November 2009 Newsletter

How America's Most Productive Companies Thrive     

By now, you know I use Profiles International's tools in my business. Because of this, I receive that company's studies and reports.

Recently, Profiles reported on its research of America's most productive companies — companies thriving despite our recent treacherous economy.

What they found in their research offers ideas for any organization seeking higher performance levels. Take a closer look at lessons learned:

  • Lesson #1: The most productive companies strive for a performance-driven culture. Their CEOs define and share their company's culture, in other words, the company's attitudes, beliefs and values. Above all, these CEOs walk their talk. 
  • Lesson #2: The most productive companies train and promote effective managers.  After selecting the right people for their organizations, they observe employees for skills needed for effective managing. They then develop those people with these skills. 
  • Lesson #3: The most productive companies use employees in the best ways possible. In every job, workers execute strategy efficiently. Rawboned, these companies rely on contract workers or temporary employees to help them over seasonal or non-recurring bumps. 
  • Lesson #4: The most productive companies encourage high employee effectiveness. They understand their employees well. They assess, survey, post internal openings, nudge when necessary and develop constantly so their employees do the jobs they do best. They also identify and curtail managers who hold their people back.
  • Lesson #5: The most productive companies recognize and reward innovation. Leaders in these companies recognize that the smallest innovations such as curing shipping delay problems with a simple order form change are priceless. They encourage idea exchange and open dialogue. They urge people to take calculated risks. They focus on action rather than control.

As you read this, did you notice that all five best practices in America's most productive companies involve workers? Clearly, surviving…and thriving…organizations recognize that employees are always at the heart of their business.

Tips: How to Become an Employer of Choice

As an HR professional, I have seen employees come and go from their jobs. I have also listened to complaints from people leaving their positions, mostly about working with difficult people or for poor managers.

So it came as no surprise to learn more people hightail it from their company because of poor management than because of any other reason. Consider these percentages:

  • 30% left jobs because they were unhappy with management and the way they were managed
  • 25% felt they were not recognized for good work
  • 20% complained of limited opportunities for advancement
  • 15% cited inadequate salary and benefits 
  • 5% were bored with the job
  • 5% cited other reasons (retirement, career change, sabbatical, travel)

I suppose some employers know these statistics, but the numbers surprise many.  Once you know them, however, the message is simple: To attract and retain top people, consider how your company manages, recognizes and rewards your employees.

Do you want to become an employer of choice? Here are six steps you can follow:

1) Evaluate your managers
Look again at the results above: 30 percent of people surveyed didn't leave their jobs, they left their managers.

Poor managers can cancel out an outstanding remuneration package, excellent share options plan…everything you do to attract and retain the right people.

So what do you do?  Start by measuring your staff turnover by manager to identify those managers who struggle to retain workers. Once you know which managers need help, help them. Assess them to determine what they do well and where they could improve. Then train, coach and support those who could do better.

2) Create a recognition culture
According to Profiles' survey results, twenty-five percent of people leave their jobs because their company and manager fail to recognize their contributions.

To fix this problem, task your managers with discovering how their people perform above and beyond the call of duty. Where do they find opportunities for positive recognition? Now create and bestow awards for exemplary performance.

3) Create a healthy work environment
A recognition culture requires a psychologically healthy working environment to thrive; in other words, an environment where providing recognition for exemplary performance seems normal.

How do you achieve this?  First and foremost with open communication. Look around you. The old economy where those who had information hoarded it amassing great power and wealth has changed. Today we're in an information age and withholding information breeds suspicion, mistrust and resentment.

Tell your people where your organization is going, how it plans to get there, what role their jobs play and why they are key to its success. Their contribution is just as valuable as the CEO's and they know it. Let them know you know it too. Give them an I'm on the inside! feeling. It's difficult leaving something that has you on the inside.

Next, develop a cooperative attitude. Consider flexible hours, compassionate leave, sabbaticals, teleworking, childcare facilities — anything making it easier and more practical to work for you than for anyone else.

Finally, develop a trusting atmosphere. If you want people to trust you with their jobs, careers and development — their very lives — then you must trust them. Create an atmosphere in which management automatically expects the best of its team members. They will respond; they won't let you down. No one is more flattered than when they are trusted implicitly.

4) Create an atmosphere of continual self-improvement
A whopping 20 percent who leave their jobs do so because they feel they are not getting sufficient advancement, says Profiles International.

Yet, in these times of "flat-structured" organizations, organizations without multilayer hierarchies, there's nothing to do. Right?

Wrong.  I'll admit a flat organization makes satisfying your high-flying employees more difficult. After all, in a "flat structure" where can a high flyer fly?  But it's possible. You can satisfy your aggressive achievers with training that enhances their skills, value and self-esteem.

Here's what to do: Begin by investing heavily in training and development and then encourage participation. Train your employees on company time. Give them study leave. Encourage senior managers to coach and support them.

In other words, provide them with the means for success.

Well done! If you implement these first four steps, you will eliminate 75 percent of the reasons people leave their jobs. And have you noticed we haven't even mentioned money yet?

So what about the 15 percent who leave for more money?  Will recognition, better management and self-development opportunities help you retain them?  Many times, yes. But top executives advise that you still must pay market rates or better to stay in the game. What's more, you must know how and when to pay at this level.

5) Pay as much as you can afford
Here's some advice: When it comes to remuneration, put your best food forward immediately. Pay your people as much salary and give them as many benefits as you can afford.

Further let your people know this is what you are doing and that maintaining this compensation in the long run requires their support.

Now don't misunderstand this advice. I'm suggesting you pay as much as you can, not more than you can. Pay more than you can afford, and you will likely pay your way out of business.

So further advice: Know what each job is worth, pay it and pay it early.

6) Match people to jobs
We're down to the last 5 percent who leave a job because of discontent. (You'll recall the remaining 5 percent leave for reasons such as retirement or a sabbatical.) This 5 percent leave simply because they are "bored with the job."

The good news, however, is this: If you put the right person in the right job, you eliminate a large portion of the 5 percent who leave simply because they are bored with the job.

How do you match employee to job? With psychometric tools that determine the abilities, interests and personality needed for a given position and then using this information to match jobs to people who will excel in them. Beware of gut feelings. You cannot assess with gut feel. You need properly validated tools designed for this purpose.

Clearly, there is no quick, easy and inexpensive way to retain quality people. But apply these six sensible steps, and you can eliminate approximately 95 percent of the reasons people defect. You can become an Employer of Choice.

Your Solution Toolbox: Workforce Analysis Profile™ Helps You Retain the Very Best Employees.  What's the secret behind employers of choice?

Measuring What Matters
In my experience, there's really no secret. Employers of choice simply know what's important to their employees, and they work hard to meet those needs.

Do you know what your employees consider important? Or do you have a "blind spot" when it comes to your workforce?

You can never know enough about your employees, and that's where Profile International’s Workforce Analysis Profile™ comes in.

I’ve told you about this tool before. It collects vital information leaders often miss. It reveals employees’ concerns and measures job satisfaction. And, it provides insight into employees’ needs, job preferences and what motivates them at work.

Isn't this information you should know to attract and retain the very best employees?

HR Consulting
For many organizations, the next step is to seek professional assistance to find out how to:
  • Understand your workers' strengths, weaknesses and interests
  • Match people to job demands
  • Increase employee performance throughout your organization
Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations. 
Call 952-322-3330 or send an email to

Finally check out MG assessments on the Web at, and for timely HR information, See my blog: Updated regularly, it focuses on the hottest HR issues.

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