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August 7, 2019 - No Comments!

August SBC Newsletter – Understanding our Brain

How do we create a “brain conscious team?”  As humans we have a basic need for belonging and central to this is an understanding that our brain has social needs, just like it has physical needs.  I learned about how Herman Miller, a highly successful global commercial furniture manufacturing company is taking this seriously.  Meet Heather Esposito, a Senior Learning Strategist with the Sales Readiness Team at Herman Miller.  She shared about their commitment to better brains and better humans.

Sherry: What led you to this brain focus in leadership development?                           

Heather:  I am a Professional Certified Coach and was introduced to Dan Radecki and the psychological S.A.F.E.T.Y. model years ago which led me to take the Academy for Brain-Based Leadership’s (ABL) psychological safety training certification.  I could see the power of this learning and development and it has become a foundation for all we do to prepare our Sales Leaders to more fully understand what drives the behavior of their direct reports.  I attended the inaugural certification, and now I am introducing this framework to leaders and their teams.  For the past three years, I have been helping our leaders develop their coaching skills, and they learned the S.A.F.E.T.Y. model as part of the coaching workshops.   With the new offerings from ABL, we are now able to take the psychological safety work even further.

Herman Miller has led the industry in knowledge and research around human-centered design both in product and the office floorplate.  This focus on designing workplaces to address the fundamental human needs has been central to our mission of “Inspiring designs to help people do great things.”

Since this was already a part of our DNA in creating effective workplaces , it was a logical extension to work with our leaders to develop their awareness and understanding of the brain and its impact on behavior.

Sherry:  How many leaders have you prepared with these concepts?

Heather:  We have equipped over 100 leaders with this training and understanding of our brain and behavior driven by individual and social needs.  We are now expanding the S.A.F.E.T.Y. work to their teams of individual contributors through Team S.A.F.E.T.Y. workshops.

Sherry: What are you seeing as the impact of this work?

Heather: I am seeing a greater awareness that when we meet the needs of our talent, they are in a better brain space which impacts performance, productivity, and engagement.  When this awareness and shift in thinking is not there, we see less connected teams.  Leaders who embrace the coaching and have been open to new ways of doing things have teams with a higher level of engagement with the work and each other – there is a discernable difference.

I finished my stage two certification in January of this year and now I am facilitating team-based workshops – this is the 2.0 of psychological safety.   In the team workshop, the leader and the team map their S.A.F.E.T.Y. profiles and we see how their individual needs complement each other and where there could be potential conflicts or blind spots.  By measuring the current psychological safety of the team, we can also see how effectively these needs are currently being met within the team.   It helps the team understand how they see themselves individually and discuss their different needs in areas such as fairness, security, esteem.  Our goal is have an organization of teams who all have a high degree of psychological safety.

Feelings of threat might erode a sense of security based on what is happening at the time, so it is critical to help each member to recognize what may be triggering them, which S.A.F.E.T.Y. need(s) is/are being impacted and then helping them to reframe and stay solution focused rather than problem focused.  Having remote teams can present additional challenges in communicating across the team. That leads me to the point that a leader can only take the team so far with psychological safety; we have to show up for each another more intentionally – that is the power of this work.  We are equipping the individual to not only better understand themselves but others, as well.

We are also helping the individual contributors to learn it is not everyone else’s job to take care of them. We are developing them to ask for what they need and equipping them to do that.  We are giving our people a common language to get the social needs of the brain met in a more meaningful way.

Sherry: What have you learned about yourself through this experience?

Heather:  There are several things.  First, we are all a work in progress. We can always grow and develop ourselves, and I am a life-long learner.  Second, small changes can make a big impact.  A few small shifts in language make a big difference.  Words matter.  Third, people want to be better and they often don’t know how.  We really never learned about developing interpersonal skills in school.  We were not taught how to be brain friendly in our communications.  The lower brain allows us to fall into being the victim. We can keep that higher brain in control, but it takes building awareness and teaching others.

In Summary

I so appreciated the opportunity to speak with Heather and learn about the work happening at Herman Miller.  It is clear that she and the Sales Readiness team are leading a transformation.  It has resulted in the team building a strong reputation within the organization. Her energy and enthusiasm was contagious and now I am re-reading Dan’s book, Psychological Safety.

She has earned the trust of the leaders with whom she is privileged to work.  Congratulations on your work and passion Heather – we know this is such important work for all of us.  It is purposeful and feeds our quest to be better leaders and better humans.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

August 6, 2019 - No Comments!

SBC August 2019 Newsletter – It’s Your Brain – Not You with Dr. Dan Radecki

Our issue this month is about brain science and understanding our own brain and yes, it does work in mysterious ways.

“The operating principle of our brain places us in safety first.  If our brain does not feel safe, it can’t enjoy what we are doing,” according to our special guest, brain science expert and friend Dan Radecki.  Dan’s new book, Psychological Safetyoffers a refreshing model to cut right to the essence of where our challenge of fear or stress is created.  When we understand what drives discomfort we can take risks and see the possibilities in a new light.

I met Dan years ago and vividly recall his refreshing approach to a complicated topic - the science of our brain.  I felt relieved to know we could do something about not only understanding our brain but improving our ability to reduce stress and uncertainty.  The impact stretches to our own happiness as well as our relationships with others on our teams or at home.  Recently I attended a session Dan held in Orange County to take his work in the science of the brain into a discussion of inclusion and diversity in the workplace. He shared more about where this research has taken him in working with leaders and organizations. Here is Dan’s take on his journey.

Sherry:  How did psychological safety become your focus?

Dan:  I was studying as a psych undergrad and graduate – studying the brain – and my thesis was on the impact that stress has on our brain and behavior.  In animal studies we saw how stress impacts behavior and today our stress is quite different from the fight and flight era of early man.  But it is what we internally generate that drives stress today.  Psych safety was part of my work years ago.  Taking it further, given that we are in a world of technology explosion and constant connection with online social media, Google published a study in 2015 affirming how psychological safety is a critical factor for high performance.

Sherry: What prompted you to start the Academy of Brain-based leadership?

Dan: My journey in education started at the Neuroleadership Institute. In 2009 we created curriculum on how to build better leaders with an understanding of brain science. We built ABL 5 years ago with the goal of extending that work to the mainstream with a community of practitioners.  Our plan was to be a repository of knowledge and now almost 11 years later we are educating, certifying professionals in over 50 countries and getting the message out. The educational programs are global and I am surprised and delighted with the expanding reach and interest.

Sherry: How “brain conscious” are we today?  What is your vision for heightening this consciousness?

Dan: We are not brain conscious today – it is getting worse. We are on auto pilot too often.  Whether we are on the phone, on line or driving and on phone, we don’t think, we react.  Our emotional brain is in high drive so it makes it hard to be objective about our world. If we are self-aware, and realize that there is a need for autonomy, then we can manage to this.  I see there is a growing acceptance and understanding about the brain and our safety model.  It is being introduced into companies and teams and influencing how our leaders deal with the world around them.

Sherry: Has this research changed you? How so?  

Dan:I think it is making me more focused on how I come across to others and what I need to do in the moment.  It allows me to more effectively re-appraise what is happening and realize it is not me, it is my brain. Only then, I can adapt, pause or determine what is motivating me to take an action or respond is a certain way.

Sherry: What and how do you recommend new leaders learn about the SAFETY model? 

Dan: This is a competency that can be developed for new leaders and I recommend our web site for research, tools and an assessment to gauge where they are in the five key elements. Those are security, autonomy, fairness, esteem, trust and factors unique to each of us.  Read more about these key elements in Dan’s book. 

Sherry:  Any advice for early career professionals who are navigating new roles and cultures in their companies today?

Dan: I suggest an approach with early careerists that introduce the brain safety model and -
“it’s not you, it’s your brain.”

How are you making decisions? Brains don’t like change, rather than manage the stress, at the moment it happens – I recommend that you work to build brain resilience now. It is a practice that incorporates self-awareness, mindfulness, and how our brain braking systems work.

Sherry:  How are start-ups managing the higher reasoning brain? 

Dan:  Leaders in a start-up manage risk and move quickly. If there is a failure, the idea of rapid change and failing quickly is part of the moving fast game plan.  I see Silicon Valley entrepreneurs use their higher brain to look more astutely at growth rather than risk.

Thank you Dan! You mention that the writing of the book took a tribe of important people in your life.  Leonie Hull, co-founder of the Academy of Brain Based Leadership, Jennifer McCusker, Head of Global Learning and OD from Activision Blizzard and others who supported your work brought wonderful insights and experiences.   To find out more about building better brains, check out Dan’s site and learn more about the assessment. 

More About Dan

Dr. Dan Radecki is Co-founder at the Academy of Brain-based Leadership (ABL), which offers a scientifically validated, brain-based approach for future-oriented leaders and organizations interested in optimizing their performance, relationships and health.  He also serves as Executive Director of Research and Development at Allergan Inc., where he is a Global Leader for drug development programs.  Dan holds a Bachelors in Psychology, Masters in Biopsychology and PhD in Neuroscience.

Working as a leader in the corporate world allows Dan the unique perspective on how our knowledge of brain functioning can aid leaders in maximizing their results as well as the results of their teams.  With this unique perspective from roles in both the leadership and neuroscientific world, in 2009 Dan created the content for the educational arm of the NeuroLeadership Institute and served as the lead professor and advisor for the Master of Science program in the Neuroscience of Leadership.  This was the first university-accredited program ever developed to incorporate cutting edge neuroscience research into an optimal model of leadership.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

May 22, 2019 - No Comments!

The Team Advantage – It’s about Talent says Sarah Pearson

Business has never done so much hiring as they do now. Companies are building internal capable recruiting teams and using external experts as well. It could not be a more challenging time to build a team of energized recruiters and partner with the business to keep up with talent demand. I recently learned that Sarah Pearson, head of Talent Acquisition and Corporate Strategic Business Partners at Orora Packaging Solutions won the HR team of Excellence award given out by NHRA in Orange County. I wanted to know what her “secret sauce” was for building her team and found a time to speak with Sarah about this.

Sherry Benjamins: What brought you into the talent business?

Sarah: I grew up in England and attended high school here in Southern California. I was fortunate to land a position at the Walt Disney Company and stayed for 12 years. I learned from the best and appreciated their marketing genius. It was there that I began to see the importance and power of brand and what motivates us as consumers. I then went on to recruiting and worked for an executive search firm, I learned more about people and what they are capable of, as well as, what gets in the way of them tapping into their own individual genius. Next stop in my career was a dive into fashion and brand with a tech start-up in LA, where I scaled the organization from 80 employees to 2500 across 12 countries in less than 4 years. The differences of experiences, companies, industries and strategies I’ve encountered prepared me for the business of attracting and engaging talent in a meaningful way.

Sherry: What do you think it takes to select and lead a team today?

Sarah: Leaders need to be future-focused. I study the trends that will impact us in the future. When I look ahead at potential change, and work backward from there, it helps me determine the strategies needed for the team. I believe that future leaders need to be self-aware. They need to know what they are good at and to allow themselves to be vulnerable (admitting where they have blind spots and/or deficiencies).

Imagine a culture where failure is rewarded, not feared or avoided. Imagine the innovation that can occur when you create a safe space to experiment and fail. I launched a new system (Applicant Tracking System) at Orora and I am rewarding mistakes as we implement this. Those on our team that raise the most “bugs” will get a reward. I am working to create a culture where it is ok to fail and it is important to foster risk taking.

As a leader, it is also important for me to understand what drives each person and then learn what success looks like for them. Leading a team means getting to know each team member very well and helping them unlock the career that they truly want.

Sherry: What have you learned about yourself from leading teams that surprised you?

Sarah: I have learned to give up the idea of perfection. Being perfect was a killer of any attempt at innovation. I can see that now. I was fortunate to have a role model earlier in my career who understood teams and celebrating differences. She was the leader of a gaming company and exposed us all to mindfulness and the importance of intention and balancing physical as well as mental well-being.

Sherry: What is the role technology plays in bringing your team together?

Sarah: I have a team that is 90% remote. This forces me to think about technology as a tool for communicating and sharing information. It means we need to be there when we can’t physically be there. The team is encouraged to self-organize and use tools such as instant messaging, social platforms with a blend of planned update calls. I am proud of our ability to perform remotely and serve such a diverse customer base. We implemented a team meeting conference and video call every two weeks and I schedule a weekly touch base call one on one with each team member. Other parts of the organization have not yet adopted virtual work in the way we have however, I see that happening at some point.

Sherry: What is your operating priority for the team?

Sarah: I think it is all about service. That is service to each other and our customers. If you recall, I grew up in the Disney culture and personally experienced their practices of “concierge” service to guests. I believe in aspiring to that level of service. One idea is to aim for a “zero inbox mentality” – getting back to people quickly. In today’s world of communication that may seem daunting. We tackle this in steps; first establish clear email etiquette and second, decide if the email is action required or information sharing. I work hard at modeling this concept of service and managing communication for our team.

Sherry: Bob Johansen, the trends analyst, says that “the best leaders in the future will be gritty gamers and prototypers.” Do you see that?

Sarah: I agree that the power of games is here to stay and for something we can learn from. I have an eight year old son who loves his games and frankly, rather than worry about it, I embrace it and see it fosters a growth mindset. He is continuously learning about strategy, creating a hypothesis for action, learning from mistakes, and figuring out how to navigate change. When I play with him, I can see these skills in action.

Our future leaders will have to anticipate and shift, iterate, learn and improve their tactics. I agree with Bob, that it is all about simulation and immersing yourself in unfamiliar environments so that you can learn in a very personal way.

Sherry: What is your advice to new managers today?

Sarah: There are three areas that I would suggest new managers focus on.

First, utilize a tool for feedback – to spark honest conversation. I use a tool called “Stop, Start and Continue.” This quickly builds a trusting relationship with your team, especially when you supply them with feedback and ask them in return for feedback on a regular basis. Each of us gets to say what is working, what should continue and what we can stop doing to make things better.

Secondly, connect the work to a mission or purpose. Be specific – so that if your purpose in the next three months is to complete a project that everyone is participating in, then be clear on the deliverables and why it matters to them. Be realistic and pragmatic. They will feel committed and clarity moves everyone closer to your success.

Lastly, audit your reputation. Ask peers, clients and your boss for feedback. Ask how you are doing and how you are known in the organization. It takes being vulnerable. And, be willing to listen and respond. I have learned the most from asking for this feedback to support relationships and future success.

Conclusion by Sherry

I have respect for leaders in our community who are building high performing teams. Peter Cappelli, in his recent HBR article, talks about how hiring is all wrong today. He is referencing the challenge in retaining talent. Sarah’s advice on building teams and understanding what each individual member wants works across the business. Not every manager has this focus or intention, so we lose quality people.

LinkedIn data shows that the most common reason for employees leaving is to consider a position elsewhere which meets their career advancement goal. Hiring managers sell the career conversation but they also need data. Analytics tells the story of why retaining internal talent results in stronger outcomes. It is time for us to do the numbers and reveal the truth.

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

April 26, 2019 - No Comments!

Humans & Technology Meet-up with Dr. Kevin Fickenscher

As we navigate through 2019, there are intensifying changes and disruption in many industries along with an avalanche of new information every day. It is hard to keep up with this and digest it all. This disruption is clearly happening in healthcare and following my interview with Dr. Kevin Fickenscher, I am hopeful and less weary. It means a robust intersection with technology and in the case of our own health care, I am hopeful that ultimately we will have the benefit of better information and care.  

A long-time friend, from my Baxter Healthcare days connected me to Dr. Kevin Fickenscher, a pioneer in bringing technology to medicine. He has a fascinating and deep expertise in academics, large healthcare systems, start-ups, leading tech companies, and now transforming how we educate doctors in the age of diagnostics with AI and Machine Learning.

Kevin is known as the thought leader and strategist who “stirs things up.” I wanted to hear more about how he sees change coming.

Sherry Benjamins: Where are you seeing innovation today?

Dr. Kevin: There is significant change from applications and process change, to infrastructure and adoption of entirely new technologies. There is change in how, what and where we receive care and it is challenging the way we think about the delivery of services in the future. All industries are impacted but I would say healthcare is experiencing more dramatic disruption because society demands more value today with reduced cost. A significant driver of this change in the last three years has been AI and Machine Learning. Just think about hands-free driving and Siri and how far that has gone. In healthcare we see diagnostics being transformed. In one example, there are physicians at Stanford who are teaching computers how to diagnose skin cancers. That is just one of many innovations utilizing machine learning.

Sherry: How has this changed the life of the Physician?

Dr. Kevin: The new systems are offering “clinically augmented intelligence” with physicians having access to information that was not available before. It changes processes that have been in place for decades. In times of change, we tear things apart before we put them back together. That is where we are today and the pace of change is impacting how we use tools, data and information.

Sherry: You are known to stir things up – tell me about that?

Dr. Kevin: I provoke thought and action. There are some people resisting changes even in light of all of the new possibilities coming at us. It will leave them in an old and non-competitive place. Or, for those embracing change, there will be incredible learning and growth for patients and clinicians. As a metaphor for this change, think about a tsunami. The tsunami wave is a result of disruption in the middle of the ocean. When it gets close to shore, you can’t stop it and will cause mass destruction…or in this case disruption. This process started a decade ago and now we see entire change in processes and traditions as well as how we teach and prepare clinicians in healthcare.

Sherry: What is being done to prepare the new breed of healthcare leader in this age of disruption?

Dr. Kevin: Training - we are training in areas that did not exist before. We are seeing the emergence of virtual diagnosis, remote care delivery and the creation of virtual communities. I call this “virtualist” training. The elements of this include; AI, machine learning, social immersion, and managing of virtual teams. Remote care delivery requires new operational guidelines, new curriculum for physicians, and a new way to communicate with other humans about their care.

Sherry: What will be essential for the new leader in this augmented world?

Dr. Kevin: They must be given the technology and development across disciplines. Collaboration skills and working in teams remotely or virtually will be critical. Skills and knowledge and analysis capabilities will grow. Organizations will be “learning empowered” and not hierarchical any longer.

Sherry: What concerns you about the human and machine interaction?

Dr. Kevin: At the end of the day, the potential loss of human touch concerns me. A caring voice and empathetic smile will be essential. As we embrace the power of this new technology, we need to embrace the emotional intelligence of those using the technology. At first glance, it is possible that we as Physicians will be holding the knowledge rather than being empathetic. This is a critical element of our new role that means we must retain the human side of our work even in light of the machine supporting us.

Sherry: Are you optimistic about the future of healthcare?

Dr. Kevin: Always. I am known as the optimist and was seen that way even in medical school. We will get through this immense change and move forward using virtual, collaborative, and human touch with the goal of managing and delivering care in new and evolving ways. I am now being asked to consult with medical schools in order to re-design curriculum for Physicians embarking on the new age of “augmented clinical care.”

It could not be a more exciting time to participate real-time in preparing the next generation of physician leader in the revolution of telehealth, telecare and telemedicine.

Dr. Kevin Fickenscher is frequently called upon to speak on issues related to the future of the hospital industry, networking and diversification of local health care systems, the applications of technology to primary care, future scenarios on the delivery of health care in the United States, the impact of the global economy on health care, and a host of other related topics.

Conclusion by Sherry

Automation has arrived in healthcare and in the workplace. Whether it is an algorithm that figures out our tasks or encourages our behavior in specific ways, technology is invading our space. While it seems systems have advanced, the “human element” needs to speed up. Dr. Kevin addresses that in his suggestion to build EQ and the human side of patient care while we ask computers to do more.

We now have the opportunity to design new operating principles with a human focus. In the newly released 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report, there is a very interesting framework presented that outlines the social enterprise and its operating principles. Workers still want a sense of purpose, to be trusted, know that the organization is ethical and that personal relationships move us further than digital ones. Fortunately, we will always look to the human for creating meaningful connections at work. If you find a robot to do that, let me know!

Published by: Sherry Benjamins in Uncategorized

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