Please enter your name and email address to download the 25 Reasons Why worksheet (PDF).

Are you up for the challenge?

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ICEBUCKETThe waterfall of ice bucket challenges poured down your social media feeds, but did you ever hear the whole story?  Peter Frates, a 29 year-old former Baseball Captain at Boston College was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  As a victim to a disease where your spinal cord and muscles don’t communicate and degeneration is rapid, Peter wanted to raise awareness and financial support for research. Without being able to speak, he used Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby” to create the ice bucket challenge. According to the ALS Association spokeswoman Carrie Munk, in August 2013, donations were around $22,000 and CNN reported that more than $4 million was raised in August 2014 for the Association and its 38 chapters.

For the thousands of people who did watch the videos or participate, it shows that people want to make an impact or are hungry to hear a good story. By nominating someone else to participate, they help spread the message and hope to get others engaged.

In business, we can learn from the ice bucket challenge.

Find Value in Partners. People who believe in a common value produce greatness. Creating strategic alliances makes the circle of influence twice as strong and creates unity.

Branding is trending. Peter Frates used the hashtag phenomenon to raise awareness to thousands of people who may not have known about the disease. Education is powerful. On Instagram if you click on #alsicebucketchallenge you will find more than 86,000 videos of the ice bucket challenge. I’d love to know how many of those 86,000 users googled ALS, I know I did. Have you searched for your company using a hashtag? Try it out and see what you find. Sourcecon recently published an article about a recruiter who found and hired a software developer from searching #SoftwareDeveloper on Instagram.

Be present. Be the expert in your industry and become a bank of knowledge. Ask questions and challenge what seems to be the standard. As citizens, we sometimes assume scientists and doctors are working on cures for terminal diseases when in reality such research relies on the dime. Peter’s awareness obviously made a financial difference for the ALS Association.

Peter Frates’ movement has made history in social media. It has brought together a community of people who are looking for hope, it has provided financial investment and it has proved that people are actively engaged on the worldwide web.

 

As Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

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10 Shocking Stats About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

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Low employee engagement is a huge problem right now.

It is not only causing unproductive workplaces, but causing a lot of stress for both employees and management.

See for yourself:

 

10 Shocking Stats About Employee EngagementInfographic crafted with love by Officevibe, the corporate team building and employee engagement platform

Joe Mechlinski is CEO and Co-Founder of entreQuest, where he’s helped hundreds of companies prosper through some of the worst economic times in history. Joe’s debut book, Grow Regardless, an instant New York Times bestseller, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development.

Posted in Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, JM_site, Success, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

See What’s Trending on Glassdoor

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glassdoorHow does your company use Glassdoor? At eQ we don’t have the Glassdoor tool all figured out quite yet,  but we have a feeling we are on to something good. Glassdoor is a powerful tool that can be used to brand your business and attract talent into an organization.

Glassdoor created an Employees’ Choice Award that highlights businesses based upon reviews and rating provided by current and former employees. Employers can take elite status by becoming an “open company,” which means the company has a complete online profile including photo additions, reviews from current and former employees, responses to reviews and information about culture and benefits.

For example, Glassdoor found that, “54% of U.S. employees say that they believe their benefits package is better than what competitors offer.” This percentage compels the conclusion that there remains a lot of ambiguity in regard to what defines good benefits. Glassdoor provides users with the ability to review a multitude of benefits provided by an organization such as diversity programs, tuition assistance, dog friendly offices, free lunches, sabbaticals, onsite daycare, adoption assistance, health and wellness programs, and financial and retirement services.

Glassdoor surveys insight draw from what actual employees believe are most important in a company.  There’s information about compensation, benefits, career paths and leadership strategies that WORK, and those that do not. The tool provides answers as to the questions about what top rated companies do in terms of branding and employee engagement, which can be tips for the rest of us to follow.

On the employee/candidate side of the equation, this information is GOLD.  For employers…well it can be a bit daunting to have your information out there for public commentary.  We know that organizations face adversity and negative public exposure can damage a reputation. The question is:  how are companies preparing for this type of real-time transparency?

Here are three tips to save you from anxiety around Glassdoor:

Accept it.  The name of the game is transparency. People are going to comment on your organization whether you like it or not.  Use this as an opportunity to improve and show the world you are a great option for employment.

Utilize the response feature. Employers can respond to comments that might not be favorable to the organization. This is a great tool for addressing what may or may not be reality and communicating strategy to overcome the obstacle or misunderstanding.

Brand Yourself. Observe what is trending. Employer branding is a hot topic and people are talking about it.  For example, check out #GDSummit. Just like a team before a game, you need to get people excited. Upload pictures that speak to your culture, talk about company or employee awards.  In other words, give the company some personality.  Job seekers are no longer just looking for “dirt” on Glassdoor; they are validating their thoughts about joining your team.

This movement towards transparency is helping business owners and executives open their eyes, roll up their sleeves and find out how people really feel. Not all the pressure will fall into the employers’ courts. If employees who provide reviews do not honor honesty and respect, than everyone suffers because Glassdoor would simply become a platform for complaining.

So if you have not already done so, sign up and let eQ know what you think!

 

As Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

Posted in Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, News, Success, Talent Acquisition, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dos and Don’ts of a Working System of Management

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dosanddontsWe’ve talked a good amount about the criticality of having organizational clarity (vision, mission, goals and strategy) and alignment (what is most important right now, and why/how this links back to the bigger picture). So, you get it, right? Yet, these things still happen (I know this to be true, as our clients tell us these exact things when we start working with them):

  • Employees say that team meetings are pointless and unproductive
  • 1:1 meetings are held inconsistently, if at all. When they do happen, the employees find little value in them
  • Performance reviews are little more than a “check the box” activity, that holds no value other than knowing what, if any salary review/increase will take place

Ok – we can all agree that all of the above does not increase engagement, productivity, employee or client retention, or business growth. The next step, then, is putting in place a system of management to ensure that your business realizes the impact and intent behind your core strategies. One of the realities is that even with clarity and alignment, sometimes, organizations still fail to successfully execute on the strategies, resulting in uncaptured revenue, shrinking margins, decreased employee engagement, and higher customer attrition. Often times, this occurs because people get distracted by competing priorities, mixed messages, or just a lack of sustained focus. Let’s face it, it takes consistent time, energy, and effort—and investment—in our people to ensure they are equipped and accountable for executing these critical strategies. So, you’re asking what the recipe is for a robust system of management that works—it could look like this:

Performance reviews: Should these be conducted annually? Yes, at minimum; semi-annually is even better. In setting goals, these should be a blend of performance goals that link to the overarching departmental, business unit, and organizational goals, personal development goals, outlining the areas where the employee will focus (learning and development) to improve skills and capabilities, and business competencies (leadership, influence without authority, navigating the organization, as examples). Goals should have specific target dates, along with people/resources needed to assist the individual in hitting the goals. Who owns this meeting? The person being reviewed. She should book the meetings, and chair the discussions, as they are her goals. Should the direct supervisor be ready to contribute, have specific feedback and provide guidance? You bet.

1:1 meetings: Also owned by the employee, these discussions should link directly to the annual performance goals, which link to the organizational goals. A portion of this meeting should be covering key accomplishments, main areas of focus, as well as any barriers that stand in the way (and, what the person is doing/has done to eliminate the barriers). If help is needed, this is a great time to coach. A check on personal development goals is appropriate during these sessions. Having a clear purpose to these meetings increases the value, and will ensure that these sessions don’t get bumped. Few things cause disengagement more than a supervisor continually missing 1:1 meetings.

Team meetings: Whether you subscribe to Cameron Herold, Patrick Lencioni, entreQuest, or someone else’s specific methodology, everyone agrees that team meetings, when done right, provide high value to individuals, teams and organizations. In a highly productive system of management, team meetings have a clear rhythm and cadence – they are not a “pot luck” or mix of all possible topics in the one hour a week the team spends together. Rather, they are highly focused, with a specific purpose. For example, the first week of the month could be a quick look back at last month’s performance, while getting the team’s observations, key learnings, and course corrections, and also then focusing on a specific aspect of the business. At eQ, an example of how we do this is by having one of our departments—talent acquisition or consulting practice teams—report in to the rest of the team.  Another week of the month could be held to discuss/review the status of business development and marketing efforts, combined with client service updates. Once a month, the topic could be specifically on decisions that the team needs to make. Segmenting the meetings in this fashion allows people to give clear focus and intent to the matters at hand, as opposed to having to switch gears three to five times during a single meeting—very hard to do successfully, and not recommended. Also, once a quarter, the meeting could be of a more strategic nature—big picture thinking—which also shouldn’t get mixed into meetings that are more tactical in nature.

Putting a system like this in place serves as a critical partner to the clarity and alignment components needed to build a high performing organization, and shows employees that YOUR organization is serious about investing in, and elevating individual and organizational performance.

 

Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

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Watch YOUR Why

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WhyBack in the early 2000’s, the graduation rate in some of the inner city Baltimore high schools was a dismal twenty percent. Three other entrepreneurs and I got together to try and find a solution to that problem. We thought there had to be a way to bring the private sector into the schools in a meaningful way, because although there are hundreds of great mentoring programs out there, there aren’t a lot of corporate workplace-based programs that operate like a business model. We decided to create a vision that for one day, each month every Baltimore city high school would be empty because all the kids would be out spending the day in a corporate workplace being mentored by a young professional or business executive, and being exposed to things they might not have access to otherwise.

What we came up with was a foundation called b4students, a corporate workplace-based mentoring program designed to increase graduation rates by linking high school kids with local businesses, thereby helping the kids develop lasting relationships with caring mentors. The “b” stood for Baltimore and Business.

To launch and sustain the foundation, we each pledged $25,000 a year for four years, and we asked other companies to do the same. The idea was that when companies signed on to participate, they would own their program; it would be theirs to nurture and grow. The four-year commitment was not only about sticking with the program for that long, but also sticking with the students, because our vision was that each company would track alongside their kids for their entire four-year high school experience. This long-term business commitment was very different from anything that was out there in the youth mentoring world at the time, but we believed that’s what it would take to make an enduring impact on these kids’ lives.

We recognized that four years and $100,000 was a hefty commitment. To convince companies to come on board, we told them that b4students was important for Baltimore and that it would make a difference in the lives of thousands of students. We used my personal story of being a product of the Baltimore city public schools as a real-world illustration. I was a kid whose own senior class was decimated by a high dropout rate, yet I managed to overcome it with a little luck and some caring mentors of my own. But our message wasn’t resonating. We kept hitting brick walls; not a single company would commit to joining us. Eventually we realized that just because my story was true didn’t mean it would necessarily connect with everyone.

It’s wasn’t that we had to make up a new story about my childhood, but we decided we were going to have to tweak it with an eye toward our audience and what was most important to them. And although corporate philanthropy was important to the audience, what was really important to them was having a way to be philanthropic while simultaneously improving their employee experience. They wanted to improve their retention, their profits, their performance, the company’s culture, and their turnover rates. They wanted to attract more qualified candidates and at the same time be part of a community of other private sector companies that were giving back in a meaningful way.

So, we revised our story to say that linking with b4students would benefit not only the kids and the community, but also the participating companies. Becoming part of this project would make a difference in the lives of their employees. It would increase morale and culture in each company’s environment, and it would give them a terrific public relations boost. Our new and improved story made it OK to be selfish because the companies would be giving something of value in exchange for receiving something (actually, many things) of value in return.

Immediately after altering our story, we got our first “yes,” and more soon followed. Since then, b4students has become a model program that has raised the graduation rate from twenty percent to ninety percent among participating students, and it’s now being proposed as a nationwide, sustainable model.

Moral of the story: Watch YOUR Why.

Joe Mechlinski is CEO and Co-Founder of entreQuest, where he’s helped hundreds of companies prosper through some of the worst economic times in history. Joe’s debut book, Grow Regardless, an instant New York Times bestseller, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development.

 

Posted in Client Experiences, Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success, Talent Acquisition, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Recipe for Success & the Key Ingredients: Clarity & Alignment

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KeyYou’ve likely heard some iteration of the 70% statistic—that 70% of change initiatives fail to deliver the intended business impact. Research sheds various shades of light as to why this occurs. As a practitioner, working with hundreds of clients in the recent years, I have the perspective that almost always, the failure rate can be traced back to clarity and alignment—most often at the leadership level. Why are clarity and alignment so critical? Recently, I had a client whose performance had slid over recent years. They were still profitable, but under-performing. The reality was that they had been under-performing for quite some time, and this had gone relatively unchecked. What were the symptoms and issues that were dragging down the levels of performance?

  • Disparate priorities across functional groups
  • Weak systems of management (ineffective performance reviews, ineffective or non-existent one-on-one meetings, and inconsistent and ineffective team meetings)
  • Conflicting messages from senior leadership (depending on who employees asked, there were very different answers to the question: What is most important right now?)
  • Words and actions didn’t match. Executives would express specific priorities, and then emphasize, measure, and drive initiatives and efforts that were not aligned.

The result of these symptoms?

  • Organizational confusion
  • Frustration, as a result of the confusion (what should I be working on right now? Why did my resources get pulled from this effort to be put on that effort?)
  • Increased levels of disengagement
  • Regrettable attrition

Here’s the deal—do you want high levels of organizational performance? I mean, do you REALLY want that? Are you willing to GIVE what is needed to get that high performance? Because most people say they want it, but don’t display the commitment, grit, and consistency to really get it. Here’s the recipe (SIMPLE in writing, REALLY hard in execution):

  • Establish a clear vision—across the organization
  • Develop business unit, departmental, and individual visions, strategies, and goals that link directly to the overarching vision (see above).
  • Define success metrics that PROVE the organization is living into the vision and goals.
  • Establish systems of management that provide the opportunity to have regular dialogue on the team’s performance against the metrics—and opportunities to learn, iterate, and continuously improve individual and organizational performance (more to come on this in my next blog)

Above all else, there needs to be an organizational culture of transparency, trust, humility, and commitment to learning and performance as a way to drive business results. Put in the work. Live it with all your heart, in every interaction. Grow Regardless!   Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

Posted in Client Experiences, Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Giving Back is Selfish . . . and it’s okay

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“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”  – Arthur Ashe

We live in a world so politically correct that we have lost the ability to be honest for fear of public scrutiny, litigation or being chastised for our beliefs. The idea that corporate social responsibility is just to help the community is TOTAL B.S.  Giving Back – making an impact  is awesome for the recipient, yes, but it is ALSO awesome for the giver.

There is nothing wrong with feeling good about helping others, yet we often aren’t willing to admit this out of fear that others may perceives us as boastful. At eQ we take 3-4 days a year to refresh our soul, rejuvenate our spirits and fill our lives with the joy of giving back, and we CELEBRATE IT.

Check out this video of our Summer 2014 Impact Day to see the work that our team did for a local Baltimore organization called Civic Works.

Impact Video

By the way, there is no better way to start your organization’s next strategy session or vision, values and behaviors initiative then spending some time giving back – it clears your head mentally, emotionally and physically. And studies show this is a BIG DEAL – people who give back, on average, live longer and have lower incidents of heart disease. Ultimately, doing good helps you to FEEL GOOD, too. For more information on this research (in case giving back in itself is not enough!) click here to read the data:  Why Volunteering is Good for Your Health.

Keep on challenging yourself to be more, do more and give more every day!

Joe Mechlinski is CEO and Co-Founder of entreQuest, where he’s helped hundreds of companies prosper through some of the worst economic times in history. Joe’s debut book, Grow Regardless, an instant New York Times bestseller, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development.

Posted in Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, News, Success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing Your Talent Acquisition Team

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peopleIs there really a difference between a head hunter, recruiter, and talent acquisition manager? I’m quick to answer that YES, there is a difference!

Technology has changed the path to employment through social media and data analytics platforms. I’m sure most of us will agree that using job boards to fish for new candidates is no longer the key strategy for growing your business. That’s why at eQ, talent acquisition is about creating strategies to attract, retain, and promote professionals who are at the top of their game.

We all know that changing jobs is one of life’s most stressful situations. And, in my opinion, head hunting and recruiting don’t ease the stress because they don’t speak to the process that’s involved after someone interviews. Talent acquisition, on the other hand focuses on the lifecycle that happens from when someone says they are interested in hearing about a job opportunity to 90 days after someone starts a new position. To gain someone’s trust throughout this process, we must showcase our expertise, engage our candidates, and build a relationship beyond what understanding someone’s resume.

The definition of recruiting is “to furnish or replenish with a fresh supply; renew.” At eQ we are doing way more than supplying people to fill a gap. By building relationships with our candidates, we are learning about the attributes they have that will give them the ability to grow and develop within a position, this also gives us insight into the likelihood of their ability to be successful.

So if you are sitting here thinking, “What can our company do to really capture the best talent in the industry?” check out a few things that we are doing at eQ that are helping us grow:

  1. Build a referral program from your candidates. According to a study from Bullhorn, a leading recruiting software company, 49% of agency hires come from their database. So what’s that mean? It means that every touch we have on a candidate has to be nothing but unforgettable, in of course a good way. There are many recruiting companies out there and you have to set yourself apart from the stereotypes of being the “scripted recruiter.” Once one person has a great experience with your company, they are very likely to refer you to their friends.
  2. Read between the lines. Getting to understand someone beyond what the resume says will make that candidate feel a deeper sense of connection. Understanding someone’s personal goals tells you a lot about their strategy for reaching professional goals.
  3. Be honest and give feedback. We are often quick to forget about the candidates that we don’t want to advance in our process and that’s typically because something in the interview did not go well. We can’t stress enough the value in providing candidates with constructive feedback. I’m sure there is something in your life that you were once not good at, but with some coaching you became pretty good. Interviewing can be the same way. For example, let’s say someone loved their job and was laid off after 10 years of employment. Even though they had the best 10 years, in the moment of an interview, emotions could surface that make it appear they are talking negatively. As people who specializes in discovering the potential in people, it’s our responsibility to help someone become aware of their strengths and weaknesses, especially in an interview. This candidate might be a very optimistic person and is not aware they are letting emotion take over. How about the candidate that is five minutes late? Do you ask them why they are late? The candidate’s response will give you a glimpse into how they handle adversity and how easy they are to coach. This may be uncomfortable, but you can remind the candidate that your honesty and feedback is part of the value they gain from working with you. It’s not easy giving feedback to someone during an interview, but if you can train your team to this, we promise that your relationships will strengthen and so will the reputation of your company.
  4. Be an advisor not an order taker. When new job opportunities arise with your clients, arrange an in-person or over the phone meeting to really dig through their needs. Does the job description really speak to what they say they are looking for? Maybe you assume that since you have hired for this position before, nothing has changed—never assume! Another tactic that we have found really helpful is to have your client give you three profiles of candidates that they would be interested in speaking to. This exercise helps your client be more creative and gives you more flexibility in your candidate pool that can lead to getting someone hired faster!

Growing a talent acquisition department will require strategies beyond training employees on the basics of sourcing, interviewing, and negotiating. In today’s competitive environment, your relationship with your clients and candidates have to be a partnership. Your clients should want to work with you because they need you to be the expert in engaging the top talent in the industry. Candidates should rely on you to match their values and goals with the clients’ needs. Stay tuned for more tactics to help your talent acquisition team grow.

As Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

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What YOU expect is NOT good enough!

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Picture1“Your are not a product of your environment, but of your expectations”

- Wes Moore, New York Time’s best-selling author, TV host, Rhodes Scholar, businessman, and US Army veteran

This quote resonates with me mostly because of my personal story. In one stretch of my childhood, I went to five different schools in five years. My mom was a single parent, doing the best should could, but was never quite able to offer me the stability a long-term full-time job. We went from house to house, borrowing money, asking for favors, on food stamps at times, and shopping at Goodwill. Yet, she taught me to think big—be creative and find my voice in the world. Thankfully, I did in Grow Regardless.

My high school, Patterson High (Baltimore), was rated the second worse in the state of Maryland (1995). We started with 965 freshman and graduated 235 seniors four years later. Despite all that, the school has produced some of the most successful people in Baltimore: Peter Angelos (owner of the Orioles), Dick Bielski (former NFL player), Perry Sfikas (Maryland State Senate), John Paterrakis (owner of H&S Bakery and responsible for much of the development in Harbor East in Baltimore), and Dave Pivec (owner of Pivec Advertising and former NFL tight end) just to name a few.

At five feet, 8 inches and 175 pounds, I was both the center and middle linebacker for Patterson’s football team. Our football team was VERY good. We were ranked number one in the state for most of my senior year—this was not the norm for a Baltimore city team. In addition to three other players, I was named first-team All-State as a linebacker (the same year Tommy Polley—NFL player from Dunbar won, too).

I got a 400 on my verbal on the SAT. My spelling words in my senior English class were: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. And yes, I was still able to write a book, have it published and have it become the number one book in the world in 2013.

entreQuest lost nearly $1MM in 2008. We hired too many people too quickly. We put all our eggs in the basket of a business model dependent upon the economy and we also had way too much revenue concentration in one big company. Yet five years later, we have right-sized our balance sheet, grown our revenue significantly, become very profitable, and have been names one of the best places to work in Baltimore three years in a row. I honor my past. I covet it, truly. It helps me understand that life is really about the struggle and the level of expectations you have for yourself and the level expectations others have for you. See, the other-side of my story goes like this:

•   If I came home from school, with less than an A, my mother would make me write hundreds of sentences to help me understand her expectation of me.

•   If I missed a workout or practice in sports, my Dad and I would play catch in the      alley… a game called “catch it or eat it” (not as bad as it sounds).

•   If I wasn’t planning ahead for college, my teachers would pull me aside and give me a talk or “the business.”

•   If my team at entreQuest sees me slouching on our values, they call me out on it and let me have it.

My point is simple: none of us can get there alone. We all need help. And the first step in getting help is recognizing that things (and people) aren’t always what we EXPECT—we all have the duty and responsibility to EXPECT more from each other. There is a great video by Benjamin Zander, where he talks about giving people an A. I love the message, but love even more, the concept of holding people to it. So here are a few questions for you to think about in relation to your team:

•   What is your team’s true potential?

•   What stand are you willing to take for your team?

•   How can you expect an A from your team more consistently?

Joe Mechlinski is CEO and Co-Founder of entreQuest, where he’s helped hundreds of companies prosper through some of the worst economic times in history. Joe’s debut book, Grow Regardless, an instant New York Times bestseller, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development.

Posted in Client Experiences, Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Sales, Success, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Secrets to Building a High Performing Team

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I’ve not met many leaders who don’t say they want people (and an organization) to perform at consistently high levels. Yet, in virtually every company I’ve worked in, or consulted with, there are great variations (across roles, teams, regions, business units) in the actual levels of performance. Notice I said the word great. There will always be a performance curve across any population.

secretExample: I worked with a client who had a national sales team. Across the country, she had six regional managers. Two consistently met or exceeded their targets (the company most keenly measured lagging indicators, such as market share, revenue growth, net new accounts), and the other four toggled back and forth between sometimes just eeking out their targets, and frequently missing their targets (sometimes, with very significant margins). They had hired heavy hitters from industry competitors, promoted top producing sales people into leadership roles, and yet, they couldn’t crack the code for high performance across all regions.

The question is: how does an organization create a culture, systems, and processes to close the performance gap between the highest performers and the rest of the population?

Want the secret? Ok – here are the critical elements (Warning: It isn’t as easy as I’m going to make it sound. The devil is in the detail and the execution, and this is where most companies fall down. Want help? Shoot me a note via twitter, linkedin or email, and we can talk).

•  It starts and ends with culture: the company and the division/team must have a winning culture. This includes having a clear vision, aligned leadership around what is most important right now, and how the company measures success, as well as transparency in communication.

•  Talent, talent, talent: you’ve got to get the right people in the right roles. Note that there is an absolute dependency on the first element, culture. If you bring rockstars into a toxic culture, the toxic culture will win, 100% of the time, without fail. The rockstar will either leave, or bring her level of performance down to the dysfunctional level that exists in the organization. Plus, when there is a winning culture, and all the people in the firm live the organizational values, every day, you will become a magnet for great talent. Forget about your HR/recruiting team banging their heads against the wall, trying to find a needle in the haystack for great talent – they’ll be banging down your doors for a chance to work with you. Oh, and by the way, when you have winning culture, bring in top talent, and set the systems and processes in place so people can thrive in their roles, you’ll see how the people who can’t/won’t get on board will leave – most of the time on their own. People get it when they don’t fit.

•  Culture of learning: this isn’t about having a catalog of 1,000 generic online courses (only), and saying to people, “We are all about learning – go look through the content and pick what you want to learn.” This is about being very intentional about learning and development. This is about each person having clear development goals (professional and personal – and leaders who support, equip and hold their people accountable for getting better), learning from every interaction, every sales call, every win and loss, every initiative that is launched and landed, and really ingraining this mindset throughout the organization. Humans like to contribute and make progress. Remember how curious we all were as kids – many have had the curiosity shut down over time (school, bad leaders and managers in other firms). We need to re-awaken this natural curiosity to get better and achieve more.

•  Systems of management: every organization needs to have a structured approach to one-on-one meetings, team meetings, and performance reviews – and none of these should occur in an ad hoc, unintentional fashion. With meetings for example, Patrick Lencioni coined the term meeting stew . This occurs when there is no clear intent/purpose in the meeting, so leaders cram everything in one discussion. People cannot function at high levels this way, and the result is often that people miss the meetings, and the general sentiment is that the sessions are unproductive. Everything we do must be done with a purpose in mind, and discussions must link to the organizational goals, strategies and ultimate vision. Otherwise, don’t waste the time. This is a very significant topic; I’ll have a full post on this subject coming soon, so stay tuned.

Creating a high performance organization doesn’t happen by accident. Get intentional, follow this recipe, and watch how your people and organization rise to the occasion.

 

Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

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