Growing Your Rising Stars

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Your organization may have some rising stars – high achieving employees with the ability to move up in your organization and carry the demands of your organization’s most challenging and promising opportunities. You may love their work, think highly of their potential, but notice a few skills or abilities that need some development before promoting them to the next level. Here are a few ways to grow and engage your rising stars.

Uncover their (and your) objectives.

According to a 2011 study conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council, 1 in 5 emerging leaders believe their personal aspirations are different than the plans of their organizations. Obviously, there’s a strong disconnect between what emerging leaders want from a career and what they think their organization wants from them in the future. Before your organization pours resources and time into the process of developing these employees, be sure that both of your objectives match. Similarly, in order to know how to develop your rising stars, your organization needs to determine its long-term objectives and the talent it will need to achieve those. For example, will your business be expanding? Will its product/service line change? What skills will it need? How will technology affect your workplace? When will leaders retire or move on? Growing your best people often requires good workforce and succession planning.

Place on intense assignments and in challenging roles.

Research shows that intense, challenging, and risky assignments are the best learning experiences for growing leadership capabilities – and more meaningful than traditional job rotation programs. These developmental assignments not only engage the rising star, but also allow your organization to evaluate how well the employee performs on new challenges they have not experienced and where further development is needed. Similarly, rising stars should be placed in challenging roles and positions – perhaps an undeveloped area of the business, a department that is underperforming, or a potential business opportunity that has not yet been ceased. It’s important not to shield rising stars from the realities and stressful situations they will face in future roles. Rather, throw them into the fire, but build in support.

Provide formal training and development opportunities.

While job experiences are one of the best ways to grow rising stars, there’s no replacement for the classroom. Seminars, activities, and instruction are a necessary supplement to leadership development initiatives and frequently are used to grow capabilities in key leadership topics like change management, presentation, communication, influence, and negotiation. Other formal development opportunities such as attendance at conferences, certification programs, advanced degrees, participation on boards, and involvement in professional associations can all be helpful in growing capabilities. Rising stars will need to acquire knowledge not only in their organizations and through experiences, but also externally from facilitators, coaches, and peers.

Engage in regular feedback and dialogue.

A conversation once or twice a year isn’t going to grow your best employees. Development done right requires frequent conversations and dialogue. This dialogue can address how the employee is performing and provide direction, guidance, and coaching on new stretch tasks and development opportunities. It can also help gauge their engagement and satisfaction with the initiative and how they are progressing in their development plan. These conversations often can help avoid derailment – failure or underperformance at the next level – a common problem many leadership development programs experience.

Beyond one-on-one dialogue, 360 feedback is another common leadership development tool that can help your rising star determine how their style and competencies are perceived by others in the workplace such as managers, coworkers, and customers. The results can be used for follow-up coaching and training.

Use your current leaders as resources.

While most development responsibilities fall on HR or line managers, seasoned leaders and top managers can (and should) be actively involved in mentoring and developing rising stars – not just evaluating and selecting who these leaders will be.  Oftentimes, exposure to current leaders and tapping into their perspectives, knowledge, and experiences can be very effective in growing future leaders if they want to be engaged in the developmental process. It can also engage your rising stars, providing them with opportunities to interact and build relationships with your senior staff. Plus, your organization may save on other developmental costs such as use of an external coach or mentor that is not as ‘in tune’ with the workings of your company.

A range of work experiences, developmental activities, dialogue and feedback, and use of current leaders is a simple recipe for growing your rising stars into higher levels of your organization and engaging them.

Additional Resources

The Emerging Leaders Series
Have the emerging leaders within your organization been identified? Do they have the skills and knowledge needed to best represent your organization? This two-part series covers professional etiquette in and out of the workplace, communication skills, and the traits of a strong leader. Participants will learn tools to present themselves more effectively and enhance their contribution to the organization. 

Leadership Development Training
Developing your leaders or managers? Check out the range of courses we offer to help you grow talent of all levels and especially managers and leaders. Click here

Coaching, 360s, & Talent Management
ERC offers several developmental services including employee, manager, and leadership coaching, 360 feedback initiatives, as well as assistance with talent management projects including workforce and succession planning to support your leadership development initiatives. For more information, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

Three-Quarters of Employers Offer Supervisory/Management Training

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According to the results of the 2011-2012 ERC Policies & Benefits Survey, most employers in Northeast Ohio provide supervisors and managers with training in supervisory and managerial skills. Most commonly, 75% of local employers say that they use employers association supervisory/management development courses to train employees compared to only 32% of employers that use college supervisory development courses.

“The survey’s results suggest that local organizations find value in the supervisory/management training provided by employers associations like ERC. Within the training we provide, participants learn how to apply a variety of managerial and interpersonal skills including dealing with the everyday challenges of being a manager and also receive a variety of resources to support them in their managerial roles,” says Chris Kutsko, Director of Learning and Development at ERC.

She adds, “Many of our clients find tremendous value in the quality, delivery, support, and affordability of our supervisory and managerial training beyond what other providers offer.”

Additional Resources

More information about this survey: click here
Upcoming training and programs on this topic: click here

5 Common Management Challenges

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Communication, management of conflict and performance, and management of potential liabilities are all challenges managers experience. Here are some practical ways to deal with these common management challenges and support and develop your managers.

Communicate.

Managers are frequently not aware of the quality of their communication about expectations, changes, procedures, and other work-related issues, or how their communication or interpersonal style is perceived by their employees. Help managers understand their unique communication and interpersonal style and how to “flex” this style in different situations. Provide managers with communication templates, scripts, tips, or checklists. Engage in role-play or dialogue with the manager to help them practice their skills and identify opportunities for improvement. Additionally, educate managers on common communication breakdowns and how to avoid them and encourage managers to notice signs of communication problems (misunderstandings, consistent performance problems, etc.). When all else fails, provide a personal coach if communication problems persist

Resolve conflict.

Many managers ignore problems and do not address conflicts with their employees or work team directly. Whether these are performance problems, conflicts among team members, issues of trust, or personality clashes, managers are challenged to confront and address problems head-on and as they emerge, diffuse employees’ feelings and emotions about the problem, listen to both parties’ needs and desires, derive win-win solutions that lead to more productive and positive work relations, and prevent conflict in the future by nurturing positive coworker relationships and recognizing potential for conflict or problems early.

Manage performance.

Managers must balance meeting goals, managing workloads, and motivating employees. These issues coupled with the fact that many managers are ill-equipped to provide regular and constructive feedback and may not understand the importance of documenting performance can make managing performance challenging. To support them, build on-going performance feedback into the performance management process to ensure accountability. Create an easy method for managers to document performance like a database, log, or diary. Provide support tools for managers such as rewards, recognition, training, and development to recognize and build performance. Most importantly, train managers in topics such as performance management, coaching, and feedback since many will have had no experience with these.

Handle protected employees.

Most managers are not well-versed in administering ADA, FMLA, and other laws that protect certain groups of employees, but unknowingly find themselves managing an employee that requires an accommodation, leave of absence, or falls into a protected class. These situations need to be handled delicately due to their legal nature, so make managers aware of:

  • Legal basics such as conditions or disabilities that are protected
  • How to determine essential functions and reasonable accommodations
  • Requirements associated with FMLA (eligibility, length of time, etc.)
  • Types of employees that are protected under law (gender, race, national origin, etc.)
  • Hiring and interviewing liabilities (questions to ask/not ask, etc.)

Administer policies fairly and consistently.

One of the most common challenges for managers is treating employees fairly and consistently. A manager may allow policies and rules to be disregarded by some employees and not others – or may disregard employment policies altogether. “Stretching” the rules for some employees can open up a range of potential liabilities and perceptions of bias and favoritism that have negative far-reaching affects in the workplace. Be sure to write clear policies and let managers know when changes have been made. Set clear criteria for making employment decisions, particularly where managers need to distinguish between employees (recognition, reward, development, etc.). Also, clearly differentiate between the policies in which managers have discretion to implement and those in which they do not.

Addressing these management challenges sooner then later can prevent your organization from experiencing many problems and liabilities. It’s never too early to ensure that your supervisors and managers have the skills, tools, and support to do their jobs effectively, so if your supervisor is just starting out, consider developing these important skills as soon as possible.

Additional Resources

Supervisory Series
In the series, participants will gain an understanding of their role as a supervisor as well as employment law as it relates to common supervisory issues. They will also learn how to apply basic managerial and interpersonal skills including dealing with the everyday challenges of being a supervisor, communicating effectively with others, resolving workplace conflict, managing performance, and coaching. Click here to register or click here to learn how we can bring this training on-site to your organization.

Strategic Legal Update
Stay up to date on all of the most recent law and policy news with our blog

Coaching & Performance Management Services
ERC offers a full range of services to support your organization’s performance management activities. We also offer one-on-one coaching services to help your build and develop your manager’s skills. For more information about these services, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

Healthy Living Ideas: Having Trouble Sleeping?

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The importance of sleep is underscored by the symptoms experienced by those suffering from sleep problems. People suffering from sleep disorders do not get adequate or restorative sleep, and sleep deprivation is associated with a number of both physical and emotional disturbances.

Below are suggested herbal sleep aids supplements to help get a good night's sleep.

1. Chamomile: Chamomile is one of nature's oldest and gentlest herbal sleep aids. It is most often drunk as a tea, which has a mild and pleasant taste. In addition to promoting calm and restfulness, chamomile is also used in cases of stomach irritation.

2. Valerian: Valerian is a root that has long been used as an herbal sleep aid. It has a characteristic smell – just like old socks. Valerian can be used to help occasional sleeplessness, but is also particularly helpful taken long-term.

3. Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that the body produces at night. It is sometimes called the "sleep hormone" because it is so important to healthy sleep. People who are blind, who suffer from jet lag, or who live in places with extended sunlight hours may have trouble sleeping because their bodies do not produce enough melatonin.

4. SAMe: SAMe (S-adenosyl-methionine) is an amino acid derivative, and is found normally in the body. It is typically used as an antidepressant, but is also commonly used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome or as an herbal sleep aid. Its actions in the body help to promote healthy sleep cycles, especially when taken daily for several weeks.

5. Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to seratonin. Low serotonin levels can cause irritability, anxiety, and sleeplessness, so adding more tryptophan to your diet can help you relax and will promote healthier sleep patterns.

Health Care Reform Lunch Forum

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The complexities of health care reform and the decisions that will need to be made by legislators, regulators and other policymakers over the next several years are daunting.  Ohio’s policymakers need your insight regarding the important considerations of the employer community regarding how reform will affect the role employers’ play in sponsoring access to health insurance options.

As a result, the State of Ohio has contracted with The Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs to assess the effects of ongoing market forces and federal health reform on Ohio’s trend for employer-sponsored health insurance.  Given the many changes to take place over the next several years, their team cannot simply project future trends based on past experience.  Therefore, they are seeking input from employers to understand what they anticipate doing under different health care reform scenarios, including a lack of change that could occur from the repeal of the legislation.

ERC, the Health Action Council (HAC) and The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), have agreed to co-sponsor an employer forum in Northeast Ohio to solicit employer insights.  This input will assist policymakers better understand the health-related policy actions employers require to support the challenges of offering employer-sponsored health insurance and make Ohio a preferred place to do business.

This forum will take place on May 23rd from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at ERC’s Workplace Center. Please RSVP to Jasmin Denholm at 440-947-1274 or jdenholm@ercnet.org.  There is no cost and seating is limited.

We hope that you can join us for this important discussion—it is an opportunity to directly advise our state’s policymakers on your concerns and ideas related to the implementation of reform.

University Hospitals Partners with ERC to Offer Member Discounts

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University Hospitals, one of the nation’s leading health care systems, has partnered with ERC to offer significant discounts to its members.

ERC members will receive a preferred discount on the following services from UH:

  • Executive Health
  • Infertility Treatment
  • Bariatric Surgery
  • Corporate Wellness
  • Travelers’ HealthCare Center

UH, a 7-time NorthCoast 99 winner, has also joined ERC to access the numerous HR services they provide including surveys, online HR tools and the popular HR Help Desk.

“On behalf of the entire University Hospitals Human Resources Team, I am thrilled that we have entered into this partnership with ERC. ERC has a well-respected knowledge and resources base in the Human Resources field and will provide us with additional tools to support our employees and be a Best Place To Work,” said Jason Elliott, VP of HR at UH.

The University Hospital Executive Health Program is a high-quality, customized, convenient and comprehensive program that provides its participants with peace of mind. This specialized ERC member package includes a three-phased approach that provides consistency at each of the testing facilities.

A unique offering for Northeast Ohio organizations are the University Hospitals Corporate Health Wellness Services. The information an employee gains from the Wellness Services will empower them to take better care of their health and start positive habits. It will also help an organization control rising health care costs, absenteeism, turnover, boost productivity and morale.

3 Steps to a Great First Impression with New Hires

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Remember your first day at your job? Did you feel excited? Did you feel welcome? Did you feel like the organization was prepared for your arrival and happy you were there? Or, did you leave that day with a serious case of “buyer’s remorse” thinking you made a terrible decision? Here are three simple steps to make sure you make a great first impression with your new hires!

Talk to new hires before day one.

What happens after a job candidate accepts an offer of employment? Does anyone speak to that person again before his or her start date? If not, consider doing a few little things between the job offer and the new hire’s first day to reinforce that he or she made a great decision to come work for your organization. Send a note of congratulations, flowers, gifts, or logo items to the person’s home. Have the person’s supervisor or future co-workers reach out and offer a congratulations. Send a schedule for the new hire’s first day or even first few weeks of employment including a list of items and information they may need. Send paperwork that can be completed prior to the first day to make sure the new hire’s time is more productive starting on day one. Make that person feel like he or she just made one of the best decisions of their life.

Be ready on day one.

Have you ever showed up for your first day on a new job and you didn’t have a desk, a phone, business cards, pens or pencils, or any idea who you needed to meet with, for how long, or for what? If so, then you already know that the fastest way to make a person start second-guessing their decision to work for you is to make them feel invisible on day one! You should be ready for your new hires when they walk in the door. Plus, the better prepared you are, the faster you can get that new employee trained and actually contributing to your organization.

Talk to new hires after day one.

Check in at 30, 60, and/or 90 days. Conduct a “new-hire survey” to see if the experience of your new-hires during the recruiting process prepared them for your workplace culture and performance expectations. Ask for suggestions. Use the information you collect to help improve your recruiting processes, communications, and interviewer skills. Make your employees feel like they aren’t just special when they’re being recruited or on their first day – reinforce that they, and their opinions, are important from here on out.

You don’t get a second opportunity to make a great first impression, but when you’re proactive and well prepared for your new hires, you can create opportunities to make many great impressions throughout the recruiting, hiring, and orientation process.

Other Resources:

HR University: Orientation & Performance Management Practices
New employees at your organization need to understand their role, what’s expected of them, and how this fits into your business. Going forward, they’ll need feedback on how they’re doing, in order to reinforce positive behaviors and discourage negative ones. This session will cover the basic steps of a thorough orientation process, how HR can help supervisors manage their direct reports’ performance, and what to do when a performance management program needs adjusting.

Healthy Living Ideas: Stress

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Stress. The word is used so much these days. Is it real? Can it hurt you? What is it? What can be done about it?

Stress can cause us significant problems. Stress releases powerful neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (to fight or flee). If we don’t take action, the stress response can lead to health problems.

One way stress is thought to affect the body is by causing digestive dysfunction which can affect Vitamin B production and absorption. Since B Vitamins are required to produce dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, and other brain chemicals, it is important to take a good multi-vitamin, an EFA supplement, and possibly a mineral as well.

Oddly, stress seems too often be caused by a lack of epinephrine, also called adrenaline. This is a hormone released by the body into the bloodstream in response to physical or mental stress. Some of the best stress supplements include tyrosine and GABA, necessary for the adequate production of epinephrine.

Minerals are known as calming supplements -- particularly calcium and magnesium. When selecting a multi-vitamin, it is important to choose one containing a good amount of minerals, or ensure that minerals are taken in another supplement. Many find that taking their calcium before bed relaxes them and it has been said that it is better absorbed during sleep.

Exercise stimulates production of another class of hormones which fights stress called endorphins. These are morphine-like chemicals which block pain and improve mood. It is important to exercise 3-4 times per week to produce adequate amounts.

Studies suggest the best-known single herb to combat both mental and physical stress is Ginseng Root. It has been shown to improve mental activity and it helps the body adjust to stress, as well as providing numerous other benefits (including improving immune system function). Other herbs helpful in combating

Adequate nutrition is very important when the body is under stress. A good way to combat stress is by taking a daily multi-vitamin. Also effective are herbal and mineral supplements and Omega 3/EFA’s. But it is as equally important that your customers understand the importance of following a smart diet plan and eating well (eating correctly portioned proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy oils). Exercise 3-4 times a week is another factor that will combat stress as exercising stimulates the production of endorphins. It is important to avoid hydrogenated oils (in margarine and many processed foods) and Trans fats (fried foods). Following this type of diet and avoiding too many starches and sugars provides excellent mental focus and balance.

4 Ways to Develop and Retain Leaders

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4 Ways to Develop and Retain Leaders

Do you have some people in your organization who you might label as “high potential” or perhaps an “emerging leader”? If so, what are you doing to develop and retain those employees? If the answer is “nothing” or you’re not sure what you can or should do, here are a few ideas to consider.

Assess Your Talent.

So your gut tells you that the new college grad that’s been interning for the last year who just accepted your offer to come on full time could be on the fast track to a very successful career. Before you sign her up for every leadership course in town or name her the successor to your CEO, you may want to consider assessing her leadership skills or at least getting some kind of a baseline in terms of her personality, skills, and abilities that you can compare against some benchmarks to see if your gut matches up with actual data. This can help you help your emerging leader understand what her strengths and weaknesses are, how she “ranks” compared to other leaders in your organization or based on whatever benchmarks you use, and can help set a nice baseline on which you can build an individual development plan to help her move forward on that fast track to success.

Assign a Mentor.

The benefits of mentorship programs are well documented, and the benefits to an individual you have labeled as a high potential leader are equally as, if not more, attractive. It’s not only a great way to enhance the development of an employee and more quickly get him familiar with how the organization works and how to make things happen, it can also be a wonderful retention tool.

Invest in Your Talent.

Just because you put seeds in the ground doesn’t mean your garden will grow. It takes a lot of time, care, and feeding to make sure the roots take hold and the flowers blossom. The same is true for your emerging leaders. Just because you’ve identified them as having a lot of potential for growth doesn’t mean they’re going to get there on their own. It takes an ongoing investment of time, training, and resources to make sure their roots take hold in your organization and their leadership skills blossom in the future.

Let Them Know.

Maybe. Depending on the culture of your organization and the maturity of those you’ve identified as high potentials, you may want to consider letting them know you think they have potential. On one hand it can be a great confidence booster and great way to increase the chances you’ll retain that person. On the other hand, if he or she already possesses a great deal of confidence (and doesn’t hesitate to let everyone else know about it) then you may want to take a different approach.


The bottom line is that when you have identified talent that you believe will help your organization long term, it makes a lot of sense to invest some time and thought into how you can increase the probability that talent develops in a positive way and that person stays with your organization for the long term.

Emerging Leader Training Series

Emerging Leader Training Series

Have the emerging leaders within your organization been identified? Do they have the skills and knowledge needed to best represent your organization? In this 3-part series, participants will learn tools to present themselves more effectively and enhance their contribution to the organization.

Learn More about Emerging Leader Training

Why Y? Working with Gen Y and Surviving

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As generational research steams ahead and more and more gigabytes are collected, we are fast looking for answers to an age-old question.  “Why are these young people so weird?” Wait! Did I say that?  Yes, but just so you know, there are young people among us that have tattoos, pierced lips and tongues that are bright, multi-talented —and they don’t wear button down shirts!

Working productively with the Millennial’s, the Nintendo Generation, the Echo Boomers or whichever label we put on these 12-25 year olds is critically important today, since there are 60 million in the United States that are entering the job market. Let me give those of you that struggle some ideas, three to be exact, to working in harmony with the young men and women with iPods in their ears and cell phones strapped to their back-packs.

Tip Number One.  Keep them engaged and challenged.  This generation has been multi-tasking since they were born; talking on a cell phone while playing Nintendo is common for these bright young people. Their parents have involved them in soccer, gymnastics and playgroups, and by doing so have built a generation that is comfortable doing something different all of the time. Having meaningful work was less important to their Grandparents because they were happy to be working. The expectations of the Gen-Y'ers are much different.  They’ve been busy most of their lives doing many different activities and flourish in that environment. Give them something important to do and get out of the way, they will astound you!

Tip Number Two.  Keep your technology current.  Any investment in your technology is perceived as an investment in them. For the older generation, growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, the first color television was a big deal. Today the Y Generation sees a better picture on their iPod. They can download a half hour sitcom for a couple of bucks and watch it at their leisure. The Gen-Y’er expectation is clearly, “How can I do my job with the equipment we have here?” Their Baby Boomer manager doesn’t get it.  “Hey, we only had three channels on our television,” is not an acceptable response.

Tip Number Three.  Don’t expect respect simply because you are more senior. Not that these super-high achievers are disrespectful. They are not! Authority just doesn’t intimidate them. That’s a good thing! Some executives over the last 20 years have asked for honest feedback (not that they’ve always done anything with it) from their staff and associates. These young professionals will certainly give us feedback. We need to be careful how we respond to it. A much more open and accepting leadership style is critical. These young people respect success and want to be part of it. They don’t really get excited about more conventional forms of recognition such as preferential parking. What gets them fired up is working on something meaningful and being part of a winning effort.

Things change, and as quickly as we adapt to one, the next is upon us. Each generation has lamented about the next and worried that they won’t be able to take the hand-off.  We are optimists and tend to see the glass half-full. This is generation could be the greatest of all time.

One more thing, just when you get this group figured out, then comes Generation Z!  Egad!