Employee Retention Forum

I have spent this morning putting together a presentation for a forum I have been asked to speak at on employee retention. Building this presentation caused me to examine my beliefs on what causes good employee retention. I won’t go into my complete presentation here but I will hit the highlights.

I believe that retention is a by-product of your corporate culture it is never the result of tactical actions. Every organization has an employment brand. Your brand is what comes to mind when people inside and outside your organization think of working for your company. Is your company a place your team members brag about? Is it a place they are proud of? Do they have a feeling of ownership of what happens there? It’s not important what the ownership of a company thinks of it as a place to work, what matters is what the people who work there think.

To develop a positive employment culture you have to care about your people. Caring is not something you can’t talk about it needs to be demonstrated. You can’t fake caring; you either do or you don’t and your team members will know.

So my presentation tomorrow is going to be built around my three basic beliefs on employee retention:

Strategy
Employment Brand
Corporate Culture

A Great Google Analytics Webinar

I just attended a Webinar on Google Analytics presented by Mangold Sengers. Mangold Sengers is an Australian company some of my readers may recall I have referred to previously. They are a marketing and consulting company who are authorized Google Analytics consultants. Ben Mangold, their Creative Director, convinced me to use Analytics on my web site months ago and it has proven to be an extremely valuable tool.

Today’s webinar was a free introduction to Google Analytics. They provided some basic information on the product, how it works and why companies should use it to optimize their web sites. As I am already a “believer” it was interesting for me just a refresher and a reminder of some of the value I have received by applying this amazing product. I won’t go in to any details of either the product or this particular webinar as MangoldSengers really are the experts so if you want to know more about Analytics I strongly suggest you contact them directly through the link proved above.

What I did want to mention today was the value of the Webinar learning format. I have addressed this in an earlier discussion but again today I was very impressed by the quality of communication this medium provides. This webinar was attended by about 100 people from at least three countries on at least two continents. We were all able to view information the presenters wanted us to see while listening to the live presentation. They also conducted live surveys of the audience during the presentation and proved a question section that allowed participants to type in questions at any time during the presentation and all of the questions were then answered verbally by one of the presenters at the conclusion of the presentation.

Webinars are a great tool that I will use within my business and I suggest anyone who needs to communicate with groups of people considers making a part of your business operations.

Quality Standards Can Never Be Sacrificed

Alberta is experiencing both the benefits and the challenges of a super heated economy. The business gurus tell us it may be the hottest economy on the planet. The opportunities are incredibly exciting and businesses are thriving. But thriving in these economic conditions requires some extraordinary skills.

I have been asked to speak at a forum on employee retention next week. It’s amazing to me that focusing on retaining employees seems to be a new tactical initiative for many companies; but that is a discussion topic for another day. The relevance for today’s topic is that regardless of the current employment challenges your standards have to be maintained.

Maintaining high standards can only be accomplished if these standards are clearly defined and understood in the first place. Standards are a cultural by-product that are developed not a tactic that can be employed or imposed.

Most businesses in Alberta are operating without the ideal number of people. The problem comes in when companies compromise standards because of the short staffing situation. This is a very slippery slope. I know it is not easy maintaining standards under these conditions. It requires a great deal of discipline along with extraordinary effort but it is worth it. Once standards start to slip they just seem to slide down hill like it is a frozen slope. Compromise then becomes the cultural norm and once that happens the future of your business is no longer in your hands.

If opportunities have to be passed by or volumes and profits forfeited to maintain standards then those sacrifices have to be made. Having a standard of quality in a business is like character in an individual; you either have it or you don’t.

Seeking Input Is Always A Good Idea

Last night I spent a few hours at the unofficial Edmonton Executives Association (EEA) poker night. This is a monthly event when anywhere from six to twelve of us gather at one of our business locations and spend the evening swapping stories while perfecting our skills at the art of Texas Hold’em. It is an unofficial event because even though the group started out as EEA members getting together for some fun and a chance to get to know each other a little better it slowly expanded into a family, friends and business associates night as each of us asked guests to join the fun. I am sure you can all appreciate that a “poker night” is also not the sort of activity that any respectable business networking organization would want to be “officially” associated with.

Last night after the game I a few of us were sitting around just talking about nothing in particular when I introduced a subject that directly involved the EEA. This was something I had been considering for a while and I had already formulated my own conclusions on the subject based on my own thoughts. After tossing the idea around a while the three of us came to a completely different conclusion from the one I had arrived at on my own and the group conclusion was far better than mine.

As I drove home after the meeting my mind (as it often does) drifted to business and how the evening’s experiences fit into the business world. I think we often form our own conclusions without seeking input from others whose experiences and opinions could help us come to better conclusions and therefore make better decisions than we make on our own. Sometimes of course it is not possible to get others input on specific issues. However my experience is that whenever I do get input from others I make better decisions.

A Recipe For Success

I received an email this morning from my good friend Jim Lett. Jim owns ABE Doors and Windows in Allentown PA. Jim wrote to say that he had been catching up on some of my blog discussions over the weekend and found three topics of particular interest. He referred to my discussions on Integrity, Wowing Your Customers and Taking Responsibility.

Jim stated “There is such a correlation between having integrity, taking responsibility and wowing your customers that it creates a recipe for success.” I hadn’t actually thought about the connection between these three topics but I think Jim is right. Any business that makes these three components an integral part of its culture will certainly be well on the way success.

Jim went on to say “It sounds simple but so many people don’t seem to get it.” I think that’s true of most of the keys to success. None of them are complicated. Perhaps that’s why so many people just don’t “get it”. Maybe they think the magic formula must be more complicated and miss the real secrets when they are right there in front of them.

Well Jim, one thing I know for sure is that you get it! Thanks for the comments.

Positive Expectations

Ok. It’s Monday and we are headed into another business week. For some this thought will weigh heavy while for others it will be exciting. Of course you all know by know that my belief is that these expectations will indeed shape the results each of us experience.

So if we have the choice, let’s choose positive. Let’s all choose to have a great week. What ever you have in front of you view it through a positive filter. Let’s all expect this to be a great week. For this expectation to be transformed into results it needs to become a conscious thought that permeates your week. You need to think about it as often as you can. This can’t be left to chance so you must plan to think about your week at regular times. Start first thing every morning or by taking a few moments when you first walk into your office and again right after lunch. Plan these times to stop every day to think about your expectations. Staying positive requires effort but I promise it will pay big dividends. I will remind you of this periodically throughout the week. I will be interested in hearing the feedback at the end of the week as to how this has worked for each of my readers.

Last week was amazing for me and I can hardly wait to see what unfolds this week. I know it is going to be great.

The Secret To Life Is Showing Up

This has been an amazing week! As I mentioned in an earlier blog I spent two days this week working with two great guys, focused on the future of their business. These are great minds and the dialogue was incredibly stimulating. I came out of the first session exhausted but highly motivated and by the end of day two I was absolutely flying. I was appointed to two boards this week and I hadn’t pursued either of them. Indeed I wasn’t even aware of one of them until I was invited to serve. I got an email yesterday from an association asking if I was available to do some work for them and I have never heard of either them or the contact that sent the email. I have no idea how they got my name. I just hung up the phone from a call from a contact I met a couple months ago when I was referred to him as a speaker for a forum he was sponsoring. He was calling to tell me he had referred me to a contact at the Conference Board of Canada because they are now putting on a new forum in Edmonton and he suggested I be put on the panel and they have agreed and will be contacting me. Aside from all this I made great progress this week with two regular clients I have been working with and they are both extremely happy with the results.

It has indeed been a very good week. Frankly my feet are about a meter (just over three feet for my older and American readers) off the ground and rising. I FEEL GREAT! The amazing thing is that I didn’t set out to achieve any of this. It all found me. All I do is just show up in life and the most amazing things just keep happening. So the age old adage is true “The secret to life is showing up”!

Have a great week end, I know I will.

Trust The Process

I have had an amazing week. There have had a number of really fantastic experiences this week but by far the best has been the opportunity to work with a very dynamic company. This company is owned by friends of mine and as many of you know I am now at a point in my life where any company I work with has to fit three criteria: It has to be owned by someone I know and care about, the project has to be appealing (which is a politically correct way of saying it has to look like I’ll have fun and learn something) and I have to believe that I’ll make a difference, that the company will be better off with my involvement than without me. This project is the perfect fit.

We embarked on a strategic planning exercise, not because they had a particular need for a new strategic plan, it was more that they and I needed to define where they were and what the particular challenges where, so we had agreement on where to focus. My involvement was due to a sense of frustration within the two partners in the business. They have this amazing company experiencing fantastic growth with all kinds of opportunity but yet they were feeling a sense of frustration and we needed to determine what the root cause of this frustration was and what could be done about it. So we headed off down the strategic planning road Monday morning.

It was tough work. These are incredibly bright people and every thought was challenged. Nothing was simply accepted because I presented it as is usually the case in these sessions. By the time we completed Monday’s session I was exhausted. My mind was absolutely flying with ideas, questions and challenges. I/we had generated lots of questions but not many answers. I was beginning to question the application of my strategic processes as they applied to this company. Perhaps this would be the first time I had come across a company that couldn’t benefit from this particular process.

Our next meeting was scheduled for yesterday, Wednesday, morning. While sleeping Tuesday night I had a breakthrough. By the time I awoke Wednesday morning I had a clear vision as to where this company had to go next. The amazing thing is that at least one of the partners entered yesterday’s meeting in exactly the same head space I was in. We had come to the same conclusions and neither of us would have arrived there without the experience of the process we went through on Monday.

So, aside from being wonderfully mentally stimulated and learning a great deal about this fantastic business, what did I learn from all this? I learned to trust the process and never predetermine what your final destination is going to be when embarking on a strategic planning session. Just trust the process and go for it. Where ever you end up will be the right place to be. I also learned that these processes often feel like they are bogging down but that break down often occurs just before break through. These are all lessons I have learned before but I guess I still need a booster shot now and then.

Wow, it’s been a great week.

MasterMind Group

A couple weeks ago I travelled to Boston and kicked off the most exciting project I have ever undertaken. I started a MasterMind group. I have been talking about doing this for some time and actually started marketing the idea almost a year ago.

It was while reading Napoleon Hill’s great book “Think And Grow Rich” about thirty years ago that I was first exposed to the mastermind concept. I will risk a gross over simplification by defining as follows; Whenever two or more people of like mind get together focused on a common issue, the value they create is greater than the sum of the individuals and that value increases exponentially as you add people.

I have thought for years that it would be exciting to get a group of business people together to form a Mastermind group to focus on building each of their businesses. This is not a unique idea of course. YPO has been incorporating something similar for the benefit of their membership and the North American Auto industry has had 20 Groups for years. I could hardly wait to be involved in such a group and having the opportunity to facilitate such a group really got my juices running.

The group we started in Boston has the added attraction of my having hand picked the members. As well as being successful business people already, each of the members of this group are people I have a personal relationship with. They all matter to me so this just makes the entire project even more appealing.

I am very pleased to report that the inaugural meeting surpassed even my expectations. Each of the members left the two day meeting inspired by what this group is going to mean to their business in the future. Our plan is to meet personally twice a year and have a conference call on the odd quarters and the overwhelming thought at the end of this meeting was that this schedule probably won’t be enough.

I know what an amazing difference this group is going to have both personally and professionally for each of the members. I can hardly wait for the next meeting.

I have had a fair amount of pressure from the Edmonton business community to start a Mastermind group here with members being from non-competing but different industries. I think I may just have to do that. After all; a guy can’t have too much fun in his life.

Oh by the way, you will notice that I have capitalized the second “M” in my MasterMind group. That’s just my way of adding my own personal touch to Napoleon Hill’s great idea.

Brilliance Is Only 10% Of The Solution

I was the Master of Ceremonies last week at a forum entitled “The Experienced Workers Forum: Attract, Retain and Engage Experienced Workers”. The forum was sponsored by two departments of the Alberta Government, Edmonton Economic Development and Manpower. They brought in two key note speakers and six expert panel members from various places throughout Canada. The presentations were very professionally delivered and the information was incredibly educational. I will share the high points of what I learned throughout future blog discussions. Today I want to share one of the points that impacted me the most.

One of the speakers stated that discovering a brilliant solution to any problem was only 10% of the actual solution. The other 90% of the challenge is in implementing the idea to achieve the desired result. This was a “WOW” moment for me! It really put the value of leadership into perspective. It said to me that in any situation being brilliant isn’t enough, it isn’t nearly enough. True value is only delivered when brilliance can be transformed into results.

In most organizations results are seldom achieved by any one individual. Therefore once a solution has been discovered, an action plan needs to be developed that will deliver the desired result. The plan will then need to be clearly communicated to all those who will be involved in the implementation and then the activities agreed upon will need to be supervised. All of these steps require leadership to be successful.

So remember the next time you come up with a brilliant solution to some monumental challenge in your life that your work is only 10% done. To achieve anything really meaningful you need to get into action.