Posts Tagged ‘HR’

Congratulations to our Spring 2012-2013 leadership program graduates!  They are:

  • www.ellisonpartners.comCarmen Sirizzotti, Director of Strategic Staffing and Compensation at University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Cathy Spicka, Vice President of Accounting at DEI Communities
  • Crystal Thompson, Production Planning Manager Epsen Hillmer Graphics
  • Kari Heunink, Compliance/SBA Officer, Washington County Bank
  • Mike Arkfeld, Vice President of Operations at Titan Medical Group

We are proud of your leadership, your hard work and most of all we are proud of the business results you have achieved.  Read More!

Contact us today for a no-obligation, no pressure conversation about your leadership development needs and whether our program is right for you.  402.884.7300.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, master-certified executive coach, and founder of Ellison Partners.  Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps individuals and business leaders achieve results.

2013 ©Nikki Ellison

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You might not be familiar with Capt. Edward A. Murphy but I would bet you know his moniker: Murphy’s Laws.    Murphy’s Law (“If anything can go wrong, it will.”) was born at Edwards Airforce base in 1949.  Capt. Murphy, an engineer, was actually credited with an old saying that had been around for years.  It was a term he used in describing one of his men who had wired a transducer wrong.   A project manager had been keeping a list of things Capt. Murphy said.  Today we know that list as Murphy’s Laws.

I think people, for the most part, work hard to do a good job in part because getting noticed for good work gets us promoted often to a management position.     It’s in that moment we are excited, happy and full of desire to do a good job once again.  After all, we now have a bigger job, more pay, more responsibility. Wait. What? More Responsibility? What does that mean?  Have you ever found yourself promoted to management and after the excitement wanes you wonder ‘now what’?  You surely don’t want you manager to be like Capt. Murphy, overlooking your work, and lament “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Here are 10 things you can do today to ensure your name isn’t linked with Murphy’s Laws:

1.  Accept that you still have much to learn.  It’s ok not to feel fully confident in your new leadership role.  You’ll have time to continue learning if you do just that.  Be prepared to learn from others – including your own team.

2. Communicate clearly.  Of all the issues that keep my company in business it’s ‘lack of communication’ that I hear the most.   Harboring information is a surefire way to trouble.  Open lines of communication with your team; share goals, priorities, and deadlines; provide clear direction; welcome questions and ask for feedback from others.  Effective communication will be essential in establishing your credibility as a leader and gaining the support of your team.

3.  Set a good example.  Don’t fall into the trap of thinking now that you are management it’s your teams job to rise above while you sit with your feet on your desk.  Demand the same level of professionalism and dedication from yourself that you do from your team.  Be upbeat, friendly and willing to do as you say.

4.  Encourage feedback.  When I’ve share this tip I often hear “What if I am not prepared to do whatever they suggest?”.  The tip is Encourage Feedback  not Do Everything Suggested.  Employees don’t always share what’s on their mind.  Prompt them for feedback, canvass for opinions, listen to concerns and ask for ideas.  Maintaining an open door policy requires more than physically leaving your office door open a crack.  You must solicit input, help your employee feel heard, sort through what you hear and use the feedback that can improve things for your company and it’s customers.

5. Offer recognition.  Praise doesn’t have to be formal.  A well-placed Thank You goes a long way in encouraging future contributions and effort.  Make recognition part of your day-to-day communication with your team.  Recognizing them in front of their peer and others builds up your teams confidence.

6. Be decisive.  A quality leader knows how to sift and sort through information to arrive at a decision point.  Sometimes this is done quickly; other times a quality leader might delay a decision. At whatever point you have enough information to make a solid decision, do so and stick with it.  This doesn’t mean don’t alter your path if a decision truly needs revising but for the most part made quality decisions then stick with the decisions you make.  Don’t be wishy-washy.  You only have to  look at public opinion on government U-turns to see how easily confidence in a leader can be weakened or lost altogether.

7.  Help your team see the “big picture”.   Do you know where you and your job fits into your company’s larger goals?  Do you know where your team’s jobs fit?  If not, find out then be sure to communicate it.  This helps demonstrate that every task they complete can have an impact on the company’s success, reputation and bottom line.  Everyone needs to know they belong.  Help your team see and feel why they and their jobs are important.

8.  Create an environment of constant learning and development – and include yourself in this process.  Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s once said “If you’re green, you’re growing.  If you’re ripe, you rot.”  Whether or not you are a fan of McDonald’s or not, the point should be well heeded.  Encourage your team to explore new methods for reaching their goals and company goals.  Allow them to make and learn from mistakes; be sure to reward new and innovative ideas.

9.  Provide professional guidance.   A good manager and leader will also be a good mentor.  Make yourself available to your team and show interest in their careers.  Don’t overlook the power of positive reinforcement.  Continue to develop your skills, especially those focused on results. A focus on execution and achieving actual business results will put you far ahead of those quoting strategy and theory any day.  Require, for any training you consider for yourself or your team, that the trainer show proof their program works.  Don’t settle for creative marketing.  Insist your training dollars are spent on that which can prove the connection to helping you achieve measurable business results.

10.  Be patient with yourself.  As it goes ‘Rome wasn’t built-in a day’.  Recognize strong managerial and leadership skills take time – especially as you adjust to your new position.  Don’t expect to effectively learn significant leadership skills in a week-long seminar. Seek guidance to learn as you go, giving yourself time to try out new skills, and adapt what you learn to your own style of leadership.  Seek guidance formally through coaching and informally through peers.  In doing so you will enhance your leadership abilities and make strides toward becoming a great manager and respected leader.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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I believe there are those things in life that will always ‘work’.  I’m talking about the things you can count on like candy on Halloween or the smile on my kids’ face when they smell ‘Grandma’s’ homemade rolls coming out of the oven.  I know that if I eat less than I work off – I lose weight; if I spend less than I make – I save money.

In the business world we have things we can count on too…like the value of good customer service or a good employee. We know, in the end, both will make our company more profitable.  Ironically we spent a lot of time, energy and money on ensuring our customers remain loyal. Yet I hear many employers clamor for the secret to ensure their employees will remain loyal.

I do a lot of speaking engagements and have noticed recently it seems the topic everyone wants to discuss is employee engagement.  Last week I spoke on this very topic for a group of national CEO’s and Executives who were in town for a convention.  While I appreciate their kind words when they said my presentation was “…the best (they’d) ever heard on the topic of engagement.” it has me pondering why a concept so basic is so hard to do.  What IS the secret to, as the book Good to Great would say, ‘getting the right person in the right seat on the right bus’?

This morning, while enjoying one of the ‘old’ luxuries of life (reading the Sunday newspaper while leisurely drinking my coffee), I came across an article that every employer who is trying to ‘hire the right person for the right seat in the right bus’ should read.  The article was in the Omaha World Herald’s Marketplace Jobs section.  The writer had interviewed  experts on job hunting such as nationally certified resume writer, Rosa Elizabeth Vargas and other career coaches.   The experts advise coming  up with a specific proposal for what you would do in that position.  They called it the first 60-day plan and went on to say “As the first interview wraps up, be sure to ask the hiring manager what the ideal candidate looks like.  Listen attentively to the company’s needs and become the solution to any problems.”

What employer would NOT want a job candidate to lay out how they’d handle the first 60 days and how they’d be the solution to your problems?  Sounds great doesn’t it?   But think about what that candidate is about to ask you.  Do you KNOW the answer?

If you (who already works at your company) do not know what the ideal candidate needs to look like to be ‘the right person in the right seat on the right bus’ at your company, how on earth is a job candidate much less a new hire supposed to be that person…let alone be engaged, productive and successful?

In most cases, the way you prepare and interview a new candidate is exactly why you can’t hire the right person.

1.  You don’t worry about defining job needs you just know you need to hire someone.  You may or may not have a job description on hand. Who cares if its current or not and care less about what behaviors are needed to successfully DO the job.  You come up with a couple of skills that you think you need and you post the job.

2. You’re excited to have your first job candidates’ and you start randomly scheduling interviews. In some cases you are tempted to hire the first person you interview because you need someone – anyone. Then you decide it’s silly to hire your first applicant regardless if they are ‘the right person for the right seat on the right bus’.  Nobody hires the first applicant, right? So you keep interviewing until you are tired of interviewing then you pick one based on your gut feelings (which you tell yourself is right based on your experience).

3.  When your new hire starts you  tell them a bit about the mechanics of the job and encourage them to ‘get to work’. You don’t explain to them what optimal performance looks like in their new job or what behaviors they’ll need to exemplify to be engaged, productive and successful in the job. Three-to-six months later you are frustrated because you, in fact, did not hire the right person.

If you find yourself doing the above you might want to re-work your hiring process before the next candidate asks you that ‘ideal candidate’ question.

In business, there are tried and true things you can do to ensure your employees will be loyal, engaged and productive.  And like most ‘tried and true things’ it really is very simple.  Stop making your hiring process difficult and an exercise in futility; try DOING what Good to Great is telling you works:

1.  Define the job before you post the job aka ‘the right seat’.  This means taking a minute to determine what work needs to be done and look at whether or not your current ‘grouping’ of these tasks make sense.  Don’t create a job, for example, that involves detailed work and multi-tasking unless you intend to hire one skill set then watch your new hire fail on the other.  Most people have natural tendencies.  Creating a job that requires opposite tendencies in order for the job to be done well is just asking for failure.  If you find your job duties list require such opposites, consider reworking a couple of jobs until you have similar job duties grouped together.

Did you hire a sheep or a wolf?2.   Know who you are hiring:  screen out problem candidates and screen in candidates who have the ability to perform ‘optimally’ in the job aka ‘the right person’.  It’s not enough to know if your candidate has the skill to do the job, you must also know if their natural behaviors will fit your job at your company.  In this day and age of data, it’s silly to try to hire a candidate without first knowing if they have the work ethic and attitudes essential to becoming a successful employee at your company.  Secondly, it’s imperative to understand what optimal performance looks like in the job.  This is what is referred to as ‘Job Fit’.   Job Fit is the key to  hiring ‘the right person in the right seat on the right bus’.   Assess your current top performers to know what your new hire will need to look like in terms of successful behaviors; confirm this model by comparing it to those ‘passengers’ at your firm who aren’t engaged or producing to your satisfaction.

3. Coach your new hire to help them adjust to performing ‘optimally’ in the job aka ‘the right bus’.  Assessments provide a great way to understand how you can help your new hire perform at optimal levels.  Employees become engaged when their understand what success looks like in their job and they are able to work at an optimal level.  Using data to coach your employee towards optimal performance is a better way to achieve the ‘right person, right seat, right bus’ goal than using our gut instincts – even if they are good most of the time.

It sounds simple but it works and the research is undeniable.  Aberdeen Group found that companies using this hiring and on boarding process tended to have 22% more revenue per employee over those not using this process.  Harvard business Review, in a study of over 260,000 salespeople followed for 20 years, found Job Fit to be the key to sales growth.

Using these 3 steps in hiring will ensure your hiring process is as guaranteed to work as I’m guaranteed to have candy on Halloween.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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I’ve noticed businesses are starting to hire again.  Slowly but surely.  In mere days, sooner than we will probably be ready for, we’ll begin to see the holiday car commercials on tv; the toy ads are already airing. Hiring salespeople has always been an interesting art.  Sales folks, even the ones bad at closing the deal, can usually make a good pitch last long enough to convince you to hire them.  Unfortunately that doesn’t mean you hired the Rock Start Sales Rep you thought you did.

As a matter of fact, 50% of businesses are dissatisfied with the new sales representatives they hire. Nearly 1 in 5 sales representatives will quit their jobs every year; 1 in 6 will get fired. 

Here are 3 ways to ensure your next sales hire will fail:

1. Hire most everyone, weed them out, and keep the good ones.  At the peak of the baby boomer generation, it seemed like no big deal to hire the wrong sales person. “Hire a group and let the cream of the crop rise to the top; we’ll let the rest go…” seemed to be the norm.

2. Hire the ones you enjoy talking to after all if you like them they’ll surely be successful, right?   Selling takes many avenues from lead generation to uncovering problems to positioning the sale to closing.  Enjoying your conversation with the applicant may mean they could be good at uncovering problems but it doesn’t mean they will generate leads or be able to close the deal.

3.  Hire without regard to your process and culture.    If they’ve had proven sales in one company that success will transfer to mine, right?  Not always.  If their sales cycle was short and didn’t require in-depth knowledge of the product and your sales cycle is longer and requires they take time to know the products before making sales you risk them leaving  your company before their first sale.

As a frugal business owner, I am not willing to risk lost sales while the ‘dart throwing’ hiring process works itself out. 

If you are of the same mindset, you’ll be sure you have a clear idea of what skills and behaviors are important for successful selling at your firm and will discipline yourself to ensure you match your applicants to your optimal performance model. 

Not sure how to do that?  Check out our FREE webinar series. This months’ topic is 100 Days to Improved, Sustainable Sales Growth.  Details are on our website http://www.ellisonpartners.com/events.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments Ellison Partners helps businesses achieve results.

© Nikki Ellison, 2012.

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Are you reporting the #1 metric the CEO needs to know?Do you know what your CEO wants to know?  Recently this question was showcased in Workforce Magazine’s  Q&A section.  The article got me thinking about a related and perhaps more critical question:  Do you answer the CEO in ways that give clarity to his/her questions? It may be the key to an age-old HR question.  You know the question about the vacant seat at the table which HR endlessly tries to claim as their own?  What does it take to sit in the ‘seat’?

Will HR ever land that seat at the table? This is what I tend to hear:

  • From the CEO: “HR is important in an administrative sort of way; mostly it’s overhead to us.”
  • From the business owners: “We really don’t need HR; we have ‘people’ to manage the paperwork.  Our managers take care of the rest of the stuff.”
  • From the human resource professionals: “Why doesn’t the c-suite/owners recognize the value we create?”

Today,  I am more convinced than ever that effective communication is THE key.   The problem is business owner’s/CEO’s and human resources speak different languages.  Start reporting the #1 metric the CEO needs to know and the language barrier disappears and the seat at the table will probably appear.

HR’s hard work will be rewarded.  If HR really wants to be recognized, wants to be seen as adding value to the company, and wants credibility they yearn for, they must first communicate in a language the c-suite and business owners care about.  Forget talking about ‘intangibles’ and activity reporting. That is the sort of language that got HR in this mess.

Smart HR professionals have figured this out.  The answer lies in what is communicated and how HR draws a line to profit or at the least improved results.  Consider these two statements about an HR departments hiring results; which do you think the CEO would rather hear?

“This month we reviewed 437 applications; interviewed 180  people; facilitated 102 management interviews; checked backgrounds on 73 and assisted with hiring of 48 people including 4 key people.”

“This month we facilitated the hiring of 52 people; as a result customer loyalty is up 2 points which equates to $7,384 in additional sales.  Also, of the 52 people, 4 were key hires who have already had an impact on their departments, lowering expenses by half a percentage point saving the firm nearly $9,000.  Plus employee engagement is up in those departments which is driving us to a record sales month.  Those departments combined surpassed their sales goals by $27,000 for the month.  That nets to about  $43,000 as a result of effective hiring and working in tandem with department heads to exceed company goals for the month.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do this.  Yet HR tends to excuse itself by saying they don’t have access to “those kinds of numbers”.  But the right numbers may very well be the magic pixie dust to the seat at the table.  There are books with ideas and suggestions for metrics HR can track and use to prove worth.  They key is not to crunch every number HR can find; it’s about knowing your CEO and what ONE metric is the real key for him/her.  Let me save you a few bucks and share with you what I have found to work.

7  Steps to Identifying the #1 Metric the CEO Needs to Know.

  1. Ditch the activity based metrics and reports.  Nobody cares what HR did today if it is merely summed up by activity reports.  Everyone is busy.    Accept that HR isn’t valued for being busy.
  2. Understand the company goals and the CEO’s agenda.  Data is just data when it doesn’t connect to something the c-suite or business owners care about.  Know which goals hit a pulse point.
  3. Identify metrics to match the pulse points. Did you notice I didn’t say ‘HR’ metrics?  Typically this is one place HR mis-communicates.  HR believes the CEO cares about HR metrics but they don’t.  What the CEO cares about are metrics that make their blood pump; the ones that drive company goals and their personal agendas.  Identify those metrics whether or not you see or believe there to be a link to HR.
  4. Clarify the metric path.  Talk through HOW the various metrics develop. It doesn’t take a finance expert to follow a sales metric from a starting point to the customer. Work through each metric to identify the path it takes before it gets to the reporting point.
  5. Look for ways HR impact the metric path.  Take each metric path and identify ways HR affects or could affect the metric.  Consider what improvement in the end metric is possible if HR were to do something different.  Brainstorm what those ways might be.
  6. Track HR’s effect on the metric path but report the end number. By starting with the end metric you can backtrack along the metric path to show HR’s contribution to the end number.  You’ve just drawn a solid line from HR to something your CEO will actually care about.  Pay attention to his/her reaction.
  7. Report the #1 Metric the CEO needs to know.  If you paid attention in that last step, you’ll know which metric result hit the pulse point of the CEO.  In following reporting periods, start with this metric.

The hardest part of contribution reporting may well be effectively communicating with other leaders.  Determining the link between HR and the metrics the CEO cares about is crucial. It takes clear, effective communication and a willingness for HR to realize they need to be a part of the team in order to be seen as a part of the team. Take time to communicate with leadership to understand how the various metrics come to fruition.  Learn more about how the company operates and you’ll gain clarity on ways HR can have an impact on operations. Measure and report the impact and you’ll be surprised how quickly the seat at the table appears.

Nikki Ellison is a business advisor, executive coach and founder of Ellison Partners. Through effective leadership coaching, proprietary skill acceleration programs and assessments, Ellison Partners helps businesses and their leaders achieve results.

© Ellison Partners 2012.


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