Time to Develop a Remote Workforce Strategy

By Patty Crabtree & Dana Borowka

Our work environment is evolving. Despite concerns about employee productivity, data on the American workforce indicates that the remote worker trend is picking up steam. Is it time for your business to embrace a remote workforce?

U.S. businesses are doing the math, and the math says the remote-worker option is a great opportunity for workers and employers.

Allowing employees to work from remote locations means a company can expand its talent pool from beyond its local geography. According to university/industry research viewed by Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, if the right person is selected his or her work production has the potential to increase by 30% to 300%. Obviously, hiring better workers that work remotely can result in increased productivity and client satisfaction.

For example, a Chinese travel agency saw productivity increase by 13%, and the US Patent & Trade Office (USPTO) reported that output increased by 4.4% when it transitioned to a remote worker program.

Sure, there are some who still are skeptical. In an August 2019 article in the Harvard Business Review (“Is it time to let employees work from anywhere?”), three professors raised the following concerns despite the remote worker movement growing in popularity:
In our experience…managers often worry about remote employees working less, or multitasking, mixing personal responsibilities with work. There are also concerns that allowing employees to work from anywhere could decrease communication and collaboration among coworkers and might constrain the informal learning that typically happens in the office.

However, the professors’ research demonstrated the advantages of a work from anywhere (WFA) program. “A key takeaway from our research is that if a work setting is ripe for remote work – that is, if the employee knows how to collaborate remotely and still do their job well – implementing WFA can benefit both the company and the employee.”

With effective productivity measurements in place, it does not matter if the employee is in front of you or not. Success comes down to ensuring effective communication, training and focusing on evolving your tools to support the remote workforce.

“Data indicates that the remote-work trend in the U.S. labor force is inexorable, aided by ever-better tools for getting work done anywhere,” according to Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal.

“Surveys done by Gallup indicate that in 2016, the proportion of Americans who did some or all of their work from home was 43%, up from 39% in 2012,” cites Mims in his June 2017 article titled “Why Remote Work Can’t Be Stopped.”

Points to Consider

Remote worker programs must be done right if you are to garner productivity gains and increase employee retention. As someone who has implemented these programs and now helps clients at Lighthouse Consulting transition to these programs, here are several points to consider:

Recruiting: Many companies struggle finding the right candidates for their organization. Having a small radius to find the right talent can add to these challenges. Opening up the geographic area for recruiting, creates a whole new talent pool. Recruit across the entire nation or target specific areas in the country where more candidates with certain talents may be found. Keep in mind, some states have tougher labor laws so research on the laws for each state is needed as you find candidates.

Interviewing: Interviewing can be done via video conferencing. If face to face is preferred, bring the final candidate to your office. It is important to have a strong hiring process that helps you identify candidates that fit the needs of the position and culture of your organization. This screening process is critical even if you are not hiring remote staff. Knowing your culture and how an employee will blend into the work environment is an important element of successful hiring.

Onboarding: A successful onboarding process ensures your new employee understands both the culture of the organization and their specific role. It is an opportunity to team build and to begin the process in developing strong working relationships with their new colleagues. Many companies will bring the remote candidate in for a period of time for the initial training and orientation. This gives the individual a chance to “get a feel” for the company’s dynamics in person along with making some face to face connections. Other companies will utilize video conferencing to manage the onboarding process along with activities to connect the new employee and other staff members. While learning their role and being productive are important out the gate, it is also essential to invest time in sharing your culture and building working relationships with colleagues. This helps the employee feel valued by the organization as they start in their new role.

Managing: Managers need training on how to successfully engage a remote workforce along with understanding the nuances of managing both office-based and remote staff in an equal way. It takes practice and discipline to ensure a manager is giving the same attention to remote staff as they would an individual that is 20 feet away from them. Policies such as “How often should the manager reach out to touch base?” “How do managers chair group meetings and engage remote workers in the conversation? “ and “What expectations should a manager set for participation of remote staff?” should be worked out before implementing a remote worker program.

One company required that all meetings be done via video conferencing including 1-to-1 meetings. Some staff members may be resistant to being on the camera though making this mandatory to participating in the remote worker program can help emphasize the importance of this connection. Reminding the employee that you see more of them in person than when they are on camera may help ease any anxiety.

Culture: A strong company culture is needed to ensure everyone is approaching servicing your clients and working together in the same manner. As you roll out a WFA program, one will need to review the organization’s values and consider how working remotely would impact them. Is collaboration important to you? Then, what tools would be needed to ensure successful collaboration continues? Is passion one of your values? If so, how would communication need to evolve to engage that passion when staff are in different locations?

Technology: Data security is the number one concern when it comes to technology. How should our servers be set up? What protocols should we use so remote workers can securely connect to our network? What equipment should a remote worker use? What about encryption? If we allow use of personal home computers, what are the risks? What about printing? How will phone access be handled? There are multiple solutions on the market today to support the technology needs of a remote workforce which makes it easier to implement this type of program.

Team Meetings: Team meetings continue as usual. Using video conferencing helps keep the group connected. The chair will need to keep in mind any delays from the video conferencing system (usually 1-2 seconds) to ensure people have a chance to share. There are a few approaches to support this type of environment. If an interactive process is warranted, the chair can ask each person directly for their feedback giving a “protected” space to speak. If this approach doesn’t work, the chair can pause and ask the remote staff if they have any feedback. The important element is to give the group chance to participate and a safe environment to speak up.

The Benefits of a Remote Workforce

Productivity will increase, staff will have a better work-life balance and they may be less stressed (not upset about being cut off on the way to work, or anxious over traffic making them late). You can reduce the footprint of your office space saving money, reduce the environmental impact of having all those cars on the road, expand your candidate pool of qualified candidates, build a stronger employee focused reputation, and open up employee referrals for potential candidates. Happier employees equal happier clients, retention of key staff members, and the potential for increased profitability.

Here is the Bottom Line

Employees need to be trained on how to transition into a remote worker environment and the expectations of their participation in the program. Managers need to understand the dynamics of supporting remote workers and the organization needs to ensure the proper tools and policies are in place for a successful work from anywhere program. In today’s world, a work from anywhere program is a viable solution for companies.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC, has a consulting arm available to help with remote workforce programs. We can assist with recruiting and interviewing ideas, onboarding, managing, culture, technology, and supervision strategies such as team meetings and virtual collaboration. These can be parlayed with the other offerings from Lighthouse Consulting Services such as talent development, in-depth work style & personality assessments, skills testing and team building.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with over 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience as well as successfully leading and growing teams.  She was instrumental in the development of an operations infrastructure that resulted in consistent increased profits and employee engagement. Patty has also effectively navigated the challenges of change management in the ever-changing business world.

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 business”. 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, Santa Monica, CA, (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.

Is it Safe to Hire 1099 Contractors Anymore?

By Lauraine Bifulco of Vantaggio HR

Independent contractors or employees? It’s not a new question. We’ve all been grappling with it for years, but why does the issue keep circling back around, and dare I say, keep getting more complicated? How do we avoid a legal minefield?

People are divided on the subject. “Yes, I’m positive my design consultant is an independent contractor.” “No, that office manager of yours really needs to be on payroll as an employee.” We can’t seem to agree. Why is that?

Well, it’s not that as intelligent business people, we can’t apply a set of rules to a situation and determine the right answer. If there were a standard, we’d all probably be able to figure it out and agree. But that’s the problem, there simply isn’t one, easy set of rules – until maybe now, with the increasing use across the country of ABC tests to make the determination. Hawaii, for example, has long used the ABC test for determining employee status ‐ as do 16 other states. And now California has jumped on the bandwagon after their state supreme court decided earlier this year that they could not be outdone by Massachusetts who had been known for having the most stringent test in the country! And while these ABC tests aren’t necessarily good news for employers, they are at least typically more clear than the tests used in other jurisdictions and by other agencies.

Let’s go back and see how we got here. As a reminder, it’s unfortunately not up to the worker and the hiring company to determine the best model for working together. There is a common misconception that you can just “1099” the worker and be safe treating him/her as an independent contractor. While filing a 1099 to report income paid to the person can help reduce your penalties with the IRS should it be determined that the person was misclassified, the act of submitting a 1099 does not in and of itself establish independent contractor status. Almost everyone has heard of the IRS’s 20 factor test, which was boiled down in 2007 to an 11‐factor test focusing on 3 main areas. The IRS examines the behavioral and financial arrangement between the worker and the hiring company as well as the nature of their relationship. This type of test, called a “common law test” walks you through a series of questions helping to identify if the worker in practice is functioning independently or not. Unfortunately, oftentimes even after applying the multiple questions, the answer is a little murky and could honestly swing either way.

Other agencies, like the federal DOL, use a different methodology called the “economic realities test.” Like the common law test, there are a series of questions that one poses about the worker and the hiring entity aimed at determining if the worker is truly independent from an economic perspective from the hiring entity. Is this person truly, from a financial perspective operating an independent business?

The challenge with both the common law test and the economic realities test, is that there is no true “pass/fail.” For example, with the IRS’s 11 factor test, you are not guaranteed independent status if you answer 6 out of the 11 questions correctly. The different factors are given varying weights depending upon the exact terms and conditions of a particular worker’s relationship with the hiring company. And unfortunately, clarity is sometimes not reached until years after the relationship is established when there is a complaint or lawsuit and then a final ruling. Employers have been left guessing and hoping that their independent contractors are classified correctly.

Until now. ABC tests utilize a streamlined, 3‐prong approach whereby the hiring entity has to establish that all 3 of the factors of the test are met. If either A, B, or C cannot be established, the analysis is over – your worker is an employee and not an independent contractor.

Here’s how ABC tests typically work:

A worker is legally presumed to be an employee, unless:

A. The worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring company in connection with the performance of the work;

AND

B. The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business (AND/OR outside of the hiring entity’s regular place of business);

AND

C. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business.

While factors A (the worker needs to be free from control of the hiring company) and C (the worker needs to truly be engaged in running his/her own business) have been part and parcel of just about all the other types of tests used, factor B is frequently the most difficult hurdle to overcome for an employer wanting to treat someone as an independent contractor. Note the “AND/OR” in the description above. Some jurisdictions allow for the “OR” (such as Hawaii), meaning that if you manufacture and sell surfboards, you can still hire someone as an independent contractor if he/she meets prongs A and C, as long as the worker manufactures those surfboards for you at his/her own business location. Some jurisdictions don’t give you that option. Now in CA for example, there is no “AND/OR” – if the person makes surfboards for you, no matter where the work is done, you fail prong B of the test. Period. Game over. Unless the worker is being utilized to provide some type of service that is not the hiring company’s core business, the person will be considered an employee.

Keep in mind that while these ABC tests are becoming more and more common, many agencies may still continue to use their existing criteria. And to make matters even more complicated for us employers, within a specific state, different agencies use different tests. How a worker is classified by state labor commissioner for purposes of overtime, minimum wage, and other employment law protections may well differ from how a determination would be made regarding eligibility for unemployment benefits or coverage by workers’ compensation. Does this make your head hurt yet? It does mine.

This is an area to keep your eye on. It is entirely possible that other agencies will also adopt the ABC standard. Recently, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would incorporate California’s new version of the ABC test into the federal rules for determining independent contractor status under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). We are clearly experiencing a trend.

But for now, we are left with different tests being used by different agencies and the challenge it’s not possible to treat someone as an independent contractor for some purposes while an employee for others. When deciding if someone is going to be on payroll or not, we have no choice but to apply the most stringent test that could come into play. And for many of us, it’s the ABC test.

Understanding the thought process behind these rules is helpful. The basic premise it to not have workers deprived of benefits to which they would be entitled if classified as employees. Further, if we allow some companies to save money by avoiding payroll taxes, workers’ compensation, and other mandated benefits and protections, we set the scene for unfair competition in the marketplace.

What is at odds with this trend towards restricting the legal classification of independent contractors, is the evolving “gig” economy. More and more individuals are getting involved with companies such as Uber, Lyft, Grub Hub, and a host of other online, on‐demand service entities that allow people to pretty much decide how much they want to work and when. If these ABC tests are increasingly going to be applied, gig companies are going to have a very hard time continuing to employ workers as independent contractors. And the lawsuits are rolling in. The CA Supreme court ruling made an interesting point. They acknowledged that there is often greater freedom for workers to be treated as independent contractors but stated that “if a business concludes that it improves the morale and/or productivity of a category of workers to afford them the freedom to set their own hours or to accept or decline a particular assignment, the business may do so while still treating the workers as employees for purposes of the wage order.” Point well taken by all of us inside or outside of California.

So where does this leave us? As the landscape continues to evolve, we urge employers to proceed conservatively. Know the exact nuances of the tests in your jurisdictions, get professional help if needed to make a sound determination, audit yourself before someone else does, and keep your eyes open for changes. The gig economy isn’t going away anytime soon, but neither are the ABC tests.

The information presented in this article is intended to be accurate and authoritative information on the subject matter at the time submitted for publication. It is distributed with the understanding that Vantaggio HR is not rendering legal advice and assumes no liability whatsoever in connection with its use. Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article.
Copyright © 2020

Lauraine Bifulco is President and Principal Consultant of Vantaggio HR, a human resource outsourcing and consulting firm that works with companies of all sizes across all industries, offering services on a fully outsourced or project basis: On-Site HR * Payroll Admin * Workplace Complaints & Terminations * Multi-State Audits & Handbooks. 1-877-VHR-relx (1-877-847-7359) info@VantaggioHR.com

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

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

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

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

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

Overcoming Fear to Grow

By Paul David Walker, CEO of Genius Stone Partners

Each insight is a flash of seeing into the true nature of things, and leads to another, providing you act on the first; if you don’t, the spark dies, and an opportunity is missed. Being in “the zone,” simply described, is one insight after another acted upon in the flow of cause and effect. It is like dancing in perfect harmony with a band. Dancing to the rhythm and flow of the moment brings out our soul’s calling and our natural genius, both of which have yearned to be expressed most of our lives.

As insight expands it can create momentum and turn into a compelling vortex that draws energy like a giant storm draws air. There is an attraction that brings in all manner of opportunities as people, near and far, see a familiar intent and join an energy field that feels like their tribe; like going home again.

The key to creating a chain response of insights is our ability to act in the moment before the flash of insight fades. A professional athlete has the muscle memory from years of practice in a given sport to respond in this manner. But can business teams do the same? Why not? Most have years of experience in their business. It is a matter of practicing the art of connecting insight to action as a basketball player responding during the flow of the game. A team of athletes has to practice so that when opportunity presents itself, it is ready to act as a team in a fast break. Likewise a business team needs to do the same. This is the kind of team that wins.

Fight or Flight Syndrome

On the other hand, when we are fearful, we move into “Fight or Flight.” This will be engaged when we are attacked on the street as well as when we feel threatened in a conversation. Our ego does not seem to know the difference. Any threat throws us into this syndrome automatically. It is a primal instinct that as been very useful to our survival ever since we lived in tribes.

What happens when we are in “fight or flight” is our blood runs from our internal organs to our arms and legs to give us power to run or fight. Additionally, our consciousness narrows to focus on the threat. So instead of being in “the zone,” as described above, the opposite occurs. Tribal warfare erupts and the wisdom of the team is lost.

As they are often threatened, police officers train at least twice a month on the firing range and in other ways mainly because of this syndrome. Given this primal instinct they and their weapons become dangerous. They have to work hard to overcome this primal instinct, to enforce the law in a constitutional manner. The people who live in underprivileged inner cities who are often exposed to random violence find themselves
in “fight or flight” constantly.

Experts have tested children as young 7 years old and find they suffer from PTSD. Police officers trying to enforce the law, in neighborhoods full of people who are hyper-vigilant easily snap into fight or flight, is a deadly combination. How productive would your team be if they were exposed to constant threat?

Insight Drives Results

An insight is a combination of two or more ideas merging to create a reality previously unknown, vs. two or more personal realities needing to be right while being fearful. One has an expansive, curious, and inclusive feeling. The observer and the observed becoming one to uncover new realities, paths, and understandings. Fear creates just the opposite effect.

Fight or flight combined with another primal instinct the “need to be right,” can create “tribal warfare” with your company or team. Imagine a team of people who feel threatened and have a deep need to be right trying to solve business problems together. Only with practice do we learn to manage our primal instincts, but do not underestimate the tricks our egos can play on us.

Stimulate Insight And Action, Not Fights

Leaders have to work to inspire people to exceed their own expectations without putting members of the team into fight or flight. A company only grows as fast as those leading the company. Great teams question the status quo, and collaborate to understand new realities, then act on solutions that lead to manifestation. Yet most people feel threatened by change, so it is imperative that leaders manage the state of mind of themselves and the team. One of the CEO’s I work with, Celso Pierre of Goodridge Americas, developed the following values for his team to facilitate growth.

We Work Together To …

• Bring a sense of possibility beyond the status quo
• Examine possibilities until solutions emerge
• Align our intentions to drive solutions

As this example illustrates, a clear and compelling picture of the desired state is important. It is an aspirational statement that provides an understanding and a draw towards the ideal. A picture of a common goal creates insight as we succeed or fail that is self-correcting in a positive manner. Insights that uncover hidden realities that are successfully acted upon create engagement. The purpose is for you and/or your team, as observer of the ideal, to become one with it, then create a new ideal. Since a leader must confront old ideas to grow, this takes practice and skill.

The assumption that fuels insight is understanding that there is no limit to what we can create together. As an individual, I find that if I capture insights as they occur, not letting them fade, and take action, even deeper insights emerge. To facilitate this I always have my journal at hand to capture, understand and expand insights before the clarity fades. I allow time in my schedule to reflect.

So when I work with a team I set a safe context to avoid fight or flight, while asking people to reflect on new ideas before acting. Likewise a team should have time as individuals to reflect in a safe environment with the purpose of discovering “possibility beyond the status quo.” Business leaders who make this a priority tend to lead their sectors.

The Habit of Reflection

After a success it is easy for us to fall back into old patterns and primal behaviors, as individuals and teams. So it is important that personal, professional and business growth is the default setting. Insight into the true nature of things followed by action invents futures that provide strategic advantage. To win consistently we have to teach each other, and those that follow us, how to create a state of mind around insight that is similar to athletes “in the zone.” Each time I learn something my state of mind is lifted and I become committed to new levels of action. The same is true with teams. When creating insight is a natural habit, higher states of mind will drive intent and performance at all levels.

Paul David Walker, CEO & Founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include Star Kist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century.  You can reach Paul at pauldavidwalker@geniusstone.com or call him at 562-233-7861.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

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

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

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

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

 

Why You Need to Take Choosing Assessments Seriously

By Dana Borowka

Today there are approximately 2,500 personality tests on the market. So how do you decide which one to use?

On the upside, the testing procedure that a company follows can send a message to candidates that the company leaders are serious about who they hire. Successful people want to work with other successful people. In many cases, the candidate may accept a position from the organization they perceive to be more thoughtful during the hiring process.

On the downside, an organization risks lawsuits if it fails to do proper due diligence in assessment selection. That’s because there are a multitude of assessments available out there and the industry is totally unregulated.

Any company providing a personality assessment needs to address the number of scales they are using. A primary scale represents a personality trait. The more scales, the clearer the picture of the individual’s personality. We recommend having a minimum of a dozen scales.

“This is a topic that’s been researched to death by the field of industrial and organizational psychology,” said Peter Cappelli, a management professor from Wharton University who Ellen Borowka and I quoted in our third book, Cracking the High-Performance Team Code. “It’s kind of mind boggling that they would undertake such huge investments and not pay attention to what we know about how to pick out the people who are going to be the best.”

The Origin of Assessments

To understand how to choose from the plethora of personality tests, it is helpful to understand the origins of these instruments.

As early as 2,200 BCE the Chinese used oral examinations to hire and retain civil servants. In 460 BCE the Greek physician Hippocrates developed the first know personality model. At the turn of the 20th century advancements in understanding personality were made by Sigmund Freud, Karl Jung and Wilhelm Wundt.

But for me the real founding father was Raymond Cattell, an Englishman turned Harvard professor.

Cattell was born in a small town in England in 1905 and raised in Devon, where he spent his time sailing and experimenting with science. He received a scholarship to the University of London, where he studied chemistry and physics as an undergraduate.

Fascinated by the cultural effects of World War I, Cattell and grew increasingly interested in psychology. He changed his major and graduated from the University of London with a PhD in psychology in 1929.

Cattell was offered a teaching position at Columbia University in 1937 and moved to the United States. Cattell later joined the faculty at Harvard University at the invitation of Gordon Allport.

During World War II Cattell devised psychological tests for the military. After the war he accepted a research professorship at the University of Illinois where they were developing the first electronic computer, the Illiac I, which would make it possible for the first time to do large-scale factor analyses of his personality testing theories.

Cattell used an IBM sorter and the brand-new Illiac computer to perform factor analysis on 4,500 personality-related words. The result was a test to measure intelligence and to assess personality traits known as the Sixteen Personality Factor questionnaire (16PF).

First published in 1949, the 16PF profiles individuals using 16 different personality traits.

Cattell’s research proved that while most people have surface personality traits that can be easily observed, we also have source traits that can be discovered only by the statistical processes of factor analysis.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Testing

In 1963 W.T. Norman verified Cattell’s work but felt that only five factors really shape personality: extraversion, independence, self-control, anxiety and tough-mindedness. Dubbed the “Big Five” approach, this has become the basis of many of the modern personality tests on the market today. There have been hundreds and hundreds of studies validating the approach.

The five decades of research findings has served as the framework for constructing a number of derivative personality inventories. This is a topic that’s been researched extensively by the field of industrial and organizational psychology. Some clear dictates of what to do and what not to do have emerged.

Here are some testing do’s and don’ts when it comes to shortcuts:

The Do’s:

• Do use in-depth work style and personality assessments
• Do look for red flags in the results concerning behavioral issues
• Do use testing to identify how team members are likely to interact
• Do use testing to ensure you have the right people in the right positions
• Do use a trained professional to review the testing results with you
• Do make sure the testing company has a copy of the candidate’s resume and job description
• Do make sure that the testing company provides a feedback session with each profile

The Don’ts:

• Don’t use a basic personality screening that takes 20 minutes or less
• Don’t skip a phone interview
• Don’t try to shorten multiple face-to-face interviews
• Don’t skip background and reference checks, and never skip financial background checks when appropriate for the position
• Don’t skip giving someone homework during the interviewing process
• Don’t use a testing company that states in there narrative “hire or don’t” hire” — there are many factors that go into the hiring process and that is a misuse of data.

Managing a Better Way

Better assessments mean better management results too. Personality tests not only help when hiring, they just might be a manager’s best tool to connect with employees.

You can manage the hard way or the easy way, the choice is up to you. The hard way is to be the “my way or the highway” type of boss. You know the kind, always forcing workers to do things in a way that isn’t natural for them. Wouldn’t it be better to use your understanding of personality traits to tap into the natural flow, so you can get the best out of your people? Of course, knowing your employees, understanding their concerns, and developing connected relationships with them should be the normal procedure for all managers.

What is the payoff to a manager for developing connected relationships with employees using personality assessments? Here are three good benefits. First, it enables the manager to better anticipate what roadblocks might occur with a worker, and what to try to reduce this resistance. Second, understanding where employees are coming from will help you plan out how much participation you need from them, and will give some clues as to how change should be communicated to them. Third, building connected relationships builds commitment and loyalty.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

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, Santa Monica, CA, (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.

Hire Right The First Time, Part 2

By Dana Borowka

Is your company still hiring employees using the same process it did five years ago? Think carefully about the question for a moment. Is the company recruiting, screening, interviewing, and verifying using the same techniques and procedures as in the past?

Next question. Do you wonder why so many of your new hires don’t remain in their jobs over six months, or why other companies seem to attract and keep solid employees, but not your company?

It is time for every company to re-examine their hiring practices, or risk falling behind in the race to win great talent.

In Part One (see Hire Right the First Time (http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/hire-right-first-time/) . . . February 27, 2019) I explored the new rules of recruitment and the necessity of in-depth workstyle and personality assessments.

In this, Part Two, I look at interviewing, background checks, and skills testing. Combined, these practices must form the pillars of a modern-day hiring procedure for companies and organizations of all sizes.

1. Recruitment
2. Interviewing
3. Background Checks
4. In-depth Assessments of Skills and Work Style

Why Change the Hiring Procedure?

In Part One I opened by stating that a wrong hiring decision costs a company 2-3 times the employee’s annual salary. That hurts no matter if it’s an entry-level position or a top executive. Cost is reason enough to change how talent is recruited and hired. But, there’s even more justification for change.

The success of the entire organization is at stake. A company is only as good as the combined ability of its employees to meet customer expectations and outperform the competition. Good employees matter, but therein lies the problem.

Good employees are rare today no matter the industry. (For simplicity sake let’s define “good” as those people with the right skills and right work style personality to perform their given duties with excellence over time). The demand for good employees is higher than ever. The supply is lower than ever. A company has to work differently today to find prospective employees and then identify the “good” ones – those that have the right work style personality and skills to do the job well within the company’s culture.

A Recruiter’s Advice

One area for improvement is how we find and recruit prospective employees. I mentioned in Part One some considerations for a modern-day recruitment effort. To this I’ll add a note about using an executive search firm. Companies frequently make two mistakes in this area. According to Barry Deutsch, Founder of Impact Hiring Solutions (http://www.impacthiringsolutions.com/) and co-author of “You’re Not the Person I Hired”, companies too often use search firms before they must, and they tend to hire a recruiter based only on industry focus.

“Working your network to seek referrals is the absolute first place a company should look when attempting to find candidates for a key role in the company,” Deutsch advises. “Only after shaking the trees should you consider investing in an executive search firm.”

Once a decision is made to use a recruiter, avoid the temptation to think that only those with prior experience in your field can be successful. As Deutsch explains, “Just because a recruiter spent years as an electrical engineering manager, doesn’t mean they’ll be able to bring you the best engineering candidates.” Having a network within a specialty or industry is helpful, but just knowing who to call isn’t the biggest value a recruiter brings to the table. “Effective recruiters earn their fees by being adept at convincing people who already have a good job to consider leaving it for another better opportunity,” Deutsch said. “Ninety percent of managerial and executive positions are filled by people who were already employed and not actively thinking about making a switch.”

Learn the Right Way to Interview

The interview process in most companies is woefully ineffective, according to Deutsch, and is largely to blame for poor hiring decisions. “Companies aren’t investing enough time in preparing for the interview,” he said. He advises his clients to first set the right expectations for the job and make everyone involved in the interview aware of the job’s expectations. “This goes hand in hand with a detailed job description. What is the position expected to know and to accomplish, and by when?”

Once the expectations are documented, map a list of questions to those expectations. “Stop asking the standard, stupid 20 questions. Get strategic with your questions so you receive pointed, meaningful answers,” Deutsch advises. “If you do this important step, you will move closer to hiring the best candidate not the candidate who interviews best.”

Validate Resume and Interview Answers

The next steps in the hiring process will be new to many companies, but a mandatory addition if the organization hopes to achieve a higher level of hiring success. The steps involve Background Checks, Skill Testing, and In-Depth Work Style and Personality Testing.

An article in Inc. Magazine quoted a HireRight 2017 employment screening benchmark report that claimed 85% of employers caught applicants fibbing on their resumes. According to Gordon Basichis, Co-Founder of Corra Group (http://www.corragroup.com/), criminal record and education deception are the most common “surprises” uncovered by Background Checks. The potential hidden liability for the employer is obvious.

Basichis explains that the most common mistake by employers is not going far enough with a background check simply because they are not aware of the types of background checks and in which cases they should be conducted.

1. Employment verification. A leading point of inconsistency.
2. Education verification. Another area of high discrepancy.
3. Social Security Trace. Traces where someone has lived the past seven years.
4. County Civil and Criminal Records. These tend to be the most accurate, but it’s important to know where the candidate has lived so all the counties can be searched.
5. Federal Criminal and Federal Civil Records. Typically, these checks are for employees involved with government contracts, financial positions, or high-level executives.
6. Terror Watch List.

Basichis urges companies to follow the advice of an HR specialist and employment attorney when setting policies for background checks. There are numerous regulations and guidelines at the Federal, State and City levels which must be followed regarding how Background Checks can be conducted and used in the hiring process.

Okay, the candidate aced the well-prepared interview questions, passed the background check with flying colors. Do you extend an offer? Not so fast.

Verifying Skills

The candidate may have said all the right things, but do they really have the skills required for the job? Testing is the only way to verify if the person can do the job as expected. Fortunately, online skills tests exist for hundreds of common jobs from Accounting to Manufacturing to Software Programming.

There simply isn’t an excuse today for hiring someone ill-suited for a job. Candidates can be given a 15-30 minute online skills test in your office and the results are known immediately.

Last year Lighthouse Consulting began offering its clients a catalog of some 200 Skills Tests (http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/talent-development/skills-testing/) in 16 job categories. These pay-on-demand tests cost $22.50 to $100 – a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of training or re-hiring.

Identifying the Work Style Personality

Great, the skills test was successful, the background checked out, and the interview questions were answered to your satisfaction. NOW can you make the offer? Better not. You may know a lot about this candidate, but you don’t know how they work, or how they work with others. That’s where in-depth workstyle and personality assessments (http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/assessment-tests/) play an invaluable role in hiring, promoting and team formation.

I went into detail about in-depth work style and personality assessments in Part One (http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/hire-right-first-time/) of this article, so I’ll recap the key point here. If you aren’t conducting this type of assessment, start doing so immediately. If you are using a tool with only four primary scales (5-10 minute assessment) it might work as a very basic screener but is too superficial to reveal insightful behavioral information about the candidate. In fact, some companies have learned to not even bother with these simplistic profiles. They prefer to give final candidates an in-depth assessment (minimum 164 questions).

As a manager you know all too well the importance of knowing an employee’s work style and how they will interact (or not) with others. Only in-depth assessments based on 16 levels (we call them “scales”) gives you a true picture of the individual on which a hiring decision can be based.

The Pillars of Hiring Success

In conclusion, the structure for achieving hiring success at 80% or better consists of four pillars.

1. Recruitment
2. Interviewing
3. Background Checks
4. Work Style Personality and Skill Assessments

LCS and our partners stand ready to quickly help you put into place the training, tools, and procedures necessary to build a highly effective and competitive organization through better hiring. Reach out to me any time to get started. danab@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

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, Santa Monica, CA, (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.

Should Skills Testing be a Standard Operating Procedure for Hiring?

By Dana Borowka, MA

I’ve noticed an interesting trend that I want to share with you. In the past 12 months we’ve been receiving a lot more questions about pre-employment skills testing. We’ve taken notice. Something has shifted. Companies that had never before considered using skills testing in their hiring process, now ‘suddenly’ had an interest in learning more. Other companies that had used skills testing only sparingly were exploring what additional tests were available.

Yes, something was up alright. As I talked with these companies the reason behind their intensified interest in skills testing became clear.

Elephant in the room by David Blackwell

The Elephant in the Room

Every company I spoke to was having an exceedingly difficult time hiring people that had the right skills for the job, no matter what the job. The elephant in the room during these discussions was that companies were getting burned time and time again. The cost of the hiring mistakes was escalating. Too many candidates who went through the screening and hiring process failed to perform up to expectations once on the job.

Anecdotally, I knew this was a big problem. Employers can’t be 100% certain that a candidate has the right skills based on resume, references, and interviews. Even in-depth work style and personality assessments, like we do for our clients, aren’t designed to verify job skills. I wondered just how big a problem it is. I did some research.

The Department of Labor estimates the cost of a bad hire is equal to at least 30% of first year salary. “Wow”, I said to myself, doing some quick math in my head. Hire a $30,000 bookkeeper that doesn’t have the right bookkeeping skills, and there’s a $9,000 hit to the bottom line. Hire a $50,000 PC administrator without the right technical skills, write off another $15,000.

These numbers got me to think about what contributes to the high costs.

1. Lost time and productivity of the people involved in the hiring process
2. The new employee’s mistakes often have hard costs associated with them – poor service or product quality for example
3. The productivity of the new hire is well-below expectations
4. The possible negative impact on customers and your brand image
5. Training the new hire to achieve a skill-level they should have had in the first place
6. Replacing the employee

As managers we know the hassle and frustration attached to hiring someone without the right skills. What’s more, there are considerable hard and soft costs associated, too, as the list above shows and the Department of Labor statistics prove.

Is Skills Testing the Panacea for Hiring Mistakes?

With a problem this large we at LCS saw an opportunity. We’re now offering a catalog of online skills tests for our clients. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explore with you how skills testing is best used. I’ll debunk a few myths along the way.

How Skills Testing is Best Used

If you really want to improve the success of your new-hires, incorporate skills testing and personality assessments in the hiring process. Nothing is fool-proof, but believe me, if you do both types of testing together with smart interviewing, your new-hire success rate will go way up. The failure rate (and the costs associated with it) will drop like a rock.

I’ve been a proponent of skills testing for a very long time, IF they are used properly. Skills testing is a tool, like so many others available to managers. Tools can be misused. Tools can be trusted too much.

Here’s the point. Just because a candidate has the right skills for a specific role in your company doesn’t mean you should hire the person. A great skills test score doesn’t mean the person will be a great fit in your company.

The mistake that I’ve seen made by hiring managers is to place too much weight on skills test results. Good resume, good references, interviews went well, aced the skills test – fabulous, make that woman an offer fast!

Not so fast. Is her work style a good match for the role? Is her personality a good fit for the level of responsibility and interaction necessary? Skills testing doesn’t venture into these waters. This is the realm of the in-depth work style and personality assessment.

Skills Testing Only Works if you Know What Skill Level Matters

I can’t emphasize this point enough. If your company hasn’t identified the specific skills required for each position, a test is not going to be all that useful. Let me use a sports analogy.

A track coach has try outs for his sprint team. Five athletes show up wanting to make the team for the 100-meter event. The coach gets out his stop watch. Lines all five at the starting line and fires the starting gun. Bang. Off they run.

The coach looks at his watch as the first racer crosses the finish line several steps ahead of the others. Click. The fastest racer covered the 100 meters in 11.2 seconds. Better than the other four. Does the coach offer the racer a position on the team? He will if he doesn’t know what speed is necessary for his 100-meter squad to compete effectively. Sure, he’ll have a racer for the 100 meter event, but the team will never win. He won’t offer the position to any of the five candidates if he knows that a pace of at least 10.1 seconds is necessary to win in his conference. In this case the required skill is running the 100 meters in 10.1 seconds or less.

The Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Candidate

LCS is deeply involved in the active hiring processes of hundreds of clients. I make this claim just to point out that few companies are better positioned to observe and assess the hiring practices of so many companies. What we’ve noticed is companies tend to fall into two categories. Those that take too long to find and hire employees. And those who have found a way to hire more quickly and retain those employees. What is the difference?

There are many facets to this. Most are beyond the scope of this article, but one is very relevant. The companies who are the most successful realize that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist. They know it’s fool-hardy to spend valuable time and resources searching for the perfect person.

They identify the best person available and which areas will need to be developed in that person once hired. This change in strategy presents an integrated view of hiring and training. So, where does skills testing enter the picture?

Let’s go back to the race track. The coach has one athlete who ran the 100 meters in 11.2 seconds, a full second slower than a competitive pace. If the coach knows that a short period of training and conditioning can shave a second off the time, he’ll gladly bring the person onto the team. A diamond in the rough, so-to-speak.

Same philosophy holds with enlightened companies who use skills testing wisely. If you have a fabulous candidate who is missing a few skills that can be learned quickly, hire the person and build the training into the 90-day probationary period.

The skills test results tell you exactly what skills need to be learned. The training can focus on those areas.

This also makes it a lot easier and more effective when it comes time to buy the training, or arrange the mentoring in-house. You know exactly the skills to be gained.

LCS to the Rescue

After doing our research and talking with more clients about skills testing, we’re convinced this is a service we should be offering.
The catalog we’re offering has been hand-selected from tests Fortune 500 companies rely on in their hiring. These are time-proven, industry-accepted tests in the following categories:

• Accounting
• IT
• Office Software
• Language
• Industrial
• Customer Service
• Sales
• Math
• Honesty

I invite you to visit the Skills Testing page on our website that includes more information, including brief descriptions of the tests we’re offering.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Is it Time for a 360?

By Dana Borowka & Carl Schroeder– Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

We’ve all heard Abraham Lincoln’s famous statement (quoting Jesus Christ from Mark 3:25), and it has been passed down to us in many different forms. “You won’t win the game if you’re not playing as a team.””You won’t stay married if you and your spouse fundamentally disagree with each other.” And your company will certainly fail if serious factions exist within your corporate team. Success all comes down to team collaboration – harmony on the home front.

So, how do you determine if harmony and collaboration truly exist within your team? More importantly – and perhaps more terrifying – what if they don’t exist, and you are part of the reason? You do this by listening to your colleagues and direct reports, with a commitment to change if necessary. You run through the gauntlet of the infamous 360 assessment.

But before running the gauntlet, you need to decide if you’re really serious about wanting a 360 assessment. Don’t answer yes too quickly – there’s possible pain involved here. You see, like the view from a hilltop position with a 360 degree view, a 360 assessment will reveal strengths and opportunities, but it might also reveal weaknesses and threats. Sadly, many of us just want to hear the good stuff.

If you are ready to feel the burn, then strap on your helmet and get ready for a hard, but profitable ride.

“Do’s & Don’ts” of a Good 360

Do not perform the survey “in house” – Oscar Wilde said, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” If you truly want to know what your employees think, have a neutral, third party (like Lighthouse Consulting) collect responses and keep them in a lockbox. Employees will spill their guts with everything you wanted to hear – and more!

Let employees know you will use the results – No one wants to have their time wasted. Unless you plan to use the information gained in an assessment, don’t put your company through it. On the other hand, if your employees are convinced you really do care – that you will listen, and change, and fix, and improve – trust and collaboration will grow, hearts will be won, and (according to Gallup) profits will be increased. Tell employees you will use their responses.

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford

360 Assessments, regardless of the type, offer a great way to make this statement possible, of course, patience is critically important. Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Golden Gate was not spanned in an afternoon, and you will not be able to handle all 360 degrees at once. But, if you are serious about the health of your team, they will sense it, and, over time, it will make a dramatic difference in the growth of yourself, your team, and in the end, your company’s profitability.

Lighthouse offers a number of 360 options ranging from telephone interviews to automated 360 systems. If you’d like more information on this topic, please call Dana Borowka, MA, at 310-453-6556, ext. 403 or email at danab@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

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.

Carl Schroeder has specialized in analytics and market research for over 25 years. His experience includes all forms of survey work and information-gathering, strategic sales and service territory development, and logistics improvements.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (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://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.

The Power of Focus – Expand Insight into Action

By Paul David Walker

Each insight is a flash of seeing into the true nature of things, and leads to another, providing you act on the first, if you don’t the spark dies, and an opportunity is missed. Being in “the zone,” simply described is one insight after another, acted upon in the flow of cause and effect. It is like dancing in perfect harmony with a band. Dancing to the rhythm and flow of the moment brings out our souls’ calling, and our natural genius, both of which have yearned to be expressed most of our lives.

As insight expands it can create momentum and turn into a compelling vortex that draws energy like a giant storm draws air. There is an attraction that brings in all manner of opportunities as the worlds, near and far, see a familiar intent and join an energy field that feels like their tribe; like going home again.

The key to creating a chain response of insights is our ability to act in the moment before the flash of insight fades. A professional athlete has the muscle memory from years of practice in a given sport to respond in this manner. But can business teams do the same? Why not, most have years of experience in their business. It is a matter of practicing the art of connecting insight to action as a basketball player responding during the flow of the game. A team of athletes has to practice so that when opportunity presents itself it is ready to act as a team in a fast break. Likewise a business team needs to do the same.

Knowing The Difference

An insight is a combination of two or more ideas merging to create a reality previously unknown. It has an expansive, curious, and inclusive feeling, even if stimulated by reading a poem, or seeing a painting. The observer and the observed becoming one to uncover new realities, paths, and understandings.

When ideas come from stored memory they seem to be cloaked with a “need to be right,” which prevents merging and expansion. It is like pulling the answer out of the internet or our past, the feeling lacks wonder, unlike a true insight. Only with practice do we learn the difference, but do not underestimate the tricks our egos can play on us.

First We Become a Team

The first step is becoming a team committed to each others success that knows each person’s strengths, weaknesses and potential. Each member of the team is committed to helping unleash each team player’s potential, the potential of the team, and business. This creates a safe field for innovation and exploration. Each understands and have expertise in their roles, and those roles synchronize to form a team ready to build on insight and act upon opportunities uncovered. This is a healthy high performance team.

Stimulate Insight

Once you have a strong team, as described above, it is time to stimulate insight and action. To do this the leader and the team has to question the status quo, and collaborate to understand new realities, then act on solutions that lead to manifestation. One of the CEO’s I work with, Celso Pierre CEO of Goodridge Americas, developed the following values for his team.

We Work Together To …

•  Bring a sense of possibility beyond the status quo
•  Examine possibilities until solutions emerge
•  Align our intentions to drive solutions

As this example illustrates, a clear compelling picture of the desired state is important. It is an aspirational statement that provides an understanding and a draw towards the ideal. A picture of the goal creates insight as we succeed or fail that is self-correcting in a positive manner. Insights that uncover hidden realities that are successfully acted upon create engagement. The purpose is for you and/or your team, as observer of the ideal, to become one with it, then create a new ideal.

The assumption that fuels insight, is understanding that there is no limit to what we can create together. As an individual I find that if I capture insights as they occur, not letting them fade, and take action, even deeper insights emerge. To facilitate this I always have my journal at hand to capture, understand and expand insights before the clarity fades. I allow time in my schedule to reflect. Likewise a team should have time as individuals and a team to reflect with the purpose of discovering “possibility beyond the status quo.” Business leaders who make this a priority tend to lead their sectors.

The Habit of Reflection

After a success it is easy for us to fall back into old patterns, as individuals and teams. So it is important that personal, professional and business growth is the default setting. Insight into the true nature of things followed by action invents futures that provide strategic advantage. To win consistently we have to teach each other, and those that follow us how to create a state of mind around insight that is similar to athletes “in the zone.” Each time I learn something my state of mind is lifted and I become committed to new levels of action. The same is true with teams. When creating insight is a natural habit, higher states of mind will drive intent and performance at all levels.

“Here you will find a treasure trove of distinctions, tools, and models that will allow you to engage people in a way that naturally harmonizes and enhances working with others—and that in turn advances the mission and purpose of the organization. More than that, you will be introduced to the thinking that guides and directs our most advanced leaders. There are years of learning available in Invent Your Future. Do not be surprised when, in the days and months to come, you find yourself referencing this book. It’s that good.”  — John King, Bestselling Author of Tribal Leadership

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include Star Kist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling books, Unleashing Genius and Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at paul@pauldavidwalker.com or call him at 562-233-7861.

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

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

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

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

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

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. © 2020

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, Santa Monica, CA, (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.

How to Pick a Strategic Planner and Use In-Depth Work Style Assessments to Improve Planning Performance

By Dana Borowka

Scott Adams, the creator of the cartoon Dilbert, has lampooned strategic planning for years.

“I’m putting you on the strategic planning team,” announces Dilbert’s boss. “It’s like work, but without the satisfaction of accomplishing anything.”

There is a grain of truth in Dilbert, because strategic planning can fall short without the right facilitator and approach.

“Planning is simply not that hard; but finding a great consultant who can help you get a great plan written, and implemented, is critical,” says Steven Phillips.

Phillips has built an enviable reputation for his strategic planning. He is a sought-after speaker for conferences and organizations worldwide. He has solid advice on how to choose the right strategic planner.

“Too many times consultants will lock themselves up, do amazing analysis, offer up a plan, and then it sits on a shelf and never gets implemented,” says Phillips. “The secret to getting the plan implemented is to take a high involvement approach with the senior team while creating the plan. Consequently, hiring a consultant who will be seen by your senior team as credible and likeable is very, very important.”

Some consultants say it is critical the strategic planner you hire should know the industry.

“Choose a strategic planning resource that knows your industry and is willing to understand how your existing capabilities are or are not capable of achieving the strategy,” says Paul David Walker, a strategic planner with specialized expertise in many industries.

“If they produce the ideal strategy vs. one that works for your existing talent, then the plan will just gather dust,” adds Walker.

Beyond the Standard Screening Criteria

The standard screening criteria when selecting a strategic planning consultant is experience, results, references, and chemistry/fit.

Barri Carian, a former senior executive for two Fortune 500 companies who has been a partner or in the embryonic stages of three start-up companies, is a strategic planning consultant who believes in today’s fast paced and disruptive world there are two additional areas companies should pay attention to in their selection.

“The first is can the strategic planning consultant take us through a deep dive into the trends that will impact our future success?” she asks. “This includes societal (demographic and psychographic), industry and technology trends. Strategic plans that do not take these trends into consideration will not serve the company well.”

For examples of those who didn’t take trends into account think Blockbuster, the music industry, the taxi companies, and Kodak.

“Second, the plan must be executable.,” adds Carian. “So often, strategic plans sit on a shelf never to be referenced again. Or they are so lofty, it’s overwhelming and companies don’t know where to start. Can the strategic planning consultant help you operationalize the plan? That means prioritizing initiatives, assigning owners or champions, breaking large strategic initiatives into smaller bites and developing systems to track progress and removing obstacles.”

The challenge, says strategic planning consultant Marc Emmer, is that a lot of consultants are generalists. Many are very good facilitators, and they may or may not be true strategists.

“If you really want a formal, strategic plan based on research, it may be worth your while to hire a strategic planning firm, that has the resources to run a true strategy process,” says Emmer. “The first thing you should ask potential consultants is how many strategic plans have they written? How companies have they facilitated strategic planning meetings for? If they have done ten or twenty you might wonder if they have enough experience to help you.”

If they have many practice areas such as leadership or process improvement, you should consider if they are focused enough on strategy to be any good at it, advises Emmer.

“Finally, ask to see the tools and processes that they will use to ensure your team has an actionable plan that can drive competitive advantage,” adds Emmer, who recently published his second book, Momentum: How Companies Decide What To Do Next.

“People who understand strategic planning and do it well view it as central to their evolution of a company and the source of competitive advantage,” adds Emmer.

Insight Leads to Better Strategic Planning Team Performance

After a strategic planning consultant is selected, in-depth work style and personality testing can be a valuable resource for the strategic planning process. The true value of any assessment comes in using the insights it provides. Personality assessments lend objectivity to decisions that may otherwise be largely subjective.

Here are five ways to use in-depth work style and personality testing for strategic planning:

1. Get the real picture when choosing strategic planning team members. Naturally all candidates for your strategic planning team want to put their best foot forward. However, through an in-depth work style and personality test, you can uncover a great deal about their ability to work well with other personalities, their problem-solving abilities, their thought processes and their ability to tolerate stress. This testing gives you objective information that can help you make an informed decision about whether these candidates would be good fit for the strategic planning team.

2. Help team members be all that they can be. Everyone 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 positions and coach them on where to improve.

3. Treat team members 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 coworkers. Using in-depth work style 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.

4. Make strategic planning leaders better team leaders. When team leaders understand what makes their people tick, then they can be better leaders. Knowing the work style and personality traits can help with stressful planning sessions.

5. Set up strategic planning teams for success. Sometimes we hire the right employee and then give that person the wrong job. Understanding preferred work styles and where a person would be happiest goes a long way to improving retention and productivity.

A proper test should reach beyond simple profiles and decipher an employee’s underlying needs. This is key for team building, conflict resolution, and succession planning. Some tests only use five or eight traits to make an assessment; this is not enough. We recommend a test that utilizes the full sixteen traits to get a complete picture of the person.

A final thought: once you have used assessments to pick the right team, it might be a shame to use them only once a year.

“My view of so-called strategic planning is that today it is less an event and more an ongoing conversation,” says Larry Cassidy, a group chair with Vistage International for 30 years. “The most effective organizations are evolving, and for me that moves viable strategic thinking away from being an annual event and toward an ongoing conversation.”

Robert Scherer, president of TAG, an outsourced accounting and software solutions firm, believes that in order to maximize the likelihood of executing a strategic plan that attention to detail and follow-up are critical.

“Over the years, TAG has worked with many companies in various stages of their strategic plan, with many attempts to accomplish too much in one year,” Scherer said. “With planning it’s better to break down goals into shorter sprints, as it puts more urgency and focus on your goals, which defaults to a more agile approach.”

Trends to Take Into Account for Strategic Planning

Before his consulting career, Marc Emmer spent over 20 years in the food business, in operations, marketing and business development. Emmer, who writes regularly for Inc. magazine, offers these trends to take into account in your strategic planning:

• Get great tax planning advice now.
• Have a nimble strategic plan, that can change on a moment’s notice. Review it quarterly to ensure you are in a position to seize the opportunities ahead.
• Invest in technology. Ask of your management team, how is technology a strategic advantage? If your team doesn’t have the chops to answer the question, find the people who do. Weave technology into your strategic plan.
• Hire people before you need them. If the economy continues to heat up, and unemployment levels off at 4 percent or so, it’s going to be nearly impossible to find talent.
• Be a best-in-class employer and push the envelope on providing a flexible work environment (including virtual office space).
• Utilize collaboration tools that allow you to provide your team the ability to be effective, in any location at any time.
• Execute flawlessly. Given the rate of change, customers expect on-time delivery, great quality and seamless communication. Utilize agile principles to ensure your team can pivot quickly to meet evolving customer demands.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

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, Santa Monica, CA, (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.