Keep it simple

August 13, 2013

The Corporate Executive Board reported that brands that simplify customer decision-making are 115% more likely to be recommended. By way of crowdsourcing, its time to let students inform organizations around the best way to simplify their decision to select one employer over another. Organizations want to be “employer of choice,” but research tells us that they might have more success if they find ways to simplify the decision-making process. By soliciting ideas, content and contributions from students via an online crowdsourcing campaign, an organization will show it’s technological savvy while soliciting ideas that may change the way they recruit students – for the better. New, improved and designed by students is a true differentiator. #NACESocial


If your company is unique then why are you hiring the same people as your competitors?

August 7, 2013

Flexible. Strong Communicator. Leader. Team player. Problem solver.

Do any of these competencies sound familiar? That’s because almost every organization lists two or more of these as attributes of a successful employee. It begs the question: If an organization goes to great lengths to differentiate itself from its competitors, why do they hire the same people?

Mission statement or corporate propaganda?

February 13, 2013

Corporate vision, mission and value statements. Why do we roll our eyes when we hear these words? It’s because so many employees will tell you that in their company there’s no evidence that the culture, processes or leader behaviors are aligned with the mission. A mission statement has to be created in a way that motivates employees to drive towards something important, believable, relevant and achievable. It should meet the human need for relatedness and meaning. While it should be ambitious, the mission statement must accurately reflect a company’s culture. Processes that evolve into habits over time have to be designed to reinforce the mission. Further, employees and customers have to witness behaviors that support this mission every single day. Employees (humans) want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to feel connected and they want to do work that is significant. This is why a mission statement is important. It’s aspirational in nature. It sets the bar. It sets the tone. It informs everyone in the company of why their work is important. And, it influences what habits and behaviors are necessary to succeed. Anything less is just corporate propaganda.

Final acts

January 7, 2013

My neighbor, Maurice Wilson died on November 30, 2012 at the age of 84.  What struck me about his passing was his final act.  The afternoon before his death, he was putting up Christmas lights.  I’m reminded of the quote by Martin Luther, “Even if I knew the world would end tomorrow, I would continue to plant my apple trees.”  His beautiful Christmas lights were a testament to his life.  He made life brighter for others.  He’s inspired me to rethink my very self-focused new year’s resolutions.  Thank you for your life, Maurice.  They may be lofty goals and far out of my reach, but because of you I resolve to chose love when it would be easier to hate, to light the path of others and to leave a legacy of beauty.

A lesson from the lunch ladies

June 22, 2012

My friend Michael was bigger than life in sixth grade.  He was flamboyant, odd (by 6th grade standards) and had a wicked sense of humor.  Every month or two, Michael would ask the kids sitting next to him at the lunch table to pass down their trays.  He would pour all of the uneaten food onto his plate, stir it up until it was a corn, cutlet, mashed potato slurpee and then go stand in line to turn in his tray to the lunch ladies.    These hair-netted women had the distinct pleasure of disposing of our trash and putting the utensils and plates in the dishwasher.  Right about the time that Michael reached the front of the line he would lean forward into his plate and make the universal puking sound.  The corn, cutlet, mashed potato combo along with Michael’s retching threw us into hysterics, but must have been repulsive to the lunch ladies.  Until one day when the lunch ladies had their revenge.  Finally one of them figured out what he was doing and made him sit down at the table and eat everything on his plate.  In true Michael fashion, he did just that.  He sat down, put a napkin in his lap and began eating.  He didn’t cry.  He didn’t whine.  He didn’t throw a fit.  Instead, as he ate, we heard him say “Oh, my, this is delicious” and “Do you have any more in the back?”  What’s the lesson?  Don’t take crap from anyone.  And, if you do something wrong, accept your punishment and move on.   Michael had to eat crow — but he made us think he enjoyed it.

Instead of trying to carpet the world…I’m just going to wear fuzzy slippers.

June 18, 2012

My favorite Saturday Night Live character was Stuart Smalley.  Stuart was a 12-step addict who was famous for his personal affirmations.  My favorite was “Instead of trying to carpet the world, I’m just going to wear fuzzy slippers.”  I think he’s saying “Be the change you want to see in the world,” but his is a lot more fun.  Stuart was a wise man.  Take care of your own business first.  Find peace, joy and satisfaction inside.  Stop expecting everyone else to make you happy.   I think this involves keeping your mind, body and spirit healthy.   Sounds like new age, doesn’t it?  But, there’s truth in it.  We’re like a three-legged stool.  If one aspect of our life is out of whack, we lose our balance.  So, Stuart, today I’m going to read something important (to work on my mind), exercise (to work on my body) and look at everyone around me in a more loving way (spirit).

Constructive feedback – a lesson by the pool

June 13, 2012

My daughter Elizabeth was about 8 years old and we were having a lovely summer day at the pool.  I had a cold drink and a magazine and Elizabeth was working on her diving.  She said, “Mom, grade my dive.”  So, I watched her dive and said, “that’s fabulous.”  She said, “No, I mean give me a grade from 1-10.”   I could see that she wasn’t going to let up so I put my magazine down and said, “Okay, I give you a 6.”  I should have seen this coming, but she said, “Why a 6?”  So, I had to actually take the time to give her feedback — “You could work on pointing your toes and make sure you keep your legs together.”  This went on for about an hour and by the end of it, she had become a better diver.  It occurred to me that while I thought I was being a “supportive parent” by telling her that her dive was fabulous, I was missing the point.  She was looking for ways to improve her diving and all I wanted to do was give her hollow praise.   She wanted to know exactly what she needed to do to get better.  She taught me a valuable lesson.  The best way to offer constructive feedback is to let the person know which skills they need to develop (not what they’re doing wrong).  For example, it’s the difference between telling someone that they need be more “sensitive to others” and telling them that they need to work on their “empathy skills.”  When you focus your feedback on helping someone develop a skill that they’re lacking, it’s a much more positive and productive experience.

Know where you’re going and what to leave behind.

June 12, 2012

I have to credit my daughter, Abigail, with this quote.  She was in high school and had just overcome some very difficult challenges.  I was truly impressed with her resilience and asked her how she made it through a dark time.  She said, “You have to know where you’re going and what to leave behind.”  I’ve never forgotten her words.  I think about them often, but only recently did I realize their power.  Stay focused on what’s important  (your goals, aspirations and dreams) and leave behind all of those things that pull you down (failures, negativity, fear, bad relationships).    Instead of starting each day responding to emails or putting out a fires,  wouldn’t it be healthier to take a moment and let go of things that are of no use and to fill your mind and set your intention on those things that will enrich your life.   Our minds have only so much room for information so maybe it’s time to create some space.   Emotions follow thoughts so wouldn’t we all be more effective and happier if we focused on where we’re headed instead of being held captive by where we’ve been?

A little internal PR never hurt!

March 23, 2012

When I was little, I used to go to a restaurant that had packets of sugar with quotes on them. For some reason, I always got the one that said…”He who whispers down a well about the goods he has to sell will never reap the golden dollars like the man who stands and hollers.” I didn’t know what the heck that meant until began my career in marketing/communications. Recruitment branding and marketing has become quite sophisticated and yet, all efforts are directed at an external audience (potential candidates). Whether you’re in human resource or recruiting, your internal communications strategy (directed to your internal customers and stakeholders) is every bit as important as your external marketing campaign. Whenever you launch your recruiting strategy, be sure that part of that strategy includes communicating to your internal audience. Create a template that you can use every time to provide updates on activities, results, interesting facts and information that you believe they need to do their jobs better. If you really want to get their attention, contact your internal customers regularly to get a quote and incorporate that into your communications.

Where’s the Director of Retention? What about an Employee Loyalty Program?

March 20, 2012

I work with many directors of recruiting and heads of talent acquisition; however, I’ve never actually had a client with the title director of retention or anything remotely similar. I’m not talking about the person who manages employee relations. I’m not talking about the head of organizational development or the new hire orientation coordinator. I’m talking about someone hired by the company to be sure that employees don’t walk out the door. After years of conducting focus groups, exit interviews and other research to understand employee attitudes and preferences, I hear the same thing. Employees leave because of the little things. For example, I had one talented professional tell me that he rescheduled his family vacation to work on a project and his supervisor never took the time to thank him either verbally or by way of a small token of appreciation. So he left. A $100 gift certificate and a thank you would have saved thousands of dollars in recruiting costs and lost productivity. Companies have created loyalty programs for their customers and yet, I’ve never actually seen a loyalty program for employees. Last week at the Omni, I came into my room to find a bottle of wine, cheese and fruit along with a note telling me how much they appreciate my repeat business. Why would I change hotels if I’m going to be treated this way? I don’t expect wine and cheese every visit, but I do appreciate being told that I matter. Anyone looking to hire a Director of Employee Loyalty? I’m in!