Monday Mornings with Madison

Yearly Archives:
2016

10 Invaluable Qualities in Employees that require Zero Talent – Part 1

In the search for top talent, employers typically cite the most difficult, technical skills needed to do the job. For instance, a current ad on LinkedIn for a CFO seeks a candidate with: “Extensive experience in financial analysis, identification of month end financial drivers, and forecasting.” The ad adds that the right candidate will “drive growth through product diversification and geographic expansion, and provide leadership and vision for all finance-related activities in the market, including developing and monitoring progress against Annual Operating Plan.” This ad is designed to filter out the unqualified and underqualified. But what the ad doesn’t address are the soft skills and qualities that ensure the candidate fits well with the organization. Those are either touched on during the interview process briefly or are not addressed at all. And while the inability to do the job does account for why some people fail at their jobs, most people are fired or laid off from jobs due either to personality traits or work habits that don’t fit with the employer.
The truth is that some of the most invaluable qualities that employees need to have and employers want from their workers require zero talent. These qualities are related to a person’s EQ (emotional quotient) and SQ (social quotient) rather than their IQ (intelligence quotient). The next time your company is screening to hire an employee – from an entry level clerk to a top C-Suite exec – they should make sure that the person brings a high level of these 10 invaluable qualities. Continue reading

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Dealing with Buyer’s Remorse

The very recent vote by Great Britain to leave the European Union – dubbed by media as the Brexit — has sent shock waves through financial markets, political institutions, and businesses worldwide. Despite polls prior to the election indicating that the vote to leave would prevail, the world was taken seemingly by surprise when it came to pass. The pound sterling tumbled to a 31-year low. British political parties were thrown into upheaval. Stock markets around the globe took dives. And the fall out is far from over. But, apparently, many who voted to leave the E.U. are now saying that they wish they could take back their vote. Kelvin Mackenzie, a columnist for the British Sun newspaper which backed the leave, said he was suffering from “buyer’s remorse,” regretting his vote. He was not alone. Emily Tierney, a columnist for the Independent newspaper, wrote “If I could take my vote back now, I would. I’m ashamed of myself.” They are not alone. A Survation poll carried out for the Mail on Sunday after the Brexit vote found that of the 17.4 million who voted to leave, 1.1 million say that they wish they had voted Remain. Given that the leave vote prevailed by only 4% of the votes cast – or 1.2 million votes — that is a monumental case of Buyer’s Remorse.
The truth is that any transaction that involves the ‘purchase’ of a product, service or idea must contend with the possibility and consequences of “buyer’s remorse.” For retailers, “buyer’s remorse” is part of what fuels returns. So what is Buyer’s Remorse anyway? Why does it happen? Is there a way to curb or eliminate Buyer’s Remorse completely? Continue reading

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To Sleep Perchance to Succeed

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control indicates that sleeping less than seven hours per night is associated with increased risk for diabetes, stroke, frequent mental distress, and all-cause mortality. It also can contribute to heart disease, and increases a person’s likelihood to catch a cold and/or develop an infection. Obviously, all of these health issues affect punctuality, absenteeism, and decreased morale. Excessive absences result in decreased productivity and can have a major effect on company finances.
These are some of the obvious ways sleep deprivation affects career success. But there are other ways in which sleep deprivation has a dramatic direct effect on success. Insufficient sleep is a major cause of workplace accidents resulting in injuries and lawsuits. Lack of sleep also impairs judgment. And sleep deprivation is tied to cognitive impairment and memory problems. In other words, the brain just does not work well –as effectively or efficiently – when deprived of sleep. Continue reading

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To Sleep Perchance to Thrive and Succeed

For many professionals, travel is a regular part of life. Networking conferences. Meetings with clients. Training sessions. Visits to regional offices, stores or plants. And when work stops, vacations typically mean even more travel. While many people consider business and personal travel a luxury and privilege, those who travel often know that travel has its drawbacks. Besides the inevitable transportation hassles that come with getting there and back, there are other factors that make travel challenging. Lack of sleep is one of the biggest challenges.
According to a study conducted by Yuka Sasaki, Research Associate Professor of Cognitive Linguistic and Psychological Sciences at Brown University in Rhode Island, people don’t sleep very well when in a new place. The findings help explain why many people sleep poorly on their first night in a hotel, a sleep laboratory or other new location. Apparently, when a person sleeps in a new place, a part of the brain remains alert for potential threats. And there are all kinds of variables that affect sleep for most people besides travel. If sleep deprivation doesn’t seem like a big deal, think again. While lack of sleep may not seem all that pivotal to professional success, sleep is actually one of the most essential elements of life. It is vital for good health. It also plays a huge part in professional success. That’s because sleep is vital for sharp cognitive thought and keen memory. Continue reading

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Core Values: Establishing and Executing

What does the company stand for? Where does it fit in this world? What are its’ “ways” of doing things? The answer to those questions is what lies at the heart of any company’s core values. Apple’s core value – established by Steve Jobs – was that people with passion can change the world. When they launched the Mac computer, their campaign slogan was “Think Different.” Their advertisements didn’t show computers. In fact, their ads had nothing to do with their product. It was about people who had changed the world. Likewise, the core value for milk – represented by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council for what is the quintessential commodity – is that milk is good for you, which some argue is not even true. Their most famous advertising campaign — based on their core value — was “Got Milk?”, which also did not show the product. It actually showed the absence of the product, but the core value was clear.

When a company’s leadership wants to establish core values for the organization, it needs to consider its place in the world. How is the company different from other organizations? What values speak to how the company’s employees work, interact and behave? What values jive with the organization’s brand and reinforce its identity? When seeing the company’s products, services or employee’s behaviors, would customers be able to pick them out as distinctly of that organization? Those are some of the questions to consider in formulating core values. Here’s how. Continue reading

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Core Values: Creating Values that are Genuine, Bold and Unwavering – Part 2

For a business to thrive, genuine core values are invaluable! Core values can set a company apart from the competition by clarifying its identity and serving as a rallying point for employees. But fake core values generate a cynicism that poisons the cultural well and wastes a great opportunity. The problem is that coming up with strong values—and sticking to them—requires a high degree of fortitude and grit… real moxie. Indeed, an organization considering a core values initiative must first come to terms with the fact that, when properly practiced, values can inflict pain. They can make some employees feel like outcasts. They can limit an organization’s strategic and operational freedom and constrain the behavior of its people. They could leave executives open to heavy criticism for even minor violations. And they demand constant vigilance. In other words, it takes work for a business to have meaningful core values. Companies unwilling to accept the pain of real core values shouldn’t bother going to the trouble of formulating a values statement.

Those organizations with genuine commitment to values will reap the benefits of what those core values bring, including: improved morale, organizational pride, cohesiveness, well-defined priorities, positive employee attitudes, less conflict, greater recruiting appeal, heightened innovation, unique brand positioning, and more satisfied customers. The first step in establishing core values for a company is to consider what core values are — and aren’t — and examine companies that have successfully adopted core values into their DNA. Continue reading

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Core Values: The Heart of any Business – Part 1

Change is a fact of life and an inherent part of business. With technology, the relentless pace of change has accelerated forcing businesses to either catch up or keep up. Companies are compelled to evolve with the times. Phone companies evolved from switchboards and rotary phones to smart phones with data plans. Record producers evolved from phonographs and vinyl records to digital downloads and playlists. Car manufacturers evolved from hand-cranked motor cars in one-color models to keyless ignition vehicles with self-driving engines in most every shape, size and color. Change is indeed unrelenting, affecting almost every aspect of business. Almost.

There is one aspect of a business that should never change: a company’s core values. Despite the battering winds of change, the one intractable, immutable, and unwavering element of a business should be its core values. But if you asked the leadership of most any typical small or mid-sized businesses, many would be hard pressed to rattle of their company’s core values. So what are “core values” anyway? And does every company really need to spell out its core values and should employees know what those values are? Continue reading

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The Six Keys to Fulfillment and Work-Life Balance

In the U.S., work consumes a huge part of most people’s lives. In 2014, 40% of all U.S. employees worked an average of 40 hours per week, not including the time it takes to get ready to go to work and the commute to and from work. But the majority worked even more. A Gallup report released in 2014 showed the average time worked by full-time employees had ticked up to 46.7 hours a week, or nearly a full extra eight-hour day. And salaried employees worked an average of 49 hours per week. In fact, 50% of all U.S. employees work between 40 and 60 hours per week, not including prep or commute time. And for business owners and top-level professionals, a work week consumes upwards of 60-80 hours. Since a week has just 168 hours and the average person sleeps from 35-60 hours a week (depending on the person), for many people there isn’t time for much else.

Given this huge commitment to “the job”, one might conclude that work is one of the keys to happiness. Is it? While it’s never good to generalize that what is good for some is good for all, research has provided some scientific evidence that there are certain things that are fundamental to success and living a fulfilled life, and it is only partly related to work. Here are the findings. Continue reading

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Enthusiasm: The Best Workplace Contagion

In the book entitled Be Yourself – Discover the Life You Were Meant to Live, author John Mason writes that “Every great and commanding movement in the history of the world incorporated enthusiasm. Nothing great was or will be achieved without it.” The poet and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson agreed, saying “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” Mason added that, “In a survey, two hundred national leaders were asked what makes a person successful. Eighty percent (of the respondents) listed enthusiasm as the most important quality. Some pursue happiness – others create it. A person who is enthusiastic soon has enthusiastic followers.”

Indeed, enthusiasm is the rocket fuel propelling achievement. Thus, it is an especially important quality in the workplace and critically important to leadership. Although many employers value and are impressed by confidence in their employees, enthusiasm is probably more valuable. Unlike confidence which is inwardly focused, enthusiasm is outwardly focused. While confidence speaks to certainty – perhaps even false certainty – enthusiasm speaks to creativity and joy. While confidence can come across to others as arrogance, enthusiasm is usually seen as enjoyment. What’s more, unlike confidence, enthusiasm is highly infectious. Confidence fuels an individual but enthusiasm fuels a team. So why isn’t enthusiasm valued more highly? Why doesn’t every job description start with “Looking for an enthusiastic candidate to….” And how can a company reward and encourage enthusiasm in the workplace? Continue reading

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Pride In One’s Work

Pride is often thought of as a flaw or sin. “Being prideful” is considered synonymous with being conceited, haughty or egotistical. It is the opposite of humility. There are few personality traits more distasteful than a person who is prideful or boastful. “Pridefulness” is seen as a shortcoming or failing of character. However, there is another kind of pride. “Taking pride” in one’s work is actually a virtue or quality. It is one that employers should seek in new hires, and it is a trait that every employee should embrace and emulate.

What does it actually mean to take pride in one’s work? Abraham Lincoln once said that “whatever you are, be a good one.” At the core of his message was the concept of taking pride in one’s work. And that is no small thing. A job well done is a meaningful accomplishment. In theory, this is a valuable quality in any person. In reality, it may be hard to distinguish between someone who takes genuine pride in what they do and someone who does the bare minimum except when the boss is watching. What does “pride in one’s work” look like in practice? Continue reading

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