No-Nonsense Reasons Why Your Words Matter

Smart leaders know they are scrutinized with every word and action taken. How and what you say has consequences. Words matter.

C’mon leaders, when are you going to get it? With position, power, and influence comes responsibility. We yearn for leaders we can believe in and trust. Let’s have a frank conversation why your words matter.

We cannot read minds

We want to know what you think. We want to know where you are taking us. We know you will make decisions and take actions in the future that will affect us. How you present your ideas persuade us to either follow or resist. Most of us are not in your circle of friends or influence. One of the ways to understand what you think is to pay attention to what you write or say. Your words matter to us.

Turn us into believers

You need to prove to us that you are trustworthy. We are skeptical of leadership. Before you open your mouth or hit send on your mobile device, please check your facts. Once it comes out of your mouth, you cannot take back what you said. Yes, you can spin a message or apologize for a misstatement but each time you do, you chip away at your credibility.

We connect with people who we believe are credible. We follow leaders we trust. Stephen M. R. Covey gave us a practical model for credibility. We look for all four of these characteristics to determine if a leader is credible: integrity, intent, capability, and results. We will assess your character (and whether we like it). We will look deep to understand your integrity and your intent. What you say gives us visibility and clarity to both.

Silence is acceptance

We evaluate leaders by what they say.  We evaluate leaders by what they don’t say. It troubles us when you do not call out bad performance or behavior. If my co-worker’s performance is below standards and you fail to address it, we think you are either showing favoritism, a hypocrite or a coward. We hold leaders to a high standard and we want you to live up to it.

Be careful of your timing and tone

Words can instantly inspire, inform, motivate, explain, upset, scare or divide. Words matter so does “when” and “how” you deliver your message.

We recognize it is difficult for you to determine the right time to comment on tough issues. However, in the absence of your statements, we make up stories in our heads. Science tells us that once we make up our minds, it is harder to move us in a different direction.

Your tone is important. We want to believe you are sincere and mean what you say. We see mixed messages when your tone and words do not match. Tone circles back to your credibility and believability.

Language makes us human. Words have power. They evoke thoughts, emotion, and reaction. Great leaders and communicators have a unique ability to use words to draw us toward them. We hope you take to heart what we have said. Our words matter too.

5 Must-Have Skills for “Going Global”

I recently attended a renowned industry leader’s presentation where she described helping an entrepreneur launch his international start-up in India. She delivered a compelling talk about opportunities, challenges and lessons learned. What resonated for me during her talk was that the entrepreneur was adamant to only hire the BEST people into his new business. The first employee he recruited was an HR professional. I was the only HR person in the room and was (internally) grinning from ear to ear. This was another reminder that the common denominator for business and, in particular, when “going global” is PEOPLE.

As interest accelerates within small and mid-sized companies to expand globally, the need to dramatically increase global competencies is significant. Business, Finance and HR leaders must master a number of skills to become effective including:

  1. International management expertise and experience in areas such as:
    • Business structures
    • Competition
    • Political and economic environments
    • Finance and business issues such as contracts, taxation, intellectual property, and risk
    • Employment and leadership
    • Cultural norms, values and differences
    • Technology
  2. Global mindset combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to see patterns across countries and markets. This mindset also includes the ability to deal with ambiguity and walk into unfamiliar business territory.
  3. Develop cultural intelligence (CQ) – CQ is the capability to function effectively across national, ethnic and organizational cultures. While the basics of global mindset mentioned above will get you in the door, enhancing your cultural intelligence (CQ) will keep you there. What works in one culture often times simply does not work in other cultures. Developing this skill is a must-have for successfully “going global”.
  4. Understand international labor differences – Employers handling employee labor issues overseas need to be careful to understand the variety of laws in the countries and localities where they operate. Common areas of differences are in employment contracts, overtime laws, data privacy, leave time, unions, noncompetitive agreements, and termination policies. All can be very different overseas and each country’s laws have their own issues.
  5. Effective handling of remote, dispersed talent and teams
    • Ensure remote workers are comfortable within your company – If possible, facilitate in-person or onsite visits to locations or with key employees.
    • Utilize technology to make collaboration easier – e.g., video conferencing, Skype, Yammer, cloud-based or web-based (always accessible) management tools.
    • Foster company culture – deliberate efforts to keep relationships and information flowing and accessible.

Back in the day, business owners who wanted to expand business operations may have added a location outside their own neighborhood into the next community. Times have changed. The world and the global market are wide open for those willing to go for it.


Recruiters Hate When Employers Take Care of Their Employees

custom_classifieds_12091All of us who are searching for great talent can feel the recruiting landscape becoming more difficult. Case in point, we recently started a search to fill a hard-to-find technical management position. We eagerly launched our campaign after developing a strategic recruitment plan where we engaged headhunters, large and boutique recruiting firms, tapped into our LinkedIn, social and personal networks, and posted on all the right sites.

In preparation for a slew of great candidates, we mobilized the interview troops and were ready to find our next game changer. On the Monday morning after our launch, we checked our applicant tracking system and Inboxes. What an underwhelming response! Ok, this was not going to be easy. We persevered and continued the search.

Finally, an outside agency came through and sent us the resume of the perfect candidate. (I’ll call her Jane.) Jane fit our profile exactly! We quickly set a phone call with her.

An hour before our scheduled call, the agency called. Jane had pulled herself from consideration. Of course I asked why. The headhunter explained Jane decided to stay with her current employer because the CEO and CFO approached her to let her know how much they personally appreciated her work and contributions. Then they sealed the deal with a meaningful clarification of her role, a promotion and a bump in her salary.

We had a little stretch left in our offer budget so I asked the obvious question, “What if we matched or exceeded her increase?” The agency rep confirmed what I already knew. It was too late. She already asked Jane the question and Jane informed her that she was going to stay. After all, the two most influential senior leaders acknowledged her contributions and gave Jane the recognition she needed. They went even further with designing meaningful work, promoting her and raising her salary to a satisfactory level.

I said to our rep, “I hate it when employers take care of their employees!”

Managers, HR and Leaders: We’re reminded again and again, if employers take care of the things that matter most to employees – good employees stay. Jane was ready to leave her employer. The employer intervened with the appropriate measures before it was too late.

Why employees leave are illustrated by Leigh Branham, author of “The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave”. In addition to the hidden reasons, Branham describes a number of “push” and “pull” factors that are the root causes why an employee leaves. “Push” factors are related to an issue originating within the workplace while “Pull” factors are related to an external attraction. Employers take notice. The top 20 reasons listed are “Push” factors which means they are related to something that is happening inside the workplace. Factors the employer has control over.

In Jane’s case, we extrapolated that her CEO and CFO addressed 14 out of the top 20 reasons that were “pushing” her to look somewhere else. They included: #1) Lack of trust in senior leadership #2) Insufficient pay #4) Company’s lack of concern for development #6) Unfair treatment #7) Lack of open communication #8) Lack of encouragement of input or ideas #11) Lack of opportunity for training and development #12) Lack of recognition #13) Lack of clear expectations #14) Uninteresting or unchallenging work #15) Pay not based on performance #18) Lack of encouragement of input or ideas #19) Unfair pay practices and #20) Uncertainty about job.

Our search goes on.