The Next Recession is Just Around the Corner. Are You Ready?

By Dana Borowka, MA

Whoever coined the phrase, “What goes up, must come down” must have been an economist. Nothing does a better job of explaining the cyclical nature of our economy. The problem faced by business managers is that once we’ve identified which part of the cycle we’re in, it’s too late to do anything about it. Forecasting the next upturn or downturn, and preparing accordingly, is the secret to business survival.

To give our friends and clients time to adjust for the next change in the economic cycle, we’re recently held a special Open Line web event entitled, “Planning for the Next Recession – Now!”: AudioSlides.

The purpose of this article is to highlight a few of the points our panelists explored in more detail: Why expect a recession and what to do now to prepare your business for it.

The Ups and Downs of the U.S. Economy

History has proven there is a 7-10 year cycle in the U.S. that consists of periods of recession, recovery, accelerating growth, and declining growth. Like clockwork, every decade we cycle through all the stages. The last recessionary period was 2008-2009. Since then we’ve experienced a long period of recovery culminating in what some expect as accelerating growth in 2017. So far so good. But remember, what goes up must come down.

The Next Recession is Just Around the Corner

If the U.S. economy has been climbing its way out of the recession for the past eight years, we’re approaching the time when we can and should expect another downturn.

There will be another recession in the U.S. The only real question is when, but based on historical trends, that time is 6 to 12 months away.

It’s important to note here that I’m talking about the “normal” economic cycles we experience, not those triggered by major unforeseen events such as occurred September 11, 2001, or the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.

Recession? You’re Crazy, Business is Great!

For most of our clients and readers, business is good to great. Everyone is bullish about higher sales and profitability in 2018.

However, the clock is ticking. Our panelists from our monthly Open Line web conference believe it will likely be pre-staged by a series of financial events that trigger a severe pull-back in the market and a rapid slowdown of the economy.

One way to suspect that the downturn has begun is to study your order board. Are sales tapering off? Are orders being placed less frequently and for smaller amounts? This tells you your customers are feeling the change.

Are you noticing an uptick in job applicants? This can mean other businesses are beginning to shed workers.

Now What?

Rather than get distracted by attempting to pin-point the time of the next recession, it’s wiser to simply agree that there will be one, and it’ll likely occur within a few years. With that agreement in place you and your staff can prepare the ship for heavy weather.

Beginning immediately, you can take the following steps to prepare your business for operating through a recessionary period.

  • Your management team must accept the same economic picture and be driven to succeed in spite of it. This is a great time for imagination. Work with the team to build action plans based on three different scenarios: a. recession, b. fast growth, c. slow growth. Or, look at it another way. Build a plan for what actions to take if sales drop by 20%, another plan covering if sales drop 40%. If you don’t have an executive dashboard, ask your CFO to build one with indicators for business growth or decline.
  • Make sure everyone on the team is mission critical to building value for the business. Get lean, or refocus some jobs so they are contributing more to the value of the business in some way. If you’ve been adding staff the past few years, there’s a good chance you’ve taken on some “dead wood”.
  • Keep the team motivated. One good way is to identify and acknowledge key people in the organization and make known the succession plan.
  • By all means, get the right people into the right slots now so they are confident in their roles by the time the downturn is really felt. A recession is no time to be breaking in key managers.
  • Don’t overlook your Accounts Receivable department. This may become your lifeline during tough times. Invest in top-notch people and systems.
  • Get your line of credit set. Reduce debt.
  • If you believe the downturn will be accompanied by higher interest rates, do what you can to lock in prices for your raw materials and leases.
  • Take care of your customers. Go out of your way to be seen as invaluable.

The Secret Code

Did you notice a common thread in this advice? Six of the eight recommendations involve the quality of your employees and how well they work together as a team.

Placing the right people in the right positions, for example, requires skillful hiring aided by in-depth work style and personality assessments. Reduce the risk of hiring or promoting the wrong person. Learn more about our in-depth work style assessments.

Pulling the team together and driving forward with a single purpose requires serious team building, not feel-good exercises. An investment in team building now will strengthen the company’s ability to thrive when other companies falter. Learn more about LCS team-building services.

Developing your managers to have excellent communications skills is vital to an organization’s growth, and absolutely mandatory during trying times, such as recession. Learn more about how LCS empowers key personnel so projects flow more smoothly without frustration.

In closing I recommend a book by two economists who have been extremely beneficial to our business. The economists are Alan and Brian Beaulieu from ITR Economics. Their most recent book is, “Prosperity in the Age of Decline.”  I encourage you to read the book, listen to our Open Line panel discussion audio / slides –  and be prepared for the Next Recession.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Effective Leadership and Progressive Discipline

By Dan Hamon

Workshop is available for this topic: This program can be given live or remote in either Spanish or English.

To listen to and see slides on an Open Line web conference on this topic with Dan Hamon as the guest speaker, please go here:
Audio: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.mp3
Slides: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.pdf

Peter Drucker, the noted management professor and author famously said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

One of the right things a leader must do is to practice progressive discipline. As someone who leads seminars for both English and Spanish speaking managers and employees on the importance of effective leadership and progressive discipline, I would like to set the record straight on this important leadership practice.

Yes, there are important legal reasons.

“The first question in any legal challenge is, ‘Did the manager manage properly?’” says Mike Deblieux, author of seven people management books. “Effective documentation shows the manager managed performance by setting clear expectations, monitoring performance, providing feedback, and redirecting performance by creating an opportunity for the employee to succeed.”

As the saying goes about documentation, the proof is there in black and white.

What is not always black and white is how progressive discipline is effective leadership. In other words, progressive discipline produces results.

Now I am no human relations theorist. I have played key leadership roles in product development, marketing, sales, and worldwide operations, and P&L. When I was 19 I assumed responsibility for my family’s manufacturing and retail business. So, this is real world effective leadership I want us to consider, not some academic view.

But to be fair, let’s start with the academic textbook definition of progressive discipline: An employee disciplinary system that provides a graduated range of responses to employee performance or conduct problems. Disciplinary measures range from mild to severe, from a slap on the wrist up to and including termination, depending on the nature and frequency of the problem.

There is a management adage that the best defense is a good offense: Using progressive discipline proactively is the best strategy to minimize the threat of litigation from wrongful termination cases. Some have nicknamed it the “three strikes and you are out” discipline system. While the baseball metaphor is handy to remember, there is no magic in three offenses equals termination. And termination is not really the goal; the goal is better performance.

Many leaders worry that writing up employees will hurt performance and cause workers to form a dislike of leadership. They reason that employees who dislike management will be less engaged.

This is miscalculated thinking about the attributes of leadership, morale, and being liked by employees.

Another favorite Drucker quote of mine is: “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked: leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”

Most leaders would agree that management is about achieving results through people. A manager must help his or her people succeed at the work they do, and regardless of what language they speak. A key to helping people succeed is communication, which is probably the most important thing a manager does. Managers need to identify and correct performance problems through proper communications (with a sensitivity to the language his or her workforce is most comfortable with).

As commonly believed, it is true with progressive discipline leaders use communications to protect themselves and their organization against legal action by getting incidents on paper. But there is more. These managers take steps to ensure solid, consistent documentation procedures throughout the entire organization. Most important, you will also identify and address potential performance problems with progressive discipline before they even happen. Preventing an illness is more important than curing an illness.

Prevention through coaching performance improvement begins with observing and communicating employee behavior. This means communicating in writing that follows Deblieux’s FOSA framework: facts, objectives, solutions, and actions. Managers, don’t just tell what you want when facts will sell what you want.

Managers must be objective and not subjective in writing down what is going on. Subjective means your opinion, and objective means what can be seen. Behavior that can be seen should be factually described by recording the what, when, where, who and how (also part of the FOSA framework):

•  What happened
•  When it happened
•  Where it happened
•  Who was involved
•  How it happened

Describe direct observations of behavior in your written evaluations. Deblieux’s work tells us to use phrases like “I saw,” “I heard,” “I touched,” “I smelled,” and “I tasted.” Remember you are describing objective behaviors, not your subjective feelings about the employees’ attitude or demeanor. When translated into another language, these objective statements are clear to understand.

So, to be understood a manager should not write something vague like “You were late today.” Instead, a better entry would be: “I saw you arrive at your workstation and clock-in at 7:42 a.m., which is 12 minutes past starting time.”

As another example, a manager should not write something like, “Don’t forget to wear your hard hat, protective eye glasses, and steel toe shoes next time.”

Instead, a better entry for this would read: “The company safety rules require you to wear a hard hat, protective eye glasses, and steel toe shoes at all times on the company yard. I expect you to put your hard hat, protective eye glasses, and steel toe shoes on before you enter the company yard.”

These entries document behaviors that are expected. Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior. Therefore, training comes first, and counseling comes second. There is even room for the oral warning, and no need to be a stringent supervisor that starts with a written warning. Think training first, not punishment, to correct disobedience.

One way to improve manager/employee communications is through in-depth work style and personality assessment testing. Managers should learn how their people and job candidates are wired in order to hire the best and understand how to proactively manage individuals.

This type of testing can identify potential red flags for human behavioral issues during the hiring process. Another benefit is it helps managers gain insight into the strengths and weaknesses of staff and candidates. Perhaps most important, it can reduce the learning curve for understanding how to manage individuals for greater work performance.

The key concept to remember there is workers are individuals, and there is no “one size fits all” communication strategy for obtaining optimum performance. I believe nobody comes to work to make mistakes. Let’s think of mistakes as a chance to teach, to help the employee learn from his or her error.

Better communications will help the employees be more open to the learning. Managers can benefit from training in interpersonal coaching, especially through the use of the work style and personality assessments. As managers, sometimes we need to take a good long look in the mirror about our coaching skills.

However, when there is disobedience or on-going failure to achieve performance goals, then there needs to be an escalation. This includes written warnings. This can be followed by a last step option. This is a specific warning of termination. The final step is termination. While a termination may be a layoff, here we are really talking about firing someone for willful violation of rules or the inability to perform.

For an employee to willfully violate rules, they have to know what the rules are. Effective leaders need to identify the rules, explain the application of the rules, be aware of the exceptions and document the coaching process through progressive discipline.

To listen to and see slides on an Open Line web conference on this topic with Dan Hamon as the guest speaker, please go here:
Audio: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.mp3
Slides: http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/041918/OpenLine041918.pdf

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Dan Hamon is a Senior Consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services. Dan has played key leadership roles in product development, marketing, sales, worldwide operations, and P&L. He is particularly gifted at drawing together and leading the right internal and external teams for solving complex problems and achieving business results. Dan’s industry expertise includes software, semiconductors, micro-machines, high performance computing, cyber-security, and artificial intelligence. Dan enjoys giving presentations on management, technology, productivity and other interesting topics to managers and senior executives.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Keep What You’ve Got: Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

By Dana Borowka, MA – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

During the next ten, twenty, and thirty years, finding qualified sales and customer service people is going to get more difficult, thanks to a shrinking workforce and a maturing population. Therefore, retention of your top people is more important than ever.

Attracting talent, retention, and training (or onboarding individuals) all fall into one big melting pot. Finding, supervising, and keeping employees are not stand-alone items — each affects the other.

Ten years ago the shot heard ‘round the recruiting world was the McKinsey & Co. declaration that better employee talent is worth fighting for. The 1998 bombshell article in the McKinsey Quarterly titled, “The War for Talent,” predicted a battle that would last for decades.

Publications like Fast Company quickly spread the news from the boardroom bunkers to the cubicle trenches. The reason was demographics and the retirement of the Baby Boom generation. The battle cry was to not only improve hiring practices, but to work harder to retain your best employees.

McKinsey’s supply and demand predictions have come true with a vengeance. The U.S. workforce, which grew by 54 percent from 1980 to 2000, is only expected to grow by 3 percent from 2000 to 2020.

During the past decades, companies have proven that you can’t win the war just by spending more. When it comes to finding and keeping employees, pay is secondary for top talent. But if you build up an outstanding reputation, people will line up to work at your organization.

You have to realize that reputation matters. People talk. Images get established. Web postings take place. Today, no organization can afford to have a bad reputation. A number of MC900231004[1]years ago, the airline industry did a study that showed that a bad experience was communicated to around 300 people and a great experience was shared with only 30 or less.

So, where do you start in order to build a positive reputation from within and without? It all begins with taking the time to uncover, identify, and understand how the team is communicating. No matter how high tech our world has become with instant messaging, emailing, and cell phones, the biggest problem we all have is still communications.

To illustrate, think of a whale. Probably everyone reading this article visualized something different. Some are seeing in their mind’s eye a peaceful pod of gray whales migrating south. A few think of a friendly Shamu jumping out of the water at Sea World. While others picture a scary Monstro swallowing Pinocchio. How often do you discuss a topic with someone in the workplace and they completely misunderstand what you wanted?

Communicating with prospective employees begins way before an application or interview. A number of years ago a client of ours identified some traits they wanted members of their team to have. The company realized they needed to position themselves in their narrow marketplace as the place to work. Whenever a company executive gave a speech to an association group they always ended the talk with mentioning that they are the Rolls Royce of organizations to work for. If anyone knows of A players who want to work at the best place to use their skills and talents, then have them give the company a call.

MC900437519[1]Fast forward a number of years. My firm conducts personality testing for all of this company’s final candidates. For certain levels, we also do phone interviews, always asking how they heard of the organization. Consistently we have heard it was because of their reputation in the industry for being the best place to work for utilizing skills and talents.

Learn what is driving your top talent people. If you help them to succeed you’ll create a high level of retention and become a magnet for recruiting. So what does all of this have to do with retention? It’s about setting your people up for success, and this takes active management and mentoring.

 

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2018

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Global Strategic Planning – Top Considerations

By Tom Drucker, MA – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

Planning

Planning is a process — not an event. It’s supposed to be a dynamic document, and not something that is prepared once a year then lives in a file that nobody refers to. It should be revisited frequently and updated along the way. If it isn’t, then something is usually wrong, since the world is fluid and so is a MC910215964[2]business plan.

Global planning and mapping requires an unbiased examination of your current sales, distribution strategy, and manufacturing costs, as well as a look at the various options available. A general assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your firm as it operates today is a must before venturing out beyond your current borders. You’ll want to take a look at your readiness for a potentially changing global market, which includes looking at cultural needs, currency, etc. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis can help in order to see gaps and to play out various scenarios that could take place.

Assumptions

Don’t assume your current business model can just be replicated or exported. Harley Davidson, when they first began to expand globally, made a huge mistake that we can all learn from. They assumed that the brand recognition would carry them around the world into new markets. What they learned very quickly was that the Japanese found ways to reduce production costs and designed products that were valued vs. the brand alone. They realized what had happened, restrategized their approach, then retook the market place.

On the flip side, never underestimate the value and power of your brand. Playboy’s global expansion saved the company at a time when US domestic revenues were deteriorating. At the time, they were the 3rd most recognized brand in the world so they were able to spring board globally with new product offerings.

Swensen’s, a very popular, San Francisco-based ice cream company in the 1970s, virtually disappeared from the US while flourishing in the Asian markets. Leveraging and understanding your product and service is key when determining markets that might be shrinking while others are expanding. These considerations should be a part of your strategic planning.

Looking Beyond

A global expansion plan may be accomplished most cost effectively through acquisitions rather than internal expansion. Study your competition locally and take a look abroad. Acquisition could be a way to jumpstart global expansion and broaden your sales base very quickly if done right. VingCard Elsafe expanded by observing customer needs. They found MC900200255[2]that individuals when using a safe in a hotel room wanted to charge their electronic devices. They identified a power outlet company and purchased them. Pay close attention to customer needs since they can be a driving force for growth. Through discussion and planning, creative ideas can come about for expanding in an efficient and cost effective manner if one is open to considering various methods for reaching an end result you want. Many different sources of capital are available from traditional financing to relationships with private equity firms. Again, exploring these options require time and developing a network of trusted advisors. Conferences, trade associations and groups that set standards for your industry can provide a good source of contacts and sources of referrals for financial information and opportunities.

Remember — not everyone thinks like you! A company that is considering to expand their sales through expanding their global distribution should integrate into their planning team, people with different nationalities and a diverse spectrum of business experiences.

Sometimes expanding can be driven by happenstance of a passionate partner willing to take a risk. An example of that is when In-N-Out Burger had an opportunity to expand into Singapore. They were approached by a high net worth individual who thought the brand would be well accepted in that part of the world and was willing to make an investment. This didn’t cost the company any money and yet they were able to expand into a new region. The experiment can be repeated. Quality and customer service standards must be maintained in order to not erode the standards of the brand.

It is usually best to test your plan quietly. When beginning the planning, try to anticipate a variety of obstacles keeping the end goal in mind and work backwards. That way your team can discuss various scenarios and anticipate the agility required if changes need to take place as circumstances arise. You may need to slow down your plans in order not to damage the brands’ reputation if you run into trouble with supply partners or marketing/ launch plans. Develop contingency plans. The new normal is to have “soft openings” to open the new storefront, hotel, etc., with no advertising or promotion. Let the staff and locals become accustomed to the operation. After an appropriate settling in time implement a larger, more public opening with a full public and press event.

Please Don’t Rush

It is really important to not rush your global planning and expansion. A number of components come into play and need to be well thought out. Components such as employee development, market tests, supply chain partners and a thorough analysis in these areas that are just the tip of the iceberg. If done thoughtfully, the process can pay off by reducing MC900055285[1]the risk of your immediate investment and the ability to refine and learn as you go. An example of this is when Alcatel-Lucent spent over a billion dollars on a fixed cellular network that proved less effective and efficient than a standard cellular network, because they had built the technology and had staff in place, but neglected to market test the product in the rural areas it was intended to be used in and had insufficient government relationships to ensure contracts. Consequently, cellular contracts were more rapidly signed and built out, causing that business unit to be closed and a billion dollar write-off absorbed.

Xerox Corporation, when expanding into underdeveloped markets, had a very disciplined process. They would turn to local high potential people for developing a plan over a period of twelve to eighteen months. That team would identify talent at all levels within the local organization. Together with seasoned professionals from more developed regions, they would build an organization ready to launch a sophisticated operation that could be successful from the beginning with pride in their brand and positive revenues within the first year of operation.

Recruiting Talent Abroad

This can be very challenging and yet filled with opportunity. It is critical to define the job, independent of culture, and look for “job fit” in the context of the culture. This means it’s vital to understand the goals and objectives of the job and how they will be executed in that specific culture. Recruiting firms that specialize in global search can be helpful, as well as networking with supply chain partners who have a vested interested in helping you identify potential employees.

It is also helpful to do in-depth work style and personality assessments to see how the individuals will fit into the team. Ideas for interviewing can be gleaned from the data and save valuable time and money, so you can focus into specific areas to probe during the interview and for reference and background checking. The information can also help in reducing the learning curve for managing individuals from day one.

Sourcing correctly and understanding cultural differences can make or break the expansion process. For managers at all levels having a high awareness of emotional intelligence on a global basis can reduce misunderstandings that could turn into missed goals and opportunities very quickly.

Books like Culture, Leadership and Organizations, can help your planning team and onsite managers gain insights that will help improve effectiveness at an interpersonal level.

This Is Not A Fad

It is highly important to be fact and data driven rather than being caught up in the emotions of wanting to expand your sales beyond your current boundaries. Gathering market and consumer data that can be purchased or commissioned from reliable sources could be an essential cost effective tool, rather than assuming that your business model and assumptions are translatable to other countries and cultures. Mining the data can help in mapping out a pathway to success. Success for your firm might be a decision not to move forward with global expansion.

Years ago, when McDonald’s was first introduced in France it was not an immediate hit. Sales in France dramatically increased when they started selling wine. They found that adult customers would go into a location when they knew they could have a glass of wine with their meal. This met the need of the culture and the perception for going to a McDonald’s as a family changed dramatically.

Collection formation from customers is often called “the voice of the customer.” It is a fundamental part of any world-class organization, either local or global. It is an essential and never-ending stream of data that must be honored and professionally executed. This is particularly critical when moving into new markets.

Sustainability

Sustainability is not just implementing a recycling program, as important as that is. It’s a mindset. It’s particularly significant when you’re considering expanding into new markets. The conditions, regulations, standards and policies of regions and countries are distinct and evolving. The mindset for the company is often described as an attention to the triple bottom line: a concern for social welfare, profitability, and ecological and environmental concerns. These factors should be taken into account in the planning process so that there are no surprises as you get closer to costing out your budgets and understanding the true cost of operating from different regions of our interconnected planet.

Have An Open Mind Policy

When thinking globally, you’ll want to look over your shoulder and over the horizon to see how your various ideas fit into a coherent plan for your business. Smart people know they don’t know everything. Global strategic planning requires a good combination of talent both from inside and outside your company. Many rapidly growing companies have lost MC900448544[1]significant money and momentum by not seeing their own blind spots. The key to minimizing the risk of global expansion is to being open to a diverse outlook of ideas and inputs. Thinking collaboratively, learning from others and getting various perspectives through different people’s eyes can help in making a good decision to move forward or to approach your vision in a fact based and professionally managed way.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

Tom Drucker is a Senior LCS Consultant and works with leaders to achieve business success by leveraging the strengths of their people and overcoming the very human, yet often unseen, obstacles that get their way. Tom has degrees in both psychology and business (from UCLA) and blends these skills to deliver usable insights that have lasting impacts on their business and most importantly on the hearts and minds of the people he works with. Tom has well over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies, mid caps and start-ups. You can reach Tom at Tom@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”,  “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

 

Why Exit Interviews Make Sense

By Dana Borowka, MA

Recently a strange occurrence got me thinking. On a personal note, I love to sail. After being members of a boat club for over ten years, my wife Ellen and I decided to move to another club. When we informed the club we were leaving they were highly efficient in deactivating our gate codes and privileges. No surprise there.

But it was what they did not do that surprised us. No one asked us why we were leaving. In talking to members at the new club as to why they didn’t join our old club we discovered there was a common complaint and it had nothing to do with boats: they did not like the food at the club.

This organization is needlessly losing customers over something that could be fixed. If only they had a process of conducting exit interviews.

For many a business, the exit interview has fallen out of favor. But in April 2016 the Harvard Business Review published an article singing the praises of exit interviews titled “Making Exit Interviews Count” by Everett Spain of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Boris Groysberg of the Harvard Business School.

The authors made their case in the article’s opening abstract:

An international financial services company hired a midlevel manager to oversee a department of 17 employees. A year later only eight remained: Four had resigned and five had transferred. To understand what led to the exodus, an executive looked at the exit interviews of the four employees who had resigned and discovered that they had all told the same story: The manager lacked critical leadership skills, such as showing appreciation, engendering commitment, and communicating vision and strategy. More important, the interviews suggested a deeper, systemic problem: The organization was promoting managers on the basis of technical rather than managerial skill. The executive committee adjusted the company’s promotion process accordingly.

“In today’s knowledge economy, skilled employees are the asset that drives organizational success,” state Spain and Groysberg. “Thus companies must learn from them—why they stay, why they leave, and how the organization needs to change. A thoughtful exit-interview process can create a constant flow of feedback on all three fronts.”

Why Some Experts Are Cool to Exit Interviews

“I am not a fan of exit interviews,” says Beth Smith, president of A-list Interviews and the author of Why Can’t I Hire Good People: Lessons on How to Hire Better. “I think it is a matter of too little too late.”

A horrible hiring mistake led Smith to create a company and write a book to help improve hiring results. Here is her take on the drawbacks of exit interviews:

Exit interviews are specifically designed for the employer. They do not help the exiting employee at all, because the exiting employee usually needs a reference from the company they are leaving. Telling the truth about the company doesn’t help the employee get that reference, and in certain circumstances, the information gleaned from the interview could be used against them. In addition, if there is negative feedback given, it is sometimes dismissed by the interviewer. “Well, that employee is just mad, so their feedback isn’t accurate.” My belief is that if an employee is leaving the company, they have attempted to tell someone in the company why. Whether it is a review, a conversation or a complaint, most employees don’t just up and leave without some sort of a notification.

Smith’s work is about interviewing right when hiring (something I agree with and advocate should be supported with proper in-depth workstyle and personality testing). Understandably, her coolness toward exit interviews echoes the view of many in business.

Smith’s belief is that if an employee is leaving the company, they have already attempted to tell someone in the company why. Who wasn’t listening to the employee when they were there?

Taking a Fresh Look at Exit Interviews

True, exit interviews have their shortcomings; however, in my opinion, it is a miscalculation to not conduct exit interviews because of the inherent faults. The research of Spain and Groysberg detailed in the Harvard Business Review supports this:

Though we are unaware of research showing that exit interviews reduce turnover, we do know that engaged and appreciated employees are more likely to contribute and less likely to leave. If done well, an exit interview—whether it be a face-to-face conversation, a questionnaire, a survey, or some combination of those methods—can catalyze leaders’ listening skills, reveal what does or doesn’t work inside the organization, highlight hidden challenges and opportunities, and generate essential competitive intelligence.

Other HR experts advocate a return to exit interviews—if they are done right.

“If an organization is a revolving door and it doesn’t care why, then exit interviews are a waste of their time and money,” says Claudia Williams, former associate general counsel, Global HR & Litigation, for The Hershey Company. “Most organizations, though, want to know why people are leaving and going to their competitors or elsewhere, especially when the attraction and retention of great people is a top, if not the top, concern for CEOs in the U.S. and globally.”

Williams, founder of a consulting company called The Human Zone and the author of the upcoming book Frientorship, argues an exit interview gives the employer a chance to get raw, candid feedback on what it does well and what it needs to improve – what’s keeping employees there and what’s causing them to leave.

“Time and again I’ve seen leaders surprised by the results of an exit interview, which means they don’t have their fingers on the real pulse of the organization,” says Williams. “An employer might be able to stop a great employee from leaving if it knows the real reasons behind the employee’s decision.”

The Value of Exit Interviews

“I valued and conducted exit interviews often in the army, individually and through the Army’s initiatives enterprise wide,” says Brigadier General Jeffrey Foley, U.S. Army (retired). “In the army, I often conducted exit interviews when people were transferring out to other army organizations when their tour of duty was up.”

“I valued and encouraged the conducting of exit interviews in the army, individually and through the initiatives sponsored by the army enterprise wide,” says Brigadier General Jeffrey Foley, U.S. Army (retired). “In the army, we often conducted exit interviews when people were simply transferring out to other army organizations when their tour of duty was up.”

Foley, who now runs a leadership consulting practice named Loral Mountain Solutions and is the coauthor of the book Rules and Tools for Leaders, offers his views on the four major benefits of exit interviews:

1. You may learn the real truths about your organization. You will likely learn what you may know or should know about typical challenges like money, opportunities for growth, shortfall of benefits, etc. You may also learn more profound truths like distrust of supervisor, harassment, illegal or unethical conduct that people were reluctant to report for whatever reason.
2. You set a great example for the entire organization that the leadership cares. The word will get out that the losing organization leaders cared enough to at least ask. If there is a standard practice of exit interviews and things changed in the organization for the better as a result of what was learned, there can be great benefit to the organization.
3. You may learn insights into your competition. Great information can be learned about what the competition is doing or offering that might affect your organization.
4. You can learn how to help those departing be successful. For the good people departing, it offers an opportunity for the losing organization’s leadership to help the person be successful in the next chapter of their lives. This support can be provided by letters of recommendation, references, or something unique based on an extraordinary event that caused the departure, such as serious sickness or tragedy that occurred that may have been previously unknown.

Williams offers a final warning:

“But proceed with caution,” she says. “Employers have to be ready and willing to act upon the information they receive, both to harness their strengths and to fix what’s broken (which sometimes means a workplace investigation into allegations of individual or corporate misconduct). Otherwise, the exit interview is a bunch of meaningless words.”

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”.  To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching, skills testing and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

 

 

5 Key Tips For Running A Successful Meeting

By Robert Sher

I came across this article recently in the Wall Street Journal titled, “Where’s the Boss? Trapped in a Meeting” that made it sound like CEOs weren’t productive and spent large amounts of time in meetings, at lunches and traveling, with as little as six hours per week working solo.

But why are hours spent working solo an indicator of being productive? Meeting time versus working solo time has little to do with productivity. The issue is not the sheer amount of meeting time, it is whether that meeting time (or any time) is impactful in increasing the enterprise value of the firm. Every minute a CEO or key executive spends is a minute gone by. Each minute must be invested wisely.

Mid-Market CEOs More Vulnerable

Earlier-stage entrepreneurs and small-business owners need every minute to get tasks done. Their executive team is small or non-existent, so they are not typically buried in meetings. Large businesses, on the other hand, have many highly trained executives all (hopefully) adding value to their organizations. Thus the wasted minutes of CEOs and key executives can be offset by the contributions of all the other leaders.

But middle market companies have leadership teams that are small compared to Fortune 500 companies. In a survey I conducted on middle market companies (slide 17), 95% of the CEOs and 96% of those that report to the CEO agreed that CEOs have unique leadership skills and other capabilities often not found in the teams that report to them. Executive leadership is needed in middle market companies, and that leadership is often delivered in powerful meetings. Every minute of executives’ time really counts.clock in water

Old Solutions Not Enough

Reduction of the time spent (or wasted) in meetings is not a new idea. You will likely still have wasteful meetings, just fewer of them. Setting a clear agenda going into your meeting is another piece of common advice. But agendas are often poorly constructed, discarded or not delivered early enough to be useful. Too many teams come together over and over again, on the same issues. They fail to reach a decision, or come to a decision without anyone assigned to be accountable, so the issue must be raised again.

Delegating work upward from a collaborative team approach to executives (“let the execs figure it out”) isn’t good either. This means executives invest precious time in doing the work, whereas if the work were done by the team, executives would only have to assess their progress and make the final judgment—a much quicker task.

Make Meetings Produce Work

Meetings must be the places where the decisions are made that require the full team’s input. Those decisions should be recorded and carried out after the meeting. So we’re maximizing executives’ minutes—and everyone’s minutes—when our meetings are the place where we do work, where we actually accomplish things.

The “work” of leadership teams includes thinking, debating, brainstorming, planning, strategizing and ultimately, making a final decision on a matter. Well-run meetings should be synonymous with “getting work done,” and not synonymous with “wasting time.” Information-only meetings should be rare and fast. Meetings should be one way of doing work, while working solo is another way of doing work. Wasting time when alone (gaming, daydreaming, Facebooking) is as bad as wasting it in a meeting.

For larger middle market executives, I maintain that they should spend nearly all their time in meetings if that means that they are making big decisions and handing big chunks of work to a large team of capable executives.

The key to making meetings incredibly productive is having powerful executives require all meeting participants to follow these rules:

  1. Every participant must prepare before the meeting. If everyone has received and read the handouts, there is no need to read them together at the start of the meeting. Your most disciplined execs will do this, so please don’t punish them by making them sit through the same material again because an undisciplined executive didn’t—even if it’s productive-mtg-pixabay-gerd-altmannyou, the CEO.
  2. There must be a strong facilitator to keep the meeting on track, force decisions and assign accountability for results. Un-facilitated meetings are disastrous. It can be an insider who facilitates, as long as they retain control of the meeting.
  3. Someone has to walk into the meeting with a point of view and a proposal for action. Groups are terribly inefficient at gaining momentum toward a specific solution. Better to point them in a rational direction and have them object and go in a different direction, then to have them figure out the appropriate direction as a team.
  4. The only participants in a meeting with key executives should be those who have analyzed the situation with the same level of diligence that the executives have, and who can give a concise but accurate overview of the situation to the executives. Lower level team members can meet with their bosses before the meeting to pass great ideas and solutions upward.
  5. Meetings in which executives sense that participants aren’t prepared must be shut down. Reprimand the slackers and warn them not to repeat the behavior. I’ve seen many an executive who can’t or won’t walk into a meeting with a proposal. Often they’re afraid that they’ll be wrong, and don’t want that responsibility. They need to be replaced. These are not executives, and middle market companies need real executives who have the courage to lead and make/recommend decisions.

Sometimes executives are big meeting culprits themselves, lacking the discipline to prepare for their own meetings. They often prefer meetings in which they are informed by their teams. This doesn’t harm the executive’s productivity, but it does harm everyone else’s. While much of this is just a matter of self-discipline, one approach is to have the executive’s assistant collect all the reports/data a few hours before the meeting, and then reserve 30 minutes before the meeting for the executive to study up.

If you’re an executive who needs to stay tuned in to some of the middle management activities, you may find yourself in meetings you don’t run which burn up time. These meetings can be addictive, but building dashboards or monthly drop-level 1:1’s to get an update may be more efficient.

road-pixabay-gerd-altmannMid-market executives are very high value assets to their companies. All they have to contribute is their time. Demand that all meetings be powerful and that real “work” proceeds from them.

Make meetings productive and decision making machines. Companies should have top grade and meet with them often to drive productivity higher and higher, and to raise enterprise value with each minute executives spends in those meetings.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017

Robert Sher is founding principal of CEO to CEO, an advisory firm specializing in helping midsized companies accelerate performance. He was chief executive of Bentley Publishing Group from 1984 to 2006 and steered the firm to become a leading player in its industry (decorative art publishing).

Robert speaks frequently, and has published extensively on the successful leadership traits and skills of leaders of midsized companies. He is a regular columnist on Forbes.com, has numerous posts on Harvard Business Review online, Entrepreneur.com and CFO.com. He authored two books, the first book, The Feel of the Deal; How I Built a Company through Acquisitions (1toPonder, 2007) and his newest book, Mighty Midsized Companies; How Leaders Overcome 7 Silent Growth Killers, (Boston: Bibliomotion, Sep. 2014). He also publishes his own newsletter, The CEO Insomnia Factor.

Robert received a B.S. degree in business administration from Hayward State University in 1986 (during which he ran a small business), and an MBA degree from St. Mary’s College in 1988, where he was the recipient of the Jack Saloma Award for student citizenship. From 1995 to 2000, he taught MBA and executive MBA courses at St. Mary’s on growing entrepreneurial businesses. For more information, visit the website, http://www.ceotoceo.biz/, email r.sher@ceotoceo.biz or call 925-829-8190.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information, visit http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Why Breaking the Team Building Code is So Important Today

By Dana Borowka

There is certainly a lot of interest in team building. Try searching for “team building help” on Google and you’re presented with 62.9 million search results! Search for “team building activities” you’ll see another 38.9 million results. The information and solutions available are mind boggling.

Unfortunately, we’ve talked with too many companies that tried team building exercises only to see the results, if any, fade quickly. That’s because team building is much more than going zip lining together. (And we love zip lining!)

In the sports world, championships are frequently won not by teams with the most star players, but by the teams that play like a team – not by a group of individuals. As business managers, we understand this concept. Few of us have the resources to attract only the very best employees in their respective fields. Yet, if zip lining doesn’t pull the team in the same direction, what will?

In this article I’ll provide a list of team-member attributes for your reference; give a great example from the Ritz Carlton on what’s possible when the whole company is focused on the same goal; and explain how we work with clients to build or tune teams for higher levels of performance.

Do Your Teams have the Right Stuff?

It can be difficult to know why a team is performing or not. It helps to take note of all the attributes (positive and negative) that are present on the team.

To assist you we’ve compiled a list of 100 attributes that can be used to assess each member of a team. This isn’t perfect, by any means, because it can be subjective – you be the judge. However, it can reveal problem areas. Warning signs can be silos, poor listening skills, lack of cooperation between departments, defensiveness, lies, sabotaging projects, etc. If your team exhibits more negative attributes than positive ones than that needs to be addressed and resolved quickly.

The Age-Old Challenge: How to Get People to Work Toward a Common Goal

Successful coaches and managers are adept at melding different personalities and skills into a single unit with a common objective.

An unyielding focus on the customer should be a goal shared by everyone in a company. Creating a “closed-loop” culture really helps put everyone on the same page. Here are two articles on the topic of closed loop cultures: How to Create a Closing the Loop Culture and How to Hire Loop Closers.

Learning at the Ritz

For an example of how a large company builds a unifying focus look no further than The Ritz Carlton chain of luxury hotels. Here is the company’s credo, list of service values and the employee promise.

As you review this example, think about the ways you can build a genuine customer focus in your company.

The Credo

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

By PortoBay Hotels & Resorts

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.

Service Values – I Am Proud To Be Ritz-Carlton

1. I build strong relationships and create Ritz-Carlton guests for life.
2. I am always responsive to the expressed and unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
3. I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests.
4. I understand my role in achieving the Key Success Factors, embracing Community Footprints and creating The Ritz-Carlton Mystique.
5. I continuously seek opportunities to innovate and improve The Ritz-Carlton experience.
6. I own and immediately resolve guest problems.
7. I create a work environment of teamwork and lateral service so that the needs of our guests and each other are met.
8. I have the opportunity to continuously learn and grow.
9. I am involved in the planning of the work that affects me.
10. I am proud of my professional appearance, language and behavior.
11. I protect the privacy and security of our guests, my fellow employees and the company’s confidential information and assets.
12. I am responsible for uncompromising levels of cleanliness and creating a safe and accident-free environment.

The Employee Promise

At The Ritz-Carlton, our Ladies and Gentlemen are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guests.

By applying the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment, we nurture and maximize talent to the benefit of each individual and the company.

The Ritz-Carlton fosters a work environment where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced, individual aspirations are fulfilled, and The Ritz-Carlton Mystique is strengthened.

Breaking the Team Code is Hard

The difficulty of the team challenge is one reason we’ve seen a big uptick in call volume from our clients who have gotten frustrated with the lack of observable results from team-building consultants and team-bonding exercises.

Putting Data where Our Mouth Is

We’ve been receiving these calls because our clients know that we excel at assessing work style personalities. They figure if we’ve done a great job over the years of helping them hire or promote the right individuals, we can have the insight to make a positive impact on team performance, too.

They are correct, or course. Since 1994 we’ve been combining behavioral science with human resource management principles to help our clients outperform their competition through periods of growth and recession.

For boosting team performance we’ve created a fast, effective and affordable service called the Lighthouse TeamView Service™.

Insight that Leads to Better Team Performance

We like to say that TeamView cracks the team building code. The essence of the program is that it helps teams of all types communicate powerfully, clearly and effectively. This is critical because the cause of all team failure is rooted in communication.

How do we crack the code and unlock the full potential of teams?

We start with having each team member complete an in-depth work style and personality assessment test. It’s not your run-of-the-mill test that has only 4-8 personality characteristics. Years of experience has shown us that having 16 primary characteristics are required for accurate insight.

Using Data to See the Dynamics of a Team

After the test results are in, we map the data using our proprietary Thought Flow Chart™. Like any good graph or chart helps visualize a situation, this chart helps to visualize the dynamic nature of the team based on how individuals prefer to receive and give information. Later in this article I go through an example based on an actual assignment.

You don’t have to figure out the Thought Flow chart by yourself. An LCS principal meets with you to review the test results. Together we create the right strategy to achieve ideal team functionality. Now you have a plan for how to go forward — a plan based on deep insight of the personalities of team members.

Involving the Team in Their Own Success

With the strategy and Thought Flow Chart in hand, LCS conducts a workshop for the team members (in person or remote). We reveal the results of the work style and personality tests. Everyone gains an understanding for the strengths of the other team members and how best to communicate with them.

Besides improving trust within the group, the workshop facilitates a process whereby the team and individuals commit to the actions and behaviors necessary for team success.

LCS recommends that management follow up with the team at least twice during the ensuing 60 days to make sure the commitments are being met.

Using TeamView to Build a New Team

While most of our assignments involve helping to tune an existing team for high performance, it’s not unusual for a client to ask us to advise them on building a team from scratch, or adding the right players to a team.

LCS follows the same TeamView process except that we consider what personalities need to be present on the team for it to achieve its objective, so there is direction for hiring and assignments. This could be assembling a project team to work on a big project for a troublesome customer. It could be filling a missing slot on an executive team that is already running smoothly.

TeamView to the Rescue

Here’s a fictitious example loosely based on an actual TeamView Service assignment.

The ABC Company was floundering. Due to recent turnover in the executive staff, the CEO, Hank, felt his team had lost its chemistry; its ability to work together to solve tough problems wasn’t what it used to be.

He called LCS and we immediately implemented our TeamView Service.

The Thought Flow Chart that resulted from our analysis of the work style and personality tests was immensely helpful to Hank and the team.
The data in the chart revealed that the executive group was very well-balanced. That reinforced what Hank believed. He knew the team had the right stuff, it’s just that they weren’t working smoothly together.

You can see an example of the Thought Flow Chart™ in our brochure.

In the workshop LCS exposed the team members to their individual work style and personality assessments. Everyone achieved a better understanding of what made the others “tick”. There was universal appreciation and understanding for the strengths of each personality.

What really made the difference for this executive team at ABC Company, is during the workshop LCS gave each person tools and tips for how best to communicate with each of the other members.

Understanding, respect, trust and clear communications were established in the team. After just 60 days, Hank was pleased to report that the team was performing at high levels once again.

Talk to Lighthouse

You can learn more about TeamView by visiting our Web page, or simply giving us a call at 1.310.453.6556 x403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2017

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Can Your Staff Solve Challenges When Faced With Obstacles?

Excerpt from our book, Cracking the Business Code

It only takes a small adjustment of the tiller to get the boat back on course. – Nancy CroixMC900318220[1]

Today is the day to look beyond… to look at the many opportunities and the open horizons that can be in store for you and your organization. This is the time to rally the people that you work with and begin to collaborate and gather ideas in the following areas:

• Improving efficiency
• Raising the customer service bar
• Explore opportunities
• Operational processes
• Cost efficient ways to do things differently
• Identify specific traits in people that you’d like to add to your team
• How to better mentor staff members

Those are just a few areas to explore. Looking out into the future, you’ll want to take advantage of some of the fresh talent that will be available. However, you’ll need to be very selective as to who you’ll want on your team. Managing down just doesn’t work any longer. Understanding the strengths of an individual will help to promote a positive environment where people will want to share ideas that might not have been considered in the past. This is the time to build a positive reputation so your company is a magnet for attracting top talent.

Thinking Outside of the Box

MC910217089[2]I was at a restaurant recently and asked to see if an item that I didn’t see on the menu was available or if I had overlooked it on the menu. They didn’t have the item, but the staff response set me back. The server stated, “Our goal is to think out of the box. To do what we can to please the customer so that positive word of mouth is shared and that will result in more business for us!” Isn’t that what we all want: team members that will think out of the box, positive word of mouth about our business, to increase revenue? What we all need are people like that on our team. So the million-dollar question is: how do we get staff members to think along those lines and how can we attract people like that?

What Is Driving Your Top People?

Learn what is driving your top talent people. If you help them to succeed you’ll create a high level of retention and become a magnet for recruiting. Here are some action items for you to consider:

  1. Use an in-depth work style and personality assessment during the hiring process and for current staff.
  2. Use the data to manage, which in turn will reduce the learning curve for new hires and help to better understand current staff members.
  3. Place individuals in positions that they can succeed in based on their strengths.
  4. Take the time to constantly mentor and create plans to help individuals grow.
  5. Identify traits of individuals that you want in your organization and target those individuals through specific messages in ads, on the web, through networking, and association gatherings.

For your A players (your major contributors), play to their strengths and help them grow. Don’t ignore them just because they are doing well. These are the individuals that if they don’t MC900324776[1]feel engaged in helping the organization to continue to grow and improve, they’ll leave.

For your B players, nurture them through mentoring so they can become A players down the road. For your C players, measure and possibly remove them if they are eating up your time. Never spend 80 percent of your time and energy on the people who are producing 20 percent of your results.

Peel the Onion

But don’t write those C players off too fast. A small hotel chain had reservation reps that were not meeting the volume level that was being required. The manager thought they were just C players and was a very unhappy camper with his team. That person was placed in a different department and a new manager came in who sat down with each individual and then with the group. She discovered that 24 hours before a guest was going to arrive at the hotel property that a high percentage were calling in to verify the reservation and to get directions. This used up valuable call time, so as a team they brainstormed together and came up with a brilliant idea. Since the reps were asking for email addresses why not send an email confirmation 24-48 hours prior with a fun page welcoming the individuals and include links for weather and directions.

Guess what happened? Calls were reduced and the reps were able to take more calls for new reservations with less hold time. All because the manager took the time to ask questions to peel the onion back to identify the underlying issue. When the reps were asked why this topic hadn’t been addressed in the past they simply responded, “No one asked and we never thought of it.”

Set Your Sights on the Future

Make the most out of this environment by helping others in your team to be successful, build a positive reputation, ask your team for ideas and contribute to the well being of the entire organization, train staff to mentor others, and be on the look out for adding fresh talent to your team. Remember, it is important to be precise in what you are looking for and do a MC900297401[1]thorough job interview by asking probing questions, doing reference and background checks, and utilizing an in-depth work style and personality assessment.

This is the time to set your sights on the future, deal with the present by supporting your team, and ask for input. Set your organization on a course for long-term success by using proactive and collaborative mentoring, management, and vision. We’d love to hear about your successes.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015

 

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

Optimize Your Staffing Decisions By Using In-Depth Work Style & Personality Assessment Tools

Dana Borowka, MA – Excerpt from Cracking the Business Code

The wrong hiring decision can cost your company well over two to three times the individual’s salary according to Vistage International speaker, Barry Deutsch. This figure may be a conservative estimate because of factors like training, evaluation, termination, re-initiating the hiring process, and lost opportunity costs. There is also an emotional factor involved brain on crane to headin a bad hire situation. Not only can it cause stress and anxiety for both management and employees, but it also takes away focus from your company’s primary goals. Essentially, a bad hire can have a negative impact on your company’s bottom line and that won’t benefit you or your workforce.

These circumstances can be minimized during the initial hiring process by using several techniques including effective recruitment programs, skilled interviewing, and in depth work-style and personality assessment tests. A personality assessment is a highly effective tool and an efficient use of company resources at this crucial point of the decision making process.

This section focuses on in-depth work style and personality assessment tests and how your company can benefit from them during the interview process, before a potential new hire turns into the wrong decision. An in-depth assessment, in conjunction with a thorough interview process and good background check, can reduce the possibility of a hiring error. It also can provide your company with quantifiable information on a candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, an assessment will offer objective, expert guidance on how best to manage and place that individual within your organization.

In-Depth Work Style and Personality Assessment Testing — A Standard in Recruiting

Assessment tests are a standard recruiting practice for many branches of the government and military, as well as many Fortune 500 companies when assessing potential hires for key or critical positions. They are used to reduce employee turnover and improve department effectiveness. Correctly interpreted, professionals can help guide your organization on how to best manage, communicate, and train new hires and staff members.

As with any business decision, having the right information is critical. Work style and personality assessment testing can provide insight into potential hires, as well as your current workforce, in several ways:

1. Identify potential red flags: An in-depth work style and personality assessment can discover issues that are sometimes overlooked during the interviewing process and can quantify an intuition or feeling the interviewer may have about a particular candidate. It can be used to identify potential red flags concerning behavioral issues, help understand how to manage individuals for greater work performance, and compare interpersonal dynamics of teams, departments, and candidates.
2. Learn how to optimize employees’ work performance: An assessment can provide extensive information on an individual’s ability to work with their job responsibilities, team dynamics, and company culture. Additionally, the assessment can show effective strategies to gain optimal performance from that individual within their particular work environment. It can also be employed to quickly identify the most effective management style for a new employee or predict how team members are likely to interact.
3. Ensure you have the right people in the right positions: Additionally, assessments can be utilized in rehires, or situations which call for employees to re-apply for their current jobs, as in the case of a corporate merger or restructuring. An assessment test can also ensure that your company continues to have the right people in the right positions and distribute assets and talents effectively.

Which Assessment Tool Should My Organization Use?

The following are some things to think about when reviewing various work style and personality profiles:

1. Training or degrees required for interpretation of the data. Weekend training programs can be problematic since testing and human behavior is a very complex subject. When making hiring or internal decisions, organizations need as much information and understanding as possible as the consequences can be very costly.
2. A copy of the resume should be supplied to the testing company to review when discussing the assessment results. We suggest you make sure that they require this as part of the process so it is used when reviewing the assessment.
3. Scale for “Impression Management” to understanding accuracy of results and if someone is trying to “fake good.”
4. Common warning signs: When a representative uses absolute statements when describing human behavior, like “People are all the same” or “People don’t change.” This will convey what their level of understanding of the human personality is. Or when someone claims that their profile is 98 or 99% accurate, which rarely can be clinically supported. If you hear this, ask how the data was collected.
5. Career matching: Some organizations claim to know what the perfect “sales person” or “secretary” is from a personality perspective. Ask how many careers and man with arrowsoccupations have been studied; is the database validated by outside organizations or only by “applied in-house studies.” “Ideal” is very difficult to define due to the variance of geography, job history, and education. What is most important is if the individual has a similar thought pattern that meets the criteria within the job description.
6. Number of clinical studies conducted by major universities and there should be multiple studies for validation purposes.
7. How long has the profile been used — what is the history?
8. How often is the normative database updated and where is the data coming from? (For example, U.S. Census 1990, 2000)
9. Cultural bias — is it built into the profile and for which countries?
10. Does the profile meet U.S. government employment standards? Has it been reviewed for ADA compliance and gender, culture, and racial bias?
11. Reading level required (5th grade English, etc).
12. Number of profiles administered.
13. Number of actual primary scales as defined by the “Big 5” testing standards. Many tests will claim to have more scales than they actually have — this can lead to misrepresentation of data.
14. Does the data provide the depth necessary to understand how an individual is wired inside?
15. Validity, reliability, and basis.

These are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any one area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated.

Frequently Asked Questions

A frequent question from companies and organizations concerns the legal guidelines in administering assessments to potential employees. Industry regulations can vary and the best option is to consult with your company’s trade association or legal department. As a general rule, if your company uses an assessment, any test or set of hiring questions must be administered to all of the final candidates in order to assure that discrimination is not present. Additional information can be found online at the EEOC website, in the Disability-Related Inquiries and Medical Examinations of Employees section: http://www.eeoc.gov/docs/guidance-inquiries.html.

An additional question concerns how a new hire may feel about taking an in-depth personality and work style assessment. There is a certain amount of “test anxiety” that can be common. However, the test demonstrates that your company is serious about who they hire. If your company explains that the goal of the assessment is to reduce turnover and is only one of several factors involved in the hiring decision, the individual usually responds very well. In many cases, the candidate may accept a position from the organization they perceive to be more thoughtful during the hiring process.

Conclusion

An assessment is only one component needed for a successful recruitment and hiring program. It can provide valuable information for critical personnel decisions. Combined with an effective recruitment program and skilled interview techniques, it can benefit your company as a whole, in addition to your individual employees. Armed with accurate and man with magnify glassquantifiable data from an in-depth assessment, the interview process becomes much more reliable. Ultimately, this only adds to your organization’s bottom line, allowing more effective management of your existing workforce and limiting the potential for wrong hiring decisions.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016 

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. Dana has over 25 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He provides workshops on hiring, managing for the future, and techniques to improve interpersonal communications that have a proven ROI. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

The Two-Tunnel Trap

By Larry Wilson, Author of Play to Win, Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

Leaders need to be great communicators to grab and keep the attention of their followers. No easy task since the natural result of communication is misunderstanding. Odds are you misunderstood what I just said, so again: “The natural result of communication is misunderstanding.”

construction signHere’s a story to support this point:

A wise engineer had the task of digging a tunnel through a mountain. As his workers were unskilled at the task, he brought them together to explain. “See that mountain over there? Well, you’re going to dig a tunnel through it. Half of you will start digging the tunnel from the east side. The other half will start digging from the west side. When you meet in the middle, you’ve dug a tunnel. Now, if you don’t meet in the middle, you’ve dug two tunnels.”

The fact is that most communication ends up being separate tunnels. This has brought many a leader to their knees, especially when the stakes are high.

I’m saying this to remind you how important, and yet difficult, it is to have one-tunnel conversations. So how is it done? Start by agreeing on a mutual definition. In our case, we need to define the word “communication.” We’ll define it as: A sense of mutual understanding.

How do we get others to understand us? Here’s a three-word solution to the two-tunnel trap: Simple, familiar and dramatic. Use simple words, familiar examples, and wrap up your point by telling a relevant dramatic story.

Digging Deeper

Let’s dig a little deeper into our tunnel of understanding – or mis-understanding.digging

  1. Simple. Use words that everyone understands. Forget the million-dollar words you used to impress your English teacher.
  2. Familiar. Use words that your audience uses on a regular basis. No insider jargon – that just confuses things and ends up excluding people rather than including them.
  3. Dramatic. Tell a brief story or example that parallels the situation you’re trying to communicate. This will help your audience bring the information together into a whole picture, rather than just the parts.

Here’s a non-example of this simple formula. To set the context, you are a new army recruit whose drill instructor (leader) is introducing you to a new safety device. Let’s listen in:

“All right you people, today is the day we introduce the new Regulation Missile Whistle, Model M-1. This is a self-repeating, lung-operated, air-cooled general personnel model issued to all relevant ranks. The whistle is divided into two component parts. These are the Whistle Cylinder Blowing Assembly and the Whistle Retaining Chain Assembly Mechanism. At the Blowing Aperture, there are two raised sections. You people in the back had better stand up so you can see this. The opening from the blowing end into the main cylinder is called the Compression Blow Channel. The other remaining component part of the whistle is known as the Chamber Operating Assembly Complex. This consists of the Opening Sound Admission Slot, the Cylinder Butt Lock onto which the Whistle Retaining Chain Assembly Part is attached, and the Cylinder Reverberating Operating Cork Pellet Device.”

Whew! How many tunnels do you think were dug in that mountain?!

whistleLet’s look at what happens if we apply our ‘simple, familiar and dramatic’ formula to this scenario? The DI/leader might sound something like this:

“OK folks, this here is a whistle. When you blow into it, it makes a very loud noise. If you ever find yourself pinned down in a foxhole, bullets whizzing over your head in every direction, take out this little jewel and blow like hell. We’ll come and get you out.”

Now that’s a message anyone could understand. Simple, familiar words put together in a dramatic sequence that keeps everyone digging the same tunnel.

Say what?

Here’s a learning process that can help you keep getting better at making sure everyone is digging one tunnel: “What did I plan to say, what did I say, and what will I say next time in the same situation?” Getting better on purpose is what makes a good leader into a great leader – and a primary reason why others want to follow.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2016 

Larry Wilson was an internationally recognized pioneer in change management, leadership development and strategic thinking, and is the co-author of The One-Minute Sales Person and Play to Win. He founded two companies, Wilson Learning Corp. and Pecos River Learning. Larry worked with companies to help them “create the organization that, if it existed, would put them out of business.” Larry passed on in 2009 and will be greatly missed, yet cherished through his books and articles for years to come. One of the things that Larry used to say was “Love your customers so much that they want to refer business to you since who can resist love?”

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.