Six Leadership Tips for Setting the Example

Posted January 31, 2016 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Leadership Development

By Ty Hall

In order to be an effective leader, you must be able to influence those under you. Otherwise, there is no action to your leadership abilities. You’ll never have the respect of your subordinates if you say one thing and act another. You must set the example, no matter how difficult it may seem. This is how it’s done.

  1. Establish a clear vision.

Effective leaders know how and where they are leading the people who follow them. It’s imperative to set a clear vision for where you want to go, both for the organization as a whole and the individuals. If you haven’t established a vision for reaching the goals you wish, there is no way to lead effectively.

  1. Provide direction and chip in.

If an employee is failing at a certain project, offer your expertise in that area by giving suggestions and direction. An effective leader knows how to get the work done, and sets the example for struggling employees by doing it. Being a leader does not exempt you from the heavy lifting. If an employee is bogged down, happily offer your help. Servant leadership is one of the best examples you can set for your employees.

  1. Maintain communication.

Maintaining open lines of communication from the top down is one of the most important rules for effective communication. When the vision is established, leaders must direct their employees in the right direction, and the only way that’s possible is through communication. Share ideas across the organization and offer feedback as often as possible.

  1. Listen.

Another key component in communication is listening. Communication isn’t a one-way road, and listening is half the equation. Effective leadership cannot exist if it is not open to the ideas and suggestions of those it leads. Set the example here by making yourself accessible to employees. Make sure you clarify any questions or concerns when they are brought up to eliminate as much risk for miscommunication as possible.

  1. Command your employees’ attention.

When those you lead respect you, they will automatically give you their attention. One of the best ways to keep attention is to refrain from unimportant interactions, such as constantly joking or always being away from the office.

  1. Always be visible.

Let your employees actually see your work ethic by being visible. There’s absolutely no way to set a good example if no one sees what you’re doing.

Setting the example sets effective leadership apart from mediocre leadership. Be a part of your employees’ work lives—without micromanaging—and let them see how the job should be done, instead if simply iterating your expectations. No one likes double standards, and effective leadership doesn’t set them.


Onboarding at Disney: When the Magic Happens

Posted February 20, 2015 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Selection, Talent Management

“The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” 

                                    – Steve Jobs

Jeff Noel, a facilitator at Disney Institute, spoke in a video about being “The CEO of You,” in which he shared insight on how to inspire leadership at all levels. Noel’s major point of focus was the differentiation between task and purpose. “To empower all employees to take on leadership roles, it is important that everyone understands the larger purpose behind a task. Employees should be immersed in the broader context of a project so they clearly can identify the importance of their role and how it impacts the organization.” The only way to start an employee on the right path to next generation leadership, then, is extensive, comprehensive onboarding. I read recently about Facebook’s Onboarding Bootcamp, where technical engineers are treated to a six-week, full immersion onboarding process. Full immersion during the onboarding process is the only way to guarantee a new employee will know his or her role in an organization. This is what Jeff James, Vice President & General Manager of Disney Institute, says about onboarding a new hire into Disney: “A new hire will make many judgments about an organization based on their first few days; therefore, onboarding training is crucial for both the employee and the company. This training should go beyond ‘how-to’ training into the ‘why’ of an organization. By sharing the organization’s history and values, new hires will be more empowered to embody the spirit of the company and feel more fulfilled. At Disney, our new-hire orientation is called ‘Traditions,’ and introduces our Cast Members to not only important information they need to know about their new role, but also the legacy and history that remains at the heart of The Walt Disney Company.” James goes on to say, “Training should not be seen as optional; rather, it should be operationalized and embedded into the fabric of your organization.” He says that, when developing an onboarding program, you should ask yourself these three questions: 1. What cultural values will be established during this training experience? 2. Based on this training experience, what room will be left for improvisation by employees? 3. How will this training reflect care for employees? On the first day of work, new employees attend Disney Traditions. With a focus on the past, present, and future of Disney, Disney Traditions help new hires recognize and appreciate the connections they have to the Disney story, their daily impact on the quality of the Disney Show, and the role they can play in the company’s growth and success. But that’s just the orientation. The onboarding process continues much longer past the initial “Traditions” program, and the leadership at Disney set the example for its employees. In his book, “The Wonderful World of Customer Service at Disney,” J. Jeff Kober says: “When it comes to creating priorities, it’s about the individual leader. Leaders really do matter. They matter most when they take the reins, when they pick up trash, when they are involved. An operation is no better than its immediate leadership. Leadership for me is many things, but one of the most important is modeling what you want others to do. If you pick up trash, everyone will pick up trash. If you show courtesy to your employees, your employees will be friendlier to your customers. If you take the time to have a little fun, your employees will make it fun for others.” Every employee collects trash; whether manning the rides or playing the part of Disney princess. Walt Disney said, when the parks first opened, that he wanted to keep the park clean to the point that people would be embarrassed to throw anything on the ground. That standard has been reached because of the example leadership has set, and the training each employee receives during onboarding. By setting the example, leaders continue to mentor and influence their employees, throughout their career. In addition to the three questions listed above, use this checklist compiled by contributors at to better identify potential leadership candidates: • Works well on a team and with other team members; brings out the best in others • Is inclusive of others’ ideas and personalities • Responds well to feedback • Is able to learn from and listen to others • Is willing to teach others • Is solution-oriented and creates opportunities out of challenges • Able to solve customer issues and complaints (within their role), proactively seeking out situations           where the problem may not be immediately evident • Seeks additional responsibilities while excelling at existing assignments • Is capable of working effectively in a multi-tasked environment • Finds themselves leading by example even when not assigned the title or direct responsibility; is someone others choose to follow

Many organizations believe leadership is a noun. However, because leadership is dependent on the action one takes rather than the position one holds, the folks at Disney Institute encourage everyone to view leadership as a verb. Therefore, despite job title, everyone should be the CEO of himself or herself (for more information about how Disney onboards and develops the next generation of leaders, check out their video here). In order for employees to become great leaders, they must know their role, actualize themselves, and acclimate to the company’s culture. The only way this can happen is through onboarding.

Slow and Steady Wins the (Talent Management) Race

Posted January 13, 2015 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Selection, Talent Management

“I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people.  At the end of the day you bet on people, not  strategies.”                                        – Lawrence Bossidy, former COO of GE

There are copious amounts of unemployed Americans out there – 10.2 million, to be exact.  Yet, 4 million jobs remain unfilled in the U.S.  With so many people actively seeking jobs, why are there still so many unfilled positions? Certain industries and positions that require hard-to-find skills, like IT and engineering, can account for a portion of these unfilled jobs, but many others have a surplus of candidates to choose from.  Vacant positions can put a strain on organizations, as they try to do more work with less people.  Thus, one would think that employers would want to fill open positions as quickly as possible. However, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to purposefully take their time when going through the hiring process.  We’ve all been job-seekers before, so most of us are familiar with the frustration of lengthy interview processes, waiting to hear back from a potential employer, and rigorous onboarding programs.  In fact, positions remain vacant for an average of 23 business days – much longer than the 2009 average of 15 – and it’s not unheard of for a company to have interviews of nine rounds or more.

The reason: Organizations want to hire the right person, the first time.

You’re only as strong as your weakest link.

A team of the most talented workers in the industry can be rendered useless with the addition of one misfit.  When a weak link is added to the bunch, others have to take time from their own tasks to help them learn skills they should already possess, and often have to take on more work from underperforming coworkers.  Teams rely on each other to contribute to projects, and one underperformer can bring the office to a stand-still, holding up the entire team from meeting deadlines.  While the rest of your employees may do great things for your organization, the weak link can cause issues that undo the progress of other employees as well.  Essentially, you’ll be taking one step forward, and two steps back.  It may seem like employers have candidates jump through hoops to get a job, and it might be painstaking, but considering 43 percent of employers report that quick hiring decisions led to bad hires, it’s a necessary precaution to avoid adding a weak link

Company culture – one bad egg spoils the bunch.

Company culture continues to become a   factor in the workplace, by both employees and employers.  The culture of a workplace can significantly impact the productivity and morale of your talent, turnover rates, and revenue.  Knowing this, many organizations invest big money into remodels, trainings and meetings, perks, and consultants.  It can take years to build the right culture, and yet only one bad employee to tear it down.  When the culture of a company and the values and characteristics of a new hire don’t match up, things can go downhill in a hurry.  Your all-star employees who used to love coming to work now dread it, and it shows in their work.  There is gossiping around the office, frequent visits to your office to complain, and before you know it, things have gotten out of control.  Hiring for cultural fit might sound silly at first, but on closer examination, it becomes clear just how important it is in hiring decisions and the success of your organization.

No one wants to make a bad investment.

Employees are a business’s most important asset, and are significant investments that come with them, including training, time, screening, wages, travel costs, onboarding, benefits, relocation costs, and more.  If you make a bad hiring decision, you can add “unemployment compensation” to the list, along with the cost of recruiting and hiring a qualified replacement. Investments are time sensitive, as the up-front costs they require are recuperated with additional gains over a period of time.  However, when a bad employee investment is made, the employee often leaves before the costs have been recovered, or they don’t possess the skills to give a return on investment over any amount of time.  As a result, the employer is out of a lot of money.  To put things into perspective, a recent survey reported that 27 percent of employers have lost $50,000 or more per bad hire they made.  That’s why Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh, offers new hires a $2,000 bonus to quit after only one week on the job.  Sound crazy?  Maybe, but it’s much less costly to weed-out job-hoppers and the uncommitted before investing more into them.  The sooner you can identify a bad investment and cut your losses, the better.  Making a bad hire may be unavoidable every now and then, but the more selective you are, and the more time you take to hire, the more likely you are to avoid hiring mistakes. While there may be plenty of unfilled jobs out there, and even more job-seekers, employers aren’t willing to hire the first person that comes for an interview, and it’s easy to see why.  Sure, it may seem inconsiderate to encourage slow hiring with so many unemployed Americans seeking jobs, but putting a person in a job role that they aren’t capable of fulfilling will only make things worse for both the employer and the worker.  Besides, wouldn’t you rather work in a position where you’d be successful with a company culture you’d enjoy? Next time you go to a job interview and you start to get frustrated by lengthy, headache-inducing processes, remember that what may seem like an inconvenience is actually in our best interest, as well as the employer’s.

The Paradox of Effective Leadership

Posted November 17, 2014 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Leadership Development

General William Tecumseh Sherman, when he was being considered as a possible Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1884, famously said “If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.” This approach, research from the Harvard Business Review is showing, is the attitude of those in the workplace who rise through the ranks to achieve effective leadership and management skills. In today’s enterprises, leaders aren’t gaining power through title, but more by earning respect from their peers each and every day, reluctantly succeeding to leadership positions. It’s the paradox of modern leadership: the people most enthusiastically granted the power of leadership can be reluctant to lead. But every organization must have a leader, so how are the would-be leaders reaching this base? It seems these leaders are characterized by three attributes:

1. They are exemplary professionals, judged by their colleagues as capable of doing the basic work at the highest caliber of quality. They are seen by their peers as capable of leading as one of their own, and are thus trusted to delegate almost boundless decision-making authority.

2. The reluctant leaders are able to offer autonomy while retaining control. They allow room for other capable people to do their work, while ensuring that the company as a whole is heading forward in the right direction. Meanwhile, coworkers do not feel that they are being told what to do, as they feel that the team is working coherently together towards a common goal.

3. This is the hardest part—these would-be leaders have prodigious Shermanesque political skills. Essentially, aspiring leaders must build and sustain consensus among their colleagues, make trade-offs between competing interest groups, and offer incentives to individuals to lend their support, not unlike the lobbying and bargaining which occurs in political arenas. But there is always a constant abhorrence of political behavior in the workplace, and a belief that effective leadership is above politics. So leaders need to be capable of acting politically while appearing apolitical.

Which brings the conversation back around to the paradox of leadership. Effective management delights in granting autonomy and doing the fundamental work of the organization, all the while without exhibiting the political behavior associated with raw ambition. This creates another paradox: the paradox of the employee coworker—the autonomous follower—who can only be directed by the reluctant leader.

Today’s organizations depend on clever, capable, overly-competent talent, so some kind of paradoxical arrangement must be embraced. Models for enabling knowledge workers will have to be initiated to combine their energies, so that the unlimited potential goals this structure is capable of can be accomplished. In today’s workplace, everyone is capable of effective leadership, because everyone is capable of being effective.

Why You Should Establish Job Fit

Posted September 30, 2014 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Selection, Talent Management

Did you know that employees who are well matched to their jobs are 2.5 times more productive in their work? Studies show that proper job fit improves engagement and job satisfaction, resulting in increased productivity, while negative factors such as job-related stress, tension, workplace conflict, and costly employee turnover diminish.

Organizations with a philosophy of matching people to jobs can get a leg-up on their competition. Having followed 360,000 people through their careers during a period of 20 years, a major study published by Harvard Business Review demonstrated that a key ingredient in retaining people is ensuring that they are matched to their jobs in terms of their abilities, interests, and personalities.

The study found that when you put people in jobs where the demands matched their own abilities, where the stimulation offered by the work matched their particular interests, and where the cultural demands of the position matched their personalities, staff turnover decreased dramatically, and productivity increased drastically. So, how should organizations get started?

First, let’s look at some of the top reasons why employees fail:

• They were not a good match for the job

• They didn’t fit the company culture

• They didn’t fit the team in which they were working

Only about 10 percent of a person can be observed on the surface. Ninety percent of a person’s potential lies below the surface. This large percentage includes things like learning style, behavioral tendencies, and occupational interests.

According to Harvard Business Review, the “job matching” approach more accurately predicts job success than any of the commonly accepted factors, such as education, experience, or job training. Just because an individual was a high-performing sales person working for business X in California, does not mean that they will perform at the same level in a new role with business Y in Texas.

A common misconception about establishing job fit, and/or assessing employees, is that people can answer well or incorrectly. In fact, there is no right or wrong answers, or pass/fail results. It is simply about establishing how suitable a person is for a role, and predicting their level of performance on the job. Just as no single person is perfect, there is no perfect job match; that’s why the highest match scale is 95 percent.

2 Critical Questions to Ask for Effective Succession Planning

Posted August 28, 2014 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Leadership Development, Talent Management

“One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.”

– Anne M. Mulcahy

Succession planning is often misunderstood or undervalued in the workplace. According to Talent Management magazine, about 70 percent of companies say they participate in some form of succession planning. However, 62 percent also report having too few candidates for organizational needs, and a third of organizations report no succession plan at all. These numbers are low relative to just how important succession planning is to an organization’s success.

Whether you’re a large corporation or small business, the economy is constantly changing and unpredictable. You never know when employees may leave or retire, leaving you with vacant job positions that are critical to your organization’s function. So, you need to be prepared! An effective succession plan benefits the organization and its employees in many ways, such as: identifying the current and future needs of the organization, identifying top performers and leaders, and assisting in employee development.

An article from Harvard Business Review suggests “changing the name from succession planning to succession development.” Effective succession planning helps organizations develop their internal talent in areas that will prepare them to succeed in higher-level and leadership positions. A great leader needs to be able to work effectively with people, and make successful transitions to higher levels of responsibility and accountability. Succession planning will identify the people who are capable of leadership, and identify the areas of development required to become successful.

The heart of succession planning is the evaluation of employees’ performance and potential. In doing this, you must ask these two questions:

1. How is the employee being perceived?
When evaluating and assessing employees, it’s important to know how they interact with others. Do they demonstrate leadership skills and confidence in the workplace? To gain this valuable information, it’s important to look at employees through the eyes of the coworkers and leaders with whom they interact on a day-to-day basis. That’s where surveys like the CheckPoint 360°™ can help. Three-sixty feedback tools evaluate a person’s leadership performance and potential with direct feedback from peers, supervisors, direct reports, and even customers or vendors.

2. What are the employee’s unique characteristics?
When looking at an employee’s performance and potential, you need to take into account what job positions and responsibilities will best fit them. To determine this, you need to know your employees’ behaviors, motivations, interests, and values. What makes them tick? Are they capable of working under more pressure? Will they be engaged by a role at a different level? How quickly can they assimilate into a new position. To gather this data objectively, you can use a total-person assessment. For example, the ProfileXT® measures over 20 characteristics, including behavioral tendencies, thinking and reasoning skills, aptitude, and interests. The assessment results indicate how strongly an employee matches different job positions, and identifies areas he or she needs to develop to become successful.

2 Reasons You Should Really Be Focused on Corporate Training

Posted July 9, 2014 by Gratz & Associates
Categories: Uncategorized

“What’s worse than training your workers and losing them?
Not training and keeping them.”

-Zig Ziglar

Corporate training is an integral part of HR and company procedures. However, a rising number of business leaders are wondering if the price outweighs the profit. According to Forbes, US businesses spend more than $60 billion a year in employee development, yet many executives question its return on investment. If you believe your company is in need of better corporate training, then assessments can help in tailoring your organization’s needs in relation to employee training. So, why train your employees?

First of all, the pros:
If a skilled and trained workforce is something your company desires, then corporate training will benefit both you and your employees. Corporate training allows your employees to gain knowledge, which will boost productivity and enhance problem-solving skills, which in turn will develop a more professional attitude in your workers.

Employees with corporate training also reduce the need to hire new talent, further saving your company the estimated $9,444.47 it costs when an individual leaves and a new employee has to be hired and trained. Training further results in higher employee satisfaction, and satisfied employees translate into better customer service; happy customers build a loyal customer base.

Second, more pros:
Corporate training is always advantageous for employees, because it enhances their skill sets, helps them understand and develop their own competencies, and provides extensive knowledge of their job. When you develop individuals, you encourage motivation and satisfaction. It can also work as a great morale booster, because employees will become more confident—applying what they’ve learned in their day-to-day activities—which will open up the path for career advancement and succession.

The cost:
Corporate training only costs the organization if it is not planned and carried out properly. Your organization will actually end up saving money by properly implementing training policies, because your employees will not require additional supervision.