All Posts in Talent Retention

August 6, 2016 - No Comments!

Find the One – What Does This Mean?

Don't we all want to work with amazing people? There is plenty of research and real life experience that says investing in who decisions pays off.  Finding the one for your company means achieving success or just getting by.

Enlightened CEO's place the importance of people decisions at the top of their list of important skills to develop and invest in. I grew up as an HR professional at American Hospital Supply (AHSC) - later acquired by Baxter Healthcare.  From the first introduction to the company through thoughtful and interactive interviews, to a well articulated offer and then onboarding, I was fortunate to have a world class experience.  I can say that now. After 20 years plus in the field and working with many companies as we help them find the one, they still struggle with this work and more importantly, in getting the process right.

Joining American at the time felt like joining a family. There was great care and planning on making us feel welcome, immediately connected to resources and people that cared about our success.  Thank you Bob Ruh for inspiring me even with that high bar for performance!  We were always clear on what the responsibilities were and where the challenge could take us.  I was very early in my career and had come from a company that offered little development and almost no conversation about the business.  It taught me to take initiative.  AHSC  prepared me for doing my best work with incredibly talented people.

It is important to find the one.  And, it means getting the first part right and then ensuring that you have all the other parts in place; integrating the one into your culture, developing their skills, stretching them with challenging assignments and having a plan for development.  Oh, and I almost forgot, scheduling conversations with key influencers and your boss about how it is going and what is needed to keep you on track and engaged.

Finding the one means;

  • having regular meaningful conversation with people.  It seems many have lost that focus for there is so little time to commit to this today.  There are way more initiatives on everyone's plate and little time to reflect and care for the ones that contribute.
  • looking at entirely new options for your workforce.  Frankly, the one you want may get more excited about a gig, a project, an experience with  you rather than the full time position you have posted.  John Boudreau masterfully talks about these options in his book, Lead the Work. To continue to find the one, we now have to look at other ways for our talent to contribute.

This future of work offers a huge upside to individual workers and their leaders.  Think about it; we see how younger professionals, mid-life or late stage careerists are taking on what they want, when they want it and where they want it. Let's get over the old model of employment and think more about what "the one" defines for themselves.  You will be surprised how committed and aligned those workers will be if we ask, listen, share perspectives and help each other grow.

May 2, 2015 - No Comments!

Are you in a Profit Paradox?

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

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

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

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

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


October 31, 2014 - No Comments!

SBCo October Newsletter: The Career Conversation – Re-Framed

October Newsletter: The Career Conversation - Re-framedRevised Bev

We recently sat down with a dear friend of the firm and trusted thought partner to chat about one of the hottest topics in HR: Career Development. Dr. Beverly Kaye is a leading authority in the world of modern workplace performance. She has dedicated her life’s work to helping individuals and organizations grow in a workplace that fosters greater commitment, fulfillment, and humanity. As an international best-selling author of a multitude of books, including, “Love ‘em or Lose ’em: Getting Good People to Stay” and “Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want” (co-authored by Julie Winkle Guiloni), we thought Bev would be the perfect person to open our minds to reframing the career development conversation.

Sherry Benjamins: How is the career development conversation being reframed today?

Bev Kaye: In the years that I have been doing this, the construct of career development hasn’t changed. I think what is important is reminding ourselves that three things have to happen for career development to work:The employee has to own it, the manager has to support it, and the organization has to provide systems to help it. All three components must be there to get (ROI) Return On Investment.

Organizations tell employees “You own your career”, which they do, but often employees lack the support from their managers or systems are lacking. The manager doesn’t have to have the roadmap for an employee’s career development, but they do need the right questions, a curiosity about how employees answer those questions, knowledge of where the organization is going and how an employee can fit into the strategy.

SB: Are companies rewarding learning?

BK: Development is all too often, not overtly rewarded. Ideally, career development would happen every day in the context of work itself. Short conversations between employees and managers around the daily workflow are plentiful if managers are tuned into the clues and cues that present themselves.

One example of a company that practices ongoing feedback is Covidien.Their managers learned that open, productive conversations pay off in retention and employee satisfaction and are in sync with the organization’s strategic needs. It is being built into the culture of the organization and seen as a model for great leadership.

SB: How do employees define career development?

BK: There is a hard-to-change belief that development involves leaving a current job and going to training or advancing (lateral or upward) to another role, but development should be able to occur through growth in place.

Through engagement/satisfaction surveys, we often hear employees talk about a lack of opportunities in the work place. The word “opportunity” needs re-framing because “opportunity” is traditionally associated with “upward advancement”. However, up is only one way to define opportunity. We need to be thinking lattices over ladders. My own metaphor is to see development as a climbing wall with foot holes that take you across, around, and eventually up.

SB: Is part of the career development pressure generational?

BK: I believe that much of what millennials want in their careers, are also what every generation wants, but the millennials are saying it louder. Who doesn’t want a meaningful job, a boss who values and respects them, and an opportunity to learn and grow?

There are 5 things every employee asks about explicitly or implicitly when they are being recruited and right after they are hired:

  1. Will you get to know me and use all my skills?
  2. Will you tell me how I can keep getting better? Will you give me specific feedback outside of performance reviews?
  3. Will you clue me in to where the organization is going? I don’t want to find out via media.
  4. Will you help me see my options and possibilities for growth?
  5. Does this organization believe in learning? Will I be able to develop here?

SB: How is the career development spark ignited with companies you work with?

BK: Most companies are sparked to take initiative on career development by the results of their engagement survey.Career development is consistently one of the 5 lowest scores across the board.

Example of low-scoring items include:

  1. Internal movement is encouraged in my organization.
  2. I’m given real opportunities to improve my skills in my organization.
  3. My organization develops people to their full potential.
  4. I believe I have a long-term future here.
  5. In the last six months, my manager has talked with me about my career.

The Vascular Therapies division of Covidien (now part of the Medical Devices business unit) identified career development as a solution to address low engagement scores and tackled it head on in support of a learning culture, which was reflected in stronger engagement scores.

SB: If it is true that 50% of our workers will be independent in 5 years, what impact will that have careers?

BK: Years ago we talked about organizations having a “stable core and flexible ring”. I believe there will always be a stable core that organizations will rely on. The question will be how to manage the flexible ring. Managers will have to ask “How can we make you a great contributor while you are here?” Managers will grow employees to be valuable in their organization and also to be employable elsewhere. Managers might struggle with this but this will happen with “project based” and flexible work.

SB: Where are your clients starting career development as a practice?

BK: They are starting small, and holding managers accountable. I’ve seen organizations start with “Stay Interviews.” What a great notion to hold people accountable for actually having these interviews early when employees are new. We are good at exit interviews, yet not so good at asking our people what can be done to keep them.

SB: I actually just heard a story from a colleague and respected Executive in HR about the first ever onboarding experience implemented at his firm. For them, it started the moment a candidate accepted the job offer and continued through to the 90 day stay interview discussion. We will learn more about this in Bev’s new book (to be released soon).   

Our Big Takeaway

It is time to think about careers in unconventional ways. Managers can reframe the career conversation and positively impact engagement.

The LA Times Oct 22nd article on Tech Job Perks in LA, highlighted the need to attract scarce tech talent to our region. One enlightened CEO, Zach James from Zefr in Venice disclosed that his angle is to attract talent to the Venice/Santa Monica lifestyle. According to James, “people love to talk about perks, but what really brings in the best people is the fundamentals. Is this company growing and where am I going to fit in? That is the core of how we want to attract people.” Thank you Zach for sharing your views and Bev for sitting down to chat with us.

How are you starting the career conversation with your employees on the road to meeting them where they are?

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September 26, 2011 - No Comments!

How to Better Communicate as a Manager

What can we do as Managers to communicate better when staff leave?  How can we reverse the downward spiral that morale is taking?

It is great to see that managing inside team member morale is on the radar.  In our current environment, growing negative morale can be a function of many factors; organizational, individual and cultural.  We know from engagement research that if highly skilled employees do not feel appreciated in the work they do, or see their colleagues leaving, or are not informed about what is happening in the company, trust erodes. Here are three considerations for management that make a difference;

1 - Maintain regular open communication – trust and teamwork are critical during uncertain events or when team members start leaving.  Simple to say and hard to do.  Employees begin to doubt what is really happening in their company if they only hear the “positive spin” or no spin at all.  Here is what one of my clients did to engage their employees.

The CEO of a high technology services firm had the foresight to email a message to all employees about the concerns around some key talent leaving and going to competitors. He addressed it head on, shared information about the industry, the realities, and acknowledged the fears that some expressed.  He shared his view of company progress, their challenges and plans for the long term. He was honest about what they needed to do and recognized the amazing contributions of the teams that would support their success going forward.  It was an inspiring and truthful discussion of their challenge but also their unique opportunity to win together. They are holding monthly town hall meetings to keep the dialogue going.  I call that “dealing in the real” and allowing safe discussion of what matters.

2 - Give managers the chance to live their values at work & inspire others to do the same - it starts with managers taking the time to define what they value, where they are headed and why it matters in your company. This is not a fluff exercise, this is critical for your manager and for the CEO and his team.  Employees will emotionally commit if they see what is important, the significance of the mission defined by their leader, how they fit in and why their contribution will make a difference.

The Chief Technology Officer of a Silicon Valley Company requires all his managers to go through a two day coaching experience to help them understand their strengths and passions.  This leader wants all of his managers to be “skilled coaches” with their employees.  This is seen as a critical investment to manager effectiveness and employee engagement.  Their annual employee engagement surveys confirm progress in helping others be successful and their belief that professional and personal growth is important.

Another company I know is re-defining it’s human capital practices and rather than have a team of HR folks define it, they held numerous “affinity group” session with a diverse group of employees to learn what mattered most to them and how they could be supported in their work.

3 - Rethink your team’s job requirements and re-organize if need be – often when people leave in this current climate, the organization tries to absorb that person’s work and have others pick up the slack.  We see a lot of this, and rather than assess work and eliminate non-essential activities or re-structure the organization, the leader just expects everyone to do more.  This is a formula for disaster with morale.  Managers should focus on organization structure, resources and needed capabilities to achieve business goals.  This requires being realistic and challenging the status quo.

Let employees know you are looking at organization priorities rather than just asking each person to do more.  Partner with your HR Manager or engage a consultant to help evaluate your people needs.  A 2011 IBM global human resource study indicates that over 80% of their surveyed companies are going through re-organizations yet only 35% have re-defined workflow and what this means for needed employee skills.  This is creating huge morale issues and opens the door also to opportunities to “base line budget” or “re-set priorities.”

Change in our organizations will continue at unprecedented rates.  This requires that we build a management practice around understanding our employees and creating ways to ensure we know what they value.