Tag Archives: communication

Let’s Happen To Things

WP_20150414_029It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” ~~Leonardo daVinci~~

2015 has been a tough year for a lot of people. Already. And, it’s not yet half over. Between the crazy weather, the crazy economy, the tragedies, the illnesses… it’s hard for me to sit here and tell you that everything happens for a reason.

Personally, I have to hold on to the notion that there’s a greater plan, and that I can’t possibly begin to understand that plan, but that’s not the practical advice that “you can use today” that I’ve become known for. So it’s time that I happen to things.

What if, instead, we look for ways to make something good happen from every situation? Yep. It’s time for us all to happen to things.

I had a job search client tell me that his recent unemployment has given him the time he has not made in a while to take care of himself and get a few things off of his to-do list. He’s been to the doctor, fixed a few things, did some preventative maintenance… and in light of the recent weather, some of this may have saved his house…

I had a friend tell me that her (more long-term) unemployment has given her the opportunity to volunteer. As she tries to stay busy and be useful (as well as keep the gaps off of her resume) she has been working hard in her town to increase the amount of food in the local food pantry and raise awareness about the hunger issues very close to home.

Leveraging social media, total strangers are reaching across the globe to help others in need. From encouragement and financial aid, to fundraising for little-known but highly valuable causes… the world is getting smaller in these times…

People are happening to things.

So, what does this have to do with talent management? Truth be told, nothing. At least not on the surface. But… just imagine for a second if every leader, every manager, every recruiter actually went out and happened to things. In a good way. In a positive way.

A little corny? Maybe. But what a difference a little “pay it forward” can make. Or, a kind word despite a mistake. Or, a voice of encouragement instead of criticism.

I challenge us all to find a way to make something good happen every day, in every situation, no matter how difficult.

Let’s all happen to things.

3 Leadership Strategies for Positive Communication


Open and positive communication is a necessary component of success in business. Of all the successful CEOs with whom I have worked, not one has said that their success was the result of operating in vacuum. Each has credited the teams they have built, developed, and led by nurturing professional relationships and fostering two-way communication.

Here are 3 basic strategies, which, when put into daily practice, will change the culture in any organization to one of positive communication.

Ask Questions and Listen To the Answers  

Even when only assumptive, too often managers tell their staff what happened, what caused it to happen, how they should feel about it, what they should learn from it, and what they should do about it. This shuts down communication. It is much more powerful when we ask what happened, what the employee thinks caused it, how they feel about it, what they learned from it, and how they think they might fix it. Asking “what”, “why” and “how” questions instead of assuming you already know the answer fosters open communication and development.  Managers who already know it all don’t grow, and neither do their employees. Learn to ask questions and to really listen to the answers. And, keep in mind that HOW we listen can either encourage or discourage further communication and interaction.

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Ask; Don’t Tell

Employees often tell me that they wish their managers would give them autonomy to do their jobs their own way. Unless you’re running an assembly line, presumably, it’s the outcome, not the process, which really matters. People create productivity in different ways and have developed their own work habits that really work for them. Trusting your employees to get the job done, and to come to you when they need to, goes a long way in establishing open communication. Employees should not be afraid to try something new or even to make a mistake, as long as they are achieving the desired outcome. There’s a big difference between “Finish this project.” and “What is your plan for getting this project completed?” Allowing for creativity in the process and providing support and guidance when asked is a sign of a communicative and collaborative leader.

Follow Through

Too many managers don’t say what they mean, mean what they say, or follow through consistently, leaving their employees (and likely their customers) feeling discouraged. Set and communicate reasonable expectations, decide what you will do, and then do it. (Point of Information: Decide what YOU will do, not what you will make your staff do.) This is a natural part of setting your team up for success.  Following through means taking action and keeping your word. It is a perfect way to avoid power struggles and other barriers to positive communication. An example might be letting your team know that you will begin your training session at exactly 10:00, instead of asking them to be on time. By the way, in this example, you really need to start your session at 10:00, even if only two of ten people have arrived. That’s the “follow-through” part.

These highly effective leadership tools will help you create and retain a successful organization based on trust, cooperation and collaboration.


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How About a Trust Culture Instead?


This past weekend I was thrilled to participate in my first HR Evolution. I enjoyed all of the conversations I had, both inside and outside of the actual event. There were some brilliant minds in attendance; people most professionals in my field would consider to be real thought leaders and true influencers in HR and Talent. I felt honored to be among them.


One session, facilitated by Broc Edwards, was called Bold HR. I’m not sure I realized then the impact it would have.

After defining together what bold looked like for those of us gathered, Broc asked us to get into small groups, think about the most Bold HR Person we knew, and discuss what made them bold.

I have had the privilege of working with some amazing people in my career. Two really stand out for me as being bold as we defined it. Interestingly, the characteristics that I believe cause me to attribute bold HR to each of them are the same.


They took time for training. And then they trusted their teams to do their jobs.

I have touched on this in many posts previously, always as part of how to engage employees at work. It’s a big part of Positive Leadership. But I can’t stop thinking about these two things specifically since returning to work after HR Evolution.

If we, as managers (leaders), take on the responsibility of ensuring that our employees (or our clients) have all the tools they need to be successful… If we train them, mentor them, guide them, support them… and then empower them, trust them, let them do their jobs… what could that look like for us and our companies?

The receptionist who is empowered to do more than pass along calls and messages, who really understands how important their role is, could bring in all sorts of new business, even though “sales” is not in their job description.

The customer service rep who is trusted to do the right thing for the customer, even (especially) if it’s a little outside the norm, can increase loyalty, repeat business and the bottom line.

The IT tech who is allowed to innovate and make changes to how things have always been done can improve workforce productivity, process efficiency and maybe even cut significant cost.

But this can’t happen if people don’t speak up; if they’re afraid to make a mistake for fear it could cost them their job.

This won’t happen without mutual trust.

There’s a lot of talk around creating Innovation Cultures, of Performance Cultures, even of Recruiting Cultures. Maybe it’s all a matter of trust. (Sorry for the earwig.)

What do you think?

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5 Changes to Make to your Hiring Process

Hiring the right person into the right role at the right time for the right price… It seems to be the million dollar mystery.  We’re flooded with blog posts and articles on the importance of hiring for culture fit, but few actually offer practical, cost effective advice. So the question I get asked at least once a week is, “How can I, a small business owner who doesn’t have Google’s deep pockets or Southwest Air’s recruiting team, complete for talent?”

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing you’ve always done the way you’ve always done it and expecting different results. It’s time to stop the insanity. Losing candidates who may be the perfect fit because they dropped out of your recruiting process is pure madness. And, the madness ends here.

Time for Action

Matt Charney published an excellent post today about the role of the Candidate Experience in the recruiting process. It’s here in case you missed it…

It got me thinking. Again.

I firmly believe that the small business, the entrepreneurial organization that is still founder-led, the nimble, risk-taking, willing to change business has a significant advantage over the large corporations when it comes to hiring the right people. Yes. You read that correctly.

Fixing your recruiting process doesn’t mean you need to spend large amounts of cash. In fact, it may mean quite the opposite.

Here are five changes you can make today to help ensure you’re not losing people to an ill-conceived recruiting process. And there’s no cost involved!

  1. Stop posting job descriptions. No, not in a Zappos Insider way, although I think that’s super cool! You don’t have to stop advertising your openings… But try posting Culture Statements instead of just job requirements. It has been said that there is no such thing as a bad culture, just a bad cultural fit, so promote the culture that you have. Start by asking your current employees how they would describe what it’s like to work for you. Discover the words they use to label the general atmosphere of your organization and to describe their workplace environment. Then incorporate that into your ads.
  1. Give up the sales pitch. Sure, you need a well-crafted and targeted message, but not a one-size-fits-all line that sounds like it could come out of any generic playbook. Compose a message that explains the value your employees perceive in working with you. And don’t be afraid to vary them team by team or department by department. While you’re giving up the pitch, it’s still necessary to market, so, put that message everywhere. Include it on your career page, in your job ads, on Facebook and on LinkedIn. Talk about it in your initial phone calls with potential candidates and demonstrate it during your interviews.
  1. Lose the application. Or, at least move it. With resumes and LinkedIn profiles, do you really need to capture work history and contact information again? I know the legal needs for a legitimate application, but it does not need to be completed before you even the meet the person.* Respect your prospects. Candidates are people, too. They may already be working, or have other commitments that would prevent them from spending 5 hours applying to your open job. And, while I understand the desire to make candidates jump through hoops to prove themselves to you, their very first interaction with your company is NOT the time for that. (By the way, I’d argue that there is never a time for that… there are other ways, my friend.) Follow the golden rule – treat your applicants the way that you would want to be treated. *If you need to meet OFCCP or similar guidelines, please consult an attorney!
  1. Include your employees in the interview process. A-players love to work with other A-players. They’re inspired by greatness and want to surround themselves with it. So, ask you’re A-players to participate in your selection process.  Give your candidates an opportunity to ask real questions of the people they will be working with every day. Give your employees the freedom and security to answer those questions truthfully. Better to find out someone will hate their job BEFORE you hire them.
  1. Provide feedback. Timely. At every step in the process. Candidates’ number one complaint about the job search process is that they never hear back from prospective employers. Even if someone is not a fit, you don’t know who they know… and negative news travels fast. Every single applicant should have such a great experience with your company that they should tell everyone they know to apply, even if they themselves didn’t get the job.

What other recruiting tips do you have for the SMB marketplace? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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