Letting Go to Gain More

By: Julie Johnson, July 17, 2014

Have you ever promoted your superstar employee only to have him fall flat on his face in the new position? It’s a common occurrence that often perplexes leaders, but there are many reasons why this happens. Perhaps you promote someone who doesn’t want to be your next manager, or you promote them before they’re prepared. Or maybe what really made them stand out in their previous role isn’t what’s needed in the next position.

Business author Marshall Goldsmith wrote What Got you Here Won’t Get You There, which offers insight and advice on how to increase the success of your newly-promoted leaders. Goldsmith contends that whenever someone experiences success in the workplace, they typically get a positive feeling from it. Their self-esteem increases and they begin to have more confidence in their abilities. However, this can also lead to trouble.

When a person has a string of successes, he or she may begin to adopt beliefs that aren’t necessarily true. For instance, she may assume more personal credit for the success of department projects than is appropriate. Or he may begin to believe that his own value is higher than reality shows. These are human failings that anyone can fall prey to. But they are dangerous because they may alter a person’s behavior and set him or her up for failure rather than success.

In order for employees to gain new knowledge and skills, they need to know what to let go. The title of Goldsmith’s book puts it front and center: the skills that a person was using before were good, but the new role is going to require different skills. As a result, new leaders may need to learn not to use certain strategies that served them well in their previous positions. Common examples of this are being too caught up in the details and being too hands-on. In a leadership role, an employee needs to focus on supporting the team to accomplish work and on delegating assignments.

If you promoted someone recently and they’re not making the necessary behavioral changes to succeed, it is your job to guide them. Newly-promoted leaders are feeling great about their new position and the success that allowed them to achieve it. However, it’s a critical time to start coaching these workers on the skill set that is necessary for success today.

The Often-Overlooked Element of Leadership – Coaching

By: Todd Young, July 10, 2014

Many leaders working in today’s ultra-competitive business environment are not effectively fulfilling a critical role of their job function: The Coach. The reasons for this are numerous—increasing pressure to drive business objectives, discomfort initiating such discussions, and unwillingness to commit the time needed. Regardless of the reason, leaders at all levels (from Supervisors to the C-Suite) need to build skills around this critical component of effective leadership which is far too often overlooked.

Today’s business culture is dominated by “outcomes”—so much so that leaders can become myopically focused on driving toward those outcomes. In doing so, they often overlook the importance of coaching their employees, even though coaching inspires individuals to achieve objectives better and faster.

Consider these three initiatives to enhance your coaching efforts:

Dedicate the Time

Managers should dedicate a specific time each week to coaching—for instance, each Wednesday after lunch. Without a dedicated time slot, the manager is relying solely on spontaneous coaching opportunities to mold his or her crew. Unfortunately, those in-the-moment opportunities often come with obstacles (e.g., time constraints), which make coaching difficult. Coaching should not be an event. Like most things in life, improvement—both the manager’s skill as a coach and the employee’s learning—requires repetition.

Procrastination is another time-related problem for managers who believe they have more pressing matters at hand. This short- sighted perspective will undermine long-range goals, however. Without regular coaching, the shortcomings of an individual will continue, and your goals of expanding employee capabilities and efficiencies will never be realized.

Adjust Your Approach

People learn in different ways. Some prefer hands-on practice, some like to hear specific examples that provide vision and clarity, and others may prefer a tough-love approach. It’s important to gauge what the best approach is for each individual employee, and also to consider how he/she will accept the guidance and get the most out of it.

Tonality Means Everything

Effective coaching isn’t always delivered via the hard-nosed approach of a Vince Lombardi or Bobby Knight. This approach can be effective, but only when selectively deployed. If used too frequently, the recipients will judge the coaching feedback as demeaning and lacking objectivity. Ultimately your words will fall on deaf ears. A more effective alternative is to motivate employees by emphasizing the capabilities of each individual using a constructive, yet inspirational tone.

To put all of this into perspective, consider a baseball manager who is urging his team to improve its batting average. To be effective, the coaching staff needs to coach the players on the subtleties of hitting and they also must specify what each player should do to improve. Today’s business landscape is no different, and it is far too competitive to leave things to chance. Make the time, adapt your style, and inspire your employees to greater heights and you will, without doubt, more efficiently achieve your desired outcomes.

Measuring the Value of Today’s Hourly Workers

By: Steve Schaffer, June 26, 2014

When measuring the value of today’s workers, it helps to take a look into the past. Years ago, HR managers might have made quick decisions when hiring someone for an hourly role. The mindset was: if this person doesn’t last, we’ll just move on to the next. There was a sense of acceptance regarding the high turnover that comes with this type of position.

Fast forward to today: Over 80% of all jobs in the United States are hourly.

Obviously, past hiring practices and attitudes toward these type of positions are no longer sustainable. Organizations need to have a clear sense of the competencies needed for their specific hourly positions in order to find workers who are the best fit in those areas.

Adding an hourly assessment to your hiring process has never been more important than it is today. Using an assessment will help with:

  • Enhancing productivity
  • Targeting training programs
  • Reducing employee turnover
  • Reducing shrinkage (employee theft/fraud)
  • Better on-the-job safety
  • Reducing absenteeism

When you consider how much these issues are costing your organization, it is clear that using an assessment for the hourly population is more critical than ever because the job roles themselves are more valuable than ever.

The Importance of Reliability in Hiring Assessments

By: Andrew Day, June 19, 2014

If you are at all familiar with hiring assessments that measure skills or personality characteristics, you may have heard the term “reliability.” Reliability reflects an assessment’s capacity to measure characteristics consistently. It also indicates that the characteristics being measured do not change over time.

When utilizing a hiring assessment, company decision-makers are seeking data that will show if an applicant will turn out to be a good employee as well as the right fit for the open job role. Accurate test results make it possible to predict a prospective employee’s future behavior and job performance.

Consistent and stable

If a person takes an assessment today and then takes the same assessment a year later, the results should be very similar. A poorly designed test, however, can elicit very different results on each administration. If this occurs, it is impossible to know which outcome is accurate. In contrast, a well designed assessment with good reliability minimizes potential measurement errors and yields consistent results.

It is also critical that the characteristics being measured are stable over time. Stable traits remain the same today and tomorrow as they will years from now. If the characteristics being measured can easily change, there is no way to know how a person will act in the future. Therefore, unstable characteristics have limited predictive value.

How reliability affects the hiring process

Let’s look at Decisiveness—a behavior measured by some of the The Devine Group’s assessments. Decisiveness is a person’s willingness to make decisions quickly, sometimes with limited information. Decisiveness can be a valuable predictor of on-the-job performance because people do not suddenly become more or less decisive. Some people are naturally decisive and can easily choose among options. Others prefer to gather all the relevant information before deciding, and many of them will still hesitate out of fear of making a wrong choice. If a hiring manager knows up-front how decisive an applicant is, he or she is better able to predict how the person will act at work and if that behavior pattern will fit into the desired job role.

In addition to the reliability of the assessment tool, all the various attributes and behaviors that differentiate good and poor performers need to be identified. Assuming the proper characteristics have been specified, a reliable measurement tool can help hiring managers make sound and accurate decisions as they’re building their workforce.

Shared Engagement Creates Champions

By: Joe Koczwara, June 12, 2014

Recently there has been increased interest regarding employee engagement. Topics range from employee satisfaction to who ‘owns’ employee engagement to perceived value.

Why satisfaction isn’t the same 

This is a recurring question among HR professionals. The answer is no. Satisfaction is a good indicator of an employee’s current mood or feeling, but it does not necessarily reflect behavior in the workplace. Engagement spans several types of desired behaviors like “putting in extra time and effort to get the job done” to some undesirable behaviors like “I am looking for another job.”

Whose problem is it?

Traditionally, ensuring employees are engaged was considered the responsibility of the manager. But some suggest that the employee should bear this responsibility. Employees are engaged when an organization provides them with the things they value (i.e., good compensation, benefits, work environment, etc.). Employers benefit from employees who go the extra mile. Since there is a mutual benefit to employee engagement, I believe that a shared responsibility is most logical.


When organizations measure Drivers of Engagement in a well-constructed Engagement survey, the organization and employees know what matters. There is no need to have employees brainstorm on what would increase or decrease their engagement level – the data will tell you. A better way to include employees is to involve them in developing solutions. Organizational leaders should not simply say, “This is how we will fix engagement.” Rather, they should get employees’ input on how the organization can do better on the Drivers that matter. Additionally, improving engagement does not mean you should give employees everything they want. Communicating with employees and helping them understand why things are a certain way is a valuable outcome of the survey and can mitigate many engagement issues.

The things they value

Start today on the path of increasing employee engagement within your company. Begin with something small. Remove some well-known irritant in the job. Just like removing a pebble from your shoe, it takes very little time but it makes life so much better. If there is one small thing that you could get (or give away), what would it be? In my IT world, developers appreciate faster laptops, bigger monitors, better software, training modules, and flexible work schedules. But the value of each item is the value perceived in the employee’s mind, and each person places a different intrinsic value on each option. NBA coach Phil Jackson was a master at motivation because he tailored it to his individual players. As a business leader, you must do the same with your workers.

Because really, whether we are basketball players or IT personnel, the goal is to win a championship. You can do that with a highly engaged and motivated work force.