How to Turn a Vision into a Reality You Can Experience

How to turn a vision into a reality you can experience speaks to leadership.  That’s according to Mark Fenner and Bob Kaplitz of the Rise Performance Group, a leadership development company.

They invite you to listen to a short excerpt of a 2014 keynote address from the leader in the field of movie making, technology, and finance.

And Mark Fenner comments on “the vision.”

Mark Fenner says leadership is also about communicating the vision.

You may have missed something that Mark Fenner points out.

And finally, Mark Fenner on the importance of connecting with reality.

Relativity Media CEO Ryan Kavanaugh understands that big studios have to adapt business models to take advantage of new technologies, trying to break from the past.  As a leader, how are you leveraging the new technologies in your field?  We’d like to know.  Contact Mark Fenner at the Rise Performance Group:

Why Do Good People Underperform?

By Mark Fenner

Why Do Good People Underperform?

For a new hire, you may now be wondering what you saw in that person in the first place. For existing staffers, there may be a change for the worse in their performance, and you’re puzzling over why.

There are a few general reasons why someone is underperforming. Especially in the case of a new hire, maybe you just misread them and they really don’t have the capabilities you expected. Or perhaps the job – or a promotion or lateral move – just turned out to be a bad fit. There are other reasons, too; maybe the goals, objectives, and deliverables weren’t as clear as you thought. Or bad relationships developed between the employee in question and his or her manager or co-workers. Or maybe it’s the work atmosphere.

Let’s look briefly at each of these and how to prevent or deal with it:

  • Capabilities: A new hire might have overstated his or her capabilities from the start, and the mismatch didn’t become apparent until it was too late. The answer there is thorough assessments for all new hires and for anyone considered for a promotion, transfer, or change of roles.
  • Poor job fit: Assessments can also prevent this from happening. Even if a person has the right skills and capabilities, there may be a temperament mismatch or a bad cultural fit to the team. Behavioral assessments can spot that, especially when the existing team members take the same assessment, so you can determine the prevailing behaviors and characteristics of a successful team.
  • Unclear goals and objectives: The thing to remember is that goals should be realistic; they should be very specific, not vague; and what you expect from someone should be measurable, and framed within a clear timeframe, in order to determine success.
  • Bad relationships: Between a supervisor and employee, this could be a communication problem or a style problem, and should be addressed from both directions. Between team members, it may have been triggered by some kind of change, whether that is a new team member, or a new supervisor, or some change in a team member’s role or even events outside the office, in their personal life. It may require a little detective work, but the source of the problem can usually be found.
  • Work atmosphere: Maybe your company thrives on energy, drama, and near-chaos, but a new employee prefers quiet and orderliness. Or maybe you’ve changed the workplace physical layout, and it just doesn’t work for one or more employees. These kinds of issues can be prevented through behavioral assessments, as you find out what environment works best both for existing and potential employees.

There are, of course, many other (and more complicated) reasons why someone might be or has become an underperformer. But most fall into one of the reasons listed above. Which is why it is so important to do behavioral assessments and do them regularly, both for job candidates and existing staff. Assessments reveal a lot that you may not have realized about your company’s and your teams’ cultures, and can go a long way in preventing underperformance problems.

It’s Time for a People Inventory

By Mark Fenner

It’s Time for a People Inventory


Taking inventory is something a lot of businesses do monthly, or at least annually. They log

what’s on the shelves, what’s in the warehouse, which items are hot sellers, and which ones are not. But what most businesses need to do – and they don’t – is to do inventory on their people.

Sure, everyone knows how many employees they have. But an inventory of people is much more than just counting heads. Done correctly, an inventory can identify the strong performers, the underperformers, and the people with great potential. It can also identify gaps in skills that indicate it’s time to hire some new people to fill those cracks.

An essential part of an inventory process like this is objective data. Before you start categorizing people as underperformers, for instance, you want to be sure you understand why they aren’t living up to what you see as their potential. Part of an effective employee inventory involves moving poor performers out to make room for top performers.  But you want to be sure that termination action is well justified, and documented, before you take it.

Conducting personality, abilities, and interests testing will shed a lot of light not only on the suspected underperformers, but everyone else as well. You may find that an employee is simply not a good fit in one position, but may have strong potential in another available spot. Maybe this person’s strength is in front-line customer service,  but they ended up in a lonely back office somewhere, which would account for their poor performance.

Or you may find that for whatever reason, that person was a bad hire or a cultural mismatch who just won’t fit anywhere in your company, and has to be let go. The testing data will provide some objective insight to aid in your decision.

On the positive side, this process can also uncover hidden gems. You may find people in the middle levels of the organization who have the traits to rise to the top but just haven’t had the chance. You can better assess someone’s long-term value to the company and if you see a lot of potential, act on it. Give that person the chance to develop the skills and experience he or she needs to shine.

What any inventory should also tell you is that you can never really stop your hunt for high-quality outside hires. I guarantee that there will be gaps uncovered through your inventory, and while some of these gaps can be filled with existing staff, some can’t. That highlights the importance of always being on the lookout for good people.

The HR Trends You Need to Know for 2013

The HR trends you need to know for 2013.By Diamond Richardson

HR professionals will see major changes in their job functions in 2013, even if their job title remains the same. In an article for, Ron Ashkenas wrote about how the HR profession is in the middle of a major transition that will change the direction of HR goals and the work of HR professionals. The days of HR professionals spending their time calculating payroll and monitoring sick days is over.

Despite naysayers who claim that HR is an annoying hurdle or waste of money, when HR is done right, it does add value to an organization. HR professionals are responsible for placing the right people in the right roles, and helping them to develop and succeed in those roles. With a growing number of job functions, HR professionals must become more sophisticated in their approach to hiring employees and managing a workforce.

Here are three trends that are causing major changes in the way we perform HR duties:

1) Systems will continue to take over transactional HR roles.

Talent management systems have taken over traditional HR functions like scheduling and absence management. These platforms have functions that manage payroll and workforce optimization. They can perform tasks in minutes that used to take HR professionals hours or even days to perform. Now, HR professionals have time to focus on higher-level tasks.

2) HR professionals will take on the role of a consultant in the areas of talent assessment, leadership development and change management.

Freed from a crushing amount of transactional work, HR professionals are able to spend more time monitoring and developing the talent they help bring into an organization. If job fit problems do arise, they can rectify them sooner. HR professionals also have more time to identify or develop leadership training opportunities for a company’s workforce. Leadership development is becoming more critical as employees with leadership skills are needed to move projects forward. By developing leaders internally, a company also saves the time and money it would take to bring someone in and train them. The HR professional as a consultant will also raise the training requirements for new HR professionals. They must be trained on how to identify potential leaders, give advice to senior management and assess employee performance.

3) The line between management and HR will blur.

Leadership development is an HR and management duty. Managers are responsible for their direct report’s promotions, which involves identifying employees who have management potential. But HR professionals are responsible for following up with the employees they hire to ensure they are succeeding in their positions. Both the management and HR functions have different tasks but a similar goal: making sure that employees succeed in the right positions. This means that managers and HR professionals must work together to identify people who need to be promoted, and to identify people who are no longer a good fit for the company. It is the manager’s role to alter the work or work load if necessary. If that does not work, they can benefit from the advice of HR professionals on next steps. The HR professional can inform a manager if there is another job available for which an employee may be a better fit.

These trends are redefining how companies have traditionally defined the HR job function. HR professionals are already embracing these changes and therefore are able to be much more successful at hiring the right people and developing them to their full potential.

Do you anticipate any other major HR trends this year?

2012’s Most-Hated Companies

By Aoife GoreyLeadership

2012 saw a multitude of news stories in the corporate business world from Yahoo’s leadership challenges and Facebook’s IPO to plummeting stocks and growing tech giants. Unemployment dropped to its lowest rate in four years reaching 7.8 percent. Regardless of industry, millions of organizations have faced their fair share of challenges in the past year. Some businesses remain favorable in the eyes of their employees and the public, others… not so much.

24/7 Wall St. website released their annual 10 most-hated companies list last week. Will you be surprised by the results? The website assessed the companies from all angles: the employees, shareholders, and customers.

1. The first place title-holder this year goes to JC Penney. The report attributes this status to major management mistakes over the last few years, beginning with the introduction of former Apple chief Ron Johnson and a drop in sales by 20%.

2. Dish Network Corp. takes second place, with employees stating that their experiences are as bad as those of their customers. A  BusinessWeek article even titled them “The Meanest Company in America”.

3. After the failed acquisition of T-Mobile USA by AT&T Inc., T-Mobile now finds themselves stuck as the lesser of the four major phone networks. A recent MSN/Zogby annual poll ranked T-Mobile as one of the worst in customer service.

4. Facebook has been in and out of the news this year, after their initial IPO price of $35 plummeted in the stock market. Although the social network was named in Glassdoor’s 2012 Best Places to Work list by its employees, it seems that customers and shareholders do not share the same notions. Public opinion states that founder Zuckerberg did not help the matter by announcing that the company had the right to republish any photo in Instagram user’s accounts. Facebook buys Instagram for $1 billion.

5. Thousands of workers lost their jobs this past year under the ruling of Citigroup Inc. CEO Vikram Pandit, who was let go shortly after. Making matters worse, incoming CEO Michael Corbat inherited an angry employee base and stated that he planned to fire 11,000 additional employees. Citi was also unlucky enough to place in MSN Hall of Shame of the 10 worst companies in America for customer service.

Find out who the remaining 5 Most Hated Companies in America are here.

Last year, an NBC news article cited Apple as the most liked and inspiring company in the United States. All organizations face ups and downs, legalities and employee disputes in their lifetime, what is it that companies like Target and Johnson & Johnson are doing that the 10 Most Hated Companies are not? It seems that it is simply not enough to have a loyal customer base, satisfied employees or happy shareholders. It must be a combination of the three.

What do you think? Do you have experiences with any of the above organizations?

Millennials Value Flexibility over Salary in Careers

By Diamond Richardson

When it comes to company size, bigger is not always better for many millennials. Members of Generation Y, as they are also called, prefer working at small companies and startups over large, established companies with a traditional culture. According to a PayScale study, 47 percent of millennials work at a company with fewer than 100 employees.  Only 23 percent work at large companies with more than 1,500 employees. As a company increases in size, it must implement more controls and regulations to make sure operations run smoothly. Salaries can also increase, but for many millennials, the decrease in flexibilityis not worth the higher salary.

According to the PayScale study, millennials want a corporate culture that embraces the entrepreneurial spirit, values innovation and allows them to use social media sites at work without being reprimanded.

This quest for flexibility and innovation is what draws many millennials to work at startups. According to a article, millennials love the “work hard, play hard” mentality of startups. Startups tend to be smaller and offer cool perks. ZocDoc caters in lunch for its employees every day. Thrillist has a casual dress code (Read more: Embrace Company Culture without Ditching the Dress Code). Tumblr has a dog-friendly office. ModCloth offers unlimited sick and vacation days. The list goes on, but all of these perks send the same message: the company trusts that you will do your job and wants you to have fun while doing it. For many millennials, working at a startup is a dream job.

It is easy to see why members of previous generations believe millennials have not earned any rights to make such demanding requests for their work life. The view tends to be, “I worked my way up for my vacation days, why shouldn’t you?” But millennials do have one skill that gives them some clout: online marketing and social media skills. Most companies realize the importance of reaching their consumers online, and millennials know how to leverage social media and online marketing tools. This skill makes them valuable and gives companies an incentive to create cultures that cater to them.

Social media skills and a quest for flexibility make a millennial’s probable career look much different from the path of their parents. But their cultural upbringing also plays a role. Millennials grew up during an age when the Internet and social media made the world seem much smaller. They have seen a variety of personalities, races, cultures and religions represented in their world, whether it is in school or in their Facebook friends list. Diversity feels comfortable for them. Working at a company where everyone is what they perceive to be “the same” sounds dreadfully dull. Millennials are driven by an intense desire to be inspired and make an impact. They feel too many controls hinder their chances at truly effecting change in an organization. Millennials are extremely well-versed in using the Internet to see what benefits employees at other companies receive. If they feel like they are being under-valued, they see no point in staying at their current companies.

Millennials have a clear view of the work-life balance they need to be happy. Many want an opportunity to make an impact on the world. They value meaningful experiences. They believe this life starts with a particular kind of job. And, if they have to give up a few thousand dollars for this job, so be it.

Do you think millennials have unrealistic expectations for their careers?

Top 10 Workplace Trends of 2012- Part 2

By Aoife Gorey

All organizations are different, big and small, public and private, but for all workforces, the fourth quarter of the fiscal year can be quite frightening. Some teams struggle to nail down a strategy plan for the coming year while others strive to reach that seemingly impossible end-of-year sales goal. Did you know that in the past 7 years, there have been more layoff announcements during the fourth quarter than any other three month period?

Whether or not your company is dealing with any of the above issues, it is imperative that leaders acknowledge current workplace trends in preparation for the coming year. You should not strategize any business plan for the coming year without accounting for current and forecasted industry trends in your space. Last week we outlined The Top 10 Workplace Trends of 2012 Part 1. The first five are:

1. Workplaces that promote sustainability
2. Integration of workplace solutions – creating a higher value
3. Inclusive workplaces
4. Rewards and recognition
5. Virtual Workforces

In part two of this series, we cover the remaining top ten workplace trends of 2012.

6. The built environment as a driver of employee engagement
Did you know that 71% of new employees arrive on the job with high levels of employee engagement, but after six months on the job, the rate drops to 57%. A Wyatt Watson study states that one of the key factors in this drop was leadership. “Employees sensed a lack of encouragement, empowerment, and clarity from company leaders, and primarily from their immediate supervisor.” (Watson Wyatt’s WorkUSA Survey, February 2009)
Working conditions can be critical to sustaining engaged employees.  Room temperature, break facilities and furnishings all add or subtract from this.  Top performing companies know that they can significantly increase employee engagement by paying special attention to create the ideal working environment.  What is your working environment like? Check out 10 Seeeeeriously Cool Workplaces.

7. Evidence-based space design
Evidence-based design, often shortened to EBD, is a field of study that emphasizes the importance of using credible data in order to influence the design process. Originally a popular process in Healthcare architecture, EBD greatly differs today. Organizations in all industries use data to create sleek, beautiful and inspiring work spaces. Organizations must analyze the requirements of workers and customers and incorporate it into the built-space design. Today’s workplace designers understand that new workspaces must be built with the employees and customers in mind. For example, data tells us that men prefer stores with metals and dark woods, food shoppers spend more money when the store’s direction is clockwise. Much research has been conducted over the years outlining the effect of evidence-based design on healthcare employees and even on the healing of patients.

8. Quantifiable employee health and wellness initiatives
Wellness programs have become more and more prevalent in recent years evolving from ‘nice to have’ to ‘must have’. Fitness breaks are the newest trend in this area.  Organizations are focusing on all forms from relaxation breaks to meditation to exercises employees can do at their desk. Research suggests that organizations now will focus on “VOI” or “Value on Investment” over traditional “ROI”, as these methods have proven to increase productivity and reduce healthcare costs.

9. Psychological health in the workplace
68% of employed Americans reported that their employers had taken steps such as putting a freeze on their wages, laying off employees and reducing work hours because of a weak economy. There are numerous things that can aid a healthy and happy workplace. Sodexo’s research report outlines:

  • Health and safety
  • Employee growth
  • Work-life balance
  • Employee recognition

It is important to in order to address any of these issues and workplace trends, organization leaders must understand that every company is unique. Each workplace function may or may not be relevant to your organization. Leaders should address the workplace trends and issues unique to their organization.

10. Flexible workplaces
Organizations used to boast about workplace flexibility as an employee benefit, nowadays this seems to be a given for more and more organizations. SHRM recently launched a comprehensive public policy campaign to promote flexibility in spring of the coming year. Environmental factors have played a role in the increase of this trend. ‘Snowmageddon’ in 2010 lost $70 million per day and last year’s H1N1 virus further supports telecommuting. Flexibility in the workplace has even made its way into the government organizations. In 2010, the President signed the Telework Enhancement Act, setting standards for teleworking among federal employees. The act is said to help the government during any crisis or extreme weather situation.  Many organizations such as Netflix and IBM believe that flexibility in the workplace promotes productivity and engagement.

All of the top workplace trends of 2012 influence employees and employers. It seems they may have a significant impact beyond 2013.

Is your business trying to grow in 2013? Has your organization adapted to these newer trends? Which ones do you think have the strongest effect on driving business and increasing employee engagement?

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