Beer in the Cafeteria

Do you need beer in your break room?

At a company I worked at years ago, my colleague wanted to bring a beer tap into the cafeteria. He thought this would boost employee engagement and make our company hip. While this sounded quite tasty, I knew this wouldn't work to improve our company culture.

I came across an article in HBR.com from another HR professional that resonated with me on this topic and I wanted to share it with you. According to Melissa Daimler, “there are three elements to a culture: behaviors, systems, and practices, all guided by an overarching set of values.” She explains that a great culture exists when all three elements are aligned with each other, as well as with the organization’s values. When “gaps start to appear,” problems soon follow. With enough problems and a little time, great employees start to leave.

Behaviors, Daimler writes have to be modeled by senior leaders. They need to be defined and everyone must be held accountable to them, even those at the top.

Systems-How are you aligning those behaviors into your systems like hiring? How are you assessing those behaviors? At one company where I worked, we defined our values into behavioral statements and included them in the performance review so that we could more easily determine who was adhering to them.

Practices are all of the ways things get done from making decisions and running meetings to feedback and corporate events.  If you ask someone why we do something and they answer 'because this is how we've always done it' then you know its a practice that must be re-evaluated.  As companies grow and change, the practices need to do the same or they will stagnate. 

Having worked in Boulder for a big portion of my career, I heard many stories of cafeterias stocked with goodies, bean bag chairs, and even beer kegs on Fridays.  These are not the kind of things mentioned by Daimler in her article.  The point is that culture and employee retention can't be bought.  It has to be crafted and built over time.  

A strong, stable workplace culture can ultimately induce people to stay in a position, or at least with an organization. If you have made some positive strides but haven't yet reached the pinnacle yet, do not fear.  It takes focused effort, with small incremental steps.  It's tempting to try to implement a 'quick fix" but its important to remember that culture can’t be patched on—it has to be built from the ground up.

Need some tips to get you started?  Here are some things I've tried over the years that have worked well:

Ask! Many companies I've worked with have tried to increase employee engagement without really addressing core issues.  Ping pong tables are not going to fix the culture when you have senior leaders in the business who are bullies.  Senior leaders can initiate the process and make final decisions, but ask your front line staff what's working and what needs to be changed.

Have a plan- You can't expect to make improvement without knowing what areas of engagement you're specifically looking to improve.  Target lower areas that will be meaningful for your employees.  Tell your employees what you're working on and get their suggestions.

Get help- Improving your culture is not for the faint of heart, nor is it an easy task.  It needs laser sharp focus.  With everything else on your plate you need to ask yourself if its going to be one of your top 3 priorities.  If not, it can be beneficial to seek the input of a trained expert who has done the work before.  They can create the spark to ignite the cultural change needed.

Involve your leaders- It’s critical that each department leader have an annual engagement plan developed and implemented based on lower scores for their area, if you're ever going to get traction organizationally, support from all leaders across the company is key.

Culture takes time to define.  It takes work to execute, but the payoff is invaluable.   

15 Questions for More Powerful Relationships

With so many personalities in the workplace, have you ever found it difficult to work with everyone?  In every organization, regardless of where you work, you will naturally have some coworkers that are more challenging to work with.  Hopefully you are in a culture that has very few of these but learning how to boost your relationship is a skill worth perfecting. 

Think about 1 person in your company with whom you would like to improve your relationship. Read on to find some important questions to ponder to begin nurturing a more positive and effective relationship. 


1.     If you could change one thing about this relationship, what would you change?  What could you do right now to effect that change?

2.     What is working well about how you both work together?  What could be improved?

3.     What would need to happen for you to walk towards this relationship?  What would cause you to walk away?

4.     How might you be misunderstood by this person?  How might you be misunderstanding them?

5.     How have you contributed to the current health of this relationship?

6.     Do you value this person’s success as much as your own?  If not, why not?  What could you do to change that?

7.     What, if anything, would have to change for you to describe this relationship as collaborative?

8.     What do you expect and need of this person in this relationship?  What are their expectations and needs of you?  How could you confirm the expectations?

9.     What mistakes do you need to recover from?  What mistakes do you need to forgive this person for?

10.  How much time and energy are you willing to invest in developing this relationship?

11.  How do you talk about this person when they are not present?

12.  What can you learn from others who have a good relationship with this person?

13.  What baggage are you bringing that you need to let go of?  What baggage are they bringing that they need to let go of?

14.  How would you describe your decision-making style?  In what way is this similar to or different from this person’s preferred style?

15.  In what ways would this person describe you as challenging to work with?  What would make this person not want to be your supporter or advocate?

 Spend some time reflecting on each question.  Ponder it for a while.  Jot down some notes.  Notice if you are seeing any themes pop up.  Improving relationships requires you to see the other person differently.  Then act!  You can continue to think about it for weeks, but acting on -those thoughts is the only way it will improve. 

3 Steps Every Leader Needs to Follow

Leadership is complex. Ultimately our job as leaders is the process of accomplishing work through others. As an individual contributor, you are measured based on the work you accomplished. As a leader, you will be measured by what you accomplish as a team and through others. 3 steps in the fundamental work of leaders is creating a vision, building alignment around that vision, and championing execution of the vision.

Many people know that a vision sets the stage for an organization’s growth. What might be new is that a vision doesn’t only exist at the lofty level of presidents and CEOs. Leaders at every level are responsible for crafting a vision. Your company likely has a vision statement, however Middle managers and frontline managers need to create a vision for their group that supports the organization’s vision. These visions will look different from top-level visions, but are equally important to the success of the organization. Vision statements for your group expands assumptions about what can be done. It provides purpose for organizations, teams, and individuals (including the leader). It drives the development of specific, vision-supporting goals and It unifies people.

Exploration Drives Vision
Although a great vision often sounds simple and elegant, a good deal of effort and insight has usually gone into developing it. There is a discipline to exploring new ideas that involves thinking at a big-picture level. It also involves resisting the temptation to choose the “right” idea too quickly. Leaders need to be intentional about exploring new directions and suspend judgment in order to consider a variety of ideas. Exploration involves giving oneself the time to weigh options.

Boldness Drives Vision Creating a bold vision doesn’t necessarily mean doing something on a big scale. But it does mean that the leader has a willingness to go out on a limb to champion bold new directions. Great leaders stretch the boundaries of what seems possible and challenge people to rise to the occasion. Leaders don’t make a big impact without being a little adventurous. People look to leaders for a compelling vision that excites them. Every great accomplishment begins with a bold idea. Being adventurous & speaking out will help when creating a bold vision.

Testing Assumptions Drives Vision Creating a vision requires exploring ideas and being bold, but it’s also crucial that the vision be grounded. Leaders can test their assumptions through several means, including seeking others’ advice and doing more formal research. This is not about looking for support, but instead is about soliciting objective input and surfacing potential problems. Leaders need to look beyond their own thinking to test assumptions. It's important to recognize obstacles when developing a vision. Consider a variety of methods in checking your hypotheses.

2. ALIGNMENT is gaining buy-in from the organization and your team. This is getting buy-in for the vision from everyone who will have a role in making it a reality. It ensures that everyone is on the same page, both from a task and an emotional perspective. Alignment requires ongoing one-way and two-way communication. In fact, the failure of a vision, no matter when it happens, can often have more to do with a lack of alignment than with the strength of the vision or the efficiency of execution. Too often, leaders treat alignment as something to check off a to-do list. In reality, alignment is a dynamic, ongoing process that requires the leader to continually monitor and realign as conditions and needs change.

Clarity Drives Alignment Some leaders have trouble translating their great ideas into words. Others struggle to stay on topic or fail to relay the most important points. When people don’t understand your vision, how can you expect them to get on board? When people understand a message, they can more easily buy in.

Dialogue Drives Alignment One of the simplest ways to get others aligned around the vision is to engage them in a rich dialogue about the “who,” “what,” “why,” “where,” “when,” and “how” questions. Involve others in two-way communications to increase by-in and also gain invaluable information. True alignment requires openness to others' ideas and concerns.

Inspiration Drives Alignment How do leaders get people truly excited to start a new project or initiative? They inspire others by painting an exciting picture of the future, sharing their own passion, and showing confidence in the team’s ability to succeed. Leaders who are able to inspire others in this way are much more successful in gaining and maintaining buy-in. Real buy-in isn't just getting people to go through the motions. When you express your passion, others become more committed. People need to see how their efforts will contribute to success.

3. EXECUTION At the most basic level, execution is making the vision a reality. The leader must make sure that all conditions are in place so that everyone can do the work necessary to fulfill the vision. Often people think of execution as something that happens in the trenches, while the leader sits in an office thinking up the big ideas. But the truth is that successful execution of a vision can’t happen without the deep commitment and support of the leader. Execution propels the development of concrete strategies and makes the vision actionable. It gives people a sense of achievement wile fulfilling the promise of the vision.

Momentum Drives Execution Leaders often set the pace for the group, so when they tend to be too low key, people may not feel the sense of momentum that’s needed to realize the vision. By being driven and proactive—and also by acknowledging others who take initiative—leaders send the message that getting things done at a brisk pace is important. Leaders often set an example when it comes to momentum. People tend to perform to the level of momentum that’s expected. Without a sense of momentum, projects can stall out and fail.

Structure Drives Execution To execute on a vision effectively, leaders need to ensure that people have enough structure to follow. Without appropriate processes, policies, and expectations in place, teams operate inefficiently and are less likely to create high-quality outcomes. To create structure, leaders need to make well thought-out plans and analyze complex problems. To work productively, people need to know what is expected. Effective leaders respond to the structure needs of their teams. Structure helps to produce predictable, reliable outcomes.

Feedback Drives Execution In order to ensure that the vision is executed, leaders must provide both critical and positive feedback. When inefficiencies and complications are evident, leaders need to be willing to speak up. And, when people are performing well, it’s equally important to provide the appropriate praise and recognition to keep everyone engaged. Feedback from leaders helps people know how they're performing. Leaders need to be willing to address problems head-on. Recognizing contributions encourages ownership and engagement.

Freedom to be yourself

Solitude matters, and for some people, it’s the air they breathe.
— Susan Cain

As a professional who lives in the world of self-awareness and assessments, I love talking about personality and behavioral styles.  Often, we hear people talking about introversion and extroversion.  This comes from the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or commonly known as MBTI.  Recently I became aware of Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a world that can’t stop talking.  As a slight introvert myself, I found the title not only intriguing, but also something I could relate to. Introverts are what’s called “highly sensitive”, meaning they take in the information given to them, via stimuli from their environment, a lot more thoroughly than their extrovert peers. 

Introversion is not shyness.

It’s about where our energy comes from.  Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. Introverts are typically perceived as more reserved or reflective.  They often take pleasure in solitary activities such as reading, writing, using computers, hiking and fishing. How do you respond to stimulation? 

We see talkers as leaders.

When it comes to leadership, many introverts are subjected to bias without even realizing it.  We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types even though grade-point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate.  The more a person talks, the more other group members direct their attention to him, which means that he becomes increasingly powerful as a meeting goes on.  We dramatically undervalue introverts and Cain shows how much we lose in doing so. They are routinely passed over for promotion.  Often, we favor the “man” of action vs. the “man” of contemplation.   


Introverts are good leaders. 

Introverts are uniquely good at leading initiative-takers.  Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions. 

When collaboration kills creativity.

Personally, I believe we need balance; a blend of both types. However, remarkably workplaces are designed for extraversion’s need for lots of stimulation.  Consider that many work in open spaces without walls.  We seem to think that Groupthink elevates teamwork above all else.  It insists that creativity and intellectual achievement come from a gregarious place.  Organizations should consider options for introverts to make their best contribution.

Allowing introverts to spend time alone, vs. participating in large group activities and meetings can produce better results.  Studies have shown that performance gets worse as group size increases:  groups of 9 generate fewer and poorer ideas compared to groups of 6, which do worse than groups of 4.  If you have a great introverted thinker on your team, don’t force them into an extroverted world.  Ask them what works best for them and then honor that decision.  Give them the freedom to be themselves.   

Want to bring Myers Briggs Type Indicator into your organization?
Click here to schedule a free consultation.

Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.
— Anaïs Nin

A Coaching Approach to Leadership

In the end, it’s about the teaching… Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.
— John Wooden (Legendary College Basketball Coach)

A Coaching Approach to Leadership

Colorado’s unemployment is hovering around 3% and it is lower in many of the cities around town.  This is a tough economic environment for employers hoping to find talent in the market place and it makes it vitally essential to keep the talent you have.

I am still hearing from many employers that turnover is an issue for them. They are losing out to the competition or to another company paying a tad more. With 2 out of 3 employees rating their leader as below average and 75% saying they would entertain a call from a recruiter or are looking for something better, its time to take notice!

How are your leaders doing? What are the results of your most recent engagement survey? Do you have teams that would be more engaged and productive if their leader had stronger coaching skills?

Out with the Old

The old command and control style is no longer working.  Telling people what to do cheats them out of:

  • Learning 
  • Feeling ownership
  • Feeling valued
  • Building confidence
  • Using their ideas
  • Being motivated

Coaching Confusion

When I talk to individuals about coaching I sometimes hear an unfounded belief that coaching takes too much time and doesn’t get any results.  Coaching IS about:

  • Action and Results
  • Focus on people AND task
  • Collaborative behavior
  • Supporting others to success
  • Relationships based on trust
  • Development
  • Possibility and potential
  • Empowering others
  • Generating Ideas and solutions
  • Motivating and fulfilling
  • Creating sustainable performance

Here are some basic coaching skills to try:

  • Listen beyond the words to the needs, wants and motivations of your team
  • Use powerful questions to engage thinking and generate ideas
  • Choose appropriate style according to the needs of different situations

Behavior Matters

Staff today are independent and want challenge. They want to feel heard and know that their opinions count. They want their leaders to relate with empathy, understanding and encouragement. They not only want to better themselves but also get along better with others.  A coaching approach does both. Leadership behavior is a critical component in the ROI your company receives on your talent. What precedes results is behavior. Behavior matters.

I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organization, and a strong organization starts with caring for their people.
— John Wooden

Trust is Essential

Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.
— Patrick Lencioni

Most organizations believe that their product, technology, service, or strategy is what sets them apart from the competition. NY Times bestselling author, Patrick Lencioni, believes that while those things are important, when an organization focuses on getting people working together on productive, cohesive teams, they will accomplish great things, and that teamwork may be an organization’s ultimate competitive advantage. Getting people to work together as a cohesive team is simple, but takes hard work, and it will pay off.

Think about the last time you were part of a dysfunctional team.  What did it feel like? I bet it had finger pointing, unhealthy competition, poor results, few opportunities to learn, or the blame game.  We’ve all been there, and it doesn’t feel good. 

When you give your teams the tools to work through issues that every organization faces, you set them up for success; you reduce turnover and you can directly impact your organization, your team, and yourself in a good way.

The first and foundational behavior of cohesive teams is vulnerability-based trust.  That means being vulnerable with one other.   It’s about being genuinely transparent and honest with one another, so you can admit your mistakes and weaknesses.  It’s being able to say things like “hey, I need help” or “I struggle in this area”, or “I’m sorry.”  Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental and emotional level. They are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears and behaviors. They can ask for help when they need it.  84% of people say that coworkers who admit their mistakes makes you trust them more. 

One of the ways you can build trust on your teams is to get to know one another better.  You spend 8-9 hours a day with your colleagues, but often struggle to find a genuine connection or understanding of them.

In the Five Behaviors program we suggest an activity called the personal histories exercise. This is an excellent way to get to know one another a little better and provide your team with a low-risk opportunity to practice vulnerability. You ask team members to share answers to 3 questions:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • How many siblings did you have and where do you fall in the sibling order?
  • What was an important or unique challenge of your childhood? How did that impact your professional life?

The leader should go first in answering the questions as she will set the tone for others by being vulnerable herself.  I’ve experienced the power of this simple exercise.  It’s so interesting to me how having more information about someone generates a deeper understanding of why they are who they are and how you might work better with them.

Trust is a feeling.  It’s a feeling of safety.  It’s the feeling of I know you have my back and that you will watch out for me.  As a leader it’s our responsibility to set the tone for safety and trust in our teams and our organizations.

On your next coffee break, take 10 minutes to listen to Simon Sinek talk about why good leaders make us feel safe.  It will give you something to think about the rest of the day.

Leadership is a choice. It is not a position.
— Stephen Covey

A New Day Dawns

Earlier this month the Golden Globes honored Oprah with the Cecil B Demille award and she gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation.  Social media sites started lighting up the internet showing the video.  If you haven’t watched I would encourage you to take 10 minutes to listen to it here. Even if you did listen to it, spending 10 minutes again can be uplifting and heartening.

I found her to be an inspiring and poignant example of leadership. She talks about conflict that is decades old that still continues on today. Yet despite the challenges that lay ahead, she provides incredible hope that change is on the horizon.

She has a strong vision for us. We are thirsting for this kind of leadership in our organizations and in the world we live in today. She elevates, is aspirational, has a can do attitude and is so incredibly optimistic.  She provides confidence that we can change! The end of her speech is here:

 …a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “me too” again. 

As 2018 takes off and we begin implementing our goals for the year, I encourage you to take your leadership to the next level.  Invest in yourself and your team this year. Read a book, take some training, spend time reflecting on the kind of leader you would like to become and most of all, be intentional in how you lead. 

Upcoming Workshop

Everything DiSC Productive Conflict
February 21st
8:30am – 10:30am
Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel
Denver, CO

If you are looking for a fun way to bring more communication and cohesiveness to your organization, I welcome you to join me at the upcoming Wiley showcase to learn about Everything DiSC Productive Conflict, the newest addition to the Everything DiSC solutions suite.

The Everything DiSC Productive Conflict showcase provides an interactive and engaging presentation, giving participants insights on how to effectively respond to the uncomfortable and inevitable challenges of workplace conflict.

Registration includes:

  • Breakfast
  • A complimentary Everything DiSC Productive Conflict assessment
  • Self-parking

As a valued member of the Aspen Edge community, I am happy to cover the registration fee for you. Spaces fill up fast, so contact me today to register. I look forward to having you as my guest the showcase!

Are Your Employees Your Greatest Asset?

When I ask this question most leaders and CEOs vehemently agree yes to this question.  They are the life force to our customers, essential to producing and delivering our products or services and are the face of the organization to the public. However, my next questions: “What are you doing to develop and retain them?” and “What investment are you making to develop your leaders?” often elicits a deadening sound of silence.  Or sometimes I get an answer that mentions half-hearted training efforts with no rhyme or reason as to why they are doing them.  It usually is not consistent throughout the organization, which would encourage true behavior change.  Nor is it tied to their strategic objectives or what they hope to accomplish as an organization, so it is not valued by top leadership. According to Gallup’s recent State of the American Workplace report, only 22% of U.S. employees strongly agree that their company's leaders have a clear direction for their organization. And only 13% strongly agree that their organization's leadership communicates effectively.  This has helped lead to the disheartening metric of only 33% of American workers surveyed being engaged.

Many organizations ascribe to the method of “trial by fire” leadership training or “one and done” single day training events.  It’s no wonder that many companies say that turnover is their number one challenge.  We know from the research than employees, more often than not, leave their boss before leaving their company.

Stand out from the crowd and become an employer of choice!  If you really want to make a difference to your customers, your team and ultimately to the bottom line, then think about doing something more than just talking about how important your employees are.  Advance your talent through development opportunities.  Prove that you value them!  Invest in your leaders (Coaching Skills Development) so that they have the tools they need to inspire, create innovative cultures and coach your employees to greater heights.

Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team

The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™  is an assessment-based learning experience that helps individuals and organizations reveal what it takes to build a truly cohesive and effective team in the most approachable, competent and effective way possible.  Powered by Everything DiSC®, the profiles help participants understand their own DiSC® styles. Bringing together everyone’s personalities and preferences to form a cohesive, productive team takes work, but the payoff can be huge — for individuals, the team, and the organization. The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program helps teams understand how, as a team, they score on the key components of The Five Behaviors model:

  • Trust
  • Conflict
  • Commitment
  • Accountability
  • Results Each individual on the team will also understand their own personality style and their team members’ styles, based on the DiSC® model: D: Dominance, i: Influence, S: Steadiness, and C: Conscientiousness, and how their style contributes to the team’s overall success. The program is designed exclusively for intact teams and work groups. The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team harnesses the power of Everything DiSC® and the clarity and simplicity of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team™ model.

The Five Behaviors Model is used to help team members learn to work together more efficiently and effectively and become a more cohesive team. A productive, high-functioning team:

  • Makes better, faster decisions
  • Taps into the skills and opinions of all members
  • Avoids wasting time and energy on politics, confusion, and destructive conflict
  • Avoids wasting time talking about the wrong issues and revisiting the same topics over and over again because of a lack of buy-in
  • Creates a competitive advantage
  • Is more fun to be on!

7 Tips on Creating a Culture to Drool Over

Trying to create a winning business culture?  It might not be as complicated as you think.  Much has been written on the value of a great work culture and how it can support the goals of the business and maximize profitability.  Companies that have bought into this are Southwest Airlines, Zappos, Google, and Edward Jones.  They seem to be on the ‘best of’ lists all the time.  It can be a significant differentiator from your competition and can create a competitive advantage for your company.  Who wouldn’t want to work for a company named on Fortune 100’s best companies list?  Imagine how much easier it would be to recruit and retain the best and the brightest talent.  Yet it’s amazing how many businesses fail to make the long term investment needed to achieve this success.  Many focus instead on slick marketing campaigns, reducing expenses such as rightsizing, implementing new technology and spending a wealth of resources on any of these and more.  According to Steven Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective People this is focusing on what’s urgent rather than what’s important.  There is no harm in the short term, but in the long term, this is just firefighting and not getting to the crux of what will make you truly a company that will be touted by your existing employees and creating a line of applicants of the highly skilled waiting at the door.  Here are 7 steps to get you started in the right direction to create a culture for which anyone would drool.

  1. Hire the right fit for the culture you are creating. This means being clear on what that culture is and even more importantly what it is not.
  2. Move the wrong ones off of the bus. This can be hard with long tenured staff who have provided much value in the past or are still contributing.  Offering a severance package and signed release of claims allows them to leave the business with dignity and grace and giving them security for the short term.
  3. Start at the top with senior leaders and have well defined values that you hire and fire to.
  4. Hold others accountable to the values you have defined. Incorporate these into your HR and business practices.
  5. Start with your own team. Invest in them and help them become more effective as a unit.  This is a great way to ignite other areas of the business once they have seen the positive change from within your group.
  6. Assess where you are and what needs to change. Conduct “stay interviews” to find out why your best and brightest stay and what they value in the current culture.  They have their boots on the ground and will be able to give specifics about what needs changing.
  7. Develop an action plan and stay the course. Changing culture is not for the faint of heart.  It takes perseverance but the rewards are plentiful.

What’s the State of Your Workforce?

Gallup’s new 2017 State of the Workforce report tells us that not much has changed since the last survey in 2014, or frankly, in the last decade and half when Gallup started measuring engagement.  Only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged.  This rate of engagement rises quite significantly for organizations who place emphasis on being best in class.  At the world’s best organizations 70% of employee are engaged!  It’s clear the old command-and-control leadership style needs to go out the door.  It needs to change to one of high development and ongoing coaching conversations.  This is especially evident when you look at the following results.   Gallup’s survey found:

  • Only 22% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization has a clear direction for the organization.
  • Only 15% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization makes them enthusiastic about the future.
  • Only 13% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization.

Here are a few things employees need from their leaders and organizations:

Purposeful work- The new workforce wants to work for a company whose mission and culture reflects their core values and they won’t settle for one that doesn’t.  Take the time to understand employee values and motivators and how those show up in their daily work.  Explain to employees how they are making a difference and adding value for your customers, community, culture, company or team.

Know what’s expected of them- Only 6 of 10 employees know what’s expected of them.  Clarify performance expectations, discuss progress towards goals and offer coaching and resources to help them succeed.  Talk openly about problems or issues and enable employees to develop solutions.  Teach leaders how to have tough conversations in a productive manner that leaves the employee feeling encouraged.  Today only 21% strongly agrees that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.  Throw out your annual performance evaluations!  Organizations are realizing that more frequent, ongoing coaching conversations may be the missing link in performance management.  Employees who have had conversations with their manager in the last six months about their goals and successes are 2.8 times more likely than other employees to be engaged

Opportunities to shine-Determine their strengths and give them opportunities to do what they do best!  Provide opportunities for employees to learn and challenge themselves in a way that is exciting to them (ex. lead a meeting or innovative project, attend specialized training, be a mentor/coach.)

Flexibility- 43% of workers surveyed are working remotely at least part of the time.  This is up 4% in the last 4 years.  Offer flexible job conditions and watch for possible burnout.

Managers must become coaches-Leaders need to shift from performance management to performance development.  Last month we talked about the business case for coaching in our blog.  Teach your leaders to establish expectations, continually coach and create accountability.  Provide them with the tools to become outstanding coaches.   

Authentic appreciation-Employees who do not feel adequately recognized are twice as likely as those who do feel adequately recognized to say they'll quit in the next year.  This is a big missed opportunity for many.  Learn how each employee likes to be recognized.  Emphasize why the act was important and the impact it had.  The best recognize employees every 7 days!  This month is employee appreciation day.  How will you let your team know that they are cherished?

The Business Case for Coaching

Over the last 2 decades coaching has become very prevalent. As business continues to accelerate and evolve, coaching is a highly effective practice which supports change efforts. It’s a powerful leadership instrument. And yet, it’s not really being practiced well by many managers or leaders. Only exceptional leaders have realized it’s significant and power to develop team members and to achieve exceptional business results. Bersin research outlines this business case for coaching: Organizations that effectively prepare managers to coach are:

·        130% more likely to realize stronger business results

·        33% better at engaging employees

Organizations reporting "excellent" cultural support for coaching experience:

·        13% stronger business results

·        39% stronger employee results, including engagement, productivity and customer service

Organizations whose senior leaders “very frequently” make an effort to coach others have:

·        21% higher business results

What would these improved results mean to your business? My guess is that they would go a long way in achieving your strategic plan. Drop me a line and let’s get the conversation started about bringing coaching into your organization.

13 Leadership Skills You Didn’t Need a Decade Ago That are Now Essential

Last month, Forbes’ article: 13 Leadership Skills You Didn’t Need a Decade Ago That Are Now Essential listed these critical leadership skills:

  1. Executive Presence
  2. Resiliency
  3. Culture Management
  4. Navigation of Ambiguity
  5. Hybrid of Skills
  6. Multigenerational Management
  7. Collaboration
  8. Emotional Intelligence
  9. Social Media Presence
  10. Authenticity
  11. Mastery of Crucial Conversations
  12. Leadership of Virtual Teams and Independent Contractors
  13. Co-Creative Leadership

How do your leadership development programs line up with this list?  Does it need an overhaul to stay up to date?  Essential leadership skills evolve over time as do the needs of businesses.  If you haven’t updated your required leadership competencies in some time, please drop me a line and let’s start the conversation.  We can have you up to date in no time!

Social and Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever met someone who is “book smart” but not “street smart,” or maybe seems to lack “people skills?”  The phrase “emotional intelligence” was not part of the public lexicon 10-15 years ago, but Daniel Goleman’s 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, moved the phrase from academia to the general public.  Today, in the world of business and leadership, it is well understood that high intelligence (a high IQ) does not necessarily mean that the person has high emotional intelligence (a high EQ).  There are certainly some very smart people who are not in touch with their own emotions or the emotions of others. When we talk about social and emotional intelligence, we are referring to the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and then using that information to manage ourselves and our relationships.  In essence, social and emotional intelligence is about awareness of ourselves and others while being able to manage ourselves and our relationships with others. Managers who are lacking in social and emotional intelligence are often called “bullies” and “jerks.”  They can be angry, hostile, and emotionally immature.  Leaders who lack social and emotional intelligence induce stress in the workplace and cost their companies in both productivity and talent.  Research from Stanford University, and from the Center for Creative Leadership, has found that some of the top reasons for executive derailment include poor interpersonal relationships, rigidity, and the inability to work with a team -- in other words, poor social and emotional intelligence. On the flip side, leaders with high social and emotional intelligence tend to be more successful.  In a study of 2000 managers in 12 large organizations, it was found that 81% of the competencies that distinguished outstanding leaders were related to social and emotional intelligence.  In an additional study of 15 global businesses, it was found that 90% of the difference between the average and best performing leaders was in social and emotional competencies.  One of the 26 social and emotional intelligence competencies is trust, and high trust teams outperform low trust teams by 300%. The good news for leaders, managers, organizations, and even individuals just looking to improve their skills is that the social and emotional intelligence competencies are both measurable and learnable.  It all starts with awareness, and to best understand your current social and emotional intelligence level, that means taking an assessment.  Once you know your areas of strength and weakness, you can improve your social and emotional intelligence through coaching, training, and (perhaps most importantly) practice.  Moreover, these skills are easiest to improve and produce the best ROI when the methods for improving social and emotional intelligence are integrated into organizational culture. How can social and emotional intelligence coaching and training help organizations?  Sheraton Hotels and Resorts introduced social and emotional intelligence training and coaching with the goal of building a service culture.  They were able to increase their market share by 24%.  Sanofi-Aventis trained a group of sales representatives in social and emotional intelligence.  The training resulted in an 18% increase in social and emotional intelligence over the control group.  Furthermore, the trained sales representatives outsold the control group by an average of 12% ($55,200) each per month.  At Pepsico, social and emotional intelligence programs generated a 10% increase in productivity and an 87% decrease in turnover. Social and emotional intelligence training can work for both individuals and organizations of all sizes.  These programs have a proven positive return on investment and benefit employees throughout all levels of an organization.  Are you interested in learning more about social and emotional intelligence assessments or training programs?  Aspen Edge Consulting can help make your organization happier and more profitable.

Traditional intelligence vs. Social and Emotional Intelligence.  What’s more important?

Most positions require a certain baseline IQ.  It’s the price of admission.  This is especially true when thinking of positions like physicians, engineering, and the like.  However, once you reach an average IQ, then social and emotional intelligence can become the differentiator for your career success.  You may have the IQ that’s required to get into medical school, but if you want to go from being a good physician to a great one, you have to have social and emotional intelligence.  It’s difficult to become successful without social skills.  According to Daniel Goleman, often referred to as the father of Emotional Intelligence, 80% of “adult” success comes from emotional intelligence.  Having healthy relationships at work can have a huge impact on a person’s performance and those around them.  If an employee at work doesn’t understand how they impact others, if they are causing friction, you will see the global morale of the office drop.  If they are customer, facing the impact can be even more catastrophic.  Another study by The Center for Creative Leadership says “75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust.” What exactly is Emotional Intelligence?  There are many definititons but simply It’s the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage oursevles and manage our relationships.

If you are a manager, can you see the value of investing in your leaders who report to you, and gaining increased social and emotional intelligence benefits from them?  Imagine them complaining less, being more productive, and increasing revenue.   Not to mention being easier to work with!

Emotional intelligence becomes even more important as you move up in the organization because you are responsible for more people and that can have a big impact across the organization.  Increasing Emotional Intelligence among your leadership can have these positive benefits for organizations:

• Increased retention of strong performers

• Reduced turnaround time

• Increased sales

• Expanded market share

• Increased employee engagement

• Increased customer satisfaction

15 Ways Coaching May Benefit You

Did you know that 80% of problems within an organization are people-related?  Only about 20% are technical.  Utilizing a leadership coach can help minimize those people-related problems so that you can focus on growing your business. If you're considering coaching for yourself or a member of your team, here are a few ways coaching can help you:

  1. Identify your leadership strengths, blind spots and development needs.
  2. Define your values and integrate them into your leadership style, creating greater conviction and quicker decisions.
  3. Improve specific skills - communication, delegation, conflict management, team building, influence, etc.
  4. Become a better communicator, both inside and outside of the workplace.
  5. Learn great insights about yourself and what makes you tick.
  6. Increase self-awareness of perspectives, beliefs, and attitudes that may be holding you back.
  7. Increase your confidence to make bold moves.
  8. Adopt and expand executive leadership competencies crucial to the organization's culture.
  9. Create positive and sustainable behavior changes.
  10. Enhance career planning and development with an action-oriented plan.
  11. Accountability to help you stay on track with your big goals and ideas.
  12. Create greater work/life balance and more satisfaction with both.
  13. Foster discussions of new ideas which generates more innovation.
  14. Gain an outsider’s objective perspective.
  15. Create depth in your leadership pipeline for better succession planning.

Is your organization’s talent ready for the future?

Succession planning for future success

At some point in the next 10 years Great Britain will have a King. Whether the successor to Queen Elizabeth II will be the heir apparent, Prince Charles or her grandson, Prince William, remains to be seen. What isn’t likely is that the role will be filled from outside the line of succession.  In businesses today, we have the opportunity to avoid this “crown prince phenomenon” and utilize succession planning as a viable alternative to increase the pool of talent and give broader choices. With baby boomer retirements on the rise and a growing demand for senior management expertise, there is no large emerging group of potential employees on the horizon as in past generations.  Many organizations have eliminated middle manager positions and no longer have this group as a source to fill senior level vacancies.  With this dilemma, imagine if a key employee resigned, fell ill, had to be fired tomorrow or (fingers crossed) wins the lottery? Would you be prepared?  What opportunity costs would be lost because it took too long to replace them?  Succession planning is not an issue that many organizations address in any systematic or strategic way.

Traditional succession planning has focused on a selection of ‘replacements’, a secret process that was reactive and focused on the CEO or senior levels only.  Frankly, it was simply a form of risk management to ensure the longevity of the business.  Today’s integrative approach is focused on the creation of a leadership pipeline.  It’s proactive and expands into mid and lower-level management.  When done successfully it can support the fulfillment of your strategic plan and will increase organizational capacity.

Additionally, strong leadership is a key contributor to job satisfaction, commitment and an employee’s intent to stay; especially true for top talent.  Sadly, few companies rate their succession management plans as excellent; most rate them as fair or worse.  Another distressing statistic is that 66% of senior managers hired from the outside usually fail within the first 18 months, however, companies with a succession plan that results in an internal hire are less likely to experience negative effects on employee morale.

Aspen Edge Consulting uses a simple 6 step succession planning process that can:

  • Identify your organization’s competency gaps
  • Help achieve your organization’s strategic plan
  • Communicate to employees that they are valuabl
  • Increase or secure retention of key talent
  • Manage the corporate risk by ensuring a supply of talent to fulfill future business roles
  • Reduce recruitment costs
  • Realize the potential of individuals
  • Increase organizational capability

Take your organization to the next level!  Click here to begin the conversation and find out how you can realize the benefits of a strong succession planning process and provide increased bench strength to your company.

What’s the cost of doing nothing?

Think about your favorite teacher.  What were their special qualities?  My hunch is that they:

  • had a vision
  • pursued excellence
  • communicated effectively
  • were trustworthy
  • built confidence
  • were enthusiastic
  • served others

The reason for my hunch is that those are the same characteristics of leaders.  While common leadership qualities or competencies are easy to define in effective leaders, developing such core leadership qualities are more difficult. Organizations need to develop leaders faster and build deeper bench strength.  Leadership development strategies help meet the challenges faced by today’s businesses.

Poor leadership skills are costly to an organization.  One study said as much as 32% of an organization’s voluntary turnover can be avoided through better leadership skills and can generate 3-4% improvement in customer satisfaction scores, which corresponds to a 1.5% increase in revenue growth.

Important elements of your leadership development program include:  identifying successors for critical roles, developing leadership bench strength and accelerating the development of high potentials.  These elements when successfully launched will increase employee engagement and productivity, enhance the effectiveness of current leaders and influence or change the company culture.

What is the cost of doing nothing?  Will your turnover, customer satisfaction and employee productivity improve without focus?  Best practice organizations recognize leadership development as a key component to improving those metrics and are committed to creating leaders throughout their organizations.

7 Mistakes Companies Make when Trying to Change to a Winning Culture

  1. They don’t hire to the new culture they are trying to create.  They hire for the current company culture.
  2. They don’t move tenured employees out of the business who cannot adapt to the new way.  This holds the business back and creates a ‘this is how we’ve always done it’ culture of stagnation
  3. They want a quick fix.  Like a marketing campaign, they want to launch today and see results tomorrow.  Real change takes time, perseverance and support from the top.
  4. Not all senior leaders buy in to the change and can create hurdles by not holding their department teams accountable to the new direction
  5. They don’t integrate the new culture into their way of doing business.  The culture will not sustain itself if it’s not incorporated into the business.  Systems, processes, and policies all need to be changed to support the new direction.
  6. They don’t get feedback from their employees on what they need and desire.  They assume they know.  Today’s generation has different ideas from past generations about what makes a culture engaging.
  7. They ask their employees for feedback but they don’t listen.  They don’t take action on changing anything meaningful.  This is even worse than not asking and can do damage to the trust leaders have with their employees.

Top 10 ways to Identify Leadership Potential

Are you ready to identify leadership potential?  Many are still vague on what high potential is and in organizations everyone has a different opinion.  You need a clear set of standards before you start and there are many ways to do this.  One of my favorite ways is using a set of criteria that DDI has developed that they say will accurately predict high-potential success based on research they have conducted.  Here is their list:  1. Propensity to lead. They step up to leadership opportunities. 2. They bring out the best in others 3. Authenticity. They have integrity, admit mistakes, and don’t let their egos get in their way 4. Receptivity to feedback. They seek out and welcome feedback 5. Learning agility.  The speed which they learn 6.  Culture Fit.  Ability to conform and adapt to company core values and behaviors of the organization.

7. Passion for Results.  Drives high standards and derives satisfaction from continuous improvement

8. Adaptability.  Maintaining effectiveness during change.

9. Conceptual Thinking.  Ability to see patterns and connections between seemingly unrelated things.

10. Navigates Ambiguity.  Manages unclear situations and the unknown effectively.


According to DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast, “organizations’ ability to identify and prepare high potentials remains weak overall.  Only 18% of HR professionals surveyed rated their organization as strong in its available bench strength to meet future business needs.”  Becoming clear on what defines top talent and using evidence-based competencies increases the changes that your available talent is ready to meet your business need when you need it.

Aspen Edge Consulting works with businesses to develop consistent leadership development processes which reduce the worry and help ensure you’re investing in your best and brightest.  Keeping your top talent from leaping to a new startup and fixating on that shiny new ball helps keep profit up by lowering your recruitment costs, increasing productivity and ultimately keeping your customers happy.  Interested in Aspen Edge Consulting help you assess your leadership talent? Drop me a line and let’s get started.