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March 23, 2019 - No Comments!

Who Owns Development?

In my earlier blog post, I talked about the simple act of preparing managers to manage in order to strengthen worker engagement.  The simple part is committing to this focus.  The hard part is learning what is needed and how to move forward.

Who owns development?  Each of us decide that path and if we work with an enlightened boss, we get to discuss how to move forward that engages us personally and organizationally.  There is such a great opportunity today to turn the workplace into a learning place.  Forget hierarchy. Everyone has to be learning to compete.  My friend, Beverly Kaye talks about contemporary "lattice-like" career growth and expanding skills. Managers can be our role model here.  I suggest the following;

  • Determine what your learning plan is for 2019. (You also need to know the mission critical and prioritized business goals for the year)
  • Are you doing work that is satisfying for you and adding value? If not, what is the one thing you can do to change that?
  • Are you able to live the values that matter to you?
  • Discuss this with your peers and leadership team.  Create your company learning philosophy.  Get specific about how you support learning in your company.
  • Now take this conversation to your workers - share the philosophy.  Help them create a personalized learning plan.

This is the beginning of a strong foundation for engagement.  Not simple yet critical for you and your worker to grow and not let them go.


Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Uncategorized

February 15, 2019 - No Comments!

SBC February Newsletter – The Engagement Challenge from John O’Brien

Newsletter – John O’Brien, VP Employee Performance on Engagement in our work world

We see heated competition for many categories of talent across multiple industries and specialties.   With unemployment at an all-time low and a scarcity of skills, we thought it was good timing to talk about how critical it is to keep those human assets.

I learned of BI Worldwide, a global firm, headquartered in Minneapolis, focused on inspiring the people that matter most to customer success.  That intrigued me so I hope you enjoy this discussion with John O’Brien, VP of Employee Performance for BI Worldwide.  He shared his view s on the challenge and unprecedented realities of worker and workforce complexity.

Sherry Benjamins: What brought you to this work in performance and engagement?

John O’Brien: Early on in my college career I was drawn to behavioral psychology and that is where I focused my studies. I had the chance to be a counselor and learn there were opportunities to make a difference when helping others understand behavior and what changes might lead to their increase in happiness.  With a Psychology background, I landed at BI Worldwide and over the past  34 years have focused my work in engaging talent which supports strategy and ultimately profitability for our clients.  The work we do for customers is specific to HR strategy.  Large organizations are looking at ways to attract and retain talent. We see that as relevant today.

Worker expectations have changed. We once defined ourselves by who we are and what we do.  Staying in one career was not uncommon.  The new generation defines themselves by what work will provide them.  They define themselves differently.

It is fascinating today to see five generations in the workplace.  The average manager age is 30 to 32 years old and managing two generations ahead and behind themselves.  This would challenge any of us in understanding the mindset and behaviors of our workers and leaders.  Out of the gate expectations have changed so drastically that through many channels, our worker today is more sophisticated.  The manager to employee connection is more important than ever.

SB: The collective wisdom of workers is a concept and not always a reality. How are you seeing the best companies understand this?

John:  There are organizations that do this really well.  I see three factors here.  First, workers want to lead.  So, letting them lead gives them an opportunity to take risks and engage with others earlier.   Leaders are working to understand the collective wisdom for it comes from a very diverse group.  The younger generations want to be challenged and have an emotional connection to the work, the team and the company.  Great leaders give them the confidence to take risk and allow them to lead. It can start in the onboarding process.  As an example, a new hire in the onboarding process may be invited to participate in a cross functional team working on a new product or service. This comes at an early stage in the worker relationship and great managers allow this to happen for those with potential.  Workers can see their future and how they will progress.  This is important to their career plan.

Secondly, organizations that offer meaning in what you do allows a context which drives performance.  Meaning provides an emotional connection to the company.  Workers want to be part of something bigger.

The third important factor is collaboration or “unite them.”  People will go above and beyond when collaboration and connection occurs.  Environments that support collaboration allow a unified approach and improved performance.  Our clients are utilizing technology to collaborate across the globe and we encourage them to use reinforcement, progress to goals discussions and team oriented behavior so that goals are met and rewards are given for those reaching goals.  Sometimes we get held back due to culture or language or the way things are done so being transparent is key to helping our clients build a unified approach.     

SB: What does the future require of leaders that we have not seen before? 

John:First, recognize good work and be transparent with expectations.  Managers need to understand each employee individually.  This will maximize performance.  It is still true that people leave managers and not companies. We are spending more time helping our clients set goals and reinforce good manager and worker behavior.  Compensation and benefits can only take you so far in the engagement space.  Once an employee sees compensation is fair, the discretionary contribution matters.  How we deliver the message will need to be new.  There are more individuals working on jobs that they are not necessarily trained on.  As an example, we may have to rely on a team in India for work needed.  The future of how we work is more distributed and requires new skill sets for managers.

You will see more technology based tools to help managers in the future.  We have a recognition tool that uses data and insights as a way to inform managers to take action. We also have some predictive models that indicate turnover levels based on frequency of recognition.  Watch for developments in this area across the engagement market.

SB: How do we shift from a doing more with less mindset?

John:  Organizations will continue to work with less. The shift to AI and technology is not there yet to do more with less but we are moving in that area – such as what we see more of in retail or manufacturing.  Individuals will be asked to work on assignments where they hold newly developed skills and they are learning as they go.  Work will also be done in a distributed, team structure that changes how work gets done with greater efficiency as the goal.

SB:  How do we do more and better?

John:  Are organizations challenging their workers to bring forward creativity?  Managers think they may know a creative solution but are removed from processes.  Let’s look to those that have direct line or touch to the work. It is important to understand the current state and what work flow looks like.  Employees do know what can be improved.  The generations that are coming in have access to technology and are more productive in how they operate their social and work life. Simplifying the message and the clarifying intention helps this new generation move to greater levels of participation and happiness.

The biggest shift I have seen is that recognition and engagement is a key pillar to the strategy of the company, it is a stated initiative from the CEO.  It is aligned with a return on the expense of an investment.  Recognition is strategic.

SB: What have you learned about yourself through this work?

John:  I have learned that if I put in the effort and the attitude, it is good for me and the organization. I have also learned the value of being curious, taking risks and being recognized for contributions.

We all have more of a say in how and where we do our work .The best talent steps up takes initiative here.  Of course, that means our company cultures needs to be ok with that.   I have learned that makes the difference for me. 

Conclusion by Sherry

Today’s business environment grows more complex by the minute.  It could be AI, technology, process efficiency or the newest thing in bitcoin.  We then add the power of choice into the mix.  Workers have choice and are exhibiting that in assessing career options and where and how they want to work.  We are in a new place where feedback is even more critical across your organization.  It is a fluid labor market. One of our clients said they are embracing all workers (Regular, Full time, Part time, contract and freelance) in hopes to improve engagement inside and out.  It isn’t just a one size fit all initiative.  Feedback is driving performance for customers and workers of all types.  How are you stepping up to this reality today? Your current and future talent will want to know and they are impatient.

Make sure to check out the BI Worldwide Event in Orange County next month: Innovative ideas to inspire the people who impact your business in 2019

Thursday, March 21, 2019  4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

This event is complimentary. For more information and to register check out their website:

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

January 24, 2019 - No Comments!

Looking Forward: A New Chapter for S. Benjamins & Co.

It’s hard to believe we started S. Benjamins & Company 22 years ago. We’ve cherished the relationships with our clients and partners over the past two decades. Talent strategy consulting was our initial focus, and we have always sought to bring fresh ideas and strong talent to your organizations.

I am excited and ready to move to a new chapter in my business and work with our clients and trusted partners.  Upon my return from a long planned trip to Italy in February, I will launch my work with CEO’s and leaders on the human capital issues related to talent.  This is about advancing the human side of business.  It is the most strategic business issue facing leaders today.

In order to shift my focus and define this next chapter for me, I will be transitioning our search services to Kate as she launches her new company, TalentWell,on February 1st.   She has consistently served our clients with care and proven results.   I am delighted to support her as she makes this her own venture. Please feel free to connect with Kate to discuss search needs.

We will continue the HRoundtable, our facilitated forums for connecting HR executives to experts with diverse perspectives for shared learning and community building. This is an extension of a mission I chartered over ten years ago  to provide thought leadership on the changing world of work.

I look forward connecting with you and hearing your thoughts.  I will be in touch soon to share more and as always, collaborate to learn more from you so that we can uncover new opportunities for change.

Wishing you all a great new year!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

November 9, 2018 - No Comments!

Newsletter November 2018 – Meet Francesca Gino – Are You a Rebel?

We hosted a web based meeting this past week for our HRoundtable members and clients to learn from award-winning Harvard Business school professor and behavioral scientist, Francesca Gino.  Her new book is  “Rebel Talent: Why it pays to break the rules at work and in life.”  She has spent over a decade studying rebels in organizations around the world.  In her work she identifies leaders and workers who personify “rebel talent.”

Our conversation with Francesca was inspiring and allowed us to better understand what it means to embrace creativity and uncomfortable-ness in the quest for learning and experimentation in our work. Do we allow novelty at work? Are we reframing strengths and allowing people to play off their strengths to help others?  Can we as leaders allow our workers to turn accidents into a source of inspiration?

We talked about five ingredients for rebel talent success.  The examples illustrated how organizations are changing the learning and doing conversation.   Some of the aha moments for me were Francesca’s comments such as;

  • A three Michelin star restaurant in Modena Italy offering thirteen -course tasting menus orders a pizza at the request of children in a returning family and truly personalizes the experience.
  • The power of authenticity and expressing yourself honestly is contagious - help others see where the talent is in your company.  Sometimes it is not where you expect it.
  • Rebels bring positive change and creativity to the hiring process. Google's CEO says we run the company on questions and not answers.  Their unique hiring process gets at your level of curiosity and how often you ask "why?"
  • Think about turning accidents into a source of inspiration.

Francesca talk about curiosity in her book.  She asked over three thousand employees from several companies to answer questions about curiosity. Most (92%) said it was about bringing new ideas to teams and seeing curiosity as a catalyst to job satisfaction and high performance. Only a few (24%), reported feeling curious in their jobs. Many see big barriers to exploring, asking questions and even failing in the process.  The message is that curiosity can be fostered and we talked about organizations that do this with intention and celebration.

Rebels break rules and bring about positive change says Francesca.  What type of rebel are you?  If you go to www.rebeltalents.orgyou can take an assessment to find out.

Thank you Francesca for taking the time from your Harvard classroom and consulting to be with us so authentically and energetically so that we begin to see the power of the rebel in all of us.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

October 17, 2018 - No Comments!

The Exponential Healthcare Conversation – Conference hosted by Chris Krusiewicz

Last week I was fortunate to attend a conference hosted by Chris Krusiewicz, VP Burnham Benefits.  The presentations were focused on the future.  The goal of this session was to help business leader’s move from being “linear thinkers” to being “exponential thinkers.” He brought impressive thought leaders together to help us learn about the trajectory of change in healthcare being driven by artificial intelligence, genomics to block chain.  

Chris set the tone for the conference by introducing us to the 6D’s of exponential growth.  This term exponential growth is often associated with Ray Kurzweil, an expert in artificial intelligence and leader at Google.  Inc. Magazine ranked him #8 among the most fascinating entrepreneurs in the US today.   Kurzweil says that as humans, we are biased to think in a linear fashion.  As builders of new businesses, we need to think exponentially.  Chris introduced us to the 6 D’s of Kurzweil’s model which outlines the stages of growth we are going through. It starts with “digitized, deceptive, and disruptive” in technology advances thus far.  Each of these technologies, “dematerialized, demonetized and democratized” access to services in a non-liner way, states Chris. 

The concept is really that we should get ready to take the next wave of change.  With the personalization of healthcare and technologies that simplify our patient experience, we can imagine the wave that is coming.  We learned from guest speakers about revolutionizing the patient care experience.  There was a topic on transforming care with machine learning.  Kaiser Permanente’s Lead Data Scientist shared how big data is empowering them to leap ahead in virtual care and predictive models that boggle the mind.

It was refreshing to be with business leaders who are ready to take the next wave and embrace exponential thinking in healthcare. We appreciate your forward thinking ideas and passion for staying connected.  If you want to learn more about future programs – check out

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Newsletter, Uncategorized

July 5, 2018 - No Comments!

Opportunity Guide – What are you learning this week?

There is something great about a holiday in the middle of the week.  It seems to slow us all down and allow for reflection.  It can be disorienting too.  I understand that too well.

Our ability to withdraw can be the best way to move ourselves forward.  Our success in doing this is letting go of "busy."  You are not getting lost or out of touch when you withdraw, you are allowing  yourself to return newly refreshed with more intention on what matters.

The real secret here is that the success we all strive for whether it is in our work or our transitions to something new, does not start with a list of to do's.  It might feel good having that check list to go to. However, it seems that a week like this with a break in the middle allows us to remove ourselves from the list making and make ourselves available from another ground.  We can look for that new ground and speak in a more clear and rested voice.

With your day or two off explore what is right in your life rather than what is wrong or missing.  Even when things are going well, our nature is often to search for the "problem to solve."   Ganesh, our lovely elephant-headed Hindu deva, is widely revered as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and represents intellect and learning. Find your Ganesh this week, dispel those problems and focus on appreciating your gift of learning.

My friend Jeremy Hunter with the Drucker Institute says, "we can miss opportunities to appreciate what's beautiful, nourishing and even magical even when it's staring us in the face. All it takes is a slight shift in perception to notice what's around you and be fed by it."

So, in the spirit of withdrawal and being courageous to let go of busy, appreciate Ganesh too, I wish you all a week of rest and reflection.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

March 22, 2018 - No Comments!

What is our weapon to successful candidate engagement?

It’s our creative and strategic approach to search marketing....something we have learned over 20 years of search and recruiting at the management level in competitive environments.  Supply of experienced professionals and leaders is limited and demand is growing.  How do we get a great talent to engage in a conversation?


No matter how adept a recruiter is at finding and connecting with great candidates, they need a compelling story to tell that piques the candidate’s interest.  Since the best candidates are already employed (most not even looking for a new position), we have found that it takes much more than a company name, job title and list of qualifications to engage them.

This is why we spend more time on the front end of a search with a new client – taking a deep dive to better understand the culture of the company and the nuances of each opportunity.  We conduct interviews with key members of our client’s team to get at the  management style, respected values and critical characteristics of the role.  This allows us to create an authentic and compelling story about the company, the leadership and the opportunity. It helps us accomplish the following:

  • Engage the most desirable candidates
  • Allow the recruiter to better assess for best fit
  • Help set candidate expectations more accurately
  • Create an urgency and encourage a call to action

Use a quote from a marketing document or strategic plan. For example;

“We’re entering a stage of rapid and meaningful growth, and that’s where you come in.  We need your talent and expertise, and we need it now!”


When a candidate is approached by a recruiter, often times they want to learn more about the opportunity before committing to a conversation.  They’re busy, and while they might take 2 minutes to click through to a website in order to learn more, they may not want to spend 5-10 minutes talking to a human being right off the bat.  And lets face it, the most sought after candidates get a lot of recruiting calls.

Our first goal, then, is to pique their interest so they will engage.  We accomplish this by creating a “teaser” message that encourages them to view a branded microsite we create using the story content, allowing them to learn more.  Now they can peruse the opportunity at their leisure as their schedule allows.  Once there, they can also contact the recruiter directly through the website, while their interest is piqued.

Microsite, podcasts, interviews with current employees all add to a richer story about why talent might come work for you.  Let us know if we can help you build that story - you have the data and passion - we have the ability to transform that quickly into a unique message.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

March 13, 2018 - No Comments!

Sherry Benjamins on “Work ReImagined” for The Next Chapter Podcast


Today Sherry and I will engage in a discussion on the dynamics of an entirely new concept of what the workplace and the world of work is going to look like in the very near future. In fact, many companies have already adopted or are in the process of adopting these changes.

The old idea of 9 to 5, show up at the office, do your delegated job and go home is quickly becoming outdated. There is a New Show in the world of Work and that’s what we will be discussing today.

It was an honor to be featured on an episode of The Next Chapter with my friend Charlie Hedges where we discussed the future of work. You can listen to the full episode by clicking on the PLAY button below or read more about the episode here!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

March 12, 2018 - No Comments!

A talk with Brandon Moreno, President of EverHive: A New Blended Workforce is Here

A tidal wave of change is coming that will make the way we work almost unrecognizable. There will be new ways to organize, recruit and manage.  Imagine having a seamless blend of high quality workers who work, on demand, to fill the talent needs of your company as it grows and changes. In this new future, which has already arrived for many, you have mastered this worker challenge and have a strategy to manage it proactively so that trusted relationships are built with the best individual and team players. Getting really good at this is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

Those leading business today must figure out how to deliver value with new solutions.  Research states that already 40% percent of our workers are “non-employee” and are flexible on-demand skilled resources. Work will be delivered via platforms, projects, gigs, freelancers and technology has empowered us to be creative and solution driven.

Brandon Moreno, former HR & Talent Acquisition executive, now president of EverHive, is clearly ahead of the curve and helping organizations build strategy, processes and technologies to manage this growing blended worker cohort like no other services firm. His bottom line results are impressive. I was intrigued to learn more about Brandon’s perspective on the future.

Sherry Benjamins: Brandon, What led you to this business? 

Brandon Moreno: I have been involved in HR since 1993 and learned a lot from the leading companies that I was able to work with. Working with these business leaders and executives, we saw early on that if we did not add value to the business, we would be relegated to a merely transactional function.

The playbook for Talent Acquisition had to change. I am passionate about educating clients and elevating the conversation and actions to be taken around flexible, on demand highly skilled talent. The growing space of contingent workers captivated my attention and I decided to build a capability and solutions model to help companies manage these non-employee resources with a line of sight to improving the bottom line.

Sherry: How can managing the contingent workers impact productivity?

Brandon:  First, the growth in this segment is taking companies by surprise.  There are many organizations that seem to be running this ad hoc or with little priority on the program. We are seeing more CFO’s and CTO’s involved in the discussion along with Procurement, HR and heads of Talent Acquisition. We start with a client by understanding their current state, analyze spending and then partner with them to map out their future state of their entire end-to-end contingent worker program.  The goal is to architect and design a program that is customized but also efficient, effective and flexible.  There are many factors that impact productivity and creating base line metrics to manage this program sets the stage for meeting worker demand.  My goal is to help the client establish strategy, elevate and optimize their contingent worker function, achieve significant cost reductions, enhance compliance and streamline process.

Sherry: Why should the CEO pay attention to this change? 

Brandon: If a company’s non-employee workforce spending is growing (and many are in the $10 – 400 Million range), this has significant impact on the bottom line.  Surprisingly, there are many companies that do not have a handle on this aggregated cost.  Talent is the number one issue that keeps most leaders up at night and it’s their limiting factor for growth.  I understand how hard it is to predict what will be needed as the business changes, however, without a forward looking plan or integrated forecast, the CEO is reacting to changing demands and ad hoc solutions.  The ultimate goal is for organizations to have access to on-demand and flexible workers to complement their overall talent acquisition strategy.  Not only will this have cost benefits to the bottom line, but it frees up current employees to be more strategic and elevate overall business operations.

Sherry:  When launching this business, what have you learned that you didn’t expect you would?

Brandon:  I am most surprised in seeing the difficulty and fear that HR departments have in moving this conversation into a managed solution for action.  I understand this is a challenging problem for business leaders. Their positive intention is to get the work done with resources available.  I can see they have significantly less patience now compared to one year ago.  The fight for resources and the right talent is more intense now and addressing this requires a new mindset.  I am surprised that many say this is urgent, yet they are slow to act.

I have also learned that building trust, educating our clients and introducing tools that will help them start this work makes sense for many.  Others feel the criticality of an enterprise-wide solution.  Sometimes we take small steps to get them onboard.  Even smaller firms who see this tidal wave coming are better to build the platform now and think about contingent workers and unique skills required rather than wait until it is an imperative.

Sherry: What advice would you give business leaders today as they prepare for 2025?

Brandon:  Step outside of the comfort zone. Look at the talent challenges holistically and as though you are already in 2019 or 2020.  I know contingent workers have been around a long time but the growth in demand is taking many by surprise.  Ask your executives including HR to look ahead and be focused on running the business in pursuit of better outcomes and a strategic talent plan that eliminates ad hoc problem solving.  Five years from now, contingent workers will expect to be integrated into the workforce – an extension of your culture with a unique set of rewards that includes interesting and fulfilling work.

Concluding Comments

Leading the work in the future will profoundly change the world of HR.  Work will be deconstructed and dispersed with rewards being more short term and individualized. The organization will have an internal and external, permeable structure.  Kate Kjeell, SBC’s Managing Director facilitates a group of TA leaders in OC from premier companies.  She noted that managing a contingent workforce has been the top issue TA leaders have struggled with for the past three years. Awareness of the size, cost, liabilities and opportunities of this workforce is a significant catalyst for change.

To learn more about this worker and workplace change check out Brandon’s site and feel free to speak with him. (800) 945-6340,


Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Newsletter, Recruiting, Talent Economy, Uncategorized

May 13, 2017 - No Comments!

Learn the Unexpected

There was a fascinating article in the Opinion Section of the Wall Street today that highlights Barbara Oakley,  a Professor at Oakland University, Michigan and her book called Mindshift.  It is a deep dive into the science and practice of learning. Her personal story truly demonstrates a multi-faceted journey in learning.   We place obstacles in our way when confronted with new learning challenges.  I can say that from personal experience.  However, according to Professor Oakley, this holds us back from new outlooks.

I was taken by the notion of learning something new as a workout to the centers of the brain that are most affected by aging.   That was not a new notion but hit home for sure.

What really captivated my imagination was the idea of learning the unexpected. Do we allow ourselves the vulnerability to ask, "Who do we want to become in our work and what needs to be explored in this life?"  Not often enough.  It is consuming to just respond to everyday challenges that are right in front of us let alone think out into what we want for our future self.

I attended a workshop a few weeks ago in San Francisco, facilitated by my favorite corporate poet and philosopher, David Whyte.  He is working with executives to help them be "Half a Shade Braver" (his new topic and CD) and be vulnerable and risk yourself in leadership. That often means surrendering to the unknown and reflecting on key questions that we have inside of us that will patiently wait for us to answer.  Those questions are not going away, says David Whyte.

The mindshift that Professor Oakley speaks of had me reflecting on the workshop with David. The question that I want to ask is, "what parts of me have I not spoken of or developed yet in my work?" What are the possibilities?  It is an exciting time at any age to hold the possibilities in your hands and learn how to learn.


Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Employee Engagement, Management, Recruiting, Uncategorized