Iron Sharpens Iron

Over the last twenty years, I’ve had access to better mentors than I probably deserved. I’d like to think I’ve always worked as hard as I possibly could to earn that access but some of the folks who have sown into my life and career were nothing short of proof that God’s hand does indeed move in each of our lives when we’re willing to move with It! All that said, the type of mentorship I’ve needed has changed as I’ve held different roles with different types of responsibilities; personally and professionally!

When I worked in safety, there were three or four amazing safety professionals I was able to align myself with so I could have access to the best and most relevant information available. As I moved into a full time human resource role, a few of those guys who were great at safety just didn’t have experience in HR so I had to chase after experts in that field. The same that had been true in my personal life when I started working...

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Who’s Really Leading?

The entire time I was in manufacturing, nearly twenty years, the facility I worked in held a meeting each Tuesday afternoon that was often referred to as The Leadership Team Meeting. The plant manager led this meeting and each of the department managers participated, reviewing the metrics they were each responsible for tracking, discussing issues they were facing, and whether or not they were within budget to that point in the quarter. If one of those managers happened to be out of the plant, they would tap someone on their team to attend in their place…

Sound familiar? I expect it does since nearly every company I’ve interacted with in the years since holds similar meetings. But are those really leadership team meetings?

When Cindy and I had a conversation with Carly Fiorina a while back, she shared this with us regarding the difference between managing and leading, “Managers produce results within existing constraints and conditions. Leadership CHANGE or ...

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What Do They Mean by “Soft Skills”?

In his Forbes.com article titled Here Are The Top 5 Soft Skills I Look For In Candidates, Mark Pena opens by saying, “In an automating workforce, soft skills are the irreplaceably human element of work - and the thing employers are desperate to find.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the idea of soft skills referenced throughout my career, but I’ve rarely heard anyone provide tangible examples of soft skills that I could learn quickly or apply immediately. I’m not suggesting that it’s not possible or never happens, I’m just saying it’s rare… Soft Skills seem to almost always be something that’s ambiguous, or something that you either have or you don’t. I’ve just never been willing to buy into that idea, especially when I hear things like “you get hired for what you know but you get fired for who you are…” (There’s even a Psychology Today article with nearly that exact...

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Understanding the World Around Us

In unpacking the first two components of emotional intelligence, self-awareness and self-management, I referenced the research William Marston did almost 100 years ago as he prepared to write The Emotions of Normal People. Before we dive into the third component, I want you to really think about the complexity involved with reading someone’s emotions. Heck, it’s not always all that easy to keep a firm grip on our own! With that in mind, what was Marston focusing on as he conducted that research?

Nearly twenty-five years ago, during the first training session I ever sat through on a new process called “behavior-based safety” that was being rolled out in the manufacturing facility where I worked, I learned the importance of focusing on behaviors rather than attitudes or emotions. We can OBSERVE behaviors; we can’t always see emotions and attitudes unless someone is exhibiting outwardly through their behaviors!

Having shared that quick history lesson,...

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Communication Skills in the Workplace

We closed the loop on Why is Effective Communication Important? by looking at how quickly we can see the results show up with the team members around us. It’s rare for me and Cindy to have a conversation about the importance of effective communication with any of the business leaders we support and not reference the Salesforce.com study citing that “86% of the executives surveyed attributed lack of collaboration and ineffective communication as the primary reasons for workplace failure.” Couple that with the detail shared by the Harvard Business Review showing that an engaged employee contributes up to 57% additional discretionary effort yielding as much as 20% great individual performance and the reasons for building strong communication skills into an organization’s culture becomes far more than just a neat idea… Developing communication skills in the workplace rapidly turns into one of those things that can’t happen soon enough! 

Before I...

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Action Speaks Louder Than Words!

When we’re truly interested in learning how to improve the recruiting process in our organization, we need to be willing to commit to taking action quickly with potential candidates. If we prove unresponsive from the very beginning, some of the best potential team members may quickly get the impression that this is what they can expect even after they join the company. When we paint a great picture of all the opportunities we can provide but don’t back it with the action to match, all our effort crafting that message can be lost.

Before we go deeper into that though, let’s circle back to something from the last post. I mentioned how smaller companies often need team members to develop quickly since each person represents a larger percentage of the total. This can have a significant impact on career growth and retention, and ties very closely with improving the recruiting process. But when the management team in a bigger organization really accepts leadership...

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Offering More Than The Competition!

I floated several different ideas for the title of this post by Cindy before landing on “Offering More Than The Competition”... She shot them all down! She said they were each accurate but would likely send the wrong message. As I was studying some material on The Model of Human Behavior yesterday, I read something from Dr. Robert Rohm stating “It takes a good C type personality to complete the loose ends of a D.” And thank God I have one…

Since I ended up going with a more appropriate title, rather than something that would have toed the line a bit, let’s jump straight to the main course. We looked at the importance of telling the right story in the last post, That matters! But we still need to make sure we can provide them with something more tangible to get them in the door!

Those of us who are blessed to live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia may not always realize how great our job market has historically been. In addition to many great...

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One Way Employee Retention Impacts Recruiting...

In the last post, we made the move from focusing on the importance of employee retention to looking at recruitment and retention strategies. With that in mind, we can never really afford to take our eye off the ball with regards to creating the type of culture that keeps great people onboard and engaged! 

I’ve seen organizations be incredibly hesitant to invest time and resources into intentionally building up the individuals on their team, then increasing their compensation accordingly, and having to fill entry level positions over and over and over again. I’ve also seen organizations that adhere to extremely stringent timelines and procedures before even considering a pay raise. Many times, the companies doing either (or both) of those things also struggle to attract solid candidates for the roles they need to fill. Sometimes a company may even offer crazy sign-on bonuses to reel candidates in, but the holes in their process for career growth keep those same...

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The Cost of Starting Fresh

Several years ago, I was presented with a fancy certificate of recognition from a regional workforce development board for the work I had done with them on a grant that was focused on getting unemployed and under-employed individuals into skilled, full time roles. This particular grant was designed to take fees paid to the government in the H1-B Visa process and re-allocate them to organizations that were hiring in an attempt to offset some of their training costs. I had indeed worked closely with that group for a couple of years leading up to that but I had no idea that I had written more grants than anyone else in the state. I just thought it made sense and believed doing whatever I could to alleviate the significant costs we were absorbing to train new employees was part of my job… 

The initial grant I was dealing with would cover up to 50% of the new employee’s salary for up to six months, but I had to make a strong business case for the time and costs involved...

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Not On or To Them, but FOR Them!

I got my first taste of behavior-based safety in late spring or early summer of 1998. Cindy and I had only been dating a few months at that point so I was still teetering on the edge to say the least… By the time I went through the two day training process required to conduct behavioral observations in January ‘99, we were nearly a year into a pretty solid relationship so some of my extremely rough edges were beginning to get at least a little bit smoother. Looking back, I can see so many places where God’s hand was moving in my life at that time but I’ll save those stories for another time.

For now, I’d like to share a subtle but crucial lesson that I probably should have pulled away from those two days of training. Truth be told, it took a few years for me to really get it!

You may have heard me reference this before but I’ll hash it out here again. One of the core tenets of behavior-based safety is that employees are trained to watch their...

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