Stuff We're Reading
  • Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
    Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck--Why Some Thrive Despite Them All
    by Jim Collins, Morten T. Hansen
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
    Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
    by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics
    The Language of Trust: Selling Ideas in a World of Skeptics
    by Michael Maslansky, Scott West, Gary DeMoss, David Saylor
  • The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
    The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
    by Gretchen Rubin
Tuesday
Sep092014

Carswell Partners 2.0!

Since 1990, our focus has been on individual and organizational resilience.

[Resilience - noun \ri-ˈzil-yən(t)s\-an ability to recover from or adjust easily to change]. 

 

On January 1, 2013, we put ourselves to our own test, followed our own advice and prevailed in the face of very big change.

 

As someone who has journeyed with us, we invite you to a special evening to hear the Carswell story of resilience while connecting with new and old friends and colleagues.

 

The Carswell Partners Story - We put resilience to the test!

 

We have moved……………………………………Come and check out our new location! 

We have a new team……………………………….Come and meet our new consultants!

We are using new technology…………………………….Come and see what we have!

We offer new products and services……Come and hear all about what we offer now!

 

Aside from hearing our story (and what it means to you), this is a great opportunity for you to network with other business professionals (hint: and help build your own resilience….yes, we will explain how).

Join us for a special night with Carswell Partners October 1st, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

 

Event Location 

310 – 700 Richmond Street   (Piccadilly and Richmond)

Evening Schedule

5:30 – 6:15……………………………………. Getting reacquainted

6:15 – 7:00 ……Carswell 2.0: How we got to where we are today

7:00 – 7:30 …………………………………..How can we help you?

7:30 – 8:00……………………………………………………Mingling

 

Appetizers and refreshments provided.

We would appreciate an RSVP to Lianne Gallie

lianne.gallie@carswellpartners.com

 

We don’t want you to miss out on important updates, articles and conversations!

 

Join our LinkedIn Carswell Group - Click here to join our group!

Tuesday
Sep022014

The Power of Multi-rater Assessments in Professional Development

Multi-rater assessments are commonly referred to as “360’s” because they typically survey an individual’s colleagues in the workplace who hold lower, lateral and higher levels of positions to generate a “360” perspective of an individual’s performance. These assessments provide powerful advantages as organizations seek to amplify the development experience for their leaders and other key individuals. They collect broad feedback from the individual’s work relationships as well as other constituents to provide comprehensive and anonymous development feedback to help an individual optimize his/her perceived strengths and gain insight into perceived areas for development and improvement.

Performance assessments can be biased when involving interviewsFrequently, the feedback will not align with the leader’s personal view, providing a new lens for self-awareness and growth. For example, a coaching client who recently received 360 feedback admitted the feedback completely surprised her and she had no idea how others perceived her. It was a true learning moment, demonstrating blind-spots she would not otherwise have seen. It provided a solid foundation for her coaching journey and professional development.

Although 360 feedback can be collected through structured interviews or through an online, quantitative method, there are several advantages to using the later:

  • The quantitative 360 process helps align the boss’ expectations with the leader’s understanding of those expectations, allowing the leader to concentrate on improving specific competencies that are a priority for his/her boss. 
  • Quantitative 360s compare the individuals to normative data over a large number of comparable leaders. This allows the individual to establish personal goals as well as see how they compare with other leaders, providing a broad context for the developmental needs.
  • Finally, if the organization is administering multiple, quantitative 360s to a group, group reports can be produced, providing the organization input for training needs as well as letting participants see how well they stack up against their peers.

Online assessments can be more effective due to a quantitative basis.An important feature of 360 feedback is anonymity and confidentiality for all raters -- other than the identified direct or indirect manager(s) of participants. In order to preserve anonymity, individual responses are always combined with responses from other people in the same assessor category (e.g., peer or direct report). The anonymous nature of the feedback creates a forum for honest feedback that individuals might otherwise be uncomfortable to give in person.  In addition to the quantitative responses, raters are able to provide free form feedback to the leader.

While some coaches prefer a structured interview 360 (also known as a “walk around” 360) to assess and gather perceptions about a leader’s workplace behavior, the quantitative, online method of gathering feedback has other very distinct advantages.  The results of feedback from a “walk around” 360 are seen through the eyes and ears of the interviewer.  This feedback could reflect a subjective, possibly skewed view of a leader’s workplace behavior.  Due to the extra time necessary for scheduling and conducting the individual feedback interviews, the “walk around” 360 is more time consuming and therefore more expensive.

When organizations choose to utilize a “walk around” 360 there is no objective way to measure a leader’s behavioral change except for anecdotal evidence fraught with common performance ratings errors.  On the other hand, quantitative 360’s have built in mechanisms for measuring and assessing future behavioral change that make them more reliable.

Online assessments provide quantitative and unbiased analysis of leader behaviors.Most quantitative 360’s are also accompanied by a handbook for the leader that provides in-depth explanations of behaviors, examples of productive and ineffective behaviors, and a guide to improving that behavior.   

In addition to addressing the concern of subjectivity in the “walk-around” 360, we find that the online tool improves receptivity and acceptance of the feedback by participants.  The emphasis in the online approach is to present the 360 data and allow the leader to draw his/her own conclusions and insights, rather than providing insights and comments that could be perceived as judgments.  For example, Bob, a coaching client of mine, admitted to having many discussions with his boss about his poor listening skills, but he did not feel compelled to learn different listening strategies as a result of these discussions.  When presented with the specific findings of his quantitative 360, which found low ratings on “Listens attentively to concerns expressed by others” across all rating groups, Bob embraced the feedback and was open and willing to make a behavioral change.  A follow-up 360 a year later showed that his behavior had changed in a positive way, impacting his personal effectiveness, workplace relationships, and business results.

Leaders receiving quantitative 360 feedback gain insights into how others perceive them, creating an opportunity to adjust behaviors and develop skills that will enable them to excel in their work and improve how that work gets done.  If development is the goal, leaders and organizations should consider the objective, unbiased, normalized feedback an online, quantitative multi-rater 360 provides over the subjective and potentially biased feedback of structured interview 360s. Regardless of which methodology is chosen, the benefits provided by 360 assessments will help increase the effectiveness of organizational leaders and their development.

Monday
Aug252014

The Power of Self-Assessment in Career Transition: If Ever There Was A Time, It's Now

Go ahead; ask your career coach why it is a critical time to commit to formal self-assessment.

After all, you can quickly point out that you are reluctant to take the time because you need to get your resume done; because you know who you are, know how to communicate who you are and know how to link who you are with your next job… you know, because you expect your next job to be like your last job and the one before that! In short, you know where you fit in the world of work with which you are familiar. 

Aye…there’s the answer embedded within your own words.  This is NOT the world of work with which you are familiar.  This time, it’s different!


In this new and unusual world of work, you will be required to look at different ways to work beyond traditional jobs which last less than 4 years on average in the U.S..  This newly-developed shorter tenure is reason enough to take a serious time-out and look inward as you plan for a more disruptive future.

Stop and ask yourself: Is it time to learn to work as a free agent, as a temp, or independently in some other capacity?  Should you buy an established business or a franchise?  How about heading out as an entrepreneur or a ‘solopreneur?’  Do you desire to change the direction of your career?  Are you being forced into a change of direction because the job you once held no longer exists or because – simply stated – it is time to move on and reach for, a new challenge?

Which new or different direction should you choose?  Which direction suits your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses?  Which direction is aligned with your values and your interests? 

Think about this.  If you were running a business, you would take the time needed to make certain that you were prepared to set yourself on the best course for success.  


News Flash! You are running a business. Your career is your business.


Self-assessments, coupled with expert interpretation of results, ensure that you look at yourself in an unbiased, outcome-based way; a way that will help you to make good and prudent business decisions in alignment with what the job market demands.

Consider the valuable insights you can gain from an array of assessment instruments such as these:

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Beyond helping you to understand how to develop and maintain relationships in the workplace based on communication preferences, the MBTI provides information that helps you to understand the relationship between personality and careers.  Numerous books share the successful career paths selected by others based on their MBTI type.

Holland Self-Directed Search 

The Holland Self-Directed Search assessment identifies the activities that offer you the most personal satisfaction.  This helps you to identify jobs and career paths that can bring you joy in your work.

Strong Interest Inventory

This assessment compares your results with people like you who have already found interesting and satisfying new careers. 

SkillScan

SkillScan provides a fast, interactive and intuitive-based process for identifying skills that are transferable between industries and positions.  It integrates results with interests, values and personality inventories in order to provide a holistic picture of your career patterns.

Career Design Guide 

This assessment expands your horizons about work and life options thus improving your ability to make good career decisions.

Work/Values Inventory 

Defining work values by the qualities that you seek in your career, this assessment helps align your values with work.

Monday
Aug182014

Personal Branding and Social Media

 

Many people think that personal branding is just for so-called celebrities or stars – or even for those that have too high an opinion of themselves! Yet, each and every one of us has a “brand” and is a “brand.”

Personal branding, by definition, is the process by which we market or position ourselves to others. From the corporate brand to the product brand and down to the personal brand, branding is a critical component to a customer’s purchase decisions.

That customer may be someone looking to buy a new car, or, in the case of an organization, the Recruitment Manager, HR Director, or Recruitment Agency tasked to find a suitable person to fill a role.

Outplacement ServicesYou only need to ask someone’s colleagues to get a sense of their brand - how the person is perceived in the work-place (e.g. hard working, intelligent, a gossip, lazy, etc.). These “attributes” will then reflect that person’s “brand.” Fundamentally, your brand needs to reflect your credibility, your value proposition and what differentiates you from other people and candidates for a position. It needs to focus on the value or benefits of the brand, of you, as opposed to the features (previous roles, education, etc.).

As a brand then, we should be leveraging the same strategies that make well-known “gurus” or corporate brands appeal to others. We can build brand equity, just as they do, through both our actions and our words. This is true whether you are a mid-level manager wanting to take that next step up the ladder or a very experienced non-executive director looking to add more board roles to existing directorships – or even that elusive first, paid directorship.

New Role IntegrationHowever, the key difference between today and August 1997, when the concept of personal branding was first raised by Tom Peters, is the rise of social media. This has leveled the playing field and made branding not only more personal, but key to achieving one’s professional objectives.

You need to carefully consider the role that social media, in particular Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, might play in building and reflecting your personal brand.

  • Make sure your digital footprint is fully integrated. For example, your Twitter and LinkedIn persona should reflect each other, and be consistent with your “physical” presence by being reflected in your resume and profile. While you may choose to use Facebook for personal connections, you still need to ensure there is nothing that could damage your professional brand on your profile that is publicly visible.
  • Use sites like LinkedIn to stay in touch with colleagues, alumni, suppliers and other contacts, but avoid requesting or accepting contacts with people you don’t know. In such cases, a personal introduction from a shared contact (which you can find on LinkedIn) is better. You can also ask connections to provide a “recommendation” for you on your profile reflecting the experience they had working with you. Your connections can both reflect and support your brand.
  • Include your career summary (something short and sweet) in all of your online bios.
  • Keep your online profiles up-to-date. This includes job moves, but you can also share content, such as interesting articles and links, to keep your online profile fresh and dynamic. These “shared” pieces of content should reflect your fields of interest and expertise while helping build a picture of your brand.
  • You may not be ready to start blogging yourself, but you can still add comments and feedback to other commentators in your field of interest. This is the first step in understanding and engaging with your (target) audience and exposing them to your brand.
  • Blogs, posts and tweets should be professional, interesting and add value to the reader. Don’t use social media to simply advertise your business or yourself. For longer posts, ensure someone else proofs your work. Otherwise poor expression or choice of words could make it counterproductive.
  • If you are employed by an organization, ensure you are familiar with its social media policy and follow it. If it doesn’t have one, it’s something you should suggest as a risk-management tool. 
  • Remember, once something is online it’s often there forever. So be sensible about your personal information. Monitor your privacy settings and use common sense about what you do and don’t post. If in doubt, don’t post it!

Certified Career ConsultantEngaging a professional career strategist who also understands social media will pay huge dividends in assisting you through the process of understanding your personal brand (who am I?), considering possible outcomes (where am I going?) and then devising an appropriate strategy to achieve those desired outcomes (how am I going to get there?).

Much of this post has been about the importance of brand, your personal brand, and how you can use social media to reflect and promote that brand. However, your brand, whether as an individual or an organization, is only part of the equation.

Are you doing enough to build both your personal reputation and that of your organization by ensuring the brand promise, the delivery performance and the audience’s expectations are all in positive alignment? Is it time to engage a professional career strategist? As a famous brand says – Just do it!

Monday
Jul282014

Five Signs Your Employees Might Not Be Engaged - Part 2

 

In the last blog we began a discussion of the perils of employee engagement issues and how these issues could lead to employee turnover. After covering the importance of (1) absenteeism and presenteeism and (2) under-utilization of employees’ skills, three signs remain that clearly identify potential employee engagement issues in organizations.

Sign 3: Lack of Employee Input

One sign of disengagement may be a lack of discussion or objections in meetings. Is the employee complacent, doing only what he or she is told? Do they never ask questions about why the task is done this way or how it could be done more effectively or efficiently? If this is the case, the employee may be disengaged.

Leader DevelopmentWhen employees have the opportunity to question and provide input about what they do and how they do it, they often devise better methods to complete tasks. This means they are thinking, they are involved, and they are engaged in their work and with the organization.

When one hears crickets because the room is so silent when asking for an opinion or an objective point of view during a meeting, an engagement issue may be present. The same Towers Watson study mentioned in our last blog found that leadership and the level of interest and support from executives are critical to successful employee engagement initiatives. Leader behaviors and actions most important to employees included: “being able to grow the business, showing sincere interest in the employee’s well-being, behaving consistently with the organization’s core values, and earning the employees’ trust and confidence.” Spurring involvement by employees in discussions and meetings can help develop that trust and confidence.

Leaders and managers of others are not perfect; they too make mistakes. It is good when employees know that leadership can make mistakes and it is even more valuable when employees hear them acknowledge their errors and the lessons learned from them. Creating a coaching culture where employees are presented the same opportunity to question, make mistakes and learn engages employees. Recent studies have shown that organizations that embrace coaching by enhancing their managers’ abilities to effectively coach others increased employee engagement as much as 33% and improved business results as much as 133%.

Pay attention to the silence. A lack of objections or discussion does not mean everything is going swimmingly and that all parties are in agreement.

Sign 4: Rocking the Boat

New Role IntegrationGossip and politics are present to some extent in every organization; however, too much creates a toxic environment and drives employee engagement and productivity down. Some people get involved in the gossip and rumors, while others avoid it, fearing the possibility of losing work friends or, even worse, jeopardizing their career aspirations. Where office politics are rampant, it’s not unusual for highly engaged employees who can’t tolerate it to leave the organization and take their expertise with them. It’s critical to address and reduce the issues of politics and gossip in the workplace quickly, even if it means letting someone go.

Recently a client took action and dismissed an employee, not because of a lack of work productivity, but because the individual was creating a toxic environment for the rest of the staff. Creating a toxic environment is one form of “active” disengagement. An organization cannot afford to retain employees who are actively sabotaging the company’s success.

Sign 5: Insights from Exit Interviews

Outplacement ServicesMany organizations today conduct exit interviews – the idea is a great one – to find out why employees are leaving the company. Unfortunately, the answers provided are rarely straightforward. Most employees know it’s a small world, and they’re not willing to overtly state their reason for leaving. After all, that information might get to their next boss and it might not be quite the same story told during their interview.

Also, employees are wise; they know not to burn bridges. They may want to be rehired by the company in the future and, as a result, may not be as honest in an exit interview as Human Resources would like. Individuals may also prefer to avoid conflict or the office politics that go on in an organization and as such will navigate the terrain of their exit interviews with extra caution.

Outplacement ServicesMany organizations choose to have exit interviews these conducted by an outside firm so all the information collected is confidential and employees are more open to being honest about their reasons for leaving the organization. Themes can emerge from exit interviews providing insight into voluntary departures. Themes vary from all of the topics discussed in this blog to a lack of career development opportunities and beyond. A Gallup poll found that 32% of respondents cited “lack of career advancement or promotional opportunities,” as the #1 reason for leaving a current job. This same report found, for the fourth consecutive year, that career opportunities remained the top driver to positively impact overall engagement levels. Seeing high numbers of staff depart for “personal” reasons may be a sign of an engagement issue.

Today, when there are fewer talented people to fill open positions in organizations across the globe, it is critical to examine employee engagement processes. If people are not finding personal satisfaction and professional/career development opportunities they will likely leave the organization quickly, even without having another position. Such was the case for the young man who left his plumbing job; he did not have a new job. He left first and then put his career transition plan in place. This seems to say that people would rather be unemployed and searching for a job they will enjoy than be miserable in their current working conditions.


 Sign 1: Irrelevant Work or Under Utilization 

Sign 2: Absenteeism and "Presenteeism"

Sign 3: Lack of Employee Input

Sign 4: Rocking the Boat 

Sign 5: Insights from Exit Interviews

Be the organization that provides an engaging workplace. It is a benefit – you will retain more talented and engaged employees, which reduces your costs of recruiting. By examining these five signs of employee engagement issues in your organization, you'll enable your workforce to obtain business success. Start today!