Inspire & Retain
FUN DAYS TO CELEBRATE
Book Blitz Month
Celebration of Life Month
Financial Wellness Month
International Creativity Month
National Be On-Purpose Month
National Clean Up Your Computer Month
National Get Organized Month
National Hot Tea Month
National Mentoring Month
Thyroid Awareness Month
American Heart Month
International Boost Self-Esteem Month
International Expect Success Month
Library Lovers Month
National Bird Feeding Month
National Care About Your Indoor Air Month
National Cherry Month
National Time Management Month
Plant the Seeds of Greatness Month
Pull Your Sofa Off The Wall Month
January 11-15 – Cuckoo Dancing
Week (...actual cuckoos dancing...or people dancing like cuckoos? And
how do cuckoos dance, anyway?)
January 18-22 – Healthy Weight Week & National Activity Professional
January 25-29 – National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Week & National Take Back
Your Time Week
January 14 – Dress Up Your Pet Day & Organize Your Home Day
January 16 – Appreciate A Dragon Day ("If you don’t believe in dragons,
it is curiously true, that the dragons you disparage, choose to not believe in you." From The Dragons Are Singing Tonight,
by Jack Prelutsky)
January 17 – Bald Eagle Appreciation Day, Customer Service Day, & Hot
Heads Chili Days
January 18 – Thesaurus Day, Martin Luther King Day, & Winnie The Pooh Day
January 21 – Get to Know Your Customers Day, National Hugging Day, &
Women’s Healthy Weight Day
January 22 – Answer Your Cats Questions Day (I thought cats already
January 23 – National Pie Day & Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day
(Celebrate by throwing a pie at the snowplow.)
January 24 – National Compliment Day
January 25 – Better Business Communication Day & Bubble Wrap Appreciation
Day (Remember, therapy is expensive, bubble wrap is cheap!)
January 26 – National Speak Up and Succeed Day
January 27 – Holocaust Memorial Day & Vietnam Peace Day
January 29 – Fun at Work Day
January 30 – Inane Answering Message Day (Annually, the day set aside
to change, shorten, replace or delete those ridiculous and/or annoying answering machine messages that waste the time of anyone
who must listen to them.)
INC. for ideas on how to
celebrate any of these days.
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COOL RECRUITING TIPS
Job Descriptions Shouldn’t Be About the Job
by John Wentworth
Well, not just about the job. They need to reflect the company’s
objectives, mission and culture, too.
PROBLEM: Incomplete job descriptions allow the wrong people to be
picked for jobs…and then they underperform, hurting themselves and the
SOLUTION: Abandon job descriptions. Typically they ignore critical
aspects of the job. Replace them with complete and comprehensive
single-event, behavioral selection requirements that address tasks and the
organization’s culture. Select rigorously against these requirements and you
will hire people who fit the culture and perform.
was so happy. The weather was beautiful. The sky was uncommonly blue. The
traffic was lighter than usual. And she had just been promoted.
Jacinda had worked for one company for almost ten years but had, all
that time, been in a field office. This promotion got her to corporate,
closer to decisions. She was stoked.
The only little odd feeling she had as she drove to her new job that
morning was that there was a new CEO and some sort of culture change
initiative was going on. She was not sure quite what it meant. But she was
confident that she could rise above any organizational issues. She had
lived through multiple field managers and always prospered.
Jacinda was an engineer and plain spoken. She had built her career on
solving customer’s problems quickly and efficiently. A box in her back
seat was full of awards and commendations she had collected for having
made customers very happy.
Her welcome was great. The receptionist knew her by name. As soon as
she walked into her corporate lobby, Rikki, the HR Director, who had
managed her promotion, appeared and walked her to her office, then to her
But trouble began the first day. In a meeting, she was asked for her
opinion about a customer problem. She knew the issue and answered in her
usual organized and candid way. She skillfully avoided placing blame, but
did not mince words about the company having made mistakes. She noticed a
nearly imperceptible recoil in the room as she talked. Someone asked her
what her approach to solving the problem would be. Again she felt the
recoil as she described her vision of multi-departmental teams attacking
the problem in order to overcome the lack of coordination that had caused
it in the first place.
Jacinda’s mother had not raised any fools, so after the meeting she
went directly to HR to chat with Rikki. They had talked extensively about
the perils of moving from the field to corporate but Rikki had never
mentioned the degree of sensitivity that had been displayed in the
meeting. "The rat," she thought as she got off the elevator.
"I didn’t know," Rikki said. She, too, was new to corporate. "I worked
off of the job description." "Let’s see that puppy," Jacinda commanded,
Rikki was right. Nowhere in the job description was anything said about
having the diplomatic skills of Henry Kissinger. In fact, the job
description was silent as to anything about organizational culture or any
important soft skills. It focused exclusively on what the person did. No
"Well, that’s a fine kettle of fish," Jacinda thought. The next day she
packed her awards back into the box, having moved very quickly to get her
old job back. It turned out that the new CEO had been appalled at the
degree of bickering and back-biting that went on in the corporate office.
He had observed that the internal lack of consideration was spilling
outside to clients and had issued a directive that people "learn to be
nice to each other." Her directness had been interpreted by the newly
converted as being critical. She was done and knew it. There was no point
Jacinda’s story happened several more times to other people until
someone thought that they might include behavioral expectations in the job
descriptions so, when candidates were evaluated for promotion to
corporate, the evaluations helped select individuals who actually
furthered the CEO’s campaign to introduce civility to their workplace.
Jacinda had escaped the harsh consequences of the error, but others did
not and found themselves enjoying employment with other companies. Their
skills and talents were missed, and they missed their friends, but the
real villain was their having been wrongly evaluated before they got moved
to corporate. And the cause of that problem was the success criteria
simply had not been written down in such a way that they would be used.
Not much later, Jacinda was recruited away to a competitor where her
candor was valued.
All of this could have been avoided if what Jacinda’s job required had
been accurately written down and used for selection.
Things to think about/do before you start recruiting:
the AIMS – Attitudes, Interests and Motivations – test for one way to help
• Have you specified ALL the human requirements of the job? (See
• Do a 360 degree investigation of the job and ask the boss, peers and
subordinates "What kind of person will do well?" or "What special skills
does someone need for this job?"
• Check out O*net for easily searchable and complete lists of tasks,
tools & technology, knowledge, skills, abilities, work activities, work
context, interests, work styles, and work values for thousands of jobs.
• Use your empathy. Imagine yourself in the job. What would you need to
• Use single event, behavioral/observable descriptions of the tasks that
make up a job. Then look at each and ask, "What do you need to have to do
well at this?"
From the HRP Center
Rules Successful Companies Use to Attract and Keep Top
Talent: Why Engaged Employees Are Your Greatest Sustainable Advantage, by David F. Russo
The Job Description Handbook,
by Margaret Mader-Clark
Order both by calling
800-469-3560 or emailing
and get your 10% discount by mentioning RIR.
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| YOU LOVE OUR POSTERS,
YOU’LL LOVE THESE...
Random Thoughts of the Day
1. I think
part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer
history if you die.
2. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was
3. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
4. Was learning cursive really necessary?
5. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty
sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
6. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the
7. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
8. Bad decisions make good stories.
9. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work
when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
10. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I
don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
11. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks
me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
12. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?),
but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What'd you do after I didn't answer?
Drop the phone and run away?
13. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not
seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
14. I hate admit this but I keep some people's phone numbers in my
phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
15. My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad, what
would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the heck do respond to that?
16. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
poster that everyone
or call 800-469-3560 to find out how to buy packs of posters!
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From the December 2009 issue question - ‘28% of companies have
bolstered employee training despite recession, about 1/4 of companies
have cut back in the past year. Which are you?’: Carla
Puckett, Executive Director, Springfield Arc, Inc. answered, "We are
bolstering employee training."
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| IDEAS TO INSPIRE
How Pets Inspire Employees
With so many of us working at home part of the time or all of it, we
thought it would be interesting to see if people’s pets help them do their
work or hinder them.
All the articles we’ve printed in past issues of Recruit, Inspire & Retain
say pets inspire/they help. So we asked a few
TRAINING SYSTEMS, INC.
Betsy Sobiech & Abby: "Since I'm lucky enough
to work from my home office, I get to take my breaks with Abby throughout the
day. She's a constant reminder of what's most important ... playing and
relaxing. She reminds me to do both of those things on an ongoing basis, which
helps me be more effective when I am working."
Rita Rizzo & Mac: "Meet Mac...my Russian Blue...my daily stress reliever, my
cuddler, my clown. Mac is funny, compassionate and generally too cool for his
own fur. A ten minute Mac break can inspire me, heal me, bring my blood
pressure down and my creativity up. He is the purrfect workplace mate, for I
am never an interruption in his life, but I am his human and he lives to make
Amy Riley & Fozzy Bear: "He reminds me of the
big picture, reminds me I’m loved and to not sweat the small stuff."
Carolyn B Thompson & Emi: "No matter what this girl is doing, even
sleeping, she’s just too hysterical! I laugh every time I look at her (I don’t
need to explain to you the inspiration benefits fo laughter do I?)."
you? How do your pets inspire you?
Email us with a picture
INSPIRIng great employees from
The Powerful Bond Between People
and Pets: Our Boundless Connections to Companion Animals, by P.
The Healing Power of Pets:
Harnessing the Amazing Ability of Pets to Make and Keep People Happy and
Healthy, by Marty Becker
Order both by calling
800-469-3560 or emailing
and get your 10% discount by mentioning RIR. Get more tips on inspiring
your employees by clicking
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| TRAIN SO THEY’LL LEARN
ASTD’s How to Communicate the Value of Learning in Difficult
Economic Times Report
If you didn’t read it during 2009 at least read these 2 sections to get
your leaning ready for 2010!
9: Action Plan for Learning Departments
How will your learning department adapt to difficult economic
conditions? According to the 2008 ASTD State of the Industry
report, more than 70 percent of the average number of learning hours per
employee is spent in front of a live instructor. How will you support the
same level of learning for your organization when travel and other budgets
are cut? ASTD has compiled a list of action items to help your learning
department be as efficient and effective as possible when you face the
possibility of fewer resources.
COMMUNICATE—UP AND DOWN—AND MOBILIZE EMPLOYEES TO CREATE A LEARNING
CULTURE WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION
To sustain a competitive advantage in today’s knowledge economy,
organizations must create learning cultures that support employee
development, a high level of engagement, and opportunities to achieve
higher performance. Do the senior leaders in your organization know and
believe this? According to 603 learning professionals in the ASTD-i4cp
"Organizational Learning in Tough Economic Times" study, learning
departments are more prepared to communicate the value of learning to
senior-level executives than they were just two years ago. And, learning
departments are coming up with cost-effective ways to educate their
employees through informal learning mechanisms. Try some of these
Encourage greater use of informal learning—especially coaching and
You may consider:
• Use more short learning sessions to support inter-departmental
knowledge management, deliver policy-related information, and inform and
discuss new marketplace trends
• Offer training on personal financial planning, stress management, and
personal and professional career development.
Make learning opportunities more universally available for everyone
in your organization from both content and delivery perspectives.
• Offer soft skills training (for example, listening skills or the
ability to motivate). These skills will help support a more positive
culture and maintain a more solid environment during unstable times
• Offer more 24/7 accessible learning through your company intranet.
Retrain employees whose skills are outdated.
Emphasize individual responsibility for learning.
• Provide systems that support knowledge-sharing, such as wikis, blogs,
and social networking tools
• Increase the knowledge assets available to employees through learning
• Recognize and reward employees’ self-motivated learning efforts
Don’t stop leadership development programs that focus on financial
and performance goals—your high-potential employees may end up filling
open positions in the coming year.
Keep supervisors and company executives abreast of learning
outcomes. If you can prove that learning has a positive influence on
performance, it will be less likely to be cut from budgets.
REVIEW BUDGETS FOR EFFICIENCIES
Your 2009 budget may force you to do more with less. At the same time,
employee performance and accountability for performance is at an all-time
high so you not only need to do more with less but you need to shine.
Consider adopting a few of these approaches to work more creatively with
your learning dollars.
Reduce the number of "nice-to-haves" at training events or
meetings and focus on what is necessary to help learners retain
information and apply what they learn on the job.
Consider your ability to create more in-house training by
re-using pieces of existing content or use more e-learning or other
lower-cost alternatives which will help cut travel dollars.
Pool learning-related resources (classrooms, instructors,
courses, etc.) with other organizations or providers.
USE TECHNOLOGY-BASED LEARNING APPLICATIONS
According to the 2008 ASTD State of the Industry report, nearly
one-third of learning hours are delivered via e-learning and this
percentage increases every year. You may realize some cost savings, added
flexibility, and greater reach by using e-learning. Have you thought about
some of these ideas?
Shift some of your most widely used training programs to
e-learning applications or virtual delivery formats. Don’t forget about
rapid design software, performance management software, and learning
management systems. You may pay for upfront development fees but the cost
savings will be realized quickly.
Use technology-based games and simulations to provide new ways
of learning. Some off-the-shelf simulation products may work for your most
Provide the technology that supports more communities of
practice, wikis, and blogs.
Use webinars and podcasts for short, just-in-time learning
MAXIMIZE THE TALENT IN YOUR LEARNING DEPARTMENT
Some companies are facing layoffs of their training staffs. Get ahead
of this and provide a plan for how your learning department staff members
can act in a more versatile manner or be more flexible with their current
jobs. Consider some of these options.
Encourage job sharing among learning department staff members.
Offer sabbaticals to learning department staff members.
Provide essential training to learning department staff members
to ensure that they are at the top of their games.
Allow trainers to rotate between jobs within and outside of the
learning department. Trainers are often subject matter experts from a
particular discipline. A sales trainer today may be a sales account
Review alternative work arrangements that may satisfy your employees
while simultaneously working in favor of your reduced budget.
ENSURE THAT ALL LEARNING PROGRAMS HAVE STRATEGIC LINKS TO BUSINESS
During a time when business leaders find it difficult to project future
success, they are no less accountable for the stability and profitability
of their organizations. Help your business leaders make decisions by
determining the resources required to reach an end goal. If implementation
of the goal requires special capability, it is more important than ever to
make sure that the right people with the right skills are in the right
positions to get the job done.
Keep these things in mind.
Focus learning opportunities on the strategic goals of the
organization. When you focus on the core goals, you can identify the
competencies you need to develop and ultimately spend your training
dollars more wisely.
Gain support and active engagement from the C-suite before
launching any learning initiatives. Everything is being watched these
days. It’s worth your time to get business leader buy-in before taking a
Align every learning program with business objectives and
understand how to calculate the financial impact of the performance
improvement achieved as a result of the learning. Understand and report
the program’s return-on-investment. Make sure your learning program has a
Section 10: Future Role of Learning Professionals
When this recession ends, what will workplace learning and performance
look like? What efficiencies gained during this cost-cutting
economic downturn will emerge as new ways to do business in learning and
development? Six major trends will drive learning in the future:
E-learning will continue to increase. Having gained attention as
a cost-saving device during the recession, it will continue to increase in
use because of its ease of use and cost-saving efficiency. Many companies
have reduced travel, so training with tools such as web conferences,
podcasts, and videos is going to become common in workplaces. "One of the
things that we have elected to do is not go with expensive collaboration
tools or technology, but use the telephone more," says Harrison. "It
sounds a little trite, but you can get a lot done using the telephone. It
is all about utilizing the collaboration tools you already have in place."
The upfront investment is what stops some companies from implementing
different e-learning technologies and tools. "Careful analysis must be
done. What is the organization’s breaking point?" says Harrison. "It is
different for everyone."
One of the most important benefits of e-learning is its global reach.
Technology is making the world flat. It is bringing together company
employees from all over the world. "We are using a virtual classroom with
audio and video capabilities. We are creating more animation using Flash
and more interactivity with simulations. We are getting more creative in
terms of our e-learning products," says George Wolfe, vice president of
global learning and development for Steelcase. "We are probably not doing
things as well as Defense Acquisition University or some corporate
universities that are state-of-the-art, but we are trying to use
technology as well as we can."
Companies that did not cut training and used their resources to
build skills for the post-recession will enjoy a competitive advantage.
In an April 2005 T+D article on Steelcase, President and CEO Jim Hackett
talked about investing in learning during the economic recession in 2000.
"The essential basis for why we invested in a learning center,
irrespective of the economic cycle, is that we feel that it is the center
of the strategy of the company. In our business, we study the nature of
space and how and why companies use it to work more effectively and
efficiently. Strategy discussion works better here, in a learning center,
than in other facilities.
"In the downturn, it was really important that the strategy of the
company go forward," adds Hackett. "It was important, or more important,
than when things were going great. We had to help the vitality of the
business." Adobe, a company that is seeing growth during these difficult
times, relies on innovation and learning as key components to success.
"Historically we’ve had a section in the budget for employee training and
development. And to be honest, that’s one of the things we never cut even
in tough economic times," says Shantanu Narayen, president and CEO, Adobe.
"It goes back to our fundamental premise that all our intellectual
property is in our people’s minds. People are the real assets of the
company. It’s really very shortsighted to say you’re not going to invest
in your people."
Industries and organizations helped by the stimulus package will be
areas of focus for training and employee development. The massive $787
billion dollar stimulus legislation—called the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009 (HR 1)—includes more than $5 billion for training
for a variety of programs across a number of U.S. federal agencies. The
bill invests heavily in new technologies, infrastructure projects, and
healthcare. A significant portion of training funding—$750 million—is
being devoted to competitive grants for high growth industries, and $500
million of these funds will be devoted to projects in the new Green Jobs
Act. "Having a greater sense of what is happening in the world is
something that we are going to need to press forward on—whether that is
training grants, opportunities for federal grants or demonstration
projects, or testing technology—we have to be more leading edge in
adopting alternative methods," Harrison says. "We need to embrace them
wholeheartedly and have them be a part of our strategy."
Training efforts will continue to focus on achieving organizational
performance goals. "Performance-based learning brings the greatest
value," Wolfe says. "Learning is good, but it more or less teaches how to
test out on the knowledge part of the material as opposed to transferring
that learning into the workplace."
Efficiencies gained during the recession will be maintained.
There will be no going back to old ways. Harrison says there will be less
travel to training sites because it is dislocating to employees and cost
intensive. "There will also be stronger alignment between what the
business wants and why," she adds. "Motorola used to have the policy that
you had to take 40 hours of training a year and it could be on anything
you wanted. That is going to change. Now the training will have to be part
of the strategic initiative. We are also going to see more emphasis on
learning individually and on your own time."
Training that supports and enables self-directed learning and
knowledge-sharing will increase. There will be a decrease in training
built on the trainer-as-expert model. New types of training transfer the
control of learning from the trainer to the learner. Providing the tools
for employees to follow a guided career path within their organizations
places the responsibility for learning with the employee. "The end result
is that employees increase their value while organizations improve
retention and their talent base," Michael Laff wrote in an April 2008 T+D
article, "Learning Pathfinder." Social networking tools—Web. 2.0
technologies—are becoming more prevalent in learning. According to an ASTD/Booz
Allen Hamilton/i4cp study on Web 2.0 technology utilization that is
expected to be released in May, 77 percent of respondents said that the
most widely reported reason to adopt social networking tools was to
improve knowledge sharing. Younger workers have been using these tools for
years, so organizations need to be aware of the needs and expectations of
the tech-savvy workers who are entering the workforce. Keep in mind that
you, your department, the learning profession, and your company are not
alone in this crisis. ASTD will continue to bring you best practices
across industries to help you triumph as conditions improve. The bottom
line is that multiple systems are broken and there is now a chance to
rebuild. Let learning professionals be leaders in the recovery.
from ASTD How to Communicate the Value of Learning in
Difficult Economic Times Report
TRAINing great employees from
| **TOOL BOX**
Getting Your Money's Worth from
Training and Development: A Guide to Breakthrough Learning for Managers,
by Andrew McK. Jefferson, Roy V. H. Pollock, Calhoun W. Wick
Designing the Smart Organization:
How Breakthrough Corporate Learning Initiatives Drive Strategic Change and
Innovation, by Roland Deiser
Order both by
calling 800-469-3560 or emailing
and get your 10% discount by mentioning RIR
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| RETAIN THE BEST
Engaging the Almost Great
In every workforce, there is a group within a group. On the surface,
its members seem underwhelming. Some may misconstrue their contributions
as mediocre and relegate them to similar status. But with some personal
attention and the right developmental investment, this group of
almost-greats can fulfill hidden potential.
A well-known saying tells us some people are born to greatness, others
achieve it and still others have greatness thrust upon them. But there is
also a fourth category.
Call them the "almost great" — those who need a guiding hand or a
deeply personal interaction from a mentor or someone they respect to
achieve the greatness that dwells within.
A great deal of attention is paid to the top 20% of an organization's
workforce — the high fliers. Talent managers also focus energy on
remediation or removal of the bottom 20% — those whose performance lags
too far to the left of a standard bell curve. That leaves the bulging part
of the bell — the 60% of employees who are average performers, or just
slightly above or below average.
Neither hot nor cold, these employees do their jobs without
distinguishing themselves in any way. But within the group dwells another
roughly 20% who deserve attention. This group has as much raw talent and
smarts as the top-tier or the high-potential group, but it does not rise
to the performance level it could attain. Some of these employees are
mired in a personal crisis or have introverted personalities in a
workplace of sparkling stars, and they struggle to be noticed. Or perhaps
they just need a few additional skills, a bit more self-confidence or
someone's understanding to soar.
Quite often this 20% is lost amid the noise of daily tasks,
celebrations of the stars' accomplishments and the million other things
competing for talent managers' attention in the workplace. This group does
not include employees who only perform well when someone is holding their
hand. But there are probably millions of people walking around today who
could have been great for their organizations, but their supervisors were
too busy or preoccupied to give them the personal attention they needed to
take their rightful place among the top performers.
Tap Into the Power of the Lost 20%
Turning an average performer into a great one doesn't always involve
long hours of training, performance reviews and the like. In fact, many
turnarounds come down to defining moments. For example, Paul Massih, vice
president of supply chain management for Shell International Exploration
and Production, said early in his career, when he led a large global
organization, there was a man on his staff in his late 50s. A staff
veteran and a great raconteur, the man carried himself in an "I've seen it
all" kind of way, and as retirement loomed a few years away, his work
started to deteriorate.
"All of a sudden I started getting complaints — not only from his
project managers but from customers, as well," Massih said. "He was coming
in late, missing deadlines, and his work was shoddy." Massih followed the
right protocol, speaking to the man's supervisor in an attempt to assess
the situation and rectify it.
Finally, as the complaints mounted, Massih called the employee into his
office. "I had all the background paperwork prepared ahead of time, and
the first thing I said to him was, 'If you want to leave the company, if
you're ready to retire now, I've got the papers right here; all you need
to do is sign them and we'll shake hands and part ways.'" Massih had the
"But then I let him know he actually had two doors in front of him, and
he could choose which one to walk through. Leaving the company was one
door. But then I said, 'The other door is if you're willing to talk to me
about what's causing you to act this way and to let your work deteriorate
like this. If you pledge to make an effort to fix things, I promise you
we'll work through it together, and we'll put you back in the saddle.'"
He chose the second door and decided to confide in Massih. The man was
having a number of family issues, which had exacerbated a drinking
problem. "I told him we'd give him some time to work on the family issues
and that we had counseling services as part of our company benefits that
would help him deal with alcohol dependency. But I also told him that I
would meet with him once a week, every week, until we turned this
situation around," Massih said. "It took four or five months, but finally
the reports started coming in: This guy was back to being one of our solid
Why make such an investment in the "almost great"? Even in a difficult
economy, the value of good talent is undiminished. Organizations can no
longer afford to ignore such workers because they are a great untapped
source of productivity and competitive advantage.
"I've always been a firm believer that it is much simpler to try to
understand what is preventing an employee from reaching his or her
potential and then helping them, instead of managing their career down a
spiral and then eventually out of the company," Massih said.
Provide the Right Support at the Right Time
Mike Allison is director of learning services for Cerner Corporation, a
health care information technology solutions provider. He said he has had
several experiences where additional attention and effort made a
difference to employees he saw as "diamonds in the rough."
In one case, an employee on Allison's team was suffering not from poor
performance so much as an unacceptably low level of confidence. "This
employee always had a great work ethic, but when I first observed him he
was fumbling through an intern interview," Allison said. "He was nervous
and clearly struggling with his communication skills. He also wasn't sure
of his place on the team."
Training in communications and public speaking as well as opportunities
to shadow more experienced managers helped the employee's confidence grow
steadily. "We took him out of his comfort zone on some things — public
speaking, networking with key executives, client engagements and so forth
— and he worked on those skills so diligently they eventually became some
of his greatest strengths," Allison said.
Invest the Necessary Time
Leaders should be willing to invest more than the minimum amount of
time to guide employees' work and to help them realize their potential.
Investing time in top-performing subordinates is comparatively easy for
good managers. Only rarely, however, do leaders receive the training and
behavior modeling necessary to provide effective guidance to the lost 20%,
and that group needs personal interaction the most.
There is a misunderstanding by executives who not only do not have the
patience to deal with less stellar performers, but who actually see that
attitude as a virtue: that it's their job to provide tough standards that
produce exceptional performance. Executives may feel it's not their job to
play armchair psychologist with employees. But this is not about being a
counselor. It comes down to being honest and constructive in relationships
If talent leaders are to successfully mine the productivity of a group
of performers they are currently ignoring, they need to identify those
performers and provide the right guidance. Consider the following:
Measure the right things. If significant portions of the workforce
are not measuring up, is the measuring stick still accurate and relevant?
Does it measure multiple important things and not just a single factor? If
a company only emphasizes short-term performance, which the lost 20 %
might be weak on, it might lose out on long-term benefits if it terminates
Consider role fit. Many managers have experienced a situation where
an underperforming employee has "found" him or herself, when it was
actually a case of finding a job role that was a better match for the
employee's interests, background and thinking style.
Evaluate career choice. People sometimes make career decisions for
all the wrong reasons: parents' wishes, dreams of wealth, pursuit of an
immature dream. Counseling a person out of an organization might be just
the shock needed for them to find a job that matches their deeper
Measure and reward leadership mentoring and development activities.
Any organization is going to say it prizes its senior leaders' dedication
to developing people. Yet, few organizations hold these leaders
accountable for it. At performance review time, what dominates is
financial performance; most everything else takes a backseat.
Realize not everyone can be turned around. It's important, to the
organization and to the individual, to save as many underperformers as one
can, given that they have the ability and have demonstrated at some point
the potential to deliver. But at the same time, Massih said, "Some people
just don't cut it. You have to have the respect for yourself and for your
organization to help boost those you can, but also to counsel others out
of the organization, where they might be able to find a career path that
matches their true desires and interests."
Relationships with co-workers and with those in authority are key to
enhance employee engagement and performance at every level. Relationships
take on a special power, however, when it comes to motivating and engaging
the lost 20%.
Relationships entail both promise and challenge. Because a relationship
by definition is deeply personalized and unique, relationship building
cannot easily be taught. This puts the burden on organizations to model
those behaviors from the top down — from the boardroom to the everyday
interactions a manager has with the newest hire.
At the same time, effectively developing second- and third-tier players
is not only in the hands of individual managers and executives.
Organizational structures and performance management approaches and tools
can help create an environment where more people have a greater
opportunity to live up to their potential.
from Talent Management magazine, August 2009
Get more tips on recruiting great employees from
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January 14-17, 2010
35th Annual International Conference: New Frontiers in Learning
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Training Magazine Training 2010 Conference & Expo, San Diego, CA,
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Green Meeting Industry Council 1010 Sustainable Meetings Conference,
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Convention Center, Washington, DC,
February 24-26, 2010
Meetings Africa 2010, Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South
February 28-March 2
Meeting Professionals International European Meetings & Events Conference,
Malaga Trade Fair and Congress Center, Malaga, Spain,
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Great Ideas Conference, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, CO,
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Inc. Magazines’ GROWCO: Grow Your Company Conference, Orlando, FL,
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Exhibitor 2010 Conference, Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Las Vegas,
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VirtualizationPro Summit & Expo, Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
March 21-24, 2010
ACA 2010 International Conference, Philadelphia, PA,
April 12-14, 2010
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NOMINATIONS TO ENTER
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| WAYS TO VOLUNTEER & GIVE
has a list of hundreds of organizations that support the military. The
Yellow Ribbon Fund is one such group and focuses on injured service members
and their families.
MORE GREEN TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE OFFICE,
ON BOOKS is an organization that promotes literacy in underprivileged
countries, primarily Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia. You can
donate books through most Rotary Clubs. B.I.G. also accepts cash donations.
Send email to Steve Frantzich at
for more information.
World Hunger is the biggest soccer juggle-a-thon in the world (uh,
that we know of), much like a walk-a-thon, but more fun! Participants sign
up to juggle a soccer ball thousands of times while raising money to provide
hope for children and communities that desperately need it.
Going Green At Work
◘ find ecofriendly
building materials and services at
◘ buy ecofriendly office
supplies (like recycled paper) at
from home ideas at
◘ find jobs and volunteer opportunities with
socially responsible organizations at
◘ Reduce paperwork by
invoicing, & paying employees & bills electronically (Training Systems,
Inc. now invoices exclusively by email and is
close to paying
everyone by credit card, PayPal, or automatic debit from checking account).
◘ Encourage employees to
use public transportation.
ceiling fans to reduce air-conditioning costs
your hot water heater temperature by 2 degrees and insulate the tank.
energy-saving light bulbs
is an in-depth, searchable guide to more than 5,000 charities worldwide that
aims to encourage “intelligent giving”. They rate charities based on their
total expenses, revenues, and organizational capacity. If you want to give,
but the recent slew of charity scandals has you feeling skeptical about
where your money would go.
Pride T-Shirts (http://www.takepride.com)
was founded by a group of friends who all share the belief that the more
difficult the mission facing our military, the more deserving they are of
our thanks and support. Each unique shirt design provides a glimpse into the
life of a different US Service member who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and
is hand silk-screened. The message of the shirts isn’t political, it’s about
acknowledging, celebrating, and taking pride in the spirit of young
Americans who despite facing an extremely difficult job and unpleasant
conditions, nonetheless strive to do their job well. Take Pride gives at
least 20% of profits to charities and causes that assist combat veterans of
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Set a reminder to visit
daily and click this button to help underprivileged women get mammograms.
volunteermatch.org helps you find organizations in your area that
spark your interest in volunteering.
momsrising.org fights for family-friendly programs and policies at
mygooddeed.org honors the heroes and victims of 9/11, by giving ideas
for good deeds to perform.
helps entrepreneurs by connecting them with backers for short term loans
charitablechoices.org both make sure the organizations you’re
supporting are legit and give the bulk of their money to their mission
Global Volunteers (http://www.globalvolunteers.org)
☞ select by type of work project
☞ select by
country and date
☞ select by
service program conditions
☞ select by
911 lets you search for recyclers by type and area code,
Recycle yogurt containers and old
Recycline’ Preserve partnered with
Stonyfield Farm and is recycling yogurt containers into toothbrush handles.
Old toothbrushes are used to make plastic lumber for picnic tables. Go to
Responsibly Dispose of
Your Old Electronics
Donate Old Cell Phones
911 Cell Phone Bank
provide free emergency cell phones to needful people through partnerships
with law enforcement organizations,
PCs, cell phones, printers, CDs, diskettes, etc. with GreenDisk.
$29.95, they send a 70-pound-capacity box. When it’s full, you download
postage from their website and ship it back. Your “junk” then goes to
workshops for the disabled and are refurbished.
PCs to National Cristina Foundation,
PCs and other computer products at Hewlett Packard and Dell. See
their websites for details.
Several other places to
recycle old PCs:
Find local Electronics recyclers at
EASY TO BE GREEN!
has great tips on green cleaning.
& www.41pounds.org will
help you get off junk mail lists.
has tips on every facet of green living.
gives advice on replacing old light bulbs w/energy efficient bulbs.
provides comprehensive “green power” info.
urges the use of recycled paper.
helps you plant trees to save the environment.
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