Turnover is Tricky

 

Winning over your retained team is an essential task.  And sometimes that's not enough.

A professional services firm’s senior leadership team recently decided they needed to “raise the bar” and address both under-performance and disruptive behavior.  The results: 1) involuntary turnover of 25% of the team; 2) brutal Glassdoor reviews; 3) upset clients.
 
Hired to identify ideas to bolster employee retention and engagement, we’ve partnered with our client on three key areas to get them back on track—fast.

  1. Add precision and rigor to the interview and selection process. We’ve prepared interviewers to assess both technical aptitude and culture fit. Make good decisions at the outset- it pays dividends.

  2. Build management acumen, especially feedback skills. It turned out most of their messages about poor performance or unprofessionalism had been clear as mud. We want their team to know where they stand, and not be fearful they're "next".

  3. Rebuild trust within the organization, creating clarity and a more solutions-focused organization, with an aligned senior leadership team.

When your competitive advantage is the strong relationships you’ve built with clients/ customers, reliability and dependability is essential.  High turnover has a high cost, and it’s avoidable with management expertise and alignment.  

 

Building An Intentional Culture

 

Written by Catherine Cummings, CEO

“People are our most important asset.”

“There is no I in team.”

“Our talent is our competitive advantage.”

We’ve heard them all, and (ideally) in every company we’ve been lucky enough to work in, they truly believe each statement. But rarely do I meet the CEO and head of HR who have taken the painstaking (and worthwhile) time to answer the critical questions about the organizational culture they intend to set:

WHY should someone work at your company?  

WHAT can they expect from their team and organization?  

WHO are they?

Companies aspiring to be a compelling place to work while simultaneously preparing for scalable and profitable growth spend time asking themselves those questions-- and creating a unique career value proposition for talent to thrive in. Sure, there may be a poster on the wall with values crafted at an offsite leadership team meeting,  but that doesn’t mean the words on the wall mirror the day-to-day reality and rarely are those values then used as a foundation for organizational culture decisions..

Why should executive teams take the effort to create an intentional culture?

If you don’t, it gets created for you. Without clarity of expectations and norms, your team will react to each situation without context. The results? Perceptions of favoritism or special treatment, and before you know it, you’re cleaning up people problems that were completely avoidable.

Culture frameworks minimize mistakes in hiring, promoting and structuring teams.  You’re more likely to both attract and select talent that will thrive in your organization, improving retention and likely discretionary effort. The confidence in your hiring process and low turnover then fuels scalable growth-- a win-win.

Clarity is king.  Ambiguity is the enemy. In the absence of information, people will make assumptions, and handling thorny people issues becomes even more difficult.  When there’s clarity around who you are as an organization and how you expect your team to collaborate, accountability is vastly improved.

Culture frameworks streamline all human capital decisions. Where (and how) you invest in your talent requires thoughtful consideration. For example, Some companies waver for months (or years) on the best approach to something as straightforward as a time off policy or tuition reimbursement. With a framework in place, the decision and tradeoffs become far more clear.

 

NEWSLETTER: Bigger team, bigger dreams!

 

New year, disruptive management solutions!

We've flipped the script, creating energizing programs that simulate an ongoing learning experience without the need for endless hours of instruction. 

SparkWorks enables and empowers your managers to effectively drive performance and start strong to hit those annual benchmarks with an engaging, interactive and tech-infused program that prepare managers to lead other supercharged people, not just projects or the work itself.

These highly impactful and cost-effective programs will give them the standardized skills and tools for a more consistent and cohesive work culture.  Our technology, in-person guidance and virtual coaching enable managers to apply what they learned immediately with their teams. They are experiential programs that will transform your people from being someone's boss to becoming a workplace cultivator.

For more information on our Management Intensive, please email the team at sayhello@sparkworkstalent.com!

 

What we’re watching

The expectations for human resources are changing as it is challenged and pushed to be the powerhouse of all things related to the employee experience.  Here's something to be cognizant of moving forward into the new year:

How digital nomads are shaping the ‘Gig Economy’

What’s now being addressed as the ‘Gig Economy’ has more people working remotely and in contract or fixed term positions.  Technology is changing the way we operate, not only within our teams, but throughout the entire business strategy as well.  This trend to hire individuals on a project-need basis is additionally impacting the way people move from one job to another.  Meaning,  the jump from one job to another over the course of one or two years is no longer considered a resume faux pas.  The largest implications is that employees no longer seek a secure job offer before quitting the job they have and don’t like. With these dynamic environments, having the pulse of the level of engagement of your key talent and creating unique employee experiences tailored to talent individuality become much more relevant.

 

Bigger team, bigger dreams!

What better way to kick off the new year than with a bigger team with bigger dreams?  It’s with much admiration that we welcome Lourdes Gonzalez and Mags O'Sullivan-Tomich to the SparkWorks team!  The two have joined with high aspirations to build a learning community that will create meaningful impact for progressive companies.  Their visions to leverage the Management Intensive is igniting the kickoff to our new year.

A sneak peak at Lourdes:

Why she’s amazing

Her day always starts with music, in the way most do with coffee.  Her passions for new experiences and diverse perspectives complement her love for reading, films, short story writing, and of course, people.  She is often found with her head in a book and traversing the deep corners of our planet.  Some adventures from her bucket list include venturing to Seychelles and riding the Orient Express.

And super accomplished

From an early age of 12, Lourdes ignited her thriving career with a short story award in her hometown of Mexico City.  Through the years, her distinguished background at BP, hospitality, and fintech industries has built a deep understanding of leadership development and strategic change management.  Her accomplishments include a Fast Company magazine feature of her work aligning talent development for W Hotels and leading very successful new culture efforts for a business unit with 3000 leaders in 32 countries.  It is thus that she’s finally made it to SparkWorks as her intellectual curiosity sought the opportunity to do some more true impactful work.

What she’s going to be doing with us

Her main focus right now is to refine the Management Intensive  we’ve procured and deliver it to you.  Her specialties in talent development and culture transformation will translate in crafting  creative learning solutions for managers.

With the collaboration of her enthusiasm and our team’s dedication to making this our year, SparkWorks is proud to be growing our team and building our impact.

 

Build a Strategic Engine for Growth

 

When your HR team gets your business, your business grows.

Wish your HR team delivered more value to your business? Then involve them in it. Too often the HR department is side-lined by pet projects, under-represented in the boardroom, or referred to as the department of "no."

Building strategic HR muscle and encouraging an advisory approach is a smart business decision, ensuring the dollars spent are directly aligned with business needs, and addressing your biggest investment- your people.

Here are 3 compelling business reasons my clients make the leap:

  1. Business line leaders can focus on profit when HR leaders focus on people. With business line insight and access, HR can proactively help your leaders recruit, build and develop a high performing team.   

  2. Trusted HR partnerships enable more business line agility.  For example, when it's time for a reorganization, you can act swiftly knowing you have a strong HR support system in place.

  3. HR becomes solution-oriented, innovating programs or initiatives to solve existing talent concerns or opportunities.  These HR pros understand how best to prioritize initiatives and resources to propel the business line forward.

I often hear from CEOs that their HR team “isn’t strategic” and doesn’t seem capable to make the pivot toward a strategic advisor role, but that is seldom the case. More often than not, I find that HR has been left out of the critical conversations around corporate growth strategy, key metrics, and priorities. And too, they need skill-building to engage in those crucial conversations.

The best approach is to not replace your current HR team with new people, but to teach them the new skills required for their new role in today’s business environment. The hard work is worth the payoff!

 

4 Things You Won't Hear Successful HR Leaders Say

 

Too often, HR leaders find themselves sidelined- not included in high level discussions or decisions, or buried on the organization chart.  In the end, these leaders find their influence waning.

Successful HR leaders avoid this, instead becoming an indispensable advisor to their stakeholders.  It turns out, their mindset is different-- and here’s what you don’t hear them say:

#1: No one includes me when there are important conversations or decisions being made.  

Successful HR leaders build strong alliances, providing value to stakeholders so they’re included in these important conversations.  But here’s the gist: They are included not because they are in HR.  They are included because they bring a unique, valuable and insightful perspective to the conversation.  Their stakeholders want them to be there because they challenge ideas and present creative alternatives.

#2: I don’t know what our top 3 business goals are for the year.

Successful HR leaders know the business, understand priorities and build their strategies to solve for talent problems that get in the way of those goals being realized.  It really is that simple. Many times in my work with HR leaders, I find the bulk of their teams’ work addresses what they believe HR should be done based on “best practices”, but it’s not clear that it actually addresses an existing (or even forecasted) business problem.

#3: I don’t have time to think about strategy- there’s too much work to get done.

Business line leaders expect that HR leaders will flawlessly execute, and too many HR leaders focus on operational excellence. To become a strategic advisor to the business, HR leaders should spend at least 4 hours every week exploring strategic alternatives, learning about business strategies or competitors, or removing obstacles to the team achieving their goals.  Focusing solely on execution of details makes it difficult (if not impossible) to be a trusted advisor.

#4: I’m always justifying every dollar in my budget.

I’ve seen it time and again-- once successful HR leaders show how their team adds value to the bottom line and you are providing unique and necessary solutions to urgent business problems, budget scrutiny will become a thing of the past.

 

Learning Leadership

 

I remember when I was first promoted into a managerial role in a fairly large company.  I was suddenly the “boss”. My friends now worked for me.  

And I had no idea how to act like one.

I was filled with anxiety and questions.

How can I be the manager and preserve my friendships with my friends

How should I give feedback to a friend?

How do I hire people to complement the team?

How often do I need to meet with my team, and seriously, why do we need to have meetings?

… and so on.

It took me a few months, but I finally fessed up- admitted that I had no idea what I was doing and wondered if there was a book I could reference.

The response I received was memorable, “We learn by doing.  Sometimes you’ll make mistakes, other times you won’t.  You’ll learn.”

Yes, true-- I did learn over time.  A long time.  Though I wish that someone would have explained to me that while I was “learning”, my team was watching and I was losing impact and influence.

I love to golf, but I’m seriously lousy at it.  I tried to get better by going to the driving range-- I’m still lousy.  Then I realize, if you keep trying the same thing over and over again, without learning to do it right- don’t expect to get better.

Same thing applies for leading others.  You can keep practicing and just doing what you’re doing.  But you may learn the wrong things, or be unprepared when circumstances change.

Especially in a small company, it pays enormous dividends to pause, reflect, and intentionally lead.  

Maybe you’ve started a company and are now surrounded by other people who are making your dream a reality. Or you’ve joined a small and promising company, and are the “manager”-- getting work done through others during dynamic times.

So you’re the boss, now what do you do?

Leading others is a learned skill.  None of us pop out into the universe prepared to lead others.  

Leaders in small companies should take the time to learn by practice.  Learn the art of leading from others who have been there before you.

Find mentors.  Build a “personal board of directors”-- people outside of your company who have been there before and can give you candid and useful helpful in a safe way.  And seek out opportunities to learn in a safe “practice zone”.

Whether you realize it or not, in a leadership position you have a great deal of influence.  What you do with that influence is up to you.  You can choose to ignore it and hope that your planned stellar results speak for themselves, or you can choose to embrace the opportunity and prepare for it like it’s the challenge it is!

 
 

To learn more about how to ignite your leaders, visit our Management Development Program.

 

INFOGRAPH: 3 Reasons Why Your Corporate Values Matter

3 reasons why your corporate values matter final.jpeg

EVENT: SparkWorks CEO at Paylocity's 2017 Client Conference on 11/3

 

Calling all HR executives, workplace cultivators and the culture curious-minded! 

Our very own CEO, Catherine Cummings, will be speaking at Paylocity's 2017 Client Conference about hiring for cultural fit!

When is it?

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Where is it?

Hilton Chicago at 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

To register and learn more about the event visit here.

 
 
 
 

Can Strong Corporate Values Polish Off 5,000 Pizzas?

 

It’s no secret that tech companies power the world and are accomplishing some of the most innovative discoveries in this day and age. Other companies want to be like them. And most of all, people compete to work for them.


The secret to their success is largely related to their ability to direct their employees towards the businesses key goals.  As other industries attempt to emulate these innovative workplaces, there’s an increasing emphasis on being mission or value-driven and company culture. Corporate values, whether explicitly stated or not, play a critical role in an organization’s culture and strategy.  

So what makes having corporate values different from not having them?

Strong corporate values align an organization’s culture with its mission and goals. This ultimately improves the likelihood of a company achieving their goals and reaching successful outcomes.

Still not entirely sure? Here’s how it works:

An organization’s culture brings people together and develops the bond of a community. When individuals feel a sense of belonging and understand the direction that the company is headed in, they’re more likely to put their best foot forward and work towards the group effort. When there is a lack of organizational culture or weakly established values, employees are less likely to feel inclined to innovate and collaborate with their peers.

But what does pizza have to do with corporate culture?

Picture this:  The Guinness Book of World Records delivered 5,000 large pizzas to your office offering a $1 billion grant to the company that breaks the record for eating the pizzas the fastest. Will you have the leadership and strong organizational spirit to bring everybody together?

Let’s say there are 3,500 people in your company and eight slices on a large pizza. That means everybody would have to eat approximately 11.43 slices of pizza. That’s a lot of pizza!  To put away that much pizza, every single person must be united in their dedication to achieving the goal. They must be in it to win it. But that kind of coalescence can only come from having a vibrant culture backed by strong leadership.

 

Great Places to Work identified 1,000 firms that reveal a strong correlation between financial performance and employees’ belief in their company’s values. Companies with employees that best understand where the organization is headed, how it’s going to get there, and know that everyone is in it together are the most profitable. This means that if a company does not have strong organizational values, they are likely underperforming and diminishing their potential of maximizing profits (or potential pizza prizes).

It’s easy to undermine the values or cultures of our companies and focus on hard money driven outcomes. What makes certain companies so special is their ability to intertwine both their people strategy with their business strategy. Unfortunately, the perceived road to success is not a straight shot. And as your company faces unforeseen obstacles down the road, your people’s ability to consume pizzas in record time is indicative of your people’s ability to work together and persevere through tough times.

 

4 Things You Won’t Hear Successful HR Leaders Say

 

Too often, HR leaders find themselves sidelined- not included in high level discussions or decisions, or buried on the organization chart.  In the end, these leaders find their influence waning.

Successful HR leaders avoid this, instead becoming an indispensable advisor to their stakeholders.  It turns out, their mindset is different-- and here’s what you don’t hear them say:

#1: No one includes me when there are important conversations or decisions being made.  

Successful HR leaders build strong alliances, providing value to stakeholders so they’re included in these important conversations.  But here’s the gist: They are included not because they are in HR.  They are included because they bring a unique, valuable and insightful perspective to the conversation.  Their stakeholders want them to be there because they challenge ideas and present creative alternatives.

#2: I don’t know what our top 3 business goals are for the year.

Successful HR leaders know the business, understand priorities and build their strategies to solve for talent problems that get in the way of those goals being realized.  It really is that simple. Many times in my work with HR leaders, I find the bulk of their teams’ work addresses what they believe HR should be done based on “best practices”, but it’s not clear that it actually addresses an existing (or even forecasted) business problem.

#3: I don’t have time to think about strategy- there’s too much work to get done.

Business line leaders expect that HR leaders will flawlessly execute, and too many HR leaders focus on operational excellence. To become a strategic advisor to the business, HR leaders should spend at least 4 hours every week exploring strategic alternatives, learning about business strategies or competitors, or removing obstacles to the team achieving their goals.  Focusing solely on execution of details makes it difficult (if not impossible) to be a trusted advisor.

#4: I’m always justifying every dollar in my budget.

I’ve seen it time and again-- once successful HR leaders show how their team adds value to the bottom line and you are providing unique and necessary solutions to urgent business problems, budget scrutiny will become a thing of the past.

 

How to Determine Regrettable Versus Non-Regrettable Turnover

 

While most organizations worry about voluntary turnover, what they should really be concerned with is regrettable turnover.

Regrettable turnover is when an employee’s departure from a company has a negative impact on the team or organization. Measuring regrettable turnover is a more accurate way to measure turnover to determine an organization’s health.

After all, not all voluntary turnover is regrettable.

Think about it: Has an employee ever left your organization of his or her own volition, but looking back, the departure ended up being blessings in disguise? Many times with voluntary turnover, the exiting employee was being coached vastly improve performance – if not leave altogether.

So how do you determine whether an employee’s departure is indeed regrettable? Start with the following questions:

  • Was the person offered a voluntary or involuntary retirement or separation package?

  • Was the person fired for performance or conduct?

If the answer to both questions is “yes,” the departure is not regrettable. If the answer to one or both questions is “no,” dig deeper using the questions. (Keep in mind that the answers to these questions are specific and unique to your situation -- only you can determine if the turnover if then considered regrettable.)

  • Was the person on a list of "high potential?"

  • Was this person on a "key to retain" list?

  • Was the person hired in the last [x] number of years?

  • Does this person have intellectual capital that will be extremely hard to replace?

  • Does this turnover cause significant disruption to the team?

Finally, remember that this list is by no means comprehensive. You and your HR team may decide to add more questions to determine whether a person’s exit from your organization is regrettable or non-regrettable. From there, you can build a framework that will give you a more accurate assessment of turnover at your organization and which areas you need to improve.