HR Consultant - McGeachy Consulting
Human-resources-consultant-firm.jpg

Blog

       

Blog:

Posts tagged Amy McGeachy
Strengths is Our Superpower - Team Training
facilitation-group-300x200.jpg

Imagine with me for a minute what it would be like going through life, or even a day, using only your non-dominate hand to write with during your daily activities. Sure, we don’t write as much as we use to, but the exercise remains relevant. Think about this, you’re making your to-do list for the day, taking notes during a meeting, editing a report, writing a note to your partner, creating your grocery shopping list and you can only use your non-dominate hand. What would it be like? People report that it is “difficult”, “not as easy”, “I really have to think when I write with my other hand”, “it doesn’t come naturally”, and “my handwriting is horrible”. This is precisely what it is like when at work you focus predominately on overcoming your weaknesses. Now, imagine using your dominant hand for those daily handwriting activities. It feels “natural”, “easy” and people report, “I’m good at this”. This is the same feeling you get when you focus on and capitalize on your strengths. Things come easy, natural and you’re good at them. Using strengths-based leadership is like creating a certain Zen in the workplace. It’s how things are meant to be. You and your team are working “in the zone”!  

In Q4 of 2015, I invested in Gallup’s Strength-Based Leadership materials for trainers/consultants.

About Strengths-Based Leadership

Nearly a decade ago, Gallup unveiled the results of a landmark 30-year research project that ignited a global conversation on the topic of strengths. More than 7 million people have since taken Gallup's StrengthsFinder assessment, which forms the core of several books on this topic, including the #1 international bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0.

In recent years, while continuing to learn more about strengths, Gallup scientists have also been examining decades of data on the topic of leadership.

(SOURCE: www.strengths.gallup.com)

Gallup has 50+ years of researching that has given me a deeper knowledge base so that I could train and facilitate more strengths-based programs with my clients. I believe in this approach, and the results it delivers, thus using Gallup’s tools has become a focus of my practice. Did you know that leaders who focus on their teams’ strengths increase the chances that their team is engaged eight-fold?

Strengths at Work

IMG_0981-225x300.jpg

In January I conducted a Strengths is Our Superpower training for a client. The 24 participants began the training by taking the StrengthsFinder Assessment to identify their top 5 strengths. Based on what they learned they participated in a fun exercise to show the benefits of knowing and using their team’s strengths. Strengths is Our Superpower is built to help participants gain a deeper understanding of their top 5 strengths.

Participants worked in teams to build a structure out of uncooked spaghetti, string, tape and a marshmallow. The goal is to build the tallest freestanding structure using only the supplies provided. Teams were given time to plan as a group how they would build prior to actually executing the construction of this structure. Then they had 10 minutes to build. Some teams building process or execution didn’t go according to plan and they had to adjust their plan on the fly. Teams that leveraged their members’ strengths proactively had better and quicker results than those that did not take this information into account or only considered their strengths reactively after initially experiencing failure.

Team Strengths Grid

IMG_1170-300x225.jpg

Beyond understanding strengths individually, having a strengths grid for the overall organization, can be a powerful tool. At the recent client training, we mapped everyone’s top 5 strengths, to show where employees had similar and different strengths. For this client, executing is what they do. It’s not surprising then, that many of the strengths fell within the executing domain. It makes sense. For leadership teams, having a strengths grid ensures alignment between people resources and current business goals. Looking to the future the strengths grid is a tool to understand any gaps in your organization’s skill set in order to more effectively recruit and hire in a purposeful manner for the future.

Knowing and understanding your individual and organizational strengths is a super power.

StrengthsIsOurSuperpower-300x179.jpg

Are you looking for ways to invest in and super charge your workgroup? Contact Amy to learn more and/or schedule Strengths is Your Superpower™ for your team.

Actions Speak Louder than Mission Statements

I am a sucker for a good employee PR story. By now surely you’ve read the headlines about REI and their #optoutside campaign. The outdoor retailer just went rock star status by opting out of Black Friday. Just as many other retailers are putting the finishing touches on their 1am, 3am and 5am super sales and doorbusters which require their employees to skip out on Thanksgiving dinner, REI has said that’s enough. To take it a step further they are encouraging employees at their 143 retail stores, and 5.5 million members, to get outside too. The message is to ‘get outside’ on Black Friday. And, the icing on the cake is that they are paying their employees to take the day off.

This is good news. Finally, a popular retailer choosing the good life. This one action tells us that REI is choosing to value its employees, workforce, culture and brand above all else. Think about it, this is 100% on-brand for REI. Their President and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, announced this bold move on the REI website. He said, "We're a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us."

Employee engagement can save a company millions in promotion

Advertising is expensive and the ability to reach consumers via television news, social media, newspapers, magazines and personal conversations is arguably impossible unless there is a news story. In REI’s case, one new story about their business strategy that highlights the underlying tone of employee engagement is the golden ticket. Millions saved.  

Actions speak louder than mission statements

The case for engaging the workforce has always been there. REI just magnified it for all other employers to contemplate. And contemplate you should!  

Bold moves like this send a bold message to employees, stakeholders (in REI’s case, it’s members), and the public about REI’s brand. Actions absolutely speak louder than a company brand document or mission statement could ever dream of speaking. Think about it, if you work in retail and you’ve been mangled by previous Black Fridays your opinion of REI as a potential employer just went way up. You get the day off, you get to #optoutside and you get paid for it. Now that’s something to brag about at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Employees are talking, what they say is up to you

Good news travels fast. In this case, it was lightening fast and shared a gazillion times globally. Bad news has a way of creeping out too. Employees talk, text and post about businesses. Yes they do.

Take it from Glassdoor, employees are talking. According to their website, “Glassdoor holds a growing database of more than 8 million company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more.” Anyone who signs up for a free account can get this information. Let’s compare a few companies;

Company                     Star Rating (0-5)          Would Recommend to a friend          Approve of the CEO

REI                                 4 Stars                               84%                                                          89%

Dicks Sporting Goods   3.2 Stars                           57%                                                          69%

Sports Authority             2.9 Stars                          42%                                                          59%

As a comparison, Google ranks #1 on Glassdoor’s list of Best Places to Work.

Company                     Star Rating (0-5)          Would Recommend to a friend          Approve of the CEO

Google                          4.4 Stars                           90%                                                          96%

 

Now, let’s look at Amazon which was recently highlighted in a New York Times article published in August that highlighted its lack of work/life balance.

Company                     Star Rating (0-5)          Would Recommend to a friend          Approve of the CEO

Amazon                          3.4 Stars                          62%                                                          80%

The ratings aren’t bad but take it one step deeper by looking at the comments taken directly from Glassdoor. Ouch.

Glassdoor is not the only way employees share information about a company. Twitter (#Ihatemyjob, #ilovemyjob), Facebook, LinkedIn and sometimes even Yelp will tell the world how things are going down inside a company. And take it from Amazon, you don’t want “not the best work-life balance" splashed all over news and social media.

Steven R. Covey told us to “Always treat your employees exactly like you want them to treat your best customers.” What can you do, as an employer or leader at your company, to take action to ensure this philosophy is alive and well in your workplace? 

Take action

What can entrepreneurs, company presidents, business owners and leaders do to garner good workplace PR?

  1. Analyze the perception of the business in its current state.
    1. External analysis; Research online (Glassdoor, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn). First look at these external sources to see what, if anything is published.
    2. Internal analysis; conduct an employee engagement survey and stay interviews.
    3. Then identify the top three areas of strength and top areas of opportunity to focus on. Both of these are important.
    4. Evaluate your benefits. If you are a financial services company, you want your retirement plan to be the talk of the town. Setting your own employees up for retirement success will translate naturally into your brand. Similarly, a chiropractor whose wellness benefits rock (massage benefits in the healthcare plan, work/life balance, etc.) is on-brand. On the contrary, a dental office who offers subpar dental insurance is off-brand. Evaluate your benefits to understand if you are on-brand internally. Employees will talk and you want them to be raving fans both as an employee and as an ambassador of your service or product. 
    5. Make a bold change. Just like REI. Buck the system, be a rebel in your industry. Is keeping up with the Joneses off-brand for your company? A bold change may be just what’s needed to boost your brand both internally and externally. 

Businesses who land on the local, regional or national Best Places to Work list also have an easier time recruiting. It’s a momentous cycle.

A workforce that is engaged is invaluable. Employees are your best recruiters. The engaged employee who casually boasts about her employer in public (while in line at Starbucks, at happy hour and even online) create positive opinions in the marketplace. Multiply that by the number of employees in your workforce like Google’s 57,100 and the result is an army of employees radiating in the public about their stellar employer. Now, that’s good PR and the birthplace of attracting strong talent. Do the math, the average executive search has a fee of 20-35% of base salary. Employers who maintain an engaged workforce have top performers knocking at their door to get in. That’s a huge recruitment savings and the result of attracting top talent is the same.  

Google is ranked #1 on the list of the 100 Best Places to Work according to Fortune.com for the sixth year in a row. They have made bold moves to continually engage their workforce and be on the forefront of this movement. They know that an engaged workforce is invaluable and creates a momentous cycle of attracting even more top talent. The time is ripe for all employers to take bold moves to strategically engage the workforce.Unemployment is low, talent is hard to find and the economy is strong.

Be bold.

 

Love practical tips for creating an exceptional business? We’ve got loads more in The Exceptional Workplace! We help small business leaders (CEO, Owners, HR, Controllers) cultivate exceptional workplaces through strong HR and people practices. Learn more here.