What Whole Foods CEO Would Advise His “Younger Self” to Do

John Mackey is an entrepreneur who has built his very successful business with a genuine eye on his core values. His journey to leading today's Whole Foods is an interesting one. What began as one store in Austin Texas, is now close to 400 outlets employing  80,000 staff and grossing over $12 million. "So John," asked the interviewer in yesterday's Washington Post, "if you could go back to those early years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?" Having read the full … [Read more...]

Millennials? You Still Manage Them as Individuals

Amy Gallo, in her recent Harvard Business Review blog post, addressed what she calls four essentially false beliefs about the Millennial generation in the workplace: They are completely different from what Boomers were at that age. They want more purpose at work than previous generations do/did. They seek more work/life balance too. They need special treatment at work.   She refers to several pieces of research that do not support beliefs #1, 2, and 4 and concur only … [Read more...]

Physician (Manager), Heal Thyself Too

You probably sit down at least annually with each of your staff to have a conversation about their growth and development in their current job and perhaps with an eye to future roles. You look at an array of possible learning vehicles, such as external courses, internally provided workshops, special assignments, job shadowing, coaching, mentoring, webinars and so forth. If you are serious about supporting them you schedule at least a quarterly check in as to what they have been learning and … [Read more...]

Do Good and Poor Bosses Clone Themselves?

When I train or coach front line supervisors, I am struck how often they are unable to think of a good manager for whom they have worked. It is so much easier to learn and then apply good management skills when you have someone in mind who has actually demonstrated them with you. ("How would Jennifer handle this employee? What would Frank do in this situation? What I remember Amanda said to turn her team around was… ") But does this mean that the leaders you have worked for in your career … [Read more...]

Plant Your Talent Investments in Fertile Ground

I recently heard an interesting presentation by Holly Kortright, Senior VP, HR of Deltek. She was talking about where her company has decided to direct their available resources for employee capacity development. They target four areas: High Potentials for leadership positions High Performers People possessing critical, hard to replace, skills People in key positions (e.g. long experience and intimate knowledge of key work processes) With the US government entering a time of … [Read more...]

Let’s Tackle the Skills Gap at 3 Levels

We are hearing so often these days that there are tons of well-paying jobs for which companies simply can't find qualified people. Of course, skilling up alone won't solve the unemployment and underemployment problems we face. But we do need to skill up as an adult population. I think we all have a part to play, at three levels at the same time: At the national/macro level. This is the realm of public policy around economics, education and the accommodation of technology changes. At the … [Read more...]

Every Job Matters (to Someone)

Recently I heard a presentation by Jim Gibbons, President & CEO of Goodwill Industries. In it he said that "every job matters." Every job has someone relying on the incumbent of the position to do their job well so that the other person can either: benefit or do their own job well. Your client/customer is either internal or external.You serve (or produce for) the external client or someone who delivers to the external client. This is true whether you operate in the private, … [Read more...]

Do We Stop Growing after Schooling?

I ran across a recent posting from the Gallup Management Journal that made a point have I never thought about before: "Raised through a childhood in which each new year brought novel opportunities, playing at ever more difficult levels of sports, growing physically, educated in a system of cleanly delineated grades -- freshman, sophomore, junior, senior -- many employees find themselves several years into their career wondering what happened to the momentum they used to enjoy. Being both … [Read more...]

Keep in Touch with Your Best Former Employees

It's been a smart idea for years. When good employees leave your organization for greener pastures and the departure is amicable, why not keep in contact? You never know, some may find that that grass isn't, in fact, greener and that your firm was a pretty good place to work after all. A recent WSJ article shares what some firms, especially the larger professional consulting firms, are doing to maintain a former employee "alumni network." These can be elaborate initiatives involving message … [Read more...]

One Employee at a Time

Back in the 90's the Royal Bank of Canada had a series of TV commercials touting the theme, "Building a Better Bank, One Customer at a Time." The message, as I recall, was that RBC treats each customer as a unique individual and strives to win them over, one-at-a-time.   I frequently refer to this ad campaign in my management development workshops. The parallels are natural… RBC has customers, current and new. Managers have employees, current and newly hired. RBC seeks to … [Read more...]