All Posts in Employee Engagement

February 7, 2015 - No Comments!

Are successful leaders “brain fit?”

The Wall Street article today on "Brain, Heal Thyself" has me thinking about brain fitness as leaders.  Dr. Doidge, who teaches at the University of Toronto and is a researcher at Columbia, says the brain heals and using it means we have more flexibility and significantly better outcomes for brain health.  That might not be entirely new data to you, however, his discussion about how to improve our brain health is fascinating.

It does require a new perspective on light, sound, movement and energy.  I visit many companies as part of  our connecting with leaders about their talent and you sense the energy of their organization.  The energy and interactions can be frenetic, distracting and intense. You feel it the minute you walk in to their offices or sit down for a conversation.   In other cases, the light, color, and interaction with the leader is thoughtful, positive, relaxed yet quite intentional and focused.  That is where we have the best discussions.

Environment plays a role here but imagine brain health as part of your wellness and leadership development philosophy.  What would that look like?  Someday we will be talking about that as well as tracking steps or in-house yoga classes that will make a difference.  It will matter to new employees or candidates visiting to assess their role in a new relationship with you on how problems or decisions get made in your company.  They will want to ask about time to carve out thinking or collaborating with others to get at issues that take a deeper dive than texts or emails.  They will want to experience positive energy, lightness and environments that support our best thinking and doing.

Some leaders will see this effort as part of their commitment to health, development of leaders and all around brain fitness of their employees too.  brain healing


December 31, 2014 - No Comments!

New Year Wishes and Possibilities

It is that time of year when we slow down a bit and reflect on success and start preparing for what is next.  It is easy to think about starting the next race of 2015 rather than enjoying the moment of being right here and right now.  A new friend, Jullien Gordon, whom I met this year through a trusted colleague, suggests that rather than saying, "I  can't wait until...." consider saying, "It can wait."  I love that. Some of us get great energy by thinking about what is ahead and others cherish the moment and enjoy the fact that they are where they need to be and the best is now!  I am planning for more of those moments this year.  I can sometimes get caught up in that race I mentioned earlier.

Celebrations in teams, companies or in our families are there for a reason. Take this time on the last day of the year to reflect on your achievements that meant something to you.  They can be small or big.  Size is not important here.  I suggest celebrating that when you toast in 2015.  This could be part of a new ritual.  Where were the moments of greatest satisfaction and enjoyment for you this past year? Think about those events that brought meaning to you and how might those inform you about where you want meaning in your life in this new year.

Kate Kjeell, our trusted leader of the Recruiting practice here at SBCo shared a great book with the team this year.  It is called," Where will you be five years from now?"  I really appreciated this gift and how simply the book chapters move from creating a personal mission statement to defining what you will do with your talents. We are talking about learned talents and skills and also natural gifts that might become a new dimension of you.   What is your YouTube for 2015?

This is not easy work - it takes reflection time however, it is the time for you. Enjoy this day of your life!



November 25, 2014 - No Comments!

Finding the Game Winning Player in your Candidate Pool

Our colleague, friend, and longtime supporter of our HRoundtable, Ed Eynon, was recently featured in Forefront Magazine and naturally we had to share! Eynon relates workforce talent to something most of us are familiar with… sports and athletes.

“In his HR selection processes, Eynon assesses an individual’s talent in three ways: skills, knowledge and natural behavior. He gives priority to natural behavior every time.”

Natural behaviors are reoccurring traits that are “deep down, hardwired in your DNA,” according to Eynon, such as being friendly or being blunt.

“The natural behavior of wanting to be excellent can’t be taught,” Eynon said, whereas knowledge and skills can. Skills are the “how-to” steps to an activity, such as boiling pasta, changing oil in your car, or running on a treadmill. Knowledge refers to having relevant information stored in your brain.

If we return to the sports theme, there are several examples of the power of natural behavior. In 1999 U.S. defender Brandi Chastain blasted the team's fifth penalty kick past the Chinese goalkeeper after 120 minutes of hard fought competition to win the FIFA World Cup on U.S. soil.

Brandi Chastain

Or there is the young Kobe Bryant in 1996, who led Lower Merion High School to its first state championship in 53 years and would then go on to win multiple championships in the NBA.


Natural behaviors are either in you or not, but how can HR discern whether the right behaviors exist in a candidate or not? Eynon uses a scientific method to discern the presence of the desirable attributes and the absence of negative ones. He uses a proctored interview, at a fast pace, with validated and open-ended questions to scientifically assess candidates (you can read more about this in the article linked above).

Hiring the right employee pays off. Whether you take Eynon’s approach and measure through social media reviews or you prefer to use engagement surveys, there is no disputing that hiring and retaining the right talent is a smart and necessary business move. Some studies (such as SHMR) predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. That can get expensive fast!

So as you hire for your next opening, it might be worth looking at those intangible qualities in candidates.

September 22, 2014 - No Comments!

Looking Outside the HR Bubble for Engagement

photo 1

We recently attended the TEDXOrangeCoast event and found ourselves immersed in topics ranging from pancreatic cancer tests to cowboys riding comets (yes, you read that right). The speakers varied from Directors of national initiatives to a 13 year old piano phenom who is still trying to balance homework with her social life. The power of TED productions is that they force you to put yourself in the mindset of innovation outside your professional specialty and beyond your go-to industry articles or blogs.   TEDX events are an incredible phenomenon in which there are literally hundreds of people in one room looking to be inspired, motivated, and frankly, have their minds blown. You won't find that kind of electricity, anticipation, or expectation in an all-hands meeting.

photo 3

TED is also unique because it crosses generational, technological,  educational, and organizational boundaries. There are engineers, artists, HR professionals, teachers, coaches, students, and more all listening to and absorbing messages from one source.  Can you imagine the power of reproducing this within your organization?! If you could break down organizational boundaries in a way that left an entire organization mind blown and oozing with curiosity, many would argue you have made it to Human Capital euphoria.

We don't have the answer of how to make that happen, but it is always helpful to step outside of the HR bubble and look at alternate ways to unite, inspire, motivate, or  change a team.

August 16, 2014 - No Comments!

Deal with your saboteurs – from a wise professor

I am reminded of why I like Shirzad Chamine's work so much - he was a guest of ours two years ago as we discussed Positive Intelligence.  Shirzad revealed how to achieve one's true potential for both professional success and personal fulfillment.  This latest article, (see link below) is a great story about what he shares with his new students at Stanford as they start their new year.

His groundbreaking research exposes ten well-disguised mental Saboteurs.  Nearly 95 percent of the executives in his Stanford lectures conclude that these Saboteurs cause "significant harm" to achieving their full potential.  So, why not share this at the beginning of our careers rather than struggle with them for so many years and think that "just harder work" gets us closer to our goals.   Shirzad helps us learn the secret to defeating these internal foes, whether you are a student or deeply embedded in career.  Check this out. We miss you Shirzad!

Lessons for those in school

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June 14, 2014 - No Comments!

Wellness or Workplace – Top Candidates want to know

Wellness is taking on new energy in companies and in conversation with our HR colleagues.  The term is being applied n many ways.  According to Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder for the National Wellness Institute, there are six dimensions of wellness.  They are; emotional, occupational, spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual.  Together, they create an image of diverse and yet exciting ideas that will improve our workplace.  That might seem like a lot, so how about focusing on two or three that make sense to you and support your culture.

Wellness and workplace fit together.  The worker of the future will demand an integrated approach to their career and see well-being for themselves in three dimensional color!  It is refreshing to talk to a millennial about what they value in work and life.

One of our special clients and friends, Avery Dennison recognizes this.  I had the opportunity to visit Avery's new corporate headquarter in Pasadena this past Friday.  They left their lovely old campus near downtown Pasadena with oak trees and an amazing koi pond for a new contemporary and artful new building right off the 134 freeway.   The space is light, colorful, energizing and designed for collaboration and flexible working models.  Koi fish were such a part of the culture that there is even a simulated koi pond on one floor that represents reflection, appreciation for the past and welcoming of the new contemporary future.

I loved their work station approach with this tread mill and computer hook up! The space has lots of windows, red, white, wood panels, beautiful graphics floor to ceiling.

Avery fac Mark Alders, VP Total Rewards, says that employees love the space and he can see the impact on performance and positive energy.  Also, when you are recruiting top candidates, they pick this up and see that the company values both wellness and workplace across the globe.

Congratulations to Avery in designing an environment that supports employees in feeling great about their work and their environment. Guest visitors feel totally welcome too!   Talent today has choices and this factors into all of the six dimensions of wellness that Dr. Hettler talks about in his model.

Working in and around people that enjoy the energy and creativity of their team members and do so in an environment that supports this can only mean better outcomes and more satisfaction.

May 11, 2014 - No Comments!

Are you busy but not productive?

Are you familiar with the premise that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort?   This is a great reason to be clear on how you  spend your time.  Your effort pays off directly in connection to your intentions.  However, it is not easy to say no to the non-essential stuff.  I am guilty of that and constantly have to re-focus and ask myself, "what is most important?"

This past week I decided to take a few hours in the day to find some quiet time and re-focus.  I am finding that getting away from the "busy" of our work life and work space helps me be more productive for sure.  This is not a surprise. How often do you do this?  I enticed my husband to drive up to the Getty and see the Jackson Pollock piece that has been re-furbished.  It is called Mural and was designed in 1943 for Peggy Guggenheim's entry hall of her home.   The picture here is the poster of this for there are no photos allowed of this 97 x 238 in masterpiece.

It is an amazing painting and the beginning of Jackson Pollock's unique painting technique but done on a very large canvas requiring innovative techniques to get ijacksont done let alone execute in first ever "controlled and non-controlled" painting styles that captivate you.   You are probably wondering how this supports productivity.  It is not just changing the scenery from the office to the incredible Getty environment but getting to see what Pollock created up close.  He created a chaotic and controlled piece that draws you in.  The colors, the texture and organic feel.  There is so much going on and yet it is quieting.  By the time Pollock painted this, he had experienced years of psycho-therapy to fight depression and alcohol.  He was fascinated with the internal workings of the mind.

Am I suggesting you drive up the Getty to see this?  Yes, absolutely.  Is it something that quiets the mind?  At first not really but then as you experience it, yes, it does shift your mind.  I do wonder how Peggy Guggenheim enjoyed this taking over her entry way of her home - quite intense for sure but maybe she found the same thing I did after being there with that painting for a bit.   Take the time to reflect, take a walk or spend a few hours at the Getty.  You will not regret this.  Now go for that productivity you desire with a splash of creative thinking after you have found quiet time for yourself.


May 2, 2014 - No Comments!

The Evolution of Corporate Focus

“Over the past 60 years, marketing has moved from being product-centric (Marketing 1.0) to being consumer-centric (Marketing 2.0). Today we see marketing as transforming once again in response to the new dynamics in the environment. We see companies expanding their focus from products to consumers to humankind issues. Marketing 3.0 is the stage when companies shift from consumer-centricity to human-centricity and where profitability is balanced with corporate responsibility.”
- Phillip Kotler

Phillip Kotler's quote offers a concise explanation on the evolution of marketing, which by default also begins to define the evolution of organizational culture. In marketing/organizational culture phase 1.0 we saw organizations like Apple really define themselves. Their focus was/is on product and their culture reflects that. By now we have all heard the infamous stories of Steve Jobs and his dictator-like leadership style, so I won't take your time up reiterating those, but it is important to note that Apple is still one of the most successful companies as far as profits and products.  Do people publicly rave about the fun they have working there?... not so much. Do young people beg for a cubicle seat at Apple straight out of college... not so much.

In phase 2.0, it was all about the consumer. There are a plethora of articles pointing to healthcare as the primary consumer-driven market. Kaiser Permanente has phenomenal brand recognition and consumers are their bread and butter. Just like Apple, Kaiser has been successful at their model, but it is not likely that you will hear many (non-healthcare focused) college seniors say, "My dream is to work for Kaiser Permanente right after college!". (To the college seniors who are exceptions to this statement, please excuse my generalization).

Last but not least, phase 3.0. We are in the midst of this phase right now; we have moved from product to consumer to human-centric. Organizations are now flooding their corporate websites with tabs, articles, and videos all about "Corporate Responsibility". IBM, Avon, Target, Intel, TOMS Shoes... this list goes on and on! What used to be the "do-good" ending slide in the yearly corporate meeting has now become mainstream and center stage.

As a consumer, do you simply compare the price and quality of products?  Or do you think about how well the company that makes the product treats its employees; how ethical the company is; and whether they engage with local communities?

Chances are, you think you do the former—but according to a study by Reputation Institute, your willingness to buy, recommend, work for, and invest in a company is driven 60% by your perceptions of the company—or it’s reputation, and only 40% by your perceptions of the products or services it sells.

This phase brings new meaning to a well-rounded company. Not only do your products need to be great and your consumer needs to be happy, but you now must place focus on humankind issues. We now see college seniors knocking on the doors of organizations that promote their social causes and serve as advocates in their community. It's an interesting and revolutionary time to be an organization and to be a candidate!

Do you think phase 3.0 is here to stay?

February 14, 2014 - No Comments!

Business & Behavioral Sciences Intersect in Good Ways

picturefeb13  I attended a KPCC learning event this morning to see Jeremy Hunter, friend and respected Professor, Speaker and Mindfulness expert dialogue with Nick Udall, Organization and Culture Catalyst for global businesses committed to breakthrough by design.  They were wonderfully complementary voices on the topic of managing self and "holding space" for creativity in chaotic, changing, complex organizations.

There is a lot of talk recently about Mindfulness - it makes me feel hopeful and with curious about how this will take shape and change conversations at work and between individuals.  Jeremy is finding significant success in his EMBA classes at the Drucker School when focusing on the individual.  Rarely do we speak about "how it feels in the body" when we are in tense situations or dealing with people we don't trust yet but must work with on a daily basis.  He is teaching how we can create new patterns of thought, new behaviors and then achieve the results we want.

Nick Udall works with CEO's all over the world and he says their work is three things - "think, talk and hold space".  How are leaders doing these three things and do they make space for open discussion about what is known and equally about what is the unknown.  Innovation, Dr. Udall says, is the dance between the known and unknown, the conscious and unconscious - most find it hard to stay in that place that forces us to let go of status quo in order to think differently and break the old "we always did it that way"  syndrome.  Nick Udall has a new book out and it is fascinating, called "Riding the Creative Rollercoaster."  There are rich new words and concepts introduced to describe how creativity is evoked and the intersections between behavior and business innovation.

KPCC really understands provocative thought.  It was great to participate and meet new folks.  We had time at the end of the session to meet others in attendance and pair off to learn what others were observing in themselves in the time we were there.

I think most were present in the moments and the energy in the room was refreshing and more than one person said, " I feel engaged, open, more calm and optimistic."  Take that to your next meeting!


October 13, 2012 - No Comments!

What about career conversation for your employee?

Why is Coaching your employee important?
Excerpt from Fast Company - Sept 7th
Year after year, surveys find enterprise employees dissatisfied with how they are being supported in their careers. In fact, most of them not only do not feel supported, they often feel downright thwarted. You can see it on websites like Glassdoor, where a company I once worked for is reviewed as

...not great for relationship-building/team-building. Not everyone is always promoted from within. Managers are more concerned with how they look when promoting someone, as opposed to promoting the people who can do the job. But in the end... it's the stress of the job that'll do you in, combined with the ridiculous rating system. It's too easy to get a "Meets Expectations" regardless of whether you are working your tail off and achieving, or slacking because you've been there too long and are burned out, and need a BETTER challenge.

According to Julie Winkle Giulioni, the co-author with Beverly Kaye of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, the statistics around employee engagement are scary. Too many employees are burnt out and disengaged. Since engagement drives the willingness to put out discretionary effort, a high percentage of the work population is just going through the motions like the "human resource" quoted above.

"Once things improve a bit more, we're going to see a mass exodus from these big companies," says Giulioni. Even now, while the job market is still tumultuous for most people, the best and brightest people are always sought after, and in danger of being stolen out of their jobs for more promising paths to career development.

Kaye and Giulioni, who both have deep expertise in corporate career management, decided to write their book because they have also seen what's necessary to reverse this trend, and how easy it would be for managers to keep their best and brightest. The central theme of this books is how managers and leaders can reframe career development and make it a consistent feature in the workplace, not just quarterly or annually. Take this topic to your next management meeting - what do they think?