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Tuesday, 21 March 2017 17:02

Speaking Each Other's Language

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Speaking Each Other's Language

Richard Hadden


Let's face it. Communicating at work is tough enough when both the speaker and the listener speak the same native language. Add different tongues to the dynamic and, sacré bleu! You’ve just hit a wall, and not the kind that’s proposed for the US’s southern border.

To be clear, language, as well as literacy (the topic of a future post), are essential job skills for almost any work you can imagine. So how can we possibly hope to get the most from people whose language we don’t understand, and who don’t understand us?

I’ve heard the “This is America. If you want to live and work here, you should learn our language!” argument, and in an ideal sense, I agree. People who speak English in the US have an advantage, just as Italian speakers do in Rome. But we can “should” all over ourselves about a lot of things. Or – and this would be my suggestion – we can take competitive action, and in distinguishing ourselves from our rivals, both for customers and for talent, get better business results.

So, whether you think you should or not, here are two things you can do, if you want to increase the engagement of your team members who don’t speak your language: (These specifics assume your work takes place in English - but the concept works for any language.)

6 Tips to Get Your Employees Engaged
By Sydney Frazer, Partnerships Manager, Glassdoor

Employee engagement is often the buzz among HR circles. You hear about it and you know you should take steps to engage with your employees. You probably even know only a minority of the American workforce is engaged (in fact, only 32 percent is considered engaged). But why should you care about this? And how can you become a part of the solution? Once you develop an understanding of the importance of employee engagement, you can take steps to develop and harness the power of an engaged workforce.

But first let’s take a step back and look at the why. The data is compelling and makes it pretty clear. Research from Gallup indicates that companies with engaged workforces outperform others in multiple business aspects, all the way from productivity, to customer ratings, to profitability. Furthermore, companies with engaged employees see a significantly lower turnover rate, helping decrease the incredible costs associated with turnover. Employee engagement is crucial to the success of your company.

The good news is that 90 percent of executives understand this. However, less than 50 percent of execs actually understand how to address engagement issues. This makes addressing an apathetic staff seem overwhelming at best and impossible at worst. But the best time to start trying is now. Consider these six tips in order to start engaging with your workforce.

On Baseball, Long Hair, Married Priests, HR, and the “Department of No”

by Bill Catlette

03.12.17

 

The sports press was abuzz this week about something that didn’t involve balls, strikes, birdies, or 3-pointers. Rather, it was about hair, specifically the prolific red locks belonging to NY Yankees rookie Center Fielder prospect, Clint Frazier.

Since something like forever, the Yankees have maintained a strict personal appearance policy that prohibits players from wearing long’ish (below the collar) hair or beards. It’s about pride and professionalism, the “Yankee way” as they call it. It seems that, whereas Mr. Frazier had gotten the memo, he hadn’t gotten the message, prompting some ah hem coaching from team owner, Jennifer Steinbrenner, coach, Joe Girardi, even former Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson, who still works for the team. Message received… According to Mr. Frazier, “Just after thinking to myself and talking to a few people, I finally came to the agreement that it’s time to look like everybody else around here.” Crisis averted, maybe.

A world away, Pope Francis allowed that maybe, just maybe, the Catholic church might be open to ordaining married men as priests. I don’t know whether that’s a white smoke or black smoke signal coming from the Vatican chimney, but I bet it has everything to do with recruiting, and a serious dearth of talent for those who would be priests.

Looking back on my early career as an HR professional, I distinctly recall similar business practices, if not outright policies being rather permanently woven into the fabric of the organizations I was exposed to: We mustn’t hire women drivers, our customer-facing employees cannot wear beards, I won’t even get into the dress codes. Some of this stuff was backed by sound reasoning. Some wasn’t. In retrospect, the thing that I regret is that, in too many cases, with good company I / we failed to ask the question that someone apparently put to the Pope, probably more than once:  Why not?

Too often, I’m afraid that we were simply serving as the “Department of No.” There will be no this. There will be no that. At the time, it was deemed the safer alternative. We served as a compliance function before the real compliance pros came along and turned it into an art form. Well intended as we were, I’m rather sure that we weren’t serving the organizations that were paying us all that well. Yeah, we were pretty good prophylactics, but I dare say that what the organizations often needed and wanted more was a curious, knowledgeable, thinking business partner. Today’s organizations are no different. They’re just moving a lot faster, and they need HR professionals and leaders with the courage to sustain valuable elements of corporate culture while, on a regular basis asking, “Why not?” 

 If you would like to take this topic to a different level in a one-on-one coaching session, keynote speech, or seminar, we would love to hear from you.

 

With Healthcare Reform, Nothing Doesn’t Trump Something

03.11.17

As Americans, we’re more than a little interested in the current goings on with regard to “Repeal and Replace,” for several reasons. As with many others, it affects our business. Over the last ten years, we have doubtless done more work in the healthcare arena than any other sector. At the same time, not unlike anyone else who is aging (it beats the alternatives), we personally consume more healthcare services than ever. And, as a leader of a non-profit healthcare organization (@NFT), I have added incentive to stay abreast of the happenings in this space. Does that make us experts? Certainly not. Passionately, seriously interested? Absolutely. A few thoughts: 

“This is a big, f’ing deal” - As quietly whispered (he thought) into President Obama’s ear by Vice President, Joe Biden upon passage of the ACA the U.S. healthcare system is a big deal, a really big deal, at 18% of an $18 trillion economy. Healthcare expenditures for the average American are about $10,000. annually. It’s not just big, it’s very complex, with all kinds of moving, inter-related parts. Think giant Rubik’s cube that you’ve gotta get pretty close to perfect, or things go bad in a big way. With a small policy oversteer to the port or starboard, we could stall the U.S. economy, further degrade our anemic productivity growth rate, and / or unnecessarily endanger the lives of a lot of people.

Thursday, 09 March 2017 15:33

New "Best Companies to Work For" List Revealed

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New "Best Companies to Work For" List Revealed

by Bill Catlette

03.09.17

Last night, @AlanSMurray and the Fortune Magazine editors and journalists revealed for the twentieth time their annually curated list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America.”  The list is special to me, for two reasons.

First, my most significant employment experience prior to branching out on my own was at an early stage FedEx. Our HR team, took considerable pride in seeing to it that the company earned a high position on the early lists, and then took advantage of the reputational tailwind in our recruiting efforts. The source of the cover photo for this piece proudly occupies space in my office.

Second, and as importantly, since leaving FedEx, the most significant part of my work has centered on helping others appreciate just how profoundly the behaviors that make a company a great place to work impact the bottom line. Indeed, we’ve written four books on this very topic. I can’t tell you how proud I am to see companies that we’ve written about and bragged on in speeches and seminars across the globe continuing to earn this distinction, and indeed moving up the list. We’ve made many of them our own vendors of choice because they are just that good. Companies like Kimpton Hotels & Resorts, Marriott, Delta Air Lines, Mayo Clinic, David Weekley Homes, Publix, Google…

Wednesday, 08 March 2017 16:48

Career Advice From 6 Prominent Female Executives

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Career Enhancing Tips From 6 Prominent Female Executives

Today, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re going to do one thing that guys like us should do more often… Shut up and listen. To wit, here’s a link to a very good piece written by Grace Nasri for FastCompany - Six Female Execs On The Early Career Advice They Wish They’d Gotten. Enjoy!



Sunday, 05 March 2017 23:04

Leadership... It's Not a Position

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Leadership... It's Not a Position

by Bill Catlette

03.03.17

 

Being appointed or elected to a position the duties of which include providing leadership does not in and of itself make one a leader. Leadership is a series of behaviors and actions, not a right or position. It stems from the earned consent of followers. In other words, even if we’re the boss on the org chart, followers get to decide whether or not we’re worthy of the moniker.

On a recent Sunday morning television program, mega best-selling author and journalist, Tom Friedman put a little finer point on that, reminding us that, “There is formal authority,  and there is moral authority.” Formal authority is position power that is bestowed by law, contract, or position that one has been elected or appointed to. Moral authority on the other hand represents “trustworthiness to make decisions that are right and good” (Merriam Webster). One is bestowed, the other is earned. One might give you the power to tell others what to do, while the other establishes whether or not they are likely to do it of their free will.

So how does one earn the benefit of the doubt, and the distinction as “leader?”

Friday, 03 March 2017 14:30

Good Leaders Look Beneath the Surface

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Good Leaders Look Beneath the Surface

Richard Hadden

One of the most remarkable people I ever worked with was a bank teller named Donna, at a bank branch I managed early in my career. Donna was a customer magnet. Brilliant. Hard working. Always went the extra mile. She was a single mother, and she’d been a teller for 12 years. I recommended to my boss, one of the bank’s Vice Presidents, that we promote Donna to the management training program. He dismissed the idea, ignoring her talent, and citing instead her rough appearance, lack of formal education, and even what part of town she came from.

Donna’s 12 year career with that bank ended when she was recruited into a very responsible position at a competing bank.

Thursday, 02 March 2017 17:51

The Hunt for a Better Boss

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The Hunt for a Better Boss

by Bill Catlette

03.02.17

 

As an executive coach and former HR leader, I’ve had hundreds of people ask my advice on how they might get another job, or in some cases, a particular job. Does my resume look okay? Will you coach me on interview skills? Can I use you as a reference? Do you know anybody at ABC Co.who might be helpful to my candidacy?  

I’m not special in that regard. Everyone who works in this space is credited with having expertise that might help give someone better focus or perhaps an inside track on their job search. I’m not sure that we always live up to that expectation, but here’s what I am sure of: Too often, people are asking the entirely wrong question. Instead of directing the majority of their attention on the title that would be on their new business card, or the corporate name on the paycheck, they would do well to pay particular attention to the human being that they would actually answer to, and the others on that team they would be joining.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 11:05

Grace Under Pressure

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Grace Under Pressure

by Bill Catlette

 02.28.17

And the winner of the Oscar for Best Display of Grace and Class on Stage goes to... Jordan Horowitz, Producer, “La La Land.”  Standing Bravo!

Admittedly, I’m not much of a movie fan, evidenced by the fact that I had never even heard of any of the best films honored at this week’s Oscars.

But I know class and grace when I see it. Mr. Horowitz displayed both when he spontaneously re-gifted the Best Picture Award to its rightful owners, the producers and cast of “Moonlight” with the words, "I'm going to be very proud to hand this to my friends from 'Moonlight.”

If there was ever a guy with justification to get a little cranky over having been publicly teased with the top award in his profession, it’s Mr. Horowitz. But he never went there. Contrary to the steady diet of attention seeking and bogus victory laps we’ve seen from some government officials of late, Mr. Horowitz seemed quite happy to redirect the spotlight where it belonged. No whining, no finger pointing, no crass comments. He praised the man’s work, handed him his award, gave him a hug, and got off his stage. And that, fellow leaders, is the example we should be setting in our own organizations.

Make it a great day!


If you would like to take this topic to a different level in a one-on-one coaching session, keynote speech, or seminar, we would love to hear from you.

Monday, 27 February 2017 14:08

When it Comes to Training, Visibility Matters

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When it Comes to Training, Visibility Matters

Richard Hadden

I was conducting leadership training for a large public utility, in a rural training facility about 100 miles from the company’s headquarters. The Vice President who had brought me in was a full participant in the first class I conducted, and believe me, his presence and participation in the training wasn't lost on anyone.

A few months later, I returned to provide the same program for a different, more junior group. Although the VP had already completed the training, he wanted to put his stamp of support on the program for this group -- even though the event’s timeframe wasn't particularly convenient for him. Despite having an important meeting at headquarters, he thought it was important enough for him to kick off the training session that he took a company helicopter from the main office to the training facility early that morning. There, he delivered a 10-minute message, saying how valuable he felt this training was for everyone there. Afterward, he and a colleague got in a car and drove south to the budget meeting. His validation of the training did as much as anything I did to let people know, this is important. You’ll learn something here, and I want you to use it.

3 Steps to Being More Like the Leader You Always Wished For

by Bill Catlette

02.26.17 

 

Along the way, we’ve all observed and noted better (I hesitate to use the word, “best”) habits practiced by leaders we have come into contact with. I’m willing to bet that most of those habits are simple, straightforward, and have a high degree of commonality from one person to another. Here are three that stand out to me:

It Starts With Us, Not Them - We value being able to work in the company of someone who challenges us to be our best, someone who takes an interest in us, who listens to us, values our ideas, and tells us the truth. Someone who has high standards about work and conduct, but doesn’t burden others with their personal issues and neediness. They are eager to shine a bright light on the accomplishments of others, but don’t waste spotlight wattage by clapping for themselves. Selfies aren’t part of their game. You can do this. You just can’t do it if you’re going to be self-centered.

Sunday, 26 February 2017 00:27

How to Avoid Cow Tipping at Work

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How to Avoid Cow Tipping at Work

by Bill Catlette

02/25/17  Memphis

Urban mythology has it that teenagers, likely fueled by alcohol have, in the pursuit of fun, been known to enter a pasture, sneak up on a grazing cow and, through brute force upend the animal, pushing (aka “tipping”) it onto its side. Rural mythology, however, aided by people who have actually touched a cow with something besides a fork know that “tipping” a cow is a lot more difficult than the legend allows. In fact, tipping a Toyota Celica onto its side would be considerably easier. The Celica after all would at least hold still. 

And you’re wondering what on Earth cow tipping has to do with a management-oriented post. Fair question. For the last twenty years we’ve maintained that just as well cared for dairy cattle produce more milk (that’s not an AltFact), well led humans in the workspace produce more and better stuff (also a fact). We’ve done more than “maintain” that notion, we’ve proven it, and written three books about same.  If you’ll permit one more little extension of the metaphor, I will submit that there is a LOT more cow tipping that goes on in the workspace than in any pasture. Here are three ways that managers derail, frustrate, or prevent outright the best efforts of a contented (read, engaged) workforce:

Hanging Onto “Non-Producing and Misfit Cows, ‘er Workers” - Even after proving beyond reasonable doubt that they cannot or will not produce / behave as expected, many employees remain in position because their management chooses to avoid confrontation with the individual (or HR), doesn’t want to expend the energy to hire and train a replacement, or has fallen in love with them for other reasons. Managers then look to A and B players to pick up the slack. This thoroughly disrupts the “spirit of the hive” as others rightfully resent having to carry someone else’s load, and lose pride in what they view as a diminished team. Nobody gets up in the morning and says to themselves, “I want to go lose today”, or, “I want to hang out with losers.” By tolerating this behavior, management tacitly lowers its standards and disenfranchises its best performers.

Systemic Defects - Embedded in every (yes) work process are policies, procedures, methods, tools, equipment, etc. that are not working as expected, and as a result, they add friction to productive effort. Left untreated, this friction is demotivating to the entire workforce. By way of example, the next time you board a commercial aircraft, take note of all the extra effort that flight attendants must exert in order to shoe horn the over-limit and excess carry-on luggage into the overhead bins. Add to that the inevitable arguments with passengers, delays due to deboarding excess luggage, and the realization that this occurs on nearly every flight. If these ladies (mostly) wanted to work for a freight hauler, they would have signed on with FedEx. Your people are enduring comparable irritants. You would do well to spend thirty minutes a day discovering and dispatching these dispiriting productivity killers.

Bad Hiring - By hiring people who, by virtue of pace, preference, values and temperament are out of sync with the organization, managers are adding people who are easily “tipped over”. One misfit person in the right position amidst a hundred others can represent critical mass. Smart managers and smart recruiters take pains to put job fit requirements on an equal basis with talent, and to recognize and deal with hiring mistakes as soon as they become apparent.

If you would like to hear more about this topic in a one-on-one coaching session, keynote speech, or seminar, we would love to hear from you.  

Friday, 24 February 2017 21:43

Why Stars Sometimes Fail as Leaders

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Why Stars Sometimes Fail as Leaders

Richard Hadden


A bright and promising software engineer, we’ll call him Jay, had made a real mark on his company, developing and innovating some of the most important products and processes in the organization’s portfolio. One Friday, Jay’s boss called him into his office and told him,  "You’re so good at what you do that we’ve decided to make you a manager in this department! You start on Monday, and you've got all weekend to figure out how to do the job."

Jay soon found himself in a position for which he was ill-suited and even less well-trained. He knew how to do the work, but not how to lead others to do the same. He’d never had any training, or maybe he just wasn’t cut out for this. Whatever the reason, ultimately, he failed. His boss offered to quietly return him to his former position. Nobody needed to know why. But Jay couldn’t do it. He left. He got another job, as a software engineer. But it didn’t have to happen this way.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 20:26

Discretionary Effort...When the Show Must Go On

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Discretionary Effort...When the Show Must Go On

Richard Hadden
Feb. 23, 2017

 

This past Sunday morning at 8:30, Ashley Yarham learned that a key member of her team had called in sick - totally legit -  quarantined with the flu, and would therefore not be at work that day for her 2:00 shift. Not good. 

OK, you say, people call in sick all the time. What's the big deal? 

The big deal is that Ashley, a speech pathologist offstage, is also the director of a musical comedy, "City of Angels", playing at Jacksonville Beach's Players-by-the-Sea Theatre, for a three-week run, with a highly Committed cast and crew of more than 30. The stricken team member is an actor, cast in the dual roles of Donna and Oolie (lead characters), and the 2:00 shift is, in fact, the curtain time for that day's matinee performance to a pretty well-sold house, with plenty of walkups expected, thanks to some rave reviews in the local press. 

This is community theatre. Volunteer work. Understudies are a luxury they don't really have. If you're familiar with this show (which won the Best Musical Tony in 1990), you know that the Donna/Oolie roles call for some challenging acting, dancing, and singing.  With little choice on such short notice, Director Ashley rolled up her sleeves and stepped in to perform the two roles. 

What happened next is a perfect example of what Bill Catlette and I have been talking about for better than a decade now - Discretionary Effort - doing that which we CHOOSE to do, not because we HAVE to, but because we WANT to. 

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