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Finding Your tribe: how culture fit affects your job search

One of the biggest trends in talent recruiting is company’s screening candidates for ‘culture fit’.  And, even though culture fit has been a best practice in talent and recruiting strategy for decades in more progressive and people-focused companies – more recently medium, small and start-up companies are understanding its importance and implementing relevant screening activities.

Candidates screening activities now may include skills questionnaires, behavioral assessments, personality profiles, etc. as part of the recruitment process in addition to initial job qualification screens done by applicant tracking systems and recruiters.  Now a recruiter may do their usual phone screen with a candidate to ask about job goals, why they want to work there, review high level experience and inquire about compensation expectations to further screen; and, in addition, they may send a link to an online assessment for the candidate to complete in order to screen for culture fit and reduce the candidate pool further before presenting a handful to the hiring manager.  

Why are companies doing this?  Companies with strong cultures want to keep them that way so they want to hire talent they can retain and that will be productive. Culture ‘fit’ has a direct correlation to employee engagement. Employee engagement, or lack thereof, positively or negatively, affects the company’s financial bottom line.  And because a company’s talent is a huge expense (labor costs), they want to increase the likelihood that employees will want to stay for awhile and successfully apply their talents. 

For decades, companies focused predominantly on hiring for ‘job fit’ and over time, it became harder and harder to attain their strategic and financial goals. While they were effectively hiring people who met, or exceeded, the job requirements – those chosen may not have been the best team members to work with.  Most experienced workers have been on a team of people who fit their job requirements; yet, those same people were a wide spectrum of personalities from super team-oriented and conscientious to super self-centered bullies where the latter crushed the souls of the former and team productivity plummeted.  While that was an extreme example, it shows my point.  Who we are and how we behave while doing our work – now matter to employers much more than before. The current logic is that a company can train the skills gap (i.e. job fit) but hiring a self-centered bully that could decimate a team and/or a great culture is not in their best interest.  

When people work in jobs that align their talents with their work responsibilities AND they work among people who have similar character and behavior traits and care about the same things they do, they typically like their work more and do more of it to help the company’s financial success.  Data shows that engaged employees apply more discretionary effort to their work resulting in increased productivity, product innovation, improved customer experience, etc.   

  • Job Fit recruiting is focused specifically on connecting minimum job requirements (i.e. years and type of experience, education (if applicable) and other competencies specific to the position and level.) Think of this as the task orientation part of a job. It answers the question of ‘could the candidate do the job tasks?’
  • Culture Fit recruiting is Job Fit (see above) PLUS assessing an individuals’ values, beliefs and attitudes and whether those are aligned with the company’s culture: core values, behavioral expectations and performance success factors.

To be successful in a job search, candidates now need to be qualified to do the job AND self aware. They need to know what they value, what their strengths are and be able to articulate how they’d fit with the organizational culture ~ which by their own uniqueness differentiates them from other candidates. There are many ways candidates can find this information out prior to taking an assessment by a potential employer. I always recommend job seekers attain this knowledge about themselves through career coaches, job placement and training companies so they can show self-awareness, build their confidence in their unique talent mix and show they’re open to personal and professional growth and development.

What many candidates forget when they get a phone call that begins the process, is that interviews are a way for both sides, Hiring Manager and Job Seeker, to make assessments about job fit and culture fit.  Conscious Hiring Managers want to bring in talent that adds value and productivity to their team packaged inside a person who espouses similar values, attitudes and beliefs as their company to increase engagement. Job seekers deserve to find their tribe and bring all their talents to work in an environment aligned with their values, character traits and career aspirations — so they can be the best most productive versions of themselves at work. People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR, MAOM, CC is a Talent Strategist and People Leader with expertise in Talent Management, Learning & Development, Organizational Development & Effectiveness and Talent Acquisition. She helps business leaders ensure they have the right talent to execute their business strategy. She helps hiring managers uncover their talent needs in relation to building cohesive and productive teams and effective talent acquisition strategy. And to keep herself grounded and aware of current talent competencies and acquisition trends, Cindy also helps non-traditional job seekers align their work/life experience to a new career path and successfully acquire jobs in today’s competitive landscape.

My New Year’s Goal: Feel the Fear and DO IT Anyway

At the end of every year, I spend time reflecting on what I accomplished, what I didn’t get done, and what I learned about myself that I’d like to improve on. Then in January, I set goals to focus more time on doing things that inspire me to be my best self in the year ahead. Continuous growth and improvement are hardwired in my DNA. That innate drive helps me thrive in work where every day has different people challenges and problems to evaluate and solve with business leaders. Yet I, like most people, have blind spots and on occasion find myself stuck in a comfort zone.

In 2018, I joined a Mastermind group of professional career women entrepreneurs. It’s a group of 6 and a facilitator with a variety of backgrounds and expertise. If you’ve never participated in one, the experience can be summed up in two words – TOUGH LOVE. Each month, we state our wins since last meeting, as well as, our fears and struggles with goals we’ve set for the coming month. At each meeting, one person is in the hot seat and must reveal a challenge she’s facing so the group can offer fresh perspectives, education, advice, and critical feedback as needed. It was those ladies holding me accountable when I was in the hot seat who reminded me of who I am and what makes me light up.

While I was busy with my business coaching leaders, doing HR contract work, struggling to make time to market myself to get more clients, I was in a comfort zone. And NONE of the activity I was doing was feeding my soul. My inner light had dimmed and my self-assurance, typically a strength, had all but disappeared somewhere last fall. I wasn’t working in my zone of genius and therefore, I was a hypocrite.

You see, my talent is TALENT. I am an experienced talent professional who has helped hundreds of people with diverse competencies and personalities connect to their dream jobs. Helping people realize their unique talents and aligning them with fulfilling careers – lights me up. Helping companies ensure they have the right talent to execute their business strategy – lights me up. And I learned that it’s hard to be your authentic self when you aren’t living your true calling because others can read that energy. My Mastermind group saw my blind spot and called bullshit. It was embarrassing at first, but then liberating. 

“Do Not Lie to Yourself. We have to be honest about what we want and take risks rather than lie to ourselves and make excuses to stay in our comfort zone.”

ROY T. BENNETT,  THE LIGHT IN THE HEART

I had to get honest with myself about what I wanted (which was NOT what I was doing!) and take a risk. It was a Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway moment – like the day in the photo above when I hiked on an active volcano. So, I stopped. In December, I finished my last contract project, pulled down my website, updated my resume, committed to myself – and now publicly to you – that I am excited to be seeking a full-time Talent leadership position.

Relatively plug and play in the areas of Talent Strategy, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, Performance Management, Learning & Development, Organizational Development and Effectiveness, I work best in ambitious and fast-evolving companies where I collaborate with leaders and hiring managers to ensure they have the right talent to execute their business strategy.

If you or your company is hiring, let’s connect via email cindy.goyette@gmail.com or phone 303-906-0505 to see how I can help you and your company find great talent OR help you align your talent to a job with a great company!

NOTE: To my WEBO Mastermind group, I am sincerely grateful for your friendship, continued encouragement and candor. I am blessed to know you all and look forward to us manifesting our visions for 2019. [SHINE]

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Talent Strategist – cindygoyette.com 2019

Conscious communication is a Leadership responsibility

Whenever I take a road trip as an adult I’m reminded of my childhood when my family took long car trips. At regular intervals we’d ask, or sometimes whine, “Are we THERE yet??” Not unlike antsy backseat passengers, your employees have a continued interest in where your business is in relation to its journey (i.e. its direction and goals.) They have a good reason to because the status of how the business is doing in the big scheme of things directly impacts the work they do. Information and how effectively it is communicated through an organization has a direct correlation to employee productivity and engagement. That said, I’ve found that many leaders spend little time planning what information they will communicate to their employees. The simple truth is: Your employees want regular and relevant communication from you.

Employees need – and expect – specific types of communication at regular intervals.

From leaders, employees want to know and understand the ultimate goal. They need to hear the vision, the business strategy — broad direction with milestones and appreciation. Those sound like “We are still going in this direction…” and “Here is how we are doing in relation to our strategy…” and “Thank you all for helping us get to where we are.” Then, when the business needs to course correct – which it will – leaders need to let employees know that things will be changing. “We are going to change our direction and here is why…and how it affects what we’ve previously communicated.” 

From direct managers, employees need to hear more granular information from what leaders provide. The information managers need to communicate is more specific to department activities and individuals’ job tasks. Employees expect ongoing dialogue with their manager because they want to do good work. They want to course correct as they go because they don’t want to have to redo their work – which wastes time and resources. They regularly need a chance to get clarification about their work and progress against goals, expectations of behaviors they exhibit, consequences, as well as, recognition and appreciation.

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.

Rollo May

If you think about it, we condition people early in life to receive regular report cards when they’re in school; yet, when they get into the workforce, managers don’t effectively apply that concept. Part of a manager’s responsibility is effectively providing feedback, like a report card, to their employees on an ongoing basis. It’s part of managing performance. While the term ‘feedback’ typically gets a negative connotation, if managers are transparent in their communication – authentically share the positive and negative behaviors and outcomes they observe on a regular basis – it becomes a behavioral norm and part of organizational culture. Remember, employees expect it. People don’t come to work to suck at their jobs nor do they want their manager to think they do (suck) and not tell them directly and/or give them a chance to address the feedback and share their perspective. From this two-way dialogue, managers and employees are in a better position to gain each other’s trust and respect.

Regular organizational communication is important to business and human performance regardless of which levels of management it comes from. 

If leaders don’t communicate frequently enough, employees fill in the gaps between what was last said and what they think is going on. It’s human nature. People will make up information in the absence of real data – which often creates a culture of uneasiness, worry, gossip and overall unnecessary drama. Having made up and/or misinformation circulating is never in an organizations best interest from a employee morale standpoint. If you are a leader and you aren’t sure of how often your employees need to hear from them – ASK THEM. Don’t assume you know. 

All communication is a key organizational “system” that is as important as IT infrastructure and other business systems.

Think about the information you communicate as the leader of your organization as one of the most important tools your employees need in order to accomplish their jobs effectively. It’s truly that impactful on your business and by realizing that – you’ll spend more time on it and make it a priority. And, if you do make it a priority, you’ll see a positive return in the areas of employee productivity and organizational effectiveness.

Relevant communication is about providing audience focused information. That means  what’s important to THEM – not what’s important to you necessarily.

If you hold company meetings and regularly talk about stock value or bonus calculations and a majority of your workforce don’t own stock options, or if the bonuses they receive can barely pay for a tank of gas, consider communicating that information to a smaller subset of employees to whom it’s relevant. I’ve seen this happen too many times. While leaders think they are sharing “positive news” when the stock price is up or pending bonuses are significant, all the employees heard were executives ‘bragging about money they’re going to get’ and they leave feeling angry and unmotivated. 

Understanding that your communication should consider the audience and what information is relevant to them, is paramount to your success. If you aren’t exactly sure of what kind of information your employees consider “relevant” and what they need to hear from you – ASK THEM. 

And my final thought…when you hold a company meeting and the status of strategic projects has not changed, say so – because it’s the truth. The truth works – that’s transparency. If you can only tell part of something to the team due to confidentiality, tell them as much as you CAN say. If you’ve got no new information to share about topics you regularly cover in that meeting, you can always spend time saying “THANK YOU” and recognizing your hardworking people for their contributions. People Matter in Business.  

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2018

Great leaders have followers, do you?

One of my favorite sayings is “Leadership is NOT about you. It’s about THEM.” I like it because it focuses on the fact that great leaders have followers. Followers are willing individuals who choose to follow because they believe the leader is going somewhere or doing something they, too, would like to experience. And, on any given day, a leaders’ following can be large, or small, depending on their actions and words. SIMPLE TRUTH: Employees want Leaders to Lead.  

Years ago, I was at an off-site meeting where the leader had planned for us to go hiking after we’d sat all morning listening to presentations. He’d been at the location before, but none of rest of us had. So, when he swiftly hiked off leaving us behind, we were unclear as to which way to go when we encountered a fork in the path and our leader was nowhere in sight. I had been coaching the executive for a couple months by then and I laughed out loud because the situation was indicative of his leadership behaviors in the office. He often spent time alone believing he had to solve all of the organization’s problems himself. Many times, he believed he had given directions to people but actually he had never said anything out loud to them. His direct reports had previously voiced frustrations to him about his leadership style, so it wasn’t surprising that everyone stopped at the fork in the path. Collectively, we stood there wondering how long it would take our leader to notice we weren’t following him. When he came back yelling expletives, one team member said, “You didn’t make it clear where we were going, or even if you wanted us to come with you. How were we supposed to know? You didn’t say anything.”

If you strive to be a successful leader, you need to know that followers have expectations of you. Articulating direction and business plans to your organization is not seen as a one-time or even a once-a-quarter event by your followers. They want you to regularly communicate vision/direction, current state of the business and any changes that occur because those all effect their job activities. You being personally involved and physically present in the day-to-day operations of your organization is important to them. Your followers expect you to engage with them. They want you to walk among them, ask their opinions and listen to their ideas. Companies spend a lot of time, energy and money hiring smart people who have solutions to many of their business problems; yet, most leaders don’t spend enough time collecting these insights or putting them to use.

If you lead without understanding your follower’s expectations, human behaviors in your organization are negatively impacted. Just like the frustrated management team was out there at the fork in the path, without a regular infusion of leadership direction, your people are unsure of what needs to happen next. Their productivity stalls while they wait for information — or they take action without direction — which may result in work having to be redone later when clear information is forthcoming. Both frustrate your employees, cost you resources and make your organization ineffective. [NOTE: By providing direction, I don’t mean your followers expect you to tell them what to do or how to do their jobs. They know that. What they want is for you to provide the bigger picture view of what the outcome you’re expecting looks like so they can align their work accordingly (e.g. “We need to complete and launch product X by Y date so that our customers can Z and we can to stay on our strategic course”)]

Another expectation followers have of you, their leader, is that there are consequences for not meeting the goals they set. While it may surprise you, followers respect leaders that determine and communicate what will happen to individuals, teams, or the whole organization, if performance goals aren’t met. While holding people accountable can be hard, leaving unmet goals unaddressed can also be hard. Leaders then risk losing their most talented followers who are aware of what’s happened and grow frustrated when low performing individuals or teams get to lag behind without direct consequences.

To recap,

  • Learn what your followers expectations are of you as their leader and provide clear direction that allows them to effectively follow you
  • Walk among them in all areas of the business to regularly listen their ideas and solutions to your business problems
  • Drive accountability behaviors that include having consequences and applying them consistently – if your expectations are not met.

It’s important. People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2017

there was a time when ‘great’ managers were a thing

You don’t have to look far to find articles about employee engagement because they’re everywhere lately. And it’s not surprising that these articles continue to provide reminders that the quality of an employee’s direct manager remains in the Top 3 of the most important factors that affect their level of engagement.

Most employees will tell you there certainly is a direct correlation with their manager’s availability and abilities and the positive, or negative, affect those have on their day-to-day morale and productivity. Employees would even go on to say that their long-term commitment to your company is connected to whether or not they believe their manager can help them grow and develop in their career.

Leaders of today may not know how we got here continuing to struggle with manager quality which is still a leading cause of turnover of talent. After reading this, I hope you feel compelled to shift your perspective about how managers spend their time and make the needed changes for the good of your whole organization. The story goes something like this…executives that came before you created what is now the standard of organizational management that you may be propagating without really knowing why or considering an alternative to.

Within the last two decades, many companies made widespread organizational changes affecting managers that became the management model used today that continues to negatively impact employee engagement and productivity. Since the early 2000’s, executives came to believe there was too much “management redundancy” in their companies. They chose to cut most, if not all, middle management positions in the pursuit of massive savings by reducing payroll and other overhead costs associated with them. Thousands of managers were swiftly terminated and shown the door.

By cutting middle managers, executives effectively removed professionals whose full-time job was to manage people. These managers knew how to hire, they knew the individual talents of each team member, what motivated them and how to coach performance because that’s what they spent 100% of their time focused on doing. They understood human behavior and had their pulse on the collective workforce heartbeat. Their roles were important to employee morale, engagement, operational effectiveness and profitability of businesses. However, because unconscious executives didn’t see the value in the “soft skills” espoused by great managers of yesteryear, they considered them expendable and rationalized their decisions by the resulting cost savings.

As the displaced professional managers started their own companies becoming the management consultants, trainers and business coaches of today, the unlucky individual contributors directly beneath those terminated were ‘promoted’. What companies then did was effectively re-title individual contributors to managers expecting them to perform a full plate of individual contributor job duties – in addition to – expecting them to manage people. Overnight, these newly flattened companies became grossly ineffective as they moved forward with less expensive, but also overwhelmed and in many cases, incompetent managers.

Fast forward to today and we still see the result of the organization flattening, middle management decimating actions that took place. In many sectors and sizes of companies, business performance is down. If you’ve become a leader in the last decade, you likely think it’s normal to have managers with a full plate of individual contributor work who, on the side, are also expected to manage a team of people.

Now retired executives made managing and inspiring employees a “nice to have” instead of realizing it should be a non-negotiable business activity. How do you think a company is going to have engaged employees and higher productivity if its’ managers manage people when they ‘get around to it’?  THIS is the reality of organizational management today. This is why, for decades, generations of managers have continued to struggle to be effective. If you want different results, do something different.

Now retired executives made managing and inspiring employees a “nice to have” instead of realizing it should be a non-negotiable business activity. How do you think a company is going to have engaged employees and higher productivity if its’ managers manage and lead people when they ‘get around to it’?

CINDY GOYETTE, SPHR

Management used to be an actual job where managing and inspiring employees’ success was a full-time responsibility. It was a career path in and of itself and it was differentiated from that of individual contributors who could choose a non-management career path if they didn’t have the personality, skills, or frankly, the desire to manage people.

And today, while there are employee-focused companies providing sound options of management skills training, degree programs and other great support to their people managers, it’s not solely about building managers’ competence or skills. It’s about leaders supporting their people managers and increasing the time they spend enabling employee success while de-creasing the time they are expected to spend on doing individual contributor type work. This is an area you have complete control over.

Your managers want be successful and some of them even want to become great leaders in your company. Your employees need their manager to be competent in management responsibilities AND have the availability, authority and resources to enable their success. Availability being the operative word here. Both want their managers to have permission from you to take the time needed to manage and lead people. This includes translating strategic direction into expected actions and deliverables, providing immediate performance feedback, useful coaching, appropriate recognition and job skills training as needed.  How much, or how little time, managers spend developing their people is of paramount importance to the engagement and productivity of your workforce. Companies spend significant time and effort attracting and hiring talent but continue to leave their managers overwhelmed with project work and little time to focus on managing and inspiring their people.

Employees feel valued when you take the time to develop quality managers that enable their success. It is in your control as a leader to make sure they know what to do as a manager, have time to do it, are measured on how well they do it (i.e. provided 360 feedback) and that they are held accountable to their performance if they don’t. Your support of these efforts by being at the forefront of your company modeling the management and leadership skills you expect of managers will positively affect employee engagement and your company’s performance. It’s important. People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2017

accountability begins with ‘i’ statementS

When you think of the word accountability, what typically comes to mind is ‘responsibility’ and some sort of ensuing punitive action. We think of the authority figure who asks, “Who is responsible for this (fill in the blank)?” And if we’re the one in charge, we fear the consequence.

An alternative to that perspective is the way I learned about accountability. When I had my first experience working at a management consulting firm, I learned the concept of 100% Responsibility. They used it in a wide range of management and leadership development courses.

100% Responsibility is “A special kind of responsibility which means accepting ownership for making the desired results a reality. This empowering attitude enables individuals to take productive initiative and avoid habits that become barriers like making excuses, blaming and justifying.” 

The atlanta consulting group

Since learning this concept decades ago, I have seen similar definitions by other coaches, trainers, and speakers too numerous to give credit to here. Suffice it to say, this concept is a key factor in both leadership and organizational effectiveness, so now I spend my time challenging leaders I coach to redefine their ideas of accountability as a form of ownership. Ownership takes courage. It also takes commitment. It is about accepting personal responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, words, attitudes and actions without pointing to outside people or circumstances to blame or justify the outcome of the choices we make.

Another way to think of this mindset, is that we all have a responsibility to show up for ourselves every day. Every day we are blessed to wake up again, we get to choose our reaction(s) to all the things that we experience. All that we do, and don’t do, has an outcome – good, bad or neutral. We might define them as successes or failures. And with an accountability mindset of 100% Responsibility, we have the understanding that we had a choice in whatever that outcome was.

Here’s a work example: A four-person team is given a new project to develop X by deadline Y. In a company with a culture lacking accountability mindset, each person would assume one-fourth of the responsibility for their ‘share’ of the project or 25%. If someone did not do his ‘share’ — the other team members would blame him and justify that they ‘did their part’ and the team’s failure was because of him and therefore not their problem. They may even throw him under the bus to coworkers outside the team and maybe even to management.

In an organization with an accountability culture, each person would assume 100% Responsibility mindset for developing X by Y. [This is where the “I” statements come in.] If someone is not doing his ‘share’, other team members ask themselves, “What can I do to help us reach our goal?” Accountable team members respectfully call him out on his lagging activity and either he steps up his pace or the rest of the team steps in to assist in some way.  Remember, everyone is 100% Responsible for the desired outcome – the development of X by Y.  On a team with like-minded members holding themselves accountable, their productivity and chance of a successful outcome is exponential. In this case of a four-person team – it’s 400%. In short, by taking 100% Responsibility, you completely give up the option of having excuses for not meeting the goal. Instead, you replace them with actively choosing to do whatever it takes to meet the outcome or goal.

Believe me, I get that being accountable and choosing this mindset is HARD in practice. It’s hard to take full ownership of an outcome – especially if the results were less than optimal. Making excuses is EASY and second nature to many people because they don’t want to be embarrassed or show failure. If you make an excuse, you can transfer the failure to someone else and avoid being hurt or shamed.

Accepting 100% Responsibility does not mean that you do everything or do other people’s work. It means your approach is more proactive and less reactive. You ask, “What can I do to enable our completion of X by Y?” By doing so, you act as if you alone are responsible for the outcome or goal, even for the things that seem beyond your control. You no longer wait for anyone else to assume responsibility for creating the results that you want.

On my first white water rafting trip, I was there with a work team for some ‘teambuilding.’ Early in our adventure, our guide said we would regularly come across forks in the river and in each case, we had a choice to make: we could take the EASY way which was without obstacles and coast through OR we could choose the HARD way and challenge ourselves mentally and physically to handle the formidable Class IV rapids. We were all typical office workers who sat at desks all day. On that day, we agreed there was only one choice.

At every fork in that river, our guide asked, “Which way?” and we screamed in unison “The HARD way!” as we high-fived with our paddles in the air above us. As a team, we took accountability for the outcome. We wanted our experience to be GREAT and therefore, each of us chose to do our 100%. It was exhilarating. To say that it was one of our more thrilling work days, is an understatement. After that trip, when our team was challenged by a perceived obstacle at work, one of us would ask out loud, “Are we taking the EASY way? Or the HARD way?” And every time – we knew there was only one choice. 🙂 People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2017

SIMPLE TRUTH #10: People want opportunities to learn and grow

I’ve had a lot of career development discussions with employees, managers and leaders over the course of my career.  The feedback I received from them prompted this topic to become SIMPLE TRUTH #10.  Because I believe words matter, I always seek to get clarity about how people define the words they use.  So, I asked them to explain what exactly they meant by “learning and growing.”  This article describes the ways people want to learn and grow at work…SPOILER ALERT — it’s not solely about training classes. SIMPLE TRUTH #10: People want opportunities to learn and grow.

While training classes, webinars and videos can be a great solution to help employees learn a skill, they do have limitations.  In order for the training to become equally meaningful to the employee and the business, managers need to know — and spend time on — helping employees APPLY what they learned once they complete the training regardless of the medium used for the training.  The application of learning equals growing; and, that growth provides a feedback loop for increased interest in learning more.

Educated and experienced employees bring a lot to the table when it comes to knowledge but, again, many managers lack the skills and abilities to pull that experience out of their employees and enable it to be applied to business issues.  This is why techniques like InsideOut Coaching – built on the premise that employees know a lot and it is a manager’s job is to pull that out of them – are so powerful.  Instead, inexperienced managers believe that managing people is about telling employees what to do or how to do things (which is is not.)

For some people, learning and growing has to do with getting exposure to information or projects outside of their job area to help them better apply the experience(s) they already have.  This is why effective communication is key in any size business.  When the right information is free flowing, employees are exposed to useful information they seek in order to do their jobs better. If you’ve read SIMPLE TRUTHS #1-9, you know that they don’t have intentions to show up each day and suck at their jobs.

For some people, changing jobs is their only way to continue on the path of learning and growing.  If their employers don’t supply opportunities for them to apply their knowledge, stimulate them intellectually, or add something new to their job experience, they go to another company to see if they can get their needs met.

When I worked for a prominent management training and consulting firm, client companies would send employees what was considered a “personal growth seminar” our firm offered.  It was a powerful class that made you think about your life, passions and your work and see the points of disconnection that were keeping you from feeling satisfied in your life and work.  I was surprised to learn that many of the training participants would go back after attending the class and quit their jobs at the companies that sent them to the training!!

Several client companies used this personal growth training to cull the ‘dead weight’ from their organizations, believing that the cost of the class was much less than the cost to the company if employees were unsatisfied in their jobs and kept working there anyway. The few who came back energized from it were more productive and more committed to their employer for gaining the self-awareness and techniques they learned.  It was a win-win for everyone.

The irony here is that leaving companies in order to pursue growth is often labeled negatively when you are looking for a new job because recruiters and hiring managers may label you a “job hopper.”  And, both recruiters and hiring managers would gain from changing their perspectives. Employees who leave jobs or companies that were not a fit for their knowledge and talents, shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing.  As a talent strategist and performance coach, I see it as this…here is a person with self-awareness who would rather continue on their career path and the pursuit of applying what they’ve learned over sitting in a unchallenging job they are not engaged in.  And besides that, they made space for new employees who WANT to be there. It’s your job to find the people whose interests and skills line up with your available positions.

Career paths aren’t straight lines. It is natural for human beings to zig zag in their careers as they evolve and grow as human beings.  Gone are the days of long term commitment to companies.  Statistics show that going forward, employees will only stay a couple years on the job on average – so while they are in your company, you want to engage them. If you ask, they will tell you what they know, what they’re good at, and want to do to help – then harness that positive energy by allowing them apply it to solve your company’s problems.  People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2015

SIMPLE TRUTH #9: People want to feel valued and appreciated

Although researchers and professionals have been studying human performance and motivation for many decades, company leaders today realize they have to pay more attention to engagement than they did in the past.    

Although researchers and professionals have been studying human performance and motivation for many decades, company leaders today have begun to realize that they have to pay more attention to engagement than they did in the past. SIMPLE TRUTH #9: People want to be feel valued and appreciated.

Gone is the industrial age where humans did jobs that robots and technology eventually replaced.  Next, we flew through the knowledge age as companies became more customer-focused and leaders realized the information in people’s heads had value to the business in terms of intellectual property.  Now, in the talent age, companies are competing for human beings who possess talents of emotional intelligence, agility, collaboration and innovation – in addition to – technical skills and work experience. The competition for talent is global. Jobs are posted regularly for roles in companies that didn’t exist even a year ago because of advances in technology and to keep pace with the world economy.

Today’s employees are acutely aware that their talents have value in the marketplace. They know that companies should pay a fair wage for what they do.  And they know that some companies value their skills more than others (i.e. pay better wages for the same work.)  While compensation is not the only reason people join companies, or the sole factor in employee engagement, you want to show you value people by paying competitive, market-valued wages or you risk losing the talent you have – or not attracting the right talent in the first place.

Savvy investors understand that tech start-ups are mostly intellectual property, and because of that, they expect to see comprehensive information in business plans related to compensation, career development and employee retention initiatives start-up leaders plan to execute.  In the first dot com start-up I worked in, they were in search of another round of financing, and the executive team realized the business plan lacked focus on the people and culture as investors expected.

While the leaders claimed the employees were their most important asset, investors uncovered that while a few employees were paid market value wages, most were paid below market and some were paid significantly below market.  In addition to base wages, the company gave stock options, paid 100% of health benefits and had a casual work environment including free food.  And while the ‘total package’ appeared very generous to the executive leaders who’d never been treated so well in their careers, employees knew those offerings were a minimum standard in high tech companies at the time.

By the company’s 2-year anniversary, the gap between executive and employee perceptions had increased – causing unrest in the company.  Although executives verbalized regularly, “our people are our most important asset,” employees challenged those statements almost daily.  The collective employee perspective was, “If we are SO important – show us we are. Put your money where your mouth is.”  Key employees openly threatened to quit while others were not discreet about talking about job interviews they went to at the competition.

The concerns about a potential mass exodus of talent prompted the leaders to hire an outside consultant to come in and evaluate the compensation and benefit offerings.  They were confident the company paid well compared to its competitors and aimed to prove it to the employees.

Unfortunately, their plan backfired.  The compensation study proved the company was paying on the lower side of the wage scale for all their jobs.  [Not a good outcome if you tout your company as a leader in technology and an employer-of-choice.]  And although they meant well, the executive leaders did not want to increase the cost of the payroll, so they chose not to use the job descriptions that were created or adjust compensation.  Instead, they moved forward taking no action and a steady stream of key talent left to work for competitors that paid market value, and higher, for the same work and similar work environment.

Although leaders have learned MANY hard lessons since the early dot com days, this example is not unusual and still applies today.  Employees understand that you want to pay as little as you can, for as long as you can, in order to save money.  It makes sense to keep operating costs down at all stages of business evolution.  However, there is competition out there for talented employees.

Remember, employee engagement is, in part, the discretionary effort people choose to take as it relates to the work you pay them to do.  In a survey I did titled, “Are all of your skills & talents being used at work?” some of the 200 employees surveyed admitted:

  • “I would use more of my talents and expend more energy if it were recognized by my manager.”
  • “I have experience doing several things that my manager doesn’t even know about me that I could do in my current job.”
  • and 71% said “I have left a past position or company primarily because I believed my talents were unrecognized or underutilized.

What survey respondents also conveyed was when they are able to use all of their talents at work, “they feel energetic, are highly productive and get a lot accomplished.” A WIN-WIN for everyone.  When people feel valued and appreciated, it shows in your bottom line. People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2014

SIMPLE TRUTH #8: People want tools and resources to do THEIR BEST work

If you’ve been following along with my Ten Simple Truths, you get by now that I am passionate about enabling people to be purposeful and productive within effective organizational systems.  Part of the engagement equation I shared in Truth #6 that affects employee engagement is the quality of the resources and systems employees work with as they perform their jobs. SIMPLE TRUTH #8: People want tools and resources to do their best work.

Think of your company as an organizational system of different, interrelated parts with lines connecting all the areas. The lines that connect that system together are infrastructure of technology – like an ERP, organizational processes and the human beings that interact with technology and processes. This system collectively provide products and/or services to your customers.  When you think of your organization this way, it becomes clear that your people’s output (volume, quality, innovation, etc.) can only be as effective as their “tools.”

In case you didn’t realize it, your employees don’t come to work wanting to suck at their jobs. Yet, many employees struggle quietly by their inability to do their jobs effectively because their company has obsolete or disparate systems, tools and/or processes that defy common sense.  If your employees have technology that is slow, hard-to-use, not easily accessible, or literally falling apart, you are wasting company resources – your people.  Your peoples’ time, energy and engagement directly impact your organizational productivity and overall financial success.  Without purposeful, effective organizational systems and technology, you have talented people who feel you don’t value their time and abilities. And you have an organization that cannot realize its full potential.

A popular example of people not having tools to do their best work is the new hire who starts their employment but has to wait a week or more until they have a computer in order to start doing their job.  I am not knocking IT folks here because issues like this are typically not about them.  What I am pointing out is that the company has an ineffective organizational system that doesn’t allow for timely ordering, purchase or set up of systems for new hires before they start their job.

Another example is the company that runs its business on outdated IT platforms making it difficult to share documents with vendors, partners or clients because of incompatibility issues. While smart employees will come up with creative workarounds, this issue regularly costs employees thousands of hours of frustration and re-work that could have been spent creating new and innovative products instead.

The quality and effectiveness of the organizational systems you have as the infrastructure of your business are paramount to employee productivity and engagement.  Companies that expect high performance from their people need to ensure they buy and maintain effective systems.  While having a new hire wait to get started seems minor, leaving an energetic new talent uncomfortable and wondering if not having the tools to do their best work is commonplace at your company — is not an optimal way to start a relationship.  As with the saying “a chain is only as good as its weakest link”, your company can only be as effective as your people are. People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2014

SIMPLE TRUTH #7: People want to use their talents in challenging work

In a recent survey, I asked 200 employees their thoughts about several subjects I write about in this blog.  One question was: “What advice would you give your CEO that you think he/she needs to ‘GET’ about what’s needed in your company?”

The following is a response from an employee that, in my experience, is representative of one who could be in ANY company. “They (Executives) should walk a day or two in each job under their management. Then they should ‘interview’ each employee holding that position to learn about the job responsibilities, their individual skills and experience — and their untapped talent.” I have heard the spirit of the underlying message here in different ways hundreds of times in my career.  SIMPLE TRUTH #7: People want to use their talents in challenging work.

Suppose for moment, that each individual who works in your company wants to live their life purpose by using their core talents. Now, multiply this example by the number of employees you have. That number is the amount of people who come to work – every day – wanting to use what they know.  People are yearning to contribute, to bring their whole person (e.g. the cumulative of their experiences) to their work and apply it, yet many managers ignore, or overlook many of the talents their people have.

I have listened to hundreds of departing employees as they exit the companies I’ve worked for. They described how their manager was too busy to meet with them. They were miserable in their jobs and had decided to leave because they felt underutilized or misunderstood (because their job duties weren’t in line with their talent), while others were just flat out, intellectually BORED.

Here one cause of how this happens.  A job becomes vacant, the manager pulls a job description of last employee in the job.  They mentally scan their team thinking about the jobs and skills they have and assume no one is qualified for the role, so they post the ‘old’ job.  They proceed to hire a new person, expecting them to perform according to the job description – nothing more, nothing less. The new hire is put in an imaginary “job box” and any skills he/she has beyond that are wasted.

At one tech start-up I worked in, the executive team was going out for its third round of financing.  Ten of the first thirty employees had previously owned businesses and most of those ten had experience raising millions of dollars from investors.  Even though the company employed people with direct experience raising large amounts of capital, the CEO and other executives never asked for input from their employees.  The team assumed they didn’t have the talent they needed and hired an expensive consulting firm instead.

“Why didn’t they use the talent they had right there in the company” you ask?  Because THEY DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS THERE!  Every day, this scenario happens in companies and I believe they are missing out on huge opportunities because they don’t know the full scope of the talents and experiences they have within.  And while there are currently no effective management tools that enable managers and companies to comprehensively inventory their employees’ talents – EVERY company should take time to solicit this valuable information.

I have seen companies attempt to collect information about their talent by pulling resumes from their ATS (applicant tracking systems) into their performance management systems and having employees add their education and training to a profile of some kind.  But, resume databases are worthless.  Resumes are marketing tools.  They do not reflect the sum total of a person’s talent, skills and experiences.  And the data in resumes is not always factually accurate.

What I am talking about, is the fact that managers need to take the time to create a comprehensive inventory of each employee’s work history, experience, skills and education.  In addition, pull the results of any pre-employment psychological assessment taken by the employee that provide a picture of disposition, personality strengths and weaknesses. And until the day comes when this type of knowledge management technology exists, I recommend managers do yourself a favor.  Simply: Get to know your people.  Although you hire from a resume and interview notes, you do not know what someone knows when you hire them.  Unless you spend time asking your people about their work (and life) experiences, and the skills they have and would like to use – you waste a decent percentage of what you are paying for in the talent you hire.

People want to work for managers who show interest in them and who help them use more of their talents in their work.  When that doesn’t happen, engagement declines and talented people withdraw.  They eventually do just enough to appear they are doing their job while they look for a new one, or they buy time until they retire.  Your company has been losing hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of dollars a year paying employee salaries while using only a fraction of their talent.  Knowing your people and using ALL their talents is a WIN-WIN.  People Matter in Business.

Cindy Goyette, SPHR – Maximizing Human Capital, Inc. 2014