Aligning vision, people
and performance

Enter your email here to receive my weekly newsletter:


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner




Posts Tagged ‘outsourced HR Manager’

Who does your culture attract?

A paraphrased excerpt from a client letter received by the CEO:

“…Yesterday I attended the event at your facility. During my visit, I was fortunate enough to meet many of the wonderful employees and owners. Your VP and I had a very lengthy discussion about the culture and growth plans and suggested I send you my resume.

I really was not looking for new opportunities, but after experiencing the warm, friendly family environment, I was bowled over. This is the culture I have been searching for in America…a company who values camaraderie, respect and company loyalty, all of which I found abundant at your organization.”

Would your culture produce the same results?

Leaders must coach to win!

“We’ve done lots of research over the past three years, and we’ve found that leaders who have the best coaching skills have better business results.”

V.P. of Global Executive & Organizational Development, IBM -The Dallas Morning News

We often hear about setting the example in leadership.  Sometimes it is just taking the “high road” and reacting to a situation with integrity and as much dignity as you can muster.

If you haven’t taken a look at yourself recently, take this simple self-check of 15 coaching behaviors.   Use this scale: 5 = always, 4=usually, 3=sometimes, 2=seldom and 1=never. If you are brave enough, let your trainee rate you.  It may be just the wake-up call you need to regenerate positive momentum in that relationship.

  1. _____Set high expectations
  2. _____Offer challenging ideas
  3. _____Help build self-confidence
  4. _____Encourage professional behavior
  5. _____Offer friendship
  6. _____Confront negative behaviors
  7. _____Confront negative attitudes
  8. _____Listen to what is said
  9. _____Recognize what is not being said
  10. _____Add specific activities that you believe would help
  11. _____Offer wise counsel
  12. _____Provide timely feedback
  13. _____Provide positive recognition
  14. _____Share personal experiences when appropriate
  15. _____Demonstrate care

If you scored 60 – 75, write a book!  You are doing it right and people seek you out for advice and counsel.

If you scored 45-59, share this rating scale with someone you coach and ask where you can improve.  Ask how you can demonstrate the coaching behavior they need from you and what they can do if you forget to do it again.

30-44, get yourself a coach who can help you develop these behaviors.  It will contribute greatly to the success of the group you lead and your own personal contentment.

15-29, what’s your employee turnover rate?  Unless, your employees have enlisted, they are not going to stick around very long!



Unravelling Performance Appraisals…does one size fit all?

Externsteine - place of power
The subject line of the manager’s email reads: Annual Reviews Due!!  At that moment an audible groan is muffled behind every manager’s computer.  Why?

“Review time! We just finished forecasting and budgets!  Now, I’m going to pull more late nights and Saturdays!  There are just too many *%!@*  things to do around here!”

Reviews, appraisals, salary performance reviews or whatever you call the process…tend to sneak up on a manager’s horizon.  Following employee terminations, it could probably be ranked as a manager’s least favorite activity. Conversely, it is one of the most anticipated events of the year for an employee and can have a strong influence on whether a top performer stays or goes.

Why anticipated?  Well, an employee may receive infrequent feedback and wonder how their performance has been perceived. Or, they work remotely and it’s the time of year set to review how they’ve met their goals and to set goals for the new year.  Maybe, they’re waiting to hear if they get a salary increase or not.  But first, you, as the manager, have to get past the “manager dread”.

Manager Dread

Why do managers dread performance appraisals so much?

  • Not enough time has been set aside during the year to document performance and whether expectations were exceeded or just average
  • There are not regular performance talks (informal or formal) throughout the year, so it feels awkward to address “deep” issues
  • There are areas that need improvement with no clear goals, job descriptions or job duties so it appears that the manager is just  “adding more to their job, as needed”
  • The employee might ask specific questions about goals that are not measurable, and your review seems  contingent on how you feel about someone 

How can we make performance appraisals better experiences?

  • Professionally written job descriptions or guidelines
  • Know the traits that it takes to be successful in the position
  • Frequent informal communcation with the employee, including talks about performance 

Companies often will be able to tell you what it takes to make them successful, such as their core values and mission statement.  Yet, when it comes to breaking down the values, mission statement and strategies into bite-size parts for the employees to handle, it resembles a jigsaw puzzle fresh from the box.  How can that be avoided?

Next time: “One Employee’s Story” and How to Avoid Turnover

Adding a partner…should we consider a pre-nup?

A Second View of the World
So, you are thinking of acquiring a partner in your business.  Maybe you want a partner to spread the workload or liability.  You could have differing areas of expertise and want to become a “one stop shop”.

Think before you get engaged and sign those final papers! 

As one Company President put it, “a partnership is like a marriage without the good parts.” 

Consider these suggestions, before moving forward as suggested by my TAB Board

  • Each party invests the same amount of money
  • A change in equity equals a change in authority
  • You have to trust all parties involved, even minor partners
  • An exit strategy must be as clear as possible before entering the partnership
  • Be sure a full-fledged business plan is in place, including all stages of the business
  • Get a signed management agreement from all parties involved
  • Work with an HR consultant to predict behavior and discuss potential hotspots
  • Expect to invest 20% more money and 20% more time

These pointers can come in handy even if you are considering a strategic business partnership or affliation.  Because as we all know, “breaking up is so very hard to do.”

Lesson from Frank Maguire: Treat everyone like a rock star!

When I received the sad news that Frank Maguire, my lifelong friend, mentor and FEDEX founding senior executive had passed away on a business flight, my immediate reaction was one of grief.   What would I miss the most?  The stories of Colonel Sanders and Kentucky Fried Chicken in the early days?  His experience in the White House when JFK was in office?  How he took the time from his international speaking circuit to speak about his cherished memories of my father at his funeral?  

Anyone who knew Frank would say, “how he made me feel”.  My mind flitted back to when he was the keynote speaker at a conference in Houston many years ago. His charismatic persuasiveness made the least touchy feel-y of executives break through their defenses, hold hands and bellow, “this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” with Frank leading the chorus. It was amazing to witness his impact on others. 

Moving through the crowd toward his hotel, he cut a swath of smiles and satisfied nods as we crossed the conference center floor.  Why each hotel staffer was told how they personally made a positive difference to his stay!  Even  Carmela, the housekeeper.  Frank exclaimed, “why, my wife’s name is Carmel. I’m on my way home to see her…let me kiss you on the cheek for that,” with that Irish twinkle in his eye. Carmela  and her co-workers beamed as he was whisked away in his limousine.    

Did it take any extra time or effort for Frank to be observant of those lives he touched? Maybe, a little.  Yet, every time he found the “light” in us, his grew brighter.  And Frank, I, for one, am going to miss that “little light of yours” that still burns very brightly in my heart.

Risky Business of Hiring

Sign me up ..making major decisions with minor information

 Remember TMI?  An expression used when someone had crossed that communication line and provided “too much information”.  Oftentimes, it meant that the information was “way” too technical, too personal or too detailed for the listener to have the patience or desire to absorb in one (or any) conversation. 

After an employee has failed or disappointed us again, do we ever reflect back to the interview and think did I experience “TMI” or was it more like “NEI”…not enough information?

 Were there red flags we missed? We mentally go through our “good hire checklist”.  They had the right experience, professional demeanor and even a good education and training.  Where had we gone wrong?

If this is the first time, we brush ourselves off promising we won’t let it happen again.  If not, we begin to doubt our abilities to get the “right information” in the interview, or worse, we blame someone or something else.

 Reasons Employees Fail

Let’s review some Hiring Success Basics.  Studies show that the top three reasons people fail are due to:

a) Incompetence

b) Incompatibility

c) Dishonesty

 Which of the three reasons does your company most often experience? When meeting with new clients, the most popular answer received is A or B with a disclaimer that “we usually don’t have a problem with C”.

 Companies advise that they don’t have to worry about reason C because their employees don’t handle money or they are doing background checks…which are effective if the person has been caught.  Repeat fraud offenders represent only 12% of the white collar fraudsters according to the Certified Fraud Examiners Association’s Annual Report in 2004. Quite an alarming statistic!

 What about accepting company work “on the side”, sharing confidential information with competitors or misusing computer data?  Even playing on the computer, cell phone abuse and general carelessness has been coined a new term.  Known as “presenteeism”, it means spending paid work time on any activities but work!

Because business dishonesty = stealing money in most employers’ minds, do not be dissuaded from doing background checks on prospective employees!  They can serve as a legal safety net and provide other necessary and useful information.     

 One Employer’s StoryRobber Me

 One small employer hired a key employee highly recommended for her trustworthiness, performance and drive. The employer recognized the promise and talent of the potential employee, though lacking the usual industry experience. The employer mentored the new hire through some personal challenges initially, until the employee’s focus and productivity returned. Due to health challenges after fourteen months, the employee regretfully quit to convalesce at home. 

Imagine the surprise felt by the staff, when the former employee was spotted at a trade show three months later, as the proud owner of a competitive company!  Imagine MY surprise when I learned my former employee had spun almost a year-long web of deceit resulting in lost company revenue, diverted relationships and, of course, lost time, for my company.

 When relating my unfortunate experience of years ago with other employers, many retort …”want to know what happened to us?”  The stories all began with the phrase …”we had this ____.” It was just a matter of filling in the blank with any title.  The amounts of money, time and resources lost, due to the acts of deception and theft perpetrated, often by those whom the employers had embraced as their hardest working employees, were staggering. 

 Reference Check Hurdles

 Most companies caught unawares indicate that references had been checked.  And today references can be challenging…almost like running the 1 mile hurdle race. 

Tenacity is the name of the game.  Jump those hurdles of former co-workers, peers, employer validations and third party reference checks only.  Don’t be swept up in the emotion of the gushing reference. 

Ask for the former employer who may have been restricted from giving a reference in the past. Call them by using their new company’s main number to locate the “real person”, instead of their cell phone number.  Get former happy and unhappy customers or vendors to tell you how their interactions were handled.  The “diamond in the rough” reference may be right in front of you.


Counteroffer checkmate

checkmate !!!
Heading off counteroffers  

Professional recruiters typically pose the counteroffer question ” Have you ever accepted a position in good faith and found that when you turned in your resignation, your company made you a counteroffer?”, to decide if the candidate is worthwhile to represent.  The question lurking behind the question is, if you make a job offer to someone who responded yes to the question, will they accept another counteroffer from their current company after the recruiter’s client company had offered them a new position.  

Is this person’s word to be trusted? Certainly, this is a consideration whether you are a recruiter or a hiring manager for a company.

If they answered yes, be aware! Certain precautions need to be put in place.  Find out more to fully understand the dynamics of the previous situation and mindset of the candidate.  Remember they have already made a verbal agreement that will cause most hiring managers to terminate the interviewing process and begin preparing for the new arrival.    

Suggested follow-up questions are: How lucrative was the offer? How did you handle it with the company who had just hired you? In the long-run, were you happy you made that decision?  Additionally, ask , “How long did you stay with the organization after accepting the counteroffer?  Did it impact your future advancement or opportunities with that organization? 

Jerry Land lends a professional recruiter’s script and point of view on “How to avoid a candidate accepting a counteroffer” in his blog at

Don’t be blindsided by a counteroffer acceptance two days before your new employee is supposed to be sitting in New Employee Orientation.  Be thorough.  The extra questioning up front will save a ton a regret later and stave off the unexpected check-mate!

Top performers test the waters

North Stradbroke Island_3840 A
Eight Critical Questions    

Knowing the answers to these eight questions, will save you a lot of heartache if you have a serious contender for your top job or if you have someone testing if “the grass is greener on the other side”.  These can be used in a pre-interview situation or be repeated within the first interview to gauge the reaction of the applicant. 

  1. What type of commute are you accustomed to?
  2. What are your current circumstances which have made you consider a new position?
  3. What are the reasons you’ve left position x, y and z?
  4. When did you start your search?
  5. At what interviewing stage are you at with other job opportunities?
  6. Have you received any job offers? Many applicants indicate they have job offers when they only have interviewed or applied to positions online.
  7. Have you ever accepted a position in good faith and found that when you turned in your resignation, your company made you a counter-offer?
  8. Follow-up questions for a Yes answer: How lucrative was the offer? How did you handle it with the company who had just hired you? In the long-run, were you happy you made that decision?

 If question 1 is asked of an applicant,  who “needs a job”, if a commute of 25 miles to work daily will work for them, the answer will usually be YES!  “That’s no problem!”  A question framed to be answered either yes or no, does not give you information that reflects past behavior.    When the employee quits at 6 months, the exit interviewer will ask the reason for leaving. The answer most likely will be…”the drive is too long”. Could that turnover have been avoided?

Asking about the applicant’s current and past reasons for leaving a position can reveal a number of characteristics about the applicant.  Remember, we routinely may ask this question hundreds of times, yet to the applicant this is very personal.  Be sure to ask and then listen, without interrupting.  Encouraging others by nodding or repeating phrases can help those struggling to collect their thoughts or encourage a more complete response.

 Their answer will be an immediate indicator of how well they organize and communicate thoughts regarding their personal decisions, values, and beliefs about their past performance, business relationships and company culture.  Your position may require good communication skills and presentation, so you’ve had your first glimpse at their skill level.

 Have you ever called your favorite candidate back for a second interview only to find out they just accepted another position?  Put some boundaries around your expectations before you become too hopeful about any one candidate.  By knowing up front how long they’ve searched and if they have any real or potential job offers, you can manage your interviewing schedule and expectations more effectively…and save yourself from a broken heart when you’ve fallen in love with that top candidate that was only “testing the waters.”

"Pat brings her charm, wit and insight into her advisory relationships and shares the same with her audiences. She's got the systems to back up her concepts."

- Frank Maguire FEDEX Senior Founding Executive

John Maxwell


Profiles Int'l