Monday, June 29, 2009

Employer Turnaround

Bookmark and Share
According to a new poll conducted by Careerbuilder, “72% of employers are taking steps to strengthen their employment brand to prepare for when the economy turns around.”

Of course, the first major take away is that there seems to be something a return of confidence in the U.S. Market. That's good news.

Another major take away is that if your company is looking to grow coming out of this recession, then you better be one of the above 72% .

So, what exactly are these 72% up to?
  • Outlining potential career paths for current and future employees.
  • Offering more employee recognition programs.
  • Offering more flexible work schedules.
  • Revising job listings to emphasize a positive work culture.
  • Revising recruitment materials.
  • Revamping their company career sites.

These things make you visible, competitive and desirable. Are you doing these things?

Monday, June 22, 2009


Bookmark and Share
Dear Readers,

By request, HR-Worldview is now on Twitter. The little Twitter thingy is over there on the right side of the blog just under our e-newsletters link.

Here are a couple of links to keep you hyper-connected to HR-Worldview:
  • You can follow us on twitter by clicking here.
  • You can subscribe to our e-newsletter by clicking here.
  • You can subscribe to our blog in any reader at the top of the page.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are Your Employees Afraid of You?

Bookmark and Share
At a meeting in a manufacturing town in the old Soviet Union, the speaker was wrapping up his presentation. The factory had once again exceeded its goals for the five year plan, “Thanks to the wisdom and inspiration of our great leader, Comrade Stalin!” The audience leaped to its feet, shaking the hall with their clapping. The applause went on for a minute. Then two minutes. After five minutes, people started looking around to see who would stop first. After ten minutes, hands sore from clapping, old white-haired Ivan sat down. Relieved, the rest of the group settled back down in their seats.

Ivan didn’t show up for work the next day. No one seemed to know what had happened to him, but no one asked, either.

I was never that kind of leader, or so I thought. At a staff cocktail party after work, my fiancee pointed out that my staff members were really very good at sucking up to me without being obvious. “Nonsense!” I told her. “They don’t need to butter me up. They know they can say anything they want to me, good or bad.” She just smiled. I then realized that, while I genuinely liked my subordinates, I had power over them, even when I didn’t use it. I could put off that raise, delay that promotion, reduce that bonus, and not realize I was doing it. And then I saw I treated my boss the same way. I always held back a little, knowing that my career depended on his good opinion.

It’s hard to manage, even when you have good information to work with. But if your staff is afraid to deliver bad news, criticize your proposals, or argue with you over a decision, you’re operating in the dark. You may have already told your staff that you want to hear open and honest communication. But your message to them consists of more than words. All it takes is a frown or a roll of the eyes to let people know that what they just said was not welcome. Even worse, a comment like, “That’s a dumb idea” will shut down all but the most self-confident employee.

I was lucky. I always had at least one staff member who realized I would always be fair (see my other blogs on Trust.) They would alert me to my blunders. Find one of those folks if you can. In addition, there are some things you could do to keep the communication lines open:

  • Have someone watch your body language in meetings. They should let you know what messages you’re sending without realizing it.
  • Practice neutral language to handle ideas or comments from your staff when you really don’t agree with something they’ve said. Try, “Interesting idea, Ted. I’ll give it some thought,” instead of, “No, I don’t think that will work.” Follow up with a one-on-one session with Ted to let him know where his idea fell short - if it did.
  • Put criticisms in a “parking lot” for later review, and let people know you’ll go over them later. Then give yourself time to react rationally rather than emotionally.
  • Learn to listen. That means hearing what people say and mean, both verbally and emotionally. Mirror what they’ve said to let them know you heard and understood it, and to be sure you really got it right.
  • Give credit where it’s due. Acknowledge the person who came up with an idea or a valid criticism.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes and say what you’ll do to prevent them from happening again.
  • Finally, say what you mean and mean what you say. If your actions match the words the use, your employees will learn to trust you.
George Krafcisin is President of Mosaic Management, Inc., where he does coaching and training for businesses and executives who want to become better leaders. He gives his services away to those who don’t have “profit” in their mission statements. Contact him at,, or

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unconventional Tactics

Bookmark and Share
Facing the most difficult job market in decades, some job seekers have resorted to using unconventional methods to stand out from the crowd. According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, nearly one-in-five hiring managers (18 percent) reported that they are seeing more job seekers try unusual tactics to capture their attention in 2009 compared to last year. This is up from 12 percent of hiring managers who said the same in 2008 as compared to previous years.

A few of the most memorable tactics hiring managers reported seeing include:
  • Candidate sent a resume wrapped as a present and said his skills were a “gift to the company.”
  • Candidate staged a sit-in in the lobby to get a meeting with a director.
  • Candidate washed cars in the parking lot.
For more examples of unusual tactics and additional information, click here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Performance, Compensation and the Recession

Bookmark and Share
June Benefits Installment by Jim Moniz

* * *

One of the key characteristics of companies that move ahead while others are falling behind is the ability to turn obstacles into opportunities.

High performance organizations that advance, even in the wake of a recession, have the foresight and courage to make seemingly counter-intuitive decisions during difficult economic cycles. Companies that adopt this strategic approach can discover opportunities during times when competitors are in defensive mode.

For example, during recessionary periods, high performance companies recognize and take advantage of the following:

  • Weaker competition will fade away, creating opportunities to acquire higher market share
  • Top talent becomes more available in the marketplace and typically at more affordable salaries
  • Capital expenditures can be re-focused in anticipation of recovery
  • Acquisitions prospects become more accessible
  • A challenging economy often forces a company to look closely at it’s compensation structure and subsequently revamp it, positioning the organization more positively not only during the recessionary period but also following it

Savvy companies recognize that in both good times and bad times, the ultimate key to success is their talent pool. Likewise, they are also well aware that it is precisely at the trough of a recession that the labor pool will be at its deepest and wage pressures at their lightest.

Regardless of the economic climate, the highest performance organizations look to hire those they believe will commit to the company’s vision and strategy – in other words they want top talent with an ownership, not an entitlement mentality.

So, what type of compensation package does top talent respond to?

The most talented individuals want to participate in an opportunity that rewards them for their performance – they want to clearly see a relationship between how they perform and how they are compensated.

Top-tier employees also recognize and respect the balance that inherently exists between guaranteed and incentive compensation and long-term versus short-term pay. They understand the economic outcomes the company needs to achieve for sustainability and growth and furthermore they are aware that current economic conditions will impact the shape and form compensation will take now…a shape and form that may shift when times are better.

While top talent may be willing to take a little less in their paychecks when jobs are scarce, in general terms a compensation structure that will attract high echelon workers will address the primary needs of sustainable cash flow; security; and wealth accumulation.

Understanding these elements, a company must formulate a compensation philosophy that not only addresses current economic cycles, but takes the longer range into consideration. The compensation philosophy of a high performance company typically includes market salaries; upsides/bonuses for exceeding annual expectations; long-term wealth accumulation opportunities; a flexible benefit structure that bends and shifts to both strong and weaker economic years.

Compensation philosophies of this ilk can absorb adjustments as the company faces various challenges, recessionary or otherwise. For example, when business is on an upward trend, salaries are at or are even slightly above market; short-term incentives are equal to percent of salary; and long-term awards are based on market guidelines. Conversely, when business is trending down, salaries are at or slightly below market; short-term incentives are minimal; and long-term awards are higher than market levels.

Businesses that adopt these compensation philosophies have the capability of interjecting practical solutions when the economic flow is downward.

For example, during recessionary periods, a company with a thoughtful compensation philosophy may offer “sabbatical” leaves to certain employees instead of a cut and dried layoff. Such a leave will reduce or suspend salary, but keep employees eligible for long-term benefits and wealth building programs.

Tiered pay cuts, as opposed to the feared “reduction in force” are another approach to cutting costs, while retaining key employees during challenging economic times. Top quality team players will recognize these adjustments in salaries as a necessary means to maintain jobs.

And during poorer performance cycles, a company might eliminate bonuses or raises, instead granting additional stock options.

Ultimately, companies, regardless of the shape of the economy, must have exceptional people on staff – employees who are aware that shifting financial circumstances may redefine their compensation and short term rewards, but who have the desire to maintain their focus within the organization knowing that the pendulum will eventually swing back toward better times.

* * *

About our Benefits Installment Author:

James E. (Jim) Moniz, CEO of Northeast VisionLink, a Massachusetts firm that specializes in structuring executive compensation. James E. Moniz is a national speaker on the topic of wealth management and on executive compensation.