Thursday, June 4, 2020

A Shift in Behavioral Modeling

Dr. Michael Ahearne of the University of Houston shared research this week that pointed to a dynamic shift from transactional to trusting customer relationships through the emergence of the COVID19 pandemic. We've seen insight into how to work from home more efficiently. With theory becoming a sustained reality, it is now time for human beings to adapt and persevere.

Additionally, there has been a noticeable transition from quantitative to qualitative measurements of organizational success. This means keeping an acute focus on revenue while changing the measures by which to get there.

I've authored several articles on the importance of Behavioral Modeling in the past. Whether you create performance pillars based in intrinsic motivators or you subscribe to the SCARF methodology to guide manager/employee relationships, the time is now to shift focus.

To evolve workforce strategy, Total Rewards teams are presented an opportunity to marry compensation and benefit strategy. This new normal will be rooted in technology. With an already intense strain on HRIS teams, the deployment of Human Capital Management technology may be an additional unmet need. Here, the opportunity for field management to utilize existing platforms will bring historically fragmented parties together in partnership.

Work with What You've Got
With goals shifting from individual to team based, competition will give way to collaboration. This synergy will produce an avenue for engagement at higher levels than in the past. Collective achievement can have a more profound impact than individual employees taking all the credit. Those of greatest contribution can still be recognized while complemented by a grander strategy based in collaborative advancement.

We've seen this before. The retail banking scandal of last decade moved tellers from transaction-based selling goals to a more responsible customer support model. It may come as a surprise but customers added more products to their portfolio and the term of customer relationships were lengthened. 

Continued Leverage
So we are calling upon individuals to be a bigger part of the collective. How do we measure that?

1. Put qualitative performance pillars in place
a.     Teamwork
b.     System Population
c.     Training Completion

2. Measure the above systematically
a.     Manager Coaching
b.     Badging for Milestone Completion
c.     Leaderboards

You'll see how these formally assumed "fluff" programs become measurable and actionable.

With the carrot now affixed at the end of a longer stick, will employees continue to be motivated?

As budgets shift you'll have plenty of opportunity to reward employees for short term goal attainment through non-cash rewards and save compensation bonuses for overall measured production.  

The Jerry Maguire Rule      

"We are losing our battle with all that is personal and real about our business" - Jerry Maguire

The above excerpt is from Jerry Maguire's mission statement entitled "The Things We Think and Do Not Say". With the extraordinary financial strain of COVID19 related work adjustments, this mission statement is more relevant that ever. As Dr. Ahearne further exemplified in his research, bringing value to clients will be the only way to retain them. Similar to the unwritten agreement employers have with their employees, now more than ever, trust will drive client relationships.

What does this mean?

Robotic approaches to customer service will not sustain. Sales professionals will need to invest deeply in knowledge attainment of customer needs and how to solve business challenges. Organizational leaders will have to be realistic while creating inspiration at a level they may have shied away from in the past.

The road ahead will be rocky and no one can see the bridge to stability quite yet. It would be great to have simple answers but there are none.

Now is the time to invest in employee development and put customers first. Advocacy will win the day... One day at a time!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, May 15, 2020

Note to My Younger Self

A #NextChat question posed earlier this week (along with some virtual commencement speeches) got me thinking about the lessons I've learned in 20 years of corporate life. As seniors navigate the disappointment of proms and graduations lost and young professionals seek entry into an economically compromised corporate world, I figured I would reflect.

Early in my career I was all effort and no theory. I worked tirelessly for 12 hours daily. I took on any project offered me. I was the first to show up and the last to leave. I succeeded and failed. I experienced glory and disappointment. I networked and learned how to utilize technology and played the political game of moving up the ladder. I was uncompromisingly determined and insanely annoying. I wanted everyone to know how smart I was and I would stop at nothing to mention it (directly) to everyone. My heart was in the right place, but my "motivation" looked more like nervous energy.

Do Your Fighting In The Ring

I see it every day in the workplace. Employees who are new to the company that are hell bent on announcing their arrival. This is done through asking multiple leading questions in team meetings (to show off how smart you are), sharing articles you've found on topics of interest (to show how resourceful you are) and reply to all emails across the organization (so everyone knows that you have keen insight). Almost 100% of the people who are loudest in their on-boarding training class are searching for a new job within a year.

Be Patient

I've been in sales my entire career. The skill set of the sales professional is not synonymous with patience. We are extroverted and action oriented. Some of us were even taught that hearing "no" was a way to advancing the conversation (side note: most sales training sucks).

At a certain point in my career my emotional intelligence started to override my ego. I learned to have conversations with people at the level of their peers. People hate sales people, they also love to share with people they trust.

The greatest compliment I can receive from anyone is: you're not like most sales people I've met.   

Question Your Motives     

It is difficult to do, but bringing self analysis to everything you do is of massive importance. With every action you take, you have to ask yourself, "am I doing this because there is an authentic intent or am I just trying to impress others?" Far too often the answer tends toward the latter but we program ourselves to ignore it. We can't imagine not being seen, especially when others around us are being recognized with pageantry. If you are working for a trophy, you are in it for the wrong reasons.

Self confidence is an act of personal security based in divine introversion. Listening is more important than talking. Leadership is an act of servitude. It is far more important to recognize than to be recognized. We must learn to be humble in victory and accountable in defeat.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, April 24, 2020

Little Wins

As we enter another week in quarantine we've all figured out how to use zoom and have adapted the ability to wear shorts with a sport coat. We're tired of hearing strategies of how to work from home and we certainly aren't delighted when receiving cold calls from vendors "just checking up on us".  Many people have lost jobs, others their businesses and some their lives. There simply is no silver lining.

As we traverse another day in the bunker, unsure if it's Saturday or Monday, little wins are the thing that get us through each day: a puzzle completed, a milestone on the peloton, our homemade sourdough afloat.

With the new normal now fully operational and a sensitivity for employee well-being, it's time for companies to help secure some little wins.

We've seen a transition in workforce directives as many quantitative measures have been altered or put on hold. A shift to behavioral modeling to enhance qualitative skills seems to be happening. This, in an effort to help employees build a sustainable skill set while core function may be temporarily altered.

These qualitative models are driven by learning. Formulated correctly, a path can be created to help employees learn every day through a variety of skill building exercises.

At the end of a trying day fraught with financial challenges and bad news, knowledge-based achievement provides a much needed boost of dopamine. 

Problem Solving
We all navigate the precept of "what keeps us up at night". Knowing there are things we cannot control leaves us feeling uncertain (and at times helpless). While there is little that can be done to solve the world's problems between you and the ceiling at 2am, when you get out of bed and jump into the issue, pressure dissipates.

Problems may pass but inaction doesn't benefit our self-control. So, if we can dig into a situation at work that poses difficulty, we may find that we are making progress. There is a great sense of achievement in creating solutions where once problems seemed insurmountable. It is the achievement of problem solving that brings us all a little closer to control in these uncertain times.

Relationship Building   
Even the worst micro-managers have adapted to act in the best interest of employee well-being. Customers who may have been over-demanding in the past have developed an ability to express forgiveness. Strangers we pass on the street seem to have a longing for connection that relays empathy where otherwise there may have been apathy.

People we work with are starting to tell stories. We are learning about one another. We'll look back on these times with a fair amount of dread but we'll emerge from them with a better appreciation of one another.

Little Wins.... that's what matters right now!

To learn something, to help solve a problem, to make a new friend.

The Next Chapter
As days fold into one another, we do our best to live in the moment, but gathering perspective is extraordinarily important. So where do we go from here?

I'd like to think that the jobs, businesses and lives lost to COVID19 will not permit the luxury of returning to "business as usual". With respect to the greater human population it is incumbent upon businesses worldwide to tackle the future of work with compassion.

"That but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all here, but here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We'ld jump the life to come" - William Shakesphere

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, March 27, 2020

Moving Toward Certainty

We are 2 weeks into a 12 week (?) isolation. Times are uncertain but words like transparency and candor are becoming commonplace. It's been refreshing. When you dig into what is genuinely important, the difference between partnership and product transaction starts to emerge. When we stop pretending to be on opposite sides of the table, trust gets us closer to genuine human development.

In times when things are undetermined, leadership is of paramount importance. I don't mean this in terms of pulpit speeches from CEOs; Leadership right now comes from the trenches. The importance of transformation is being driven by those who do not have elevated titles.... these are the people who will save companies.

When bravado is no longer an option, learning becomes a priority. The question is whether we can adopt these practices into our long term strategy.

It is somewhat startling that it takes a tragedy to pull common sense into business relationships. Conversation over the last two weeks has been rooted in human compassion:

What are you using that you don't need?
What are we missing strategically that we may have overlooked in the past?
How can we help?

Seems simple to raise such questions, but we tend to forget what genuinely propels us forward. Strategy needs to be the sum of that which make people's jobs easier. We need to forget the concentration on line items to survey the larger picture.  

Technology has never been more important than it is in this very moment.....

We are pulling together virtually to measure critical project milestones. We are sharing information to help others get past hurdles that have held us up in the past. Our intranets are landing pads for everything that is essential to our organizational function at this moment in time.

THANK YOU are now the two most important words that can be texted, tweeted, emailed or shared in social technology. People everywhere are sharing stories of Human Success without being able to shake hands or hug those who have helped them triumph.  

This too shall pass.... we'll be able to talk through business challenges in a room together at some point in the future. Until then, there is a need for quick fixes that will keep production moving forward.

And it sucks....

We wish we could see our work families. We wish we could gather in conference halls. We wish we could catch a plane to a sunny island to celebrate our hard work. That time will come but until then we need to document, track, visualize, create, expand and reward ourselves in a place where avatars replace faces and high fives look more like badges.

Inventory every piece of technology available to your employees and find a way to maximize purpose. I'll bet the practical process of applied intelligence will outlast the pain of isolation.....

Don't Forget to Remember,


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Right Now Won't Last Forever

We are concluding day 3 of mandated social distancing here in Northern California but it seems like it's been 3 months. Its been made apparent that this new style of existence may last for 3 months.... thus feeling as though we've been in the bunker for 90 years (don't check my math on that).

Our staff in the incubator exists of a sixth grader and an eight grader (adapting to virtual learning), my wife, my dog, my mother-in-law and I.... so if you are alone and feeling lonely in this time, you might want to reconsider your good fortune.

With virtual work we're (almost forced) to consume a greater degree of Social Media and Television transmission. I'd suggest implementing some personal controls to limit interaction with the aforementioned channels of (mis)information.

It might be 3 weeks or 3 months (hopefully not longer than that) but we'll emerge from this with some new habits. I'd bet we'll appreciate our families more. We'll find a new appreciation for our ability to solve business problems without having to drive hours to crowded offices. We'll also miss going to offices and the hugs from co-workers that provide some levity between meetings about meetings to talk about meetings. We may get better about limiting unnecessary communication. There may come an ability to consider the circumstance of each decision we make and to prioritize our time accordingly. We might stop caring so much about things that are out of our control. Maybe we'll stop allowing hatred to guide our ego and give in to Love. But mostly, we'll miss the hugs.

I'd assume most reading this live in a capitalist society that allows you to control your own destiny should you be willing to put the work in. So naturally, frustration will wash over us multiple times a day while shut away in our bunkers. This might prompt one to go onto social media and condemn others for trying to make a living (albeit amid a lack of sensitivity for the moment at hand). We may want to curse politicians (in-office or awaiting election). We'll get into our cars and yell at other drivers. Maybe we'll find a bottle to release our frustration that will only fuel our anxiety. We might forget about our elderly parents while locked in debate with @bootyshaker2006. This too, I would advise against.

Indeed, our desire to control what we cannot may give way to a need to revisit that which we know to be universally true....     

In his remarkable 2013 South By Southwest keynote, Dave Grohl reflected on a time of sleeping on floors and on stages and on floors underneath stages. Recalling this venture through a slumdog existence with complete joy. He was dirty and uncomfortable and the future was uncertain but he was free.

Mr Bruce Springsteen recalled his family fleeing to the west coast leaving him a teenager alone in his home town. The page was completely blank, everything was uncertain, there was nothing but opportunity in front of him...... It was his to explore.

David Foster Wallace explained to Kenyon College's class of 1995 that the most important choice they had in-front of them was the choice of that which they chose to worship. Advice without entitlement left to ponder before he left the world.

The unlikely Icon, Rodney Mullen spent his life hell-bent in the pursuit of perfection (only to achieve it twice).

Coach Jim Valvano reminded us to laugh, think and cry.... every day.

Then there was the guy who climbed a 3,000 vertical surface without a rope.

We've heard world leaders make bold statements with promises of action in times like these that helped us pull up our boot straps. There are pre-game speeches from coaches leading their teams into what seemed certain defeat only to propel them to victory. There are scenes from movies that inspire our spirits to tears. There are songs that fill the air and set time into complete neutrality.

.... and you can access it all without having to leave the bunker.

Turn off the news. Shut down the lap top. Go find what really matters.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, March 16, 2020

Some Inspirational Educational Material

It's day one of social distancing and we're still getting used to tribal isolation. My children will be e-learning their curriculum over the next two weeks so to break up the monotony I advised my son to take a look at the video content below. You might like to check them out as well......... 

Greta Thunberg - TED talk -

Dave Grohl - SXSW Keynote -

David Foster Wallace - Commencement Speech -

Laird Hamilton - Greatest Ride Ever -

Inconoclasts - Sean Penn and John Krakaur -

Everybody's free to wear sunscreen -

Kate Tempest - Peoples Faces -

Until next time...
Don't Forget to Remember, 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Virtual Culture

Paranoia, uncertainty, and maybe a bit of loneliness are all turns of phrase to characterize the current state of work. With the fear of disease front of mind, companies have been forced to separate their workforce. For one who espouses Employee Engagement and Cultural Development for a living, you would think this a dark time. As ever, we adapt and move forward. The Coronavirius-forced work-from-home mandate could serve as an interesting experiment to test mobile work. We are not encouraged to shake hands and company events are being put on-hold so there's never been a better time for virtual collaboration.

Social Recognition
Say 1,200 people have shut their desk drawers and will be working from home for a month. The experience of recapping a ballgame or the Bachelor with co-workers certainly has to be replaced. You'll find the inability to walk to someone's desk to ask for an update on the project timeline to be equally disenchanting. As we slog through the imperfect separation, we need a way to stay connected.

After a long day of emails, texts and conference calls why not jump over to your company's internal social space to thank a colleague or two? There is nothing like a Thank You to provide the end of day dopamine release and it serves as a healthy alternative to happy hour.

Beneficial Capabilities:
  • Badging (Project/Training completion)
  • Milestone Celebration (Birthdays, Service Anniversary)
  • Manager discretionary rewards
  • Peer to Peer interaction
... all-encompassed in the ability to comment, like and share as if applauding announcements of progress at a team meeting. 

You've been on conference calls since 6am, take a break to walk your dog. Try taking that e-learning course from your Peloton. Mixing a smoothie in your kitchen sure does taste better than cafeteria food.

If we can begin to observe healthy interludes from home, maybe we can carry them back to the workplace when the doors re-open.

Beneficial Capabilities: 
  • Renewed focus on clean work environments
  • Reminders to wash hands
  • Steps challenges
  • Mental health breaks
  • Calorie monitoring
  • Sleep monitoring

Collaboration Tools
Your conference rooms may be replaced by chat rooms temporarily but that should not stall progress. A good collaboration system will allow employees to share ideas, construct rule changes and like/share the input of others.

Suddenly the isolation has given way to a whole new connectivity afforded through the use of programs that have always been there for us but might not have been fully adopted.

Beneficial Capabilities:
  • Idea sharing (approved and adopted)
  • Article editing (sharing beneficial best practices)
  • Process improvement (documentation of issue resolution)
  • Social feed for morale boosting

We'll miss the hugs and water cooler chats but we cannot allow dormant workplaces to depress our sense of community.

Replace your cultural affirmation by engaging with others systematically. It might not be perfect but for now it's all we've got.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Friday, February 28, 2020

2020 - So Far

My post at the onset of 2020 looked out at the year to come with wide-eyed (if not intimidated) anticipation. I'd noted that the turn of the decade along with the over-abundance of new years resolutions seemed like a lot to tackle. But, if the first 8 weeks of this year are an accurate projection of whats ahead.... 2020 may just live up to expectations!

The greatest attribute we have is our ability to take action. Unfortunately, taking action (especially voluntary action) often comes with more criticism than praise. Developing the ability to act without fear of negative reaction is critically important in this age. When we've had experience in our trade and can share what we've learned, our personal journey is converted to shared success. Knowledge not shared is wasted.

I wanted to share a few resources contributed in the year so far. Follow the links below......

Top 10 - Workplace Culture Influencers

Of course it is an honor to be mentioned with Holly Branson and Francine Katsoudas,
what is more impressive is the strategic relevance culture building is gaining. No longer is culture affiliated only with corporate parties; Diversity, Ideation and Leadership Development are all becoming pillars of social participation.

HR Social Hour Podcast

If was a divine pleasure to talk Employee Engagement at the intersection of professional and personal inspiration with Jon Thurmond and Wendy Dailey. This podcast is really gaining popularity within the HR community and beyond. Jon and Wendy have the unique insight of workforce tenure that is layered in with a whole lot of personality and human compassion.... you have to give this a listen!

The Blunder Years Podcast

Ted Bauer has become a really interesting follow. He is transparent and vulnerable while pondering some of life's least comfortable dilemmas. Less workforce discussion and more focus on bigger picture ideologies that move us forward (and hold us back).

Silo Busting

I have to admit I have been astonished by the activity and debate this post has prompted. It seems the old adage of employees leaving bosses, not companies, has never been more prominent. I'm hoping the proposed intervention of HR Leaders and HR Tech hasn't been over-looked.  

Recommended Podcasts:
HR Social Hour
HR Famous
The Blunder Years
Let's Fix Work
Behavioral Grooves
Road Work
All Songs Considered

Recommended Publications:
Everyday People
The Tim Sackett Project

I think we are ineffective in our goal setting because we put too much emphasis on the end game:

- Lose 20 pounds
- Achieve x amount of revenue
- Attain certification

I've found it more realistic to take it day-by-day (10,000 steps, complete a few forms, tell your wife you love her).

With our New Year's Resolutions likely elapsed and the Catholic Lenten Season upon us, lets not put too much pressure on ourselves. Raise a toast if you need to. Take a nap in your car. Rock out. Dance. Don't forget to share it.....

Don't Forget to Remember,


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Silo Busting

"We've always done it this way" - anonymous

Micro-Management is the single greatest deterrent to organizational progress in today's workforce. We all know that people don't leave companies, they leave bad bosses. Yet, workplace bullying at the expense of employee mental health continues to be an issue. There are a few avenues that require some intuition but could ultimately fix that which has a choke hold on progress.

Employee Perspective 
As individuals we are motivated by the following intrinsic motivators:
Wouldn't it be refreshing if your Manager sat down with you and asked for you to stack rank the five above behavioral characteristics then agreed to help you navigate the organization accordingly? Some people want fair treatment, others would love the opportunity to learn every day. There are those who dedicate their lives to a career that elevates a higher purpose while others seek to climb the corporate ladder. Some people simply enjoy a workplace culture that expands their social experience.

As an employee of a company, you reserve the right to call on a Human Resources representative to mediate issues between you and your manager. It is likely, however, that once you ask for said intervention your time at your organization is limited. It seems Managers can silo your career advancement but as soon as you call their style of leadership into question you may as well sharpen your resume.

From the employee purview, if your manager seeks to motivate through control, success is questionable at best.

Manager Perspective
Ever notice that Employee Engagement seems to look at process and rewards for the undervalued contributor?

Isn't that backward?  

In fact, career advancement relies on the critical involvement of a manager that believes in you! This requires trust and the ability to understand that a manager's primary job is to promote their greatest players.

Middle-Managers do ten times the work of their direct reports (often for less money). It can be a thankless job. Yet and still, we blame middle-managers for lack of organizational success. Micro-Management is not an affect of a leaders inability to lead, it is a construct of over-worked employees time management forced to be defunct at the expense of their own human compassion.

Managers are required to turn off the emotional side of their relationships because they don't have time to drive financial advancement while considering the individual development of the people they are called upon to lead.

The Solution
If we can agree that employees need the ability to navigate their own advancement and that Manager's are simply over-programmed, there is only one course of constructive intervention:

Human Resources

We have the ability to implement systems and processes that will destroy organizational bullying, allow for multiple sources of coaching for employee advancement and create culture where once there were only closed doors.

There are two issues corrupting this evolution:

1. Managers are unaware of the advantage that opening their leadership lane will afford them.
2. HR seems unwilling to intervene.

It's pretty simple, when Managers realize how incredibly effective it is to allow others in the organization to help them manage performance, their desire to control will die, time will free-up and their employees will succeed at a rate unimaginable.

"If you love someone, set them free" - Richard Bach

Where is HR in the construct of assisting business units in building relationships? Do we still feel uninvited to impose solutions that seem to require a PhD in the understanding of what sales does?

Human Resources is aptly named. We are not called upon to pretend to know the excruciating pain of a saleswoman's quota attainment nor do we need to code in open-source to understand our technical engineers. Last I checked, we all have kids and hobbies and a whole lotta human interaction that forms the way we work.... the way we live and the inevitable importance of this cross-section.

Don't Forget to Remember,


Thursday, January 2, 2020

From Beneath The Ice

When he was deemed old enough, his father allowed him to tag along on an ice fishing adventure. They woke in the dead of night to navigate the cold wind that kissed the black ice. Through the dead silence he heard a noise that sounded like car skidding to a halt. The ice split and he fell in. Instantly, he felt the piercing of his skin unaware of which way was up, the slightest current capable of putting him further under the ice. In the same moment a similar force pulled him.... his fathers huge hand on the hood of his jacket rescuing him to the safety of the solid ice rim. His jacket was peeled off and replaced by his father's warm coat. Within minutes he would be back in a heated truck. No fish pulled out of the water, no life lessons shared in the shanty, very few words spoken. He never ice fished again.

Through all his life's adventures and accomplishments, this event stuck with him, like images from a silent movie.

As the years went by he used this terrifying experience to explain a few of life's grand lessons:
  • Be willing to take risk
  • Always have a life vest
  • Accept failure as a course correction
  • Prepare for the worst, expect the best

Wolves Don't Cry
The most outstanding athletic achievement of the last decade was Alex Honnold's scale of El Capitan without a rope. He was thought insane but his decade of preparation tells a different story.

We fear risk taking because of the unknown (if unforeseen) consequence. No one wants to dive into the abyss. Most risk takers are extraordinary planners. Ever hear the one about the guy who told his crew to drill for oil in a spot by tasting the dirt? He'd done extensive environmental testing in the weeks prior but the "dirt test" inspired a far more profound effort from his crew.

The Hand of the Father
Some of us are able to divine the strength of our father as an unsinkable life raft. There is no fear of the storm with dad at the wheel. But protection gives way to personal freedom and new resources have to be sought.

Whether a gaggle of great friends, a board of trusted advisers or a surrounding team of those who thrive in areas we don't; our confidence is fed through the knowledge that there is someone there to catch us if we fall.   

Fruitless Fear of Failure
Rodney Mullen won every contest he competed in with the exception of his last. Oscar De La Hoya was undefeated for most of his career (supposedly only winning his father's love when he finally lost). Brian Wilson spent his life feeding a bully with love unaccepted. They all flew too close the the sun.

Setting goals for perfection is a tough prophesy. Those who learn to fail and course correct tend to embrace adversity with better-intended consequences. 

We Can Be Heroes
Entering a new year/decade will cause us to fixate on goal setting. We tend to put a big number on the virtual scoreboard and seek to dream it into reality. While belief will always propel us toward our goal, simply wanting something isn't enough.

We avoid risk taking because it requires a cross-balance of aspiration paired with strategic planning. Some want the trophy without having to put the work in, others work and work without a measurable plan. Is it better to move into each day with unwavering positivity or should we be aware of pitfalls before we face them?

Failure is an affect of planning too big without considering the process. You'll always be disappointed if your goals are out of reach. Learning from failure requires an ability to course correct at each short coming.

We are all fully capable of achieving any big goals that the new decade calls for us to propagate. Every mountain top has a million small steps in it's shadow.

Don't Forget to Remember,