All Posts in Engagement

March 2, 2017 - No Comments!

SBCo March Newsletter – Future Leaders

Great leaders often go through a process of figuring out who they are and what they want to achieve for themselves, their people and their customers. We spoke with Tammy Heermann, SVP in Leadership Transformation for Lee Hecht Harrison around the world. She shared her process of self-discovery and her work to help other leaders discover their path to navigate this high stakes business environment.

Sherry Benjamins: Tell us about your personal leadership journey?

Tammy Heermann: It started when I built the learning and development function from the ground up at a global software company. I started thinking about what goes into creating a strategic, people-centered plan. Then I had the opportunity to build a leadership development practice at a consulting company. During this time I was able to live my own journey as I taught others how to live theirs. Through 360 feedback research, I learned that women were perceived as less strategic then men. I saw it in my own 360 data. It required me to reflect and then shift my mindset and behaviors which resulted in successful promotions over the years.

SB: What did you do differently to make those promotions happen?

TH: I pushed my comfort level to delegate more to create the space for me to work “on” the business, not just “in” the business. I started to show up in meetings differently in how I communicated. I found better results when asking questions in a way that showed my thought process. I also learned how to speak with a point of view that was informed, assertive and confident. It was a very different way of just giving an opinion. I also dramatically shifted how I spent my time. I was better at what I said “yes” and “no” to. And finally, I started building valuable relationships. Leadership is about relationships and we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing coffees and lunches to build important relationships around, within, and outside of the business.

SB: What holds women back from self-awareness and making this shift?

TH: The biggest barrier is making the mental shift ourselves. A leader has to be courageous and be just as dedicated to their own personal leadership as they are to their teams and their customers. We are no good to others, if we aren’t good to ourselves. You can’t please everyone. You have to be OK that people may get angry or disagree with you. You have to let go of perfection and taking everything on yourself at work and at home. That’s the biggest shift that has to happen first.

SB: What has changed to make the advancement of women a front-and-center topic in businesses today?

TH: There are three things converging at this point in time. First, from an organizational standpoint, there have always been sectors that are proactive in advancing women such as tech, consulting and financial services. But there are many others that are being driven by grassroots efforts – speaking in town halls and challenging their leadership teams to create change. Customers too are challenging their suppliers to achieve diversity goals if they want to get or keep the business. Secondly, there’s political factors. There are news stories of gender reform: female leaders are being elected and women around the world are demanding change. Lastly, there are societal influences. For instance, for the Super Bowl, GoDaddy had new ads celebrating women in computing, which was very different from their earlier content. Society is expecting to see change. Everything is converging and it gives me hope.

SB: How can we accelerate progress? What can I do to start things with some teeth to it!

TH: If you want to have some teeth to your initiatives you have to treat this as a cultural shift in the organization. It’s common for companies to create networking events or implement policies just to check the box. These things don’t have a true impact because they don’t create real opportunities that women need to advance. You have to create a culture of accountability towards a diverse and inclusive workforce. Leading companies expect their leaders to be accountable for developing talent at all levels because it is just as important to the future of the company as it is meeting sales and financial goals. All the development programs and flex policies mean nothing if women hit conscious or unconscious barriers that are engrained in the culture.

SB: Looking back, do women want something different now than they did 10 years ago?

TH: I’m not sure that the wants of women have changed. I think it’s just more acceptable to push, to protest, to vote with your feet. Women in every generation have desired financial and educational freedom, fair treatment and equal opportunity for advancement. Today we are talking about it more, fighting for it more, and making different decisions about where we choose to work.

SB: Is there a reinvention of how we develop future leaders?

TH: There’s a big movement right now in how Millennials are pushing the way we work differently; work-life flexibility, choosing to work at organizations where they feel connected to a cause, or finding a culture that values feedback is high on their list. Millennials have gotten negative press for being demanding, but I think that other generations needed the same things too. It’s not that we have to do anything different; it’s that we have to do what we said we were going to do all along. Build accountability for giving feedback. Provide development opportunities and transfer knowledge. None of this is new. Today’s successful companies are modeling talent practices that should have been in place all along and now the rest of us are trying to catch up.

SB: Are there examples of earlier stage companies taking development seriously?

TH: I’m seeing it happen in pockets, but not nearly enough. Talent is a long game and when companies are in start-up mode, people investments are about getting the right technical talent to get the business off the ground and keep it afloat. It’s when they reach a size of around 100-200 that they realize that they need structure and great people leaders, which often the tech experts and entrepreneurs aren’t always great at. Early stage companies that “get it” understand that a longer term view is needed from the beginning, not just about the business plan, but the people that need to be brought in, developed and retained for growth. They are always asking, how can we make sure that great people see they have a future here?

January 21, 2017 - No Comments!

Changing the Conversation – Women can Do it all not have it all

I read today that Brenda Barnes, former CEO of Sara Lee Corporation and also 22 years at Pepsi, passed away at too young an age.  In 1997, she had the courage to make personal choices that many did not understand at the time and created quite a stir for "resigning corporate America" to spend time with her children and focus on family. It prompted a discussion about whether women can have it all - family and career.

I am hopeful that we are shifting from the "have it all" conversation to "doing it all."  Listening to her daughter on NPR this morning made me think about the doing it all with the support of enlightened leaders and CEO's that get it.  This happens to be a month of hearing from women, men and diverse populations that they care about issues that impact them and this community.

Women need to work and want to do good work as well as care for their family.  Why aren't more companies who say they care about bringing women into their organizations and developing them, stepping up to policies that support them? I know a lot of good things are happening and I plan to ask more about what they are and write about it.

Two observations here:

First, I respect and admire our team here at S. Benjamins & Co.  We are fortunate to have amazing women who have designed blended life styles with family as priority and work (that we are proud of) that is meaningful and making lives better.  They inspire me and they deliver incredible quality work in a flexible yet highly accountable environment.

Second, I had the opportunity to meet the new head of HR, Legal and Finance at Patagonia two weeks ago.  They embrace family in a way I have just not seen and it was incredibly refreshing.  From the day care center to the kitchen in the morning filled with parents and kids before kicking off the day and learning of their family supporting policies, and commitment to the environment, inspired me beyond words.  I learned that 100% of their new mothers return to work because they are supported in such unique ways to be successful.  They believe in family in their words and actions.  A great outcome is their  tremendous passion for their work, succession and loyalty.  They take work life culture to a new level and their commitment to make the world better is serious.

If we want women and men to put family front and center (as I imagine you would want for yourself)  then our practices must change.  What is one step you can take to express your thoughts on this and start a new conversation with senior leaders and listen to what your workers value?

November 8, 2016 - No Comments!

SBC October Newsletter: The powers of running a cause-driven business

Roof god

Recently I had the good fortune to meet Charles Antis, founder and CEO of Antis Roofing through our shared work supporting the nonprofit, OneOC, that helps organizations enrich their missions with instituting giving and volunteering efforts. Charles is a role model for all of us. He has artfully blended giving back to the community with his business's purpose.

Sherry Benjamins: What do you attribute to your company’s success?

Charles Antis: I have to start with the people. You can’t carry on or achieve much of anything without an amazing team. Before we understood how to leverage marketing or social responsibility as a means to get more work, we were always extremely customer focused. If one person in the room is unhappy, I’m going to do anything I can to fix that relationship. This belief led to an extremely high expectation for customer care. Our first level of success started there and allowed us to grow.

SB: Can you tell us more about customer care?

CA: The customer needs to be right. It doesn’t matter why they’re upset because in their dissatisfaction is a kernel of absolute truth on where we can do something better. In our company, we always air on the side of generosity towards the customer.

SB: Part of your success has been social corporate responsibility. When did that start?

CA: In the company’s first year, I received a call from a lady with a leak problem. I went to check it out and as she opened the door, I was overwhelmed by the smell of mildew. Her daughter grabbed my hand to show me the house and in her room was a mattresses with moldy bedding. I went home and organized a relief party to immediately fix the problem. We didn’t start with a policy to fix situations like this, but they happened again and again. We never let anyone have a leaky room just because they didn’t have the money for it. We can’t be good at what we do unless we’re willing to help people in need.

In 2008, Sharon Ellis, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity, OC asked if we would donate a roof to a development and we’ve donated every year since. We quickly realized that we were making an impact and it was exciting! When we talk about it inside our culture, our people see it happening and want to be a part of it.

SB: Are your employees onto this mission of giving?

CA: We have about eighty employees and for our industry, it’s a pretty young workforce. In the office, we’re about half millennials and out in the field, we’re a bit older. We embrace newer voices and perspectives and have a common response when thinking about social responsibility. We also embrace a changing workplace. I know that we have to adjust to a changing culture and we are all listening to create a more flexible workplace. Our employees want to give back. Even the baby boomers, who at first don’t want to talk about these issues as much, get really excited about the conversation and join in.  We’ve gotten a lot of recognition for being philanthropic and it’s important for me that this recognition is directed towards the employees.

Antis roofing team

SB: What do you think gets in the way of an entrepreneur building a “cause” culture with a commitment like this?

CA:  Small business owners have to scrape by to survive. I understand how difficult it is to take that hard earned money and donate it without seeing a clear bottom line of investment. We always share anecdotal stories about the benefits, but we haven’t seen a clear algorithm yet to support this decision. But only by doing shows others a way to understand and follow. It’s hard to shed the biases of our past, but with the shifting climate right now, everyone is re-thinking strategy and culture. I don’t see myself as a pioneer, I’m just quick on transitions.

SB: Can you share more about your mascot and visual graphic of the Roof God?

CA: I grade myself by how well I sleep at night. We serve up to half a million homes so when it rains, I understand how our customers worry about their castle being in danger. In 2008, I started to think about how I could tell this story with images. We went to an artist specializing in comics to create the Roof God as a way to encapsulate this feeling of being able to relax, knowing that your roof is being taken care of.

SB: What have you personally learned on this path as CEO?

CA: I’m trying to create value. If the value isn’t coming to me or my employee’s wallets that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s not good value. I could be putting money into securities, but instead I give it back to the community. This is where I differ from a lot of small businesses. If I put an extra half million in the bank to accrue interest, that’s great. But if I take that same half million and put it out into the community, it will create an exponential ripple effect that will find its way back to me and my stakeholders. I haven’t figured out how to show it on paper—yet—but I believe that the return is ten times more than keeping the money in the bank. Once you understand that it’s OK to give away more than think you can, I think it’s the safest and most secure path to creating success.

SB: What do you recommend for the new entrepreneur interested in trying this strategy out?

CA: Don’t wait. Build giving into the model. Be generous. The Toms model stands out. You’ll have a difficult time competing in the market if an intention like this doesn’t ring with authenticity. It’s a tougher economy with slimmer margins, I get it. But try it! Make it a living breathing part of your everyday and you will notice the difference.

SB: How does your new President share your values?

CA: Our new President, Karen Inman comes into work every day with the same, likeminded passion and enthusiasm. She believes in what we do and loves it. She wouldn’t be at a roofing company if we didn’t have a cause built into our brand. We get the Google people because our brand is visible and powerful. We make decisions that reflect family values and our recruiting has gone up to a level that I never knew could exist!

Charlie Antis and Karen

Final Thoughts...

How can businesses today create and value the space, time, and culture to give back to their community, to be driven and inspired by a cause?

August 20, 2016 - No Comments!

Out on a Limb? Are you an Original?

How about rejecting the default in us? Take a chance and get on that limb.  Adam Grant, in his new book, Originals, talks about taking those chances.

Are you exploring whether there is a better option or do you default to what you know? The start is curiosity and seeing things in fresh perspectives.  I know that is hard to do.  The job market is requiring us to reject the default in us.  Taking a role that you thought might be less than what you are skilled for might be scary, or away from the main stream but could result in new perspectives and ultimately new work.  It takes being on that limb for a bit.

Many of my friends are sending their children off to college this week - I hope they seek something new for themselves, something they never expected.  It might be something you never expected as well.

It is emotional letting them fly ( I have been there) and having them try something entirely new every day.  What a great time to be in college or start a business or create a new solution in your work.  Why can't we all do this?  Go out on a limb and create a spot in your weekly staff meeting for a "go out on a limb segment."  You may be surprised how refreshing and fun this is.   Increase your tolerance for what some might call being idealistic or eccentric as Adam Grant reflects on this.

Our son went to Loyola Marymount University for his undergrad work and double majored in Fine Arts and Communication.  We did not expect the art side of the equation and as business owners we have had brief moments of "yikes, he is out on that limb."  However, it has inspired and fed his creative spirit and productivity and ours too in delightfully new ways.

Younger talent will choose to speak up, express ideas and censor themselves less.  We can learn from them, take risks and be proud.

April 20, 2016 - No Comments!

March Newsletter 2016 – Leading From the Inside Out: Update with Jeremy Hunter

JeremyThis month we sat down with our friend and thought partner, Jeremy Hunter, to explore ways leaders develop themselves while retaining their humanity in the face of monumental change in the workplace.

Jeremy Hunter, PhD is the Founding Director of the Executive Mind Leadership Institute as well as Associate Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.  He creates and teaches The Executive Mind, a series of demanding and transformative executive education programs. They are dedicated to Drucker’s assertion that “You cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first.”  He also co-leads the Leading Mindfully Executive Education program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

Jeremy balances a full portfolio of teaching, writing, speaking and consulting with the most important role, being a new dad!  He has designed and led leadership development programs for Fortune 200 and Fortune 50 organizations in aerospace, banking, research, finance, accounting, the arts and civic non-profits.

S. Benjamins:  Jeremy, it has been some time since we caught up with you! What are you up to in 2016? 

Jeremy Hunter: It has been an exciting year so far! More leaders are realizing that to positively face all the demands and distractions coming at them, they must learn new skills. They are learning to focus better and help their teams stay focused. They are learning to better manage their reactions to all the “incoming” coming their way. Executives handle challenges and take on more work than ever while also wanting to maintain a healthy personal and family life.

As Founding Director of the new Executive Mind Leadership Institute, I am focused on the practical inner development of executives. It is the first of its kind on the West Coast and builds on the Drucker School’s leadership position of helping executives learn skills to up their game to be more productive while also enjoying greater well-being. The institute is supported by a team of Drucker faculty who believe in the power of human development for organizational success. Our goal is to cultivate the inner skills of executives and offer public and niche programs to help them thrive in an increasingly arduous environment.

 

SB:  What do you hope the Executive Mind Leadership Institute will provide? 

JH: The Executive Mind Leadership Institute is built on idea that leaders have to cultivate their minds in a different way to flourish in this turbulent environment. I have been teaching executives for 13 years and at the core of that is something called mindfulness, which is now recognized as a powerful solution for facing an unrelenting and chaotic business environment. Many talented leaders work hard but would like more tools to meet demands in this pace of change and more effectively address the contemporary business environment.

 

SB: In regards to your consulting, what do you think makes clients call you for help? 

JH: A few things come to mind. First, leaders now realize that their quality of self-awareness impacts the success of their organizations. To be effective now, they have to be more than just skilled at the technical aspects of what they do. They also want to increase their capacity to stay focused in a distracting environment, or approach challenges in fresh ways to be more competitive. They also know how important it is to create a culture that attracts and keeps talent. Managing is no longer just about the kind of work people do, but it is about the “why and how” as well.

Secondly, forward-thinking leaders see the nature of work is changing. Good work now demands the ability to connect to one another in more sophisticated ways. Better solutions arise from better connections with one another. My last client was a highly technical organization that understood through enhancing their ability to have higher-value conversations they gain a competitive advantage. The work we did improved the tenor and quality of their meetings which resulted in clearer communication and forward-moving action.

Lastly, work has become more stressful and firms want useful ways to deal with it. I hear so many people describe their work by using war metaphors. They walked in the office braced for battle and already exhausted.

 

SB: Are you seeing changes in leadership development? 

JH: Yes, and part of that is the new generation of leadership. When I first started this work 13+ years ago it was not a foregone conclusion that leaders had develop themselves internally to be effective externally. Now, we know that research supports the idea that healthy leaders who understand and manage themselves lead more effectively.

 

SB: We see in our search work that Hiring Managers want a long list of skills; however, more place equal importance on “fit”. Are your clients doing this? 

JH: Yes, it’s the “do they play well with others” question. To answer the “fit” question, you need a set of tools that give employees the opportunity to display strengths and improve weaknesses. A “diamond in the rough” candidate can survive and thrive with a strong set of tools to help them develop. Survival is about continually adapting to change, not about perfection.


I’d personally love to see companies replace their fit assessments with a real life situation. Instead of measuring someone’s ability to be flexible via an assessment, take them to lunch and have the waiter mess up their order. Then you would really see how they handle situations that require flexibility!

 

SB: Between being a new father, teaching, consulting, writing and the Institute how do you keep all the balls in the air? 

JH: I have to practice what I preach! Every morning I meditate for 40 minutes to an hour. It is a way for me to set the tone of the day and let things unfold more calmly. I also take vacations where I get to decidedly disconnect from work.

 

SB: I love that. What have you learned about yourself this past year?

JH: Beyond practicing what I preach, I have learned to take paths that challenge me. It allows me to actively practice adapting and staying in the moment with the challenge. We all go through difficulties and many of us prefer to take the path most easily traveled, but I have found taking the path outside comfort zones offers better solutions in the end.

We can thrive and have a high quality of life and performance, but it does take work. Right now we live in a world where people think the answer to productivity is technology. The root of productivity is not technology. Productivity happens because people develop capacities between and within themselves to perform better.

 

Our final considerations. . .

Just as medicine is shifting from reactive treatments to pro-active wellness, more organizations are shifting to well-being at work. Jeremy has worked with enlightened CEO’s who are now seeing that building a healthy culture starts with the leader. Those that self reflect know how to shift attention and get better results. 


The conversation at the leadership table is changing. When it is more human and honest – the research shows better results.  The human agenda is now more centered than ever on values, leadership, talent management, motivation and learning.  This is a huge sign that leading indicators for success start with leaders who understand what matters from the inside out.

 

November 21, 2015 - No Comments!

The Road Not Taken – Seeking Engagement

There has been a lot of talk about engagement lately. I found many new books on the topic from Primed to Perform by Neel Doshi, to What you Really Need to Lead, by Robert Kaplan and then, On Fire at Work by Eric Chester to name a few. We know that motivating and inspiring our workers produces better results and this is a hot topic today. Here is the challenge; it takes time and intention to learn why people work and what motivates them individually to do great work. There is clearly a shortage of time.

I have experienced some of our clients (more than a few), who are top HR executives going from meetings, to 30 minute conversations and this past week, I had two great clients say that they plan 15 minutes conversations. The demands and pace of work has truly shifted. Technology, transparency and remaining competitive while growing business puts incredible pressure on HR and our people. However, how do we take the road less traveled or not taken yet? Achieving a high performing and individualized plan to engage your workers will not be left to chance any longer. The road on this journey is entirely new. It takes time to figure it out - get the voice of your leaders, colleagues, workers and strategic partners and then determine the fit with culture and belief systems.  If we don't figure this out, great talent will head off to new opportunities and as a search firm, we see career options growing.

We were in Vermont this past Fall hiking in a beautiful remote area and came across a sign with a Robert Frost poem prominently displayed.  It reminds me that you may feel you are in the woods sometimes yet new roads are essential.  But we have not traveled them before.  And in Robert Frost words; "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.....I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."   Well, you have to read the whole poem - it is wonderful and I hope it calls to you as you think about adapting in the new year.

Road less traveled

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!

July 15, 2014 - No Comments!

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Recruiting: How to wade through the mystery

14.4 million people in the United States have used social media to search for jobs. That is 14.4 million active job seekers, but there are millions more who are passive candidates actively involved in social media, but not using social to job hunt.

Don’t leave Social Recruiting up to the Intern: We have all been interns at one time or another and while they are an amazing source of work and ideas, they are not qualified to man your social recruiting ship. Your team should be the one owning the content and the message because they are most familiar with your organization and its needs.

Do develop a Social Recruiting Strategy: Identify your target audience, find out which platform they spend their time on most, set goals as a team for your recruitment efforts, and look critically at the social management tools, and applicant tracking you will need to get the job done.

DON’T replace traditional methods completely: Social media should be part of the strategy, not the whole thing. Social media can tell you a lot about a candidate, but it cannot show you someone’s soft skills, leadership traits, or team mentality. The only way to truly know if a candidate is the right fit is through the traditional interview and screening processes.

DO put emphasis on candidate’s social experience: Make the application process as seamless as if they had walked into your office and filled out an application. The links that you post should always be mobile compatible to ensure efficiency and recruiters should be prepared to answer candidate questions via social media. Even a small acknowledgement that a candidate’s application was received to a candidate's email inbox can make a world of difference.

Remember… social media may be your first interaction with a potential candidate. This is your chance to attract top talent and leave them with an impression that makes them want to learn more.

DON’T treat every platform the same: Each social platform has different audiences, niches, and purposes. For these reasons, it is critical to treat each platform separately, but show consistency in your messaging. The voice should be the same, but the delivery should vary based on who you are targeting. Understand the age group, demographic, and target position for each platform and tailor to their tendencies. This kind of customization will pay off in quality hires.

DO target your efforts: Social media has an inept power to suck time. In order to avoid the time suck vortex, target your efforts. Participate in one to two twitter chats per week, but don’t feel obligated to participate in the thousands that go on daily. Tailor your content and time to the audience you are after. This is also where that sneaky social media strategy comes in handy.

 

Courtesy Google Images

Published by: admin in Recruiting
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