Archives for the month of: August, 2013

Early on in my retail career, managing a “big box” home improvement center with over 100 employees, I quickly learned the importance of empowering your people to make decisions.

In retail or any other fast paced environment, we are faced with seemingly endless rapid fire decisions that need to be made, many resulting from an unplanned or reactionary scenario.

As my team, one after another would come to me with an issue, I had two options…give them the answer I felt was most appropriate or make them think for themselves.

In order for me to focus on what was most important in my role as General Manager, I would have to surround myself with troops who could think, had good common sense, and were not afraid to make a decision.

When approached for help, I would ask the employee “what do you think we should do?”

If they didn’t have an immediate solution in mind, I would have them come back to me when they did.  Once they returned, unless their idea was illegal, unethical or completely off-base, I would suggest they go ahead and do it.  I frequently closed our discussion with this statement:

“95 % of the time, we’ll make the right decision;  the other 5 % we’ll learn from it!”

In short order, I found myself with an empowered team who could make things happen and did not require non-stop direction from their leader.

Patton Empowerment



In order for employees to achieve optimal performance, consistent coaching is mandatory.

As noted in the Talent Four-Step blogs, coaching is a constant, ongoing activity which preferably occurs via daily interaction and feedback. Thus, there should be no confusion about where the person stands, what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon.

So what exactly does “coaching” look like? An ideal coach certainly should possess expertise in the area of business (or life) they are mentoring about.

Critical skills during this process include:
• patience and the capacity to be attentive
• a keen ability to actively listen, without interrupting
• genuine interest in what the person is telling you
• a supportive and caring attitude

Successful coaches utilize open-ended questions to gain perspective on their mentee’s opinions, and gain a clarifying understanding surrounding whatever subject or process is being discussed.

Once the “coachee” has had an opportunity to fully share their feelings and insights, it becomes the coaches challenge to ask additional probing questions, and consequently provide the required feedback directed at achieving further progress and improved results.

As the saying goes, “sounds easy, does hard”!


Retaining your employees is step four in the ongoing Talent process cycle we’ve been discussing.

You’ve committed the resources to ensure you now have the right quantity and quality of people while providing the required training, development and coaching to promote their success.  So now, in this current state business world of job shopping and hopping, how do we get our team to stick around?

A 2013 article in Forbes noted that the average tenure of an employee in the U.S. is now only 1.5 years! The top six reasons that talent leaves their organization is:

  1. No Vision: this should be known and lived by everyone in any organization!
  2. No Connection to the Big Picture: what’s my purpose and why am I here?
  3. No Empathy: managers don’t openly communicate and listen to their people.
  4. No Effective Motivation: the false belief that financial compensation is a sufficient incentive to engage top talent and drive performance.
  5. No Future: a career path and succession planning is non-existent (reinforced in the introductory Talent “Four-Step” post)
  6. No Fun: this is pretty self-explanatory!

WOW…if this list doesn’t validate that people quit due to poor leadership!

Rewards, recognition, compensation and benefits are certainly important to retention, but perhaps even more essential are the six elements noted above.

If Human capital is indeed the most important asset of any business, than let this serve as an initial checklist of what to look for in your operation should you expect to retain your top talent.


Talent 4 step


In follow-up to steps 1 & 2 (planning and sourcing…earlier blogs), you’ve now armed yourself with the required high-caliber  human resource talent to get your business operating at the desired levels of proficiency. Hence, the focus turns to the development of those employees.

Talent development requires relentless communication, training, feedback and reviews directed at bettering the performance of individuals and groups in organizational settings.

Employee career growth is an ongoing effort, ultimately allowing every person in your organization to potentially achieve their optimal level of success.  This requires constant and consistent coaching with your team so there is never any question about where they stand, what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon.

“Performance evaluations” should not be a once-in-a-year event subject to the recency effect/bias!  Ideally daily interaction and feedback is optimal, even if brief…as long as it is genuine.

When running multiple locations, I implemented a monthly performance development review (PDR) which evaluated results, action items and areas of strength and opportunity.  Surely a quality leader can commit a few hours each and every month toward the evolution of their direct reports.

Talent 4 step


Once a talent strategy has been refined to understanding the quantity and quality of employees required to optimize results, a diligent sourcing process commences.

Uncovering and identifying ideal candidates through multiple recruiting techniques is an essential process often underemphasized.  The attraction, screening and ultimate selection of the most qualified talent can differentiate between good versus great companies!

Making an assumption that clearly defined human resource needs have been identified, and the corresponding job analysis and descriptions are completed, the various avenues for staffing candidates are extensive.

Primary sources would include traditional job-boards, internet aggregators, state workforce agencies, social media, “now hiring” postings, etc.

Personally, I have experienced the most success when using either:

  • my Linked-In network to seek out former associates or solicit applicants;
  • employee referrals, both internal (current) and external (former).

In either case, the benefit is that of having a known work history surrounding that prospect…past performance is a good indicator of future success.

Nonetheless, it is crucial to secure quality new hires from multiple resources, and to maintain an ongoing pipeline of applicants to assist with ongoing needs.

Talent 4 step

Talent 4 step

During the Talent “Four-Step” introductory blog, I noted the importance of human capital towards  achieving desired organizational goals and objectives.

The “plan” component of this Talent process cycle is the obvious starting point in determining the current and future staffing needs for your operations.  The human resource scheme must align with the overall strategic plan of an organization.

It seems that in our personal and professional lives, we tend to operate in a reactive rather than proactive, or properly planned, mode. When it comes to human resource management, this can lead to disaster in terms of productivity, growth and culture.

In leading a business, the talent strategy must identify exactly who will be required to optimize results, in terms of both the quality and quantity of employees.

Our next stop, a proper sourcing process, can then be developed based on the clearly identified people needs.