SDHR Leadership Post

I used to think I was invincible.  I handled stress better than most people I knew – or at least, that’s what I thought.  I worked out, I meditated and I forced balance into my life whenever possible.  I thought these stress-relieving techniques were helping, and they were – up to a point.  However, these self-help techniques often fell by the wayside when I became too busy with working as an attorney, trying to meet my billable hour quotas.  This was even more the case when I found myself struggling to take care of myself following the birth of my second daughter, while at the same time I was working as a full-time trial attorney. 

As a bit of background, I graduated from law school in 2006.  While awaiting bar results, I worked in a Human Resources department for a government agency.  This was my first “real” job, since all of my prior work experience consisted of internships that concluded at the end of a school semester or summer break.  

I was eager to learn.  However, during the months that I worked in HR, I learned lessons that I didn’t expect to learn.  Being the complete newbie that I was to the full-time, non-internship work force, I had an extremely idealistic perspective.  

At first glance, it seemed like the morale of the HR department had the potential to be pretty good.  However, as the months went by, I realized that the heavy workload prevented people from making the extra effort to do more than organize the occasional baby shower or birthday party.  There was often talk in the office about a previous leader who had made the environment a “fun” place to work.  People recalled this former manager’s genuine appreciation for the staff, and applauded her efforts to make everyone feel included.  Yet, upon her departure, the morale had steadily decreased and the remaining employees were left feeling unappreciated and unmotivated. 

It was at this HR job where I learned how an office job could take a physical toll on employees.  For example, I first learned about sciatic pain while working in HR – which was explained to me by one of my co-workers, who needed to sit in a modified work station due to her work-induced sciatica pain.  The fact that someone could get injured by sitting too much blew my mind.  

My surprise about physical workplace related ailments stemmed from the fact that up until that point, my days had typically consisted of varied class schedules that involved climbing up and down stairs to get to different classrooms and long walks between school and my parked car. 

My prior internship experience also contributed to my surprise at the low morale and physical ailments that I observed while working in HR.  For example, during my last semester of law school, I worked for the U.S. Navy JAG office in Japan, where my days were spent attending trials on and off base, interviewing and coordinating witnesses, and reviewing documents such as police reports and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  

It was also during my JAG internship where I first learned about the concept of team building as it applied to the workplace.  My internship was with the the trial services office (similar to a district attorney’s office), which regularly interacted with the equivalent of the public defenders’ office.  

It was truly eye opening experience when I joined the team of prosecutors and staff for their regularly scheduled Physical Training (PT) at the crack of dawn, before starting each workday at 7:30 a.m.  We swam laps at the pool, played flag football against the defenders’ office, ate long lunches together and the attorneys regularly interacted with each other outside of the office.  The military judge was often seen walking the halls and attending work lunches with both the prosecution and defense team members.  

The legal system on base operated like its own ecosystem – which, when coupled with the fact that most of the people who worked on base were servicemembers who were stationed away from their hometowns – formed a unique example of what a workplace could look like. 

So, having experienced how a team could work together, exercise together and genuinely enjoy each other’s company – it was a bit odd for me to enter the workforce back in the U.S. where people seemed to be so isolated from each other.  

Sure – the actual work should always be prioritized.  And in Japan, the work always did come first, as we were working on very high level criminal cases.  But – at least from my own personal experience – it was extremely useful to start the day by exercising with my co-workers.  Full disclosure, I am not a morning person, although I try to be, so these morning workouts showed me that engaging in physical activity made me more alert during early morning trials.  It was also equally helpful to go to lunch or dinner with my co-workers, where we would decompress from an otherwise stressful workday. 

Although military protocol prevents off-duty fraternization between officers and non-officers, the trial team’s early morning exercise routine created an even playing ground among all team members.  Characteristics like rank, age, and race didn’t matter on the field – all that mattered was whether someone could run or catch a ball during a flag football game.    

Japan also changed my perspective on health as it relates to outdoor activities and dietary choices.  

During my time there I lived off-base, which meant that I walked to and from my internship every weekday (minus a few exceptions where I splurged on a taxi).  In the mornings, I walked by large buildings that had rows and rows of bicycles out front, ridden by workers each day to their jobs.  I also saw those same workers stretching in one large group before starting their work day.  

On my walk home each night, I climbed a huge flight of stairs that led to my apartment building.  Now mind you – I’ve played sports and have been relatively active throughout my life.  But I’ve never been in better shape than when I lived in Japan.  During the weekends, I often went snowboarding at various ski resorts, followed by some major relaxation in outdoor hot springs.  When I decided to rock climb for the first time while in Japan, I noticed that I was being passed by locals who were my grandparents’ age. 

I visited Shinto shrines, where I learned about the belief of the interrelatedness between nature and humans.  I began to meditate while walking and riding the train.  I also noticed that my dietary choices were changing.  I drank strong green tea, with no sugar or milk, I ate at ramen shops and I noticed that my typical (huge) appetite had decreased. 

Simply put, by working on a military base and living in Japan – I began to understand the fundamental basics of team building and healthy living.  

Fast-forwarding to the present, after working in HR and spending a decade in business and employment litigation, I am trying to get back to the healthy habits I witnessed in Japan.  The question I now have is - how can the simple concepts of team building and health-drive initiatives be incorporated into the workplace, in a legally compliant way?  

I pose this question to myself, as I move to the next phase of my career, which consists of starting my own law firm and raising two daughters.  I pose this question to the HR professionals out there, who are tasked with the great responsibility of risk management and personnel decisions for their company.  And perhaps most importantly, I pose this question to the CEO’s and corporate leaders of our country – because without their support, team building and health-driven initiatives will never successfully take place. 

In conclusion, I feel that I am once again the blindly ambitious and optimistic person who first entered the workplace.  I envision a workplace for us all, where employees are actually excited to come to work and spend time with their co-workers and managers.  I believe that this excitement can lead to innovation and increased productivity, which in turn can lead to increased profits for U.S. companies.  I am excited for this next phase of my own personal career, and I am excited for the progress that I believe we can make towards improving the lives of U.S. employees. 

Nicole C. Baldwin, Esq. is a SDHR Roundtable Board Member and an owner/attorney for ncb law, apc.  Nicole can be reached by email at or by phone at 619-512-6341. 

Read More

What each of these companies has in common is a failure of their leadership culture. Specifically, each has a culture of close-mindedness, and in most cases, they don’t even know it. While it may be discouraging that it takes a spate of scandals to come to this realization, it’s probably a good lesson for companies to wrestle with in 2017.

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth – persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic ... We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

President John F. Kennedy


Over the last fifty years, psychologists and other researchers have developed a much better understanding of how and why the decisions of otherwise intelligent and reasonable people too often go awry. They’ve identified the underlying cause as cognitive bias: the inclination to present or hold a partial perspective, often accompanied by a refusal to consider alternative points of view.

Closed-mindedness is so hard to address because it’s:

  • Unconscious – difficult to bring to awareness
  • Pervasive – a common human tendency
  • Dispositional – ingrained in one’s personality
  • Often mistaken for confidence/charisma
  • Exacerbated by intelligence/knowledge
  • Difficult to assess

“Increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.”

President Barack Obama

A combined Columbia and Duke University study found that an emphasis on results over people can encourage unethical behavior - a finding that should surprise no one. Their research provides systematic evidence that effective cultures are less likely to be associated with short-term thinking, unethical behavior, or earnings management to pad quarterly earnings.

Can HR Leaders influence this dynamic and help prevent these kinds of decisions from happening?

HR leaders have been talking more regularly in recent years about the importance of  a healthy leadership culture. But what’s also clear is that creating an effective leadership culture requires thoughtful and persistent attention. HR Leaders can start by finding ways to have conversations with company leaders about the effect of cognitive bias.

SDHR has been following the research on this topic and we have discovered an assessment tool to measure a person’s tendency to let bias affect their decisions. Participating in this assessment exercise could be a great way to start the conversation with your leadership team. If you are interested in learning more about this free assessment tool, please contact me at: There is an accompanying 360 tool to use as well to identify the gap between self perception and demonstrated bias.

“True open-mindedness is an entirely different mind-set ... It demands that you get over your ego-driven desire to have whatever answer you happen to have in your head be right.”

Raymond Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates (world’s largest hedge fund)

While a discussion of this topic might be challenging to facilitate, I can’t think of a better way to exercise your influence and potentially make a huge difference in the performance of your company’s leadership dynamic.


Read More

Like searching for a partner in life, recruiting is all about finding the best person for the job: one who has the right character, qualifications, and experience... And, like personal relationships, it’s impossible to find the "perfect fit."

Hiring Managers invest extensive time and effort developing the most successful hiring strategy. Including stakeholders in the decision making and job description processes, as well as building a solid assessment and screening program, go a long way toward ensuring that a role draws top talent. These same Hiring Managers are also working under the strain of limited time to fill the role, a fixed budget, and a laundry list of candidate “must haves.”

The pressure to find the “perfect” candidate inadvertently leads to creating and looking for a candidate that simply doesn’t exist. In the recruiting world, we call this the "Purple Squirrel."

Over the years, we’ve identified what works (and what doesn’t). We’re far from finding a one-size-fits-all formula but we do know how to significantly reduce recruiting costs and “time to fill” metrics, while simultaneously increasing your offer acceptance rate.

Click here to discover our Seven Rules to Finding and Hiring the ElusivePurple Squirrel.”

Read More

Whether or not the name sticks, we are currently calling the population between the ages 6-20 years old Generation Z. I’m sure this group’s stereotypes will continue to change and evolve but right now, what are the experts saying about this next Generation? 

Unlike the Millennials who experienced the Great Recession while they were in the workforce, Generation Z experienced it during their formative years, watching their parents, siblings and neighbors lose their jobs and struggle to find stability again. Due to this, they are grounded, practical and frugal. In a survey taken of teenagers between the ages of 15-19, their top three priorities are getting a job, finishing school and safeguarding their money. 66% of the teens rate their number one concern is college debt and 75% say there are ways of getting a good education besides going to college. With the rise of free online educational resources, organizations may be forced to rethink education minimums if this generation follows through with their current belief system and pursues alternative forms of education. 

Another side effect of the downward economy is their “survival” instincts have kicked in and they have learned to be entrepreneurial by necessity. Harvard Business Review called them “Side-Gig Gangsters” because 70% of teens are working non-traditional jobs like teaching piano or selling items on eBay and anticipate they will carry these side-gigs into their professional lives. As organizations, we will need to think about how we embrace this generation's desire to have other forms of employment even while they are working full-time. 

This generation will also be facing a challenge not many of us GenXers or BabyBoomers understand well. Personal Brand Management – we have all heard about having a “personal brand” at work and have probably attended a workshop or two to give us tips on how to build, sustain or improve it, but this generation has been living it since they can remember. Choosing what to share and on what platform.  An interesting quality is that they seem to more discerning than earlier generations, choosing only to share certain types of information or information that represents their “brand.” They are moving away from the practice of TMI or “oversharing.” How will this affect organizations? We may need to build in time allowances for these types of activities and help them balance their personal and professional brands. 

And since we are on the topic of brands, they may or may not think much of your company’s. As a whole, they are distrusting of brands and value the odd, unique and non-traditional things in life. They are likely to turn to a trusted source rather than advertising or information produced by the company. Transparency, honesty and the ability to admit when the company has mis-stepped is going to be critical to a company’s success in attracting customers and employees. 

Whether you are ready for the changes this new generation will bring or not, we may see a more drastic change than usual simply due to demographics. In ten years, the Millennials and Gen Z will make up 75% of the workforce.  

Read More

Your resume made the cut. Now it’s time for The Interview. The success or failure of the interview now rests solidly on the job seeker’s shoulders: … or does it?

As recruiters, we work hard to prepare our candidates for an interview, helping them develop strong answers to the questions they can expect. (We may even throw in a prayer to the traffic gods for them.) Then we anxiously wait for the post-interview call, only to find out that the interview was a complete disaster to no fault of their own.

The burden of responsibility for a successful interview lies equally on the shoulders of the interviewer and the interviewee. Ideally, during the process of developing the job description, employers will have done their homework and created a picture of the ideal candidate. Before a search is even launched, employers should have already defined what the best possible candidate will possess in regard skills, experience, seniority, strengths, weaknesses, and education, to name a few. Ultimately, these requirements should drive the interview.

  1. Never ask a candidate questions about their race, religion, family life, or sexual orientation. Any question that asks a candidate to reveal information about such topics without the question having a job related basis will violate various state and federal discrimination laws. There is nothing wrong with getting to know a potential hire. In fact, understanding what makes him or her tick will provide insight regarding work ethic, commitment, leadership skills, etc.
  2. Never ask a candidate to describe his or her greatest strength or weakness. These questions have been overused and any candidate can produce a canned answer he or she has used in every interview before yours. Additionally, knowing that someone is “loyal” or that he or she “works too hard” is not an indicator that he or she will thrive in your company. A good interviewer will have specific questions that will allow the candidate to highlight his or her successes and experiences and this will show his or her strengths and even some weaknesses.
  3. Never ask a candidate where she sees herself in five years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average length of time people stay with a company or in a job is 4.6 years. Given this information, it still surprises us that employers ask this question. Obviously you are looking to hire someone who wants to make a commitment to your company, making your hiring and onboarding dollars worthwhile. You know it. The candidate knows it. What the interviewer really wants to know and should ask is, “How does this position align with your broader professional goals?”

Always ask a candidate well-thought out questions which provide them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have done, vs. what they "might" do.  Questions that address issues such as teamwork, handling conflict, and career path, set in a "what if" scenario, are ok. However, in order to truly uncover the personality, decision making ability, critical thinking skills, and intellectual curiosity, you need to walk your candidates through actual situations that occurred in their previous positions. Excellent examples include:

  • Walk me through your last 3 sales/projects/marketing campaigns/month end close, etc.

The key is to ask about the components of their situation including decisions, motivations, results, lessons learned and people involved. Questions such as:

  • Where did the initial idea/project/process stem from?
  • Who was involved in the sale/project/campaign?
  • What was the initial directive/goal and what was the final result?
  • What tools did you leverage to complete the project?
  • What was the initial timeline, and did it take more or less time than anticipated?
  • What went right with the sale?
  • What would you do different, if you could do it all over?
  • What challenges did you encounter along the way and how were they resolved?

To hire the best people, you have to ask the right questions about real life, actual situations they experienced. Using an interview to discuss information that is clearly available on the candidate’s resume, only allows for yes or no answers, or elicits canned answers that can be found simply by Googling “Best interview answers”, is a waste of everyone’s time. From the moment an employer sits down to create a job spec, she should be developing quality interview questions which will allow candidates to demonstrate why their skillset, experience, and passion will meet your needs.

Check out our website for more interview discussions and tips.

Read More

Being the glue that holds the organization together can be a very thankless job, but also very rewarding if you put the people first.

Our San Diego Human Resource professionals have been put in the spotlight over the last two years as the economy grows and the amount of work on the average HR professional desk is growing faster than the economy!  

HR has to work to execute strategies and make changes across various business functions to come up with innovative solutions to offset business cost pressures internally and externally. Throughout the economic growth, many HR professionals have become more prominent members of the management team, needing to demonstrate objectivity and ask difficult questions in a bid to ensure organizational success.

The ability to act as a business partner and cement relationships with senior professionals across the organization is a critical step in Human Resource’s role within the company. The business needs a senior HR professional to act as adviserto the company and therefore it's really important to invest time in building strong working relationships with the employees of the company.

HR plays a key step in meeting the organization needs, employee’s needs and the executive team’s vision.  This can be done by focusing on the people. People create value & people create efficiency - remember you wouldn’t even have a company if it wasn’t for the people.

Building a company has never been easy, but it's more challenging today than ever before. Getting the right people on the bus and keeping them is like playing a game with rules that are constantly changing and with endlessly increasing competition. The Resourceful Human is the person, or person(s), that keeps the ship sailing, balancing the employees and executive team to drive the company forward.

Focus on people: Innovation doesn't make us unique anymore, or at least not for very long. What makes us unique are the people we hire and the culture they work in. Invest in your people and your culture, to be simple – it’s just the right thing to do. People can create more value quickly because they're more invested in your success as a company. Those HR professionals looking to provide value to their organization must understand how they impact the people as the Resourceful Human.

Those HR professionals that focus on people not only win with senior management – but will win in their careers!

Read More

Ask professionals at any level how they feel about annual performance reviews and you’ll probably hear words like: pointless, ineffective, demoralizing, biased, antiquated, restrictive, and a few more words we won’t print.

Throughout the last century, the performance management pendulum has swung between employee accountability and employee development to assess engagement, accomplishment and overall contribution. Both have proven to have merit but are also riddled with faults. What’s leadership to do?

The Powers That Be are listening. In fact, one-third of U.S. companies are abandoning the traditional appraisal process completely.  According to Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli, “[I]t’s a fundamental change in the way to manage your employees and the relationship with them.”  How will companies assess performance?  The jury is still out.  Meanwhile companies’ need a system that will engage, empower and nurture their employees so that they can not only be success now, but also reach their full potential.

5 Things That Should Be Included in An Effective Performance Review

1. Increased Frequency of Reviews: One of the largest drawbacks of the traditional performance review is that it no longer follows the natural cycle of work. Most employees’ workload consists of a larger number of smaller projects, rather than year-long assignments. Conducting a cumulative year-end review is challenging for managers. Quarterly or project reviews allow for a more accurate assessment of performance and growth and provides the environment for course-correcting coaching throughout the year. Which leads us to the next important component of an effective performance review…

2. Focus on the future, not the past. Current end-of-the-year annual reviews focus primarily on past behavior and sacrifice the opportunity to improve current performance and advise employees for the future. More consistent meetings give managers the opportunity to offer resources and encouragement for future growth – both of which employees can implement immediately.

3. Self- Review: Often viewed as a chore, rather than an opportunity, self-assessment must be part of the equation. Employees should take advantage of this chance to be proud (but honest). By asking themselves two simple questions, employees can share details of completed projects, highlight their leadership roles, identify areas of growth, and give examples of collaboration. “What am I doing that I should keep doing?” and “What am I doing that I should change?” provide the perfect platform for self-review. It also gives managers insight into performance that was not overtly obvious. Employees should also think about career- development, using their self-evaluations as a time to think about what they want out of this relationship.

4. Clearly defined and communicated objectives. Goals and objectives must be assessed and realigned frequently. While some roles may not change between reviews, other will change from project to project. It is imperative that management and their team are in communication to ensure goals and objectives are still pertinent. It’s impossible to meet or exceed a goal that is clearly no longer relevant.  Employees need to proactively engage with management to clarify points of concerns.

5. Real-time feedback. Subjectivity and bias are two of the largest complaints we hear regarding the review process. But eliminating bias and increasing authenticity is not an easy task when reviewers and reviewees have innate biases that they may not be aware of. Using real-time feedback through apps and logs allows managers to create a record more reliable than memories after the fact, give workers quick access on how to navigate certain situations, and fast effective communication and coaching.

A solid review processes strikes a balance between accountability and development. It is comprehensive enough to give management the power to objectively and accurately assess their employees’ performance, highlight development, and set future goals on a consistent basis. On the employee side, the review process should include an authentic self-assessment of contribution, success, and growth, while empowering them to create future goals and a plan to achieve them.

What would YOU like to see included in YOUR next Performance Review?

*Click here for an interesting and comprehensive look at the tug-of-war between accountability and development over the decades.

Read More

Spring is here! This season feels like a new beginning, and many people will do some spring cleaning on their careers by seeking new jobs. Are you ready to dazzle them with your stellar onboarding process?

Onboarding is a crucial piece of both talent acquisition and employee retention, yet is often overlooked. An employee’s first 6-12 months in a new role is a critical time, when that employee assesses whether or not to stay with the organization and how fully to engage in the work. Research indicates that employees who participate in structured orientation programs are 69% more likely to be with the organization three years later than employees who do not.i]

No matter where you’re starting from today, you can make small changes that will improve the onboarding experience for your new hires. I’ll never forget when IT informed me they didn’t have a computer for my new hire starting in 3 days. I hadn’t given them enough notice, and they didn’t have any extra machines. That was the day I decided to ensure nothing would ever fall through the cracks again.

There are all kinds of sophisticated tools out there to help you manage the onboarding process, but most of us have limited resources. Fortunately, we can get pretty far with a good checklist. Let’s start with the simple stuff. 

Be prepared 

Organize yourself: First and foremost, you can’t manage an effective onboarding process without being organized. A comprehensive checklist is a great way to ensure that you never miss a step. All you need is a word processing program, like Microsoft Word, with a table function. Once you set up the checklist, you can add to it each time you think of something else you don’t want to forget. 

The next step is to establish the systems and procedures that make the checklist work. What is the trigger that prompts you to use the checklist? Do you create a separate checklist for hiring managers—and put an item on your own checklist reminding you to send that to them? You need both the checklist and the reminders to use the checklist. 

Appear prepared: The purpose of being organized is to ensure a consistent, positive experience for all new hires. As an employee, nothing is worse than showing up for your first day on a new job, all excited and nervous, only to feel like no one knows—or cares—who you are. 

Avoid major sins like not having the new hire’s work space set up, not having a computer for them (oops!), having them start on a day their supervisor is out, or not making plans for their first lunch. Try to put yourself in their shoes: what would be a turn-off? Come up with that list, and make sure you don’t make those mistakes. 

Cover the basics – immediately 

As quickly as possible, show the new hire how to navigate the physical, social, and cultural spaces of your organization. This crucial orientation will give the new hire a solid base from which to understand the job-specific tasks they will learn over the following months and years. 

Physical space: You’ll want to make sure the new hire knows basic information about how to navigate the workspace, such as where they sit, how to get to the restrooms and kitchen, and where to park. They also need to know where the first aid kit and fire extinguisher are, and what to do in case of an emergency. Don’t forget to point out other important locations such as meeting rooms, office supplies, HR, and the hiring manager’s office. 

Social space: It’s critical to ensure the new hire feels comfortable navigating the social space. Introduce the new hire to their colleagues and workspace neighbors as soon as possible. If feasible, arrange to take out the new hire for lunch on their first day; at minimum, the hiring manager can eat with them in the kitchen. Do what you can to make them feel welcome, and avoid them feeling out-of-place or forgotten. 

Cultural space: To be effective in their new role, the new hire must know how things are done in your organization. This is an area that often gets overlooked because organizational culture is like water to the fish—so obvious that you don’t think to point it out. 

How information is shared, how work gets done, how people address one another, how meetings are handled, how people dress—these are all subtle elements of culture. This area also includes items such as organizational mission, vision, and values; team goals, challenges, and timelines; and individual goals and performance expectations. The hiring manager should be clear about their expectations, including how they like to communicate. 

It’s worth noting that the cultural information takes a long time to fully convey, and should be spread out over a longer period of time so as not to overwhelm the new hire. Information on how to navigate the physical and social spaces should be immediate, but for the cultural space it should be gradual. Think of it as a slow drip rather than a deluge. 

Look past the first few weeks 

Most people think of “onboarding” as the first week or two, but it takes months for someone to become oriented and comfortable in their new role. A common gap is planning a structured onboarding program for the first few weeks but having nothing planned after that. 

A simple way to extend the onboarding experience is to schedule check-ins for later in the year. These conversations could be conducted by HR, the hiring manager, or even the department VP; the important thing is that someone cares enough to ask how things are going and listen to the responses. You could also include check-ins as part of your performance management process. 

Once the new employee has been there a few months, the challenge is no longer to orient them to the basics of working there—it’s to engage their energies as fully as possible, motivate them to do their best work, and retain them. The challenge shifts from effective onboarding to effective employee engagement. 


To properly onboard a new hire and lay the groundwork for an engaged employee: 

  1. Use simple tools such as a checklist in order to be organized and prepared for the new hire’s arrival, and to ensure a consistent experience for all employees.
  2. Once they arrive, provide critical information as quickly as possible. Include information on navigating the physical, social, and cultural spaces.
  3. Finally, plan ways to engage them beyond the first weeks

Follow these guidelines to make sure your new employees know that not only are you prepared for their arrival, but the whole organization is super excited to have them there.

Elisabeth G. Waltz is an employee engagement expert who specializes in creating win-win HR solutions: building company cultures where employees are empowered to do their best work, while developing employees who produce amazing results for the organization. Still a New Englander at heart, you can find her sampling all the cheese and cider available in her new home, San Diego. Say hi on LinkedIn at

[i] Robinson, Amy Hirsh, “New Hire Onboarding: Guidelines for Boosting Employee Performance & Retention,” 2012.

Read More

Pull it Together! How to Refocus in the Ever-Changing World of HR . . .

Let’s face it . . . Human Resources is often a department of limited resources. Whether you have a department of one or are lucky enough to have a team, it is almost always inevitable that you will find yourself wearing multiple hats. I personally am finding it more and more challenging to sit and focus on a single project because I am constantly being pulled away to extinguish the fire of the moment. I am sure many of you feel the same as we are often juggling several priorities within a limited amount of time.   

I have been testing out a few tips and tricks that can help refocus your energy after being derailed. Having the ability to bounce back and quickly focus on the next task is so important because in the tedious and often high-risk environment of HR there is little room for error.

Try these out in your office today!

Be mindful

Take a minute to think and breathe in the morning about what you want to accomplish for the day. Make a mental note of what it will take to accomplish those tasks.

Make a list and keep it visible

I know this seems basic, but keeping your action list visible and current can trigger focus, help you stay on task and ensure you will not skip a beat when pulled away.

Organize your inbox

Keep your inbox clutter free! Unsubscribe from those pesky emails that may distract you as click bait and be sure to keep only relevant emails visible.

Organize your work space

On average people spend 2.5 hours looking for items in their work space. Minimize this distraction by staying organized and keeping what you will need for the day handy. 

Fight the snack attack

When your mind starts to wonder it often will send hungry signals. Eat a filling and healthy meal so your energy levels will be stable and sustained. 

Keep your cell phone out of sight

Keeping your phone out of your line of sight can minimize distractions from alerts and notifications. Many of us need to keep the ringer on as the boss may call, but I might also suggest changing the tone for those that are urgent so you can disregard other notifications throughout the day. If you can silence it… even better! 

Knock out creative projects in the morning

Before you are burnt out from your hectic day utilize your creative energy in the morning. Save the mindless tasks for later in the day. 

Complete a task, then get up!

Take a stretch break when you complete a task and you will feel re-energized for the next one!  

Learn when to say no

I know we all live and breathe the open door policy, but it is okay to physically and figuratively shut your door. You know when something is a true priority and requires your full attention. Empower yourself to say a polite no and request to get back to whatever is being demanded of you at that moment. Don’t forget to follow up, but it is okay to say no at the time!

Read More

Can People Collaborate Effectively While Working Remotely?

In this current employment marketplace, companies need to stay ahead of the game in order to remain competitive and attract and retain the right talent for their organization.   As such, many startups and enterprise companies alike are turning to remote / agile workplaces instead of the traditional office space. It’s no wonder why — individuals who work remotely are reportedly more productive and seemingly happier.  But what about collaborating remotely?  What may be lost when workers have little opportunity to interact directly and how can companies mitigate these factors in order to be successful while continuing to maintain their status of places where employees want to work?  It can be challenging to master remote collaboration because it’s more complex than simply deciding whether or not to get out of your pajamas for the video conference call. How do you replicate the in-office banter over the computer? How do you communicate effectively without blowing up someone’s email?  Questions like these often come up when considering how to collaborate with remote coworkers. These tips (courtesy of will help quell communication concerns and make remote collaboration more effective.

1. Be Available

While working collaboratively means you’re working with others on a project, there are often times in which you work independently and then meet back together to share ideas. In an office, you can pop your head over a cubicle wall to run a quick idea by your coworker or you might mention something when you’re walking down the hall.

Obviously, you don’t have that same experience when you work from home. However, staying available on chat, email, and phone during work hours provides the same opportunity for experiences like those to happen.

And don’t simply flip the switch to “available” while begrudgingly responding to a chat or being irritated you have to answer the phone. Genuinely welcome calls, emails, or chats from coworkers — it will help keep the lines of communication open and conversations will be more natural.

If you turn off communication, you completely turn off the opportunity to work collaboratively, let alone effectively.

2. Don’t Rely on Email

With the ability to chat, post messages on message boards, and pick up that old-fashioned phone, save emails for important communication that’s lengthier in nature. Similarly, stick to email when you need to address multiple topics of conversation in a single message. Don’t hit the dreaded Reply All when it’s unnecessary, and keep your emails to the point.

Avoid bombarding your coworker with emails for shorter conversations and send them quick chats instead. You could always pick up the phone, but be courteous and send them a quick chat to see if they have time to talk. It will avoid interrupting them if they’re in the middle of something that demands their attention. Be courteous and purposefully communicative.

Here are some great communication apps you and your team might find useful:

  • Google Hangout: You have to have a Google account to use this feature, but it’s well worth it. You can chat or have a call with or without video.
  • Campfire: This is a chat feature within Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), which allows for on-the-fly conversations while collaborating on a project.
  • Hip Chat: Hip Chat is secure, plus it allows for private and group chats, file sharing, and integration with a variety of APIs, all while staying synced up.
  • Calliflower: This app makes conference calls a possibility, whether you’re working with a tablet, phone, or browser.
  • Skype: The household name for video calls.

Keep in mind that, if you have a dedicated office space, it’s a lot easier to communicate for the simple fact that people are going to be able to hear you better.

If you’re trying to have a video chat from Starbucks, chances are, the person on the other end isn’t going to be able to hear you over the coffee shop atmosphere — and you’ll really be in trouble if the cafe has live music. When jumping on a video call (or even just a conference call), try using headphones and a microphone to keep background noise at bay.

3. Hang Out and Don’t Be Strangers

As I mentioned, Google Hangouts is an amazing tool that allows you to have a video chat with one person or multiple people. Whether you choose to use Google Hangouts or another video chat program, maintaining regular contact with the coworkers with whom you’re collaborating is going to make the remote aspect of your collaboration seem not quite as remote.

Stay current with project progress and keep faces fresh. When you can see your co-workers faces, read their mannerisms, and actually talk, you might not be as guarded when it comes to communicating, especially if it’s happening frequently.

Video chats can also be very useful in sharing whiteboards. With a well-positioned computer, you can see the scribbles that matter.

The bottom line is that maintaining a regular communication schedule lets you and your team stay current with the progress of a project, have the ability to ask questions and gain clarity, and communicate more easily.

4. Have Compatible Technology

Don’t even think about working remotely — let alone trying to collaborate — if your technology isn’t up to par. Your internet must be fast enough to handle video chats, large document sharing, and multiple tabs.

And even more importantly, your computer needs to be up to date and running the same programs as your coworkers. Compatibility issues could cause you to waste hours of time, whether it’s just trying to open the document or reformatting issues that popped up between versions or file types.

Although those working for larger companies likely have the same company computer, laptop, or tablet, if you’re an entrepreneur or a startup where each employee is using his or her own, it’s imperative that you’re all on the same platform and using the same programs (as well as the same versions of programs) to keep collaboration effective and running smoothly.

5. Use Collaboration Tools

There are a number of project management / collaboration tools, some examples include:  Slack, TrelloBasecampCreately.

There is a variety of other project management and collaboration tools out there, so don’t be shy when investigating what would work best for your team.

Collaboration tools not only help you keep track of what you’re doing but help your team as a whole to stay organized. When you’re faced with high-pressure deadlines and complex projects, staying organized and having the ability to monitor the status of a project can hugely affect the outcome of the project in a positive way.

This is especially true for developers, designers, writers and content managers, and other collaborative groups who work remotely and take on large, complex projects with multiple stages and components.

6. Don’t Forget About Time Zones

You might be an hour into work at 9am, but your coworker three time zones over might still be hitting the snooze button.

Especially when you’re collaborating, be mindful of what time zone your coworkers are in and schedule meetings or calls when the work time overlaps. Integrating effectively across time zones, cultures, and work styles might take a while to get used to, but it’s not impossible.

Pay attention when scheduling a time to talk and make sure you’re aware of each other’s time zones — in fact, when scheduling calls with coworkers who live in different areas of the world or even just the US, always include the time zone in the message when scheduling so that everyone is clear.

Always ask before scheduling because it shows you respect your coworker’s time and you’ll be able to find a time to talk in which you both can dedicate your attention to the task at hand.

7. Get Back to the Basics

Don’t forget that not only are you human, but the coworker you’re connecting with is human, too.

Establish a positive working relationship and value your coworker’s contributions. Make sure to take a few minutes to have some “water-cooler” talk — it will help build a rapport and relationship with your coworkers.

Consider how you communicate, especially when working remotely. Your tone, intent, and sarcasm cannot always be easily deciphered through text.  In fact, it’s usually best to leave sarcasm out of the workplace, but if you let it slip, at least let it be on a video chat where your tone and expression can help set up the context.

Keep criticism constructive — when providing feedback to others in your group, be sure to point out the things he or she did well in addition to the areas that need work so you don’t sound like a Negative Nancy. Your comments will be taken more seriously, and the group will benefit from honest feedback.

Remember: Communication Is the Key

When working remotely, it’s critical that you remember your basic communication skills. Communication is the key to effective collaboration — and that’s true whether you’re working remotely or in an office. 

Read More

Back-to-school season is upon us, and those returning to work can learn just as much as students returning to school. Today’s lesson: how to build a wildly successful organization by tapping into the talents of your employees. 

Open any business magazine, and you can’t help but hear about the importance of “employee engagement.” It’s a trendy buzzword, and seems to be sold as the cure for all organizational ills. But what does it actually mean? 

What is employee engagement, anyway?  

Employee engagement means inspiring employees to go “above and beyond.” It results from building a workplace culture where people are free to unleash their passion and commitment to each other and to the organization as a whole. It means building a workplace culture that talented people want to be a part of—and want to stay a part of. 

You know in your gut when you’re in a company that’s getting it right; you can sense it. People treat each other well. They rally together around shared goals. There’s a sense of energy and excitement. The business is successful. 

You know even more clearly when a company is not getting it right. Management is secretive. Employees whisper around the water cooler. Turnover is high, and you have trouble getting new people to apply for or accept positions.

Yes, engagement matters—and is worth the effort 

We’ve all heard of the companies that are exceptionally good at appealing to top talent: Google, Southwest, Zappos. Can you guess what they have in common? You saw this one coming: they’re all known for strong company cultures of engagement. 

Applicants have better odds of getting into Harvard than getting a job at Google, which receives an average of 2 million job applicants each year. Imagine having a culture that attracts that much interest! It’s no coincidence that these are some of the most successful companies in the world. 

Research indicates that organizations with engaged workforces beat their competitors on many critical performance measures:

  • Gallup studied 1.4 million employees in 34 countries and found that the most highly engaged workforces are four times more successful than the least engaged.
  • Top performers have 25% lower turnover, 37% less absenteeism, and 22% higher profitability.[i]
  • The Harvard Business Review surveyed executives at top companies around the world and found that 71% of leaders rank employee engagement as a top factor contributing to their future business success.[ii] 

The news keeps telling us that we’re facing a “war for talent,” so these numbers should make every leader sit up and take notice. As the economy improves and talented professionals have more options, it will become harder to attract them to your company and then keep them around. 

3-point lesson plan for inspiring and energizing employees 

Those who work in your organization aren’t just employees, they’re people—and they find value in the same kinds of things that you do. Just as you want respect, control, and meaning—so do they. Keep that in mind as you make decisions, and you’re well on your way to engaging them. 

There is no magic bullet; no one secret thing you can do to motivate your staff overnight. Engagement comes from sustained effort over time, and success starts with treating people like more than cogs in a machine. All efforts should stem from that core principle. 

Here’s a simple framework you can use to guide your efforts: the ABCs of employee engagement. How you implement these strategies will depend upon your organization’s unique culture, direction, and priorities. 

A. Treat employees like adults. 

First and foremost, the assumption underlying your policies should be that most people are inherently good, mean well, and want to do good work. It may sound deceptively simple, but there are many ways that organizations are inadvertently sending the message that they don’t trust their employees—and in response, employees don’t trust the leadership or give them their best efforts. 

Here are a few quick ways to show that you value and respect employees as equals. 

Act with integrity. Culture starts at the top. The organization’s leadership must model the values they expect from others. If employees don’t trust management, they won’t be motivated or give their best selves. Integrity means doing what you say you will, treating people equally and fairly, and not tolerating bad behavior. Trust is a prerequisite to engagement.
Write policies aimed at the best employees, not the worst. It’s ineffective to craft policies aimed at the small percentage of employees who misbehave. You can’t anticipate and prevent every problem that may occur; and by trying to do so, you irritate the majority of your employees who don’t need to be told how to act. You’re better served aiming policies at the top performers, and handling performance issues as they arise. 
Let them manage their time. Even if you can’t allow employees to work from home, you can still allow them the flexibility to control their hours. In doing so, you remove the distraction of unmet personal demands and enable them to fully focus on their work. By giving them control of their work and their life, you demonstrate trust and foster goodwill that will come back to you in the form of increased productivity. 

B. Be all ears. 

Companies run into trouble when they assume they know what employees want. You can’t know unless you ask. Train your managers to ask good questions, to encourage their staff members to come to them with ideas, and to be attentive to the responses. 

What do they need? Ask about what obstacles prevent them from doing their work efficiently, and what tools would enable them to do their work better. The best suggestions for improving operational processes come from those working on the front line daily. 
How do they want to be recognized? Not every employee wants to be recognized in the same way. While Kelly may appreciate a certificate presented publicly, Juan may prefer a handwritten note presented privately. Recognition is much more meaningful when it feels personalized and sincere, and is something the employee actually values.
Where do they want to go? Find out about their long-term career goals and where they want to go within the organization. Work with them to determine what skill gaps exist and what training or professional development would help them reach their goals. Then provide them that training. 
Act on the responses. Simply by asking these questions, you establish the expectation that you will do something with the information. Managers know that the responses will lead to more work for them, and that is often the key deterrent to inquiring. But wouldn’t you rather know? Ignorance is only bliss until your best employee resigns. Follow-up is key to building trust. 

If knowledge is power, obtaining the answers to a few simple questions will put managers in a much stronger position to make informed decisions. Asking these questions is also a way for managers to demonstrate that they respect and value the people on their teams. 

C. Communicate, communicate, communicate. 

Communication should flow both ways. For maximum effectiveness, an organization needs to create a two-way dialogue and keep employees in the loop. You need to understand what employees think and value, and they need to understand the big picture and the rationale behind decisions. 

Provide context. Most people likely joined the organization because they believe in the mission. Keep that passion alive by continually making the connection of why their work matters. Also be clear on the direction of the organization, and how each individual’s goals are aligned to the broader strategy. Everyone in the organization will make smarter decisions if they understand how their actions impact their colleagues, customers, and vendors. 
Be up front about challenges. Be honest with employees about what’s going on, especially during tough times. They don’t necessarily need to know the gritty details, but they should be aware when there’s a problem and how they can help. If they know that the biggest client has been lost, they’ll be more motivated to bring in new clients and more forgiving of cutbacks. 
Include everyone in designing solutions. Front-line employees have essential insights into the business from working directly with customers, systems, and machines on a daily basis. The most effective solutions are created collaboratively by involving the whole organizational system. Including everyone in problem solving also builds buy-in for the solutions that are ultimately implemented. 

Employees are making decisions every day that affect your customers, vendors, and the achievement of the mission. If they don’t have current information, they can’t make wise choices. 

The bottom line: You’re never “done” engaging employees 

Engaging employees is at once an enormously complex concept and yet a profoundly simple one. It’s complicated because every aspect of a work environment can potentially engage or disengage the people who spend time there—and even the best executives cannot control all of these factors. Yet it’s elegantly straightforward in that a few small changes can have a big impact. 

Motivating employees isn’t about offering free food or building nap pods. It doesn’t come from quick actions you can check off a list—it’s about handling the fundamentals well. The ABCs of employee engagement are simple, but certainly not easy. Creating engagement has to be an ongoing organizational priority, and you have to work at it. These guidelines can get you started. 

About the Author -- Elisabeth Waltz is an employee engagement expert who specializes in creating win-win HR solutions: building company cultures where employees are empowered to do their best work, while developing employees who produce amazing results for the organization. Still a New Englander at heart, you can find her sampling all the cheese and cider available in her new home, San Diego. Say hi on LinkedIn at


[i] Gallup, Inc. “State of the Global Workforce,” 2013, pg. 21. Available from, accessed August 26, 2016.

[ii] Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance,” June 1, 2013, pg. 4. Available from, accessed August 25, 2016.

Read More

26 Leadership Thoughts

(Ideas Related to Each Letter of the Alphabet)

Authenticity: It sounds like a challenging concept but it’s actually quite easy – simply be yourself.  No B.S.  No facades.  That authenticity builds trust between you and your team. 

Bench Strength: If you’re not thinking about and doing rigorous succession planning, think again…Your job as a leader isn’t just managing today’s team – it’s also preparing tomorrow’s team and being ready for the inevitable turnover that comes with any organization.  Build your succession plan.  Now.

Courage: Take a stand for your beliefs.  Don’t let people get thrown under the bus – instead jump between them and the bus and take the hit.  Have some intestinal fortitude to right the wrongs around you despite the cost and risk to you personally.

Delegation: You can’t do it all yourself (even if you think you’ll do it better than they will).  The hallmark of a great leader is being able to let go and let one’s people do things while the leader sets direction, procures resources, and provides motivation.  Let go.

Entrepreneurship: Foster it.  Even huge companies were start-ups at one point in their growth.  Encourage your people to take risks, to build new things, and to challenge existing ways of doing business.  Your business will change.  Either you can change it or the world will change it for you.

Feedback: if you’re not delivering difficult messages to the members of your team when they need to hear those messages, you’re doing them a disservice.  Delivering a tough message is essential to great leadership. Learn how to deliver it well, and don’t forget to “feed-forward” for what you want to see in the future.

Gratitude: Demonstrate it.  Let people know you’re thankful for all they do to make you and the company look good.  Your team needs to know you appreciate their hard work.  A simple thank you note can go a long way.

Humor: See the funny in the frustrating.  When you step back from the frustration and the seriousness, work is pretty absurd and silly.  If you can see the humor in it (and help others to do so as well), the stress level in your organization will be significantly lower than it is today.

Initiative: Take it. Yes, this requires you to assume risk.  That’s the mantle of leadership.  Go out and make mistakes.  Who knows? You may actually get it right and have a huge positive impact.  And if you don’t, you’ve certainly learned something new.

Justice: Dish it out.  When you see unjust behavior, no matter how small, if you let it go without consequences, you’re implicitly condoning it.  Be fair, be fast, and be just.  No one said your job was easy and this will require you to deliver some tough messages. 

Knowledge: Build your knowledge daily.  Read.  Do research.  Look up words or facts you don’t know.  Talk with experts outside your field.  If you constantly seek new sources of knowledge, you’ll be better at spotting risks and opportunities than your competitors.

Leadership: You manage things; you lead people.  Remember – leadership is the art of influencing, setting direction, and inspiring others to take action because they share your vision and goals.  Stop thinking the management tasks you’re performing are leadership.

Managing Up: A major part of your job is buffering for your team.  You need to protect them from distractions and so they can get their work done.  You may be the only shield between them and corporate/company demands.

Negativity: Stop right now.  When the team hears you complaining, not only does it destroy morale, concern them, and make you look immature, it also gives them the right to complain themselves.  Negativity is a cancer.  Prevent it starting with yourself.

Opportunities: Are you creating opportunities for your people to grow, fail, learn, and succeed?  You have to create those stretch assignments and projects if you ever expect them to become more than they are today.

Philosophy: Every leader should have and share their own personal leadership philosophy.  It’s a simple statement of your beliefs and it will help you set expectations and maintain standards. Craft a clear concise philosophy.  

Quitting Time: We work to live, not live to work.  You set an example for balance for your team.  If you don’t know when to quit and go home, they’ll follow your bad example and you’ll burn them out.  Be reasonable about what you ask of yourself because implicitly you’re asking the same of them.

Responsibility: Accountability is an external force holding you to a standard of performance.  Ownership is holding yourself accountable to meeting the standard.  It’s intrinsic.  Make the leap from accountability to ownership.

Strategy: Have one.  It doesn’t matter how big or small your organization is – as a leader you need to articulate a clear destination, goals, and define the path to get there.  If you don’t, your people are wandering aimlessly.

Thinking Time: Carve out at least 4 hours per month to do nothing but think.  Remove distractions and evaluate the major issues your organization faces.  Your job is to look out over the horizon – not to look down at the road you’re driving on.

Under-promise – Over-deliver: Make commitments you know you can keep but always seek to surprise to the upside.  Too many people over-promise and under-deliver, which is a recipe for disaster.  Manage expectations well but then give people more than they thought they’d ever get.

Vision: You need to look into the future and tell people what to expect. Create a picture of the future that is inspiring. Their job is to drive and maintain the bus. Your job is to set the destination and keep your eyes on the horizon to look for unexpected bumps in the road.

Why?:  Ask this question a lot.  Ask why you do things the way you do and if there are new/better ways to do it.  Ask your people why they did something or why they feel a certain way.  You’ll understand them better and be better able to lead them. 

Xenophobia: Avoid it. We’re increasingly global and interconnected.  Celebrate the diversity of your team, your partners, and your customers.  Go to faraway lands to find new people, new opportunities, and new perspectives.  Stop being insular. 

Yelling: Seriously?  No yelling in the workplace unless you’re trying to get someone’s attention as a 1 ton anvil falls from the sky toward their head.  Yelling is crass not to mention ineffective.  Besides, speaking calmly and softly is much, much more effective.

Zebra Cakes: always have some on hand.  They’re good for boosting blood sugar during afternoon doldrums.  I mean, who doesn’t love Zebra Cakes?

Which letters are your favorites?  What would you add to this list?  Adapted from:

Mike Figliuolo – thoughtLEADERS LLC

Read More

You may have noticed the buzz about employer branding over the last several years. As the digital information age continues to flourish, there is a growing awareness among top executives that managing their company’s public, consumer-facing brand isn’t enough. They must also manage their reputation as employers.

The global economy is rapidly changing, leaving 73 percent of CEOs worried about having the right people to meet challenging growth goals. According to Manpower, 38 percent of companies are struggling to fill open positions, which eventually impacts their ability to provide products and services to customers.

As a leader, how can you attract great talent, inspire loyalty, and optimize employee performance? It starts with strengthening your employer brand.

Early on, employer branding focused on how companies could apply marketing principles to hiring employees—typically through employment advertising and later, social recruiting. Today, employer branding has evolved to become an inside-out, strategic process companies use to become an employer of choice and to drive employee engagement. Executives now realize the impact of employer branding on talent acquisition, corporate culture, internal communication and marketing.

Everyone owns the employment brand. Managing your company’s employer brand isn’t the responsibility of a single department—HR, marketing or corporate communications. HR will need to understand how the consumer brand aligns with the employer brand. Marketing teams will need to know how market developments affect workforce planning and employee retention. Everyone will need to become better, stronger internal communicators.

5 Steps to Attracting, Engaging and Retaining Your Best People

The competition for talent, especially in technical, highly-skilled professions, is expected to increase. Here are ways your company can position itself as an employer of choice:

  1. Evaluate your existing employer brand. Marketing can support HR in developing an internal audit of employee perceptions and beliefs to assess existing employer brand awareness and reputation.
  2. Define your employer brand. Why should someone work for your company? And, why should they stay? Your answers become the basis of your employee value proposition (EVP), which describes how you want to be perceived in a clear, compelling way.
  3. Map your employer brand throughout the employee life-cycle. There are four distinct phases of an employee life-cycle that you must consider: attracting new talent, on-boarding new hires, engaging employees, and bidding farewell.
  4. Manage your employer brand. Similar to your company’s consumer brand, your employer brand must constantly be monitored and managed. Many companies leverage social media to highlight key employer strengths, but also to listen to “the word on the street.”
  5. Educate and communicate well internally. It’s one thing to design a strategy for employer branding, but success is in execution. It’s important for managers and employers to know how to deliver on the employer brand experience—through their actions and their words.

Companies can no longer afford to be passive about employer branding. The competition for talent is too high. Plus, the well-known branding advice holds true here: if you don’t define your brand, someone else will. Don’t leave your employer brand to chance.

About Michele Richardson

Michele Richardson is an internal communication consultant and speaker on a mission to build workplaces where people are led by passion and purpose. She advises executives and organizations on how to attract, engage and retain top talent through the art of communication and the science of organizational behavior. Her clients include Boeing, Toyota, CareerBuilder, Sodexo and KPMG. Learn more about how to work with her here or catch up with her on Twitter.

To learn more about Michele’s approach to employer branding, register to attend the next San Diego HR Roundtable Lunch & Learn on March 15 at 11:45 am.

Read More

Growing as a boss and leader is a challenging process when you are used to running your company yourself.  As part of my growth process, I am taking a look at how to let go so my company can grow. Last year, I shared the experience of determining that we hired the wrong person.  But once you have hired the right person, what comes next?

Delegation is such a little word but one of the hardest things to do when you are the boss.  And for the record:  DIY should not be the MO of the CEO.

Delegating is a great way to ensure that more tasks get done in less time, and it also builds team capacity. Unfortunately, a lot of managers don’t pay enough attention to the delegation process, and thus fail to reap the benefits. Are you a successful delegator? There are six steps to successfully delegating tasks. The problem is that most managers only do one or two of them, and then, when a task isn’t completed to their satisfaction, complain that their employees aren’t good enough to get the job done.

Getting outstanding results from delegating demands following a formula. Only once this formula is mastered is it fair to evaluate whether you really have the right people for the job. The good news is that employees are rarely the problem. It’s a lot easier and much less expensive for a manager to learn a new approach than to replace staff.

Here are the six steps you should work through when delegating:

1. Prepare

Employees can’t deliver quality results if the task delegated to them isn’t fully thought out, or if expectations keep changing. Take the time and develop the discipline to map out exactly what you’re asking for. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

2. Assign

Once you’ve taken the time to map out exactly what you’re looking for, you need to convey that information to your employees. Be sure to include clear information on timing, budget, and context, and set expectations for communication and updates, including frequency, content, and format.

3. Confirm understanding

One of the most common mistakes made in delegating is assuming that employees understand what you want, without ensuring that they do. Confirming understanding only takes about 60 seconds, but is the most important determinant of success or failure.

The best way to confirm understanding is to ask your employees to paraphrase the request or assignment back to you in their own words. If you’re not comfortable doing that (many managers feel, often correctly, that it makes them sound like a kindergarten teacher), you should, at the very least, ask questions to make sure employees understand all aspects of what’s required.

4. Confirm commitment

This is another part of the delegation process that most managers skip. They often just assume that employees have accepted the tasks they’ve been given. The most important part of a relay race is the handing of the baton to the next runner. Runners spend a huge amount of time learning this skill. It should be no different in the workplace. Commitment means making sure you’ve successfully handed over the baton.

Confirm that employees are committed to the expected results, and to the process that’s been set out (including the schedule, budget, and tools), and that their overall goals for the task are aligned with yours. Make sure they’re aware of any consequences, both for the company and for themselves, that may result if they fail to deliver on the desired outcomes.

5. Avoid "reverse delegating"

Many managers are extremely overworked. Sometimes, this is because their employees are better at delegating than they are: managers often end up completing tasks they had delegated to others, because those tasks somehow end up back on their plate. I call this "reverse delegating." And for the record, this is one step of which I am most guilty.

It’s rarely, if ever, necessary for a manager to take back a task that he or she had delegated to someone else. If this is necessary, it likely means that not enough time was spent on the preparation stage, and that time, resource, or other constraints have led to problems that you did not foresee.

If an employee reaches an impasse, treat it as a learning opportunity. Coach the employee through it, making sure he or she has the resources and knowledge needed to complete the task. That way, you’ll still be free to focus on other things, and the employee will be better equipped to carry out similar tasks in the future. The bottom line? Don’t take tasks back.

6. Ensure Accountability

Two-way communication is a key part of delegating. Finding out at the completion date that a deliverable hasn’t been completed or has been done unsatisfactorily is the nightmare scenario of delegating. That’s why you need to make sure your employees are accountable for the task.

Accountability is key to the process of delegation: it means employees are regularly communicating with you about the status of the deliverable and the timing of delivery so that there are no surprises at the eleventh hour.

The delegation process becomes faster and more fluid the more you do it. Once you’ve mastered it, it will become a part of your managerial DNA, and you’ll consistently reap outstanding results.

Delegating is the next step in my growth process, and only when mastered can I move on toward being a better leader.

Read More

In 2015, the United States capped its best year for hiring in 15 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is great news for job seekers; but it also means it is a competitive job market out there and to nab your ideal role, it’s all about making an impression.  Ideally, your first impression is made face-to-face or at least by word of mouth through a mutual acquaintance or networking opportunity. In reality, not everyone is that lucky, leaving your resume to do the talking for you. With the abundance of resume templates, tips, webinars, and paid services available, there should be nothing but strong resumes flooding the inboxes of hiring managers everywhere. As an executive recruiting firm we can tell you that is definitely not the case. We continue to see poor resumes on a daily basis; and nothing will take you out of the running for your ideal job quite like a subpar resume.

As a job seeker, you want your resume to stand out among the crowd… but for the right reasons. Poor grammar, spelling mistakes, excessive use of industry related jargon, and too many words are common mistakes. Another common resume pitfall we encounter is that many professionals simply “update” their resumes with their recent work experience, rather than editing the entire document.According to Amanda Augustine of TheLadders, “As your career progresses, the emphasis of your resume should change… Employers are no longer focusing on your education, relevant internships, and extracurricular activities. Now they’re more interested in the skill sets you’ve developed and the accomplishments you’ve achieved in your professional career. Your resume needs to tell your story.”

Misspelled words and choppy professional histories are not the only resume fails we see.

10 Reasons Your Resume Sucks and You’re Only Getting 6 Seconds 

1. You included your address.

Obviously, hiring managers want to get to know potential candidates. However, the chances of them coming to your house to speak with you are slim to none. If you are looking at a local position, it is appropriate to include your city and state so the employer knows you are a local candidate. But I’d leave off the street address. Photos and hobbies are another resume no-no. If you want the hiring manager to get to know you, why not take them to the place they can get to know you best… your LinkedIn Profile page. Including a direct link to your LI page allows a hiring manager or recruiter to learn more about your professional experience quickly and easily.

2. You’re still using an Objective while everyone else has written a Professional Summary.

In the 50+ years of combined experience here at TurningPoint Executive Search, we have yet to find a candidate who is not looking to apply their experience and their talent with a company that will provide him or her the opportunity to grow.We all know the stats: Hiring managers spend approximately six seconds looking at your resume before deciding whether you’re a viable candidate or not. Therefore, you need come out of the gate with a BANG! Replace your old Objectives with a well-developed, conciseProfessional Summary that provides a clear overview of who you are as a professional.

3. You did not include a Summary of Qualifications.

We like to think of this as your highlight reel. Developing a bulleted list of skills and experience and inserting it at the top of your resume will allow the hiring manager to see your best moves during the six seconds he or she is going to initially invest in getting to know you.

4. You’re still relying on your Education to get you in the door.

Unless you are a recent graduate, your practical experience will far outweigh your classroom experience in both time and relevance. While including any relevant and important degrees may still be needed to show you meet the job requirements, it shouldnot be at the top of your resume.  Exceptions: A doctorate degree, masters, or relevant certification should highlighted by simply including the post-nominal initials.  This is especially true for certain types of positions, especially technical positions. Some companies prefer to hire professional with an advanced degree or specialty certification such as PHR (Professional in Human Resources).  Secondly, if the hiring manager graduated from the same college or was a member of the same fraternity, sorority or other campus organization, it is not considered unprofessional to make that connection by including your education background.

5. You’ve included unnecessary information.

You only get 6 seconds, remember? Hiring managers do not want to know what you minored in or your graduating GPA. They want the highlights only.

6. Your titles are too vague.

Director, Manager, Assistant Manager, Vice President, Senior, Managing Director. There are a myriad of professional titles used today. Hiring managers want to see what roles you have had in the past and what roles you are targeting in your current search. If you are looking for a senior level position, provide evidence of your experience with that type of role. “Manager” does not adequately define your seniority.

7. Your job description is boring.

Although most job descriptions are typically bulleted lists, this is your time to shine and sell your experience and impact in previous organization. “Managed” and “responsible for” is using passive language. Add life to your experience by using dynamic word choices such as: Drove, Developed, Instituted, Designed, Created, Implemented, or Built.

8. Your resume isn’t unique. It’s just hard to read. 

Unless you are looking for a job in the creative sector – design, graphics, advertising – using multiple font styles and sizes is distracting for a hiring manager who is quickly scanning your resume for key words. Varying the color of topics or sections make your resume appear unprofessional and can unintentionally take away from the value of the content you’ve included. If you want your resume to stand out visually, try avoiding common fonts such as Times New Roman and use clean-looking fonts such as Helvetica or Calibri.

9. Your companies have no descriptions.

Not everyone has worked for Nike or Google. Most job seekers have worked for less well-known organizations that might need some clarification. Including a one sentence company description allows hiring managers to get a feel for the types of industries you have experience in.  In addition “this description will also help the reader put your title into perspective… For instance, if you’re currently a director at a small company, including this description will help the reader understand why you may be targeting a manager-level role at a much larger organization,” Augustine says.

10. You don’t show your value by highlighting what you’ve achieved.

The last thing you want is for your resume to read as a job description. While there will certainly be tasks and duties included, your resume should show the reader what you bring to the table, why you will be an asset to the company. This can only be done by highlighting your successes. Numbers and percentages are excellent ways to show what you’ve achieved. Include money saved, sales projections exceeded, increases in ROI, new business, or revenue that you are responsible for or had a hand in. Emphasizing your achievements demonstrate the value you added to your previous company and what can your potential new company can expect from you.

If you’re only going to get six seconds, you’d better make them count. As cliché as it sounds, you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. In an ideal world, candidates would be able to make that first impression on a hiring manager face to face or on the telephone. With an average of 250 resumes for every corporate position, facetime in the initial phase of a job search is almost an impossibility. This is why it is essential that professionals develop a concise, dynamic, easy to read, error-free resume that highlights their successes, skill set, and experience and leaves a recruiter wanting more… in six seconds or less.

For a few more Resume Myths & Must Haves visit our Resume Toolkit.


Read More

So you’ve managed to get through your interview and you are not quite sure how you did. The hiring manager, a stoic architect with the world’s best poker face, has given you no indication whether you passed the test with flying colors or you failed worse than the fanny pack fad in the 90’s. You want the job but all you can m­uster is a “Thank you for your time, I am very impressed with the company and the job. I look forward to hearing from you” and you go on your merry way, fingers crossed hoping that it all went well. Now you are up awake at 1am, staring at the ceiling, reliving the interview in your head. Every answer given is now second-guessed, and you are wondering to yourself why telling the interviewer that your favorite part of the Olympics is Synchronized Swimming was even relevant at all.

That’s the nature of interviewing right? Well, for a lot candidates that seems to be the case, but for those who understand the process, things are a bit different. They know that in order to impress in an interview, YOU HAVE TO FINISH STRONG AND CLOSE THE INTERVIEW.

A search on the web will yield you dozens of pages with interview tips on how to close a job. The usual suspects as far as tips go like this:

  • “Do you see my background being a fit for this job?”
  • “Where do I go from here? Can you tell me about the rest of the interviewing process?”
  • “Are there any concerns in my background as they relate to the job?”
  • “I feel I am a great fit for the job because I have XYZ, and can get to work as soon as you need me. When can I start?”

In theory, these seem to be wonderful questions that can put you in a position to receive honest feedback from a manager. Unfortunately, theories have the danger of failing miserably in the real world. The problem is, candidates just like yourself are reading the same tips online and using them on tired ears. Hiring managers have heard these exact questions over and over again. You asking these questions can be akin to writing “I am a hard worker, I am driven/motivated, and I am a team player” on your resume. In essence, they become meaningless exercises in a played out-interview ceremony.

Let me break down why these questions won’t work with a tenured manager conducting an interview. First of all, it is too aggressive. Although the interview is very much a sales process where you are selling yourself, it is rarely the type of sale that is impulsive. What I mean by that is that no manager is going to go outright and say “you know what? You are right! You have XYZ, you can start tomorrow morning!”

 Second, it puts the manager in an awkward spot. While some hiring managers have no qualms explaining to you why you are not a fit for the job, some rarely do. It can be awkward to meet a stranger, listen to their pitch, and then tell them where they fell short. Additionally, you do not want the person interviewing to rehash their objections in their head. You want to end on a positive note – why would you make the interviewer focus on why she didn’t like you!?!

Lastly, any manager with a bit of sense would be hesitant to express their real interest on the spot. It removes the negotiation leverage from the company once that process starts. When I worked as a corporate recruiter, I preached this to hiring managers as gospel. A candidate that knows he has the job is a lot more difficult to negotiate with than one that doesn’t.

So hopefully by now I have convinced you to stop using these tired old questions. You may be asking yourself how you’ll manage without them. So this is where I tell you “Closing an interview is not easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it.” In my 13 years of recruiting, I can count the amount of people with one hand that have done it flawlessly. Closing an interview, like any high-end sale, is an art form. Like any art form, preparation and practice are a must. I will not give you any sound bites or word tracks to follow. If you want the job, you are going to have to earn it!

The key to a successful close is paying attention. If at the end of an interview you are asking if your background is a fit for the job, you should have done your research and you have bigger problems to worry about than closing the interview correctly. You need to isolate key components of the conversation and identify what is important versus what is trivial. A great way to find this out is to ask open ended questions that are not aggressive and put the interviewer on the spot, but rather give you some insight into their needs. These are some examples:

  • What are the most important things this person will be doing on daily basis?
  • What issues are you having right now that this person will solve if hired?
  • What separates your most successful person performing this job to the rest of her colleagues?

Questions such as these will yield you all the answers you need. Forget the fluff in the job description, you now know what is important to a manager. Armed with this info, this is your time to shine. As the interview nears its end, summarize to the interviewer these points. Since they are the ones that stated them, they are very likely to agree with them. Once you summarize them, this is the place where you tell them why you are a fit for the job. Know your personal facts, know your successes, and speak to them confidently. Countless times, I have seen candidates undersell their past achievements because they are not able to speak about them with confidence. Avoid using abstract descriptions and stick to facts. Saying you are driven sounds like fluff, but telling me you worked overtime for 6 weeks straight in order to deliver a project no one expected you to tells me a lot. Here is an example:

From our conversation, it looks like your main needs are a resource that has experience managing enterprise level software development projects, managing projects with global resources, and someone familiar Agile/SCRUM methodology”

This is where your energy will carry you. Once again, confidence is key and your body language should show it (for tips on body language click this).

“In my last role, I managed a project with 8 developers, 4 QA Engineers, and 4 DevOps Engineers building an application that delivered video on demand content for the biggest cable provider in the United States. The application was used monthly by millions and allowed our company to retain and grow our business with this client as the project was delivered on time and under budget by $60k.”

“In a previous role, I managed a global team with resources in Argentina, UK, New York, and San Diego. Because of time differences, things were challenging. I was able delegate managing duties to local leads who then worked together with me to bring the project together. This allowed us to use the company’s available resources on a global scale rather than hire new people in order to have all the work done in one office.”

“Lastly, I am a certified SCRUM master and have been managing Agile projects for over 8 years now. I am a member of the local Agile User Group and I have been asked to speak at various Agile conferences such as Agile Alliance and SCRUM Alliance. My presentation this year was ‘Globally Distributed Teams and Agile’ where I was able to share my success with colleagues in the aforementioned job.”

The key to your success in closing an interview in that manner will be to convince the interviewer that regardless of how the overall interview went, you are not only able to do the job they need you to do, but that you have done it in the past and you have succeeded at it. If you delivered, you may just flip the tables and have them ask you “Are there any concerns in the job as they relate to your search?

Diego Aguillon is the Sr. Corporate Recruiter at BBSI (NASDAQ: BBSI), a leading provider of business management solutions, combining traits from the human resource outsourcing and professional management consulting industries to create an operational platform that differentiates it from competitors. You can follow him on twitter @DiegoITJobs or connect onLinkedIn . You can check out BBSI at 

Read More

Resume? Check. Interview? Check. Degree Verification? Check.  Reference Check? Is it really necessary? All I’m going to get is verification of previous employment dates, right?

Minus the push for more creative resumes and lengthier interview processes, there have been few significant changes in the hiring protocol used by most companies… save for one: the reference check. Confusing legal guidelines have resulted in many larger companies refusing to provide anything other than the verification of employment, dates, and rehire eligibility. In fact, surveys indicate that while 80%+ of companies actually conduct a reference check before making a hire, many complain about the lack of information gathered from the reference. 

In fact, a significant portion of our own clients tell us not to worry about completing a reference check. Needless to say, we do them anyway. Why? Because the value that can be derived from a quality reference check is significant. Given the constraints that often surround completing a reference check, how is it possible to gain true insight into a potential new hire?


  1. Leverage your network. Reaching out to a candidate’s previous boss is not the only tool at your fingertips. Chances are, your potential new hire worked with a variety of people- many of whom are in your professional network. Connecting with these people will provide insight beyond verification of employment. Questions about a candidate’s ability to collaborate, his leadership qualities, and areas of growth can all be answered by connecting with the people you know who also know the candidate.
  2. Engage with the reference. The key to a quality reference check is engaging with the reference, building rapport and never accepting the first answer as gospel. True, a reference is likely to provide a positive reference (or she wouldn’t be on the reference list in the first place). However, with the right questions, even a candidate’s best friend can provide useful and candid feedback.
  3. Do NOT ask open-ended questions. “Is Bob Smith eligible for rehire?” and “Can you verify the dates Sally worked for you, along with her title.” Do not qualify as a quality reference check. Even the standard “Tell me about Sally” is worthless because there is no context for the type of role and culture the candidate will be immersed in. Instead, ask specific, situationally and behavioral questions. Example: “Tom will be working as a Marketing Director for a 6 year old software company that just hit $10m in revenues. The environment is very similar to a start-up, where everyone wears multiple hates, and is expected to work 50-60 hours/week while embracing the fluid and constantly changing priorities.  How do you think he will fare in this type of situation?”
  4. Call a reference that is NOT on the candidate’s list. Want to gain a completely unbiased and unrehearsed opinion about your potential hire? Ask someone who has not been given a heads up. Keep in mind that in order to paint a reliable picture of a candidate there must be multiple sources to provide information. Therefore, contacting several of the provided references in addition to a few that were not provided can give a broader, and possibly more accurate, view. Just be careful about who you call to ensure that you don’t break confidentiality or jeopardize the candidate’s position before they have given notice.

It is important to peel back the onion to uncover the true make up of a candidate.  While both resumes and in-person interviews provide insight into many of the skills she brings to a new role, the only way to obtain a clear picture of how those skills play-out in the work environment is by communicating with the people who have worked closest with him/her. Leveraging your network to ask specific, situational and behavioral questions about a potential new hire will allow you to engage in a quality reference check.

About the Authors

Ken Schmitt is the President and Founder of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance. Specializing in placing sales, marketing and operations professionals across the country, Ken’s 16 years of recruiting experience have equipped him with the knowledge to serve as a thought partner to his clients for all recruiting, hiring and human capital-related initiatives. Ken sits on the board of Junior Achievement, the American Marketing Association, the San Diego HR Roundtable and is an Advisory Board Member for San Diego Sports Innovators (SDSI).

Vicky Willenberg has served as the Social Media Manager for TurningPoint since 2011. In 2014, she was elevated to Digital Marketing Manager, broadening her participation across all things digital for the firm. A former teacher with a Masters in Education, Vicky is an active and published blogger at The Pursuit of Normal and a marketing professional. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest trends in the recruiting, hiring and leadership sectors.

Read More

It’s your business.  You have spent a good part of your life turning your vision into a reality, and finally success is peeking just around the corner.  But it is becoming more difficult to manage it all.  Now what?

Every entrepreneur must go through a painful but vital evolution, if scaling the business from startup to global success is the goal. You must transition from the "I-need-to-be-involved-in-everything" mindset to: "I need to let go so my company can grow."

Keeping a white-knuckled grip on every decision, every sales pitch, and every marketing message may be the very thing that has gotten you to where you are now. But it might also keep you there. Whether you're running a startup or a mid-size company with $500 million in annual revenue, there comes a point when the more you hold on, the more you hold your company back.

How do you know if you've hit that point with your business? Here's a hint: you have. Every CEO can do a better job of hiring the right people, enabling and empowering them, and giving them room to fail.

Letting go is not easy. It means that other people may make decisions you would never make. But on the bright side, people may make brilliant decisions you would never make.

Hire Smart:  Have the confidence and the courage to hire talented people, pay them what they're worth, and let them work. Recruit individuals who complement you (not those who compliment you). You want diversity and balance, not a team of "Mini Me's" who are just junior versions of you.

Avoid the trap of self-comparison. Worried that you'll become personally irrelevant if you hire too many star players? Worry instead that your company will become irrelevant if you surround yourself only with people who are less talented than you are.

The smartest CEOs hire the smartest, most competent people they can afford. But one word of caution:  Always hire the person you need right now, not the person you think you'll need in five years, no matter what your growth plans are. It doesn't matter how impressive her degree is, or if he spent a decade at the biggest player in your industry. If your company is not ready for those skills, it will be a bad hire.

Enable and Empower: The worst thing you can do is to hire the right people and then stand in the way of their success, either by over-managing or under-managing them.

If you recruit a strong, competent leader as your vice president of operations and then continue to maintain control of every daily decision, at best you're failing to leverage the talent you're paying for. At worst, you're incentivizing her to find a new job--and fast.

Enable your new hires by removing roadblocks, providing the information and tools they need to be successful, and then getting out of the way. Don't enable them in the negative sense of the word, where you become the crutch they lean on, and you're bearing half the weight of every step they take. It's equally destructive to empower without enabling. In other words, you make the hire and, perhaps subconsciously, wait for him to prove his worth before you've provided the right amount of direction.

As you're onboarding a new hire, take the time to provide all the background, context and hard-fought knowledge you have. Yes, you may know more than anyone else about this segment of your organization, but this is information that can be imparted to someone else. Help your new hire gain the same level of clarity and insight that you've achieved, and make it clear that you expect him to surpass you.

Be clear with yourself about what success looks like for each person you directly hire. What are your expectations for that person in that role? How will you be measuring performance? Communicate this up front. If your direct reports have to ask you for success benchmarks, you're already a step behind.

Welcome Failure:  Brace yourself -- when you empower others, they will fail sometimes. They definitely won't do things as well as you did at first. Neither did you.

Michael Jordan once said, "I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying." Often these words are easier to apply to yourself than to the people on your team. Your company's future, however, absolutely depends on your ability to indoctrinate this belief in every member of your organization.

This starts with modeling a willingness to fail. Make it clear to the members of your team that it's okay to own up to mistakes by actually admitting when you've made a mistake. As contrary as this might seem to the face-saving that afflicts so many in business, it's surprisingly effective. It fosters an environment where mistakes at all levels of the organization can be acknowledged and addressed before they become catastrophes.

Ben Horowitz, author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, once said in an interview, "Pretending that things are perfect isn't actually very effective... People don't believe you can't get people to solve problems that you won't admit you have."

When others fail, avoid the impulse to snatch the task back. Instead, ask yourself if there's anything you did to contribute to the problem, and make amends. Did you hire the right person for this phase of your business? Hopefully, yes. Did you provide all the right tools and information? If not, invest more time in training. Did you make the expectations clear? Now is the perfect time to clarify. Did you get in the way? Stop it. Did you do all the right things and someone failed anyway? That's the risk you take--and another lesson learned.

What Letting Go Looks Like: Letting go is not holding on. It sounds obvious, yet entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at believing it. Imagine yourself sharing your expertise, your advice or your opinion, and then letting someone else make the decision. Imagine yourself accepting that decision, even if you would have made a different one. That's what letting go looks like.

You will lose some control (just accept that now), but you will gain cooperation, camaraderie, and confidence in the people you work beside every day. If you hired smart individuals whom you both enabled and empowered, they are capable of growing your business beyond anything you could've built alone. So let them.


Read More

Are you happy at work? Would you go to your current job if you didn't get paid? How you answer that question may reveal important insights into how your job affects your long-term happiness

Over a lifetime, workers spend an average of 90,000 hours on the job, according to data from Happiness at Work (link is external). For that reason, author Jessica Pryce-Jones suggested to that we should make careful choices about the employment we choose.  Coming back from a recession where millions of jobs were lost, remaining workers are doing more work with fewer resources and a heavy helping of distrust in management.  That said:  Is it possible to find happiness at work these days?  Some experts say: Yes.  Try out these 10 tips to help find YOUR happiness at work. 

1. Throw Out Labels

We spend most of our lives instantly judging things that happen to us. It’s raining: Bad. No bonus this year: Very bad. The boss is out of town: Very good. Author of Happiness At Work, Srikumar Rao, Ph.D., says you can boost your sense of calm by turning off the mental labels. If you decide something is bad, it most likely will be, he says.

2. Let It Go

When something throws you off, being able to let it go quickly will exponentially increase your happiness at work. The ability to move on–resilience–enables you to handle work challenges with composure and strength. Instead of focusing on how bad a situation is, focus on how to fix it or the next step.

3. Write a To-Do List

It’s hard to feel resilient when you also feel like you have no power over your work day. You can take some of that control back by writing a to-do list and completing tasks in that order. Also, limiting distractions by scheduling times to check e-mail or social networking sites will help keep you on task and feeling productive.

4. Focus And Engage

“The current workforce is like the cast of the Night of The Living Dead, says Rao. Disengaged worker-zombies do nothing for the company or for individual morale. If you are able to get excited about your work and focus on it with full attention, time will go by faster and the experience will be much more pleasant.

5. Quiet Mental Chatter

A constant stream of negative thoughts sends many workers into a downward spiral of unhappiness. Quiet the chaos by redirecting your thoughts. Think of a positive memory and create a mental image of it. The next time you have an idle moment, instead of surfing the Web, draw up this mental screensaver. Replay this in order to reset your mind and scale back the negative

6. Find Restorative Time

Workplaces are stressful and you need to cope. But “alcohol and TV won’t help,” says happiness author Jessica Pryce-Jones. Instead, set aside some time each day to recharge. Taking a peaceful walk at lunch rather than mindlessly eating at your desk will restore calm. Maybe a warm bath in the evening or fun book for the commute are your fix-its. Experiment and find what works for you.

7. Connect To Your Values

People who feel more connected to the company’s mission and feel like their work is valuable or meaningful are more likely to be happy on the job. If you begin to feel like your work is meaningless, look at the big picture: Work for a pharmaceuticals company? Think of the lives being saved. Or, consider how showing up each day aligns with your personal values. The money you earn supports your life outside of work, and whether that’s your family or a hobby, it’s a good reason to keep coming in with a smile.

8. We’re the Same

It’s easy to put people–colleagues, bosses, and clients–into categories. People I don’t like; people I do like. Me vs. them. A simple way to make work relationships more pleasant is by finding common ground. Consider what makes you similar to your co-workers rather than different and the dynamics of the relationship will change. Social interaction play a huge part in your happiness on the job, so it should prove a good investment of your time and energy.

9. Feel Compassion for a Toxic Boss

The No. 1 reason employees leave a company is because of a bad boss, says Rao. They’re everywhere, and you’re likely working with one. See a boss for who he or she really is, he advises, and feel compassion for them: “You have to put up with her a couple hours a week, and she has to put up with herself her whole life.” Rao suggests picturing a toxic boss as a child having a temper tantrum. When you remember the negativity is all about them, not you, you’ll be better able to shrug it off.

10. Know When to Leave

You can do everything right and still be dissatisfied with your job. If you’ve tried everything in your power to make a situation work and you’re still unhappy, that’s when it’s time to leave. Situations can be salvageable, and it’s in your best interest to admit it and move on. Since we mentioned before workers spend an average of 90,000 hours at work in their lifetimes. You owe it to yourself–and your health–to discover happiness on and off the clock.

Read More

Choosing a new team member is stressful for managers and takes significant resources from HR teams.  With so much time and effort extended for hiring new employees, it’s a shame that most managers still feel inept in doing so.  Most people have at least one story of the “surprise hire.”  Someone who interviewed great but was unsuccessful in the role or someone who interviewed “okay” and ended up being a rock star.  I believe the heightened emotions attached to these hires lends to our stronger memory of them, which gives us an excuse to leave our hiring practices loose.

Science led us to Behaviorally Based Interviewing but our gut, ego and/or incompetence continues to pull us away.  Not because it doesn’t work, but because it is hard to do well.  One of the best investments your company can make is to develop an interview structure that fits your company culture and then match it with a strong behaviorally based interview.  Having confidence and consistent expectations for your managers will encourage them to stick with it, even if that means they have to take training on how to do it well.

If you need more fuel for your fire, Google has posted an interesting articleabout why they have recently instated structured, Behaviorally Based Interviews into their hiring practices.  As Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president of people operations, told The New York Times in 2013,

“The interesting thing about the behavioral interview is that when you ask somebody to speak to their own experience, and you drill into that, you get two kinds of information,” Bock says. “One is you get to see how they actually interacted in a real-world situation, and the valuable ‘meta’ information you get about the candidate is a sense of what they consider to be difficult.”

Behaviorally Based Interviewing isn’t just a scientifically proven way of hiring, it’s got the Google ‘cool’ factor, too.

Paula Cleveland is a Talent Acquisition Partner for Mitchell International Inc‘s corporate office in San Diego, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of San Diego HR Roundtables.  Mitchell International, Inc. is the leading provider of information and workflow solutions to the Property & Casualty Claims and Automotive Collision Repair industries.

Read More