Customer Service is an Entire Company Endeavor

By Dana Borowka

“If you want to know how to retain customers, you need to step outside your own processes and consider what it is like from the customer’s perspective”, says Deb Brown, author of the upcoming book, Lifelong Loyal Clients.

Brown notes that a mere 5 percent increase in retention will increase profits anywhere from 25 percent to 95 percent, according to a Harvard Business School study (Reichheld and Schefter. “The Economics of E-Loyalty.” HBS Working Knowledge. July 10, 2000).

Clearly customer service has a bigger impact on the bottom line than acquiring new customers. Bain & Company (a leader in global business consulting) reports that repeat customers spend more with a company— up to 67 percent more in months thirty-one to thirty-six than months zero to six.

“Taking care of existing customers is a faster path to cash than pursuing new customers,” says Brown. “Long-term customers spend more and refer more. Knowing this, smart business owners focus on retaining customers.”

Brown runs a company called Touch Your Client’s Heart. She works with business owners who want to build better relationships and never let an important contact slip through the cracks.

In her book she also notes a study done by customer experience consulting firm, Walker, which predicted that by the year 2020, customer experience will be more important than price or product to customers.

“The experience the customer has determines their loyalty and retention,” says Brown. “Customer retention makes a huge impact on your bottom line.”

Nobody’s Perfect

“Customer service is often seen by customers as the place to go when things go wrong,” says Mike Wittenstein, an international customer service expert. “Designing service as an experience is how you can get things to go right in the first place.”

Wittenstein is the founder of StoryMiners, one of the world’s first customer experience design consultancies. Based in Atlanta, he is an accomplished consultant, designer, and speaker who works globally in four languages.

“Too many companies design their business around their expectations of a perfect customer’s needs,” says Wittenstein. “The problem is that most customers aren’t perfect. Most walk in expecting a business to fit the way they want to work.”

A big opportunity for customer service across most industries is to not only respond to customer requests when they ask—but to anticipate their needs earlier. Sensing what customers will need sooner means you can make them happier—and do it at lower cost to the business and with a lift for the brand.

“If you’re not supporting the customer or supporting those who do, what is the value of your job anyway?” says Wittenstein. “That’s a Home Depot adage. It applies to everyone. Customer service works best when it’s brought into the heart of operations. It is truly everyone’s job.”

Onboarding Customers is Job One

“Often, businesses focus on prospects,” says Brown. “They give attention, nurturing, and lots of touches to bring prospects though the sales process. Sometimes, when they come to the end of the sales process and make the sale, business owners breathe a sigh of relief and then stop paying attention.”

Brown says onboarding is where you can change the way you do business and make a big impact on your customers. Customers, at that time, may be feeling a little bit apprehensive about the investment they just made. They may be feeling excited about starting to work with your business, but if you stop the communication, the excitement wanes and they may be a little unsure about what comes next.

“Having a formal intake process can not only assure you have vital information like contact details and billing information, but also be a great way to start getting to know your customers.,” says Brown.

As you interact with your customers, continue to pay attention to details about them and about their lives. It’s those personal details that help you get to know them better and deepen your relationship with them. What are their hobbies, their families? Do they have kids, grandkids, or a significant other? Are there things going on in their extended families? Do they have parents they are caring for? All of these little details are very important to them, and when you pay attention to those details, you find out what matters most to your customers.

“Touching your customers’ hearts and really wowing them is the best way I know to build loyalty to your business,” says Brown.

According to Brown, there are several things you should know about your customers so that you can wow them in a personal way.

All Contact Info. We live in a virtual world and sometimes never meet face to face with customers. Other times, customers come to our place of business. It’s easy to think that the only information you need is a phone number and email address. Take the time to also get their mailing address.
Who Do They Care About Deeply? Most people have someone who is important to them, be it a significant other, children, parents, siblings, pets, or a close group of friends. They probably sacrifice for them and spend most of their free time with them.
What Are They Passionate About? Are there hobbies, activities, causes or organizations they spend their time with? Knowing what is important to them and what brings them joy helps you know them better as individuals.
How Do They Indulge Themselves? For some people, a piece of chocolate or a cup of coffee is the thing that makes them happy. Others enjoy going to the theater or reading a book. Knowing what your customers would do to treat themselves allows you to customize how you reward them.

We’re Sorry, So Sorry

Sometimes, you make one mistake and you can apologize and move on. Once in a while, however, you may feel the need to do a little more. It may be that you have dropped the ball more than once. If you need to apologize in a bigger way, it might be a good time to send an “I’m sorry” gift.

“It isn’t necessary to send a gift every time you make a mistake,” says Brown. “Often a simple apology in person or over the phone is enough to fix what went wrong. An email or personal note in the mail can add to your sincerity. Don’t overdo it. Once the other party has forgiven you, it is time to move on and let it go.”

An “I’m sorry” gift doesn’t necessarily have to cost a lot; it depends on how big the mistake was.

“The act of going the extra mile and sending something out to say you are sincerely sorry can do a lot to repair the trust you have broken,” says Brown. “You are showing your customer that you acknowledge whatever you’ve done to mess up his or her day or to take up his or her time. You understand the value of time and you’re willing to pay for it.”

When you take the time and effort to apologize with a gift, it goes a long way in repairing a situation. You are able to reestablish trust and that person is willing to try again with you. Hopefully you’ve learned your lesson and you won’t make the same mistake again.

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.

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.

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/.

 

 

Millennials: How to Attract, Retain and Manage

By Bhavna Chadalavada

Much has been said and written about millennials (generally referred to by researchers as having birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), but little of it has come from within our generation itself. The reality about us is that we want what the business community at large wants and needs, but we are pushing for it harder and faster than some are comfortable with. It’s causing us to leave jobs, shuffle positions frequently, befuddle our superiors, generally cause angst, and in some cases accelerate desired culture shifts.

Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global, put it aptly when he said “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and how it contributes to society as they are in its products and profits. These findings should be viewed as a wake-up call to the business community.” And, the wake-up call is coming quickly: by the end of 2015, millennials are expected to overtake baby boomers in the workforce as more and more boomers reach retirement age.

We are a generation that has embraced and fueled rapid technological advancement and creative innovation that has changed the scope of multiple facets of the world today: from medicine and healthcare, to poverty, water and hunger, to social connection, dating, food and music. So, what are the tricks to attract, retain, and manage the best among us? Read ahead to find out.

Attract

We love free lunch, but we know that culture goes beyond that. The following 3 elements are critical to attracting us.

(1) Purpose, mission, meaning

77% of millennials state that their “ability to excel in their job is contingent upon deriving meaning from their work”. We want our employers to have a purpose and mission for their business (for 6 in 10 Millennials, a “sense of purpose,” is part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers), and we want to connect to it in order to feel enlivened and energized by the work we are doing.
In all honesty though, who wants a grinding, robotic 9-5 culture? Employers and the former generation seem to have grown used to it, and have tolerated it either because they see no other way, or because they see another way and don’t know how to get there.

Millennials are built to get there: we are here to change things and make sure those changes stick. “Big Four” Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is planning for a workforce of nearly 80% millennials in 2016. It might take other organizations a few more years, but millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by the year 2025.

(2) Quality of leadership

According to a Deloitte study, today’s Millennials place less value on visible (19%), well-networked (17%), and technically-skilled (17%) leaders. Instead, they define true leaders as strategic thinkers (39%), inspirational (37%), personable (34%) and visionary (31%).
Who we are working under is a big reason we would want to be associated with a given company. The opportunity to observe a strategic-thinking, inspirational, personable, and visionary leader from close quarters is in many cases enough to hook us in.

(3) Opportunity for learning and development

business team meeting-large by Eric Bailey, Pexel

By Eric Bailey

Maneuverability (ability to shift area of work within a given company, along with potential for growth of responsibility in a role) & development initiatives for employees (beyond your standard Training program) are critical. To illustrate this point, if we are given a choice of:

A) Less pay at a company that:

• Has opportunities for learning and development within a given role.
• Offers us the ability to shadow and learn about other roles and potentially eventually make an internal transition.

B) A higher-paying position at a company with:

• Perks (free lunch) & Incentives (cash-bonuses).
• A boxed-in position with little opportunity for development.

We are choosing option A (unless, for unfortunate economic reasons – like student loans – we have to take B).

Retain

Inherently, we are built to make businesses successful and last – but getting caught up in short term ROI and losing sight of us as people is a sure way to isolate and push us away. We care about the success of the business, but we also see how that goes hand in hand with unleashing the best in an organization’s people.

If we are treated like a number, we will go ahead and treat our employers like a number right back. We’ll stop coming in early and leaving late, and we’ll do the job just well enough to stay hired – until we find something better and jump ship. Most of us are already cultivating our side hobbies and projects, so if you give us reason enough, we will dedicate more and more of our time and energy into that. We’ll clock in and clock out until one day we drop the job and leave, just like our employers fear.

It may sound self-serving, but it is a protective mechanism that ultimately allows not only us but also our employers to thrive: by hiring and retaining the right people while creating and maintaining a culture of purpose. A culture of purpose is proven by multiple sources by now to outperform financially – this is no longer a debate.

If companies have a mission and purpose that is adhered to, provide resources and programs for training and development, and their people and leaders are indicative of the culture and mission they seek to promote – they’ve got us locked in. We’re going to give it everything we’ve got.

But if not, we’re going to eventually leave and have our employers scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. What went wrong is that expectations out of workplaces have changed, and we need more than your typical scene from The Office – which unfortunately (and comically) is still tolerated by many organizations.

The facts and figures support this:

• According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, millennials rated training and development as the most highly valued employee benefit. In fact, training and development outranked cash bonuses by a whopping 300%.
• 78% of millennials surveyed by MTV said “even if I have a job it’s important to have a side project that could become a different career.”
• Unlike previous generations that sought out career destinations, millennials are job hoppers, expecting to stay in a job for less than three years. Job hopping can lead to greater fulfillment, which is vitally important to this generation.
• 88% percent of millennials considered “positive culture important or essential to their job” and said that if they don’t have it at their current employer, they will look elsewhere.

Manage

If our employers create the right culture and hire the right people, managing us becomes less work – which is what both sides want anyway.
In more granular terms, what we want day to day is:

1) Clear goals and projects.
2) Independence to work and create (high trust).
3) A collaborative environment (a whopping 88% of millennials prefer a collaborative work environment over a competitive one).
4) Check-ins fairly often where we are kept appraised of our performance by a forward-thinking and accessible manager (according to a survey by Millennial Branding and American Express, 53% of millennials said a mentorship relationship would help them become better and more productive workers).

When discussing career plans and progress, 96% of millennials want to talk face-to-face. We don’t want to be surprised with immediate repercussions or talked behind – we want to be told how we can improve. Being given less responsibility as a result of what we do not yet know does not motivate us, it deflates us.

success-479568_640 (Pixabay)

By Gerd Altmann

We were raised in an increasingly transparent world – to us, being a “straight shooter” is not a rarity. Being open and communicative is our way of life, and we consider it a sign of trust and investment that you’ll provide us with feedback rather than treat us like a dispensable cog in a machine. According to a University of North Carolina study, 88% of millennials said they would rather receive feedback in real time, not to mention frequent in-person check-ins on progress.

And, we’ll take it a step further too: we want to be able to have a dialogue about our company’s (or even just our team’s) growth and performance. Just because we are less experienced and less grey-haired, we don’t think that should stop us from being able to contribute to decisions being made. Our employers have our buy-in (millennials have no shame in allowing their professional and social worlds to collide, with 70% having “friended” their managers and coworkers on Facebook), so shouldn’t the trust extend both ways?

As a millennial who has worked on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley for an old-guard global Tech corporation, in start-ups, and for consulting firms – these insights remain true across the board. Some companies have caught on, and some have not, but the future lies here. And, the most innovative and successful companies out there are now utilizing this knowledge full-scale – it is no longer a question of if it is worth the initial investment to do so. It ends up costing more in turnover and poor performance not to!

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

Bhavna Chadalavada writes and speaks on Millennials in Corporate America, and serves as a consultant and thought partner for established Leadership coaches. She is connected to the Conscious Capitalism movement, and has partnered with the Conscious Business Firm Axialent as well as Values-Based Leadership Consulting firm LRN. Earlier in her career she worked in Finance on Wall Street for UBS and in Tech Consulting in Silicon Valley for Oracle. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she also played D1 Basketball. For more information, you can contact Bhavna at bhavna.chadalavada@gmail.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.

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/.

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.

MC900090563[1]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. © 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/.

Win the War for Talent with a Cash Balance Retirement Plan

By Dan Kravitz

From the boardroom bunkers to the cubicle trenches, competition to hire the best and brightest is increasingly intense. McKinsey & Company’s recent CEO briefing report, “Talent Tensions Ahead” projected a hiring gap as high as 11 percent of demand for staff with advanced degrees by 2020. Moreover, in our competitive global economy, attrition rates are climbing in many organizations.business people race

What can employers do to improve their competitive edge when it comes to recruiting and retaining talented professionals? Company-sponsored retirement plans play a crucial role. For many high income professionals, qualified retirement plans are one of the most important sources of lifetime wealth accumulation. Consequently, any organization that wants to win the war for talent must offer a highly competitive retirement package.

What makes a retirement package compelling to talented, in-demand professionals? A generous 401(k) profit sharing plan is a good starting point but no longer goes far enough. Adding a Cash Balance (hybrid) plan makes an enormous difference, allowing high earners to double or even triple their pre-tax retirement savings and compress 20 years of retirement savings into 10. Depending on age and income, these high earners may be able to move into a lower tax bracket after their firm adds a Cash Balance plan. This shift will significantly reduce the impact of the 2013 tax hikes.

What is a Cash Balance plan?

A Cash Balance Plan is a unique type of IRS-qualified retirement plan also known as a hybrid, since it combines features of both defined benefit and defined contribution plans. Financial advisors and CPAs often describe Cash Balance as the best of both worlds, offering the portability and flexibility of a defined piggy bank savingscontribution plan along with the high contribution limits of a traditional defined benefit plan. Cash Balance plans are almost always offered as an add-on to an existing 401(k) profit sharing plan in order to create an optimized tax-efficient plan design.

For example, a 55-year-old in 2015 is limited to $24,000 in 401(k) contributions and $35,000 in profit sharing. But if her firm added a Cash Balance plan, she could enjoy a tax-deferred Cash Balance contribution of up to $175,000, toward a lifetime limit of $2.6M. Combined with her $59,000 in 401(k) profit sharing, she would have total tax-deferred retirement contributions of $234,000.

Cash Balance plans differ from traditional defined benefit in several key ways which make them appealing to employees at all levels of an organization. Assets are pooled and invested collectively, but participants have individual accounts and can see their balances. Accounts are portable and can be rolled over to an IRA or another qualified account when retiring or leaving the organization. Participants can choose either an annuity or a lump sum option.

The Retention Power of a Cash Balance Plan

Let’s illustrate the concept by looking at the world of law firms. While it’s expensive to lose talented attorneys early in their careers, it’s even more devastating to lose them mid-career. Mid-career lawyers are often in their prime in terms of productivity, skill and client retention. Their loss can greatly affect the firm’s quality of work in addition to its bottom line.

A law firm’s retirement plan can be a crucial factor in an attorney’s decision to leave. Attorneys in their 40s have typically paid down student loans and have home equity, yet many feel far behind on retirement savings. Attorneys, like physicians, start later than many professionals in saving for retirement due to student loans and years of lower paid work as associates. If the firm doesn’t help them meet their financial objectives, they will probably find another firm that can.

The single most important step a law firm, medical group, or any competitive organization can take to improve its retirement plan is to increase pre-tax contributions so partners can grow their qualified retirement accounts while significantly reducing the tax burden. This can be accomplished by adding a Cash Balance plan to the retirement plan already in place.

Law firms making these Cash Balance contributions report greatly improved partner satisfaction with retirement plans. In fact, the majority of AmLaw 200 firms now offer Cash Balance plans or are in the process of adopting them.

“Having worked with many law firms, I’ve found them eager to find ways to reduce their tax burdens,” said David Roberts, a CPA with the Los Angeles firm RBZ. “One of the most significant methods I’ve seen them use is implementing a Cash Balance pension plan in addition to their 401(k) profit sharing plan. This allows them to dramatically increase pre-tax contributions to qualified plans, sometimes as high as $250,000 per year. Cash Balance is a complex plan that may not be right for everyone, but for those who can, I would strongly recommend that they look closely at the option.”

What About Non-Qualified Alternatives?

Facing the limits of a 401(k) profit sharing plan, some business owners and high income professionals turn to savings and investment vehicles outside of a qualified plan, such insurance products, deferred compensation arrangements, and after-tax retirement accounts. However, that means missing out on the enormous financial benefits of a tax-favored qualified plan, outlined here:

Top 5 Advantages of Cash Balance Plans

1. Reducing the tax burden
Funds contributed to Cash Balance Plans are tax-deductible, and the earnings grow tax-deferred until the money is withdrawn. This benefit is enormous and can have a dramatic impact on savings accumulation. At retirement, or when leaving employment, a Cash Balance account can be rolled over into an IRA. No taxes are due until age 70 ½, at which point only a portion of the money is taxed.

2. Accelerating retirement savings
For business owners and partners who have heavily invested in their businesses and feel behind in retirement goals, Cash Balance plans are a unique opportunity to “catch up” faster than any other option can provide. In as little as 10 years, they can receive contributions up to a lifetime limit of $2.6M, going a very long way toward a sense of retirement security.happy people with money

3. Attracting and retaining top talent
Like all qualified plans, Cash Balance plans require contributions to non-owner employees, a requirement that becomes a key benefit for many firms. Money that would otherwise have gone to the IRS is now enriching both the employer’s and employees’ retirement savings, helping attract, reward and retain talented employees. Professional services firms find Cash Balance Plans a great incentive on both the partner level and employee level.

4. Shelter from creditors
Assets in a Cash Balance Plan are protected from creditors in the event of a bankruptcy or lawsuit. In volatile economic times, preserving profits from both taxes and creditors is increasingly important.

5. Protecting retirement savings from market volatility
Because plan assets are usually invested conservatively for actuarial reasons, Cash Balance accounts have avoided the dramatic fluctuations seen in 401(k) accounts over the past decade. While 401(k) account holders often rely on higher risk strategies to maximize growth, Cash Balance plans grow primarily through high contribution amounts earning interest rates that stay ahead of inflation without taking on major risk.

Learn more about Cash Balance plans and explore options with a complimentary plan design

Cash Balance 101- a simple guide to understanding Cash Balance Plans:
http://cashbalancedesign.com/cbc/documents/CashBalance101.pdf

Complete Contribution Limits Table:
http://cashbalancedesign.com/cbc/documents/ContributionLimitsTable.pdf

Visit www.CashBalanceDesign.com or call 877 CB-Plans to learn more about whether a Cash Balance plan would be a fit for your organization.

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

Dan Kravitz is the president of Kravitz, Inc., one of the nation’s largest independent retirement plan consulting firms. Dan is recognized as a leading national expert on Cash Balance retirement plans and is the author of a popular book on the topic, Beyond the 401(k). He is a frequent speaker at retirement industry conferences and has been interviewed on the topic of Cash Balance plans by many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal. At Kravitz, Dan leads a team of 75 skilled retirement professionals, including 10 actuaries, focusing on innovative plan design and the highest levels of client service. Kravitz manages retirement plans for 1,400 companies across the nation, including more than 500 Cash Balance plans. You can reach him at dkravitz@kravitzinc.com.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.  One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

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.

9 Ways To Attract and Retain Sales & Customer Service People With Personality Testing

By Dana & Ellen Borowka

How do you build up your sales and customer service force in a down economy? The quick answer is don’t be a dodo bird.

While researching our book, Cracking the Personality Code, we examined the essentials of what managers and business owners need to know about hiring and managing sales/customer service people with the help of personality testing.

dodo birdAn interesting sales management guru we discovered along the way is Lee B. Salz. In June 2007, his widely acclaimed book, Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager was published. In it, he deals with one of the biggest problems companies face, the chasm between managers and sales and customer service people.

He uses the metaphor of the dodo to show what happens when one fails to adapt. Those who adapt, thrive. Those who don’t become extinct like the dodo bird of ages ago. Some laugh at the use of the word ‘dodo’, but there is nothing funny about a business losing its competitive edge due to unmanaged change.

To hire the best sales and customer service people and keep them on the team, your sales or customer service manager needs to know what makes them tick. We believe the sales and customer service personality code can be cracked. If that sounds like a bold declaration, consider this: Studies show that personality tests are a far more reliable predictor of performance than interviews and resumes.

A proper test should reach beyond simple profiles and decipher a sales or customer service person’s underlying needs. This is key for employee development, team building, conflict resolution and succession planning. If you want to retain the best, you need to treat them the way they want to be treated.

Below are nine ways to use personality testing in the workplace to attract and retain the right sales and customer service people with personality testing:

1. Get the real picture.

Of course, every sales and customer service candidate wants to put their best foot forward during an interview. However through a personality test, you uncover a great deal aboutartist their ability to work well with other personalities, their problem solving abilities, their thought processes and their ability to tolerate stress. Personality testing gives you objective information that can help you make an informed decision about if this person is a good fit for the job and for the team. If you decided to hire the person, the questions you ask during the hiring process will reduce your learning curve as a manager on how best to manage this person from day one.

2. Help them be all that they can be.

Every sales and customer service person has strengths and weaknesses. Find out the real truth with an objective measure. Once you pinpoint the good and the bad, then you place them in the right position and coach them on where to improve.

3. Take me to your leaders.

Personality testing gives the manager and sales or customer service team a common language about how they like to interact. The assessments can help you train future managers on how to get the best out of the team.

4. Know how to manage difficult people.

Face it, there will always be difficult people and flare ups on the job. Use objective personality assessments to diagnose potential sources of workplace conflict. The best way to deal with a problem is to prevent it in the first place.

5. Get everybody to play nice.

Sales and IT, customer service and marketing, operations and financial people have to interact to make the company run smoothly. Too many employees get frustrated with other co-workers and just wonder why everyone doesn’t act like them. Through the use of personality profiles, managers can coach employees how to interact better with peers.

6. Treat co-workers the way they want to be treated.

In today’s fast-paced world of business, there is little time to get to know many of your co-workers. Using personality assessments as the basis for team building exercises can quickly get everyone to have a healthier respect for other ways of seeing the world.

7. Make managers better leaders.

The days of seat of the pants leadership are over. When sales and customer service managers understand what makes their people tick, then they can be better leaders. Knowing personality traits can help with motivating teams, communicating change and delegating authority.

8. Pick better teams.

Today so much work is done by ad hoc teams that come together for a specific purpose. Before you assemble a sales or customer service team it pays to know the strengths and weaknesses of the team members. Sometimes this can be the difference between a productive team that gets the job done and one that pulls apart at the seams.

9. Set people up for success.

Sometimes we hire the right employee and put them in the wrong job. Understanding preferred work styles and where a person would be happiest goes a long way to improving retention and productivity.

man jumping bldgWhile personality testing can be a valuable resource before you hire sales and customer service people, perhaps the true value of any assessment comes in using the insights it provides along the entire spectrum of employment. Personality assessments lend objectivity to decisions that may otherwise be largely subjective.

Remember, it is not how many great people you hire. The true measure is how many great people you keep! To find out more please email us at reception@lighthouseconsulting.com or call 310-453-6556, ext 403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their 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. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

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.

 

Understanding Executive Coaching

By Steve Zuback

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]P[/dropcaps]icture yourself in your office getting ready for your monthly management team and you are thinking about the team and its members…

– Well… my VP of Sales needs to become a VP. He’s great at sales but can’t seem to manage or lead as the VP. I need to get him to where he needs to be to be effective.
– My CFO is terrific at the technical aspects of the position, but she is damaging the executive team with her attitude.
– What else? I have to decide what to do about the head of facilities. He’s abusive and is creating a lot of turnover. He’s acting like a jerk but we need him and we need him to change his behaviors.
– Overall, I think I have a good team. They’re all very talented, but with all that’s going on in the business, they need to become more aligned and refocused as a team, and more creative on driving the business forward.

Each of the executive team members is an asset to your organization, and yet each needs development to become even more successful in their individual and team roles. What is the best way to support their growth and development, so individually and as a team, they become more effective so the aspirations, goals and objectives of the executive team and organization can be achieved or surpassed?

Best Method to Support Growth

Some organizations attempt to develop executives through attendance in costly and time consuming classes and seminars. This approach often fails because classes and seminars do not allow for discussion of individual issues and concerns. Nor do classes create in-depth individualized learning; nor do they provide the accountability needed to bizkeysensure the full and continuing use of the newly acquired information and skills. This is important because in the “whitewater” of today’s business world, executives, without the reinforcement of a coach, quickly revert to their traditional ways of operating.

Others use internal mentoring programs. These types of programs can be effective if they are well thought out with set criteria for selecting and training of the Mentors, standards are set to define the relationship between Mentor and Mentee, time is allocated for the meetings, the purpose of the mentorship is clearly defined for the Mentor as well as the Mentee and the program is well managed. The company’s culture needs to be one that will support a mentoring program so the Mentor and Mentee can operate effectively as a unit within the context of the organization.

Often some companies hire a management consultant believing the consultant can show and give the executive what she or he needs to do. The consultant assumes the role of expert, providing answers, but usually does not develop or teach the individual executive and/or team.

Finally, more companies are utilizing executive coaching. Executive coaching can be, and I believe is, the most effective modality for ensuring the growth and development, and transformation of an individual executive, team, or business from a financial, learning, and growth perspectives.

What is Executive Coaching?

There’s been a lot of ‘buzz’ about executive coaching. Business Week, Harvard Business Review, Consulting Psychology Journal, the New Yorker and other publications have all published articles about it. CNN has interviewed leading coaches. Notwithstanding all of the printed and other media coverage, there still remains a lack of clarity and understanding about executive coaching. First, lets look at what coaching is; then how is it applied in business to executives and managers.

I believe and define coaching as…a confidential, collaborative, non-linear process of inquiry and exploration that creates self-efficacy with long-term excellent performance, and supports the continued growth and development of an individual or group/team. The Coach and Client, based on trust, respect, and the freedom of non-judgmental communication, mutually design the coaching relationship and shape the process of their meetings.

Given this definition of coaching, then executive coaching can be defined as…engaging coaching with an executive or key contributor in a position of power and responsibility within the organization who is accountable for developing and implementing complex strategic and operational decisions, which have great impact on the organization and the industry within which it operates.

Coaching executives, key contributors and teams involves a significant element of personal exploration. Executive coaching, by its nature, asks the executive to explore and become aware of how she or he thinks, learns, works, connects with others, manages frustration and expectations, and interprets the world. Given this, one may think that executive coaching is the ‘touchy-feely’ side of business; but, in reality, it is a strategic initiative for creating and developing an executive’s or team’s effectiveness and excellence. It induces the executive to look for and consider new perspectives of operation internal and external to the organization. An organization, team or individual cannot expect a different result if new ideas, perspectives, and the methods of operating are neither sought nor tested.

An element of executive coaching which sets it apart from other forms of coaching is the use of a confidential multi-rater (360º) assessment. This tool allows an executive, or team, to get much-needed unadulterated feedback from their superiors, their peers, and subordinates on how she or he operates in the organization as leader and/or manager so effective and rapid transformational change can occur.

How is Executive Coaching Different from Management Consulting?

Executive coaching is unique from business and management consulting. In much of the business and management consulting we see today, the consultant is contracted by the organization to conduct research, or produce a product or piece of work for the organization. The deliverable is developed and handed-over to the client outside, and independent of, the type of relationship between the parties. In most forms of business and management consulting, the relationship is needed between the consultant and the Client to obtain, manage, and keep the business, but not to produce the outcome. However, in executive coaching the relationship, mutually designed by the Coach and the Client, which is based on mutual trust and respect with the non-judgmental freedom of expression between the two, must exist for coaching to take place.

What is the Role of an Executive Coach?

The role of an Executive Coach is to assist the Client to grow, develop, and engage new perspectives without judging her/him or offering external dicta, ideas, systems and solutions on his/her career, or life. He/she assists the Client in moving forward without imposing the Coach’s personal pre-determined specified outcomes. The Coach consciously and actively listens, challenges the Client’s assumptions and current ways of operating in the organization and in the world, asks probing questions, provides new perspectives, ideas and tools for growth, guidance, and gives the Client clear and unambiguous feedback. The purpose of the relationship between Coach and Client interaction is to hold the Client’s attention and focus on the desired outcomes and to assist the Client to plan and to stay clear and in action.

Is Executive Coaching like Therapy or Counseling?

Executive coaching is different from therapy or counseling, though some of the techniques used in cognitive-behavioral therapy are used in executive coaching. In many forms of therapy or counseling, the relationship between therapist and Client is not one of mutual design. Rather, the therapist defines the relationship, which is to heal a diagnosable psychological state. Executive coaching, on the other hand, requires a mutually designed relationship that exists to assist the Client creates and implement actionable plans for self-development and learning as well as professional and personal fulfillment. Coaching can and is be used concurrently with therapy. They are not mutually exclusive modalities.

What is the Executive Coaching Process?

The executive coaching process ordinarily consists of four phases.

Phase 1: Pre-assessment and Contracting
In Phase 1, meetings are held with the appropriate leadership of the organization sponsoring the coaching, the executive-client, and with the executive-client’s manager. The objectives are to clarify the purpose of the coaching, discuss time frames, initial goals and outcomes, define success, review reporting relationships and schedules, establish rapport and build confidence in the process with the sponsor and executive-client, clarify reporting procedures and obtain commitments for participation in the taking of assessments, including a confidential multi-rater (360°) instrument. At this phase of the process, the executive coach and /or the sponsoring organization may decline to work together.

Phase 2: Assessment
In this phase, on an as needed basis, interviews are scheduled between the Coach and the manager, peers and others of the sponsoring organization to understand the culture of the business, as well as its norms, and success factors, in order to construct a complete portrait of the Client or group/team. The Client or group/team participates in the appropriate assessment(s) including the confidential multi-rater (360º) assessment.

Phase 3: Action Planning and Implementation
Here, goals and accountabilities are discussed and milestones are set. Action plans are developed with observable and measurable outcomes. A pre-set meeting schedule is established between the Coach and the Client.

Phase 4: Closure and Follow-up
In Phase 4, the Coach, and the Client, provide a summary of the accomplishments and an evaluation of the process. Also, the Coach identifies the remaining developmental needs, and, if appropriate and desired, identify an internal advisor for the Client or team.

Why and When is Executive Coaching Used?

Usually organizations use executive coaches when: an executive (or team) needs or wants to change methods of operation, when an executive takes on a new role, when the application of newly learned critical skills is vital, when the executive has to become more effective in her/his job and role, develop or enhance leadership, and/or modify existing man watering2problematic behaviors. Moreover, it is used because it is very cost-effective since it provides a highly focused, ‘rifled’, method for the development of an executive, or team who has the most value to add to the organization. Research shows the return to be as high as five times the investment. Coaching creates accountability, is flexible and works with the strengths of the individual so greater results occur faster.

Coaches are used: to assist executives develop new paradigms and perspectives of leadership and management to support the organization in all stages of its life-cycle; when healthy and successful inter-personal relationships are not being built or maintained; when change needs to be better managed and understood; when creativity and innovation is lacking or missing; and when key employees need to be retained and successors need to be prepared for their new role and position.

In addition, CEOs and other senior executives use it to get unadulterated feedback, so they stay at their most optimal level of performance. Executives also use coaching to eliminate what has been called the ‘paradox of leadership.’ The ‘paradox of leadership’ basically states the higher one rises in the organization the less accurate and less honest is the information they are given about their style of leadership or management and their behaviors and capabilities. Executive Coaching, with its multi-rater assessments, gives executives what they and the organization need; more clear, honest, accurate information so they can be more effective and better decisions can be made.

In closing, executive coaching is being used by more and more CEOs, executives, and teams. They see it for what it is: a clear and focused strategic initiative and investment in an executive’s, team’s, and organization’s strategic growth and development. It is a way to excellence.

Checklist for Selecting an Executive Coach

Like any other professions, not all coaches are equal. Since executive coaching is a meaningful investment in the time and money of the organization and the executive-client, I suggest the sponsoring organization and executive-client look for the following in selecting an Executive Coach. Each is as important as the other so the list is not in a priority order.

♦ Training and development as a Coach: Executive coaching are is very demanding mentally and physically and requires the acquisition of a body of knowledge, sets of skills and techniques, and experience in applying them. It is important to look for someone who has at least completed work with a reputable school of Coaching that has a star gazinghistory of excellence and hand-on practicum.
♦ Coaching principles: The Coach can articulate his/her coaching process and the underlying principles and philosophies that govern the coaching. Ascertain if the prospective coach works exclusively as an executive and business coach or as a consultant; and determine how and when these different modalities will be used.
♦ Knowledge: The Coach needs to have excellent knowledge in the use and interpretation of various personal, multi-rater, and behavioral assessments. In addition, she or he should be learned in personal growth, change and transition, adult development and learning, group/team behavior and dynamics, leadership, and organizational processes and systems. A Coach works with a Client in the context of her/his work, the organization, and other life systems within which she or he operates.
♦ Referrals: Most experienced Coaches have and work through referrals. Ask for former clients and call them.
 Wisdom: This doesn’t mean that the Coach need be a content expert. Rather, a Coach has to be learned and have wisdom. S/he needs to have excellent hands-on knowledge and experience in business and understand how it operates; leadership; management; applicable theories and models; assessments; as well as the life and experience needed to help the Client create and navigate her/his own path of learning and development in the work/life context.
♦ A Coach is a life-long learner. The coach needs to be on his own path of learning and development.

I have not mentioned certification as a coach as a critical and relevant factor in selecting an Executive Coach. This is so because, I believe, with the multiplicity of existing coach certifying bodies (at least 6 that I can think of) and schools of differing training methods and philosophy (at least 7+) one can find it difficult to readily discern which certification is most relevant and credible, and which coach training school is significant and meaningful. Therefore, I tend discount certification as a key determiner for coach selection.

In addition, many companies that sponsor executive coaching, and the company executive/client who will be working with a coach, usually and misguidedly, believe it is most important to have the client like the coach. I suggest this be rethought. Most executive coaches agree that a Client doesn’t have to first like the Coach. Rather the Client needs to first trust, respect, and feel safe enough with the Coach to freely express him/herself without being judged. When that happens, then ‘liking’ the Coach usually follows.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 

Steve is President of zubackcrc an international executive and business coaching practice that provides executive and business coaching to CEOs, Presidents, entrepreneurs, business owners, senior executives and executive leadership teams on leadership, executive development, executive effectiveness and succession/career management. Steve effectively coaches CEOs and COOs, CFOs, senior executives, including sales and marketing executives, engineers, legal counsel, and teams on, growth and executive development challenges, role effectiveness, executive development, business/strategic plan development, leadership, succession, M&A, and organizational alignment. Steve’s progressive and diverse experience includes work with companies on cultural integration, corporate re-structuring, leadership and executive development, intra-preneurship, entrepreneurship, organizational development, employee and management development, executive coaching, executive selection and placement, as well as labor-management relations. For more information, you can contact Steve at 661•253•0286 or by email, steve@zubackcrc.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” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

It’s Time To Take A Fresh Look At How Things Are Being Done!

By Dana Borowka, MA

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]M[/dropcaps]ost organizations are taking a very careful look at how things are being done in their companies – from processes to staff. The ideas shared in this article provide proactive ideas to consider and implement before making any changes. If you choose to create more efficiencies, cut out a program, upgrade or add staff make sure you know the why’s before implementing any plan. Without clarity, the odds are that you will be creating more issues than solutions. It is crucial that all staff members, ranging from the receptionist to mailroom to management positions, are contributors to help create better productivity and profitability. Ideas are the crown jewels and we need to create an environment that will allow your people to share openly.

The first step is to ask for help and input from everyone. Most people want to help but many times no one asks them. This is the time to rally your staff and begin to collaborate and Listeninggather ideas in the following areas:

•  Improving efficiency
•  Marketing and sales
•  Opportunities for acquisitions
•  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 will need to be very selective as to who you’ll want on your team. Managing down 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.

What’s The Cost For Not Having Fresh Ideas?

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. The restaurant 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 – Selection of Top Performers & Managing for Profitability

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.rocket lady
  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 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.

Are Your Managers Managing for Success? – Check out this Story!

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 business time frame 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 MC900297401[1]do a 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. © 2014

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”. 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.

Are You Making the Most Out of this Business Time Frame?

By Dana Borowka, MA

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]M[/dropcaps]ost individuals and organizations are very concerned over the short term business outlook. 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
• Marketing and sales
• Opportunities for acquisitions
• 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 Boxperson on a box

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. The restaurant 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 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 business time frame 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 sunrisethe 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 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. © 2014 

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.