has not had a major upgrade in 50,000 years. It is the size, shape and thickness of a dinner napkin. “What if,” he asks, “it was the size of a table cloth? Or California?”

The Benefits Of Bias—And How To Optimize Yours

Biases can be helpful. They filter through information overwhelm, they help make sense of the world, they allow us to make quick decisions in a fast paced world. Check out this recent challenge an executive coaching client of mine had.

My client needed to hire a VP marketing to take the company to the next level. He had four candidates that had made it to the interview stage and one had even made it onsite to meet with four different key stakeholders in the organization. I asked him why he favored this one candidate by such a long shot. As I listened I heard the following biases. He was showing:

• Planning fallacy bias: Underestimating how long the process would take and what a great hire would cost.

• Anchoring bias: Focusing on one piece of information (the candidate’s current job accomplishments but not his entire career—his resume had  two decades of one to two year roles).

• Availability bias: Because the candidate was successful (in a huge company with tons of resources available) he assumed he’d be successful in a much smaller company (with about 1/6 of the resources the candidate was accustomed to).

• Optimism bias: Some of this too…thinking we’d have a solid candidate identified, screened, hired within six weeks.

I expressed these concerns, and how cognitive biases can be busted when you:

• Take Your Time: You will make better decisions when you aren’t hungry, tired or stressed. Taking time before making a decision allows you to have think about the future and the impact of your decision.

• Get An Outside View: Ask a trusted advisor or peer for their opinion.

• Consider Options: What else could you do?

Then he asked me to interview the candidate. I deeply questioned the candidate in each of the bias areas our client had. The result? They’re not the right fit for the company. Not by a long shot. The excellent news is our client avoided a costly hiring mistake and the super excellent news is that he still has three candidates that might fit the bill once they are interviewed by carefully avoiding cognitive bias.

While we’ll all still make stupid decisions now and then (welcome to being human!), once you understand cognitive biases you’ll mitigate risk by implementing the tools above.

Employee Appreciation Day — Do You Do These 5 Things?

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Friday, March 3, 2017 was Employee Appreciation Day.

Sure, it’s a day for companies and leaders to thank their employees for their hard work and effort throughout the year. But while having cake and an office party are always fun, shouldn’t employees feel and experience appreciation all year long?

Here are five epic ways to ensure your employees feel appreciated and are in their Smart State year round.

1. Help Them Grow Via Performance Motivation + High Fives And Feedback

Engaged, empowered and appreciated employees will bring their A game every single day. Here are three powerful and proven ways to ensure this result:

• Performance Motivation: use tools to create an environment of internal and external motivation. Performance motivation allows team members to understand their role, believe they are making a difference in their company. They will experience safety, belonging and mattering.

• Appreciation Celebration: Celebrating successes on a regular basis through visible appreciation (high five emails to the team, weekly round-up emails listing individual employee’s wins, leaderboards showing employees who are achieving their needle movers, gamification that shows who has won what based on their specific goals).

• Feedback: Creating an environment where employees feel safe to offer feedback and to receive feedback on an ongoing basis.

How are you creating a culture where your employees are motivated to grow both externally and internally?

2. Help Them Feel Powerful Via Emotional Resilience

To create an environment where team members feel powerful, effective, enrolled and engaged requires leaders to manage their emotional state and show others how to too. Remember when I talked about how you can choose your meaning in any given situation? No matter what happens outside of us, we always get to choose the meaning we make about it inside.

Emotional resilience is the ability to deal with the toughest, most challenging situations. It’s being able to bounce back even when you fail big. Emotional resilience is the one thing that will ensure you navigate through situations where others would give up. To briefly recap from my previous blog on EQ, there are four steps:

1. Figure out what you’re feeling

2. Take a breather

3. Consider the recipient

4. Focus on the outcome

When we create an environment where employees create behavior patterns that come from emotional empowerment and choice, rather than from compulsive reaction, we are helping them feel good about who they are. This is achieved through re-structuring the Trigger, Routine, Reward sequence of a behavior. I discuss exactly how this process works in two previous blogs: “How Humans Experience The World” and “Get Behavior Change That Lasts Using Neuroscience.

How are you helping your employees to feel powerful?

3. Help Them Have Fun

All of our clients either have or are in the process of launching High 5 programs where any employee can appreciate and acknowledge the contribution of another. These work best when the High 5 is about modeling a company value.  Others hold mini-golf tournaments in the middle of the office where each hole celebrates a company goal or value. Others have story time where leaders tell stories of triumphs—both personal and professional—that they have overcome and how. Some clients host annual competitions for which department makes the coolest/weirdest/most amazing gingerbread house, gingerbread haunted house, gingerbread turkey (all are kits from Trader Joe’s!).

There are countless ways to have fun and even attach empowering meaning to it at the same time.

How are you helping your employees have fun?

4. Help Them Have Peace Via Mindfulness Practices

The proven results of mindfulness practices are profound: improved concentration, improved focus and attention, less stress and anxiety, greater productivity, stronger leadership, happier more peaceful and fulfilling lives, more energy, better sleep.

Every highly accomplished leader and employee I know learns to stop the world and to stop their thoughts, on command. This is one of the best ways to make key decisions, to determine if a competitive action is truly a threat, to see future products, to assess the current state of a person who is struggling.

When we share mindfulness techniques with our employees, we are inviting them to embrace inner peace and experience more emotional choice and empowerment. These practices can include:

• Exercise

• Meditation

• Stillness Practices: energy recall, gratitude practice, news feed, light shower, heart opening, brain dump

Are you empowering your employees to embrace inner peace?

5. Help Them Have Trust

Trust is key for employees to be engaged. Lack of trust creates an environment where concerns quickly evolve into fears. And when fears collide with a belief that the system is failing, trouble results. Also as distrust and fear increase, the negative impact on employee morale, engagement and performance accelerate. When we create environments where trust is prevalent, employees will feel like their voice is heard and that they are appreciated.

Shared Identity + Profound Meaning = Tribe = Trust

There are three levels of trust that an employee must feel sustainability:

• Trust in their team: Are there bullies in your organization? Are you letting them thrive?

• Trust in their company: Consider your organization’s capability, commitment, and character. How are you doing?

• Trust in their leader: Trust starts at the top where the culture of the organization is formed–leaders must build a solid foundation where employee trust and engagement can thrive.

What other cool rituals does your culture have?

Organizational Distrust Is Rampant: Why Leaders Should Be Worried

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Distrust is rampant. It’s worldwide. It’s pervasive across all types of organizations in the business world. Even though the trust of CEOs is at an all-time low, we can help heal the distrust that may exist in your organization and boost your trust-factor among your tribe.

Are you ready?

 

You Can’t Buy Trust

Organizations can’t ‘buy’ the trust of their team, but they can create and foster it through increasing engagement and avoiding common pitfalls.

A tribe that continuously activates the reward network — smart tribe — is more productive and effective.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - Pain and Pleasure

via UCLA

A tribe that continuously activates the pain network suffers from three common leadership pitfalls:

• Pitfall #1: Asking for feedback yet not acting on it

• Pitfall #2: Unemotional or not compelling mission, vision values

• Pitfall #3: Ineffective delegation

When we activate the reward network, an organization inspires intrinsic motivation in their tribe. This intrinsic motivation creates an environment where your talent wants to rise up, be accountable, honor the organization’s mission, vision, values and deliver consistent results.

Thanks to Seth Godin, here is a clearly laid out map to ensure you’re building trust most effectively. While this applies to marketing your brand, you are not only marketing your brand to your customers, but you are marketing your brand to your potential and existing talent within your tribe. Potential talent interacts with your brand far before the interview ever takes place. Once hired, talent will continue to interact with your brand ongoing.

Here are  Seth’s nine factors/aspects of building a powerful brand that inspires trust:

• Word Of Mouth: If I’ve heard good things about you, I am more inclined to trust you.

• Direct Interaction: Have you already interacted with me?

• Tone Of Voice: Does the tone build the relationship and foster Safety, Belonging, Mattering?

• Offer: What’s in it for me to listen to what you have to say? Do I gain more if I listen with an engaged and sympathetic ear?

• Size Of Leap: What are you asking me to do? How big is it?

• Tribal Affiliation: Are you one of us? Am I one of you?

• Perception Of Transparency: When I can understand your intention, I’m more inclined to trust you.

• Longevity: How long have you been showing up? How do you consistently treat your tribe?

• Mass Acceptance: When I hear about you from other tribe members, what are they saying? Is what they are saying, positive or negative, based in truth (perceived or real)?

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Trust Drives Talent

Accountability is deeply tied to promises and trust. Safety, belonging, and mattering are quickly damaged when accountability is dropped. In previous blogs, I have discussed how as leaders, it’s key when administering consequences to determine if accountability is being dropped because the person is in their Critter State and is stuck, or if they are intentionally uncooperative.

In my experience, trust is broken in three levels: capability, commitment and character. The same applies to how trust is broken and egos are triggered from the perception of your tribe.

• Capability: Is the organization truly capable of doing what was promised? Capability breaches of trust are the easiest to fix if a company moves swiftly and is transparent.

• Commitment: Is the organization committed to following through on what was promised? Commitment breaches can be tricky. When an organization repeatedly drops commitments, we must find out what the underlying cause is. This can be achieved through leaders working with an executive coach and discovering/determining what they truly want to achieve using the Outcome Frame. This can also be achieved by listening to the feedback from the tribe.

• Character: If an organization keeps making promises and breaking them, who are they, really? An empowered and engaged tribe wants to be part of an organization they can count on. Character breaches are the hardest to fix since the tribe now doubts what the organization totally stands for.

Breaches in capability, commitment and character can take months or even years of demonstrating consistency to win back trust. The organizations that I’ve worked with typically see positive results begin within 6-18 months, depending on the level of Critter State among their team and the severity of the breach.

Trust Drives ROI

According to Paul J. Zak, founding director for the Center of Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, “In its 2016 global CEO survey, PwC reported that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth. But most have done little to increase trust, mainly because they aren’t sure where to start.”

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report:

• 74% less stress

• 106% more energy at work

• 50% higher productivity

• 13% fewer sick days

• 76% more engagement

• 29% more satisfaction with their lives

• 40% less burnout

Two practices to increase trust:

1. Look at Seth’s nine criteria above and scale yourself 1-5 (5 being the highest)and this will show you where you need to work.

2. Consider your organization’s capability, commitment, and character. How are you doing?

How To Leverage Newly Reported Job Outlook Optimism & Recruit Great Talent

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Optimism regarding finding a quality job is at an all-time high.

“For the first time since Gallup began tracking the question in 2001, a majority of Americans (54%) say it is a ‘good time’ to find a quality job.” What’s created this massive upward swing?

Also per Gallup: “People’s optimism is affected by the political lens through which they view the country’s economic health. However, the overall trend in the quality job measure has generally tracked with official statistics about how the job market is doing, including the severe drop after the Great Recession and the improved outlook in recent years as unemployment has reached the lowest point in a decade.”

How can you leverage this improved climate of optimism? As a leader/organization seeking quality talent, or as the talent looking for a quality role, here’s how you can get tuned up and ready to maximize this rise in optimism in the job market.

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Leaders: Leverage Optimism And Recruit Great Talent

If you are a leader, this may be a great time to dust off your current impact descriptions. If you are still using job descriptions, this may be a great time to create impact descriptions.

Impact Description – Not Job Description

Impact descriptions help both your team and your candidates to understand that every role exists to impact the organization in some specific way.

Here are some of the items we recommend including in an impact (formerly known as job) description.

• Who we are (company mission, vision, values)

• Who you are (describe who a successful fit is)

• Why this role matters (how the role impacts others—both internally and externally)

• Who your internal customers are and how this role delivers value to them

• Responsibilities

• Requirements

• Performance metrics/KPIs for this role

• Potential career path (possible roles this role could evolve into, and/or job skills and leadership skills to be gained)

• Leadership level of role (see leadership levels graphic)

• Learning and development opportunities

• Compensation

• Once you have the right person in the right role, they need to understand and agree with what is expected of them.

The biggest net-net of having impact descriptions is they create a smaller pool of talent which is more clearly aligned with what you want to achieve with a given role. A smaller pool that is closer to what you want saves time and energy, and will ensure your next team member is the best candidate for your organization.

Redefine Recruiting

Once impact descriptions are used, our clients find that if they recruit for values and accountability, then the talent they interview are completely aligned with the values of their organization. Recruiting for values and accountability is a great way to leverage this boost in optimism around finding quality jobs.

Many clients ask for help in streamlining their recruiting processes. Here’s how we often find that they are going wrong:

• Candidates aren’t being screened for alignment with company values

• Candidates aren’t being asked enough self-revealing questions

• Recruiters aren’t using rapport techniques to powerfully put candidates at ease—which would result in them revealing who they are

A job interview is a candidate’s “Rock Star Moment”—they’re showing you their best face, so it’s up to the recruiter to ensure that it’s an accurate face, a face we can rely on, a face that is representative of who they truly are. Here’s a sample list of recruiting questions that apply to all roles in a company:

• Which of our company values are most aligned with your personal values? Why?

• Please tell me some times in your career when you’ve most powerfully embodied our values?

• What are the five career accomplishments you are most proud of? Why?

• What are five adjectives used to describe you by: colleagues, bosses, friends, yourself?

• What makes a working environment most compelling?

• Where do you want to be career-wise in three years? Five years?

• What is your mission in life and why would working with us help you achieve it?

• What is the most important thing in life? How do you ensure you honor it?

• Please tell us a bit about your past entrepreneurial experiences and why/how you’d fit in with us.

• [Add all of your role-specific questions here]

Using the two processes above will ensure that you have the right talent to rock the right role.

If you are on the other side of the coin, talent that is looking for a quality job, here’s what you may want to consider.

Talent: Revisit Your Values And Polish Up Your Skills

Are you looking for a quality job with a company that is in alignment with who you are and the talents you possess? We suggest you dive into the following two areas:

Revisit Your Values

When’s the last time you really got in touch with your values?

Values will remind you of who you are and what your life is worth living for. Identifying your values is a process of discovery, a journey inward to who you really are. It is important to understand that your Values Compass is only as accurate and effective as the accuracy of the values you identify. By aligning your goals with your values and referring to them when faced with difficult decisions, the sense of struggle, overwhelm, and frustration in your life can virtually be eliminated. This does take time, but it is so worth it!

Think about a time in your life when things were very good. This would be a time when you were totally “at choice,” the best time in your life. Look at the values list below (or add your own) and identify five words on the list that were totally present for you during that time in your life. What values on that list were being totally honored during that time in your life?

Now repeat those same two steps, only think about one of the worst times in your life. This would be a time when you felt trapped, like you had no choices, a time when you were sort of at “rock bottom.” Identify the words on the list of values which were not  being honored for you during the time you described. Which of these words were clearly not present for you during that time in your life?

Though this process, you will experience crystal clear clarity on your values, which is important because you want to work with a company that has values that mesh with our own.

That way you are totally aligned.

Polish Up Your Skills

Are you ready to make sure you are the ‘rock star talent’ that the company you want to work with won’t overlook? We suggest self-evaluating (and maybe even ask a peer for feedback) if you are strong in these four brain-based areas.

1. Focus: ability to zoom in and zoom out, see big picture and little picture

2. Learning: ability to swiftly learn and retain information

3. Personal: knowing yourself and demonstrating self-regulation

4. Social: skills to read people accurately and skill to influence

*I go in depth regarding these areas in my previous blog: “Want To Be Promoted? Cultivate These 4 Traits.”

Trust me, spending some time polishing up your skills in these areas will increase your chance of landing your dream job drastically.

How will you leverage this massively improved climate of optimism?

63% Of Employees Don’t Trust Their Leader — Here’s What You Can Do To Change That

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

Trust is toast, according to the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer.

It’s worldwide, it’s pervasive across business and government, and trust of CEOs is at an all-time low.

CEO Credibility plunged by 12 points this year. Sixty-three percent of survey respondents said CEOs are somewhat or not at all credible. Whoa. Wow.

How Trust Is Broken…

Lack of trust creates an environment where concerns quickly evolve into fears. And when fears collide with a belief that the system is failing, trouble results. Also as distrust and fear increase, the negative impact on employee morale, engagement and performance accelerate. The end results are disengaged employees, frustrated management and lower profits. And the problem comes from four key emotional experiences:

1. A sense of injustice – the experience of unfairness tamps down the insula, the part of the brain responsible for emotional hurt and intuition. If a person is experiencing unfairness they will be spending more time in critter state, which will impact performance, decision making, collaboration, overall peace and happiness.

2. Lack of hope – the experience of hopelessness is even more painful than unfairness, and it’s below Critter State on the emotional range. In neurolinguistics the states of hopeless, helpless, worthless, and grief/terror are consider Baseline States. It doesn’t get worse than this.

3. Lack of confidence – depending on the person and degree of lack of confidence we’ll likely see procrastination, reluctance to take risks, playing “small”, and yes, more Critter State.

4. Desire for change – this is encouraging as there’s some energy here. Desire for change means we can envision a possible future where things are better. This lights up the Ventral Striatum where we anticipate reward. If we can increase this experience we can get into Smart State.

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A few more key findings are that with the experience of distrust Edelman found that facts matter less to people and bias becomes the filter. 53% of respondents stated they do not listen to people or organizations with whom they often disagree. Further, people are 4x more likely to ignore info that doesn’t support their beliefs. Wow.

…And How To Fix It

So what’s the solution? Edelman’s survey respondents said that a shift from a top-down approach to a more participatory model is needed. In a word: collaboration, communication, transparency and mutual respect. This means deeply listening to and strategically acting on insights from employees. The report also concluded that rebuilding trust is a shared responsibility. We’re in this together.

And sustainable trust is key. This means taking employee engagement and empowerment to a new level, and ensuring leadership is engaged and empowered too.

Engage Everyone

In previous blogs we have discussed proven and trusted neuroscience-based tools that will increase employee engagement, the real reasons your team is not engaged, how great leaders build trust and increase employee engagement and the one mistake leaders make that kills employee engagement.  Engagement starts at the top where the culture of the organization is formed–leaders must build a solid foundation where employee engagement can thrive.

 Leadership engagement = employee engagement.

Engagement and motivation happen when people solve their own problems, and create their own aspirations and expectations. That’s why the “outcome frame” tool is so powerful. Additionally it’s essential to:

• Use inquiry over advocacy—ask questions vs. giving orders, and use the Outcome Frame for deep insight and clarity creation.

• Hold team strategy and problem solving meetings at every level–meet to do the work not to talk about the work.

• Have team members create their own goals and action plans.

When we add empowerment to engagement, we will see profound results.

Empower Employees

Are you encouraging employees to have a voice? Are you empowering them to make decisions and to have a say in the company in their department/role and to offer feedback in a safe and outcome focused way?

The damage happens when a leader asks for feedback and then either does nothing to improve him or herself or attempts to identify the source of criticism and punish it. Persecuting someone who took a risk to respond to your request is an obvious trust breaker, but why is doing nothing problematic as well?

When we take the time to give feedback to someone we have most likely thought about it, and feel that the person is not able to see or to prioritize something that can be clearly seen from the outside. When we do nothing, we discount the feedback giver’s experience and their desire to create a more positive outcome—we send them into Critter State through a sense of loss of belonging, mattering and possibly safety. Not responding may result in having them feel invisible and powerless. This results in a fear-based culture where trust won’t thrive, when what we want is a transparent culture where trust is abundant.

According to the Edelman Report, the most trusted spokesperson to communicate the topic of employees are the employees themselves, not the CEO or the Senior Executives. Employees also find the following types of communication the most “believable.”

• 57% Spontaneous Speaker vs 43% Rehearsed Speaker

• 54% Blunt and Outspoken vs 46% Diplomatic & Polite

• 51% Personal Experience vs 49% Data

Effective communication works when we incorporate Safety, Belonging, Mattering into the dialogue. Here are three examples that employees can use with their leaders to increase this experience:

Safety: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you help me create structures, techniques, processes to foster innovation, safe and sane risk taking, intellectual challenges? I think this could really help us grow and stretch.”

Belonging: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you provide me with opportunities to bring people together, to form teams and help them perform at their peak? I would love to contribute this way.”

Mattering: “I want to be the best [executive/leader/partner/etc] I can be. Could you let me know when you’re happy with my work/contributions and what specifically you like? This will help me do more of what matters to you and the company.”

Safety + Belonging + Mattering = Trust

We can help heal the significant distrust in the business world via first understanding what a person is experiencing and then intentionally helping them shift into engagement and empowerment. When we give people what they crave their Critter Brain (fear based) calms down and we can guide them into their Smart State.

The result? A culture where trust, true rapport, connection, alignment, enrollment and engagement live.

How will you build trust in your organization?

5 Signs Your Top Performers Are Going To Quit And What You Can Do To Retain Them

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

How many of your top performers have quit, leaving you, their leader, wondering why or what happened?

People will quit before they ask for what they want or tell you what is wrong. That’s why knowing what to look for is so powerful.

Red Flag Behaviors

1. Productive And Accountability Drop: They are missing deadlines, not achieving needle movers, they aren’t keeping normal hours or if they are in the office – they aren’t ‘all there’. They stop making commitments to long-term projects and aren’t offering forward thinking ideas. They don’t seem to care or want to step up, grow, stretch or course correct. Your once top producer is now not producing.

2. Communication Stops: They aren’t proactively contributing in meetings, they aren’t responding to emails/phone calls in a timely manner or sometimes they don’t respond at all. They are isolating. They are only doing the minimum or less in regards to keeping the lines of communication open and constructive. When asked if everything is okay, they get defensive.

3. Negative Attitude And Behavior: They are expressing negative things about work, they aren’t satisfied, they have nothing positive to say, they aren’t optimistic or outcome focused or pro-active, they play the blame game and they may even display bullying behavior.

4. Change In Appearance: Drastic changes in appearance, combined with changes in behavior can indicate that they aren’t interested in how they are perceived at work or they don’t feel that they are “seen” at work so how they dress doesn’t really matter.

5. Team Members Are Concerned: When team members come to you and express their concerns, this is something that you should consider serious. Your top performer works closely with team members and they will be the first to notice subtle changes. It’s important to ensure that these concerns don’t become office gossip but don’t dismiss these concerns before taking a moment to check in with the top producer.

Simply put, all of these red flag behaviors equal one thing – your once top performer is now disengaged and instead of contributing positively to the company, they behavior is having a negative effect.

Once you see the behaviors, you can take action.  It is easier to respond to the intention of a behavior rather than the problem. It also helps us to groove our brains in useful ways.

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Disengagement Is The Foundation

All of these factors equal disengagement and that is the core of knowing that someone is ready to jump ship. How do you know when to throw them a lifeline or when to let them go? When my clients have a top performer that is becoming disengaged and displaying signs that they are going to quit – they find it powerful to check in with them before that team member checks out.

Let’s create an environment where you as the leader get the results you want and your top performers feel powerful, effective, enrolled and engaged.

Create Resolution 

My 7 Step Feedback Frame (with some modifications for the disengaged employee) is outlined below. It helps everyone get to a shared positive understanding.  This is a process you can do with your struggling top performer. It’s essential to come from caring, listening, first finding out if the person wants to stay and then forging a go-forward plan together.

1. Set the stage – explain why you’re meeting and the outcome you want (to form a collaborative turnaround plan). This is where you need to find out if something external is happening that is contributing to their disengagement.

2. State observable data/behavior – this is where you describe specific behaviors that must change and examples so the employee can “step into” the past scenarios. This is also where you gain more clarity from them on external factors.

3. Describe impact – the damage that these behaviors are doing to others/the company/the employee themselves. Also find out here the damage the employee may perceive is happening to them.

4. Check problem acknowledgement – do they agree that there is a problem? Do they agree this problem now must end? This is the most essential step. If you don’t reach agreement here, go back to step 1. Once agreement is reached you’ll notice steps 5-7 are more pleasant, as the employee will now be engaged in finding a solution!

5. Co-create a plan – set a time period (30-90 days) where you’ll meet weekly for 15-30 minutes to track their progress on releasing the challenging behaviors and fixing the external factors identified above. Make the plan very specific in terms of what you need to see and when you’ll know you got the outcome you wanted. If the turnaround doesn’t occur, state clearly what the consequences will be (lose job, etc). Also note you may have some action items here too if there’s an external factor you need to fix (your behavior, that of another, a silly policy/decision that set the employee off, etc).

6. Check understanding – is everything clear? Anything else we need to cover? Reiterate desire for a positive resolution so the consequences can become irrelevant.

7. Build small agreements – launch the plan and commit to ending the conflict once and for all. Be sure to track it frequently and make sure all concerned see the behavior change too.

Success is a two-way street.

The Only Career Advice You Need For 2017

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

*As originally seen on Forbes.com

“The indispensable employee brings humanity and connection and art to her organization. She is the key player, the one who’s difficult to live without, the person you can build something around.” Seth Godin

Are you ready to have your career soar in 2017? If the answer is yes, do you have a plan?

Buckle your seat belt and here we grow… in the next few minutes we’ll map out the path to ensure you reach your goals for the upcoming year.

Career Advice

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Why Your Work Matters

First, let’s look at the state of your world. Seth Godin’s insightful blog ’10 Questions For Work That Matters’ is the best place to start when reflecting on your work in 2016. These questions will ensure that you are connecting your work to something more meaningful than just a paycheck or a title. Make the commitment to yourself, to your company and to the greater good you are achieving through work that you are passionate about.

Reflect on and answer the following questions.

1. What are you doing that’s difficult?

2. What are you doing that people believe only you can do?

3. Who are you connecting?

4. What do people say when they talk about you?

5. What are you afraid of?

6. What’s the scarce resource?

7. Who are you trying to change?

8. What does the change look like?

9. Would we miss your work if you stopped making it?

10. What do you stand for?

11. What contribution are you making?

Per Seth any question that’s difficult to answer deserves more thought. Any answers that are meandering, nuanced or complex are probably a symptom of something important.

Solidify Commitment Via Individual Development Plans (IDPs)

An IDP is not simply a potential career path, this plan alone won’t guarantee results. But when you combine the IDP with your heartfelt commitment, that’s where the power is. An IDP is a two-way commitment between you and your company to empower you to grow, to provide you with new opportunities and challenges. It is a statement that tells you:

• You are safe here (we are planning your future)

• You belong here (we are envisioning where you can increase your impact for the tribe)

You matter here (we are co-creating a way for you to shine even more brightly)

This is why an IDP is essential, and also why it’s key for it to be co-created with your leader, and driven forward by you. If IDPs are a new concept to you and your company, this is your opportunity to introduce this concept to your leader.

Your leader and company will take your IDP seriously because it’s a written commitment. You will want to move it forward to enjoy the many benefits of personal and professional growth.

An IDP is:

• A written plan that outlines what career goals you want to accomplish and what steps you will take to meet those goals

• A tool you can use to envision, organize, and plan your career

• A tool for creating a personalized plan that best reflects your career aspirations, whether you want to plan for professional development, promotion or both

You are responsible for driving the outcome of the Plan. An IDP should be viewed as your motivation. When you commit to your IDP, you will show your leader that you are deeply committed to growth and the work required to see this plan to fruition.

Ideally, your IDP will be comprised of Professional and Personal Development sections:

Professional Development Portion:

• Identify two or more possible career evolutions that can occur in the coming 1-3 years. Note that they can be up or across the org chart or can include deepening your current role.

• What job skills will be needed?

• What leadership skills will be needed?

• A timeline for acquiring these skills

• A plan, budget, leadership commitment to support the plan

• Next steps and monthly or quarterly check-in on plan progress

• Agreement that the plan will be driven by you, not by your leader

Personal Development Portion (optional but highly encouraged):

• Personal growth that you wish to undertake (weight loss, fitness goals, learning new language, stop smoking, etc.)

• Mapping of how this personal growth will benefit the company

• A timeline for acquiring these skills/creating this growth

• A plan, budget, leadership commitment to support the plan

• Next steps and monthly or quarterly check-in on plan progress

• Agreement that the plan will be driven by you, not by your leader

Be sure to determine the frequency of follow-up with your leader to ensure that the objectives of the plan are being attained. I recommend quarterly. Note that your IDP will be updated as needed and as you continue your growth. IDP’s include a lot of important information, but they don’t have to be complicated or intimidating.

Here is a simple template that my clients have found to be extremely powerful.

Career Advice: Individual Development Plan Professional

Career Advice: Individual Development Plan Personal

Feel free to edit and make this template your own and watch your career soar in 2017!