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Is your company being haunted by your own Brett Favre?

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 11/14/2009

Anyone who is any kind of a football fan probably saw or heard about Brett Favre returning to Lombardi Field as a Minnesota Viking and beating his old team, the Green Bay Packers. 

If we translated that situation to the typical workplace the headline might read “ex-employee sticks it to former employer”.  The situation occurs more than you might think, but not played out on in front of a national television audience (thank goodness). 

Most of our blog posts concern hiring the right person, or engaging your work force. But what happens after your employee leaves could be a concern to you.  Disgruntled employees who are fired or resign are nothing new; every company probably has had this issue.  But today there are lot more “weapons” for the “ex” to get revenge.  Consider this example:  Employee who is terminated wants revenge- he decides to write something bad about the company and post it on internet blogs, forums, twitters, chat rooms, You Tube, consumer report sites and anywhere else he can think of. The question is, “will anyone even read this nasty note”?

If your business is a typical small business, there are not very many things on the Internet about you.  Maybe your website if you got one and maybe a directory listing.  What that means is that if someone searches in Google using your company name, there won’t be very many things for Google to find, so if  someone posts something about your company on line, it has a very good chance of showing up on or near the first page.  I know of several small companies that had this situation.  Put their name in the search bar, and the third listing on Google is some very nasty stuff. 

What should you do?
 Let’s start with being proactive:
  • First and foremost, make sure that your business conducts itself in an honorable and ethical method at all times.  Make sure that that your expectations for business moral conduct are clearly and frequently communicated across your organization.  It is a lot easier to deal with negative “posts” if they don’t have a little truth in them.
  • Employee Contracts:  Many companies have employee contracts that deal with “post employment” actions.  Non – compete agreements are common but also non-disparagement clauses are possible. 
  • Exit Interviews: Some times exit interviews can reveal potential issues and even address them before the employee decides to become “Attila the blogger”

What can be done reactively?   You suddenly notice that when you search using your company name, the number four post on Google is accusing your business of every atrocity imaginable.  What should you do?  Here are some options:

  • Don’t do anything.  Depending on your business, it may not hurt you at all.  People who surf the internet are use to seeing “disgruntled blogs” and regard them with a grain of salt.  It always looks worse when it is about you, but many times these things may not be worth taking action.
  • Contact the Person:  It may not work, but just asking nicely to remove the false information, or trying to understand why he made the post may result in some friendly agreement.
  • Get the post removed.  There are a variety of avenues to try.  If the post is blatantly fraudulent you can contact the ISP, the hosting company, the owner of the website or even the search engines- you will need to get a professional to help in this case.
  • Take Legal Action:   See your attorney.
  • Hire a Reputation Management Firm:  They may not get the post removed, but they know how push it back to the third or forth page on the search listing.

Hopefully by using good pre-employment assessment tools, you will not hire the type of people who would do these despicable things, but if it does happen, you don’t necessarily have to be like the Green Bay Packers and get bludgeoned in front of the entire world.

Is Your Business Starting to Turn?

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 11/05/2009

This is way premature but let me be the first to say it: “congratulations!  You just survived the longest and deepest recession in 60 years.”   How do you feel?  

Unfortunately it doesn’t quite feel like the recession is over, unemployment rate is still high, consumer spending is still down.  But there are some glimmers of good news, the Dow Jones is approaching the 10,000 mark, the housing market has stabilized (maybe) and some segments of business and industry are reporting an upturn.

Is your business starting to turn?   If you are like most businesses, you are still going to be very cautious about adding expense or making investments.  Hopefully the day will come when you will need to increase your staff to keep up with demand.  You probably are going to grow but do it “leaner and meaner” than before.  Maybe some of your competitors have dropped out, providing you with some nice opportunities.

What is the most effective and productive way to add employees?  The answer is simple- hire the right people. Companies hiring now or in the near future will probably have access to one of the largest available talent pools in recent memory.  Hiring the right person should be a snap, correct?  Actually no, even with a huge selection of talent out in the market place, if you are going to use the same techniques for employee selection as in the past, your chances of hiring a star performer are no better than before. 

What are the traditional methods of pre-employment selection?   Select a small group of candidates by weeding through resumes, bring the selected group in for a series of interviews, then call a few references and select the one you like the best.  Congratulations, you just hired someone who is great at writing resumes, doing an interview and has some nice friends for references.  Unfortunately, none of that has anything to do with whether that person will make an outstanding employee; in fact there is an 80% change he won’t be.

What makes and outstanding employee?  Someone who has passion for her work, has values that are compatible with the work environment and has the aptitude to learn and excel.  The only way you will find that person is to use objective, effective pre-employment selection systems that go way beyond the tradition hiring. This is not some new cutting edge methodology, it is tried and true.   Pre-employment selection systems work, as studies show that the chances of hiring an outstanding employee are 4 times greater than traditional hiring methods.

If you are ready to hire, let us know.  We can give you the tools to do it right.

What Makes a Good Leader?

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 07/02/2009

In the last blog we talked about the importance of having a good front line leader.  So what makes a good leader?    The next several blogs will be devoted to qualities that a good leader should have.

 

First let’s discuss the environment or organization rather than the qualities of a good leader.

 

Having strong leaders is definitely a must for an organization to be successful, but is it sufficient?  Consider the Detroit Lions.  They have not won a division title for 15 years; they lost over 14 games twice in the last 5 seasons.  They have gone through at least 5 head coaches in the last 10 years.  Was every coach they hired a bad coach?  Probably not, in fact one of their coaches took a different team deep into the playoffs.

 

Now consider the Pittsburg Steelers.  They have won more super bowls than any other NFL team, and they have done it with three different coaches.  Maybe the Steelers are better at choosing coaches than the Lions. But I think it is more likely that other factors are needed for success than just the head coach.  If you look closely at professional teams in various sports, you will see that many teams win year in and year out with different coaches and different personnel, while other teams continue to struggle in mediocrity and go through a slew of head coaches and managers.

 

The business world is similar; your leaders are important, but they need support.  They need a good staff, they need support from above, and they need resources and tools to thrive.   Your entire organization is instrumental to the success of its leaders.  If your organization has all the elements of success, your good leaders with thrive.  Without a solid organization and system, your company may end up being a revolving door for personnel as one leader after another falters; just like the Detroit Lions. 

 

As a precursor to reviewing your leadership, take a look at your organization and ask yourself two questions.

  1. Do you have the right people in the right places? -  People who are not in the right positions or are not compatible with the organization are low performers, but they can drag your organization down.
  2. Do you have an engaged organization?  Do your people care about the business?  

 

Your leadership question is entwined in the above questions, but you should try to separate them so you can identify the root problems.  It is possible that your organizations biggest issue is leadership, but you need to assess that before making assumptions.  Doing an organization assessment will help reveal the core problems. Once your core problems are identified, you can incorporate your leadership enhancement program into your overall strategy.

                                                                  

Can Your Front Line Leaders Lead?

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 06/11/2009

I remember talking with a VP who was let go because of operations performance.  His self assessment was pretty interesting.

                                                          

 "There were an unusual number of circumstances that we were dealing with – the company lost 40% of its core business to China and we tried to make up for that gap by bringing in new types of business.  The company struggled because our organization needed to make a transformation, but it did not have (in my opinion) the front line leaders to enable that process."

 

"My front line leaders were “homegrown” people who were promoted up through the operator ranks.  These people were intelligent and knowledgeable about the product, but really had little idea on how to lead and manage.  When I was hired to head the operations, I felt that something needed to be done, but I put this issue on the back burner, because as long as the status quo was being maintained, performance was okay.  But when the business was suddenly faced with this crisis, the leadership issue was exposed.   I tried to upgrade our leadership while making significant operation changes; this proved to be too much to effectively manage.  The struggles affected the bottom line and subsequently ended my career at this company."

 

 Let’s summarize some lessons learned from this person’s experience:

 

  • Your front line leadership is vital. 
  • Creating top notch leaders should be your highest priority.
  • You need to start NOW.  Waiting until you really need it is too late.

 

Developing your leaders should never be "put on the backburner."  In today’s economy, organizations need to be continually evaluating and changing to maintain competiveness; are your leaders up to the challenge?

 

Objective assessment and development tools for leadership are readily available; let us know if you need more information on leadership development.

Even in a Recession, Performance Measurement is Vital to Business Success

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 05/17/2009

I knew a VP of operations who stated the following to me about performance measurements:

  • When it is measured, performance improves.
  • When it is measured and has goals, performance improves more.
  • When employees are involved in the goal setting process, performance improves even more.
  • Finally, when employee’s reward and appraisal are tied to the goal, performance improves again.

The above statements make a clear case for performance measurement and performance appraisal systems.  Unfortunately we see many companies with “performance” systems in place, yet have employees achieving outstanding performance grades while the company’s business performance goes down the tube.  This doesn’t mean that performance management is not working; it simply means that the performance system was not consistent with the business performance.  The following are critical for a good performance system.

The measurements need to be clearly tied to long term and short term critical success elements of the business.  This means that businesses must understand what the critical elements are for success and clearly communicate this. 

Evaluation needs to be objective:  Performance systems that are based strictly on one person’s “opinion” will quickly break down.  Objective, fair measurements that are consistently managed is critical. 

Evaluation needs to be part of the business process.  If it something that everyone simply “pulls out of the file” once a year, then it will be meaningless.  Performance management should be an ongoing process that promotes continuous improvement.

Finally, leadership needs to be committed to its success.  I can think of a 50 million dollar company where the president brought in a consulting firm to implement a performance management system.  Months were spent in training and implementation.  The program got off to a good start.  Unfortunately it was totally “dead” in one year.  The reason:  The company president did not participate in the process.  He never did anything with his direct reports.  He never followed up on how the system was working.  Without top leadership driving this process, the program was guaranteed to fail.

For more information on performance appraisals, take a look at our 360 performance evaluation system.  Next blogs topic, “are you going to get sued this year?”

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Not Investing in Your Workforce Could be your biggest Mistake During a Recession

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 05/03/2009

Like most employers in this economy, you are looking hard at cutting costs and postponing investments. You may have had a workforce reduction.  No doubt training and development could be put on the “back burner”.

But, currently you have less people that are being asked to do things outside their current experience.  Now is not the time to stop investing in your human capital.  Cutting costs here could backfire quickly. Also, human capital needs don’t go away in a recession or difficult times.

The question is not whether to stop developing, but rather, what is the most effective use of your human capital resources? Your goal is not to have a highly trained workforce; your goal is to achieve business success (revenue, customer satisfaction, profits etc) now and in the future.  When your training and development efforts directly tie into these critical elements of your business, there will never be a question of where to invest.

It is vital that organizations become more strategic in investing in there talent development.   Before making an investment, a business needs a clear picture of what it needs.  This assessment process needs to address the following critical areas of your business.

Future State:  No organization can afford to “stand pat” with its capabilities, one needs to understand what your business will need to become in 3 – 5 years.

Core Competencies:  Based on your strategic planning, what key capabilities need to be developed, improved or bought in order to be competitive in tomorrow’s market.

Your Key Resources:  What people or job functions are most critical to achieving these competencies?

Current Situation:  How do your current resources match up to tomorrows needs, where are the critical gaps?

Measurement:  What key development metrics will change if your organization succeeds to move to the next level?

A comprehensive assessment of your business will help develop a focused plan that will pinpoint needed investments to remove constraints for your future success.  MG Assessments has the tools to help perform this analysis and develop your strategic development plan.

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Bad Supervision; the Number One Productivity Killer.

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 04/02/2009

If you are fortunate enough (or wise enough) to have good front line leadership, you are in a minority.  Then count your blessings and don’t bother reading the rest of this blog.

If you suspect that perhaps you have a supervisor or two that really may not be suited for job, and then read on.  Here are some types of supervisors that kill productivity.  If they fall into one of the patterns below, then you will need to do some training, leadership development or reassignment.

Pollyanna:  This supervisor loves people, and wants everyone to love her.  She values group harmony and wants everyone to get along.  Most people really like her because she always praises them.  Harmony and positive feedback are great things (by the way) but this supervisor tends to avoid conflict at all costs and is rarely willing to place challenging demands on her group.  Productivity in this group may not be terrible, but it usually is not excellence.  The group is really not being challenged, and from an individual standpoint, it really doesn’t make a difference whether you are a high achiever or not, everyone gets high praise. 

Superman This person probably came up through the ranks and may have been promoted to supervisor because of his personal skill and productivity.  Unfortunately, the great individual contributors don’t always make the best supervisors.  He tends to put a lot of the work on himself; he is quick to “help” someone with their task, with “help” being “I will do it for you”.  People in his group are either going to become very complacent, because he will solve their problems for them, or frustrated because they aren’t learning and developing.  This person quickly becomes the bottleneck; productivity in a small group may not be noticed because he is good enough to ‘carry” a couple of people.  Unfortunately, when the group gets larger, or the tasks demand more effort, productivity problems will become very apparent. 

The King.  This person is far more interested in his personal ambitions and gaining platitudes from top management than his group’s welfare. A common phrase coming out of this person’s mouth is “my way or the highway”.  He loves to take credit for anything good, and will pass out the blame for everything else.  This person will rule by intimidation, he can push people hard and sometimes this gets good results.  While short term deadlines may be met, over the long haul, he will get “compliance” and resentment from his people, but not engagement.  

The Wallflower: This person tends to avoid contact with people (it is strange to see a supervisor with this trait, but it does happen).  This person will sit in his/her office and type memos and emails to the group, (who are actually just outside the door), but will rarely have face to face communication, or worse, restricts communication to a couple of “favorites”.  If you have a supervisor like this and your employees are still producing:  congratulations, you have a self-managed work team that is eventually going to self destruct. Otherwise, you are probably seeing the issues already.

What should be done?  The first thing to do is objective assessment, so that you can formally identify the behaviors that are killing your productivity.  After this, sometimes with a little training and coaching the supervisor will quickly change and adapt more productive behavior patterns.  Other times, it may be determined that the individual is just not compatible with the job, and then the best choice is reassignment.  For all these cases, using proper assessment and training tools is critical for addressing these issues.

Specific Tools that are available.
  • PXT – this will identify “fit” for the job. This help’s with those managers that are greater workers but will never be great bosses so why put them in that position.
  • Checkpoint 360 – this is a developmental tool that helps builds competencies that leaders need to be proficient in. It will identify areas of strength and areas of opportunity so the manager knows what to work on first. Along with that, a development plan to help adapt those behaviors
  • Workforce compatibility – this tool will help identify the areas where manager and employee will have conflict and potential miscommunications based on behavioral differences. It will provide a guide on how to address for greater productivity and communication
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Getting the Most out of Your Workforce in a Recession

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 03/25/2009

The recession is here and it’s the worst economic situation we seen in 30 years.  Everyone is cutting expenses and trying to survive the next few months.  You need to cut costs, but….the last thing you want is an unengaged, demoralized workforce.  They are most likely carrying an extra load due to the reduced staff, and they will be the ones that you need to transition back to prosperity.  There is less business out there, but the same amount of competition, you are going to have to be cheaper, better and faster in this new reality.  Now more than ever, you need an engaged, productive work force. 

 

Doing things the right way is critical, but you can start by fixing 5 problems that kill productivity.  Before you can begin the path to having a highly engaged, productive workforce- you have to fix these problems:

  • Bad Supervision:  The number one reason given for people leaving their job is their supervisor.  Poor supervision kills productivity.
  • Wrong Person –Wrong Position.   According to the latest statistics, less than 19% of your workforce falls in the “outstanding performer” category.  The number one reason for this is that the persons skill set and aptitude doesn’t match the job.  You certainly aren’t hiring as much now, but it will be absolutely critical to bring in outstanding performers when you do.
  • Not Communicating.  People need to hear good news and bad; by not communicating, you are leaving your employees in the dark.  The best way to engage your workforce- communication.
  • Not training.   Your people need improved skills to do more for you, you may postpone that off-site employee retreat, but you can’t afford to have your organization stagnate in a pool of mediocrity. Employee skills need to be continuously upgraded so your company can face an even more competitive environment.
  • Not Measuring Performance.  Sure with the reduced sales numbers, you may have to revise goals, but if you aren’t measuring performance, you aren’t managing.

 

MG Assessments has the assessment tools to address all of the above situations.  In the next few weeks, I am going into more detail on each of the above problems and give you concrete advice on how to fix them.

 

Next week’s topic: The supervisor.

Would You Recognize a Good Sales Person if She Walked in the Door?

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 02/12/2009

Would you really know a good sales person if you met one.  The answer is probably no!  Everyone looks good at a job interview, but the key to really discovering who will make a great sales person starts with objective assessments. 

Unfortunately many leaders today, believe that their “gut feel” will guide them to make the best hiring decisions.  Have you ever heard this?  “I like him!  He reminds me of myself!”  Well of course he does your sitting right in front of him and he is reflecting back what you want to hear. 

There are a number of misconceptions about what makes a great sales person; some people mistakenly rely on their prejudices:  Slightly dishonest, aggressive, back slapping, greedy.  Well you might be surprised to hear what the experts say about this:

Most outstanding sales people have the following traits:

1) They are listeners, not talkers. Successful selling requires knowing a customer’s needs. Great salespeople encourage customers to talk about their needs. They then listen carefully so they can connect their product’s benefits to those needs.

2) They possess a strong work ethic. Successful salespeople work hard and sales superstars know there is no substitute for this. They prospect more often, make more calls, talk to more people and make more sales presentations than their coworkers.

3) They are exceptionally honest. Because many customers think a sales person is a backslapper, even unethical, they look for dishonesty in every sales situation. One whiff of it, and they dismiss the company and its products. Above all else, successful salespeople maintain their integrity.

4) They are self-confident. Rejection is more common in sales than success. The best salespeople are able to set rejection aside and move on. They are persistent. They look for new solutions. They refuse to give up.

5) They are enthusiastic and passionate. Always in a positive mood, super sellers choose to focus on the positive rather than drag themselves down with the negative. What’s more, they are genuinely excited about their company and about selling its products and services.

Quite clearly, finding people with these characteristics—those that will become your top performers—require a lot of attention.   Using behavior profiling and testing will help you find that next superstar.

Next Week: How much money are you losing because of your sales force?

Pre-hiring Sales Assessments

Posted by: Mary Gorski Posted Date: 05/30/2008

Is your sales team truly prepared for today's sales environment?  Want More Sales? Build Business Acumen...

If you asked your customers what they expect from your salespeople, what would they answer?

Years ago they'd most likely say, "sales people need to know their products inside and out so they can make appropriate recommendations." These days, however, customers go to the Internet for most of their product information making "product knowledge" ancillary in the selling process.

More recently, they might have answered that they expect salespeople to "understand the problems I face and recommend solutions." Now, like product knowledge, this expectation is also passé.

So what does your customer want?

Studies show that today customers want salespeople to know their business – and more specifically, to understand what drives their business.

Your customer wants more than conversation about features and benefits, problems and solutions. He wants his salesperson — his consultant — to understand the results he seeks, the strategies he uses, how he measures success, and especially his company's business environment and its competition.

In other words, he wants a salesperson with business acumen.

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