Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Getting to “YES” on Job Offers

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

It used to be that to get a top executive, you figured out what salary you wanted to pay, offered a bonus that might be discretionary, and extended the offer.  The candidate might accept, decline, or counter, and the response was almost always based on the money issues.

Organizational Talent Management experts have learned a lot about candidate motivation, yet offers are still often constructed and extended based on just monetary issues.  Candidate turn-downs are often based on many other factors.

Hidden Concerns:  There are lots of things you can’t legally ask a candidate about, but might be on their mind.  What issues could interfere with a move?  Does the candidate have elderly parents, or kids in high school?  Is the spouse really on board, or being dragged kicking and screaming?  The best way to address these hidden concerns is pre-closing, or testing the offer.  When you float a dollar range, and ask could they accept that, you will often hear, “Well, I’d have to think about it.”  Your next question should be, “What will you be thinking about?” Or, “What issues will you be considering?”  This will surface many of the hidden concerns, which opens the door to further discussion.

Candidate Motivation: “A” Players are rarely motivated by just the money.  Other key motivators include being inspired by your vision, liking your company culture, identifying with the challenges you have laid out for them (performance objectives for the position), feeling they can make an impact, long term potential for growth or equity, etc.  If you take care to find out what really matters to each candidate, and make sure you have painted a picture that incorporates these features, the money becomes secondary.

Offer Components:  There are many components to offers today that can be important to a particular candidate.  Again, it is critical to ask what is really important in the features and benefits you include.  One candidate might find educational reimbursement to be valuable, while another might need flex time.  We had a candidate this year who needed the relocation package to allow much more for temporary living, and much less for cost of home sale, and that required a change in company policy by the new employer!  A key issue for executives today is where they will be permitted to live, with many people wanting to keep their home, and commute twice a month to the job location.  Know what is important, and see if the candidate’s needs can be met.

A key strategy is individualization.  Most companies employ experts that standardize HR policies as much as possible.  Candidates are at their most vulnerable when they make a job change.  Being treated like a person instead of a commodity will win hearts and minds, and get “yeses.”  Last year, I had one candidate for whom the money wasn’t an issue at all – he was taking almost a lateral.  All he wanted was some help getting his wife started on her job search in the new locale.  He was jumping for the opportunity, while she was hesitant, and that’s what it took to win her approval and consent.

The pool of talent will begin to tighten in the recovery, and getting offer acceptance will become an art and science, and you must master both!  As an employer, you need to be creative, intuitive, responsive and willing to customize.

Talent, Passion and Ambition – The Keys to Performance Management

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

Getting the most out of your people will give you the edge in pulling out of the recession.  Most leaders agree that people are their company’s #1 asset.  Yet, HR leaders struggle to find the best metrics by which to achieve solid performance management.  Talent acquisition is usually done based on candidate competencies.  Specific job objectives are used to manage people once on board, and incentives are the most common motivational tool.  However, there are very valuable tools that can work even better for acquisition, management and motivation.

Talent: It is critical to evaluate talent in the context of how the talent is to be used. In past articles, we’ve discussed the pitfalls of behavioral or competency-based interviewing.  If employers manage people to objectives once they’re on board, it seems like common sense to hire based on those same objectives.  For example, instead of asking a person to describe their leadership experience in general, it is more valuable to get them to describe specifics:  “We need outstanding technical leadership skills to position us as cutting edge with our customers.  What have you done that would prepare you to achieve this goal for us?” By identifying the critical objectives of the job up front, then using those objectives to evaluate prospects, an employer can discover the candidate’s specific ability to perform and achieve the objectives.  Simply looking at behaviors or competencies in a vacuum (without defined objectives) is not useful.  We must understand talent by how it is to be deployed.

Passion: Passion is a powerful, compelling emotion.  If you ask most people “Do you love what you do?, they might chuckle and reply “I don’t even like what I do!”  Yet, how often do employers take this into account in managing people?  Do we discover the passions of our key people?  Do we tailor assignments to those passions?  Leveraging the collective passions of employees can turn a good organization into a great one.  Imagine the competitive advantage that could be gained in knowing what gets your employees revved up, aligning those strong feelings with your mission and purpose, and directing actions accordingly.  Would you even have to manage such people?  When an employer discovers how to capitalize on the core motivation of its people, it is indeed limitless.

Ambition: Ambition is the desire to reach an objective, and the willingness to strive towards that goal.  It is the next step beyond passion, because it has a direction.  Where do your people want to go, both individually and within your company?  Understanding what success looks like to each person enables you to tie jobs and rewards to real motivators.  Monetary incentives are important, but employers are often surprised to find out that other things besides money can produce strong results.  Sometimes it is small internal recognition, or horizontal expansion of responsibility; things that are simple for an employer to deliver.  Throwing money at people is easy, but more expensive, and sometimes not even that fruitful.  Discovering what they’re heading for personally, and providing a road map to align your goals with theirs can be highly productive.

Ensuring that you have the specific talent needed to achieve goals is critical in employee acquisition.  Channeling the passion and ambition of your people in productive directions and providing the non-monetary rewards they really want will help you get the results you want.  Then you can take your company to the next level.

Being in the Corporate “Zone”

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

What enables corporate executives to get into and stay “In the Zone?”

In 1993, Jimmy Johnson, then the coach of the Dallas Cowboys, credited a book called Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, with helping him prepare for the Super Bowl win that year.

“Flow” (or, being “In the Zone”) is a state of being where one is fully present, fully engaged, fully effective, AND experiencing joy.  When we have access to our highest and best resources, we not only are better at what we’re doing, we enjoy it more.

People who aren’t in the zone, and have trouble getting there, are often obstacles in the work environment, and barriers to company success.

To answer the original question, here are the key ingredients I think one needs to facilitate flow:

Passion:  You must enjoy what you are doing, and even feel driven to do it.  If you are doing something you aren’t passionate about, you have to break it down, and find the smaller increments of joy that will come with succeeding with that particular item.

Focus:  We all multi-task, but getting into flow requires the elimination of distractions so that you can be fully present and excellent at what you are doing in any given moment.  Let’s call this the Zen of making the best effort you can!

Letting go:  Everything that has already happened is either water under the bridge or a learning opportunity.  Derive the learning, let go, and move on.  Carrying a heavy backpack just slows you down.

Peak Experience:  The author of Flow, plus many others (Abraham Maslow, Daniel Pink [Drive], and Daniel Goleman [Emotional Intelligence]) all talk about how our best resources are derived from strong positive experiences, which can continue to motivate us and fuel future successes.  Stop (briefly) and enjoy the small successes, and really celebrate the big successes, to make them even more memorable.

Getting into the zone is good for you, good for your business, good for your customers, good for your colleagues.  My map may not be the only path there, so by all means find your own, and stay on the path!


The How-to’s of Employee Retention

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

My last post was about the importance of keeping your best people, especially in a recession. Today I’ll focus on what motivates an “A” player. These factors need to be in place in order for you to keep your top people loyal. “A” players are motivated to stay with you when they are:

  • Inspired by your vision and leadership – make sure you articulate this clearly and stay positive in your communication.
  • Impressed by your business plan – You do have one, right? A roadmap to success must be part of your plan.
  • Part of a great team tackling a great challenge – an “A” player wants to be surrounded by other high quality teammates, who are operating at optimum performance.
  • Believing in the company’s potential to succeed – would you bet on your chances? Your “A” players can calculate the odds too.
  • In a stable, secure environment – have you been making people feel safe or not so safe in your comments about today’s situation?
  • Able to make a difference, to count – because you have clearly spelled out their objectives and shown them how the achievement of those aligns with corporate goals.
  • Have the right compensation – this is last on the list, because if the factors above are present, compensation becomes less important. The “right” compensation for a key manager includes incentives for their own performance objectives.

Take care of your people, mostly through excellent communication and the right attitude, and I believe they will stay loyal and take care of you!

Dead Meat Theory: Why Counteroffers Rarely Pay Off

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

John Q. Executive walks nervously into his boss’ office to announce, “Mr. Employer, I’m really sorry to have to tell you this, but I’ve decided to accept another position. The XYZ Company made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Mr. Employer doesn’t miss a beat.  “Wait a minute, John. We can’t afford to lose you. Tell me about this other offer.”

Almost every executive will play this scene in his or her career. When the counteroffer is put on the table, what happens next is critical. Not only for a particular situation. but also as an overall career strategy. Before even considering a counteroffer, John Q. needs to look at these questions.

  1. Why is the boss so afraid to lose me?
  2. What will my future be here if I stay?
  3. What will others think of my decision?
  4. What brought me to submit my resignation in the first place?
  5. If I accept the counteroffer, am I a winner or “dead meat?”

I have seen many people caught in this scenario, and have come to a definitive conclusion. It almost never pays to accept the counteroffer. Let’s look at some possible answers to John Q’s questions:

  1. The Motivation of the Boss:

If John Q. is good enough to get that super offer form XYZ Co., then Mr. Employer almost certainly values his work.  He may even like John.  But, for most employers the first thoughts that come to mind upon receiving a resignation are:  How is this going to inconvenience me?  How long might it take to find a replacement?  Who will run the department in the interim?  Who will train John Q’s replacement?

In many cases, the first answer that comes to mind is, “Let me buy some time to sort this out.”

If John Q. can be persuaded to stay, the employer can, at his leisure evaluate the impact of John’s departure, Mr. Employer might put out a confidential search with a recruiter for John’s replacement (we’ve done several of these).  He can examine John’s subordinates to see if any can be groomed to succeed him.  Mr. Employer can even bring in John’s potential replacement as a “consultant”, and let John train his successor.  So what if these steps cause the employer to shell out $10,000 to $20,000 more in annualized salary.  The three to six months it takes to sort things out will be inexpensive compared to the potential cost of sudden loss of a key manager.

And, odds are, the boss isn’t going to gamble on John Q’s continued loyalty much longer. Despite the counteroffer flattery, Mr. Employer may decide that his most logical long range solution is to get the replacement on board as soon as possible.

  1. John’s Future in His Current Company:

John is still John.  His company is stilling the same.  If the match were really so wonderful, John wouldn’t have been vulnerable to XYZ Company’s offer.  Will an elevated title or a few dollars really improve the essence of the relationship?  Maybe, but only for the short term.

If the boss hasn’t already done so, soon after giving the counteroffer, he will begin to second-guess John’s contribution to the firm.  Mr. Employer may feel betrayed, blackmailed.  He may worry that other employees will use job offers to leverage their positions sometime in the future.  When the next scheduled salary review comes up, the boss has a chance to “get even.”  Without another outside offer in hand, John Q will have to accept the boss’ excuse: “Don’t you remember, John, I just gave you that big raise when XYZ tried to steal you away.”

When a real promotion comes up, will the company choose to advance the person who had been looking and had to be induced into staying?  Or will they reward a loyal, dedicated coworker who has demonstrated a genuine commitment?  Or even worse, might they hire from the outside, over John Q’s head?

  1. What People Will Think:

If John Q accepts the counteroffer, certainly some people won’t be happy.  Clearly, the XYZ Co., which is already anticipating his arrival, will be disappointed.  If a recruiter was involved, John’s credibility will be strained by the reversal.

What about his references?  What if they see his actions as a career leveraging maneuver? What if they feel used, or worry that they may be “manipulated” in the future?

How about John’s coworkers?  Regardless of how discrete he’s been, someone, if not everyone, is sure to know he had planned to leave.  The office grapevine rarely deals kindly with these matters.  Maybe subordinates may have started jockeying for his job.  May they are relieved he is leaving!  Or, maybe he was so well liked; his fellow employees are planning his farewell testimonial luncheon.  As rumors circulate and escalate and demand denial, John Q. will get the short end with his peers.

John’s sudden reversal may be perceived as fearful, a sign of weakness.  Respect for him may drop.  His relationships may never be the same.

  1. Why John Had the New Offer:

A candidate for a job change is either dissatisfied with his current position, or tempted by the positive aspects of the new opportunity.  Or, more usually, it s a combination of both factors.

As a search consultant, I will admit that I can’t get an executive to see a potential new employer unless he is motivated (nor would I want to force such a meeting).

It is that motivation that led John Q to see the XYZ Company, listen to their pitch, and interview well enough to elicit an offer.  We must assume that John Q Executive was smart enough to carefully analyze the offer, listing and evaluating all the plusses and minuses before accepting.

A clearly convinced John Q marched into the boss’s office to resign, only to be confronted by the counteroffer in the face of such an emotional encounter, many people would be hard pressed to remain cool and logical and focused or, the original intent, to resign and move on.

But all the factors that preceded that moment remain unchanged. John needs to remember that he has decided that XYZ represents the better long term opportunity.

  1. A Winner or Dead Meat?

I trust that the reader will not be offended by the purposely outrageous phrase that I use to characterize the result of accepting a counteroffer.  I certainly don’t regard people with so callous an attitude.  I have found, though, that many executives in the emotional throes of a decision about whether to accept a counteroffer need to be shocked into recognition of the downside risk.

Let me emphasize that these observations are not the casual opinion of the author.  In meetings and interviews with many hundreds of executives, our consultants have spoken to dozens who have been involved in counteroffer situations.  In less than 20 percent of the cases has the acceptance of such an offer worked out satisfactorily.  The overwhelming majority of the executives we have talked to have expressed regret; based on the negative results I have talked about above.  They have admitted that it is difficult to see the pitfalls while their current firm is “courting” them to stay.  The situation is just too emotional.

Remember, the new employer considers you a winner.  They are the ones willing to pay a premium for our services and start you out in a higher position.  The reasons for making the job change are rarely strictly financial and those reasons will still be there.

The best advice is to make the change you have agreed to, and don’t look back.  Keep relationships with important people in your old organization intact, but politely deliver the firm message that you have decided to move on.  If it is made clear that you are not open to renegotiation. you may be able to prevent the counteroffer attempt, and save embarrassment for all concerned.  You decide which way you will end up a winner.

Bregman is a Principal with BOYLE OGATA BREGMAN, a full service human resources consulting firm.

Contact Mark at 949-440-6855 /