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Do You Enable or Coach?

On Friday we hosted an event focused on effective coaching vs. traditional performance management. We gathered thought leaders to share lessons learned, success stories, and new ideas. The conversations between employees and leaders are definitely evolving in corporate America. In my opinion, traditional annual reviews focused on the past, merit increases, and dictator leadership styles have never been effective and today they are not being tolerated by the workforce. Employee expectations are changing and we have to be poised to meet those demands in order to attract and retain exceptional performers. At Aureus Group, we see firsthand why top talent leaves organizations. We get confidential calls from amazing talent looking for new opportunities mostly because they want advancement and/or they don’t want to tolerate specific behaviors from their boss or peers. We repeatedly hear from dissatisfied employees that they want to be heard and be part of the decision-making process. The true culture of an organization is the experience that it provides to employees. It’s the day-to-day walk, not just the talk.By way of example, Jessica McCormick, Chief Talent Officer at Blue Cross and Blue Shield, deliberately renamed her HR department to “Talent Experience”, thereby putting the focus on candidates and employees. She is leading by example and driving effectiveness through strategic priorities based on research, weekly coaching, and empowering teammates to find their own solutions.

Katie Mullin, HR & Operations Leader at Farm Credit Services of America, is passionate about equipping leaders and employees on the why and how to talk with each other. She is leading the efforts to revamp the review process and is implementing future focused conversations. She created cross-functional focus groups including the high accountable people, naysayers, and all experience levels. Katie discussed the courage it takes for organizations to make this kind of change. This collaborative approach has been extremely instrumental in driving frequent future focused conversations and quarterly ratings. The ratings are not shared with the employees so they can focus on the development and feedback of the discussions vs. comparing scores with peers. A consistent message from all of the panelists was to align organization performance with individual performance.

Engagement, accountability, and escorting people to their intersection of choice were other topics discussed. Have you had an employee or teammate who is exceptional at their job but behaves like an EGO maniac? Why do we let them get away with it? Have you ever noticed the amount of time that is spent with under performers? The reality is we are pushing the right talent away by holding onto the drama quotient. Frank Venuto, Chief Human Capital Officer at Nebraska Medicine, adds “give your best percent to the best people”. He believes that engagement surveys should be used as a tool to engage the top performer “accountables”, win the middle, and move the bottom “unaccountables” out. We can’t let the drama kings and queens and the low performers continue their behavior or effect levels. Frank reminded us to talk with employees and leaders with compassion and truth. This is key to setting behavior and performance expectations. If they aren’t aligned with the values and commitments and they aren’t willing to get on board, get them out so you can build and develop your dream teams. Pam Bourne, Labor & Employment Law Attorney at Woods & Aitken, reminded us that employees file lawsuits when they feel surprised with a termination. If the basic conversations are happening you will lessen the risk of claims. Once we’ve had the dialogue and determined an employee is not willing or competent to live the values of our organizations, Cy Wakeman, international speaker/author and the moderator at our event, advised us to ask legal counsel how to handle the termination not to ask if I can terminate.

Another point that Frank Venuto made that resonated with me is that we all need time to reflect. Time management is a struggle for most of us so we need to block time out for our own self-reflection and encourage our teammates to do the same through our coaching questions. My mentor and boss, Larry Courtnage, challenged me and gave me stretch assignments way before it was popular. He used to end our discussions with a random statement and leave. It would take me a week to figure out what he was talking about. I called them the “Mr. C Riddles”. He empowered me to problem solve and never gave me the answers, which made me stronger.

As servant leaders, we will ultimately triumph over talent challenges. Join me on my journey to learn from my mistakes and continue to develop by reading Cy Wakeman’s latest book NO EGO. I’m on page 73. NO EGO CORE BELIEF, “Engagement without accountability creates entitlement”.

Chris Carlson, Managing Director

Chris is an experienced executive in the staffing industry. She has developed operational analyses, implemented programs /compensation plans, and has assisted hundreds of firms streamline processes and upgrade the competencies of their workforce. Finding innovative ways to generate new business, isolate top talent, and build teams is her passion. She has designed and executed many successful strategic marketing /recruiting plans and promotions. Chris began her career at Aureus Group, a full-service professional recruiting firm, in 1994 and currently serves as the Managing Director of Aureus Group specializing in the Finance and Accounting, Information Systems, and Executive Leadership roles in all industries including; Healthcare Administration, Banking, Finance, Insurance, Commercial Services, and Manufacturing.

In addition, Chris is a Certified Professional Consultant, and has an Executive Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.





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