Archives for category: Talent Management

A mission in the businesses that I work with is to help create “Drama-Free work environments.” Perhaps the most critical element that impacts the potential achievement of this dream is the level of positive engagement between leaders and followers.

2017 engagement data reveals the following statistics:

  • 51% of the U.S. workforce is not engaged (Gallup)
  • Disengaged workers cause massive losses in productivity – between $450 and $500 billion a year (Mental Health America)
  • Only 16% of employees said they felt “connected and engaged” by employers (EmployeeChannel)
  • It can cost 33% of an employee’s salary to replace him/her (HR Dive)

Originally titled The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Patrick Lencioni’s The Truth About Employee Engagement gives us three simple causes that impact the level of job misery, or phrased differently, disengagement.

  • Anonymity…people have a need to be known, appreciated and understood;
  • Irrelevance…fulfillment occurs when the work a person does matters, and makes a difference;
  • Immeasurement…if my performance isn’t measured, how can I know if I’m winning?

Leadership Challenge: as a leader, ask yourself (and for that matter, your employees!) whether any of these three causes exist in your work environment? If so, then there is a strong chance that both disengagement and drama are active participants in your current culture.

This becomes an urgent call-to-action to make improvements before you become a contributor to this alarming statistic…

  • 75% of the causes of employee turnover are preventable (HR Dive)

success team

My previous blog responded to the question: “Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great?” with the answer “both”.

Focusing on the second part of this question, here are 10 common denominators that I’ve observed which help people become great (or at least much better) at what they do:

  • EVERYONE understands the company’s Vision, Direction & Purpose
  • There are clearly defined roles and responsibilities for every person on the team
  • KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and SLA’s (Service-Level Agreements) are established with each individual, and agreed to by both the manager & employee
  • Actual performance is measured against targets and “score-boarded” for all to see
  • Good results receive timely acknowledgement & praise
  • Poor results receive timely “coaching” for how to improve going forward
  • Employee strengths and opportunity areas are identified & understood
  • Strengths are exploited and areas for improvement reinforced
  • Ongoing growth & development within the organization is encouraged
  • Candid praise & constructive feedback occurs consistently with EVERYONE

Here’s a Leadership Challenge suggestion for you: review each of these 10 items and rate your business on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being poor & 5 being great.  Then, prioritize your opportunity areas for focused improvement based on the lowest scoring results.


A question for you to ponder: Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great? 

My experience tells me the answer is…both!  But let’s start with the first part…

During a recent conversation with a highly successful manager, who operates in the challenging food & hospitality industry, a point was made about team development. He noted that one of his key objectives was to hire people who were better, smarter or more talented than he was.

This resonated with me as this has become one of my essential success tenets.

Decades ago, once I became mature enough to put my ego aside, the realization that if I secured, & surrounded myself with, really talented people, perhaps my leadership role would become much easier. And it did!

Often I’ve worked with leaders who feared talent that was potentially as good, or even better than they were.  They let their ego’s and foolish pride get in the way of doing the smart thing, which subsequently led them toward hiring marginal talent compared to what was available in the market place.  This ultimately resulted in less than optimal performance.

These “bosses” shared an underlying concern that the potential “superstar” would make them look inferior, or even worse, eventually “steal” their leadership position away!

This type of self-centered thinking not only limited the team & businesses success, but truly restricted that leader’s ability to grow through the organization.

The reality is that leaders who surround themselves with the best possible talent tend to produce better-than-average results. Further, they consistently demonstrate the ability to develop talent for the organization, which often facilitates professional growth and advancement.

Perhaps you have seen this happen in your experiences as well.  Or even worse, if you happen to be one of those who has unknowingly inhibited your success by falling into this trap, this could be the perfect time to take on that new approach for building your team.


Experienced leaders understand that there are enough positive people in the world that there is no need to waste valuable time and energy managing the toxic ones.

Not everyone is a “celebrity” performer.  However, if they bring the proper energy, commitment, do the best they are capable of doing (at acceptable production levels, of course), and are trainable, then they can be a great asset to your talent pool.

On the other hand, “superstars” will never be a good fit if they are manipulative, combative or otherwise a negative force.  Leadership is often hesitant to eliminate these types of employees and their viral attitudes for fear that the business operation might suffer.

News flash: if these workers exist, your organization is already suffering!  The negativity is infectious to peer employees, and can quickly spread to others, especially if these folks are in high-profile positions.

If “unhealthy” talent exists in your operation today, here are your options:

  • help them understand their adverse impact and develop a plan to quickly correct it;
  • help them find another career where they can make someone else miserable!
  • ignore the situation and watch your results and retention suffer.


As opposed to job enlargement, which simply increases the number of tasks without changing the challenge, job enhancement or job enrichment increases an employee’s responsibilities while also providing them with additional authority and control over the way their tasks are accomplished.

During various leadership roles throughout my career, it has been universally evident that when colleagues are given new and exciting challenges in their roles, spicing things up with a little meaningful variety, it tends to be quite motivating for that individual.

The engaged type of employees you want to have on your team yearn for excitement, recognition and being part of the organization’s success.

Leaders who further support these employee’s expanded roles with ongoing feedback, encouragement, and communication are often privy to watching career growth unfold before their very eyes as they assist that person in achieving their true potential!

By the way, I’d suggest linking the employees performance directly to a reward (that they desire) to further fuel their fire.  Challenge them and let them surprise you with the results.





Engagement evaluates whether or not your talent is engaged with:

  • what they do
  • the people they work with
  • their leadership
  • their company, its purpose and vision

These connections impact motivation, trust and loyalty…critical elements in terms of employee satisfaction and ultimately retention.

There are  typically three levels of “engagement”:

  1. Engaged: works with passion, has profound positive connections, innovates and are a force that drives performance outcomes.
  2. Not-Engaged: essentially “checked-out”, putting in their time and collecting a paycheck, with little energy or commitment.
  3. Actively Disengaged: a virus to the organization, this group proactively undermines the efforts of their co-workers and the business.

A 2013 Gallup poll found that only 13 % of the work force was Engaged, with 63 % Not-Engaged and 24 % actively Disengaged!

“Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. up to $550 billion each year in lost productivity, are more likely to steal from their companies, negatively influence their coworkers, miss workdays, and drive customers away.”

Conversely, engaged colleagues are enthusiastic about their careers, often fully absorbed by their work, and create positive action toward furthering the organization’s reputation, interests and the customer’s experience.

Leadership question: what does your engagement landscape look like?



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.