Step 4 or 4: High Performance Teams

Give employees a career instead of a job

“That’s just not fair!”

Whether it is true or not, this is not something you want employees to say.  Often is beyond a company’s power to control how employees feel.  However, company’s can avoid creating situations that might cause an employee to think or say this.  Companies DO have a great deal of control in which they hire and promote.

In my executive search business we often hear from executives who feel this way.  Either they have been passed over for a promotion or they have seen others passed over multiple times.  Sometimes their company never considered an insider for an open position. Whatever the reason, these people feel like a commodity instead of a valued contributor.  If this kind of perception starts to permeate the workforce the company is doomed – especially now that top talent is harder to find.

There are many reasons why a company would go outside to hire top talent; they don’t have a qualified person internally, they want fresh perspectives, they want competitor intelligence, etc…  Hiring outside is expensive, time intensive, and dangerous (see steps 1 & 2)! Often it can be avoided if companies have a career development culture instead of an open seat culture.

Hiring from your current employees only works if you diligently practice Step 3.  It also means a huge ROI on your labor expense.  When employees believe they have the opportunity to grow and advance they don’t spend time looking elsewhere.  When they enjoy a company development program they have greater confidence to take on more responsibility.  Employees will take their performance more seriously and pursue self-development agendas.  Giving an employee a career is a long-term investment strategy, one that every company must follow.

This is the final installment of the four steps to building a high performance team.  Putting these steps into practice will have tremendous impact on company profitability and competitive edge.  Don’t wait until your competition has all the top talent, beat them to the best people now!

Can you really Motivate employees?

“Employee Engagement” gets a lot of lip service, but very little action. This is the key to motivating and retaining a productive workforce.   More simply stated employees have a WIIFM attitude.  People are not going to work for the company’s reasons; they are going to work for their own reasons.  Unless company leaders can tap into those reasons they risk spreading the disease of “warm-chair attrition”.  This is the state of having an employed body in a chair, but the mind has long since quit the job.   It is the responsibility of corporate leaders to eradicate this disease from their organization.

This is easier said than done.  It is virtually impossible if managers and leaders don’t know who works for them.  Today four generations are working together, each valuing work very differently from the other.  Few companies have trained their managers on how to relate to a multi-generational workforce.  In the absence of any guidance, managers will motivate employees from their own perspective and needs, not from the employee’s.   We all laugh at the “Beatings will continue until morale improves” signs, but many employees perceive corporate retention strategies and performance management programs as just that!

The best solution is for companies to teach their managers about who works for them.  Teach them how each generation and individual employee values their work life.  When armed with this knowledge, companies can create an effective and profitable talent management strategy.  This would include everything from recruitment, HR management, to the on boarding process and employee retention.  If done correctly then employee morale won’t be a problem.  Once word gets around people will be clamoring to work for the company.

It’s not about where they’ve been; it’s about where they can take you!

The resume looked great!  They’d had all the right titles.  Their responsibilities were in line with your job description.  Education (Masters “preferred”) – CHECK.  Correct number of years of experience – CHECK.  Willing to relocate – CHECK.  The resume was even printed on fine, light beige, linen paper.  Obviously a seasoned professional who had all the qualities you were looking for.  The phone screen went well, they met some of your colleagues, HR did the background check (no problems), and you liked the person.  Amazingly, six months into the job things weren’t going well.  They just didn’t click with your style or the company culture.  Their performance was not measuring up to your expectations.  You tried all the performance improvement tricks you knew.  This was starting to cost you time, money, and reputation.  After all, you made the decision to hire them.

As time wore on you realized they had to go.  Alas, more job requisition paperwork from HR and time to give it another try.

Unfortunately this scenario plays itself out over and over at almost every company.  Millions of hard and soft dollars are lost on these kinds of mis-hires.  And don’t forget the lost productivity of the hiring team, lost revenue opportunities, lost operating efficiencies, lower morale, and decreased creative energy.  These dollars have a direct impact on the bottom line. They also have a huge impact on competitive edge.  Plus, it will get harder and harder to find replacement employees as the pool of qualified professional talent continues to shrink.  Guess what – it doesn’t have to be this way!

Resume hiring and traditional interviewing only tells you where a person has been.  You want to know where they are going to take you.  Here are five simple steps you can implement today.  Following these steps will tell you if the next person will move your company forward;

  • First, profile the key positions that will drive your profits and competitive edge.
  • Second, benchmark the top performers in these key positions.  This tells you exactly what the next hire has to look like.
  • Third, STOP interviewing from the resume and start asking questions developed in the profiling and benchmarking process.  Demand that everyone in the interviewing team use this consistent set of questions.
  • Fourth, have a third party independently assess anyone you are considering for a key position.
  • Fifth, interview for the behaviors the person needs to be successful in the job.

In a hyper-competitive market with a diminishing talent pool, companies can’t afford traditional, job description hiring.  When you implement these five steps you’ll find the right top talent to take your company to the next level.

Read The Best Answer…

An appreciative “Thank you” to Vincent Vanderbent for recognizing my answer as being  the best in response to his LinkedIn question

“Employee retention: why do you keep inefficient managers and staff?”

It is a great question and the answer has eluded countless organizations.  You can read the full question and my answer at the following link:

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/management/labor-relations/MGM_LBR/625840-23470066

The Strategic Value of Employee Empowerment (Part 2)

Strategic Employers give more than just lip service to employee empowerment.  They know that the best people are looking for this, particularly workers in Generation X and the Millennials.  Last week I wrote about the first five of ten employee empowerment tips.  Here are the rest….

6) Glory through delegation – don’t just give your employees the “grunt” work, give them an opportunity to shine with important tasks and jobs as well.

7) Demonstrate that problems are caused by faults in the system, not by faults in  people.  Let your employees solve the problems by changing the systems, not their co-workers.

8) Feedback, feedback, feedback – do yourself a favor and tell your people how they are doing and tell them often.

9) Recognize and reward your people when they do something  through their empowerment.

10) Provide direction by asking lots of questions.

The Strategic Value of Employee Empowerment

As the Boomers retire from the workforce, Strategic Employers must rely more and more on the upcoming generations.  Both Generation X and the Millennials value work and
work/life issues very differently than their Boomer managers.  There are also much fewer of them willing to devote the same degree of corporate loyalty as does the Boomer and
the Veteran generation.

One easy, inexpensive, and smart move Strategic Employers can make is to appeal to these generations in a way that motivates them to stay.  Employee Empowerment is valued by
both of these generations, but not in the same way it was used to influence and generally coerce their predecessors.  If you truly want your employees to be empowered, and enjoy the benefits of an empowered workforce, you should begin with these ten principles:

1)    Show that you really do value them.
2)    Don’t keep your Vision a secret, tell them about it.
3)    Let them know your company’s, your group’s, or your team’s objectives.
4)    Give them the information they need to make good decisions.
5)    Show your trust and believe in their ability to do the right things.

Next week I’ll add the other five…

How Increasing Benefits Costs Increased the Bottom Line

The link below describes an interesting development when one company doubled its cost for employee benefits and realized an exponential increase in ROI. Why? Mainly because it cut turnover by approximately 60%! The impact of retention on the bottom-line is often overlooked by many employers. This is one example of a Strategic Employer understanding how turnover economics increases profitability and competitiveness.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125149100886467705.html#mod=article-outset-box

“Show Me the Money” – Really?

This memorable line from Jerry McGuire is often used as a refrain to “seal the deal.” In every business transaction and employment relationship it always comes down to the money… or does it? The money is important to every business transaction. It is the basis on which most business relationships are established. For businesses it almost always comes down to the money. But is this always true of employees? Do people only go to work and stay for just the highest salary?

Most research indicates that salary is not the top motivator of employees. In fact, it consistently ranks lower than several other factors. If this is true, then why do employees seem to emphasize salary so often? It is because in most organizations salary is the only means of recognition given to employees.

Recently we conducted a poll on our website. Our site has a large audience of people actively seeking new positions in health care. We asked visitors the following question…

Which of the following is most important to you when evaluating a new job?

The possible answers were Challenge of job, Location, Company Stability, Advancement Opportunity, and Salary. Only 27% of those responding selected Salary as the most important factor when evaluating a new job. Yet for many organizations salary remains the most significant retention and motivational tool in use. Unfortunately this strategy is flawed. It does not address the more significant issues that attract, or repel, the best people.

Employees consistently say they want a “fair salary” and they rank other job factors higher. Employees who will only consider “top dollar” are essentially mercenaries and will yield little long-term impact on a business. They could be useful for short-term, high growth needs, but this attitude is actually detrimental to developing a company culture of sustained growth, low turnover, and high employee productivity and satisfaction. Today employees want to do work that is meaningful and they want to be compensated fairly. And while the evidence of this is very recognizable, the multi-generational aspect of our modern workforce makes this very hard to implement.

Motivating employees today is more complex than ever before. This is one impact of the unprecedented atmosphere of four generations working together – each with its own unique definition of meaningful work. Boomers need one set of values out of work, Millennials another and the Gen X’s and Veterans need yet another set of meaningful principles. This is a dangerous situation since most business leaders don’t understand how to manage a multi-generational workforce. It requires a new approach and a new strategy to employee motivation, a strategy in which salary will play an even smaller role.

Businesses and organizations need to re-think salary as their most significant attraction and retention tool. There is no question that income will remain very important to employees. Fair wages will always be a key driver. Businesses must examine their search, selection, and retention strategies and process. They must align and integrate them with the needs of each generation. Those businesses who continue to use pay as their most significant motivating force will soon find they are paying too much for too many of the wrong kinds of employees.

Richard Yadon, CPC, CERS, is the President and CEO of Health Career Professionals, LLC, a health care executive search, selection, and retention firm. To implement any of these strategies, please contact Richard at 866.371.0687 x.110.