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!

Few Local Employers Have Succession Plans

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Only 15% of Northeast Ohio employers have a formal succession plan in place for supervisors, managers, and professional-level staff, according to the results of the 2011-2012 ERC Policies & Benefits Survey. The survey reports policy, benefit, and practices information from 173 Northeast Ohio employers.

This figure is down from 20% in 2007. The drop may be related to several factors.

“Many employers were likely not focused on strategic workforce planning initiatives such as succession planning during the recession,” says an ERC Survey Manager, “Some were focused on just staying in business and keeping as many people employed as possible.”

Stock market conditions may have indirectly impacted the drop in succession plans as well, they add. “After seeing their retirement savings shrink, many employees decided to postpone retirements and other career movements. The sense of urgency to find replacements for these employees may have dropped, giving employers less reason to put a priority on initiatives like developing successors.”

To access more ERC Surveys, click here.

Additional Resources

ERC can support your succession planning initiative by helping with the design and execution of your plan or simply providing expert guidance and best practices on an as needed basis. Contact ERC at 440/947-1283 or consulting@yourerc.com for more info.

6 New Ways to Contribute to Your Company

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Strategic thinking means focusing on the desired plans and results of your organization and integrating this focus into the overall goals of your job and team. Increasingly, this type of thinking is necessary at all levels of the organization – not just at the top – and can greatly enhance your career. Here are some easy ways that any employee can become more strategic in their role.

1. Gain a broad understanding of your business.

Obtaining a broader understanding of all of the major business areas of your organization and how they operate helps you understand the needs and demands of other departments. There are several ways you can accomplish this. You may seek out opportunities for cross-training, lateral career development, or job rotation; shadow a strategic thinker or seek one out as a mentor or coach; and develop relationships and connections across business units, divisions, and departments. With more knowledge of other departments, you increase your ability to make good decisions, solve problems more effectively, and become a more valued contributor.

2. Recognize the priorities of your business.

Strive to understand the short and long-term strategy of the business as well as its vision for the future. Where is it headed now and in the future? What is it trying to accomplish? What is the big picture? Continue to ask questions about the direction of the organization, even when leaders to not explicitly communicate it. You may consider keeping a list of these priorities handy so that you are constantly reminded of the organization’s objectives.

3. Link your activities and goals to the business objectives.

Your business’s priorities should guide the goals you set and your day-to-day activities and tasks. When creating your own goals (or department’s), choose objectives that align with your organization’s objectives and priorities. This means that they should link to the bigger picture. For example, if your organization is focused on improving revenue or improving efficiency, your goals should line up with this objective. Oftentimes, we may create our own personal and professional goals in a vacuum, not considering the implications or priorities of the business. This hurts the business and ourselves, limiting our strategic potential and derailing us from the organization’s direction.

4. Expose yourself to different business challenges and demands.

Exercise your mind and career. By working on challenging business projects outside of your area of expertise, you become exposed to new problems, people, and experiences – all of which can help deepen your strategic thinking skills. Additionally, find ways to work on cross-functional teams and initiatives that expose you to different perspectives on business problems. Also, it’s important to find ways to reduce tactical components of your job so that you have more time for planning and strategic activities that will enrich your career. Become comfortable with new technology, processes, and efficiencies. Finally, volunteer experience within committees, boards, and leadership roles can all help strengthen your strategic mindset.

5. Focus on strategic tasks.

The main difference between strategic and non-strategic tasks and activities are the reasons for doing the tasks and the outcomes. For example, non-strategic actions are not driven by an identified and measurable business need, while strategic actions are. With strategic tasks, some data, observation, or information suggests a business need to take a certain action. In addition, strategic actions tend to be driven by or result in a measurable business outcome – such as better performance, improved retention, enhanced productivity, and achievement of an organizational objective. Non-strategic tasks do not have as much value to the business and are generally more reactive than proactive. Examples of such tasks are below:

6. Anticipate problems, trends, and needs.

A final tip for enhancing your strategic thinking skills is to improve your anticipation of changes, potential problems, and trends in the market, economy, and the needs of your customers. For example, if you are a manager, you may anticipate changes in staff, workload, and performance requirements. If you are an HR professional, you may anticipate new benefit, compensation, or other rewards trends; the need to hire additional staff or obtain needed skills through training and development initiatives; or plan leadership development initiative to support succession in the organization.

Strategic thinkers are needed at all levels of the organization – not just the top level - including HR, managers, and professionals. By improving your skills you can be more valued and achieve greater accomplishments within your organization.

For help with strategic HR initiatives such as performance management, workforce planning, succession planning, or employee engagement, please contact consulting@yourerc.com.

5 Ways to Know Your Training Dollars Paid Off

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As a business leader, you foot the bill for training, but how do you know you’re getting your money’s worth? You can, and should, rely on your in-house trainers and external suppliers to provide quality, meaningful training. But as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water…

The good news is…you, as a business leader, are in the ideal position to increase the likelihood that the skills learned in class will transfer to the job. In fact, research suggests 2 of the 3 most important roles related to training are #1 – Manager Before and #3 – Manager After. In other words, what the manager does before and after training contributes most to whether or not the training is ‘transferred’ (a.k.a. applied).

Here are five pretty painless ways to make that happen…

  1. Participate. Ask for an executive overview of the training – for yourself and/or the managers of those being trained. The supplier, for example, would spend 30 minutes or so walking you through the program, including key learning points, models or techniques taught, application exercises used to help participants experience and retain the concepts, etc. You would receive a participant workbook and any job aides or handouts. Ideally, the executive overview precedes the training. This gives you the opportunity to request that certain points be emphasized or aligned with current business priorities. It also positions you to reinforce the new behaviors after the training.  
  2. Model. Select one aspect of the training that resonates with you, apply it to your role, and start practicing it. It could be anything from using the Situation-Behavior-Impact feedback model, to documenting performance expectations for your direct reports, to starting every company-wide meeting by publicly recognizing a handful of employees who have exceeded goals, to authoring a blog to keep employees ‘in the know’.
  3. Reward. Allocate a small sum of money to be used to reinforce the demonstration of behaviors and skills learned in training for 90 days following. Have managers of the participants partner with the facilitators to generate a short list of behaviors/skills to be rewarded. Publicize to participants that managers will be on the lookout to ‘catch’ them doing things ‘right’ and distributing rewards accordingly.
  4. Ask. ‘Walk the floor’, asking employees about the training…what they learned, what was most valuable, what they applied, how it worked, etc. Once employees learn they will be held accountable, they will be more likely to put the training to use.
  5. Connect. Tie the training to related initiatives, facilitating immediate application. For example, train employees on writing and delivering performance reviews just before they are due, train employees on goal setting at the beginning of the year, train employees on communication and team building at the start of a large organization-wide project, etc. Time the training and ‘tee it up’ by communicating why it’s being offered, why it’s important, and what related activity will immediately follow that calls for those skills. Having a senior leader endorse the training at the beginning of class is a great strategy too.

Leaders are like the media…they ‘tell’ us what to pay attention to and talk about. Take advantage of your role; try out these five easy steps. You will be amazed at how much more value you will get out of your training investment. And, who knows, you may even find a new technique that produces returns for you, too!

 

5 Common Management Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

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5 Common Management Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

Trainers often get the chance to see firsthand what can happen when a breakdown in communication occurs between employees and their supervisors.

A woman once approached an ERC Trainer during a break in the training session who was very emotional and teary eyed. In her seven years with the company, not once had her boss asked how her weekend was. Her boss was a driver, with a direct, ‘Don’t waste my time, I don’t want to know about your personal life’ kind of attitude.

At a superficial level, that seems fine but employees sometimes feel they need interpersonal communication to achieve a certain level of trust. If an employee feels that their supervisor doesn’t care about them, they can become disengaged and even tune the boss out.

Maintaining good lines of communication is just one challenge managers and supervisors face. The management of conflict and performance, and management of potential liabilities can be tough hurdles to clear, too.

Failing to address any of these issues can lead to damaging consequences for an organization. Companies, though, can be proactive in avoiding these pitfalls through the support and development of their managers.

Here are 5 common challenges for managers and supervisors—and some practical ways to deal with them.

Communicate.

Managers frequently are not aware of the quality of their communication or, as the above example illustrates, how their communication or interpersonal style are perceived by their employees.

You can help managers understand their unique communication and interpersonal style and how to “flex” this style in different situations by providing 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 directly address conflicts with their employees or work team.

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 who 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 effects 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.

Interested in learning more about training your supervisors?

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Easy Ways to Keep the Generations Engaged

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The concept of Employee Engagement has grown significantly in popularity over the years. Research shows that more traditional concepts of employee opinion or employee satisfaction don’t necessarily correlate to the likelihood that employees will stay and thrive, go above and beyond their primary job duties, or recommend the company’s products and services to customers. But those are the very definitions of employee engagement.  Research also shows that top performers tend to be more engaged than average or low performers and they out-produce their counterparts. So, the question is NOT whether keeping workers engaged is important or not.  Most senior leaders today would agree it is. The million dollar question is ‘HOW do we engage our workers’? Or, more pointedly, ‘How do we engage what is now a very diverse workforce’? We don’t all follow the beat of the same drum. (Some of us have trouble deciphering text messages from Millennials, let alone producing a beat they might follow!). But if we study what’s important to the generations and we study what influences engagement, we find quite a bit of overlap and some pretty easy ‘fixes.’

For example, the Traditionalists (born before 1946) tend to be driven by formal, public recognition, leadership roles, and responsibility. These are likely the folks who’ve been with your organization for many years, perhaps approaching retirement. They may feel that ‘No one cares what we think and what we know; no one asks us for feedback anymore.’ In most cases, they are storehouses of undocumented information about the company, products and services, customers, and processes. Often they are underutilized, disengaged resources.

A great way to engage this group is to establish them as mentors. Serving as a mentor meets Traditionalists’ needs for leadership, responsibility, and recognition, and mentoring is a key driver of employee engagement.  Whom should they mentor? The Millennials (born between 1982 – 2000). A recent study discovered that unlike previous generations who joined and identified with a company, this generation identifies with a person, specifically a leader. They want their own workplace and career tour guide. They look for someone to connect with whom they can learn from and who will champion them and their career. Who better to provide that connection than their own dedicated mentor? Plus, tenured mentors can learn a lot from the Millennials too.  In fact, pairing people strategically to ensure mutual benefit is a key to the success of this type of initiative. Be sure to take personality, workstyle, skill set, background, and interests into account, and give both mentors and mentees choices in partnering. Finally, to ensure engagement is impacted, both mentor and mentee should benefit from job challenges, training, recognition, development and growth, and autonomy as part of the mentoring experience.

Baby Boomers are motivated by recognition, taking charge, making a difference, teaming, personal growth, health and wellness, autonomy and creativity, competition and success. If they aren’t already formal leaders in your organization, these are ideal people for informal leadership roles. Engage them by asking them to ‘chair’ initiatives that matter to them. Projects involving wellness, community outreach, and the ‘customer experience’ are good examples.  The key to this approach is how you go about it. Let them choose the initiatives they want to be involved in. Appoint them as chair or leader as a form of recognition. Do it publicly. Allow them to form a team to work with. Provide the ‘what’ (the high-level goal), but let them decide on the ‘how’. When creating informal, meaningful leadership roles for Boomers, a few key elements must be present in order to impact engagement, including recognition, co-worker cohesion, and autonomy.

Last but not least, what about those strong-willed, independent Gen Xers? The areas of overlap between what engages workers in general and what drives Gen Xers in particular include challenging work, training, recognition and reward, a good relationship with their boss, coworker cohesion, and development and growth opportunities. In short, this group wants to feel as though they’ve ‘made it.’ With them, keep it high profile and you’ll keep them engaged. Here are some ways to do that:  allow them to work on company-wide challenges or the newest, most high profile venture. Ensure they have opportunities to interact with senior leaders. If their boss is not a strong, well-respected leader pair them with an internal mentor who is. If they are capable, put them on a fast track to assume a management/leadership role. Give them stretch goals and meaningful rewards such as bonuses, time off, and recognition. Permit them to attend off-site training or conferences, obtain certifications or pursue a degree. Ensure they work in areas of the organization where they have peers they can partner with, learn from and befriend.

Engaging your workforce in alignment with their generation-based needs is one way to maximize your organization’s return on your leadership investment. Committing to trying just a few ideas to better engage your employees can have real impact.  Many great leaders are said to have done some sort of personal accounting at the end of each day. When you leave your office each day, ask yourself….did I give my employees one more reason to go or one more reason to stay?

9 Best Practices for Employee Engagement Initiatives

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A successful employee engagement initiative can make lasting and effective changes in the workplace.

Here are nine (9) best practices for your employee engagement initiatives. 

Collect data.

Conduct a regular employee engagement survey either every year or every other year. Organizations that consistently measure and track how well they are engaging employees are better able to assess areas of strength and opportunity in their workplaces to impact engagement. Most organizations that evaluate employee engagement survey employees at least every other year. If your organization is smaller, it may consider conducting a more informal benchmark for employee engagement such as interviews or one-on-one meetings.

Seek an external comparison.

Benchmark how well your workplace practices compare to other organizations. An external comparison is as important as an internal benchmark. You’ll need to know how your organization’s practices relative to engaging employees stack up against other organizations, particularly with those you are competing for talent. Market surveys, great workplace programs, and other audits can all provide helpful external benchmark information. Some organizations that conduct employee engagement surveys also provide normative comparisons.

Identify overall drivers.

Know the drivers of employee engagement at your organization. Drivers are simply those aspects that are most commonly and significantly driving employee engagement either up or down at your organization. There are many different facets of the workplace experience that influence engagement to varying degrees, but your resources and time are limited so you need to know which aspects are most important. By identifying the true drivers of engagement for your organization, you can focus your efforts on the things that matter most to your workforce and top people. A good employee engagement strategy is all about targeting the right things – not everything.

Identify individual drivers.

Many engagement initiatives fall short of identifying individual drivers of employee engagement - largely because this responsibility should fall on managers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors need to find out what engages each of their employees, and particularly their top people, through observation and conversations. These insights can be gleaned through day to day interactions, performance management, and communication. However, most managers and supervisors just aren’t attuned or trained to recognize what engagement is and why it matters. Your responsibility is to ensure that they have the right skills and resources to positively impact engagement.

Keep it relatively simple.

Scoring which is difficult to understand or results that includes too many segments or breakouts of data can detract from obtaining value in the process. If you conduct engagement surveys, make sure the scoring can be easily understood by those interpreting the results. Also, keep data segments and breakouts to a minimum so that the initiative does not become about “fixing” certain people, departments, or areas of business, but rather improving the engagement of employees.

Meet and discuss engagement with your leaders.

Once a survey, feedback, and/or benchmarking initiative had been conducted to evaluate employee engagement and how you compare internally and externally, it’s important to meet and discuss the results with your leaders. This ensures that engagement is seen as part of the larger business strategy and receives support. Key tips for creating this dialogue include: create an executive summary to help them digest the information obtained, tie the results back to issues of importance to them (business strategy, etc.), back your points with data and numbers, and provide recommendations for how to improve engagement. Another way you can make the results meaningful to your leaders is by providing segments of information that are important to them – such as engagement scores by the business’ divisions. The most successful engagement projects we’ve seen are those that are conducted with leadership support and participation from initial communications and analysis of the results to action planning.

Set goals aligned with employee engagement.

Having an employee engagement-focused strategy can help you set goals for your department and organization. Common goals that impact employee engagement include increasing employee engagement scores by a certain percentage, reducing voluntary turnover, enhancing communications effectiveness, increasing development opportunities, or even impacting the bottom line. Whatever these goals may be, they should be in line with the drivers of engagement and the areas of need. In turn, you should be able to tie these goals back to the larger business strategy. Be able to address why each goal is important to the business’ direction to gain support.

Create action plans, on-going conversations, forums, and follow-up.

Once you’ve set goals to improve employee engagement, create action plans to impact those goals.  We find that there tends to be a great deal of momentum initially right after an engagement survey that can become lost over time. To ensure that your goals are met and receive the support they need to be successful, create action plans with specific timetables, roles, and accountabilities. Additionally, if employee engagement is truly an important organizational initiative, it should permeate your organization and drive the actions of HR, managers, and leaders. Many organizations have on-going conversations and forums to discuss employee engagement and keep going back to the survey data.

Implement changes.

Lastly, implementing changes in an employee engagement initiative is crucial. Your organization should follow-up on the areas needing improvement either through direct change or acknowledgement of employees’ feedback, especially prior to surveying them in the future. If you plan to ask employees for their feedback – be prepared to respond because not making changes can lead to negative effects. It’s always a good practice to make any small changes quickly and to save the larger changes for later.

Additional Resources

Employee Engagement Surveys
ERC’s services are used by many local employers to gauge their employees’ engagement, identify drivers of engagement, benchmark scores to other local organizations, and help you translate the data into real, actionable changes. Click here to learn more.

NorthCoast 99
Benchmark how your organization’s workplace practices surrounding the attraction, retention, and engagement of employees compare to other employers by applying for the NorthCoast 99 award. All applicants receive free benchmark reports just for applying. 

Supervisory/Managerial Training
Are your supervisors and managers equipped to engage employees? Give them the right skills and competencies to impact engagement. Click here to learn more.

Employers' Use of On-Site Sales Training Rises from 2010

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A 2011 survey shows that U.S. employers increased their use of on-site sales training from the previous year. The percentage of employers using on-site classroom training also slightly increased from 2010.

“Although the survey shows that employers are continuing to teach sales skills and techniques on-the job, we’re also seeing increased usage of outside training for sales professionals, including on-site classroom instruction and seminars,” says an ERC Sales Trainer & Consultant.

The Trainer & Consultant adds, “These methods of training are invaluable in helping sales professionals learn and practice different sales techniques like identifying needs, closing sales, and building relationships, and also support and compliment on-the-job sales training programs. In addition, skills coaching, delivered either one-on-one or in small groups, is another effective avenue for sales professionals to refine their skills and help ensure that on-the-job training translates into results.”

For more information on ERC On-Site Sales Training or Skills Coaching, please contact ckutsko@yourerc.com

5 Secrets to a Becoming a Better Workplace

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Why do some organizations receive more qualified job applicants? Have more positive work environments? Experience lower turnover? Enjoy higher employee engagement? Develop more innovative products? Here are five (5) of their top secrets.

Secret 1: Create an open environment

Great places to work create a sense of openness in their workplaces – openness to new experiences, continuous improvement, sharing of information, and creative thought. This openness is created through transparent, direct, and honest communication at all levels of the organization. Leaders communicate information and feedback frequently and sincerely. Little information is held back from employees, and employees constantly have access to information about the organization’s performance and direction and the ability to ask questions about the organization at any time. Similarly, managers and supervisors provide frequent feedback and communicate directly and honestly with their employees. All levels of employees, particularly non-management staff, are encouraged to voice their ideas and opinions. These practices facilitate an open dialogue throughout the organization.

Secret 2: Develop and maintain trust

A strong sense of trust is prevalent at great places to work and is built on positive and constructive work relationships. Most importantly, there is a sense of trust in leaders and their ability to lead the organization successfully. Employees have faith that their leaders will sustain and grow the organization and develop a clear vision and direction for the business. To build this trust, leaders frequently engage and interact with employees, develop a history of good decisions that move the organization forward, model organizational values, and consistently “walk the talk” by delivering on promises and commitments. These leaders are individuals of integrity that inspire their followers.

There is also a strong sense of trust between employees and their managers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors trust their employees to complete their tasks, accomplish goals, and make decisions independently. Similarly, employees trust that their managers and supervisors will support them and look out for their best interest. 

Secret 3: Treat employees fairly

Fairness is widespread at great places to work. Fairness, or perceptions of equity and justice, refers to when organizations make employment decisions (such as promotions, rewards, and pay) based on objective criteria – typically performance. By fairness, we are not referring to distributing these rewards to all employees equally. Nor are we referring to respectful and courteous treatment, which should be given to all employees. At great workplaces, those employees that outperform others receive rewards. Rewards are fairly distributed to those that deserve them.

Similarly, great places to work strive to provide a competitive total rewards package, including competitive and fair pay and benefits to its workforce. They monitor workplace trends and deliver a competitive package that attracts the right talent.

Secret 4: Support employees

Support is a critical part of great places to work, and provided at all levels of the organization – from leaders, managers, supervisors, and even coworkers. Support is prevalent when an organization conveys that it cares about helping employees achieve more for themselves or meet their needs – both personally and professionally. It is communicated and manifested in policies, procedures, and programs, and in how people interact and communicate with one another. People work together, help one another succeed, and support each others’ needs at supportive workplaces.

Great places to work provide flexibility in meeting personal and professional demands; on-going opportunities and interest in professional development through training, career development, and advancement opportunities; new and challenging work experiences; support for health and well-being; and appreciation for contributions and accomplishments.  These are all important ways that these organizations show their support to employees.

Secret 5: Have pride

There is a strong sense of pride and positivity prevalent at great places to work – specifically pride in one’s work, team, and the organization as a whole. Great places to work encourage taking pride in one’s work, recognizing that when employees are passionately and emotionally connected to their work, they are most engaged. These workplaces also encourage taking pride in team accomplishments, which facilitate stronger work relationships and camaraderie.  Finally, at great places to work, employees take pride in the organization as a whole and the products and services it offers to customers. They are incredibly connected to the organization’s mission and purpose.

Is your organization a great workplace?

We find that employers often underestimate their workplaces in terms of these characteristics, and encourage them to consider how their organization stacks up against these crucial aspects of the workplace. You may be surprised to find that your organization has all of this. Becoming a great place to work is more about building the right climate and culture that attracts, retains, and engages top performers, than instituting the most popular and attractive perks.