Resources – Talent Management Articles

Leadership during an economic downturn is especially difficult and requires a whole different set of skills and capabilities. While leaders may continue to demonstrate passion for their products or services, the challenge is ensuring there is a good number of followers and some strong front line leaders.


While change is happening at lightning speed, if you don’t offer a clear and better picture of where you want to be, and if employees can’t see direction and purpose for the company, they will not understand how they can contribute or collaborate to make things work. Start by reviewing the company vision and make the necessary adjustments to address your external environmental forces. Involve employees as much as possible; you’ll be surprised how creative and innovative front line workers really are. Finally, share and communicate this vision as broadly as possible. Help everyone understand, as creating that clear picture will ensure employee commitment and retention.


The next big challenge in an economic downturn is actually making things work; implementing the vision through operational strategy and tactics. To do this, you must concentrate on improving the quality of your internal leadership. Take time to put a plan in place to identify and develop your next generation of leaders. It is this group that will provide the front line leadership and innovation required as you move ahead. So what should be included in a training program for this new group of leaders?


The following leadership program elements should be considered:


1. Company leadership philosophy – leaders can no longer work in isolation, nor can they be successful with an autocratic leadership style. Instead, leaders need to have a win/win approach and work collaboratively with employees to solve common problems. Start your program by exploring how this philosophy will apply in your workplace.


2. Self assessment is key – leaders must be very self aware. In other words, they must understand where their strengths and challenges lie and recognize how to build employee strength around them. They must set personal and professional goals that lead to continued personal improvement.


3. Goal setting skills – it doesn’t matter what the vision is, if you don’t set specific goals to accomplish the vision, it will soon fall by the wayside. Good leaders set good goals, meaning they are specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic within determined timeframes. This is often a very difficult task for leaders and must be taught at an early stage in development. It needs to become a habit. It needs to be ingrained in everything you do.


4. Employee motivation – the new leadership style requires employee involvement in setting win/win goals. Leaders must coach for success instead of policing for failure. In order to do this, leaders need to understand what motivates their employees and to assign tasks that are motivating and challenging.


5. How to be a good coach – supervisors need to transform into good coaches for their employees. This new way of interacting helps give people the opportunity to influence their work and creates a collaborative environment where everyone succeeds. Good coaching serves to remove the traditional barriers between supervisor/employee, instead fostering a valuable partnership.


6. Communication skills – whereas influence will be the backbone of employee motivation, communication is now an essential skill for all new leaders. Training in planful communication, such as asking questions effectively, dealing with conflict, giving and receiving feedback, presenting ideas with confidence and being assertive are important topics.


7. Effective Team building – good team leadership is all about giving clear direction, providing appropriate resources and removing roadblocks so that teams can do their work. Team members must be taught to think independently, to problem solve and to recommend solutions that have an impact on the whole organization.


8. Good personal time management – if you could improve productivity by just one hour per day for every employee, what impact would this make on your organization? Time is money and, more than likely, increased efficiency will increase your bottom line. Therefore leaders will need to know how to manage their time wisely and to free up time by delegating to employees.


9. Skills in leading change – one of the true corollaries of life and work is that we are always changing and adapting. We never stay the same. This means that leaders need to be skilled not only in personally adapting to change, but in helping employees adapt to change to maintain their productivity. They need to understand the cycle of change, the stages their employees will go through and how to provide support on an ongoing basis.


Today’s volatile economic environment, and the daily challenges this creates, calls out for effective leadership throughout the organization. The phrase, “doing more with less” is no longer someone else’s problem; it is now reality for most leaders. Thus strengthening and building your frontline leadership team is a powerful technique for ensuring the culture of your organization continues to focus on productivity, quality and success.


Credit: Results Centered Leadership Program, the Achievement Centre.

Resources – Working World Articles

By Barbara Bowes


Employee motivation — an individual’s internal drive to achieve a goal — is now one of the most studied areas of human resource management. Over the years, multiple theories have been put forward.



For instance, Maslow’s popular hierarchy of needs theory suggests that employees are motivated to first look after their physical needs, then their safety and social needs and finally, they are motivated to seek satisfaction for their own ego and self-gratification.


The Skinner theory, on the other hand, suggests that if an employee’s behaviour is positively reinforced, then this will lead to ongoing positive outcomes.

One of the older and common motivational strategies has been to reward employees by giving them money. In this case, employers would typically give bonuses for good work as well as increasing wages annually as much as the economy allowed. However, it is also well known that while employee motivation does initially increase, in most cases, the motivation is short lived. One reason for this might be that employees simply forget what their bonus was for and their motivation quietly slips away.


In my view, this type of financial reward system has simply taught employees to continually look for money as their only work reward. If an employee sees money, wealth and possessions as the driving values in life, then I doubt that any employer could ever make them happy.


However, most employers cannot afford to continue giving bonuses or increasing salaries if the economic situation in their industry sector cannot support it.

As well, if an organization has a well-structured compensation system, there are established salary scales set for each job based on the value of the job to the organization and the market rate for their industry and geography. To arbitrarily increase these salaries based on desires of employees rather than the value to the organization would create chaos. In this case, if salary doesn’t meet an individual’s needs, the employee should move on.


So, if money is not considered to be a lasting motivator, what alternative strategies are perceived to be effective for motivating today’s employee? Some of the following strategies have proven effective and can be given consideration for your organization.


A sense of achievement – Most employees are motivated by the desire to work in a goal-oriented organization where the work is challenging and employees can gain a sense of achievement by seeing concrete results.


Identity and purpose – As social beings, employees typically want to work for an organization where they feel a sense of belonging and can identify with the values of the organization. This is also known as cultural fit.


Interesting work – Employees want to be involved in interesting work that provides some variety rather than a job that quickly becomes too routine. Most employees seek work that involves their minds and requires thinking and personal involvement.


Team collaboration and reward – Employees enjoy a combination of team-based rewards where a portion of the individual reward is contingent on the group performance. Research suggests this appears to contribute to high employee performance as well as job satisfaction.


Making a difference – No matter what the nature of a job, most employees are motivated by the opportunity to make a difference and then sharing in the success when a goal is accomplished.


Effective leadership – Employees typically want to do their best and are motivated by leaders who support and back their workers and encourage them to do their best.


Goals and objectives – Employees will be motivated when they are fully aware of the goals and objectives of the organization and how their own job goals and objectives fit into the overall goals. The closer the connection, the more motivation the employee will demonstrate.


Input and involvement – Our work world is no longer the “do as I told you” environment. In fact, employees want their voices heard, especially if they have an idea for improving work processes and making their work more effective. Employee involvement and employee engagement is the key to success.


Opportunity for learning and advancement – Most employees look forward to learning new things and are motivated by having the opportunity to engage in professional development, especially if it represents an opportunity for advancement.


Balanced workload – A workload that is out of balance will soon burn your employees out. They will be stressed and overworked and will not only lose their motivation, they may very well quit. Pay attention to life/work balance.


Praise, praise, praise – Most employees don’t expect praise, but rewarding employees by praising employee contributions individually and collectively goes a long way toward helping employees stay motivated.


Tactful discipline – While it is inevitable that employees may make mistakes in their work, how the supervisor handles it will make a critical difference to sustaining employee motivation. Being tactful, sensitive and using a coaching, teaching model to correct work deficiencies is much more likely to increase motivation.


Positive interpersonal work relationships – Creating and sustaining a harmonious work environment where team relationships are positive and where conflict is minimal goes a long way toward maintaining employee motivation.


Job security – While I always say the only job security is one’s own skills, I know that employees continue to be motivated by working for an organization where they see that job security has potential. Once their physical security is looked after, employees can start focusing on other things. Thus, it’s important to introduce change slowly and carefully to avoid creating fear about job security.


Job enlargement/rotation – Increasing the variety of tasks in a job can also increase employee motivation. Adding new challenges creates new enthusiasm and renews interest. Cross training among employees is a good way to do this.


As you can see from the variety of motivational techniques described, there is simply no secret formula that will meet each individual’s personal needs. In fact, employee motivation is far from an exact science, yet I truly believe that employers should stay away from focusing on simply giving money as their only motivational technique. In my opinion, those employees whose prime motivation is money will never be loyal to your organization and will soon move on to the next highest paying job.


Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly Bowes Knows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at Learn more at

Resources – AESC Articles

Source: The Singapore Business Times


In a rare example of global synergy, initiatives to encourage a larger percentage of women to serve on boards of directors are springing up around the world. Fuelled in part by government interest and, in some cases, by government intervention, this worldwide phenomenon is gaining momentum and has become a major focus for media attention. In other words, the time for this issue has come.



Although the level of female representation on boards differs from country to country – some countries, such as Norway and Sweden being in the 30-40 percent range, and others, such as the UK and United States lagging behind in the 10-20 percent range – the cause of promoting more women on boards has become almost universal.


In Singapore, organizations such as BoardAgender are focusing attention on the male to female disparities on boards while the recently revised Code of Corporate Governance specifically requires boards to comprise directors with a diversity of skills, experience, gender and knowledge.


The government of Singapore has lent its weight to the issue via recent comments from Halimah Yacob, Minister of State for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, as have corporate leaders from multinationals such as Citi and Microsoft.


The logic of the issue is indisputable. Women constitute half the population, half the consumers and half the university graduates. As Michael Zink, Citi head of Asean and Singapore, said in a recent Business Times article: “Gender diversity is in our self interest to make sure that our leadership team looks like the marketplace and society we serve.”


With the world facing a global talent shortage fuelled by demographic shifts, the encouragement of women to stay and prosper in the workforce becomes an imperative.


Part of the challenge is around supply – the corporate pipeline. Fewer women than men are coming through to the top level of organizations for a variety of reasons as described by McKinsey in their 2007 report.


These include the early exit of women from top management ambition because of the “double burden” of career and family obligations, the male corporate model still prevalent in many corporations and the legacy prejudices of the “glass ceiling”. But part of the challenge is also around demand, that is, that there are plenty of women more than capable of serving on boards who are not currently being sought out an “demanded” by boards.


The challenges clearly need to be addressed from a number of angles. Chairmen and chief executives of public companies around the world need to take action so that board positions can beopened to more female candidates, investors need to demand it and there needs to be more training and development of women at universities and business schools to assume Board roles during their management careers.


How can executive search firms play a constructive role towards these obvious goals?


Many firms already pursue candidate diversity as an end in itself and have done so for many years. Some even specialize in providing diversity candidates. However, there is still an opportunity for executive search firms to take a more proactive role in promoting greated gender diversity.


In the UK, the Davies report recommended that the executive search community should be encouraged to draw up a voluntary code of conduct in order to commit to search out and present at least 30 percent of a long list of candidates as women. Such a code was agreed and signed twelve months ago and highlights a number of areas where executive search firms can make a difference:

Succession planning: Search firms should support chairmen and their nomination committees in developing medium-term succession plans that identify the balance of experience and skills that they will need to recruit for over the next two to three years to maximize board effectiveness. This time frame will allow a broader view to be established by looking at the whole board, not individual hires; this should facilitate increased flexibility in candidate specifications.


Diversity goals: When taking a specific brief, search firms should look at overall board composition and, in the context of the board’s agreed aspirational goals on gender balance and diversity more broadly, explore with the chairman if recruiting women directors is a priority on this occasion.


Defining briefs: In defining briefs, search firms should work to ensure that significant weight is given to relevant skills and intrinsic personal qualities and not just proven career experience, in order to extend the pool of candidates beyond those with existing board roles or conventional corporate careers.


Long lists: When presenting their long lists, search firms should ensure that at least 30 percent of the candidates are women – and, if not, should explicitly justify to the client why they are convinced that there are no other qualified female options, through demonstrating the scope and rigour of their research.


Supporting selection: During the selection process, search firms should provide apporpriate support, in particular to firt-time candidates, to prepare them for interviews and guide them through the process.


Emphasizing intrinsics: As clients evaluate candidates, search firms should ensure that they continue to provide appropriate weight to intrinsics, supported by thorough referencing, rather than over-valuing certain kinds of experience.


Induction: Search firms should provide advice to clients on best practices in induction and “onboarding” processes to help new board directors settle quickly into their roles.


The just published Cranfield Business School study: Gender Diversity on Boards: The Appointment Process and Role of Executive Search firms has examined the performance of search firms since the Voluntary Code was established and has concluded that search firms are encouraging chairmen and nominating committees to broaden their remits when filling non-executive roles but that still more needs to be done to keep women in the runing for board room positions. In particular, more focus needs to be placed upon promoting diversity all the way through the recruitment process rather than just at the early stages of search. As the final short-lists are drawn up, more emphasis is still being placed upon baord room “fit” than upon the candidates’ abilities, thereby propagating prevailing male cultures and attitudes.


It is clear that no one initiative will correct the gender imbalance on boards of directors. What is clear, however, is that by pulling together, government, educational institutions, corporate chairmen and CEOs, and the executive search community can achieve much faster resolution of an important disparity that is harming national, international and corporate competitiveness.

By: Barbara Bowes

According to a recent human resource survey, the level of stress among Canadian business professionals is rising, with approximately 63 per cent of survey participants blaming their work as the main source of stress. Survey participants also suggested that the continuing instability of the world economy was a contributing factor, as well as personal finances and customer relationships.


But what does a stressful workplace look like? What’s happening in the workplace to create so much stress?


First of all, there have been numerous fundamental changes in how we work. It seems that everything, right from production to administration and support services, has become mechanized and computerized. Information technology has brought the concept of “instantaneous” into our workplaces and this has changed expectations; in other words, everyone wants everything “now!”


Our world seems to have become so fast paced that businesses and employees are struggling to keep up. In fact, if you asked an employee, they might tell you they feel like they are running in a three-legged race because while they have to run fast, something is dragging them down. For instance, with change occurring in business almost every day, employees are forced to be continuous learners, whether they want to or not. They are busy learning new software programs, new policies, new procedures, as well as meeting and working with new employees, new bosses or new customers.


Finally, while many organizations have downsized and restructured, they haven’t truly reduced the work tasks and so you’ll find some employees are completing the work of two to three jobs. No wonder employees are blaming the workplace for their stress. Yet, in my view, work isn’t the only cause of today’s stress.


Just look what we do in our spare time. Coupled with a fast pace at work, we often see our employee families trying to juggle dozens of activities at home. For instance, they create busy personal schedules by over-committing themselves to volunteerism while at the same time racing back and forth with their children’s activities. They leave little time for themselves and soon, weekends are no longer set aside for quiet periods of rest. Instead, employees and their families stay busy, busy, busy. Stress then accumulates from both sides of their lives.


At some point, stressed employees can no longer deal with their excessive and prolonged stress and eventually they’ll begin to experience physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, more commonly known as burnout. However, one of the key challenges with burnout is that while some employees will not recognize their own developing symptoms, others will simply deny how they feel. Dealing with employee burnout is rather a delicate situation, especially if an employee is in denial. Yet if you are a supervisor and/or manager, you need to take responsibility and deal with it, preferably sooner than later.


First, you need to assess and clarify the employee’s behaviour over a period of time. In most cases, you will already have heard about incidents of odd behaviour or emotional outbursts that appear to be completely out of character. Sometimes a person who is normally outgoing and communicative will slowly stop engaging with others until they are completely isolated. They just don’t seem like the same person. You may yourself have seen overt changes in work habits and/or you will notice a growing negativity in an individual’s attitude. In my experience, one of the first signs of burnout is a negative attitude sprinkled with an “I can’t” and/or “I won’t.”


Prior to confronting a stressed-out or burned-out employee, I suggest that managers conduct their own stress inventory by examining how they are directing the work and what stress this might be causing. In many cases, managers don’t realize they are setting impossible requirements, particularly as it relates to deadlines. Nor do they stop to think of all the tasks they’ve already delegated to their employee and then stop and re-prioritize. Lastly, managers often forget to assess the capabilities of their employee and fail to recognize that some employees struggle with trying to do multiple tasks at the same time.


Keep in mind that many employees who are experiencing burnout will either not be comfortable disclosing their feelings or they may not even recognize their own symptoms. Therefore, it is important to confront your employee with specific observations. For instance, if you are raising the issue of excessive absenteeism, then refer to the number of times the individual was away from work. If deadlines have been missed, then refer specifically to the job tasks and the dates when they became overdue. If a negative attitude is the most obvious problem, then give specific examples of where this has been problematic.


Next, ask the employee for feedback to confirm their understanding of the problems you have described. Ask the individual for comment to help you understand what might be behind the deteriorating behaviour. If the issues are work related, such as feeling a lack of control over work, too many deadlines, not enough resources or a need for more prioritization, then collaborate with the employee to find solutions. But no matter what, the work needs to get done.


While it is always wise to intervene at earlier stages of burnout, many times burnout will creep up on the employee and the manager and by the time you confront the issue, the employee may be in need of more serious assistance. Be sure to refer the employee to your employee assistance program for counselling and/or advise the individual to seek professional help. In some cases, a brief leave of absence accompanied by stress counselling will assist the employee to get back on track. On the other hand, the longer an employee is away on leave, the harder it will be for that person to return to work.


The increase of stress in the workplace is indeed a disturbing trend and if we don’t deal with it, all elements of our businesses and/or organizations will suffer. While we can’t create change in an employee’s family life, we can make process and structural changes in our workplace that ensure our employees do not experience constant and exaggerated stress.


Source: Stress levels rising among business professionals: Survey, Two-thirds of employees cite work as biggest stressor, Sept. 14, 2012


Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly Bowes Knows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at Learn more at


Five years ago, the Human Capital Institute collaborated with the large consulting firm Hewitt Human Capital Consulting and published the results of a comprehensive leadership survey entitled, the State of Talent Management, Today’s Challenges, Tomorrow’s Opportunities. The study revealed five looming workforce challenges, including the attraction and retention of skilled professionals, developing manager capability, retaining high performers, developing succession pool depth and addressing management and leadership talent.


Well, here we are in 2013 only to find these problems are no longer just looming. Our businesses are smack in the middle of trying to deal with these same challenges. In particular, developing the next generation of manager/leadership talent is now the hot topic of debate in every corporate “C” suite.



Yet for the most part, many businesses and not-for-profit organizations have not created an effective internal succession plan and/or their strategy didn’t work out as planned. Therefore, organizations must turn to the recruitment of external candidates to fill their needs. This requires a special set of eyes and professional expertise in order to assess the full capability of candidates. It also means that candidate-assessment strategies must go beyond cultural fit and personality and engage in an in-depth review of the true talent that each candidate might bring.


As a leading executive search professional, I work with clients to focus their attention on a number of candidate character traits that can determine whether an individual has the potential to be a high performing executive. Although there are multiple elements to our executive search process, the following dimensions will help you to understand some of what we look for in candidates.


Track Record – high performing candidates who can be considered potential executive material are able to effectively create a vision for the future or take their part of a vision for the future and make it happen. They aren’t just visionaries, they are doers!


Strategic thinking – candidates who have the potential to succeed at the executive level have a broad view and can see multiple dimensions of any problem. They are good at identifying disruptive obstacles and are good at creating solutions that result in success. Their success is of high quality each and every time. It is measureable and supported by references.


Team leadership – high performing candidates have a strong sense of self esteem, a caring for people and a keen eye for talent. These skills enable them to build strong and loyal teams of diverse professionals. They know how to develop people and to continue building strengths amongst their team.


Relationship building strengths – strong candidates have excellent relationship building skills that enable them to develop powerful networks both within and outside their current organization. They reach out into their professional community, contribute their expertise in a variety of ways and become well known for their leadership abilities.


Change management skills – high potential candidates not only know how to implement change, they also focus equally on the soft issues such as culture and ongoing employee motivation. They know that change takes time, and that communication and training are essential to moving employees away from their ingrained ways of doing things. These candidates have developed a reputation for implementing change effectively.


An attitude of persistence – managing any organization today and into the future requires leaders who are flexible yet persistent in working toward their goals. Leaders can have all the ideas in the world but if they can’t make them happen, if they can’t deal with unexpected problems and aren’t flexible, they will not be successful in the long run.


Assessing a potential candidate for an executive leadership position requires a special set of eyes and professional expertise in candidate assessment. It is important to examine personality and cultural fit but it is also important to fully examine the true talent that each candidate might bring. This is accomplished by asking the tough questions related to their track record, ability to implement a vision, build relationships, lead a team, manage change and persist until they reach success.

By Mark Sanborn


Purchase here (


If you have two hours to sit on your deck on a sunny day and want to be inspired, then this book is for you. Sanborn uses the analogy that all life is a stage and each of us is a performer. As a result, each of us should be working toward an “encore” where our clients and/or boss is delighted with exceptional performance in everything we do. Sanborn provides readers with a simple formula and plenty of stories of how people have succeeded to achieve great heights in their life or career.

You are receiving our monthly newsletter because you are either a client or colleague of ours, or one of our staff suggested that our newsletter would be of interest to you.


Each month our newsletter will feature one lead article as well as a few links to additional current HR Articles, Book Reviews, and Press Releases to help you stay current and informed. At anytime, you may unsubscribe from our newsletter by clicking the “opt out” link at the bottom of our emails. We welcome any feedback or ideas you may have regarding our newsletter, and look forward to sharing exciting information with you.


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Paul Verriez, President

How Search Professionals Master the Process

When speaking to clients about their recruitment challenges, they typically mention their lack of ability to find the right candidate for their job roles in a timely manner. Many clients post a job only to find a low number and/or low quality of candidates applying for the position.


Other clients have found that candidates have deliberately used the potential new company as a bartering chip to increase their salary with their current employer. Still, other clients may recruit a candidate only to find that they resign during the first year of employment due to a mismatch with the corporate culture.


All of these recruitment issues suggest that working with an executive search professional can offer many benefits, especially if organizational leaders are inexperienced as recruiters and interviewers.


Why is that?


First of all, executive search professionals apply a comprehensive search and assessment process that ensures an accurate representation of the job and corporate culture. Secondly, their Internet research capabilities help to identify those qualified individuals who are not currently in the job market, but who would be interested should an opportunity be presented to them. Lastly, the screening and interview processes used by executive search professionals are second to none; when finalist candidates reach the organizational client, you can be assured they are the best of the best. Let’s look at why these processes are more effective.


Job Description & Profile Creation – search professionals work with clients to ensure that job descriptions are current and up to date. Many organizations focus only on job duties and tasks while search professionals describe the skills needed for these duties and what attitudes and characteristics are essential in order to fit into the organizational culture.


The Search Process – many organizations fail to consider the various elements of search including the job profile, cultural fit, leadership style, advertising strategy, interview strategy, salary and compensation and the orientation strategy. Search professionals, on the other hand, have a comprehensive checklist of search elements to be addressed and never leave any stone unturned.


Advertising Strategies – typically organizations focus on only one medium for marketing their job and/or they rely on word of mouth. Search professionals use multiple mediums such as newspaper advertising, Internet advertising, social media networking and pure research. This multitude of activities is much more effective in locating and identifying potential high performing candidates.


Psychometric Assessments – organizations typically do not use psychometric assessments of any kind as they are not trained to do so. Instead, they rely on gut instinct gleaned from face-to-face interviews. Effective and reputable search professionals are trained in the use of psychometric assessments, ensuring greater accuracy in pinpointing strengths and areas of challenge that need to be addressed if the candidate is to move forward.


Interview Strategies – first of all, since organizational leaders only infrequently engage in interviews, they are often not familiar with the questions that are deemed illegal and/or against human rights legislation. As well, their questions are often not directly related to the job at hand. Executive search professionals offer excellent interviewing skills both from the point of view of preparing and staging the right questions and also scoring, rating and analyzing the results.


Project Management – timeliness is of essence when undergoing a recruitment project. Poor communication with candidates results in candidate withdrawal. Stretching out the process will result in candidates accepting another position. All in all, poor time management means a loss of candidates. Executive search professionals are project managers who keep your recruitment on track, provide ongoing communication with candidates and the client to ensure that candidates are treated fairly and that “hot” candidates are kept “hot” until they accept your job offer.


Recruitment is one of the most important responsibilities of an organizational leader. However, inexperience, lack of time, an insufficient professional network, lack of access or training in the conduct of psychometric assessments and a lack of confidence in interviewing can all add up to a hiring mistake. If you are experiencing any of these frustrations, then it is time to call in your executive search professional.