Tag Archive: leaders

Who Are Your Stars?

July 21st, 2019

In our 14 years of consulting experience and almost 30 years of working experience, we have found that 80% of executives spend the majority of their time with the 20% of employees who do not achieve results. Unfortunately, this means they don’t have time to spend with the stars who achieve 80% of the results. Do you fall into this trap as well? As executives commented in our 2019 predictions document, talent is a hot topic in today’s tight labor market. If you aren’t paying attention to your stars, they will jump ship to someone who does pay attention.

People don’t leave companies. They leave bosses!
As an executive, stop to think about what questions you are asking. Do you ask your direct reports about their stars? Could you identify the future stars of your organization? Or are you just addressing issues as they arise? Key customer issues. Board questions. Performance problems. Etc. If so, undoubtedly, you are receiving information from stars or they could be working behind the scenes, invisible to you. We find that these stars can be easily overlooked because they might not like the spotlight or they are likely to be the person to bring up unpopular topics. Does your culture support these stars or encourage them to stay hidden?

Here are ways to find your stars:

  1. Pay attention to who your leaders go to in order to get information. There is always a star behind the scenes who has the information when you need it. It is likely this person could be several layers below you and so you’ll need to pay attention.
  2. Have you asked old-timers for information or ideas lately? Ask employees who have been around a while. If they feel overlooked, they aren’t going to offer ideas and information until asked. However, when valued, you just might be surprised with some amazing results. We have had countless numbers of clients with this sort of hidden gem! Typically there is at least one person like this in every organization.
  3. Look for someone who might be unpopular in meetings because they’ll bring up issues. Frequently, there is someone who is willing to speak up about issues who becomes unpopular because the rest of the team doesn’t understand or think the issue will occur. This person is also seen as delaying the process. Sometimes, these folks are just problem employees but often they can be your stars. Stars are willing to speak up about issues, and if you listen to them, they will save you from all sorts of problems. Of course, if it was only that easy! Typically these folks might not be the best communicators, so they aren’t seen as stars by their managers. You’ll have to look hard.
  4. Look for the influencers. Although not typically in a position of power, the masses will follow them because they trust their judgment. This isn’t obvious because leaders aren’t involved. Look for who employees go to with questions or look for who they will go to if issues occur.
  5. Ask each employee about his/her ideas and/or create small group discussions. Once you gain trust, you’ll rapidly identify your stars.

Since your stars are responsible for 80% of the results and are the go-to people for any project worth doing, there is a dramatic ROI in finding your stars and embracing them. It certainly seems worth the effort of checking in on a few employees each time you walk through the office. Don’t stop and talk with your favorites or those with which you have common interests. Instead, stop at the first desk that wouldn’t part be part of your routine. Be interested and listen. We’ll bet you learn compelling ideas rapidly. Let us know how it goes and what strategies you find the most successful in finding your stars! We are always interested in this vital topic.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:

Employee Performance: Do Not Ignore Your Stars

People Rule!

Are You Retaining Top Talent?

July 19th, 2018


Several clients have been short on top talent. With virtually zero unemployment, the traditional job search programs yield virtually 0% talent.  Even with an executive recruiter, you may be prone to lose your candidate at the last minute when his/her current job figures out they need to do a better job of retaining them and they take action.


To give you a few sagas from recent client examples:

  • I was helping a client determine what he needed (skills, aptitudes, behaviors). I agreed to review resumes to see if potential fit exists and to interview candidates.  Although he received lots of resumes, less than 1% were even worth a phone interview. My guess is less than 1% of those would be worth hiring. Talk about a SLOW road to filling an immediate gap.  
  • Within the last month, two clients used a recruiter (thank goodness as we didn’t have to take the slow boat to China).  They found a great candidate and lost the candidate at the last minute to an offer from the current employer who figured out they didn’t want to lose their employee.  Frustrating!

Instead of either of these scenarios, why not retain your key performers?  Start with the following:

  1. #1 People work for people; not companies.  Who are your leaders? Are you developing them?  In the last six months, this too has arisen. That’s an exciting part of consulting – you get to see it all!  In this case, it wasn’t good. Good people left a new ‘leader’. Think about the productivity of the ones staying to finish that ‘last year before retirement’.  How awful!
  2. Provide training opportunities.  People want to develop skills and advance their career which can be a win-win in terms of gaining skills to help you achieve profitable growth.  Check out APICS-IE’s classes for starters.
  3. Mentoring. The only way to improve behavior is through trial and error and modeling behavior.  

What are you doing to retain your top talent?


Who Gets the Talent?

April 13th, 2018

The Talent War
In today’s era of growth, talent is in short supply.  Clients are finding that they do not have the talent required to support profitable growth, and so they are searching.  They are in a tough spot because stealing talent away from current employers has proven quite the challenge. Employers are offering incentives to stay put.  The bottom line – there is a war on talent. Who gets the talent?

Qualified Talent
While recently assisting a client to find top notch, technical talent through traditional on-line sources, we can definitely say it is an exercise in frustration.  Although they received many potential candidates, less than 1% were worthy of an interview – AND less than 1% of those were viable to hire.  It certainly isn’t the path to success.

Although it dramatically improves those percentages, hiring a recruiter doesn’t guarantee success either. We have seen examples of three potential employees given offers only to back out after getting a counter offer from their employer.  

The Answer?
So, who gets the talent?

  1.  Good leaders – People work for people; not companies.  Have you been paying attention to your leaders and whether they are attractive to work for?  You better!
  2.  Interesting work – Working for a paycheck is definitely not enough.  What interests your employees? Find a way to tie that into their work.  Give them opportunities to expand their reach.
  3.  Pay for performance – Will your employees receive an incentive for improving the company’s customer service, helping to grow the business, increasing profit or reducing inventory?  If so, they will be more interested in what will directly impact their pay.
  4.  Good reputation – Does your company and your leaders have a positive reputation?  Employees will know. Potential employees will find out. Everyone can look you up on social media channels, talk with colleagues at civic and trade association events etc.
  5.  Develop people – Do you offer mentoring and training opportunities?  Those who do entice employees to learn, contribute and stay.

Why not focus efforts in these areas?  Money and time invested in these pursuits will provide a handsome payoff – and an engaged workforce.

Who Should You Follow?

December 7th, 2017

Strong leadership will guide you to choose wisely
Several situations have arisen recently that leads us to plead “choose wisely”.  Examples abound on both sides of this topic.  Strong leaders attract top talent.  Weak and command and control leaders keep the weak and those close to retirement (in name only).  That is one of the things we love about being consultants – we have a wide view, across many organizations with vastly different personalities; thus, strong leadership is as obvious as a purple cow (to use a Seth Godin reference).

Pay attention to your employees
To your employees, leadership effectiveness is as obvious as a purple cow, even if it doesn’t stand out to anyone else.  Pay attention to how your employees react to their leaders.  Are they energized or beaten down?  One good question is as follows – if the phone rings at 5:05pm, would they pick it up, thinking it might be a customer with a question?  Or will they ignore it and instead put their efforts into a CYA type activity?  

Who will you go to for top notch service ?
In today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace, customers appreciate suppliers and advisers who will go the extra mile to provide that above and beyond service.  Just put yourself in their shoes.  Who would you rather go to for products and service – whether or not the ‘boss’ is there to make sure you receive top notch service?  Someone you know will help you regardless of what it does for their career or someone who is out for their self-interest?  

Remember, people work for and buy from people – not companies.


Job Gains & Market Surges

April 11th, 2017

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US gained a better-than-expected 263,000 jobs in March. Thus, the stock market surged and others gained as well including the Shanghai Composite Index, Nikkei Stock Average and Australia’s S&P. As the job market gets tighter, have you thought about how to attract, retain and develop talent throughout your supply chain?

job gains

What will you do that distinguishes you from the competition? As much as executives talk about attracting and finding top talent, an often overlooked strategy for success is to RETAIN top talent. Do you know that people leave leaders; not companies? The same can be said for supply chain partners. Are you a value-add supply chain partner? Since our clients have a constant concern when it comes to supply chain talent, we are updating our Skills Gap research. Please take a few minutes to participate and give your feedback.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?

When it comes to retaining your internal talent and your key supply chain partners, it is not terribly complex. Think about how you would like to be treated and what would attract you to want to work for or with your company. How can you improve upon those areas? Do you make your employees, customers and suppliers feel special? How could you do that?

If you are a leader, start by taking stock. Ask for feedback — and mean it. If you don’t care, people will pick up on it and they won’t tell you anything. Be genuine or don’t bother. Start by asking. Find out what is important to them and what they enjoy about their work. Do the same with your customers and suppliers. I have no doubt you’ll gain valuable insights in short order.