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Training Still Rocks!

Organizational success – as defined by revenue – still requires commitment to training and development of employees as reported recently by two human capital thought leaders: The Great Place to Work Institute and Corporate Executive Board.  Structured training programs fuels competitive advantage and contributes to a workplace that is defined as a great place to work.

True, there are many factors that are considered for great places to work and once again the recent (March 5, 2013) issue of Fortune Magazine features the top 100 determined by The Great Place to Work Institute.

Executive commitment to invest in their employees thru dedicated development or training programs that supports employee’s opportunity to learn and promote is a significant factor for great places to work.  Training works.  Training increases the employee’s competence in their current role and is the best attribute to developing them for their next role within the organization.  Think about it – there is no better candidate for key positions than a well-trained employee who has the intellectual knowledge about your organization culture, customer’s expectations and competitors opportunities.

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This image from The Great Place to Work Institute indicates the commitment to training and development of the 2013 list of 100 top employers.  When you download the full report or read it in Fortune, you’ll also learn that these 100 firms consistently outperform their competitors – proof positive that committing to ongoing development and training has significant return on investment.

By offering multiple development programs including global job rotation, assignment of executive coaches and are asked to strategically plan their careers these organizations expand the learning platform so that it does not rely solely on classroom/facilitator led training to improve competencies.  The often overlooked benefit to development opportunities are increased employee engagement.  The Corporate Executive Board completed a survey of 50K employees during Q32012 to identify why employees quit.  Report findings were that the number 1 reason employees quit is for the lack of future career opportunities.  Within the top 5 reasons is lack of development opportunities. After the whitewater rafting ride for many employees during the recent recession, can you blame them? Do you feel the same as them?

It’s not too late to transform your organization into a great place to work.  All you need is executive commitment to employee development and training, transparent communication, involving employees in decision making and problem solving activities that involve them and most importantly – valuing each individual employee as significant contributors to the long term success of the organization.

That’s the way we’ve always done it! Work Culture

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There are many things we are comfortable with and even more things that have improved with time.  Things that have improved include technology, vehicles, entertainment and the many ways we have to communicate today.  The things that remain the same are deeply rooted in our work culture/environments: approach to leadership development, work in the office and how job candidates approach their search and are selected for opportunities.  It’s time we examine the clock to implement behavior changes for the workforce of 2013 and beyond: people are the most important resource for organizational success.

Part 3 of a 3 part series – That’s the way we’ve always done it! Work Culture

We began this series by focusing on how to get the job then we moved to the core competence needed for people leaders in today’s environment. To close this series we’re focusing on establishing a work culture where each employee feels valued, empowered and provided with the tools to achieve then exceed their performance targets.

Today’s work culture is trickier than it’s been in the past.  With different opinions, changing priorities and conflicting projects rushing in faster than we can formulate solutions.  Combined these work activities with employees from different backgrounds with unique values, perspective and cultural references and we have offices that are humming with tensions that can lead to conflict if not addressed properly.

Ultimately, there are a few things workers really want: we want to know how our performance output is connected to our organization’s production success (that we are doing meaningful work), we want to know that our organization will be around for a few decades more and can make each payroll cycle, and we want to enjoy the time we spend with our co-workers.  We consider advancement opportunities and benefits (tuition reimbursement, medial, paid time off) a positive bonus, but not required for our engagement.

Historically, there was no focus on culture in the workplace or checking in with employees to test their engagement with the organization.  Back in the 1970’s and earlier, loyalty was assumed in exchange for a paycheck.  We got hired, tired then retired from the firm after 3 decades.  Until The Great Place to Work Institute began researching, reporting & promoting in partnership with Fortune Magazine the best places to work in the late 1980’s, we did not consider how employees felt about their work environment

Job seekers – identify firms and influential leaders with these firms whose values are appealing to you.  It is also helpful to consider employment with firms who are doing work that inspires or excites you.

Leaders who manage people resources – make the effort to value each of your employees and the strengths they offer to your organization’s performance goals.  The one change, in your work environment, that you get to manage is how you evolve to be a successful leader of people – rise to this challenge.

Employees – be part of the solution for your boss and organization. Offer first, and then ask for want you want or need.  Understand how your responsibilities support how your organization earns revenue then challenge yourself to improve your performance annually.  Take every opportunity to be part of the solution instead of complaining about or reporting problems.

That’s the way we’ve always done it! Leadership Development

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There are many things we are comfortable with and even more things that have improved with time.  Things that have improved include technology, vehicles, entertainment and the many ways we have to communicate today.  The things that remain the same are deeply rooted in our work culture/environments: approach to leadership development, work in the office and how job candidates approach their search and are selected for opportunities.  It’s time we examine the clock to implement behavior changes for the workforce of 2013 and beyond: people are the most important resource for organizational success.

Part 2 of a 3 part series – That’s the way we’ve always done it! Leadership Development

We, at Thomas Resources, are passionate about creating economic opportunities for our partners and to improve the leadership competence of people leaders.  We believe that all great leaders are not created and that each of us benefits from strategies, education and concepts to manage our people resources in order to achieve higher levels of engagement which results in increased production, creativity, business solutions, market share and ultimately, increased revenue.

You & I know dozens of consultants who focus on leadership development yet we continue to experience or hear about leaders making poor decisions that deflate their employee’s desire to contribution to the team’s performance.  Deflate, not destroy – at least not immediately!  Of course employees are motivated by their paychecks, camaraderie with their teammates, satisfaction gained by contributing to meaningful work, stability/growth of their firm and or benefits (paid time off, medical, disability and tuition reimbursement to name a few).  Regardless of each employee’s motivation, they are directly impacted by the work culture their leader establishes for them: weak, disengaged or strong.

Years ago, a good leader was known for meeting company objectives.  Employees were expected to perform the task assigned to them without questioning, challenging or presenting innovative ideas.  Also, there was a time when relationships between a boss and employee were strengthened by having drinks and dinner with the employee’s family.  A good wife’s ability to mix the perfect martini and present a tasty pot roast with baked Alaska for desert helped her husband’s position with his boss and the firm.  Obviously, this was a time when the American workforce was primarily white men who attended church, mass or the synagogue every weekend.

These men had similar values and backgrounds and took little risk.  That was effective then.  Today’s work environment is completely different; defined by distinct and different performance expectations, technological advances, women are now significant contributors, and today’s workforce is comprised of 4 different generations who practice over a dozen different major religions to name a few differences we experience in the workforce of today.

To be a an effective leader of people resources in today’s work environment a leader must have a clear vision for what needs to be done, then communicate that vision to each employee in a way that they want to participate in achieving the stated vision.  A leader of today will have valuable relationships with her employees (minus the martini, thank you), her peers, her clients and her boss in order to achieve the objectives. This leader creates a work environment that values each individual, welcomes innovation and strives for collaboration to deliver the performance results. Vision + relationships = execution of results is the approach Thomas Resources employs to develop successful leaders that are admired today.

That’s the way we’ve always done it! Job Search and Recruitment

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There are many things we are comfortable with and even more things that have improved with time.  Things that have improved include technology, vehicles, entertainment and the many ways we have to communicate today.  The things that remain the same are deeply rooted in our work culture/environments: leadership approach, work in the office and how job candidates approach their search and are selected for opportunities.  It’s time we examine the clock to implement behavior changes for the workforce of 2013 and beyond: people are the most important resource for organizational success.

Part 1 of a 3 part series – That’s the way we’ve always done it! Job Search and Recruitment

The job search circa 1980…we typed our resumes on IBM Selectric typewriters then took that new shiny resume to a Kinko’s location to have it copied onto resume stock paper with matching envelopes.  Big decisions swirled around bolding & centering on that fancy electronic typewriter and if we should fold our resume into a regular sized envelope or purchase the full size manila envelope.  The local newspaper was the best place to look for job opportunities and in those days you could actually walk into any company and ask the receptionist for an employment application then complete it and turn it in right then.  No secured parking and access into the campus that surround many organizations or office parks today.

A successful job search in today’s environment requires new skills; the way you used to do it will leave you with many unanswered questions and extend your unemployment season.

Today, the biggest change in the job search process is that there is minimal to no human contact during the application process which fuels frustration with job seekers.  Did my resume/profile submit?  Have they reviewed it?  Will they call me to interview?  When?  Why haven’t they called me?  It’s been 2 months, I’m really qualified, yet I haven’t heard anything about my submission – a few of the questions we want answers to and never receive.

We can’t answer those questions for the positions you’ve applied to; we can share a few tips to help you improve the opportunity of securing that request to interview – the primary objective of applying to the job.

Establish a Connection – Social media and online job boards are how we discover many of today’s job opportunities.  Social media sites are an excellent resource to establish your expertise, advertise the references that tout your professional accomplishments and this media allows you to request additional information from a contact that you established online.

Participate in group discussions, comment on inspiring post or follow influential industry leaders are a few of the ways you can turn initial connections into people you can contact.   Reach out to strategic contacts who are employed with your target employer to discover additional information about the position and the selection process.

The human connection is equally as valuable in today’s job search process as it was decades ago;  today we are introduced thru social media instead of a reference from the lobby receptionist.

Instead of Asking: Offer I often compare searching for a job to online dating.  For those of you who have experienced the internet dating sites, you know that most profiles detail what that profile writer wants from their ideal mate: a sense of humor, well educated, currently employed & living independently are some of the more common characteristics asked for, because many people have had less then favorable experiences or failed relationships in the past and are passionate about the laundry list of ‘must haves’ that their ideal mate must possess.  This places the focus on the writer’s laundry list of needs instead considering the benefits or solutions you offer the recipient.

It’s pretty clear that when you place an online dating ad that you are seeking a friend or relationship and when you apply to a job you, are seeking employment.  Take the time to define the performance benefits you offer or specific solutions you deliver to compel the hiring manager or recruiter to call you in for the interview!

Resume Facelift –1 million+ resumes is what I’ve reviewed during my recruiting/coaching career and most of them were pretty good.  You know how to put a resume together that articulates your accomplishments and details your competence and performance results.  The opportunity, in my opinion, is to change the way the information is arranged or presented because just as technology has improved, so has resumes.

Have you considered the fact that your resume is now your #1 marketing tool and branding opportunity?  The next time you write or edit your resume, take the rich celebrity route and hire yourself as your publicist!  What does a publicist do?  They promote you and keep your name in the media and with decision makers so that their client is the one selected for exciting opportunities to perform, be seen or be the recipient of amazing swag!  Publicity is branding and marketing – employ the same activities to transform your resume from ordinary to extraordinary.

Times have changed and job seekers from the 80’s and earlier need to be aware 1st that change has occurred and 2nd what to do differently.  The second blog of this three blog series will be on how leadership development has evolved over the decades.

Super Bowl 47: Lessons in leadership demonstrated by Jim Harbaugh

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First, we congratulate the Baltimore Ravens and John Harbaugh for winning the big game yesterday.  What a game – my voice is recovering from the antics of the 2nd half including the power outage debacle!

 

The second half was the turning point that converted what was almost on the sure path of being a complete blow out into a competitive match due to the leadership tactics that Jim employed.  I haven’t, yet, had the opportunity to interview Jim on what he was thinking or what his leadership plans were approaching half-time, however, I can share what I observed and  how I was inspired by his results.

 

The leadership behaviors that I observed during Jim demonstrating during the 2nd half of the game include:

–        Communication

–        Trust

–        Problem solving

–        Risk taking

–        Opportunity: Seized

 

Obviously Jim communicated an inspiring message to the team, then continued to direct the team during the 30 minute wait while the power was restored to the lights and other components.  It was clear to me that despite having a young quarterback with only 10 professional games under his belt that Jim trusted the decisions that Colin Kaepernick made, including time out management.

 

The highlight of the 2nd half performance supporting Jim’s leadership style, in our opinion, was his ability to solve the problem of getting his defense the opportunity to rest and the offense to score a minimum of 3 touchdowns to make the game interesting.  Combined with his ability to determine the strategy that solved the scoring problem, he took risk by attempting the 2 point conversion instead of staying with the point after touchdown.

 

Solving problems is the core of what leaders do.  All day long, information is coming in and they are required to analyze it all including risk considerations, identification of needed resources, impacts on objectives, partnerships considerations, impact on policies, historical data, needed resources and then determine whose feelings will be hurt by this decision…all within in seconds.  A good leader will evaluate and make their decision without making you feel inferior by valuing your input and suggestions. A good leader will evaluate the landscape, make the decision, then stick by it – even when the decision doesn’t turn out to be a great one – instead of throwing you or others under the bus by blaming them for contributions to the decision.

 

John Harbaugh had a big problem at the beginning of halftime and he rose to the occasion by making decisions that turned the game around.  John Harbarugh wins our MVP vote for Super Bowl 47 for his leadership performance.

 

Foundations For Great Leaders: Inspiration

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Moving mountains, relocating mountains, transforming mountains into rubble, develop & install new mountains…sound familiar?  These are some of the main responsibilities of leaders.  Leaders are responsible for completing projects in support of the organization’s objectives.  Simply stated – getting things done.  We’re using mountains as a metaphor for things and regardless if the leader is responsible for solely managing resources or responsible for managing both people (partners) and resources the leader relies on people to accomplish the objective.

How do successful leaders get things done through people? We’re going to move through the development specifics at warp speed in this blog.  For details, success stories and strategies contact us at www.thomasresources.biz.

A leader receives the business objective, dissects for implementation then communicates the objective to their partners so that they want to be part of this work.  The key is to effectively communicate why the objective is important to each (individual) partner so that they will buy in and willingly support the objective. These are the attributes of inspiration: identifying the vision, dissecting then communicating the big picture so that the partners understand how they fit in and why it’s important to them and most importantly – get them to believe in their leader.

Leaders create the environment of success by establishing & sharing the vision then establishing trust from their partners: inspiration!

What is one trait that great leaders share with artists?

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An Artist, regardless of the type of media they choose, have the ability to take an intangible concept and create a tangible object that inspires us, moves us, educates us, challenges us and/or offends us.  The idea begins in their mind, is developed by their creativity, passion and experiences to develop masterpieces.

Most of us are not artist and we marvel at the artist ability to create the beautiful objects or music that inspires us.  The artists’ ability to take their idea or vision then develop it into a tangible product is the introduction to Thomas Resources leadership development platform. The artist usually launches their work by asking a question.  You and I as observers or who experience the art are the ones who develop answers.  Sometimes the answers are simple, easy and direct. Other times, there are multiple answers or none; ignited by the question in the artist mind.

Inspiration is the trait that great leaders and artist share.

Inspiration, relationships and performance are the foundational platform for Thomas Resources team training, executive coaching and diversity consulting practices.  Leaders who develop their ability to inspire their colleagues are successful.  We’ll continue to discuss the theory, research and results of successful leaders.

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