As a leadership coach and consultant, I have worked with both large and small organizations on talent development and growing leaders, teams and organizations. Most of the companies I work with are financially successful – hitting targets for profitability and growth — but many struggle with building talent who will not only grow with the organization but help take it to the next level.
“Ineffective leadership caps the ability of an organization to grow,” says Anderson and Adams in their latest book, Scaling Leadership. I agree wholeheartedly and believe that investing in people development should be a top priority if the goal of your organization is to grow and develop productive individuals and teams.
Here are my top 5 key differentiators for successful talent development.
- View development as a variety of experiences versus a one-week training course. Leaders should look to leverage various day-to-day experiences for ongoing growth and development opportunities, including regular feedback, shadowing, internal mentors, brown-bag lunches, articles, podcasts, books and more. Many are free or low-cost so that any size organization can take advantage of them.
- Invest in the right people at the right time. Not all employees have the same motivation or commitment to his/her own development. Leaders who want a positive ROI on time and money for talent development, need to identify mindset readiness in addition to skill set. Both need to be there for significant progress.
- Create opportunities for safe, “soft” or vertical skills development within the organization. For example, a team member who is challenged to deal with conflict should be presented with opportunities to practice the skill with others. Reading articles or books is great for tips or techniques, but there is no substitute for real-life experiences in the workplace. Comprehensive development requires an understanding of what’s needed on both the “soft” technical or “hard” skills fronts and leaders should focus on improvement in both areas.
- Differentiate between performance and development. Performance measures how someone is doing in his/her current role. Development is focused on advancing someone’s skill set and involves understanding where the skill/mindset gaps exist and having a game plan that regularly builds for the gap areas. Development also includes ongoing/regular feedback, progress monitoring and planning as jobs/roles change or evolve or as team members scale up to new roles.
- Maintain a consistent development mindset. Organizations and the leaders who invest in development know that it is not an annual review or goal setting once a year. Development should be viewed as “the norm” and part of the overall culture of the organization. Successful leaders value development. They set standards and make time for individuals to invest in themselves. They create workloads that allow time for people to self-reflect and take stock of what is working/not working at an individual, team and organization level. Effective leaders are the role models for this work and set the stage for all to develop.
Thanks to Rebekah Epstein for featuring me on her blog — Neon Notebook. The piece imparts a bit of business and life advice. Here are 3 Things I Wish I Had Known in My 20’s:
Do what you enjoy.
Like most people in my 20s, I was busy trying to do what I was supposed to do. According to who? This notion was mostly based on what I thought were the “cool careers”. They sounded good and were “prestigious”. But, after years of trying my hand at different things, I learned a big lesson about which careers I was and wasn’t suited for. Today, I have the pleasure of helping others discover what careers they are uniquely suited for. One of the most meaningful pieces of professional feedback I have received was from a young woman who I worked with and shared advice on career choices based on strengths and passion. She sent me a note letting me know that I had influenced her to choose a career path based on something she wanted to do, while her classmates chose what they thought they should do. Understanding her strengths and passions provided her with the confidence she needed to pursue her career choice and direction.
It is the job of the CEO or founder to define the values of the company and embody these principles. It is just as important to seek out people who share these ideals to help steer and lead the organization forward.
So when hiring, be sure to consider your goals and vision for the organization and how that may impact the type of person you need to bring in now. Make sure you define exactly what is needed in the role, where there are gaps that may need to be filled and determine what points of overlap, need synergy or where you can add to the mix. Also, be objective in your process.
As the founder of a professional consulting and coaching firm, I find that there are several key factors in play when successfully matching candidates to companies and sowing the seeds of compatibility. Read more.
Do you have a student graduating, entering the workforce or thinking about a major or new career path? We are now offering our proprietary strengths assessment and coaching services to assist young adults with identifying their skills and talents.
Our strengths assessments identify business strengths, beyond academics, to help the student or young professional pursue career choices that best suit their strengths, passions and intellectual abilities.
“This interview was very helpful and I think it will be great for college students who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives as well! Knowing the individual strengths and weaknesses was not only interesting but helpful. It helped me to see something I could improve on to look better in my future employers eyes.” Bridget Mosher
Did you know that 88% of women owned businesses are solopreneneurs? Why? We’re good at solving challenges and getting things done, but sometimes we try to do it all on our own. If you are a woman who owns her own business, has a career or is considering re-entering the workforce, here are a few things to consider to make your work-life balance truly steady under pressure:
1. Think it through. It’s important to know what you want to get out of your business or career and what you can handle. My advice to women currently in the workplace or re-entering is to understand what you want to contribute to the business world and your personal life. Most women I know want to do meaningful work, have some personal time, AND be there for their families. Define your goals upfront and outline what being successful means to you.
2. Be flexible. Understand that you will need to be flexible in in other areas of your life (volunteering, carpooling, errands, etc.) and who/how to get additional support (sitter, spouse, friends, etc.) I see people outsourcing cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and other jobs to keep things running smoothly. Keep the pieces you love, but find ways to gain support where needed.
3. Find partners. Generally speaking, women are good collaborators. When I first started my business, I tried to do it all alone. I quickly realized it meant that I was on call 24/7 and had to do things I didn’t enjoy and wasn’t necessarily skilled in. Now I have a variety of partners — some that work directly in my business and some who I can call upon for specific expertise. Honestly, I enjoy it more because I get to work with other bright women and play in my sweet spot.
We need women in businesses as employees and entrepreneurs. We solve a whole lot of challenges in the world — and we do it differently – especially if we’re thoughtful in our preparation and don’t’ try to go it all alone. Thinking about a new career or re-entering the workforce? Stay tuned for info on our Women in Transition Workshops coming this October & November!
Pressed to describe the stereotypical entrepreneur, which words would you use? Passionate? Dedicated? Optimistic? Sure, those apply. But insecure and troublemaker are more accurate, according to ‘treps who know a success when they see one. Do the following traits, characteristics and quirks describe you? Well then, you might be an entrepreneur (at heart, if not yet in practice).
1. You take action.
Barbara Corcoran, founder of The Corcoran Group, co-star of TV’s Shark Tank and author of Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business, says people who have a concept but not necessarily a detailed strategy are more likely to have that entrepreneurial je ne sais quoi. “I hate entrepreneurs with beautiful business plans,” she says. Check out the other 14 traits.
We all have what I call a sweet spot, those areas where we excel in business. When we’re naturally good in certain spaces, we gravitate that way. The quality level of our work tends to be higher and we get those tasks done more efficiently. Knowing our strengths is key to performing at our peak.
Yet working only in only in areas of strength, or failing to recognize our weaknesses, can stagnate us and the entire organization. Here are three strategies to make the most of working outside of your comfort zone. Read more.
Start with Strengths will be adding two new service offerings this fall in 1:1 and in group/workshop settings.
If you have a student or someone new to the workforce, we will be offering our proprietary strengths assessment and coaching services to help young professionals identify the right career path. Our strengths assessments will identify business strengths, beyond academics, to help the student or young professional pursue career choices that best suit their strengths, passions and intellectual abilities.
Women Returning to the Workplace
We are offering a variety of services to assist women who are looking to return to the workplace. Our goal is to help identify opportunities for business success and personal satisfaction. Starting with our strengths assessment, we will evaluate their skills and help develop a personal brand to re-enter the workplace with confidence and purpose. Our coaching services also entail resume building, networking recommendations, interview skills and more.
Please contact us if you are interested in learning more.
Hiring the wrong person is a potentially crippling error but is avoided by being in tune with the strengths and culture of your organization. When it comes to the hiring process, it’s crucial to identify candidates who have the necessary skill set and whose values align with the culture of your organization.
A strengths assessment of your organization is important to ensure you’re tapping into the right people. Think of it as a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunities, threats) analysis of your people to identify key personality and behavioral traits and natural talents to help you best leverage that combination of talents. Read more.
For employees to excel, be productive and passionate in the workplace, there needs to be an ongoing focus on fostering an environment where they feel valued and a part of the corporate culture. Trust me I know.
Working with organizations of all shapes and sizes — from Fortune 100 companies to small startups – I have learned that placing an emphasis on developing a strong culture and an environment fueled by employee successes are two cornerstones of any high-performance organization. Read more.
The Start with Strengths and Level Up Mentoring Workshop is a one-day event for women designed to inspire.
Thursday, April 24th, 2014
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Whether you are looking to jump-start or change your career, re-enter the work force or identify what can turn an ordinary job into a passion, you won’t want to miss this event. Highlights include:
- Hear inspiring stories from female guest panelists who have realized their talents and passions and made the most of their career choices.
- Learn your top 5 strengths and see how they could be key to reaching your personal and professional goals.
- Share ideas with other women about what success means and how to attain it regardless of your age, career or current job situation.
- Develop an action plan and work with accountability partners to move your ideas forward to enhance your personal and professional path.
Click here for more info or to register. Register before April 14th for $50 off. Enter code: 50OFF.
Hiring the wrong candidates for the sake of getting someone in place is not only costly and time-consuming, it sets a negative tone with your existing employees and your overall business. This is especially true for small companies or start-ups with fewer employees where staff additions or replacements have a seemingly larger effect on the team and on the culture of the organization.
Put simply, talent matters. Think of the hiring process as a subsector of your business — the human business — and plan accordingly. Here are a few tips on what it takes to hire well. Read more.
Mary Kaiser was a recent presenter at the CU Women’s Success Professional Development Symposium organized by the Faculty Council Women’s Committee. Mary helped attendees identify where they excel and how to best leverage and build from their strengths. The presentation reviewed research on why and how leveraging one’s strengths is critical for success, provide practical approaches to bringing individual strengths into the workplace and ideas/resources to build on this momentum.
A New Year’s business challenge
Get to know yourself better
By Mary Kaiser
In addition to running my own business, and being a mom, wife and daughter, I am also an avid tennis player. Tennis has become a great analogy for the work I do with companies and the opportunity I have to help business owners, executives and teams grow.
When I first started playing tennis regularly, I was asked to partner with a woman to form a doubles team. At that time, I didn’t consider how well we’d play together as a team, but rather accepted the invitation on a whim. Looking back over 10 years of playing the sport, I lucked out. I have a partner that compliments my playing style and brings out the best in me. And, I’ve gotten to know myself more — the parts of the game where I excel — and the areas in which my partner shines. We work well together and come at the mental game of tennis from the same perspective.
Now on the tennis court, I’m often amazed at how many people play together and don’t really have a sense of their strengths or their mental game and what they need from a partner. And, as I work inside businesses, I’m surprised at how often people are unaware of their strengths and how their energy may or may not be a fit with those they work with. I watch companies hire people for their resumes and then fire them because they didn’t fit the culture. Read more.
I recently read a fantastic article in Entrepreneur Magazine on The 7 Traits of Successful Entrepreneurs and personality traits crucial to a successful venture.
“Enter “entrepreneurial traits” into Google, and the menu of frequent searches will complete the query with “… of Steve Jobs” and “… of Bill Gates,” among others. These are the forces of nature that spring to mind for most of us when we think of entrepreneurs–iconic figures who seemed to burst from the womb with enterprise in their DNA.”
Do you have what it takes? Read more to find out.
Curious about your specific talents? Consider a strengths assessment. Contact Mary for additional details on identifying your natural talents and how to best leverage your strengths.
Put the right person in the right seat
Tips to identify and leverage strengths
By Mary Kaiser
I work with companies across the U.S., including many in Colorado – helping to grow and develop individuals and teams. What I find fascinating in my line of work is that most business owners and executives have a very limited understanding of their own strengths and/or the strengths of others within their organization. And they have even less of an understanding of what those skills mean and how to embrace them.
We are inundated by articles, reports and experts telling us that human talent is critical for business success. So why the lack of understanding and focus on our own talents and those of our co-workers, employees or partners? Read more.
I recently interviewed a handful of my clients and heard a common theme over and over with regard to goals for the new year. The majority of my clients – from Fortune 500 companies to small non-profits — all mentioned focusing on employee development and retention and defining or improving their corporate culture. Of course, I was thrilled about this shared vision and the emphasis they are placing on talent and culture.
This year, we’ll take a look at these and other components that impact both individual and organizational success. The Harvard Business Review notes six components of a great corporate culture: vision, values, practices, people, narrative and place. We’ll also look at the power of strengths, leadership and team development. As we close out 2013 and look toward a new year of possibilities, ask yourself this: Are your employees in the best position to succeed? Stay tuned here for ongoing resources and insights…