Posts Tagged ‘employee engagement’

Winter Weather and WOW! Update

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Outside the headquarters of WOW! it looks like ‘snowmaggedeon’.




We are under more than 90” of snow and shoveling has become a nearly endless task.  The white stuff is no longer pretty and traveling by foot in South Boston is as dangerous as driving: the two-way streets that are so narrow that only one car can pass at a time.  Huge icicles hang from the roofs, ice dams are taking over the gutters, and mountains of snow are obstructing views for walkers and drivers on every corner.  Take a glimpse at what I am talking about…


However, there is also some good that comes from this as well… spending time with family and friends (that live near by), catching up on old and new TV shows, and shoveling is great exercise.  It is also a wonderful way to meet the neighbors, make new friends, and connect with folks in the neighborhood!  Yes, there are some pluses from all of the white stuff!

WOW! loves to connect and engage! Over the past few months, Nettie has been connecting and engaging great women in Boston through an informal networking group that meets about every 6-8 weeks.  It is so informal there is no standard agenda except to bring a smile, your business cards and your cup of coffee. (When we meet in the evening, everyone buys their own cocktails).  The purpose of the event is to mingle and meet women of all ages, backgrounds, locales and industries, while making new friends in an informal environment. The event is fun and some great personal, professional and work connections are happening!

Growing our relationships!  We also are very excited that through Nettie’s work as a mentor/coach for Babson College’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL) and the WINLAB program, we are partnering with WINLAB for our next event on March 12th at Babson’s Boston Campus.  This is super exciting and offers the WINLAB coaches a great opportunity to join in the fun and connect with each other and meet more great women.  If you live in the Boston area feel free to contact Nettie to get on the mailing list, and grow your connections {women only}.

Stay tuned…

for more WOW! updates in the weeks to come on how we are connecting, engaging and growing…


Being Wildly Successful

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014


By Guest Writer:  Stu Danforth, Positive Leadership Dynamics

It’s a simple idea that drives companies to wild success.  Wildly successful companies - those with sky-high productivity, giant profits, and singular product and service quality – show a relentless focus on one element of their organizational strategy.

These booming organizations know that their competitors don’t get it – and they capitalize on that fact.  They know that most companies they compete against (and most organizations in the US) can only count on about 30% of their own work force to get the critical work done.

In order to become wildly successful, your people need guidance.  But you can’t be with every person every day of the week (and that tactic doesn’t work anyway).  You need to guide your employees in a way that provides them discretion to make good decisions and the freedom to get great work done.

You need a relentless focus on your organization’s culture.


In our new publication we show you the three ways to create this relentless focus, and achieve this wild success.  It has to do with three key elements: managing, communicating, and cultivating great people.

Download our expert tips on creating a wildly successful organization…

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Expert tips on creating a wildly successful organization

Leadership Field Are your promotions failing? Here’s why, and what to do about it.

Sunday, May 11th, 2014

By Guest Blogger, Stu Danforth Positive Leadership Dynamics

In most companies in this country, employees who show a high proficiency in their job get promoted. Good accountants become managers of other accountants. Good engineers become managers of other engineers.  Sound familiar?  Here is the secret: These managers often have never been assessed for managerial skill and often have zero talent for it.

After the promotion of an unsuited manager, their team often does well for about three to six months.  Then performance starts to decline, morale drops, and productivity craters.  Why?  Because that’s when it becomes clear management requires a different and distinct skill set.

Get beyond this problem.  First, admit this error – which might be difficult because most senior leaders are a product of this system.

Second, create new promotion paths – one for the technically proficient folks, and another for the people who show true skill and talent at managing other people. Promoting a highly valued employee shouldn’t mean they have to manage others if that is not what they are good at.

Third, assess for management skill, and give them support.  To get the right people managing others, assess that skill and promote for it.

Managing others is hard work; great managers influence, guide, mentor, motivate, discipline, activate, engage, support, and drive their team members.  Those are social, not technical skills.  They are the skills of human engagement.

You have good people in your organization. Don’t create problems by promoting them into roles they are not suited for.  You will get to thriving much faster with the right promotion plan in your organization.


To learn more about Positive Leadership Dynamics…click here



Why Blog?

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By Cindy Miller, Guest Blogger
Cindy Miller Communications

Let’s face it: Most of us are not going to see a whole lot of zeroes behind the number of hits on our blog.  So why bother?

Yes, it’s time consuming, but here’s why blogging makes sense:

  1. Blogging can be incorporated into professional development. There is no shortage of information flowing through the Internet, and the discipline of blogging forces you to take the time to actually read some of it, form opinions and adapt new thinking into your work. This is a good challenge for your executive team, and for others throughout the company.
  2. You can establish members of your staff as thought leaders. When it comes to blog readership, it’s quality, not quantity that really matters.  If you use an effective social media strategy to promote your blog, you’ll expose your expertise to the right people.  And that leads to business.
  3. It’s part of your business development. A collection of blog entries tells a prospective client a lot about you, your work and your approach to business.
  4. You can make any size company more personal. A blog can share information about your company that helps fuel the type of culture you want. Share exceptional stories — and some ordinary ones, too — to help link your employees together. This can be especially helpful for companies that have multiple locations.

Blogging can get you noticed in just the way you want to be perceived.  That’s smart promotion.


Cindy Miller is the president of Cindy Miller Communications, an Atlanta-based company that specializes in strategy, crisis and social media. Learn more at or contact Cindy at

Talent: The Hot Topic for 2014

Thursday, February 13th, 2014


2014 is the year for Talent. Companies need to keep their eye on their talent, as well as re-invest in their people.  Studies show that 2014 is the year people will finally consider or make a job move. Add to this the fact that organizations looking to retain talent are expected to spend money on learning and development.

What are you doing to find this talent hitting the job market?

What are you doing to develop your talent?

How are you keeping employees satisfied and productive?

#1: Recruiting and Selection: One in Five Workers Plan to Change Jobs in 2014. Twenty-one percent of full-time employees plan to change jobs in 2014, the largest amount in the post-recession era and up from 17 percent in 2013, according to a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive from Nov. 6 to Dec. 2. The survey participants included 3,008 full-time, private sector employees across industries and company sizes.

#2:  Job Satisfaction: A drop in job satisfaction may account for the expected rise in turnover. Fifty-nine percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs, down from 66 percent in 2013; 18 percent are dissatisfied, up from 15 percent last year. Those who are dissatisfied cite concerns over salary (66 percent) and not feeling valued (65 percent) most often as reasons for their dissatisfaction, according to the Harris Interactive survey.

#3: Talent Development:  In November and December of 2013, Corporate Learning Network surveyed dozens of learning and development leaders. Here are key findings:

  • Learning and training is hot again. After years of reduced budgets, more than half of learning and training leaders surveyed projected increased budgets in 2014. YEAH!
  • Classroom training still accounts for the majority of spending, but L&D leaders continue to allocate more funds to blended learning. GREAT IDEA!
  • Aligning learning with the company’s growth objectives tops the list of how learning and training executives plan their future budgets allocations.  A MUST!
  • Two in five learning and training leaders are not aware of their competitors’ learning and training methods. This is a major blind spot. YIKES!

Talent on the move can be an opportunity or liability for your company. Which will it be?

Survey Says…

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

“One in Five Workers Plan to Change Jobs in 2014 …” read more

“Many Employed Workers Haven’t Sought A
New Job In Years …”  read more  


What both surveys indicate is that 2014 looks like the year the job market turns around.  “Twenty-one percent of full-time employees plan to change jobs in 2014, the largest amount in the post-recession era and up from 17 percent in 2013,” according to the survey conducted online by Harris Interactive.  However, respondents expect the effort to challenging.

What does this mean for employers?

Retention and Engagement is critical. Ramp up initiatives that keep employees happy and involved.

  • Review current development programs and make sure they are better than your competitors.
  • Give thanks to employees as a lasting reminder of your appreciation. Make formal rewards and recognition a part of your company culture.
  • Ask employees what they need through surveys, focus groups or one-on-one interviews.

Experienced talent will be hitting the marketplace. Now is the time to review your hiring practices, make sure your recruiting message is effective, and you are prepared.

  • Clear communication should reflect the personality of your organization to attract and connect with the right talent, as well as retain existing employees.
  • Ensure the acquisition and hiring team is in alignment from sourcing talent to interviewing for skills, competencies and culture fit.
  • Use existing employees to act as talent ambassadors.

Take a look inside your organization. This is a good time to complete an Employee Audit. The Audit is an evaluation that identifies how people move through the employee lifecycle from acquisition > onboarding > development > departure.

  • Assess the entire relationship to uncover what is working and what can be strengthened.
  • Take a hard look at systems, processes and development initiatives to clarify strategic priorities, solutions that will address people pains, and talent hurdles that your organization may face in 2014.
  • Create a plan to address challenges to avoid losing key employees.
  • Evaluate your acquisition process to take advantage of key talent hitting the market.

Be prepared for change. Losing employees, hiring new employees or retaining existing talent all require change. With the talent outlook in 2014 changing, it is time for organizations to make smart decisions about investment in the people they seek, hire and retain.

Renewed optimism about the job market can be an asset or a liability for your company. Which will it be?  

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
And flowers bring smiles to the people in our organizations. But what gets them inspired to be engaged, productive and happy at work?

To me, this title is a metaphor for motivation. People like flowers are motivated to grow and develop in a variety of different ways given the right amount of nurturing. And different generations are especially motivated by different things. 

Millenials: What gets them to do the Harlem Shuffle?

  • Flexibility. This generation wants a say in when and where work is done.
  • Change and Challenge. They do not see their work as linear.  They like variety and challenges.  
  • Venting. Don’t interpret their rebellious nature as negative. Remember they like the challenge.
  • Development and Growth. Look for ways to turn their interests into skills they can use in the workplace.  They are a great source for innovation and idea generation.
  • Impact and Results. Break up tasks into component parts and give feedback at those intervals.
  • Tools and Technology. They are the most comfortable with technology and see it as an extension of who they are. Embrace social computing from the inside and define sensible rules for acceptable use.
  • Motivation. Explain how their performance has direct impact on the success or failure of the company.
  • Recognition. Recognize and celebrate accomplishments.
  • Communicate. Clearly and consistently.
  • Trusting Environment. Set rules and policies that really matter.

Gen Xers: What gets them moving and shaking?

  • Flexibility. This generation needs too manage their other priorities, such as dependent children, aging parents, and even educational endeavors. This flexibility can be as simple as providing schedule changes to accommodate these needs.  Understand that these are needs, not wants. 
  • Collaboration and Teamwork. They work best in groups.
  • Recognition. Ways that connect with what they value the most, such as handwritten thank you notes for a job well done, a tangible gift, such as flowers or gift certificates.

Boomers: What gets them rockin’ and rollin’?

  • Position, Power and Prestige. They are often traditionalists, and the perks of the position matter. Titles and authority commensurate with responsibility.
  • Participation and Connection. Encourage then to join associations and attend conventions that keep them professionally connected to their peers. 
  • Collaboration. They are motivated by working together on professional projects in affiliation with others like them.
  • Compensation. More than just the salary this also includes profit sharing and health care benefits including long-term care.

And Everyone Wants…

  • Frequent Communication. “Why,” not just the “what” of projects and priorities.
  • Inclusion. Beyond, what affects them most directly.
  • Fun. To have fun at work, with a capital “F!”

How will you grow your employees this spring?

Employees Got The Blues?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

It’s the time of year when employees may be in a slump or feeling blue. What can you do to bring some cheer to your workplace besides waiting for the snow to melt or the daffodils to bloom?

RECOGNIZE your employees. Here are a few ideas to brighten up the office.

Gifts create a lasting reminder of your appreciation.
It’s easy to give employees a cash reward. But such tokens of recognition are quickly spent and forgotten. Consider the following instead:

  • Give simple, unexpected gifts of time to make the team member feel special.
  • Give appliances and consumer electronic products, especially when the item is in its early stages of market acceptance.
  • Award gift certificates for food, books, clothes or music.
  • Allow the employee to choose any item of a given value from a merchandise catalog
  • Give new responsibilities to a team member who has demonstrated the ability to handle the work.

Make formal awards a part of your culture.

  • Establish company awards for best attendance, highest quality, best customer service – behaviors you want to encourage. Hold a ceremony in which top-level executives publicly present these awards to the recipients.
  • Create a trophy that moves from one high-performing department (or person) to the next. You can even have the current holder decide who gets it next.
  • Recommend the team member for an applicable company recognition award.

A simple “thank you” costs nothing.
A sincere word of thanks from the right person at the right time can mean more to an employee than a raise, a formal award, or a whole wall of certificates and plaques. And it costs nothing.

  • Send handwritten letters of appreciation.
  • Post a thank-you note on an employee’s door.
  • Call employees into your office just to say thank you. Don’t discuss any other issue.
  • Have the company president or a high-level manager call employees to thank them for a job well done.
  • Pre-print “ABCD” (above and beyond the call of duty) cards and encourage managers or employees to award them to deserving co-workers.
  • In team meetings, encourage team members to recognize each other’s positive contributions.
  • Hold quick, surprise team meetings to show public recognition of great work.

“Create a story” that is shared.
Your recognition will have a stronger impact when it creates a story that the employee can tell to family, friends and associates for years to come.

  • Recognize hard work by arranging for the employee’s car to be washed in the parking lot. Or pay for a housecleaning service for the employee’s home.
  • Rent a sports car for the employee to drive for a week.
  • Arrange for a photo session with the company president.

Serve up a tasty reward.
Food is always in good taste. It appeals to the senses and creates a festive atmosphere when it is shared with family or co-workers.

  • Deliver a fruit basket, steaks, or a batch of chocolate chip cookies to the employee.
  • Hold a team lunch – at a restaurant or in the office – to celebrate together.
  • Personalize the label on a wine bottle with a message of thanks to the recipient.
  • Treat employees to a pizza lunch or a giant submarine sandwich.
  • Surprise a top-performing department with a champagne picnic at a local park.

Give the gift of time.
Time off is universally appreciated. Whether it is a free afternoon or a six-month sabbatical, this form of recognition is always welcome.

  • Provide an extra break.
  • Allow a 2-hour lunch (and pay for dessert).
  • Grant a long weekend after a particularly demanding period of work.

So what are you doing to recognize employees?  Inspire us by sharing ideas that have worked for you.

EE = EBITDA: Transforming Human Capital into Financial Capital.

Monday, January 21st, 2013

By Guest Blogger, Jeffrey Deckman

EE = EBITDA is an obscure but interesting formula that, once I came to understand it, I realized uncovers an exciting new source of increased profits that any business can realize.

The “blow up” of this formula is:

Employee Engagement = Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation Amortization

Before going any further I want to say that Employee Engagement (EE) is certainly not the only factor that impacts EBITDA but it does have a significant impact on your bottom line. It just also happens to be one of the easiest ways to increase profitability you will ever come across.


Because, of all the ways to increase profits such as increasing prices; decreasing costs and generating more sales increasing your levels of EE is almost completely within your control. This is because EE is largely determined by the leadership culture of your organization. And you get to control that.

In fact, a recent Melcrum Employment Engagement Survey of over 1600 HR professionals found that “The actions of senior leaders and direct managers are the most important drivers of employee engagement by a factor of between 400% and 700%.

So not only is this “silent profit driver” largely in your control but the financial impact of increasing the levels of EE in your organization is undeniably real.

In fact, I doubt you could find a single CEO of a Fortune 500 company who even questions whether increasing EE increases EBITDA.

The Numbers Behind the Science

In an effort to be as informative as possible as quickly as possible let me get right to the math.

A recent study done by the Gallup Group in October of 2011 involving thousands of participants revealed that, on average, 71% of people are “disengaged” from their work. Within this group 55% are considered “not engaged”. These people do their jobs but not much more. The other 16% are considered “actively disengaged”. These are people who are actually working against the best interests of the organization.

This leaves only 29% of the workforce who are considered “highly engaged”. These are the ones who put in extra time; think about their jobs during off hours and are energized. They are the ones who generate the most per capita profit.

This means that 7 out of 10 people in organizations are not engaged in their work. Imagine the lost productivity and profits that represents! And in today’s economy this can spell death to an organization.

The High Cost of Low Employee Engagement

Let’s look at how the level of EE in your organization affects your profitability.

The following EE vs. Productivity numbers are generally accepted throughout the industry, give or take a few percentage points:

•   “Highly engaged” workers are 90% productive

•   “Not engaged” workers are 60% productive

•   “Actively disengaged” workers are 40% productive.

When you combine the EE and the productivity numbers the impact on profits becomes clear:

•   29% are highly engaged and are 90% productive.

.29 * .90 * 100 = 26.1% productivity level

•   55% are not engaged and are 60% productive.

.55 * .60 * 100 = 33% productivity level

•   16% are actively disengaged and are 40% productive.

.16 * 40 *100 = 6.4% productivity level

This means that your overall productivity levels are:

26.1% + 33% + 6.4% = 65.5%

To make this real let’s assume a company spends $2 million on employee compensation. Under this scenario their ROI on that investment is:

2,000,000.00 * 65.5% = 1,310,000.00.

This represents a $690,000 “payment vs. performance” gap.

The Big Difference of a Small Adjustment

Now let’s look at the impact to your bottom line that will occur if you simply increase the highly engaged numbers by only 5% and decrease the actively disengaged numbers by the same amount. And if your company is like most, and if you decide to make EE a priority in your organization, moving your EE numbers 5% in this fashion is not unrealistic at all.

WARNING: These numbers are almost un-believable!

•   34% are now highly engaged @ 90% productivity.

.34 * .90 * 100 = 30.6% productivity level

•   55% are still not engaged and still 60% productive.

.55 * .60 * 100 = 33% productivity level

•   11% are now actively disengaged and are 40% productive.

.11 * 40 *100 = 4.4% productivity level

New productivity levels = 30.6% + 33% + 4.4% = 68%

New Profitability Calculations: 2,000,000.00 * 68% = $1,360,000.00

This represents a $50,000 improvement in the “payment vs. performance” gap in only one year!

What is also important to realize is that as long as you keep your management teams fine-tuned and your culture healthy this $50,000.00 continues to flow to the bottom line year after year. Imagine the impact to your Retained Earnings and the value of your business that this will have in just a few short years.

All of a sudden investing in developing solid management teams with excellent leadership skills becomes one of the most important and easy ways to drive significant profits right to your bottom line.

In Closing

If you are like I was when I first started looking at these figures, your initial thinking may be that they can’t be right. But I can tell you that study after study from organizations ranging from the Harvard Business School to the McKinsey Group prove them out.

So while we have all been trained to increase profits by cutting costs; capturing more clients and negotiating for higher prices few of us have been taught how to activate one of the most significant profit drivers available to us: increased Employee Engagement.

And at a time when profits are very tight, competition is tough and the market is demanding it should be very comforting to realize that with just a few internal adjustments you can uncover a source of profits that will not only increase your bottom line but will also increase company morale.

During economic times such as these understanding the EE=EBITDA formula can be a real life saver.


Jeffrey Deckman is the founder of Capability Accelerators, a consulting firm that specializes in helping clients convert human capital into financial capital. If you have questions or comments he can be reached at: or

My Five Favorite Interview Questions

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

By Guest Blogger, Tim Fulton

I have been involved in a lot of interview situations both as the one conducting the interview and also as the one being interviewed. I have made a lot of mistakes on both sides. Based on that experience, here are my five favorite interview questions.


#1. “What do you know about this organization?”

Typically, this is my first question. It amazes me that in this information world that we live in how many job applicants know very little about the company they are interviewing at. For me, this is an early test as to how much this candidate is truly interested in this job. Can you imagine interviewing for a job and not doing your due diligence ahead of time to see what the company does? Happens far too frequently.

#2. Behavioral Interviewing questions.

These are the best questions you can possibly ask in a job interview. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior under similar circumstances. These questions focus on past behavior. Almost all Fortune 1000 companies use behavioral interviewing questions and likewise very few small businesses do.

As an example, imagine you are looking for a customer service representative who is good at dealing with difficult questions. An example of a behavioral interviewing question would be the following:

“Provide for me the most recent example of a time you had to deal with a difficult customer. What did you do? What was the result of your actions?”

Experts suggest that at least 50% of your job interview should be spent asking these questions. The key is to direct these questions at each of the key job characteristics you are most interested in. These are difficult questions to ask and even more difficult questions to answer. They will also provide you with much of the data you will need to make a good hiring decision.

#3. “Are you lucky?”

I love this question. My favorite answer is “Very lucky.” I am not interested in “lottery luck” here. I am looking for candidates that when they find themselves in a favorable position in life, they take advantage of it. It’s not enough to just recognize when you have an opportunity. It’s all about what you do with that opportunity.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book “Outliers”, he describes three attributes of an Outlier. One of them is “being lucky”. An Outlier is someone is who among the elite in whatever they do like a Bill Gates, a Hank Aaron, or even Albert Einstein.

#4. “What will your last boss tell me about you?”

Most of the time we ask for references from the job candidate. More than likely one of those references will be from a past boss. Why wait to contact this person? Why not ask the candidate what he/she expects I will hear from this person. I like this question because it forces the individual to evaluate themselves through the eyes of an objective third party. It also saves me from having to hunt down their last boss by phone.

#5. “What do you enjoy doing most outside of work?”

Seems like an “easy” question. A “soft” one. Reality is, this may be the most important question you ask. When I am interviewing someone I am trying very hard to determine”fit”. Will this person “fit” in this organization? Is there an alignment between our core values and those of the candidate?

One of the best ways to determine one’s core values is to discover what they do outside of work with the valuable time they have. Maybe it’s time with family. Playing tennis. Traveling. Reading. Working out. Each of those activities hints toward a particular core value.

  • Time with family = Strong family value
  • Playing tennis = Competitive value
  • Traveling = Could represent several values. For me it suggests a need for Adventure
  • Reading = Learning
  • Working out = Staying healthy

If my organizational core values match these values, I have a good fit and potentially a good hire.

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For more information about Small Business Matters and Tim Fulton:

Tim Fulton, Vistage Group Chair |