Posts Tagged ‘employee productivity’

Stop with the Talent Assessments Unless …

Right now if you are using talent assessments (performance appraisal tools) to assess potential employees or existing employees or even yourself, then stop right now. Do not go one step further until you acknowledged you have taken this action.

talent-assessmentsWhat action you may be asking?

We have met all federal and state compliances you may be thinking.

We have even talked with the “testees.”

What you most likely have failed to do is to provide a personal action plan where the individual can begin to map his or her own personal success by integrating the results of this assessment into a proven goal achievement process.

Without this action, talent assessments are being marginalized, minimized not too mention wasting millions of dollars in profits.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard from clients and potential clients about  taken this or that assessment. When I ask where is this document, the response is “it’s somewhere.” Their responses are about equal in proportion to the same similar comments about the location of  strategic plans.

When these talent assessments are  hidden somewhere in a drawer, thrown into a file, shoved somewhere, they remain dormant with their potential just sitting there waiting to be released. The companies that issued these performance appraisals for the most part do not care after the initial group debriefing.  After all, they have been paid and have honored their contracts.If they did care about sustainable results, they would include a comprehensive personal action plan instead of just the few extra “take action” pages behind the talent assessment.

Yes there are a few organizations that truly leverage the power within talent assessments. Just imagine if all organizations took advantage of these performance appraisals tools what type of employee productivity and business growth would be achieved.

The Attribute Index is a performance appraisal tool that when delivered by Leanne Hoagland-Smith includes a 50 page plus workbook and a tailored, written 15 page plus debriefing report.


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In Solution Selling Even a Caveman Can Calculate a Return on Investment”

A posting over at LinkedIn Group asked if the members were witnessing a lack of return on investment (ROI) in solution selling.  This individual was quite taken back by all the dollars being spent without a direct connection to a return on investment.


As a trained instructional designer, I can attest to much of the sales training and even some sales coaching fails to deliver a positive return on investment for a variety of reasons. This failure has also been transferred to many who are engaged in solution selling.  Some of those reasons for that failure are within the control of the salesperson and many are not.

Yet I believe truly top sales performers in solution selling will always present the case for a return on investment provided they did their research and their solutions are not smoking mirrors.

What is really disheartening from my perspective is that a return on investment is fairly easily calculated especially for the majority of small businesses with under 100 employees. Here are some quick ways to ensure any purchased solution delivers a positive return on investment:

  • Promotional mugs or other such products used as a seasonal thank you for business – How many end of the year orders did you receive after delivering the gift? Did the customer buy again in the following year?
  • Use of specialized, custom order cartoon to attract attention. Did the customer take your call? Did you eventually get an order? Stu Heincke demonstrated how his marketing approach delivered a positive ROI in this past blog.
  • Wasted time – 12 minutes of wasted time per day equals 1 hour per week equals 52 hours per year. Using $30,000 as an average salary without benefits, any people or process based solution that saves at least 52 hours generates a return on investment.
  • Employee turnover – Firing one employee and hiring another costs small businesses on average $25,000. By reducing turnover by just 1 person per year saves $25,000.
  • Employee productivity – Research suggests on average one employee in four is actively engaged giving 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay if not more. Two employees in four are disengaged giving less than 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay. One employee in four is actively disengaged giving less than 6 hours of work for 8 hours of pay. By moving just one employee out of four into being actively engaged saves 2 hours per day; 10 hours per week; 520 hours per year.

To calculate return on investment  in solution selling begins with the results your solution delivers. The next step is to align and then monetize those results to the current financial costs being experienced by your customer.  By taking this approach, one can appreciate that even a caveman can calculate ROI for solution selling.

Speaking of ROI, have you consider the ROI for your CRM solution.  Did you know with the recent updates to the LinkedIn Contact feature, you now have a free solution that can deliver exceptional ROI. On Thursday, June 27, 2013 from 10-11am CDT, in this webinar LinkedIn Contacts Your Competitive Advantage, you will begin to learn how to leverage this powerful CRM tool. Note: This is a small registration fee ($9.97) as seating is limited.

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The Real Problem with March Madness and Employee Productivity

March Madness is here with the countless articles about the impact on employee productivity with small businesses to even larger firms.   A just published article in Forbes suggested the impact of loss employee productivity due to March Madness was overstated.


The real problem with employee productivity during March Madness, other holidays or special events goes to the human brain and how it is designed.  Our brains are not designed to multi-task that being  to have a focus on a variety of stimuli. Yes the human brain can work in such an environment, but the quality of work significantly drops.

During times of distraction, opportunities are lost because the person is either playing catch up or truly not focused on the task at hand. With the brain receiving thousands of signals from its various sensing devices (ears, eyes, nose, touch and even intuition), being focused on a non-essential event to diminishes employee productivity both input and output. For example, non-verbal body language from fellow co-workers who are not participating in the office pool is discounted. Maybe conversations with clients are ended quicker because the focus is not on the client. The application of emotional intelligence probably also weakens because the focus is on the employee not others.

Yes work may be completed, but is that work at the same quality before the focus on March Madness? I do not think so.

As I have shared with clients and realized myself for my own executive coaching and enterprise consulting practice, one cannot be a slave to two masters.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith by being a heurist looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Crystal Clear Communications Anyone?

In the movie, A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise in the role of Lt. Kaffe asked Colonel Jessep the following: “And Lieutenant Kendrick was clear on what you wanted?” Colonel Jessep replied in one word “Crystal.”


Having crystal clear communications is essential whether you are a military colonel, a CEO or in business management. Unfortunately, most employees lack the ability to read the minds of management and conversely those in management cannot read their employees’ minds. Additionally, each person has his or her own definition for specific words and those definitions have one to several emotions embedded within them. Finally, human beings assign value to the word they think, speak and write. All of these factors contribute to the challenge of having crystal clear communications.

One strategy to improve communications is found within the word Clear as an acronym.

C Clarity: You must listen for clarity so that you can separate the tangibles from the intangibles and the knowns from the unknowns.

LLegitimize: You must listen to legitimize the real issues. Many times perceived problems are really symptoms in disguise.

E Emotion: You must listen for emotions. Here is where the verbal words and the non-verbal gestures along with the syntax (speed, pitch, volume and emphasis) are very important.

AAgreement: You must listen for agreement to find common ground from which you can build ongoing trust.

RRetention: You must listen for retention because the information that you are receiving is critical to your sales success. In many cases, the facts that you are receiving have been heard by others, bu they simply failed to listen. Active listening is all about truly hearing and then remembering what the other person has just said.

Note:  The above has been excerpted from Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of Gray Suits, the Keys to Unlocking Sales Success.

This past week I had a management and leadership team discuss from their perspective the meaning of these two words:

  1. Leadership
  2. Management

What was interesting to note is through this focused discussion, other words popped up that affected the productivity of team members. These words included:

  • Boss
  • Goals
  • Results
  • Sales
  • Selling

Until everyone had a shared and agreed definition of common words being used within the workplace that all contributed to employee productivity, then securing the desired results was still going to be a much more difficult task.  Also, this discussion had an additional benefit by allowing the team members to hear the emotional intelligence (EQ) within the group.  Emotions play a significant part in crystal clear communications as noted above.

If you wish to improve employee productivity, then confirm that everyone understands what is meant by key words.  Also you may wish to describe specific behaviors to those words. For example, what does punctual mean?  In some cases, this may require returning to corporate policies to confirm an understanding of work time.  Team Management Training Coaching Tip:  Sometimes the simplest exercises generate the greatest results.

By ensuring crystal clear communications, management can improve employee productivity as well as team management.  And in today’s world, where 75% of all employees are not actively engaged, all barriers to restricting employee productivity should be removed.

P.S. Please consider returning tomorrow for a special offer regarding emotional intelligence (EQ) that is 100% absolutely free.

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The Huge Looming Challenge Affecting Business Productivity

Businesses from the entrepreneur to the multi-billion Fortune 100 organizations face challenges every day. Yet, there is one huge looming challenge that is currently not being addressed affecting business productivity.

This week when listening to the news, I heard about New England school districts that are giving As in efforts as part of the overall grading system. As a young child back in the dark ages when classes had 30 to 40 students, the effort (which is totally subjective viewpoint by the educator) was part of the report card. Of course for some students for example who found reading simple and easy, their efforts probably were not as strong as those who found reading complex and hard.

I know this to be true because I consistently scored As in the results from reading and Cs in the effort.  These marks were fairly consistent from third grade to high school when efforts were no longer part of the overall  grading process. (Note:  My father and his entire family were avid readers. By the age of 12, I was reading about 1,000 words a minute with 95% comprehension and all without any formal reading course. So reading for me was literally effortless and remains the same today some 40 plus years later.)

Years ago one of my colleagues Doug Brown of Paradigm Associates made this statement that still resonates with me:

People confuse motion with progress and activity with results.

By just focusing on effort at the exclusion of results, can potentially create a very unproductive workforce. Given right now from employee productivity research (the most recent being a Gallup poll), the majority of employees are not giving 8 hours of work for 8 hours of page (8 for 8), then the future looks very dim indeed if the up and coming workforce believes efforts trump results.

This trend of rewarding effort appears much in line with the other public education trends such as eliminating Valedictorian and Salutatorian or worse yet giving multiple Valedictorian awards because some students or rather their parents are upset that they are not number one or two. Yet, these many of these same parents probably believe in the supporting the best player (number 1) in any given sport and probably engage in conversations with others about who should be ranked number 1 or number two.

As many have argued against this type of behavior is let’s eliminate any playoffs and give everyone the #1 award.  Of course, this would significantly impact performance in future events.

How future American businesses deal with this challenge remains unclear.  However if these small business owners, entrepreneurs to C Suite executives thought they had productivity problems in the past, they haven’t experienced anything yet.

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What Does Inexpensive Mean in Business Operations?

A recent media request that I received from Evan Carmichael asked to provide inexpensive tips to improving corporate culture and overall business operations. Numerous people in management positions from the  small business owners to the entrepreneurs to the C-Suite executives are all seeking ways to reduce cost while improving the performance of their workforce.

S0 what does inexpensive mean?  From a logical perspective, this word is almost the opposite of expensive.  When we hear the word expensive many think big bucks.  Conversely, when the word inexpensive is used, we may think cheap to actually free.  However, is this truly accurate?

For example, employee productivity research from Gallup Poll suggests 70-75% of the workforce are disengaged to actively disengaged meaning 8 hours of work are not being delivered for 8 hours of pay.  When an organization has a modest payroll of $100,000 this means $75,000 of salaries are not securing a positive return on investment.

Another example is the cost of employee turnover which is part of talent management to a business.  When an employee leaves, the cost is estimated at 1 to 3 times the total annual salary plus benefits.  If the total compensation package is $30,000 on the low side, then is investing 10% inexpensive to retain that employee. Hmmm…???

The words we think, write and use can affect our results.  So the next time someone uses the word inexpensive remember that term is indeed relative to the big picture.  And sometimes being cheap can hurt an organization’s corporate culture and employee productivity far more than management realizes.

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Social Media Addiction A Reflection of the Times?

Social media addiction popped up on one of the many daily briefs I receive. The latest report can from Retrevo Gadgetology study asking social media users about their behaviors. (Note: The actual blog page was removed.

In an article in Psychology Today, entitled Social Media Addiction Engage Brain discussed several reports and appeared to look at these behaviors more from a psychological sense of community and communication.

Other social media statistics suggests that 50% of all Facebook users come back daily. So it appears there are some very real behaviors specific to people being engaged on a regular basis with Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

What this means for employers is less work is being done. The mobile device now has replaced the land line phone as well as Internet (desk top based computer) as  an employee productivity distraction or obstacle. Employees will not be delivering 8 hours of work for 8 hours of pay or what used to be called 8 for 8.

One of my clients actually set a policy about cell phone use because of loss productivity. Her employees literally began going to the bathroom every 15 minutes to check their voice mails. Now if this does not sound like somewhat of an addictive behavior, it does sound like a lack of personal discipline and ethics.

Regardless if you call it an addiction (I am awaiting for the first insurance claim to be filed stating he or she is suffering documented psychological withdrawal and then for some doctor to assert this is now a disease!), a lack of self-discipline or just a sign of the times, the need to be connected 24/7 is now part of today’s workforce and society.

I have observed people:

  • Tweeting in Church
  • Writing on Facebook walls
  • Surfing the Web
  • Answering email
  • Texting

The only problem is these people were also engaged in:

  • Listening
  • Driving
  • Working on assigned tasks
  • Talking to someone else face to face

Brain research continues to demonstrate the brain is not designed to multi-task. Yes it can multi-task. However, the error rate goes up (think quality of results) the more multi-tasking going on and the time to finish also increases. Now it takes longer to do what needs to be done and there are more errors. How will that work for you or your organization?

Bottom line the need to be connected and response to a mobile device 24/7 will eventually translate into lower profits because of less efficient and effective employee productivity.  Companies will need to address this issue with policies and then enforce those rules if they want to stay with the flow of business and not fall behind.

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