the People Plan- Solving Your People Pains

64% more sales? What difference does one person make?

I have always been an advocate for finding and rewarding a great employee. As the People consultant who I worked with years ago was fond of saying, “it’s never the wrong time to hire the right person.”

And I have examples from personal experience in my family business and at clients who found that the right person can make a huge impact on the work environment, productivity, sales and ultimately profit.

But I want to share an astounding story related recently by a woman entrepreneur who is in one of my business groups.

For months, she was frustrated with the results of the manager in her production operation.

Her business coach continued to advise her to recruit and select another manager, but as we all know, recruiting and selection is TIME CONSUMING. And you worry that the person you finally hire may not be any better than the person you have. And then you have to spend time training the new person…. And the list goes on, so we stall and don’t go looking for the Ideal.

At some point she decided that maybe she would at least look for another candidate, so created a profile of the ideal candidate (Lesson 1– do this before recruiting so that you are attracting the Ideal Candidate).

Then she made a list of the job performance results she really needed, key skills and competencies of an ideal production manager. She said that when she systematically wrote this out, it was not what she was originally thought she needed! (Lesson 2- by systematic and clear about your Ideal Candidate.)

Then she placed a local advertisement describing the ideal candidate and the very detailed position requirements and results.

Who applied?- an applicant who was working at a similar larger production facility that had just closed. She interviewed this candidate and found out that he had the industry skills and knowledge, but more importantly management and leadership skills. After a thorough selection process, she was confident this candidate had a good probability of being an A player. (Lesson 3– Validate, don’t just take someone’s word for their capabilities after one interview.)

Fast forward one month after he started to this business results:

  •  the crew increased from 55% productivity (plus overtime to get orders out) to 100% productivity with no overtime
  • the process was running so smoothly the backlog of 2 weeks to get orders shipped dropped to 2 days
  • because she was able to contact customers (instead of putting out fires in the production and shipping area) she sold 64% more sales that month!

And how much more did she pay this new manager? The same as the prior one. Even if he wanted 15% more base pay —would he have been worth it? (Did I mention 64% more sales?)

Lesson 4– So you say you don’t have time to find an A player, and you can’t afford one? What would 10% more productivity or sales do for your profit this year?


Filed under: Job Fit, Selection, Top Performers, , ,

Holding onto your best team players

As a small business manager, you might think that large employers have it “easier” to keep great employees. After all, the big guys can pay more, provide more job security and career advancement, and off better benefits.

Actually, I often see that despite the resources at large companies, the direct managers are not using those resources wisely and have the same issues with retaining their best and brightest.

Here is a list of what they might do, and you can too, to build your fabulous team.

What can your small organization offer that will help you keep your talented employees?

  1. Challenging work— many employers hire a new employee, train them, and then leave them doing a job that becomes routine and frankly, boring. Check in with employees regularly to find out what new assignments you can give to keep them challenged.
  2. Less hassles— a primary reason employees look for another job is a lack of resources to do the job and unreliable co-workers. Encourage your team members to identify hassles and road blocks and then work to eliminate as many as possible.
  3. Work and results tied to something meaningful—the term “second paycheck” was coined to indicate that meaningful work is also rewarding. I have a client that makes concrete products and their employees take pride in the fact that they are part of American manufacturing and their products are used to keep roads and bridges safer.
  4. Involvement in company decisions— employees want to be part of something bigger and feel good about their employer and its direction. Get input on major strategic goals and keep communicating about the why and where your organization is going.
  5. Everyone gets development opportunities— if an employee feels that she has a “dead end job” you definitely won’t get above and beyond work. We recommend that everyone has an annual development plan to work on 3-4 key training goals, such as improving a competency, technical skill or contributing to a major project.

As you can see from this list, the direct manager plays an important role in understanding each employee’s talents and needs, communicating how everyone contributes to the organization’s goals, and involving each person finding how they can match up their interests and goals with what the employer needs.

It’s hard to get your team on board and on the same page if you are hiding in your office— so get out there and talk more with your team.

Filed under: Strategy & Alignment, Top Performers, , , , , , ,

Study Finds 10 Key Competencies for High Performers

The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) analyzed performance based on information from more than 20,000 managers and their employees (40 organizations across the globe).

They found 10 competencies differentiated and identified “high performers” able to succeed in our volatile, changing “new work environment.”

These competencies can be categorized into three key areas – adapting to change, working collaboratively, and applying judgment:

Adapt to Change
• Organizational awareness
•Learning agility

Work Collaboratively
•Technical expertise

Apply Judgment
• Prioritization
•Problem solving
•Decision making

According to their research, these competencies are found in about 5% of the working population. They also suggest that “The competencies essential to strong performance in the new work environment are best developed through on-the-job experience with a single company over time.”

What can your small or mid-sized organization due to develop at least part of your staff into high performers by focusing on these skill sets?

Read the full report at:

Identifying and Enabling the New High Performer

Filed under: Development, Performance Management, Top Performers, , , , , ,

Total Rewards #8- Performance Management

In my informal poll of employees and human resource professionals, most are not satisfied with the performance review process at their organization. The “annual review” is often the most dreaded event for employees and managers alike (hundreds of studies back up my personal polling results). Don’t blame HR people—they have the best of intentions.

You see, employees crave performance feedback — really! (next week our blog post will focus on the value of feedback). The problem is that they are not getting enough between the “annual reviews” and that managers are not doing a very good job with the conversation during the annual review (or worse, the reviews are less frequent than annual or not at all).

Performance management is not just an annual event with a sit down conversation and simplifying an entire year of an employee’s conversation to a single number. The term performance management refers to all the efforts of peers, managers, measurement and systems that literally “manage” or guide an employee’s performance to do work that accomplishes an organization’s goals.

A terrific Aberdeen Group report found out what differentiated the “Best in Class” employers from the “Laggards” in the area of performance management. At Best in Class companies, 88% of managers reached agreement on performance goals between a manager and a worker (compared with 77% of others).  Simple stuff that they should be doing, but how they did this was remarkable —83% of Best managers provided ongoing, informal feedback compared to 43% of the lowest performing companies.

Wait until you here the impact of having great managers that align and focus employee productivity—at Best in Class employers, these managers rated 71% of employees as exceeding expectations, compared to 20% of those employers with average performance to their industry and 13% of lower performing companies. (Also, 62% of employees at Best employers were engaged compared to 28% at laggards).

So this means that Best companies had 6 times are many Top Performers– no wonder they hit the ball out of the park compared to their competitors!

The study also found that there were reasons Best employers had more effective manager- employee conversations, as they provided tools and training for managers on how to engage workers and deliver effective performance reviews.

Compare this to an organization I recently worked with. The organization had no performance review process, so a new manager took the initiative to copy the one used by his wife’s employer. He then completed the reviews by himself, handed them to employees with the comment “let me know if you have any questions.” And yes, each employee was given a number, but no, the reviews never left his office (I do not believe the general manager or HR even knew about this). I definitely give him an “A” for effort—but put yourself in the mind of the employee—what must they be thinking?

Read the Aberdeen report, the Engagement Performance Equation

Filed under: Engagement, Performance Management, Top Performers, Total Rewards Series, , , , ,

“The Care and Feeding of High-Potential Employees” HR Magazine article

A 2010 survey by the Corporate Leadership Council of the Corporate Executive Board asked 880 high-potential employees if they were planning to leave their jobs in the next 12 months.

More than 25 percent said they had plans to leave! (This was 2.5 times more than a survey five years prior).

Many indicated current experiences are not providing development opportunities (64 percent). The survey assessed levels of “passion” and discretionary effort to measure engagement, which declined 30 percent in just one year from the 2009 survey.

What are you doing to provide mastery opportunities for your best employees? When the economy is in full swing (and perhaps before) these highly valuable and highly employable key people will have no problem finding another job that better meets their professional and personal needs.

Read full article:

The Care and Feeding of High-Potential Employees

Filed under: Performance Management, Recognition & Rewards, Top Performers

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