Tag archive for "Bill Catlette"

Reputation Recruits, but Reality Retains

by Richard, Motivation, Think About It...

Reputation Recruits, but Reality Retains

No Comments 15 June 2015

Cheerful students throwing graduation caps in the AirIn the last few weeks, US universities have disgorged nearly 2 million new graduates into the job market, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. American companies have been working hard (and spending a fortune) to recruit these new graduates, as well as others. They may want to also consider putting more effort into managing their employer reputation.

On a recent trip to New York City, a junior from a prestigious university struck up a conversation with me during a seemingly interminable wait for a hotel elevator. He was on his way to a recruiting event for one of the big accounting firms. He was well dressed, and apprehensive. “I’m going to go and see what they have to say, but to be honest, I’ve heard this place grinds people up. I don’t know if I need to do that.”

“I’ve heard…” he said. Today, there’s no shortage of information (credible and otherwise) on what it’s like to work for your outfit, whether you’re big and famous, or small and local. There’s simply no hiding from your reputation, good or bad, deserved or not.

The generation that wouldn’t dream of signing up for a college class without first checking out the professor on ratemyprofessors.com, is unlikely to show up for an interview without having done due diligence on you. Frankly, if they haven’t done that kind of digging, that would be one strike against them in my book.

Their first stop will likely be glassdoor.com. Then indeed.com. Many will check things out on LinkedIn, and vault.com. If you’re a large(ish) employer, they’ll see if you’ve made the cut in Fortune’s annual ranking of 100 Best Places to Work.

While we’re on the subject of ratings, bear in mind that they don’t just apply at the organizational level. You’re being rated too, as a boss and leader, and those ratings are being published, in much the same fashion that Uber drivers rate your ‘rideability’. If your rep is suffering, it’s a little like having bad breath. In all likelihood, nobody will say anything to you about it. They’ll just keep their distance. One thing is for sure, the richness and availability of individual manager ratings will only grow over the foreseeable future.

And believe it or not, prospective applicants are also going to resort to an ancient, time-honored, and peculiarly un-sexy method of research: talking to friends. And as everyone knows, friends don’t let friends work for jerks, or in crappy places.

As has nearly always been the case, salary is often the most visible and quantifiable factor that piques applicants’ interest. But the fine print in these reviews often tells a more illuminating story. A few quotes from actual employer review sites:

  • “The money was great, but after a while, I said screw it. There’s not enough money in the world to keep me in a place where I’m miserable.”
  • “To be honest, the starting salary got my attention. Now that I’ve been there a year, you couldn’t pry me away from here for any amount. I love my boss and my team, and I feel like I’m going somewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love the money, too, but even apart from that, the job has been a dream.”

What can you do?

  • Build a great workplace reputation by first paying lots of attention to what it’s really like to work on your team. Remember, while reputation recruits, reality retains.
  • Nothing, repeat, nothing beats having competent, caring leadership, when it comes to building Employee Engagement. It’s funny, but when we look at employers with outstanding leaders at every level, we don’t hear a lot of complaining about money. When compensation keeps rearing its ugly head, there’s almost always an underlying problem with how people are treated by their bosses.
  • Monitor – frequently – your company’s reviews on the aforementioned review sites, and others. What they say doesn’t even have to be true to do you irreparable damage. Survey your workers regularly for indicators of satisfaction and engagement, and DO something with the results. Make them part of the metrics by which you run the business.

You want to fill your applicant pipeline, and your organization, with the best of the best. You’re looking for people who have lots of options, not those who are looking at you as a last resort. The lots-of-options group will look carefully at workplace reputation to decide where they want to spend their time and grow their career.

Build, groom, manage, and protect that reputation by making sure you get people Committed to your organization; Enable them to do their best work; and show them that you Care about them. It’s not complicated. Get to it!



Richard Hadden is a leadership speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations improve their business results by virtue of a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He and Bill Catlette are the authors of the popular “Contented Cows” leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. Their newest book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, published by John Wiley & Sons, is now available. Learn more about them and their work at ContentedCows.com.

Guest Post, Leadership

Choose a Great Boss. Be a Great Boss

No Comments 19 March 2015

She has a relaxed management styleGuest post by Ivan Serrano.

The best technique for getting ahead at work is choosing a great boss. Not a great job, a great boss. A great boss is one who listens to employees, who is willing to let employees make mistakes and learn from them, who understands the value of loyalty, who is willing to go to bat for employees and who makes sure employees have everything they need to succeed.

But here’s the problem: great bosses are in high demand, but unfortunately in short supply. So jobs with great bosses don’t open up that often.

What can employees who don’t have great bosses do to get ahead? Here are a few thoughts that will help you get ahead even if you have a lousy boss. They will also make you more valuable to that great boss who may be in your future.

There’s one more big bonus to practicing these tips. They will also make you a great boss when you have the chance to step up and lead others. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s great bosses.

Focus on results

There is plenty of good advice about how to get a job and what to do after you’ve landed one, but results are what matter most in the workplace. That said, results are defined differently for every job and every company. At one job, the most important result may be contributing to growing revenues. At another job, the most important result may be creating loyal or happy customers. At another job, the result may be fitting into the team dynamic in a way that facilitates the group effort. It’s important to know which results matter most and then focus on them.

Once the results that matter most for your job have been identified, it is important to identify the metrics for success in achieving those results and tracking your performance yourself. Make sure you are improving.

Ask questions

If no one is telling you which results matter most and how success is measured, you need to be asking questions. Don’t make assumptions and don’t wait for someone to volunteer the information you need. Get out in front and stay in front with salient questions.

This doesn’t mean ask questions so you will appear to be engaged. Only ask the questions you need answers for.

Show me a solution

No whining and don’t play the blame game. There is no future in pointing out a problem without also sharing a solution.

You probably aren’t the first one to notice the problems you see. The real problem is that no one is stepping up to solve the problem. Instead of just pointing out a problem and waiting for someone else to do something about it, bring a solution to the table.

Admit your mistakes

But then move on. There aren’t really any benefits from mistakes except learning what not to do in a single situation. If you learn your lesson, you’ve already gotten everything you’re going to get from making a mistake. Move on.

Things change

Be ready for change, even before your first day on the job. Chances are, if you stay at a job long enough, you will be asked to perform more than one task that is not on your job description.

Don’t let your title limit you. Ask the questions to understand what results are expected and what the metrics for success are. Do your best not to take on new tasks until both you and the person making the request have a mutual understanding of results and metrics for success. This will ensure you get credit for your work.

Often, taking on new responsibilities means you will not be able to perform a task you have been responsible for. Don’t just assume that task will be taken care of. Make sure you know who will be responsible for your old tasks–it may be you.

Challenge yourself

You’re going to be more engaged with your job if you’re continually doing something new. This translates into personal growth, but it also translates into increasing your value as an employee.

The devil is in the details

Make sure tasks get completed. Too often in the daily hustle from one crisis to the next, many tasks don’t get completed in one sitting. This is a reality of the modern workplace. Juggling more than one project is a skill most employees need to have.

Even though your boss asks you to stop doing something to work on something else, it does not mean your boss doesn’t want you to complete the task you were asked to stop. Always go back and finish up those incomplete tasks.

Have fun

Try to have some fun. Humor and laughter in the workplace can make the day go by quicker and creates an atmosphere that everyone enjoys being in.

Following these tips will help you get ahead in your current job. The real value of this particular set of tips is that they are getting you ready for leadership and establishing the capability you will need to as a leader–leading by example. Keep your eye on the goal of becoming a great boss one day. The workplace needs you.

Ivan Serrano is a business and finance journalist living in the Bay Area of California. Connect with him on Google+.


by Bill, Leadership, Management, Motivation

Discretionary Effort: Why Wisconsin’s Governor (and Yours) May be Playing a Losing Game

No Comments 27 February 2011

Having already wrung needed and significant concessions from them, the newly elected Governor of Wisconsin has been making a rather poorly disguised effort to nullify the collective bargaining agreements and rights of various groups of state workers, principally teachers. As with nearly every other issue of import these days, the whole world is suddenly watching, including like-minded governors in several other states who are licking their chops at the prospect of following the lead penguin into the drink. Whoa… Full Flaps, Brakes, Stop!

In the interest of full disclosure, I am no fan of labor unions. Indeed, a significant portion of my professional effort over the course of 3 decades has focused on helping organizations obviate unions by maintaining a positive employee relations culture, a culture in which both the individual and the organization can do their best work and gain the most from it.

That said, I respect every worker’s right to make a choice as to whether or not they are willing to enter into a direct, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship with their management. That choice is most often based on whether or not management has earned the benefit of the doubt. If the answer is yes, workers feel no need to reach out and seek (let alone pay for) the protection of organized labor. Are you with me so far? Alright, hang on.

Demonstrations notwithstanding, I believe there is an even chance that Governor Scott Walker will pull off some kind of flash bang, middle of the night vote and get his way, even if it means reinventing the law right before our eyes. Even if that comes to pass, while winning the hand, he will lose the game. Correction, the people of Wisconsin will lose. How? Because there will still be a need for thousands of teachers, and every one of them will STILL make a quiet daily decision as to whether they want to give their full measure of effort that day, or mail it in. Given the backdrop, which choice do you think they will make?

For the last twelve years we have worked almost entirely within the field of Discretionary Effort, studying, writing, speaking, and teaching leaders about that extra layer of effort that every one of us can give to a situation if, but only if we want to. Eerily consistent with similar work by Towers Watson and Gallup, our own engagement surveys suggest that barely 50% of workers are, by their own admission doing their very best work, and that most of us routinely expend no more than 60 to 70% of our maximum effort in the workspace. In other words, a lot of unspent capacity goes home with us at day’s end.

So, if just half of the 50,000 or so teachers in a state, any state choose to ratchet the ‘ole effort meter back another 10-20%, what is that going to cost to compensate for the lost productivity? Perhaps more importantly, what will it do to the level of educational performance in the state? If you’re getting a mental image of a post office being superimposed over your local school district, you’re getting the picture.

Since the publication of our first book, Contented Cows Give Better Milk in 1998, we have maintained that giving workers (be they on an assembly line at GM, or a school in Racine) benefits they haven’t earned, the market doesn’t require, and you can’t afford is the antithesis of good employee relations, because some day you have to take all that stuff back. As the folks at GM did, and now a lot of teachers and other municipal workers face that same music, the last thing in the world we, through our elected representatives ought to be doing is rubbing their faces in it, just because we can. It’s not good business or good politics, and it’s certainly not good employee relations. Motivated people move faster.

As always, your thoughts and ideas are welcome


A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the newly released book,Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their  website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

Rebooting Leadership is Launched!

by Bill, by Richard, Leadership

Rebooting Leadership is Launched!

1 Comment 03 February 2011

Since the middle of 2007, corporate and other organizational training budgets have been in the deep freeze, along with new hire requisitions and your last three merit increases. During that period, four classes of grads have found their way into the workplace. Many of them have since moved into their first management positions as their predecessors and even a few baby boomers have ascended a rung, or moved along. Most of these moves have occurred with virtually no formal preparation or training to enhance the likelihood of success. Moreover, during this same period, the workspace has become a faster paced, less trusting, less forgiving, meaner place.

Learning about little things, like how to select/deselect teammates, how to coach for better performance, how to acquire and use influence, how to manage time/priorities, and how to recover from a failed project or other career spill has largely been declared DIY territory.

Against this backdrop, and armed with the belief that a recession is a terrible thing to waste, in 2009 we embarked on a new book project. The “we” in this case took on a new dimension by virtue of two important new partnerships.

First, on the writing front, we teamed up with Reston, Virginia based management consultant and coach, Meredith Kimbell. Meredith added fresh perspective, tons of great examples from her consulting practice, a pithy writing style, and a woman’s touch. And, she’s just plain fun to work with.

Second, in order to accentuate B2B sales, we signed on with the king of leadership book publishing and B2B distribution, David Cottrell of Cornerstone Leadership Institute. A strong reader’s advocate, David pushes authors, his staff, and himself to do their very best work, and do it in less than 118 pages. There is no doubt that he pushed and cajoled us into doing a better book. And, true to his word, David consistently does exactly what he says he will do. How refreshing is that?

For those who speak, train, coach, and consult for a living, as we do, doing a new book is akin to printing new business cards – expensive business cards. It is also a lever that forces us to think long and hard about new realities, and prepare fresh advice and content for client presentations; content that is worthy of the time it takes to read or listen to. Forgive the lack of modesty, but we’re confident that we’ve succeeded.

Rebooting Leadership, our newest work, was written expressly for the above-referenced 1st and 2nd level managers, who daily attend to the myriad thankless tasks associated with getting the wash out, and those who coach and lead them. It’s a high protein, fad-free guidebook that is chock full of prescriptive advice for surviving and succeeding in the new world in which we find ourselves. Think of it as a semester’s worth of leadership education for much less than the price of a textbook or seminar.

Rebooting Leadership is an easy, 2 hour read, equipped with immediately actionable insight and prescriptions. Available both in print and digital versions for the Kindle reader, it is our best stuff to date, and we want you to have it.

The book even has its own website, at RebootingLeadership.com.

The print edition is available for $15.95 from Cornerstone Leadership Institute (volume discounts apply).

The Kindle version is available for $9.99 from Amazon.

For those who like to try before they buy, a free sample chapter is available by clicking this link.

OR – if you want to have one of the authors come to your organization and teach your leaders what it means to reboot their leadership, click here.

Whichever path you choose, we’re confident that you will find Rebooting Leadership a valuable addition to your management library.

by Bill, Leadership

Stimulate This!

No Comments 17 February 2009

Well, now that the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been signed into law, the heavy lifting begins, amidst the hoopla and controversy over who has the most “shovel ready” projects worthy of public financing.

In that vein there was an excellent piece (Smart Roads, Smart Bridges. Smart Grids.) by Michael Totty in today’s WSJ. In well-written, compelling fashion, Mr. Totty advocates  using currently available technology and good engineering methods to leave us with “highways that alert motorists of a traffic jam before it forms; bridges that report when they’re at risk of collapse; or an electric grid that fixes itself when blackouts hit.”  In other words, as long as we’re at it, let’s use some smart data gathering and design methods to yield much better outcomes.

In similar fashion, we have long called attention to the fact that smart, well-run organizations make it a point to regularly (no, constantly) sample the ebb and flow of worker morale using well constructed surveys. They do it not out of some socialistic bent, but because they know that to a great degree, today’s morale drives tomorrow’s customer experience, and next month’s earnings. In other words, it pays to do it. This is not something where they turn the spigot on when times are good and shut it off when things get tough. Rather, they take pains to listen and respond to their workers whether the wind is in their face or at their backs.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Think About It...

Let's Do More Than Say Thanks

No Comments 27 November 2008

USO soldiersLet’s keep it short, sweet, and simple today. Amidst all the hoopla about our limping economy, new (?) tide of politicians, and terrorist attacks in India, let’s get beyond ourselves and say a special thank you to the brave men and women of the U.S. military who have forgone stock options, comfort, time with loved ones, and personal safety to put themselves in harm’s way for us.

We’ve never asked readers of this column or our free monthly leadership e-zine, Fresh Milk for a dime, and don’t plan to start now, but I am asking that, before launching into holiday madness mode, you go to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or the USO , crack open your wallet, and show some support for the folks who are looking out for us. One of my favorite ways is to buy a bunch of the 550 minute Global Phone Cards and, in my travels, simply hand them to DCU clad troops in the airport, together with a simple Thank You. Do it… today. They’ll feel better, and so will you.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com


Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.


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