Tag Archives: employee retention

People Cannot Work Forever

People Cannot Work Forever

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

When cars run out of gas, they can no longer get the job done until their tanks are filled up. And it’s the same with people, except people are asked to keep on truckin’ even though their tanks are empty.

When machines are used for a certain number of hours, they are supposed to be given rest and routine maintenance. If the maintenance isn’t completed as defined in the operator’s manual, the warranty is voided.

Maybe we could create a maintenance schedule for people. And if it’s not done, we could be okay with reduced performance, like with a machine. And when the scheduled maintenance isn’t performed on time, maybe we could blame the person who prevented it from happening.

If your lawnmower could tell you when you were using it in a way that would cause it damage, would you listen and change your behavior? How about if a person said a similar thing to you? To which one would you show more compassion?

When your car’s check engine light comes on, would you pretend you don’t see it or would you think that the car is being less than truthful? What if a person tells you their body is throwing a warning light because of how you’re driving them? Would you believe them or stomp on the accelerator?

We expect our machines to wear out and need refurbishment. We expect our cars to run out of gas if we don’t add fuel. We expect our lawnmowers to stall if we try to mow grass that’s two feet tall. We expect that their capacities and capabilities are finite. Maybe we can keep all this in mind when we set expectations for our people.

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How To Attract, Grow and Retain Your Best Employees

How To Attract, Grow and Retain Your Best Employees

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

In a recent article, Why Employees Stay, I shared seven reasons why employees would want to continue working for a company. No. 5 on the list was that the company offers career growth and promotes from within. Let’s unpack that one, as it seems to be a top reason some companies are able to attract and keep good employees.

There are two parts to this idea. Growth and promotions. They don’t always go together.

1. Growth

Growth comes from training and on-the-job experience. Employees like to grow their skills, knowledge and capabilities. Even though good employees may come to the job with certain skills, they are often onboarded with training. In some cases, the training takes weeks—even months.

Zappos.com, the online retailer known for its stellar customer service, puts new employees through four weeks of training. “The whole point of the four weeks is to build relationships and make sure you’re comfortable in your role,” says corporate trainer Stephanie Hudec.

That’s four weeks before the employee is actually ready to do the job. That’s a hefty investment of time, energy and dollars, just to get someone “game ready” for their job. Or is it?

Zappos built its reputation with an emphasis on customer service. Putting someone in a customer-facing role who isn’t properly trained and ready could diminish the brand’s reputation.

But the training isn’t a one-and-done effort during the onboarding process. Employees are looking to grow. A few weeks in the beginning gets them to a level of proficiency for their current role, but many want more. They want to add to existing capabilities.

2. Promotions

Promotions are career opportunities within the company. It’s obvious that someone who has been at their job for months will be far better than the first day they started. They have to learn the system and processes, adapt their skills and abilities to their responsibilities, and more. Day one is the beginning of “ramping up” to a place where the employee is meeting the employer’s expectations. And then they go beyond.

Often, growth occurs due to training and education. Employees are trained, and the result is that they get better, smarter and more capable. But it takes something more, and that comes from the employee. The employee who is intent on growing must also take initiative and push themselves to grow to the next level.

Employers need to recognize this growth in both capabilities and initiative and take advantage of it, moving that employee through the ranks. Companies that are known for “promoting from within” are very appealing to employees. They attract good people and are better at getting them to stay.

Starting At the Bottom

We’ve all heard of “rags to riches” type stories of employees starting at the bottom in the mailroom and ending up in the boardroom. Some executives who started in the mailroom of their respective companies:

  • George Bodenheimer, president of ESPN
  • Dick Grasso, former New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) chairman
  • Krista Bourne, COO of Verizon

Maybe all three of these executives had ambitions to be successful from the beginning, but did any of them ever think they would be in the boardroom after starting their careers in the mailroom? Maybe, maybe not. But they didn’t get to those positions on their own. It’s important to recognize that employees who went to work in the mailroom and grew into important roles in their organizations didn’t get there on their own. They had training, great managers, caring coaches and helpful mentors.

There are plenty of stories of successful executives starting at the bottom. Many of them move and grow from company to company. Recognize that a chance to grow is important to today’s employees. A company that invests in the continuous growth of skills (customer service, leadership, technical, etc.) is better at recruiting new employees and keeping existing employees, but not always forever. Yes, in the perfect world, this growth would coincide with promotion opportunities inside the company, but it doesn’t have to. Just know you may be “growing” the employee to move on if you don’t move them up.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Shep Hyken

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A How To Guide for Overcoming Procrastination

A How To Guide for Overcoming Procrastination

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

I often wonder why some people procrastinate by delaying, postponing, or avoiding solving problems, or by withdrawing from making smart decisions, taking calculated risks, or taking intelligent actions?

  • Why do they become paralyzed and unable to take the actions necessary to solve some of their key problems?
  • Why do they often resist making even the most necessary changes to support the delivery of their creative solutions?
  • Why do so many also avoid taking personal responsibility and being accountable towards achieving their desired outcomes and goals?
  • Why do people disengage, even when the situation or problem may be critical to their own, their teams, or their organizations success?

Despite knowing that there may be a range of negative consequences for procrastinating, involving a crippling, overwhelming, and paralyzing combination of reactive responses?

Which then typically impacts negatively on people’s self-efficacy and self-belief, self-worth, and self-esteem and diminishes their motivation, disengages them and immobilizes their ability to take the necessary actions and as a result, spiral downwards?

How do we help people overcome procrastination?

  • Why is this important?

It seems that procrastination is a challenge we and many others have faced at one point or another, where we struggle with being indecisive, delaying, ignoring, avoiding taking actions to initiate, progress, or completing tasks that may be important to us, as well as on issues that really matter to us, our teams, partners and organizations.

Ultimately leading to failures, and an inability to mitigate risks, or be creative and inventive and decreasing possibilities for innovation and increasing engagement, productivity, and improving performance.

Also potentially leading to feelings of loss, insecurity, inadequacy, frustration, disengagement, and depression and in extreme cases, client, project failures and job losses, and even burnout!

Why do people procrastinate?

  • The need for security and self-protection is the key root causes of procrastination

Procrastination is most often a self-protection strategy, a way of defending ourselves, rooted in fears that result in anxieties around feeling unsafe, vulnerable, and being judged or punished, especially in times of uncertainty, unpredictability, uncontrollability, and when feeling overwhelmed.

In most organizational contexts, procrastinators are likely to respond be risk-averse by:

  • Being apprehensive and even withdrawing energetically (dis-engaging) from people as well as from the creative conversation, coupled with a lack of commitment to the change process or towards achieving the agreed goal (lacking conviction and being worried about the future).
  • Not showing up and spending a lot of time and energy zigzagging around and away from what they feel is consuming them or making them feel threatened or uncomfortable (avoidance).
  • Blaming external people and factors for not “allowing” them to participate or succeed (time, workload, culture, or environment).
  • Denying that achieving the goal really matters, bringing up excuses, and reasonable reasons about why having the goal doesn’t really matter to them, as well as a willingness to take risks (non-committal).
  • Being fearful of the future, dreading what might be the range of possible negative and overwhelming events and situations (pessimism).

What are the key signals of an effective procrastinator?

The first step in noticing the key signals is to tune into our own, and peoples’ effective avoidance default pattern as to what is really going on from a systemic perspective.

By paying deep attention, and being non -judgmental and non evaluative to the range of signals outlined as follows:

Behavior Signals

  • “Playing it safe” or “being nice” by being unwilling to challenge and be challenged.
  • Resisting any change efforts, disengaging, and being reluctant to disclose and share authentically what is really going on for them.
  • Unwillingness to take risks.
  • Shying away from engaging with their partners, families, colleagues, group activities, and from having candid conversations.
  • Being overtly indecisive and non-committal.

Neurological State Signals

  • Increased anxiety and “attention deficit” syndrome.
  • Low motivation and self-confidence.
  • Diminished ability to self-regulate and self-control.
  • Diminished self-efficacy and self-concept.
  • Onslaught of the creeping doubts and the imposter syndrome.

Extrinsic or Environmental Signals Occur When Fearful of Perception of Others

  • Performing poorly, making mistakes, or failing.
  • Fearful of doing too well, or in being too successful.
  • Losing control, status, or role.
  • Looking stupid, or being disapproved of.
  • Avoids conflict situations.

Fear of Success Signals

Some of us are unconsciously afraid of success, because irrationally we secretly believe that we are not worthy of it and don’t deserve it, and then self-sabotage our chances of success!

  • Being shy, introverted, and uncomfortable in the spotlight.
  • Being publicly successful brings social or emotional isolation.
  • Alienating peers as a result of achievement.
  • People may think you’re self-promoting.
  • Being perceived as a “tall poppy”.
  • Believing that success may not be all it’s cracked up to be, and that it might change you, but not for the better.

Fear of Failure Signals

Some people’s motivation to avoid failure often exceeds their motivation to succeed, which can cause them to unconsciously sabotage their chances of success.

  • Cognitive biases or irrational beliefs act as filters distorting reality.
  • Past pains felt from being vulnerable, abandoned, punished, blamed, or shamed in front of others, or of being disapproved of, envied, rejected, or disliked by others.
  • Fearful of looking “bad” or incompetent, in front of others.
  • Feeling threatened, a sense of danger or potential punishment, causing them to move away (freeze, fight, take flight) from confronting dangerous, painful situations as threatening.

Overcoming Procrastination Tips 

  • Co-create a safe, compassionate, and collaborative relationship

As most people find safety in procrastination at some point in time, to be an effective leader, manager, or coach in these situations, it’s important to be empathic and compassionate and “work with” where they may be coming from in terms of underlying self-beliefs:

  • “I don’t want to get hurt”.
  • “I don’t want to expose myself to risk”.

As well as respond constructively to their thoughts about how others may see them including:

  • Lacking confidence,
  • Hesitant.

Noticing how they may perceive themselves:

  • “I am nowhere near as good as I should be”.
  • “I am inadequate.”

Then by paying deep attention, and being intentional in co-creating a safe creative, and collaborative conversation that builds safety, permission, rapport, and trust by being:

  • Gentle and non-threatening, being both kind and courageous,
  • Aware of being both too direct, fast, and too laid back.
  • Providing gentle guiding, assurance, and lots of patience.
  • Focused on encouraging engagement, commitment, and confidence towards setting and achieving the desired outcome.

Ultimately enabling and equipping people to overcome procrastination creates openings and thresholds for learning and growth, to become the best person, to themselves and others, they can possibly be, and achieve the changes they wish to make in the world.

Find out about The Coach for Innovators Certified Program, a collaborative, intimate, and deep personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 8-weeks, starting May 2022. It is a blended learning program that will give you a deep understanding of the language, principles, and applications of a human-centered approach to innovation, within your unique context. Find out more.

Contact us now at mailto:janet@imaginenation.com.au to find out how we can partner with you to learn, adapt, and grow your business, team and organisation through disruption.

Image credit: Unsplash

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Ten Reasons to Hire an Innovation Keynote Speaker

Innovation Keynote Speaker Braden Kelley

Innovation Keynote Speakers are often misunderstood, maligned, and underutilized.

We have all been to many conferences, and heard many good (and bad) keynote and session speakers with a variety of styles (all of which are perfectly acceptable), including:

1. The Motivator

Say this public speaking style and most people will envision Bill Clinton, Tony Robbins, Steve Ballmer or someone like that. Notice that not all three examples are people you think of as full of boundless energy, that can be incredibly motivating. The motivator tries to connect on an emotional level with the audience and dial up the inspiration.

2. The Academic

This speaking style is nearly, but not completely synonymous with college professors and others in the “teaching” business. My personal style straddles between The Academic and The Storyteller. The Academic focuses on bringing compelling content and connecting with the intellect of the audience, bringing them tools and concepts that done well, are easy to grasp and use.

3. The Storyteller

The Storyteller makes a strong use of similes, metaphors, and stories to get their points across. Bill Clinton straddles the line between The Motivator and The Storyteller. Storytellers try to connect on an emotional level and along with The Academic, tend to dive deeper into their points than The Motivator or The Standup comedian. Personally I love good stories and funny pictures and so my personal T-shaped speaking style embraces bits of The Storyteller and The Standup Comedian as well.

4. The Standup Comedian

The Standup Comedian aims to keep the audience laughing, using humor to underscore and to make their points. Other than comedy writers or standup comedians, few speakers will rely on this as their primary style, but many will drift into this style from time to time.

As you might expect, all of these styles are perfectly valid as long as the content is solid and valuable, but the energy of The Motivator entices a lot of people and as you can imagine, this group does the most to both help and hurt people’s perceived value of keynote speakers. Sometimes The Motivator inspires people to action, and other times they are the equivalent of cotton candy, firing people up with weak content that they can’t do anything with.

So, if with public speaking, like other communication vehicles, content is king and all speaking styles are valid, then you need to find the right content, the right speaker, and have the right reasons for employing one.

With that in mind, let’s look at the…

Top 10 Reasons to Hire an Innovation Keynote Speaker

  1. To begin an honest dialog around the role of innovation in your organization’s future
  2. To help build/reinforce your common language of innovation
  3. To bring in fresh ideas to inspire fresh insights
  4. To bring additional perspectives to existing innovation conversations
  5. To lay the groundwork for building an innovation infrastructure
  6. To help reduce the fear of innovation in your organization
  7. To reinforce your commitment to innovation publicly to your employees
  8. To increase the energy for innovation in your company
  9. To inject fresh life into an existing innovation program
  10. To combine with an innovation workshop to build new innovation capabilities

Click the image to download as a PDF:

Ten Reasons to Hire an Innovation Speaker

This is of course, not a comprehensive list of the reasons that companies around the world find value in periodically bringing in an innovation keynote speaker to dialog with their employees. Some companies choose to achieve some of these objectives via the innovation keynote, and others by sponsoring innovation training programs, or by retaining an innovation thought leader in an advisory capacity to provide the same kind of external perspectives, input, insights, and diversity of thought.

So, whether you are a new innovation leader seeking guidance on how to get off on the right foot, or an experienced Chief Innovation Officer, VP of Innovation, or Innovation Director, I encourage you to consider having myself or another innovation keynote speaker or workshop leader as a guest from time to time. I know you’ll find value in it!

Book Innovation Speaker Braden Kelley for Your Event

Innovation Speaker Sheet for Braden Kelley

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The Future of Fractional Employees

The Future of Fractional Employees

In my last article 10 Reasons to Hire a Part-Time Chief Innovation Officer, I looked at the reasons why an organization might want to hire someone part-time to lead their innovation efforts (a follow-up to my previous post Hiring the Right Chief Innovation Officer).

Now I’d like to explore the idea of a fractional employee in a much broader context with you. A few years ago in my popular white paper Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation commissioned by Innocentive, I introduced the idea of building a global sensing network along with other ways that companies can reach outside their four walls to speed up their ability to innovate. I have continued since then to hypothesize that successful organizations of the future will possess more porous boundaries, becoming less like castles keeping everything inside their walls and more like atoms, freely combining with other atoms to form the molecules the market requires just-in-time.

Organization of the Future

Purpose and Passion

One of the key tenets of this belief is that purpose and passion are the key to unlocking the full potential of any human, and that inherently companies do a very job of unlocking either in their quest to match resumes with job descriptions.

In an effort to develop and retain employees, and fill discrete project needs, some companies are reaching beyond the job description to try and tap into more of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the people they hire. One way this happens is through HR initiatives like the internal internships at Cisco, where a Finance employee with an interest or passion for marketing, could do an internal internship in Marketing, spending a small number of hours each week working on a discrete project with a resource need.

Outside of the organization, there are an increasing number of avenues for employees to use their un-tapped knowledge, skills, and employees to satisfy their quest for passion and purpose. These include challenge driven marketplaces for both crowdsourcing and open innovation, places like Innocentive, 99 Designs, Idea Connection, Crowdspring, and others.

Traveling the Hyperloop Ten Hours a Week

But now, we are starting to see direct to talent (DTT) models emerge. The latest example of the fractional employee model comes from Dirk Ahlborn of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), rethinking how companies are built in the first place. Instead of hiring full-time, salaried employees, Ahlborn has decided to crowdsource the labor to part-time workers and offer stock options in lieu of salary, successfully attracting about 450 workers, based in more than a dozen countries, moonlighting from organizations like NASA and Boeing.

HTT requires crowdsourced labor to commit to a 10-hour workweek to be eligible for stock. “The guys are working for stock options — they’re doing 10 times better job [than paid employees],” says Dirk Ahlborn.

Companies like Aecom, one of the world’s largest engineering design firms, are joining individuals in participating in the potentially “transformative” project, as a way to get employees executing mundane projects for the company to also get excited about building something new.

“I always tell everyone it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Ahlborn says. With 450 workers accumulated over the past couple of years and growing, Ahlborn adds, “It is becoming a movement.”

The Way Forward

From internal internships, to challenge-driven external innovation, to crowdsourced projects, to fractional employee initiatives, the world of work is changing as companies seek to accelerate to match the pace of continuous change and the continuous innovation expectations that come along with it.

If we go back to the Organization of the Future graphic above, you’ll see that job descriptions often overlap not just with employee knowledge, skills, and abilities but those of customers, partners, suppliers, and other employees as well.

Organizations seeking to increase their organizational agility will not only use tools like the Change Planning Toolkit™ but will also change their thinking about how they get work do

ne and will do a better job of recognizing when and where to tap into the abilities of other employees, partners, suppliers, and even customers to achieve the outcomes that will allow them to continue to surprise and delight their customers, clients, or constituents.

And this means embracing a fractional employee future.

Are you ready?

Get the Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation white paper

Sources: Innovation Excellence, MSN

This article was originally featured on Linkedin


P.S. If you’re looking to hire a Chief Innovation Officer (an Innovation Enablement Leader) on a full-time or part-time basis, drop me an email and I can either tackle the role or find someone else who can!


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