All Posts in Management

January 15, 2017 - No Comments!

Last Day First Day

Following the election last fall, our son, Erik initiated a project called "Last Day First Day." I was taken by his initiative and timing to ask us all to actively reflect through writing.    Writing, creating, performing allows reflection and self-expression.  Whether you voted for either candidate in the election, the process of sharing your views in a simple letter results in shifting or embracing a new mindset and yes, we are creating art in doing this simple act.

We can apply this exercise whether it is for a political, personal or business reason.first day last day  Engagement means diving into new conversation so that we understand more clearly where we stand and learn from each other's perspectives.  How about embracing honesty?  There is honesty in our own action and words.  Every day we have a chance to share an honest perspective and walk through new doors; maybe you have the first day in a new job and a last day to leave what you knew behind.  You now have a new story to write. The story will emerge through your words and experience.

I am suggesting (thank you Erik) that whether you are writing to Obama or Trump, or writing to your old boss and or a new one, the power of your reflection opens you to creativity and courage that might surprise you.  Julia Cameron, author of the Artists Way, suggests daily morning pages. What if you simply wrote for last and first days of any change this year.  New job, new project, new boss, or new relationship.  Let your creative self speak up this year. Imagine the stories you have inside you.   Thank you Erik for inspiring us to action and an idea that might serve us all well over the course of this new year beyond January 20th.

May 2, 2015 - No Comments!

Are you in a Profit Paradox?

We hosted a learning event this past week and enjoyed a provocative discussion with Dr. Gustavo Grodnitsky.  I invited our clients and a few really smart and engaging millennials who bring amazing honesty and refreshing energy to our discussions.  This is written by Derek Kozaites, a recent graduate is interested in International Studies and business.  Read what he had to say;

"I had the pleasure of attending a “Great Starts Breakfast Series” hosted by S.Benjamins & Co. The series is in its tenth year of orchestrating inspirational meetings to Southern California’s most forward thinking professionals. This particular event, presented by Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky Ph.D., was titled “The Profit Paradox: Culture in the New World of Work”. Dr. Gustavo, a Colorado native known as a “social hacker”, presented an intriguing look into the rapidly changing environment of culture in the workplace. In his words, “culture trumps everything” (which is also the title of his new book)."

Derek says that Dr. Gustavo’s overarching theme of change is in seeing the world in a social context.  He said, "Analyzing the contextual nature of human behavior, Dr. Gustavo set the stage for the corporate struggle between business norms and social norms, arguing that companies with a social focus towards their “stakeholders” will ultimately succeed. Backing up this argument, Dr. Gustavo revealed one of the most captivating results of his presentation, a ten-year profit comparison between classic capitalism and social capitalism companies, which dramatically favored the social capitalism companies."

"As a member of the newest generation of young professionals, I took a sigh of relief following Dr. Gustavo’s presentation, finding comfort in the fact that businesses all over the world are seeking to understand and meet the demands of our ever-changing culture."

We better listen to these millennials - 80 million of them are entering our workforce in the next few years.  Thank you Derek for sharing.

gustav

April 4, 2015 - No Comments!

Culture of Accountability – Best Advice from Tammy Sicard, PhD

At our most recent HRoundtable event, we had the pleasure of learning from Tammy Sicard, PhD, Founder & CEO of The Partnership Advantage.

Prior to the meeting, participants were asked via a survey: out of connections, consistency, and commitment, which would you focus on if your success were guaranteed, and why? Connection came out on top as the area to focus on. Tammy said this can be demonstrated through connections between:
• People to people
• People to work
• Work to work

A four-quadrant model was presented to show the interrelatedness between the following aspects of accountability & self-leadership:
• Individual/Tangible: individual roles, goals, skills
• Tangible/Collective: structure, policies/procedures, systems, processes
• Collective/Intangible: norms, assumptions, beliefs, patterns
• Intangible/Individual: meaning, identity, inner experience

To put this four-quadrant model to use, participants were asked to think of their “2 a.m. initiative” (what keeps you up until 2 a.m.?) Then identify its purpose, the key players/partners on whom success will depend, identify one of the three connections above on which success will depend, and finally, take the 2 a.m. initiative through each of the four quadrants.

To create a culture of accountability, four questions need to be answered:
1. What is it?
2. What does it look like in action?
3. What are the intrinsic qualities we associate with people who choose accountability?
4. What are the individual and organizational barriers to accountability?
Five conversations (not just being talked at, but authentic conversations) that drive accountability and performance:
1. Create shared purpose (awareness)
2. Develop connections (alignment)
3. Make tradeoff decisions (action)
4. Address disconnects (action)
5. Choose interdependence: dependent upon and accountable to one another (accountability)
Accountability does not come first in this process; the other elements should be addressed first.

We were encouraged to consider taking small steps rather than huge change at once.  It can start with a small pilot. Find a starting place within the company where you can experiment.  Maybe it is where silos exist and then see if that is contributing to more "make-work" than you would like.  This is a great place to start with building awareness and then move to possibilities and action.

“There are no recipe or formulae, no checklist or advice that describes ‘reality’. There is only what we create through our engagement with others and with events”- Meg Wheatley

February 28, 2015 - No Comments!

What is the Quality of Your Attention?

Dr. Jeremy Hunter, Professor at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont joined our HRoundtable this month to facilitate a discussion about Intention and Attention.  We were energized by his passion and practical tools that many are now using.

What is the quality of your attention and how has that changed for you in the past few years?  With data and information coming at us 24/7, it is hard to imagine leaders are mastering this ever Jeremy Hunter 2015y day.  Jeremy takes a practical approach and it is refreshing and "human."  Many of our leaders gave us feedback following the session saying, "we are using the tools and already see results."  Others said, " the energy I have to tackle the day to day has increased."

The model that Jeremy introduced starts with defining Intention, then, Attention followed by Awareness.   So, what shall I focus on?  Where do we place my attention and now, what do I know?  Next comes, "what do I see as my option" and finally, "how does that impact the choice I take and what I act on."  Jeremy teaches leaders to integrate this internal managing practice into every day life and leading.  Thank you for sharing this with us on our quest for healthy self managing. You are welcome to return any time to help us center, grow personal healthy leading practices and smile!

 

January 17, 2015 - No Comments!

What is being done to close a Skills Gap?

The Wall Street Journal article today (Saturday, January 17th) starts by saying four in ten U.S. college students graduate without skills in "complex reasoning, communication and problem solving."   There is some progress for sure, but the author points out there are big gaps to address.  The conversation about this is not new and it is easy to overlook those that are tackling this head on.

I have just joined the Advisory Board of the California State University Fullerton (CSUF) Center for Leadership.  I am impressed with the creative approach that Dr. Jay Barbuto and his team of impressive "leadership scholars - the students" are taking to enrich Business student educational experiences and build these critical skills.  There are 22 of  us on this growing Advisory Board and we come from consulting as well as premier and respected Orange County corporations.  We discussed ways to support the students and offer development in corporate settings too.

Training and leadership development is a big investment for many of the Board member companies for they see the shift from hiring on the outside to developing on the inside.  Communication, influence and problem solving skills areas remain a priority.  Partnering with the Universities accelerates this development initiative and you see first hand the skills of undergraduate and senior business students.  I was impressed for sure with the CSUF students attending our meeting.  At lunch I was able to talk more in depth with a few students and here is what I experienced;

- commitment to their program

- enthusiasm for learning and eagerly seeking exposure to companies, interning and shadowing

- polish and great communication skills

- smiles and positive presence which was refreshing

So, according to this WSJ article, many business owners might not be seeing these attributes in recent college graduate interviews but maybe they have not met the students from the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at CSUF.

We are all eager to see an increase in the availability of top talent from the Universities and from the experienced labor pool.  Our clients are starting to consider selecting on potential vs. performance and we have a long way to go, however, this leadership center and their work with students in Orange County moves us much closer to that goal.  Thank you Jay!

November 24, 2014 - No Comments!

Feel like you are managing boulders? Get Perspective.

Are there days when you feel like leading change is pushing a boulder up the hill? or around a corner? Today, I was able to see a 340 ton boulder on it's route to LACMA and this is literally moving the boulder. I learned that this is taking millions of dollars, creative road preparation and weeks to go from the inland empire to mid-Wishire. Isn't this a metaphor for change on a large scale?

Viewers in Long Beach were lined up to see the "Rock" rest on Atlantic blvd as it prepares to move at night to the next destination.

Several of my clients are managing HR transformations, they are moving boulders every day and it is incredible work that requires tenacity, patience, creativity and spirit. Watch this boulder as it reaches it's home soon in Los Angeles. There are crowds cheering it on, and you may not hear your cheering crowd, but it is there for sure. Kudos to you all dedicated to changing our work and our cultures so that we smile more.

The Rock

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October 13, 2014 - No Comments!

Can Your Job Title Give You Personality?

Are leaders born charismatic or does their title give them charisma?

Charisma

I recently revisited a wonderful TED Talk that dares us to rethink who and how we lead.  According to Seth Godin, our society is propelled by the idea of change. This started with factories that changed the way products were made, then moved to mass advertising to change the way we sell products and now revolves around leadership. In Seth's eyes, leaders lead tribes (i.e. groups of people linked in some way).  A tribe is built to disrupt status quo, connect others, and lead a movement. A  example of a tribal leader could be Martin Luther King Jr. He lived to disrupt the status quo of his time, connect the group that believed in his cause, and lead a movement to change a culture. Many people say that Martin Luther King Jr. was "born to lead" because of his compassion, determination, and charm. Did his leadership experiences instill him with those personality traits or did his charisma and compassion make him a leader?

Steve Jobs was known for a variety of things: being brilliant, being demanding, and being somewhat elusive. Those aren't typical qualities of a strong leader, but Apple still managed to lead a movement. Was Steve Jobs born to lead people? Probably not, but his brilliance thrust him into leadership.

Recently, many of our clients have talked about "Cultural fit" and "leadership traits" as non-negotiable's in executive level candidates. It's those qualities that are not necessarily tangible, but they deem mission critical in leadership roles. When our clients pass on a candidate they often say things like "(insert name) is an executive of a major company, so I thought they would have strong executive presence but he/she came off a little meager. Definitely not the leader we are looking for." So, does being of a certain job title suggest you possess outstanding leadership qualities?

Sure, all organizations want their leaders to be charismatic, charming, persuasive, inspirational, etc., but not all leaders are made of those qualities. Maybe there are leaders in your organization more like a Steve Jobs (Brilliant, but not people oriented), but you have a manager level employee who is a Martin Luther King style leader (charismatic, dedicated, motivational). At S. Benjamins, we often call these folks "the influencers". The people who make the most change happen in an organization. Often times they aren't the CEO, but they are the most people connected and mission connected person in the organization. We've begun to see companies like Zappos get rid of job titles as a way to put people on an even playing field, give everyone a chance to impact, and ultimately create the most disruption (which usually equals the most profit). This might also be a secret way to take off the pressure of a person to possess certain traits based on title.

Do you think our leadership driven work culture associates personality/leadership traits based on title? What would happen if those with the greatest "leadership traits" automatically became leaders?

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September 13, 2014 - No Comments!

Does Habit Hinder Inspiration in HR?

I am reflecting on habit after one full month of entirely changing up my diet.  The good news, I did it with my husband.  We decided to shift our cooking and eating 360 degrees.  I now realize the habits that we left behind were just comfy routines and interfered with foodie creativity.   Eliminating carbohydrates was tough at first, but now the options are so vast that it is actually confusing at times.

How do we find the balance?  That is the key for each of us.  How does this relate to HR?  Has the function been operating in habit for too long?  I think so.  I can see where that works for the transactional functions or where CEO's view the value add of the administrative part of HR - but that is a very old habit.  What is incredibly exciting today is that HR can inspire how work gets done across the organization with strategy and technology.  This is game changing stuff.

I had the opportunity to visit one of my special clients this week to learn where they are in their workday HR implementation. The potential for raising strategic impact in HR is huge with this cloud based system.  The operating principles and service agreements will change (it will for any system) and more important, this will drive creative thinking and re-invention.  And, new habits will be created too.

HR is having to adapt to changing conditions and business needs along with new conversation with talent.  Start asking why?  What is important to stay the same and what must change?  What can managers be empowered to do and participate in that helps them be more effective and engaged too?

I have to admit that I miss the habit of having my Biscotti with coffee.  But now I am really enjoying that Cappuccino even more and who knows, those non-wheat muffins may just be the most delicious thing I have ever baked.  What are your habits in HR that you want to change?    cappuccino

 

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June 16, 2014 - No Comments!

Investing in Employees: A New Level of Brand Awareness and Employee Loyalty

You may have picked up your newspaper or checked your tablet today and read about Starbucks offering college classes to over 130,000 employees. It got us thinking, how many organizations are investing in their employees’ education outside of the internal training?

The American Council of Education approximates that roughly 20 percent of graduate students and 6 percent of undergraduates receive some financial assistance from their employers to attend school. As many as a third of undergraduates in fields like business and engineering receive tuition assistance from their employers. In fact, tuition assistance is the most common source of financial aid for college students, and on average it covers about one-third of the average annual cost paid by post-secondary students. Big name companies like Apple, Chevron, FedEx, Gap, Raytheon, and U.S. Airways (to name a few) offer some level of financial assistance to employees looking to further their education.

A 2002 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management of 510 employers found 79 percent offering educational assistance of various kinds. While some employers require that employees agree to stay with the company for a certain period of time post-graduation to “pay their dues” others see this cost as an investment in their talent and their brand. The CEO and Chairman of Starbucks was quoted by the NY Times as stating that even if employees left soon after receiving their education, Starbucks’ investment in the employee “would be accreted to our brand, our reputation and our business…I believe it will lower attrition, it’ll increase performance, it’ll attract and retain better people.”

Is there a shift happening in the way employers invest in employees? We think there might be. Organizations are moving away from pension plans and tenures and moving toward investing in early to mid-career employees who show a tenacity for productivity and an ambition to move up the ladder.tuiton

 

References: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/16/us/starbucks-to-provide-free-college-education-to-thousands-of-workers.html?_r=0

http://www.nber.org/digest/feb03/w9225.html

http://college.lovetoknow.com/Companies_That_Help_Employees_Pay_for_College

May 3, 2014 - No Comments!

Leadership in HR- CEO’s are driving this agenda

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I met with some great leaders, our clients this week - those that are successfully building companies and growing them.  It is refreshing to see this in the small to middle market sector.  I am sure they are fueling the economy and that is wonderful to see.  The CEO’s are concerned about developing talent and retention so there are more discussions this year about training and developing others.  They are also asking a lot about how to develop a great HR function and well, that is for another blog discussion.  Let's just say that HR still has an amazing ability to have impact and be what Lencioni calls the "Chief Reminder Officer."newsletter-signup

Regarding development and performance, leaders want employees to step up to more responsibilities and be more resourceful, creative and collaborative.  Few are teaching managers how to do this.  The Wall Street Journal Leadership in HR segment from Monday, April 28th has some great articles on how companies are tackling this issue.  Some are learning on the outside and many are learning to be more effective as a leader or manager from the inside.  I mean there is more mention of mentor assignments, rotational programs and internal learning forums.   There is also a high value placed on external learning networks. 

There is also a great article on the skills gap and that many companies are concerned about this and struggling with the right solution.  I have seen this in my own clients that ask us to find “needle in haystack skill sets” rather than think about developing what they have.  Their own team members know the culture and the company so why not invest.  We often hear, “it will take too long.”  Searches take time too and looking within does mean getting creative on what matters most for this new position.

One solution related to the skills gap is creating apprenticeships.  Why is there such resistance to this? These programs are a combination of on the job training and mentoring.  Maybe we are still thinking about apprentices in the manufacturing and industrial sector mind set.  That is old thinking and maybe some think it is “union” oriented but it does not need to be that at all.  Proponents of apprentice programs say that any blending of on the job training with related education can be done in various occupations.  I hope we see more of this and also the ability to consider developing internal talent more often when looking for that “needle in the haystack” talent.  The search for a specific skill can be illusive, costly and time consuming.  Don’t get me wrong, we love helping our clients in search when there are clearly needed capabilities that will not be ready internally but we endorse looking at all the options before launching the process.

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