FOCUS – This is Hard Stuff!

I’ve had a tough time with focus as I start a new year and I’d guess I have plenty of company. Energy isn’t the issue, I’m very excited about business and personal growth prospects for 2018. It’s just that every day I think about someone and a circumstance I can’t change.

My dear friend Tom Regensburger passed away on the evening of Thursday, January 4. Tom and I were Evans Scholars together at Miami University and close friends for more than 35 years. Tom had battled some health issues in 2017 and had been able to work from home while recuperating over the holidays. On that Thursday morning he fired up the laptop and was making progress on several assignments but began to feel worse as the day went on. By that evening he was in the ER where they diagnosed pneumonia in both lungs and proceeded to attempt to intubate him. His heart stopped in the ER and they revived him but when it stopped again in the ICU they could not revive him a second time. Tom was only 55 and leaves behind a wife, a step-daughter and her fiance’, and two sons – an 8th grader and a 6th grader.

Fortunately for me I believe that in the latter part of 2017 while Tom was battling those health issues I did have my focus in the right place, at least periodically. We corresponded via email missives regarding our monthly 3-club golf outings. We talked at some length following an event that had him hospitalized over the Thanksgiving holiday and we texted each other around Christmas and made plans about picking him up to go watch a football game after the beginning of the new year.

So while focus is indeed hard stuff, I encourage you to spend time focused on cherishing and nurturing those relationships that matter most to you. I’m still sad every day when I think about Tom but I’m comforted to know Tom and I both invested in our relationship.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on FOCUS – This is Hard Stuff!

Retention and Annual Employee Evaluations

Do you think it’s tough finding new talent? Try doing it while handling the responsibilities of one of your top performers who recently left your organization. Now try explaining to your top prospect to fill that role that you lost someone you considered a top performer because you don’t do the basics!

Do your employee evaluations on time this year and do them right!

You can let yourself off the hook by believing that all your employees care about is the “money” part of the review. That’s an easy answer, but were you prepared to offer them any concrete feedback on performance? Were you prepared to discuss where they need to focus their development efforts, or was the salary increase/bonus the only specific feedback you had to offer? We keep telling ourselves that people are our most important resource yet when it comes time for a critical interaction with them we avoid preparing for it in any meaningful fashion.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Retention and Annual Employee Evaluations


Get used to it if you are trying to add talent to your team. “I can’t interview anyone else who isn’t committed to making a change.” I wanted to respond to my client with “well, get used to many fewer interviews.” My more diplomatic self said “I understand your frustration (believe me, I wanted to close the deal also) and our team will try and gain commitment to accepting a competitive offer as quickly as possible.”

Face it, everyone who is gainfully employed and not actively pursuing a new opportunity is a “tirekicker.” Perhaps every candidate, employed or unemployed, who hasn’t reached a point of financial distress is a tirekicker. Our advice to clients is to assume every candidate is the one they will want to hire and begin selling them on your opportunity as quickly as possible.

You must do the basics: 1) Be on time for the interview. 2) Set your smartphone to Do Not Disturb – PLEASE!. 3) Review the candidate’s resume’, any previous interview notes and their LinkedIn profile.

The important part of converting a tirekicker to a seriously viable candidate is being prepared to SELL what you believe to be the most compelling aspects of your organization and the specific role.

Get Competitive!

I had an interesting discussion with a client about why they couldn’t be more competitive with their compensation when recruiting external candidates. His reply when I asked why they couldn’t go beyond the stated range given what we knew about the market was “we have internal equities with some very talented team members who have been with us for a long time.” Before I could respond he followed with “I know that means we should consider adjusting our pay ranges and perhaps even adjust what we are paying our people now, but that is very difficult to do.”

The employment market in virtually all disciplines is as active as it has been in more than a decade. Your “talented team members” are aware of their market value and are receiving calls from headhunters on a regular basis. As you plan for the annual compensation review cycle it is less difficult to adjust the ranges to be more competitive than it is to adjust those ranges while trying to replace key team members.

Candidate Experience – A Teenager Gets It!

A 17 year-old I know pretty well thought they might like working at a particular clothing retailer but wasn’t going to quit the current part-time job before checking it out by working both jobs for a little while. The manager of the store at the local mall asked her to complete the paper application and return it the next day because she had an opening and was very interested in hiring someone who had already held a part time job for more than a year. She also said she could arrange an interview right away rather than waiting on the process with an online application. The application was completed and returned the next day, delivered directly to the above mentioned manager.

You guessed it – two plus weeks have passed and no contact from the manager. Now for the candidate experience – the 17 year-old young lady says “I’m not sure I’d even want to interview now because I wouldn’t want to work for such a disorganized manager.”

I commented in an earlier post that candidates need to relax because “some things rightfully take time and organizations have a process for evaluating talent.” I still believe that, but if you drop the ball on simple communication during the hiring process you can expect talented candidates to lose interest in the specific opportunity and maybe more broadly lose interest in your organization.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Candidate Experience – A Teenager Gets It!

Please Relax!

I’ve been seeing more posts about the need for speed in talent acquisition. I get it, really I do! I make a living when candidates receive and accept offers.

Some things rightfully take time and organizations have a process for evaluating talent. As important as it is to have the “right” talent, can you blame them? Candidates, are you prepared to limit the field of “right” career opportunities to only those who get to the offer stage more quickly than others?

And by the way, does anyone really believe that being overly aggressive with your potential new employer (or employee for that matter) really sets up the right dynamic for a continued relationship?

Please, Don’t Hire Friends!

Really, don’t do it – don’t hire friends! At least don’t hire them because they are your friends.

I know – they really are a great person, they have a strong work ethic, communicate well, get along with seemingly everyone. Shouldn’t they have the skills as well as the attributes you defined as being necessary for success in the role. You took the time to define the role, right? Don’t give in and skip this step. Grandmother Dierker used to say (I hated it when she said this) “if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over!”

Twice in the past 30 days I’ve heard “You’re right, I need someone who is actually capable of doing this job. How do I fire someone who a) attends my church or b) has a child on my child’s team?” Sorry, no easy answer – but yes, you have to do it!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Please, Don’t Hire Friends!

We’re ALL Millennials

Are you spending time trying to figure out the Millennials on your team?  Many of the Baby Boomers in leadership are convinced Millennials just won’t stay loyal to one employer for long.  I’ve believed for a long time that generalizing about generations is just too easy and relieves us of any responsibility to work on methods to improve retention.

Chason Hecht, CEO of leading employee retention consulting firm Retensa ( as quoted in the May 2017 Journal of Accountancy (yes I still read it!) sees things differently also – “There’s very little evidence that Millennials lack loyalty.  What they lack is a tolerance for boredom, discontentment and disengagement, for feeling disconnected from their peers, community, and society.” He makes a compelling case that it’s not just Millennials who feel this way but in fact all generations of employees are more likely to leave work they find unsatisfying. Add to this an improving economy, employees of every age being better connected and more likely to become aware of a new opportunity (read LinkedIn), and that same increased connectivity allowing someone to get a more accurate picture of a potential new employer and the result is more professionals of every generation willing to take the risk of leaving.

Remember – We’re ALL Millennials!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on We’re ALL Millennials

Ready to Sell?

Your company of course, but perhaps not in the way you’re thinking. In every discipline our firm serves the proverbial “war for talent” is on. Most organizations will do their homework before beginning the search – 1) prepare the position profile and outline both skills and attributes requirements, and 2) define the parameters of salary and bonus. Armed with this information your talent acquisition partners (internal and external) have developed several excellent candidates for you to consider. Now all that is left is for you to interview and choose, wrong!

In this tight market for talent you need to SELL! Please don’t overthink this. Based on what we hear from candidates about interview experiences just doing the basics will put you ahead of much of the competition.

1) Be on time for the interview. 48% of respondents to a national survey about interviewer behavior said this negatively influenced their impression of the company.
2) Set your smartphone to Do Not Disturb.
3) Have the candidate’s resume’ and interview notes. Here’s an idea – read it in advance, highlight it and be prepared to ask specific and meaningful questions relevant to the opportunity. Appearing unprepared for the interview was cited as a negative influence by 47% of the respondents in the same study about interviewer behavior.
4) Review their LinkedIn profile – yes this has become basic!

Duke Has Always Known It’s the Players

OK, you’re expecting some praise for Duke basketball from a closet Dukie. Sorry, while I don’t hate Christian Laettner, I do not like Duke basketball.

J. B. Duke, the Duke who the university and Duke Energy is named for knew in the late 1800’s that the business success that would propel him to incredible wealth and subsequent philanthropy was all about the people. This quote from one of his biographies “Bold Entrepreneur” by Robert F. Durden summarizes it very well: “one of the most important keys, or secrets, to Duke’s remarkable career: he was an extremely keen judge of men and of their character and ability. Moreover, when he spotted someone whose talent he respected and whom he judged to be reliable and trustworthy, he treated them fairly, respectfully, and generously……J.B. Duke’s success in enterprises owed a great deal to highly talented people who worked with and for him, and who generally remained loyally with him throughout their careers.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Duke Has Always Known It’s the Players