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Build the Bottom Line by Measuring and Improving Employee Engagement

July 24th, 2015 by Nancy S. Ahlrichs in Talent Development, Talent Management

ChangeEmployee engagement is the key to bottom-line performance. When employees are engaged, they’re willing to go the “extra mile” in their jobs. They learn continually, accept promotions, refer qualified job seekers to the organization, and commit to staying and growing with the organization, at least for a couple of years. Engaged employees have a significant impact on the company’s performance.

It’s not enough to accept this as truth, however—you also need to back it up with numbers. Metrics-driven executives become increasingly supportive of engagement efforts when they see results, so you have to show them the data. It’s fairly straightforward to figure out the organization’s financial performance, but how do you measure engagement and make the connection?

First, realize that it takes time—usually three to five years. You have to invest in establishing baseline engagement metrics showing where your organization is today and compare it to data you collect year after year going forward. With this in mind, here are some of the metrics you can look at to determine employee engagement.

  • Voluntary turnover: Analyze turnover and exit interview data by department and manager, race, gender, generation, length of tenure, and other demographics to be able to address specific issues with specific populations. Who is leaving and why? Share data with all levels in management. Departments and managers with high turnover need assistance in recruiting (how to hire the right people who will fit) and with their management skills.
  • Training participation: Track the number of training hours per year for the organization overall, as well as for different levels of employees. Analyze training participation by department and manager, race, gender, generation, length of tenure, and so on—and cross-reference it with turnover data. Low participation in any department or function often results in higher voluntary and involuntary turnover. Manager development is strongly correlated with higher staff and manager retention and higher employee performance.
  • Revenue per employee: As a baseline, determine today’s revenue per employee (total annual revenue divided by the number of employees at the end of the year). Calculate this for the past two years and then monitor it year to year after you implement engagement strategies.
  • Number of internal applicants per job opening: If internal candidates are not applying, that’s a sign that engagement is low. You may need to offer internal courses in resume and interview preparation, internal networking, and other topics. Demonstrating care for your employees’ careers increases engagement.
  • Number of employee referrals for job openings: With or without a referral reward, engaged employees will refer qualified applicants. Track where and how all applicants learned of each opening.
  • Number of awards as a Great Place to Work, Top Employer, Great Place for Mothers, Best Places in IT, and so on. Many of these awards are based on employee surveys. If you apply for an award and don’t win, use the survey data/report you receive to analyze the situation and to refine engagement efforts in the future. When you do win, continue to use the data to improve strategies. Either way, thank your employees for taking the time give feedback.

Senior management may need education around the value of employee engagement to understand that lower engagement means higher turnover, a negative employment brand, more quality issues, a negative product or service brand, and a lower bottom line. Share articles featuring Gallup research. Start an executive book club with discussions of books such as First Break All the Rules or What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. Apply for an award as a Best Place to Work or Top Employer.  And remember what the famous management consultant Peter Drucker once said: “What’s measured improves.” In the end, your bottom line will thank you.

Nancy S. Ahlrichs is a business development consultant at FlashPoint, where she interacts with human resource professionals, executives, and business owners in order to understand their organizational needs. She collaborates with our other team members to develop appropriate consulting solutions and supports prospects throughout the sales process.

 

Image courtesy of Mrpuen

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Leadership Development Trends from the Leadership Challenge Forum

July 16th, 2015 by Bill Mugavin in Talent Development, Talent Management

Recently FlLCWashPoint had the opportunity to sponsor the 2015 Leadership Challenge Forum in San Francisco. More than 250 attendees from all over the world learned about the latest research and developments with The Leadership Challenge® Workshop and LPI®: Leadership Practices Inventory®, as well as other products and services associated with the program. With a theme of “cultivating a culture of leadership,” the forum included three keynote sessions and more than 20 breakout sessions that covered real-world case studies and provided skill-building opportunities. Below are some key highlights from the forum.

Cultivating a Culture of Leadership

The authors of The Leadership Challenge®, Barry Posner and Jim Kouzes, kicked off the forum by sharing the foundational principles for cultivating a culture of leadership in organizations. There are many reasons that leaders seek to change the culture of their organizations. In some cases they are striving to transform unhealthy cultures into healthy cultures. In other cases they are working to move from a culture of command and control to one of teamwork, collaboration, and empowerment. Regardless of the reason, Posner and Kouzes argue the only way a culture changes is if leaders change. While processes and structure are important, it is the behavior of leaders that has the most impact on the creation or evolution of an organizational culture. Until leaders intentionally and consistently demonstrate The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® (model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart), culture change initiatives are doomed to fail.

The Correlation between Employee Engagement and Leadership

Posner shared research on the extent to which employee engagement is influenced by a number of different factors (such as employees’ age, nationality, gender, educational level, position or job role, hierarchical level in the organization, and time with the organization; the size of the organization; and the industry). He found through the research that these factors have little influence on engagement levels. Instead, the largest influence on employee engagement is leadership behavior. Specifically, higher levels of employee engagement are directly related to how frequently leaders demonstrate each of The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®. The good news here is that increasing employee engagement doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Leaders have the ability to improve the engagement simply by intentionally and mindfully putting The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® into practice in their everyday interactions with their teams.

Characteristics of Admired Leaders Remain the Same

During the forum one more bit of research was shared around the characteristics of admired leaders. Of the 20 characteristics identified by Posner and Kouzes (e.g., ambition, broad-minded, caring, courageous), research has consistently shown that employees most admire leaders who are honest, competent, inspiring, and forward-looking. However, a great deal has changed in the world of work. Given the global nature of and unique makeup of today’s workforce (e.g., five generations in the workplace), is it possible there has been a shift in what people admire about their leaders? Posner and Kouzes took a fresh look at the data to answer this question. They added into the mix new leadership characteristics such as agility, appreciativeness, compassion, humility, humor, and resilience, but the core characteristics remained constant. The outcomes of the research demonstrate that while the world may change, what we look for in our leaders doesn’t. We still want leaders who are honest, competent, inspiring, and forward-looking.

There are many exciting things on the horizon around The Leadership Challenge® Workshop, much of which was shared during the forum. But what is most heartening, is that this research based, time-proven leadership model continues to help liberate the leader in all of us.

Bill Mugavin is a consultant at FlashPoint. He focuses his consulting on talent systems and processes, as well as leadership and management development

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Basketball, Broadcasting, and Lessons for the HR Professional: Highlights from the Annual SHRM Conference

July 13th, 2015 by Nancy S. Ahlrichs in Talent Development, Talent Management

Is thCaptureere a more enthusiastic group than HR professionals faced with endless opportunities to learn and rub elbows with 15,555 of their closest friends and colleagues? I think not. Especially if the gathering is the SHRM 2015 Annual Conference and Exposition in beautiful Las Vegas! No one let the 109 degree heat slow them down.

Sunday’s kickoff keynote speaker, Mike “Coach K” Krzyzewski, men’s basketball coach for Duke University, got everyone off to a high-energy start. Coach K spoke to a standing-room-only crowd to connect his coaching approach to the team and culture approaches that work in organizations of all types and sizes.

For example, Krzyzewski said that at the start of every season he gathers his players together and introduces them to every nonplayer whose job it is to make them successful: maintenance workers, office employees, janitors, and others. He never wants one of his players to say, “Hey, you!’ to anyone who is there in support of the team.

Krzyzewski also urged HR professionals to know something about every employee in order to have more personal conversations. He said that “you want to be able to extend congratulations on a work anniversary or for the birth of a child, or condolences for the loss of a parent.” He urged us to “treat each person as a human being by talking with them about more than work.” In his experience, employees will respond with loyalty and engagement.

While Krzyzewski shared many of his transferable success secrets, one of his most important messages was to “manage and think laterally, not hierarchically.” He drove his point home with a story about basketball great Michael Jordan asking him very politely, “Hey, Coach K. Could you help me with my defense? I have a free half hour.” Jordan knew his place as the greatest basketball player of all time, but he asked for help nicely rather than demanding it. Jordan led by example, and his team worked more smoothly as a result.

Monday’s conference sessions began with another standing-room-only presentation from author Marcus Buckingham. As he often does, Buckingham focused on maximizing leadership strengths before zeroing in on HR’s biggest challenge: technology and old data. “Technology supports organizations, not individuals. We need more support for team leaders in the form of real-time data around each team’s microculture.” He went on to say, “We need leading qualifiers” to help us assemble teams with the right strengths, competencies, and skills. “Right now, technology does not support in advance of a project or other need.”

Buckingham urged HR professionals to push technology providers to offer tools that team leaders and team members will actively reach for on their phones or smart watches. He sees a burning need for measuring real-time performance and real-time engagement. Annual performance or engagement data is too old.  He also urged leaders to provide coaching, not just feedback. “Help me to get better going forward” instead of telling me about my past performance.

Tuesday’s keynote speaker had several special messages for the women in the audience. Since women make up the vast majority of HR professionals, Mika Brzezinski, an MSNBC television host, author, and journalist, had a great turnout. Brzezinski cohosts MSNBC’s weekday-morning broadcast Morning Joe with former Republican representative Joe Scarborough.

Brzezinski focused on her most recent book, Knowing Your Value, and shared personal stories along with the latest research on why many women don’t negotiate their compensation, why negotiating aggressively usually backfires, the real reasons why the gender wage gap persists, and what can be done about it. Her brutally honest, funny, and self-deprecating style had the audience laughing and nodding knowingly.

Brzezinski has interviewed a number of prominent women across a wide range of industries on their experience moving up in their fields. She shared the eye-opening stories of such power players as presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett, writer and director Nora Ephron, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, television personality Joy Behar, and many others. She also shared why women are paid less and what pitfalls women face—and play into—according to Donny Deutsch, Jack Welch, Donald Trump, and others.

With dozens of breakout sessions from which to choose, attendees enthusiastically went session to session and also made time for the exhibit hall. Many old—and new—friends of FlashPoint met with us and talked about leadership development, selecting and nurturing emerging leaders, and the need to update competencies and align talent management processes with the current strategic direction. We had great conversations, we learned a lot, and all in all it was an exciting four days!

Nancy S. Ahlrichs is a business development consultant at FlashPoint, where she interacts with human resource professionals, executives, and business owners in order to understand their organizational needs. She collaborates with our other team members to develop appropriate consulting solutions and supports prospects throughout the sales process.

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Making Lasting Behavior Change Takes Marathon Effort

July 7th, 2015 by Sean Olson in Coaching, Talent Management

Finish LineA few months ago a colleague ran the Boston Marathon. Leading up to the race she had talked with those of us in the office about her training regime and how she had prepared mentally and physically.

During the marathon every runner was tracked electronically, so many of us in the office monitored her progress via a website. What amazed me about her performance was her consistency. From mile 1 to mile 26 her average pace per mile stayed within a range of 33 seconds. She set her pace, she did not waver, and she finished well.

Advancing in one’s career is often like training for and running a marathon. And just as marathoners face hurdles, employees must often overcome negative behavior issues that will potentially hold them back. I have coached a number of executives on professional development and know that realizing the need to change a behavior is step one. Actually changing the behavior is step two. Then there is a third step that many often overlook: changing the perception of the behavior by your colleagues.

As we seek to bring about behavior change via these three steps, here are a few practical suggestions that will help, keeping our marathon theme in mind.

  1. Involve others in the process.

My colleague told us of her goal and shared her progress, and if you want to attain lasting behavior change that leads to growth in the workplace, you need to involve your colleagues too. For one, they will be able to help you better identify the behavior that you need to change. You may not be able to articulate the behavior yourself, but your colleagues probably will. It may be painful to hear, but their feedback is a gift.

  1. Continue sharing your progress.

We regularly asked our colleague about her marathon training. “How many miles per week do you run? Do you run any hills? What is your diet like on the days you take your longer runs?” She was happy to involve us and share her process and progress. When you’re working to change a behavior, you have to share the process and progress too. Be grateful to your colleagues when they ask questions. Be open and share the good and bad of your journey to a better you. If you do not share your progress, they will assume that there is NO progress. 

  1. Remember that it is in fact a marathon.

For my colleague, running the Boston Marathon was the culmination of years of effort,  work, and setbacks. She had to endure injury and surgery. She had to run other marathons to qualify for Boston. The actual event took less than four hours but the ability to finish was years in the making. In a similar manner, you must recognize that you will not make a major behavior change in a few weeks. You will not make a major behavior change in a few months. It will take upward of a year or two. Don’t be discouraged but instead recognize that this change will impact you in a positive way for the rest of your life. Stick with it.

The day my coworker ran the marathon, I kept watching the clock. The website gave us the estimated time that she should complete each segment. I checked in around those times and smiled when I saw that she had kept the pace. When she finished, our team sent a flurry of e-mails congratulating her and marveling at the accomplishment. In an odd sense we had finished the marathon. Likewise, when you involve others in making behavior changes and are consistent over the long haul, your team’s perception about you will shift. When that changes, everything changes.

Is it time to change a behavior to elevate your ceiling? Start the process now, involve others (perhaps even a coach to guide you), share progress, and commit to the long term. If you do these things, like our marathoner, you too will make consistent progress as you develop your career—and you’ll celebrate when you cross the finish line.

Sean Olson is a business development consultant at FlashPoint. In his role he works to understand client needs and help them find the answers that move their organizations forward.

Image courtesy of U.S. Navy

 

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The Critical Need for Strategic HR

June 26th, 2015 by Bill Mugavin in Talent Development, Talent Management

StrategyWhen asked why Indiana isn’t attracting and keeping enough IT top talent, Mike Langellier, CEO of TechPoint, told the audience at a recent public meeting that it’s “because too few organizations have a strategic HR function.” This isn’t a problem unique to Indiana or IT, however; all organizations regardless of geography or industry need to have a strategic HR function. None of us can afford to “burn and churn” our people any more—there aren’t enough individuals with needed skills—so we must all hire, develop, and retain the best. That takes an HR department filled with highly skilled professionals who are consciously aligned with the business strategy.

There’s a lot of talk about transforming “human resources” into “talent management,” a strategic function aligned with the organization’s strategic plan. That transformation cannot be merely the hollow window dressing of new titles and a simple plan. After all, a plan alone won’t earn HR a spot at the table with senior management if it’s not coupled with deadlines, metrics, and consistent actions that quickly deliver needed results.

If you’re an HR professional, how can you become more strategic and more valued by the organization?

  1. Raise your skills. Understand that business will never slow down—it will only speed up. That means each employee in every department must bring more to the table. All of us have to grow our skills on a continual basis. No matter where you are in the HR hierarchy, get certified in HR. Get your PHR, SPHR, CPLP, or other designations. Finish your degree. If you’re certified and have a degree, consider getting an MBA. With or without tuition assistance, take charge of your own development. There’s no time like the present.
  2. No matter your title—whether generalist or specialist—start thinking of yourself as a business person first. You happen to specialize in talent management, and talent management is the key to meeting larger strategic-growth goals. Your decisions and actions have an impact on the future of the organization. Reframe your priorities in order to become more valuable to your organization.
  3. Build your business acumen and vocabulary. Read business publications and industry journals. Take a class. Learn about business in general (how to develop a budget, read a P&L statement, etc.).
  4. Immerse yourself in the business. Learn about your organization specifically. Who and where are your competitors? Where is your industry going and what is your organization’s place in it? Once a week have lunch with a different peer in a different business unit. What are your peers working on? What keeps them up at night? How can talent management assist? Partnering with management at all levels can happen only when management knows that you know the business.
  5. Thoroughly understand your organization’s strategic plan and talent management’s role in achieving growth goals. Until you and each of your peers understand your role in taking the organization into the future, talent management will not have the brand it needs in order to influence individual managers or the executive team.
  6. Become a technology wizard. More of the tactical elements of talent management—payroll, performance management, even the initial stages of talent acquisition—are becoming more automated. Simultaneously, your organization is utilizing project management software, advanced Excel, and more. Take a class. Make technology your friend.

Our organizations need more talent management professionals who can connect the dots, divine future needs, and deliver needed results in a timely manner. There will always be a role for the tactical elements of talent management, but as more departments automate certain functions and as individuals are given broader responsibilities, there will be fewer and fewer positions that are purely tactical. You can become a valued strategic thinker and doer.

Bill Mugavin is a consultant at FlashPoint. He focuses his consulting on talent systems and processes, as well as leadership and management development.

Image courtesy of John Morgan

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Talent Development Trends from the ATD Conference

June 16th, 2015 by Sean Olson in Talent Development, Talent Management

FlashPoint had the priviatd2015[1]lege of exhibiting at the Association for Talent Development (ATD) conference in Orlando in May. With more than 10,000 attendees and 400 vendors, the conference brought together thought leaders to talk about the latest trends in the talent development industry, and we were excited share in the dialog.

ATD President and CEO Tony Bingham set the stage by describing the global movement from “training” to “talent development.”  While functional training will always be present and necessary, the shift is toward developing employees in a holistic sense.  This was echoed by former Avon CEO Andrea Jung in her general session presentation.  She motivated the audience by describing the need to move the heart of employees.  Engagement, she noted, occurs when we touch the heart.

The following are a few other prevailing messages from the conference:

  1. Collaboration

Internally, more companies are developing methods to break down silos and promote collaboration in the workforce.  They recognize the benefit of employees who understand the total business and how their function acts as a lever for other functions.

Externally, companies see the value in partnerships to drive business.  This was truly a global conference with companies from all over the world.  Many of the foreign companies were seeking US partners to help drive the learning and development of their people.  Global collaboration is a huge opportunity for many learning organizations.

  1. Measurement

Talent development spending is on the rebound.  With increased investment comes increased scrutiny on its value.  How do we measure whether learning is successfully implemented?  How can we show the return on investment?

There are answers to these questions.  Coaching appears to be an important tool that moves the needle from learning to implementation to ROI.  Both in-person and online learning require consistent follow-up if they are going to have an impact, and both individual and group coaching reinforce the learning and maximize the investment of the company.

  1. Innovation

Technology is driving much of the talent development in companies today.  As evidence, consider that the majority of vendors at the conference were technology firms sharing innovative ways to deliver content.  No longer is a learning management system (LMS) sufficient by itself.  Organizations must consider several modes of technology to develop employees.  One of the focal points was on-demand, mobile delivery, which helps keep pace with the fast movement of 21st-century business and creates the opportunity for more work/life balance.

ATD 2015 helped set the stage for what lies ahead in the realm of talent development. As you look toward innovative, holistic talent development programs that drive business outcomes, what is the next move for your company?  How can FlashPoint partner with you for success?

Sean Olson is a business development consultant at FlashPoint. In his role he works to understand client needs and help them find the answers that move their organizations forward.

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Five Acknowledgments That Will Free You to Do Your Best Work

June 8th, 2015 by Sean Olson in Coaching, Talent Management

LighthouseThrough my work in talent management, I often coach individuals around becoming more strategic, stepping up their leadership skills, and growing in their careers. Of course people struggle, and my goal is to help them find the answers and free themselves to do their best work. A key concept I try to get across is that “you are the one who is responsible for your life and career. You control what you do and how you respond to what is done to you.” And as I’ve shared this message over the years, I’ve come up with a handful of fundamental suggestions to help give direction.

So I share them here: My “five acknowledgments” to help you do your best work.

  1. Acknowledge that you have stuff. We all have a history. We have all made stupid mistakes and done stupid things. Our actions have impacted who we are today. Own it! You have “stuff.” In order to be the best you that you can be, enlist the help of a mentor or coach and begin working through it. Investing in yourself will help you to free your mind and emotions, and you will execute on a much higher level.
  2. Acknowledge that you can do only what you can do. Superheroes are on the small screen and the big screen. They are all fictional characters. I’m sorry to break this to you but YOU ARE NOT A SUPERHERO. However, you do have some incredible gifts and skills that you can use in your job. So use them. Develop your gifts to maximize their impact. But at the same time, remember—you can do only what you can do. Simply be and do your best—not as a superhero, just as the best you.
  3. Acknowledge that you do not have to be the smartest person in the room. No one really thinks you’re the smartest in the room. Why pretend you are? You’re only limiting yourself if you take this stance. If you have to be the smartest, you’ll close your ears and minds to the brilliance that surrounds you. Acknowledge that you can learn from anyone—yes, anyone. Surround yourself with people who think differently and act differently and learn from them all. In the end, you’ll learn more and become smarter.
  4. Acknowledge your character over your competency. Being competent is vital. It is why you have your job and why you’re getting paid. Nevertheless, your character overshadows your competency, every time. Build your character. When you focus on building and preserving your character, your competencies usually grow simultaneously. You can always learn a new competency, but you cannot replace your character.
  5. Acknowledge you are afraid. We all suffer from fear but never talk about fear. Fear is common. Face your fears and move forward. Fear has a foundation only if you give in to it. Acknowledge it and press on.

Admittedly, these “five acknowledgments” will not change your life. But I do hope they give you a sense of purpose and freedom to do your best work—and that they encourage you to start your best work today.

Sean Olson is a business development consultant at FlashPoint. In his role he works to understand client needs and help them find the answers that move their organizations forward.

Image courtesy of Waqas Mustafeez

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Change Creates Opportunity for Talent Development Teams

June 1st, 2015 by Kristi Gaynor in Talent Management, Talent Systems and Processes

ChangeChange is eminent. Whether you’re dealing with an acquisition, a merger, a reorganization, or another common business scenario, talent development teams play a critical role. Are you ready for the challenge?

Scott Thomas, Senior Director of Content Development and Certification at Salesforce, recently spoke to the central Indiana chapter of the Association for Talent Development, sharing his experiences with change and offering advice to talent development professionals. When change comes, he finds, “it is critical to show your team’s value early and often.” Talent leaders play a key role in this. Thomas notes that the closer the talent development team can get to the strategic team, the more smoothly any transition will occur. Talent development professionals can advocate for transparency, monitor and support employee engagement, and help the workforce manage change.

When dealing with change, Thomas notes, talent development professionals should focus on the basics:

  • What is the #1 objective?
  • What do we want our employees to learn?
  • What do we want them to do differently?

Aligning your team’s focus to the strategic work in front of you will help guide the organization through the change process. Having done this often, Thomas offers several lessons learned:

  • Always keep your eye on the ball (again, what is the objective/what are we trying to achieve?)
  • Understand and align to the strategy
  • Avoid making rash decisions
  • Don’t forget basic training principles
  • Communicate early and often (gossip channels are dangerous)
  • Consider all steps; follow a methodical process
  • Be prepared by anticipating what may come/what questions may be asked
  • Align human resources and talent development with public relations; be prepared to answer per the strategy

Employees are critical to the success of your company, and when change comes, your role as a talent professional is to ensure they execute while providing a relatively easy experience for them. Change brings stress . . . so how can you alleviate it as much as possible? The responsibility is great, but the opportunities to make an impact are boundless.

Kristi Gaynor is business development manager at FlashPoint. She directs FlashPoint’s clients toward outcomes-oriented systems and processes that drive accountability, execution, and results.

Image courtesy of Sean MacEntee

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Moving Women through the Talent Pipeline for STEM Careers and More

April 17th, 2015 by Nancy S. Ahlrichs in Talent Development, Talent Management

Girl with Magnifying GlassInclusiveness is a topic we hear a lot about lately, and when it comes to the workplace, building an inclusive culture can center on a wide range of stakeholders and initiatives. One focus area is moving women through the talent pipeline, particularly in careers related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) but also in other fields.

HR can play a key role in opening the talent pipeline so that more women flow through to the top. Here are ten ways to do this:

  1. Build a business case for diversity and inclusion—and be sure to include women. Every organization needs to create a talent pipeline in order to hire the best and the brightest today and tomorrow. With changing demographics, this requires developing relationships and a positive employment brand for employees from different backgrounds.
  2. Add inclusion to your organization’s strategic plan. Ensure that the entire organization understands why inclusion—including female candidates and employees—is critical to the long-term success of the organization.
  3. Add diversity and inclusion to your organization’s core competencies and your performance management criteria. Inclusion is more than women, of course, but it needs to specifically include women if that is the category of diversity that your organization lacks. When inclusion is one of your core competencies, it is woven into recruiting, manager development, performance management, succession processes, and other stages of the talent life cycle.
  4. Create a long-term recruiting strategy to attract more women to your field and ultimately to your organization. An example of a long-term strategy for moving women into STEM careers is to have your organization sponsor a weeknight homework hotline for students. Even as early as grade school, female students need to know that there is a future for them in STEM industries. That requires reaching out to female students (through tools such as the hotline) and encouraging them to sign up for required high school classes such as chemistry, physics, calculus, and so on. Whether you use your own employees to staff the hotline (this can be a meaningful volunteer activity) or tap into a local college, the result will be more high school students prepared for STEM majors. Another example is to sponsor scholarships to help female students attend college in a STEM major. Follow up by developing a relationship with each student: visit her, invite her for a tour, introduce her to potential role models, offer an internship, and give her a job interview when she graduates.
  5. Create a short-term recruiting strategy for new grads. Sponsor a student professional organization chapter or create your own student-level professional organization to get to know students in the right majors. Invite the chapter to meet on your premises, give members a tour, introduce them to potential role models, offer internships, and communicate about job opportunities.
  6. Prominently feature women engineers, accountants, chemists, and similar professionals on your website and in your social media. Whether you simply feature them in a video clip about “why I work for XYZ Corporation” or have them discuss a current project and the impact it’s having, introduce female faces to the public.
  7. Feature your female leaders—or bring in national or state-level female leaders—at staff meetings, awards presentations, and similar events.
  8. Reexamine your recruiting process to be sure that every effort is made to have at least one female candidate among the talent pool for any position. Yes this is extra work, but it’s well worth it. If you don’t interview women, you won’t hire women. Source female candidates from college alumni rosters, local professional organization chapters, LinkedIn, national professional organization websites, online chat rooms, and more. Connect to as many females in your field as possible on LinkedIn and push out your job openings to them.
  9. Using internal or external mentors, develop the emerging women leaders in your organization. Many communities have professional organizations with trained cadres of women mentors in search of protégés. Seek out consultants with a track record of success who help organizations to set up targeted mentoring programs. Then offer a mentor as a benefit—because it is one!
  10. Ensure that succession planning reaches down throughout the organization and that women at all levels are developed for future positions. Too often succession planning stops at the top. Preparation for next steps can be a recruiting tool and a retention tool.

As you look to build an inclusive culture, keep these ideas top of mind. They’re great tools to help draw women to roles that have typically been male-dominated. And of course you can also apply many of the concepts to attracting and hiring other diverse groups, which will continue to add strength to your organization.

Nancy S. Ahlrichs is a business development consultant at FlashPoint, where she interacts with human resource professionals, executives, and business owners in order to understand their organizational needs. She collaborates with our other team members to develop appropriate consulting solutions and supports prospects throughout the sales process.

Image courtesy of Naypong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Proactive Coaching: Four Questions to Help Move Your Organization Forward

April 10th, 2015 by Nancy S. Ahlrichs in Coaching, Talent Management

WhistleCoaching has gained an important foothold in the 21st-century workplace. Whereas in the past most organizations viewed it solely as a last-ditch effort to improve employee performance, today many more are using it as a proactive measure to develop their team members.

As employees face increasing demands that require new skills (e.g., anticipating fast-changing customer needs to drive innovation, or managing far-flung staff in different countries), companies are using coaching as a key development tool. And according to the Harvard Business Review Research Report: The Realities of Executive Coaching, many are using it to prepare for future talent needs (e.g., developing high-potential leaders and facilitating transitions into new roles or positions).

To grow your talent and remain competitive, you should explore coaching opportunities for your own organization. Understand, however, that coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept, and you’ll need to consider different types of coaching and coaches for different types of people. You’ll need to look at the level of employee (executive, manager, etc.), your resources/budget, the time investment required, the skills you’re trying to build, the participant’s experience with coaching, the skill set of the coach, and the outcomes you’re trying to achieve.

To set the stage for success with coaching, here are four key questions you can ask to help you make decisions and shape the program that’s right for you.

1.  When should coaching be integrated into a broader development program?

Coaching is very effective when offered in conjunction with other development opportunities such as classroom training. Coaching supports learning retention and behavior change, allowing participants to hone in on specific areas of development. Organizations that provide coaching as a development supplement often see faster and sustained outcomes.

Coaching is especially effective as a component of leadership development programs. Coaches can provide leaders with real-time feedback, hold them accountable, help them make progress toward personalized development plans, and offer support and guidance as they work through ongoing challenges and successes.

 2.  When should coaching be a stand-alone tool?

Sometimes coaching is most effective when it’s delivered on its own and not paired with other development programs. For example, you should consider stand-alone coaching if:

  • You’re trying to develop a specific skill like communication or delegation that applies to a small group of leaders.
  • You have a potential successor for a particular role and you want to accelerate his or her development.
  • You’re concerned that a leader may be a retention risk and you want to invest in his or her individual development.

3.  When should you use one-on-one coaching?

In addition to choosing between integrated and stand-alone coaching, you need to consider whether you want to provide coaching on a one-on-one basis or as part of a group.

There are many benefits to individual coaching. First, it offers customized support as well as an opportunity to dive deeper into personal issues (e.g., strengths and weaknesses, barriers to development, career trajectory). It tends to be better for the execution of ideas and approaches because the participant focuses on making progress on his or her own individualized action plan.

Participants in one-on-one coaching report that they are more comfortable being honest and candid with their one-on-one coach than in a group setting. They appreciate being able to be vulnerable without the fear of being judged.

4.  When is group coaching most effective?

Group coaching, on the other hand, is effective when team members have a common experience and can support one another in pursuing development plans, goals, and associated action items. Group coaching participants experience camaraderie and learn that the problems they face are not unique; together they can share insights and lessons learned to solve problems.

One of the most positive outcomes of group coaching is when participants come from across the organization and have the opportunity to break down barriers or silos. As participants learn about other departments and functions, they develop relationships that may be useful as they face future challenges. In addition, group coaching allows participants to hone their skills in giving and receiving feedback, sharing knowledge, and encouraging others.

As the various considerations above indicate, coaching is a flexible tool for development. When you explore the options, remember the end results that you’re planning to achieve. A well-thought-out program that’s supported by management and that engages participants will inspire them to think, feel, and behave in new ways. This in turn will provide them with opportunities to be creative, perform more effectively in their roles, and move your organization forward. And in the end, this creates impact for you and your business.

Nancy S. Ahlrichs is a business development consultant at FlashPoint, where she interacts with human resource professionals, executives, and business owners in order to understand their organizational needs. She collaborates with our other team members to develop appropriate consulting solutions and supports prospects throughout the sales process.

Image courtesy of Steven Depolo

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