ERP Help for Companies Drowning in Data But Thirsting for Actionable Insight

By David Shaffer, ERP Practice Head, Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC

Do you feel it is “sink or swim” with the tidal wave of data that is hitting your business? “Data, data everywhere, and not a drop to help us think” is a common lament.

by thisisengineering-raeng

But there is a tremendous opportunity you might be missing that competitors are taking advantage of, including interactive dashboards. These highlight key performance indicators – clearly and concisely – so executives can make decisions based on data and reality and not in a vacuum.

These capabilities are powering a next generation change in how the deluge of data can help you make better decisions. Consider these quick examples:

A men’s grooming product maker successfully implemented enterprise resource planning (ERP) to better track inventory and financial data.

A rapidly expanding confectioner used ERP to standardize thousands of chocolate-making processes and restructure an ineffective warehouse management system that could not keep pace.

A manufacturer of chemical products, which are used in electronics, automotive, and housing industries, implemented an ERP system to avoid human errors and to be able to automate workflows for increased productivity.

In each example, ERP was used to harness data.

Today, any business can obtain ROI with effective systems and processes that promote growth strategies.

Companies, regardless of industry, need to recognize the ever-growing need to integrate responsive information with optimal best practices within day-to-day operations. In the past, the selection of appropriate systems has been confined to those who have large budgets, resources, and time to do extensive evaluations and due diligence. That is no longer the case.

ERP Is The Mortar In The Brick Wall

To use a masonry metaphor, an ERP system is like mortar, the cement-like mixture of sand and lime that keep bricks in place. You can think of an ERP system working like the mortar that binds together the different computer systems for a large organization (your bricks). Without an ERP application, each department would have its system optimized for its specific tasks. With ERP software, each department still has its system, but all of the systems can be accessed through one application with one interface. The systems stand together like a strong brick wall.

by jonathan kemper

Please understand that the appropriate evaluation and selection of systems is equally critical and important to the success of the mid-size, growing business. Based on years of evaluation, support, and success, we have developed a proprietary process that brings the same value and benefits of past selection without introducing extensive costs. Our belief is that hard-earned dollars should be directed toward solution implementation and not toward selection.

We recommend a process that incorporates a series of integrated steps that quickly and efficiently highlight the following:

• Scenarios that mirror operations in order to test the viability of proposed solutions

• Accountability for vendors that align implementation of value applications with operational efficiencies

• Selecting software solutions that follow business processes from ordering through fulfillment rather than just specific application areas

Implementation And Project Management

To help position our clients for success, we created an ERP selection process called Quick Start, developed with the expertise of consultants who bring business and system knowledge to the selection process. Our team recognizes the value of your investment and have first-hand understanding of the impact effective systems and processes can have on meeting growth strategies.

by alexanderstein

The Quick Start process encompasses several key interrelated steps that build upon each other and are directed toward the selection and implementation of the Information System that meets your requirements. The process focuses on your unique and key business flows rather than the nice-to-see demonstrations that many vendors focus on during demonstrations.

We recommend the following steps to select an ERP system:

1. Begin The Right Way. Get a qualified consultant who has traveled this road many times. Start with an initial kickoff meeting to set expectations, including an outline of preliminary observations gathered through an interview and site walk-through evaluation process.

2. Make A List; Check It Twice. Based upon the preceding interviews and data gathering, develop and review a list of key requirements for the new system, comprising needs that are distinctive for strategic growth. Create a list of key requirements and key business scenarios. Receive suggestions based upon observations for possible operational efficiencies.

3. Set The Scenarios. Develop key business scenarios as a framework for software demonstrations Unlike most selections that focus exclusively on application capabilities, recognize that businesses rely on the flow of information across departments. Scenarios reflect overall flows from order through fulfillment.

4. Assure Accurate Scenarios. Review the key scenarios with interview participants to assure accuracy.

5. Round Up The Vendor Suspects. Distribute requirements and scenarios to select software vendors. Identify possible solutions based upon experience and software vendor feedback from distribution of requirements. Assure that vendors understand the need to demonstrate the scenarios.

6. Demo That System Please. Participate in vendor demonstrations. Obtain consultant support to help your team in evaluating the potential fit of vendors. Assure that demonstrations are addressing the scenario requirements. Consultant should assist your team to evaluate the best fit.

7. Plan The Implementation. Review the recommended implementation plan. Some negotiation is required at this point.

8. Support Project Management. Have consultant provide interface between your company software implementation team and the vendor. The consultant should support the implementation of best practices.

Final advice

The selection process must put you in control over the software vendor by assuring the proposed solution meets the process scenarios, and the consultant can help maintain that delicate balance of power. A selection process typically can be completed within an eight-to-ten-week window. Utilize consultants that are able to integrate business understanding with the value creation associated with information systems. Make sure the funds are spent on the right things, which translates to software delivery rather than consulting evaluations.

by Campaign Creators

If you are open to a conversation about an ERP system, improving manufacturing workflow, or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com and our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

David Shaffer, who heads up the full-service business consulting ERP practice at Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, is recognized for his ability to effectively integrate all aspects of the business, including financial management, information systems, infrastructure, and operations. David assists companies from executive strategic planning through operational and business process improvement opportunities to the selection and integration of management information systems solutions. His range of company support includes start-ups through Fortune 500.

In addition to a full-service Business Consulting Division, Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, sales and customer service training, negotiations training, interpersonal communication, stress and time management, and leadership training.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Charting your Course for 2023!

By Patrick McClure

It’s common in the winter time to hear company executives complain about the holiday season. I can just hear them now:

“OMG, we only have two weeks in December, and the rest of the month is a waste of time. No one will be at their desks, and we won’t be able to sell anything!”

“Everyone has visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, and all they’re thinking about is what presents to buy for their loved ones. How in the world can we get them to focus on MC900439256[1]business?”

“I wish Thanksgiving and Christmas never existed! Arggghhhhh!”

Granted, for most companies December is a short month. Except for retailers, December is severely impacted by the holiday season and by vacations. However, December is an ideal time to put the finishing touches on your sales plan for the new year, so take advantage of this month to create a stellar plan for success in the new year.

Creating Your Sales Plan

The first step in creating your sales plan for the new year is to review your performance in the past year. For some tips on how to do this, you can read the 7 Step Sales Diagnosis Plan from our blog. If you’ve completed that review, you’ll have a solid grasp of the following essential elements:

  1. Sales Objectives and your performance results for the last year
  2. Highlights & Lowlights for the year
  3. SWOT Analysis updated
  4. Top 3 Problem areas to Fix
  5. Top 3 Opportunities for Growth

If your review of the last year is complete, you’re already ahead of the game. Now your attention can shift to goals and objectives for the new year, and how to make them a reality. Here’s a recommended process to get this done:

1. Write down your Objectives for the new year.

Casey Stengel said it best when he told his teams:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Without a defined specific and written objective, you are flying blind. You can’t hit a target if it is not defined, so get your targets written down.

Your key sales objectives will support the overall business plan for the new year, and will define the “big picture” objectives for your team. Some examples might be:

“To grow our market share from 10% to 20%”
“To increase total revenue by 30% by the end of the new year.”
“To launch our new system into the marketplace and to generate $1 MM in revenue”
“To reduce selling expenses by ________________”

2. Strategic Positioning

Given the defined sales objectives for the next year, you will now consider the best positioning your company needs to give yourself the best possibility of success. Think about questions like these:

♦  Identifying where the best market opportunity resides (which of the market segments offer the most potential given your differentiators).
♦  Which sales method to use?
♦  How should your sales organization be structured for maximum effectiveness?
♦  Who are your top competitors and how can they be eclipsed, neutralized or controlled?
♦  Who are the key partners and alliances?

3. Territory/Market Analysis

Given your objectives and your strategic positioning, deepen the analysis to define or refine your intended selling geographies or industries. This analysis would reveal:bizpeople on chessbd

♦  Size of territory, Industry specialization, key locations
♦  Installed Base Customers & Location
♦  # of Prospects, their industry, and their location

4. Unique Value Proposition

This will be a quick review for most companies because it will simply validate the selling propositions that have been effectively used in the past year. However, if results from the last year were dismal, now is the time to really re-examine your unique selling propositions. You need to absolutely define with clarity and precision the following:

♦  Features, Benefits, and Value of your products/services.
♦  What exactly is unique about your company and what you deliver to the marketplace?
♦  Why should people do business with you, versus everyone else?
♦  What’s so special about our company?

5. Sales Forecast

This will be a detailed analysis, generally broken into quarters or monthly, of the following:

♦  Total Sales Revenue
♦  Total # of New Accounts
♦  Total Revenue for New Accounts
♦  Revenue for existing accounts
♦  Profitability
♦  Any other targets?

bizpeople in huddleYour CRM system or Sales Forecast system will be loaded on a month-to-month basis with these factors. Depending on your industry, and any seasonality, you can simply target equally month-to-month or vary the targets based upon time of year.

It’s always a good idea to get the salespeople to actively contribute to this forecast, and to make sure they are absolutely in agreement with the targets. They must be committed to achieving these targets and there must be a realistic expectation that the targets can be achieved and exceeded.

6. Detailed Sales Pipeline Analysis

This is the most important element of your Sales Plan for the new year. This is the detail on exactly how you intend to achieve your goals. Take the sales objectives, analyze your pipeline and ratios, and come up with specific sales activities that are needed to accomplish your annual selling goals. These may include (but are not limited to) the following:

♦  What is your Lead Tracking System (Excel, Paper-based, automated SFA?)
♦  Total Named Prospects to Develop
♦  Total # of Opportunities in your Territory
♦  Total # of Qualified Opportunities in your assigned Industry
♦  # of Referrals from Installed Base Customers
♦  # or Leads required to feed the Sales Pipeline
♦  Where are the leads coming from? (Lead Sources report)
♦  Estimated # of Prospecting Phone Calls by rep by month
♦  Estimated # of F2F Calls needed by rep by month
♦  # of Sales Presentations needed by rep and by month

Your pipeline analysis should include Lead Sources. You should know precisely the origination point for every sale you’ve made in the past year. This will be critical information in planning where you would most productively spend your time in the remainder of the year.

When this analysis is complete, you will now know exactly the selling activities that are needed in order to achieve your targets. For instance, if your sales reps typically enjoy a 20 % close ratio for every sales presentation delivered, they will need to deliver 5 presentations to achieve one sale. All the standard selling ratios should be captured in an Excel spreadsheet and handed out to the reps. You will almost always discover that the sales team is NOT doing enough prospecting for new business!

7. Sales Process

This is a fast review of your normal sales process, fine tuning for the coming year. If it was successful in the previous year, don’t change much! If it was NOT successful, you will need man looking at mapsto change it! Along the way, you need to identify “Best Practice” sales methodologies and identify weaknesses in the process (where are sales lost?)

In addition, you might want to review your initial business development process, particularly how opportunities are qualified to begin with.

♦  Where are sales being lost? At what point in your sales process do you fail?
♦  What’s the plan to eliminate the losses?
♦  How can the process be made more efficient and effective?

8. Key Success Factors (KSFs)

This is the most important sections of the sales plan for the manager and executive because it lists the top three KSFs that, if achieved, will guarantee achievement of the plan. One of my managers used to refer to these as the “critical few” which makes allowance for the absolute importance of them.

The KSFs are developed after considering all the foregoing sections for the sales plan. Based on an analysis of the preceding sections, ask the following:

♦  What must we do to ensure success?
♦  What does top management need to do to support us?
♦  What does our company need to help us with?

9. Resource Needs

Now that your plan is complete, it’s time to spell out the resources you need to achieve success. This may include people, support, materials, logistics, management, coaching, training and so on. If you are missing a key skill or resource, this is where you would list it.

Since you’ve developed a careful and concise analysis, you will be prepared to review with management and to request critical resources and support from other departments, such as Marketing, Human Resources, IT and Customer Support. Everyone in the company should be “in the loop” with your sales plan and they should fully support it. After all, everyone sells!

10. Sales Operations Assessment

Patrick is offering complimentary 30 minutes over the phone to identify likely root causes of sales productivity issues with at least three actionable ideas.  You will discover critical problem areas, recognize underlying causes of these issues, learn at least three new ideas to implement and begin a plan of action.  To learn more, email patrick@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patrick McClure is a Master Sales Coach, expert in Selling Across Generations, a Sr. Sales Consultant and a Sr. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service and Practice Head for Lighthouse Consulting Services. Over the past 30 years, Patrick has trained salespeople and managers to drive breakthrough sales results using innovative and practical techniques. He has a knack for reducing the most complex problems to utter simplicity and showing his audience exactly how start winning new clients. During his corporate career, Mr. McClure sold over $250 MM worth of products and services at corporate giants such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EDS and Digital Equipment. He is a black-belt master at selling complex business solutions to C-Level executives, and today he will share his secrets with small companies hoping to crack into the Fortune 1000. As the author of 3 books on selling, Patrick passionately and patiently serves up his wisdom to readers, clients, and audiences. He caters to both small and large firms seeking to close more business. You can contact Patrick at patrickm@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

The Power of 360 Assessments In the Evolving Workplace

By Patty Crabtree, Sr. Consultant

Back in math class, you learned 360 degrees meant to go full circle, a whole circuit, the complete cycle, or a literal round trip. In other words, to circle around to get a full view. In today’s evolving workplace, leaders are taking a complete new full look at the 360 assessments.

by Gerd Altmann

Beginning in the 1990s, the natural desire to improve the performance of leaders through feedback gave rise to the popularity of 360 assessments. The objective was using these assessments is to create high-performing organizations by tapping into the collective feedback of many colleagues, rather than just a top-down approach.

In today’s evolving hybrid work environment, 360 assessments can be an important tool. The fundamentals of remote interactions are different than having everyone in the office. Attaining meaningful feedback regarding interpersonal interactions can help guide a company leadership and overall team training. Meaningful dialogues can lead to individual and company development plans that support the desired growth and success.

That is the power; however, there is a danger. The amount and level of training of those providing 360 assessment feedback can impact the level of accuracy of the feedback. There can also be a lack of follow through with the feedback. Without guidance from a trained professional, bias may distort the value of the feedback.

But there is a way to avoid this feedback peril.

Why The Waning Effectiveness?

Naturally to some degree people are resistant to feedback. We all have defenses against feedback, so the process needs to be mediated by someone who is trained to do this.

Before using 360 assessment assessments, some people are curious about the origins of the approach. It all began around 1930 when military psychologist Johann Baptist Rieffert developed a methodology to select officer candidates for the German army.

by Dorothe

The jump to the business world occurred in the 1950s when the Esso Research and Engineering Company gathered information on employees, which arguably is the first recorded business use of the technique.

Also called multi-rater assessments, 360 assessment feedback is a process through which feedback is gathered from an employee’s supervisors, subordinates, and colleagues, as well as a self-evaluation by the employee themselves. The 360 assessments can be contrasted with downward feedback from the boss or upward feedback delivered to managers by staff.

Over the years, 360 assessments have lost some of its effectiveness. This is due to many factors. Automation has taken away from the meaningful aspect of the feedback. A lack of creating development plans and holding others accountable to their growth commitments has lessen the impact. Follow through on growth commitments wane as other priorities take over. These assessments have become routine and just part of the process.

A worst-case scenario is to just grab some 360 assessment tool from the Internet and let the recipients interpret the feedback from the various people on their own. Looking for the cheap option does not make it the best approach.

360 assessments, done in an effective and meaningful way, can be a powerful tool for development. Being curious about the feedback as opposed to just gathering the data can elicit more opportunities for growth.

An automated approach limits the opportunity for this curiosity. Many automated systems will have options to rate multiple factors on a scale of 1-5, which is typically done anonymously. People can be skeptical of the anonymity and will give high ratings or incomplete feedback fearing potential backlash or just wanting to check this process off their list. They don’t see change from the effort of providing worthwhile feedback so there can be ambivalence to the process.

The Return of the 360 Assessment Gift

Feedback is a powerful growth tool. Understanding how others view your performance and your impact on those around you can make your stronger. Feedback is truly a gift.

Recently, one growing company decided to perform a 360 assessment on their senior leadership. They had weathered the pandemic, implementing some hybrid positions and were seeing a post-pandemic rebound. Their first reaction was to take operations back to the way it was done prior to 2020. This is what they knew, what was comfortable and a quick response to meet the client needs. It caused some conflict as staff were looking to continue the new ways. On top of this, they also faced a change in senior leadership as a retirement occurred.

by Headway

They wanted to take embrace the evolution, but leadership had some blind spots. They needed to know if they were ready for everything coming their way and decided to get a better understanding of how leadership was being viewed.

Using the 360 assessments, a picture was painted showing the strengths of the team along with opportunities to grow their leadership skills. There was an opportunity to embrace the changes the pandemic brought and enhance communication. The leaders listened to the feedback and heard the messages shared.

They created a developmental plan to strengthen the areas where staff felt some growth needed. Leaders saw how they were holding back the company’s momentum by not embracing the lessons learned over the past few years. They also understood how they needed to step up communication to ensure everyone felt included and were clear on the company’s vision. The lessons of a hybrid work environment became a larger part of their culture.

We also worked with them to keep the conversation alive and provide tools for the leaders to meet their goals. By using a professional coach, leaders had a safe environment to share their successes and struggles and discuss new ways to embrace the opportunities.

Avoid the Misuse of the 360 Assessment

Any tool can be used for good or for harm.

Some people see 360 assessment feedback as punitive and unproductive. This comes from how companies use this tool. It is not a process to check off the list but an opportunity to have thoughtful feedback that can support growth and change.

by Jason Goodman

Lighthouse Consulting uses an interview style and collaborative approach to the assessment. We partner with the organization to help ensure the feedback is effective and inspires change. We have conversations with the participants to elicit meaningful feedback and cultivate a deeper understanding of the individual’s strengths and opportunities. Follow up questions happen in the moment that supports a more effective discussion of their observations.

Debriefing with each client helps manage the potential emotional response to the feedback. This partnering method puts the focus on the opportunities and empowers the leaders toward growth. This partnership continues through coaching to achieve the desired goals.

When successfully implemented, 360 assessment feedback can be a game-changer for a business. This process can initiate positive changes and provide more accurate performance evaluations leading to accelerated professional growth.

When professionally conducted, interpreted and coached, the results can be significant. Without a trained professional, the value of their results can be diluted and meaningful change lost in the process.”

If you are open to a conversation about the 360 assessment process or how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching, and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Preventing Burnout in Today’s Environment

By Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC

Could employee burnout impact your company?

Burnout that causes companies to lose great employees occurs when your workers experience too much stress for a prolonged period. The employee is left feeling mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Not only that, your employees are less productive at work, show reduced concern for others, and are more likely to miss work.

by dasstudios

Burnout is no doubt tied to stress, and workers in the United States are some of the most stressed employees in the world. That’s according to the 2022 Gallup State of the Global Workplace report, which captures how people are feeling about work and their life.

Surprising statistic: U.S. and Canadian workers, whose survey data are combined in Gallup’s research, ranked highest for daily stress levels of all groups surveyed. Some 57% of U.S. and Canadian workers reported feeling stress on a daily basis, up by eight percentage points from the year prior and compared with 43% of people who feel that way globally, according to Gallup’s 2021 report.

Too much stress at work and home leads to burnout, which can be defined as lower psychological and physical wellbeing, as well as dissatisfaction, and employee turnover.

This stress spike isn’t surprising to Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief workplace scientist, who told CNBC that “rates of daily stress, worry, sadness and anger have been trending upward for American workers since 2009. Concerns over the virus, sickness, financial insecurity and racial trauma all contributed to added stress during the pandemic.”

by Pexels

There is also a side effect called “quiet quitting.”

According to the newsletter The Daily Skimm, quiet quitting is “when employees quit going above and beyond what they’re paid to do. The pandemic blurred the lines between home and work — leading to burnout. And many have felt stretched thin by doing more than one person’s job, especially during The Great Resignation. On top of that, employees have become frustrated with the lack of growth opportunities and little pay.”

Quiet quitters are still doing their jobs, but common side effects of quiet quitting include: no more staying late after work, no more attending events like virtual lunches, and no more doing anything beyond the job description.

How To Spot Burnout

“Burnout looks like extreme exhaustion paired with low engagement, high hopelessness, poor motivation and limited efficacy,” says Colorado therapist Carrie Johansson, PhD, author of the book Self Help On The Go.

Helping companies prevent employee burnout is a critical element to employee retention and performance, says Johansson.

“Balancing challenge with breaks, prioritizing values and purpose in work, and encouraging employee autonomy all help keep employees engaged and motivated to perform,” says Johansson. “Employees should be encouraged to use cycles of effort interspersed with rest, to have systematic self-care strategies in place and to connect with fellow employees to stay actively engaged and connected in their work.”

Doug Clute takes a pragmatic view of burnout. Clute is a human capital consultant who provides Lighthouse Consulting Services clients with his insight accumulated in over 30 years as a human capital management executive within four different industries on an international scale.

“Typically, there is a bit of cynicism on the part of the employee when they’re experiencing burnout,” says Clute. “The employee’s mindset is: ‘I’m working so hard, but what difference does it make? Whether I do a good job or not, I don’t see how my role is connected to the bigger whole.’”

Clute says the misalignment piece of the puzzle needs to be addressed.

“Sometimes it’s important for companies to create what I like to call it a buddy system,” says Clute.

Clute says oftentimes new employees get assigned a sponsor for a couple months. They have lunch, touch base, but eventually that relationship dissipates after 90 days. Assigning employees in danger of burnout with a buddy could retain a great employee.

“The buddy must be a friend as well that can hold the employee in check when they’re too invested at work and are turning a blind eye or not paying much attention to their personal life,” says Clute.

The field of neuropsychology offers other clues on how to assist employees struggling with quiet quitting or burnout.

“Combating burnout sometimes means not following common success advice,” says neuropsychologist Steve Swavely, PhD, author of the upcoming book Optimal Team Performance. “For example, ‘Eat your frog first thing’ is an adage about tackling your toughest challenges first thing in the morning. It has some merit, but not if you’re combating burnout. A better approach is to tackle some small challenges early to experience the satisfaction of success. This causes the brain to release a host of neurochemicals that lift your mood, and your capacity to tackle more difficult challenges. Save the frog for lunch.”

What Can Employers Do

“We are working on one engagement right now with an organization where they brought us in to help a junior leader develop their leadership skills and learn how to balance their life,” says Patty Crabtree, a senior consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services. “This junior leader over commits to everything and says yes to everything. The company brought us in to help that person understand how to put boundaries in place, which is really critical. The senior leadership team wants to grow this individual so that they can step up in their role.“

Without this coaching, it is easy to see how this junior leader with great potential could be lost to burnout.

by Ronald Carreño

“The big lesson here is that as the world moves more and more toward this virtual remote environment, leaders need to be more thoughtful in the way they engage their staff,” says Crabtree.

Here are three actions employers can take:

Hire Better. Improving hiring and talent development through in-depth work style and personality assessment tests is a great start. Take more time scrutinizing candidates who apply for leadership roles, identifying their empathy, emotional intelligence and ability to perform under pressure.

Train Better. Use personality assessments for the basis of team building. Good leaders must learn how to shield employees from unnecessary stress. Sometimes through training we discover we hired the right employee for the wrong job. Understanding preferred work styles goes a long way to improving retention and productivity and decreasing burnout and quiet quitting.

Communicate Better. In-depth work style and personality assessments give managers and employees a common language about how they like to interact. When people use their strengths, they feel more competent and engaged. Staff are less likely to experience high levels of burnout when they decide on how and when they complete their work. Supporting and recognizing good work reduces stress while promoting a sense of belonging.

by Moni Mckein

As the work world shifted from workplace to working from home to now returning to a workplace, everything is not just going back to the way things were. ”That’s not reality,” says Crabtree. “When you make this change in this new environment, you need to really work and be thoughtful in designing that way that environment’s going to work.”

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business.” They do this through the use of in-depth work style & personality assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. Dana has over 30 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker and radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

Correct your Sales Oversight: Where are the GAPS?

By Patrick McClure

CEOs, board members, and sales leadership are often faced with a terrible dilemma: how to accurately evaluate sales performance without having much experience or preparation for the task! Unless they came up through the ranks “carrying a bag”, they wouldn’t have the experience or skills needed to properly diagnose the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales team.

Too many, measuring sales performance is similar to Voodoo or guesswork. What should we look for? How can we benchmark our team against the competition? What factors should we examine? Are we fooling ourselves about our sales performance, just taking everything for granted? How can we evaluate —with accuracy – where we really stand?

Sales Diagnostics

Before a full GAP Analysis is performed, it is useful to perform a quick assessment of your sales organization’s Health. Using a unique and proprietary Sales Performance Diagnostic tool, we can accurately assess how your sales team stacks up against the “best of the best” in three key areas:

1. Sales Leadership
2. Forecast Accuracy
3. Drive for Improvement

The results of this assessment often result in an immediate boost in sales performance because the mystery of why sales are down has been narrowed to specific areas. Which of these critical areas were deficient, and where should management be spending their time correcting, coaching, and improving performance?

Gap Analysis

After the Sales Diagnostic has been performed, you are ready to move into the full GAP Analysis, which will give a more complete and company-wide view into Sales & Marketing.

The GAP is performed to review and analyze the current sales operational processes and performance, determines the process and performance required to achieve a desired level, and develops and recommends alternative solutions to eliminate the gap between the current and desired position. Three aspects of a business need to be considered during a GAP:

1. Current performance environment
2. Desired performance environment
3. Skills and processes required to implement the desired outcome

Gap Analysis Methodology

To establish the baseline data, our team works closely with management and key executives to develop an interview schedule and key questions for all stakeholders and key groups involved in the operation (internal & external). During the data-gathering phase of a Gap Analysis, we focus on the following critical areas:

Gap Analysis of Current & Desired Performance Environment

Business Environment and Needs
Product/Service Offerings
Market position — Strengths & Weaknesses
Core Competencies/Key Values Delivered
Target Markets
Sales Performance & Analysis
The Competitive Environment
Desired level of performance and skills required

Gap Analysis Deliverables

The original survey data is correlated and analyzed, comparison is made with industry benchmarks and competition, and the final report is prepared and delivered. Highlights include:

Develop and Document the Optimum Selling Process
Skills Required for Desired Outcome
Identify the organizational structure required
Recommend appropriate Sales methodology
Sales Performance Measurement
Recommended Program of Training & Coaching

Benefits from a GAP Analysis

There are several benefits companies experience from this valuable service. The most relevant benefits include the following:

An accurate assessment by a sales performance expert with detailed findings and recommendations
All the “sacred cows” become visible
An outsider can ask the difficult questions and avoid the internal politics and posturing
The GAPS are exposed, and it is now possible to write a sales plan that will be effective.
Our methodology highlights Best Practices and we can fairly evaluate where your company meets or exceeds
Corrective actions are now effective, since they are targeting the real problems
An effective training program can be developed to reskill your team and arm them with the latest tools & techniques
Sales processes and procedures can be revamped for maximum effectiveness

When the key recommendations from a GAP are implemented, your sales efficiency and effectiveness will surge, and revenue and profitability will soar……in a very short time!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patrick McClure is a Master Sales Coach, expert in Selling Across Generations and a Sr. Sales Consultant for Lighthouse Consulting Services: – Over the past 30 years, Patrick has trained salespeople and managers to drive breakthrough sales results using innovative and practical techniques. He has a knack for reducing the most complex problems to utter simplicity and showing his audience exactly how start winning new clients. During his corporate career, Mr. McClure sold over $250 MM worth of products and services at corporate giants such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EDS and Digital Equipment. He is a black-belt master at selling complex business solutions to C-Level executives, and today he will share his secrets with small companies hoping to crack into the Fortune 1000. As the author of 3 books on selling, Patrick passionately and patiently serves up his wisdom to readers, clients, and audiences. He caters to both small and large firms seeking to close more business. You can contact Patrick at patrickm@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Should Skills Testing be a Standard Operating Procedure for Hiring?

By Dana Borowka, MA

I’ve noticed an interesting trend that I want to share with you. In the past 12 months we’ve been receiving a lot more questions about pre-employment skills testing. We’ve taken notice. Something has shifted. Companies that had never before considered using skills testing in their hiring process, now ‘suddenly’ had an interest in learning more. Other companies that had used skills testing only sparingly were exploring what additional tests were available.

Yes, something was up alright. As I talked with these companies the reason behind their intensified interest in skills testing became clear.

Elephant in the room by David Blackwell

The Elephant in the Room

Every company I spoke to was having an exceedingly difficult time hiring people that had the right skills for the job, no matter what the job. The elephant in the room during these discussions was that companies were getting burned time and time again. The cost of the hiring mistakes was escalating. Too many candidates who went through the screening and hiring process failed to perform up to expectations once on the job.

Anecdotally, I knew this was a big problem. Employers can’t be 100% certain that a candidate has the right skills based on resume, references, and interviews. Even in-depth work style and personality assessments, like we do for our clients, aren’t designed to verify job skills. I wondered just how big a problem it is. I did some research.

The Department of Labor estimates the cost of a bad hire is equal to at least 30% of first year salary. “Wow”, I said to myself, doing some quick math in my head. Hire a $30,000 bookkeeper that doesn’t have the right bookkeeping skills, and there’s a $9,000 hit to the bottom line. Hire a $50,000 PC administrator without the right technical skills, write off another $15,000.

These numbers got me to think about what contributes to the high costs.

1. Lost time and productivity of the people involved in the hiring process
2. The new employee’s mistakes often have hard costs associated with them – poor service or product quality for example
3. The productivity of the new hire is well-below expectations
4. The possible negative impact on customers and your brand image
5. Training the new hire to achieve a skill-level they should have had in the first place
6. Replacing the employee

As managers we know the hassle and frustration attached to hiring someone without the right skills. What’s more, there are considerable hard and soft costs associated, too, as the list above shows and the Department of Labor statistics prove.

Is Skills Testing the Panacea for Hiring Mistakes?

With a problem this large we at LCS saw an opportunity. We’re now offering a catalog of online skills tests for our clients. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me explore with you how skills testing is best used. I’ll debunk a few myths along the way.

How Skills Testing is Best Used

If you really want to improve the success of your new-hires, incorporate skills testing and personality assessments in the hiring process. Nothing is fool-proof, but believe me, if you do both types of testing together with smart interviewing, your new-hire success rate will go way up. The failure rate (and the costs associated with it) will drop like a rock.

I’ve been a proponent of skills testing for a very long time, IF they are used properly. Skills testing is a tool, like so many others available to managers. Tools can be misused. Tools can be trusted too much.

Here’s the point. Just because a candidate has the right skills for a specific role in your company doesn’t mean you should hire the person. A great skills test score doesn’t mean the person will be a great fit in your company.

The mistake that I’ve seen made by hiring managers is to place too much weight on skills test results. Good resume, good references, interviews went well, aced the skills test – fabulous, make that woman an offer fast!

Not so fast. Is her work style a good match for the role? Is her personality a good fit for the level of responsibility and interaction necessary? Skills testing doesn’t venture into these waters. This is the realm of the in-depth work style and personality assessment.

Skills Testing Only Works if you Know What Skill Level Matters

I can’t emphasize this point enough. If your company hasn’t identified the specific skills required for each position, a test is not going to be all that useful. Let me use a sports analogy.

A track coach has try outs for his sprint team. Five athletes show up wanting to make the team for the 100-meter event. The coach gets out his stop watch. Lines all five at the starting line and fires the starting gun. Bang. Off they run.

The coach looks at his watch as the first racer crosses the finish line several steps ahead of the others. Click. The fastest racer covered the 100 meters in 11.2 seconds. Better than the other four. Does the coach offer the racer a position on the team? He will if he doesn’t know what speed is necessary for his 100-meter squad to compete effectively. Sure, he’ll have a racer for the 100 meter event, but the team will never win. He won’t offer the position to any of the five candidates if he knows that a pace of at least 10.1 seconds is necessary to win in his conference. In this case the required skill is running the 100 meters in 10.1 seconds or less.

The Never-Ending Search for the Perfect Candidate

LCS is deeply involved in the active hiring processes of hundreds of clients. I make this claim just to point out that few companies are better positioned to observe and assess the hiring practices of so many companies. What we’ve noticed is companies tend to fall into two categories. Those that take too long to find and hire employees. And those who have found a way to hire more quickly and retain those employees. What is the difference?

There are many facets to this. Most are beyond the scope of this article, but one is very relevant. The companies who are the most successful realize that the perfect candidate doesn’t exist. They know it’s fool-hardy to spend valuable time and resources searching for the perfect person.

They identify the best person available and which areas will need to be developed in that person once hired. This change in strategy presents an integrated view of hiring and training. So, where does skills testing enter the picture?

Let’s go back to the race track. The coach has one athlete who ran the 100 meters in 11.2 seconds, a full second slower than a competitive pace. If the coach knows that a short period of training and conditioning can shave a second off the time, he’ll gladly bring the person onto the team. A diamond in the rough, so-to-speak.

Same philosophy holds with enlightened companies who use skills testing wisely. If you have a fabulous candidate who is missing a few skills that can be learned quickly, hire the person and build the training into the 90-day probationary period.

The skills test results tell you exactly what skills need to be learned. The training can focus on those areas.

This also makes it a lot easier and more effective when it comes time to buy the training, or arrange the mentoring in-house. You know exactly the skills to be gained.

LCS to the Rescue

After doing our research and talking with more clients about skills testing, we’re convinced this is a service we should be offering.
The catalog we’re offering has been hand-selected from tests Fortune 500 companies rely on in their hiring. These are time-proven, industry-accepted tests in the following categories:

• Accounting
• IT
• Office Software
• Language
• Industrial
• Customer Service
• Sales
• Math
• Honesty

I invite you to visit the Skills Testing page on our website that includes more information, including brief descriptions of the tests we’re offering.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Retention Takes A Solid Culture

By Patty Crabtree

If you are worried about retaining great employees, you are in good company.

Startling statistic: According to a 2022 study of The Conference Board, labor shortages have driven talent retention to the #1 position of the CEO agenda in 2022. In its 23rd annual survey, the report reflects the views of 1,614 C-suite executives, including 917 CEOS.

The Conference Board states:

Organizations are “re-recruiting” existing employees to help them see a new path forward and recognizing the sacrifices employees have made over the past two years. Addressing workers’ desire for greater flexibility across virtually every aspect of the new work “contract” underpins these strategies…Executives in 2022 will seek to find the right flexibility formula for their business.

In other words, they are “re-recruiting” to improve retention by creating an improved culture.

Culture is defined as the key behaviors an organization uses in working together and with its the clients and vendors. It sets the expectations of how the team will work together. Corporate culture is the oil that allows everything to run smoothly. It reflects what is greatest, true and noble about the company. Who is the company at its heart?

Learning From Michelle’s Cautionary Culture Tale

Recently, I was speaking with a client, let’s call her Michelle, who was unhappy in her job. Michelle didn’t feel successful even though she was meeting all her metrics. After talking through the issues, it became quickly apparent that culture was the problem.

Employees weren’t receiving feedback from management so they were feeling undervalued and unsuccessful. Leadership kept pushing harder for more from everyone though staff didn’t understand what they were working toward. They weren’t in alignment and people were planning their exit.

Michelle had asked for feedback on numerous occasions but never received it. She became more and more frustrated and decided it was time for a change. She accepted a new position and became just another statistic in what the media has dubbed The Great Resignation.

Michelle’s manager was shocked when she resigned. He didn’t get that she was unhappy. With her leaving, others in the organization told her what a big loss it was for the company and how much of a difference she had made. The very feedback she was craving.

This valuable employee could have been saved if management listened to her and other employee concerns. Their culture was not employee oriented and this was illustrated by losing key employees. This type of turnover is painful for any organization. While everyone is ultimately replaceable, the cost of that replacement can be great. A culture of alignment and teamwork can help lessen this type of loss.

How To Create A Culture Of Alignment

Culture takes regular nurturing. By committing to create an environment where staff thrives, clients receive excellent service and your external partners feel valued, you will reap the benefits. Keep steering everyone in the same direction, toward the same goals and vision course correcting when needed.

You will be amazed at how behavior changes. Enthusiasm and loyalty grows when values and culture are clear and lived by.

Envolve your staff in the cultural conversation. Giving them a voice creates engagement and loyalty as they will feel valued and respected.

A client recently shared concerns about turnover in his company. It was a 30-year-old organization with numerous long-term employees that was going through a leadership change. The current CEO planned to retire and his children started to take over. The children had a different leadership style. The staff was anxious about the change, which is resulting in some of them jumping ship.

The CEO felt the leadership team was fracturing. People did not see the behind-the-scenes story of the transition. Key people were finding new jobs and the company was suffering.

The moral of the story: transition planning must include reviewing culture and effectively communicating.

Culture Requires Conversation

Culture needs to be a continuous conversation within an organization even when not experiencing a major change. Periodic check-ups to confirms it still hold true to who they are as an organization. Culture isn’t something you just set. It is something that needs to be nurtured and communicated.

When culture is stressed, people become anxious and can feel unsafe. They will seek out something they can control which can be changing jobs.

Your hiring practices are also critical for long-term retention. Ensuring that candidates not only have the needed technical skills but also will fit in and enhance your culture. Formalizing a recruitment process that incorporates your culture will make a big difference in the quality of staff joining your firm. Finding people who believe in and personify your values will create a high performing team environment.

Develop interview questions around your culture. Define the qualities of success within your organization and for that specific position. What soft skills are needed to be successful in your firm?

One Company’s Journey

Can you relate to this culture story of a company with stalled growth?

This company’s culture journey started with identifying the key attributes that they felt exemplified how they wanted to work together to grow the organization. Leadership communicated to staff and shared it with their clients, posted it on the breakroom wall, and even branded their email signature blocks.

However, they had a roadblock on the journey. The challenge was their behaviors did not truly reflect those defined values. It just wasn’t who they were, how they were making their decisions and supporting their staff.

This lack of continuity created confusion and people were not on the same page. The situation left their staff feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and fearful because they didn’t feel the stability that most workers crave.

This culture misstep led to a high turnover rate, which cost not only the hard dollars to recruit new candidates but the soft dollar costs of repeated onboarding, training along with the impact on staff morale. Not retaining the great employees hurt the quest for growth.

Leadership was puzzled. They felt they had a good work environment. They took a step back to reassess their approach. They went through an exercise to uncover the core issues within their culture and identified the behaviors that would lead them to success. They developed their own unique approach and updated their core values to reflect this.

Definition statements were created for each value to clearly define the intent. The values were introduced to staff with these added definitions and the leaders reinforced them in their daily interactions.

The values were also more deeply embedded into their recruiting process. Behavioral interview questions were developed that focused on cultural fit which helped pinpoint the best candidates.

Over time, their retention improved and the recruitment process put the right people on the bus. Their leadership started spending more time on enhancing their infrastructure and building toward growth instead of constantly hiring. The instability fears lessened among staff, which further helped retention.

The company began to see its desired growth and they increased their market share. Of course, it was not easy. Truly it took a focused effort to create this success and there was a time investment. In the long run, it paid dividends for them.

Is Your Culture Driving Retention?

This year might be high time to take a step back and review your culture. Does it meet who you want to be? Is it driving the results you want to see? Does everyone understand the expectations?

Lighthouse Consulting Services can help you take some time to review your culture and confirm if it fits not only the current personality of your organization but also the personality you want within the company. Together we can make sure that everyone understands the expected behaviors and how to create alignment with how to execute on them.

As your company grows, your culture may also need to evolve so it is helpful to perform periodic check-ups to ensure your culture is supporting your growing company. Schedule these periodic check-ups and fine tune it along the way.

During these turbulent times, retention deserves to be #1 on the C-suite agenda. Together we can tackle the issue by building a solid culture.

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with more than 25 years in operations, coaching, building strong cultures and finance leadership experience.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication.
If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team and improve your hiring process, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Now Is The Time To Streamline Operations For Products & Services

By Tony Kayyod

Now is the time to take a hard look to eliminate non-value-added work to your workflow processes. For over forty years I have helped all kinds of organizations do just that by improving productivity and profitability.

Think of it in terms of your personal productivity. Imagine you are sitting at home, and you know you need gas for your car. Naturally, you don’t want to leave from home to go fuel up your car and then return home. That is a waste of time and energy. Streamlining the process would be to stop at the gas station on the way home from somewhere else.

The gas station metaphor is about eliminating a wasted trip. But in the business world, wasteful workflow processes are much less visible than that trip to the gas station. Historically, many businesses have learned to accept the non-value-added work throughout the enterprise. That is a gross miscalculation.

When you calculate the cost of your product or service, it does not make sense to pay for items or effort the customer does not value. When you streamline, you identify the process steps that the customer doesn’t see value from. After you identify and map the process, the question is how can I eliminate these unnecessary steps? That’s the power and promise of streamlining.

Take A Lesson From Amazon, The King Of Streamlining

For example, Amazon did that to brick-and-mortar retail stores. Amazon just reasoned that the physical coming to a retail store and the driving away with merchandise was not a value add for most customers.

Amazon started with books, but the aim was always to be the giant of all retailing. Amazon is right for millions of people. Sure, some people still want to go and touch the product in the store to buy. But if you know what you want, it’s easier to buy it online from Amazon. Free shipping with Amazon Prime made the price competitive. So, that’s the streamlining and the Internet allowed Amazon to do it.

According to an opinion piece in The New York Times, Amazon is different than most businesses. Here is an excerpt from the article “The Secret of Amazon’s Success” that ran November 19, 2018 by economist William Lazonick, president of the Academic-Industry Research Network:

What is it that makes Amazon different from other large companies? Certainly, the sheer range of the products it sells and its market power are unmatched in corporate America…But there is another difference that is much less appreciated yet has been more significant in shaping its path: Amazon’s resource-allocation strategy — in particular, how it chooses to use the profits that it earns. It is one of very few large American corporations that is choosing to retain its profits and reinvest… Instead of squandering its profits on buybacks, Amazon has been reinvesting them in its business and its employees. That strategy is reflected in spending on research and development, where Amazon is far and away the world leader.

What could you do to invest in streamlining your workflow to simplify or eliminate unnecessary work-related tasks to improve the efficiency of your processes for what you make or what service you offer? To obtain a return on investment, of course you need to invest. Streamlining processes will require the usage of modernizing techniques, technology, and consideration of other possible approaches.

Get Rid Of Those Constraints

For decades I have consulted in constraint management. This is all about finding and exploiting the constraints. How do you release more of what customer values in a process? How do you allow that value to come out?

Processes and workflows are similar, but they are not the same. A process is a set of repeatable activities that need to be continued to complete a specific goal that an organization has set. Workflow is series of repeatable activities that need to be continued to complete a specific task.

In the past they called improving processes and workflows lean manufacturing, which only concentrated on manufacturing. It was all about removing the bottlenecks in manufacturing that didn’t always allow more enterprise-wide throughput. This was all about cutting the fat and eliminating the waste in manufacturing and not in the support functions.

Principles from lean manufacturing have been applied to the world of services too.

When I worked at General Motors, I was the chief engineer of electronic sensors and actuators. In that position, I worked with thousands of people to improve our lean manufacturing. After leaving GM I have worked with many businesses to streamline because the benefits are huge.

The Benefits Of Streamlining Processes & Workflows

Streamlining gives you the three mores; more productivity, time efficiency, and profitability. Here is how:

More productivity. Employees are more able to reduce waste of motions & to focus more on the quality of what they are producing when unnecessary tasks are reduced. Employees become more productive when workflow processes are streamlined. Employees benefit when they have clear measurements and expectations.

More time efficiency. Streamlining results in better time management. Employees can concentrate on the more important value-added tasks. Data entry and processing can be done automatically. Using automation and technology to deal with the mundane tasks helps humans focus on what they are best at, which is problem solving. No one likes to waste time and energy on the routine.

More profitability. Streamlining give you more funds to allocate elsewhere or drop to the bottom line. Streamlining can decrease the amount of paper your workplace uses. This will likely save your business money so you can allocate funds elsewhere. Ultimately more sellable throughput doesn’t require as much resources since they are freed up.

Training And Onboarding

Here is an important team building question: Have you included a work-style assessment as part of your hiring process? Do you have a tool to help you understand somebody’s personality and how that fits in with the team? Do you have a library of interview questions available to help understand how somebody will thrive in your hybrid work environment?

Once you find that right candidate, does your onboarding process provide specific job training for a new hire?

Streamlining is a journey, not just a onetime process. Your workflow processes might be improved by technology, but you are only as good as the team working the process.

Onboarding is the first opportunity to get the right soft skill sets in embedded in the various positions. Depending on the scope of job roles and responsibilities, there are different skill sets needed. That might mean skills training for everything from say, leadership development, all the way to something basic, such as time management and effective communication.

Skills training across a wide spectrum is an important part of my work. Often employees that come into clients don’t come equipped with the right skill sets. I have found the better the skill sets, the better the opportunity is for them to be more productive. In addition, the soft skill training opportunities help retain talented employees by preparing them for more responsibility & career growth.

You can improve skill sets through either video conference training, prerecorded training, or in-person training. The length of time varies as does the depth of the subject matter varies.

One of the hot training topics today is global sourcing. Yes. This is mainly because of the supply chain constraints that are so much in the news. Engineers and/or buyers at many companies don’t know how to find and develop new “global” sources. This is a skill that can be taught to improve throughput.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Tony Kayyod is a senior Lighthouse consultant specializing in streamlining workflow processes with over 35 years of combined industry and leadership experience in customer-driven turnkey projects. Formerly, Tony was an automotive industry executive responsible for directing global footprint in manufacturing, engineering, supply chain and warehousing, as well as Chief Engineer for Sensors and Actuators at General Motors and Delphi Automotive. Tony holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Tennessee Technological University and an MBA from Jacksonville State University. For more information, please reach out to Dana Borowka, MA at (310) 453-6556, ext. 403 or dana@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Protecting The Workplace

By Howard F. Fisher, Esq.

What is keeping you up at night as you consider returning to the office?

Employers and employees are navigating a rapidly changing landscape of workplace safety concerns from policies touching on vaccine or mask requirements; potential of political or civil unrest; employee and guest vaccination status; remote or hybrid work, scenarios; and a full return to an in-person workplace environment that will look and feel very different than it was prior to the pandemic.

Further adding to the concerns is the unfortunate situation where employees may have experienced economic difficulties, increased domestic tension or other impacts that will increase the risk or opportunity for workplace violence to occur.

Employers Have a Duty To Provide a Safe Workplace

Employers must maintain “a place of employment which is free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm …”, according to OSHA/MOSHA requirements.

Failing to prevent workplace violence is expensive. The human cost of workplace violent acts is immeasurable. The financial impact can cripple a business. Medical bills covering physical and psychological support for victims and witnesses, liability expenses, negligence lawsuits and physical site damage can be extensive.

As employees return to work, there has never been a better time to review physical security as well as workplace violence prevention policies.

Understanding the gaps in your organization’s physical and technical security is a critical first step in prevention-focused security risk management. Workplace violence prevention programs cannot and should not only protect employees as they face these situations, but also prevent a perpetrator from committing violent acts in their own or their victim’s workplace and includes but is not limited to physical violence, threats or threatening behavior communicated through verbal, written, electronic or physical means.

Physical And Technical Security Assessment

Employers should consider an independent assessment of security gaps for their facilities. Assessments may include one or several facility types to allow for a holistic assessment of overall gaps. Facility types may include multi-tenant Class-A office buildings, corporate headquarters or integrated complexes, mixed-use properties, retail and shopping centers, event halls, embassies, data centers and critical infrastructure sites.

The strategic scope of the assessment should cover factors such as risk, threat and vulnerability profile; geography and local environment; criticality of operations; sensitivity of information used, stored or generated; size of facility and number of personnel; regulatory mandates; and internal risk criteria.

The tactical scope of the assessment should focus on factors such as perimeter alarm systems; access control systems; closed-circuit television coverage; intrusion detection systems; fire and life safety systems; emergency plans; mail and package delivery; and backup power availability and adequacy.

Work-Place Violence Prevention Policy Assessment

As an employer, you have a legal duty to take reasonable steps to respond and intervene when the reported actions of an individual or group threaten your workplace. The goal of a workplace violence prevention program is to enhance employee safety and identify opportunities for early intervention to assist employees who may be in crisis.

When some people think of workplace violence prevention programs, they imagine acts of violence and punitive zero tolerance policies. But a properly developed and effectively implemented program prioritizes prevention and creates an environment of trust, respect and courtesy, so when issues arise anywhere (including in the home) employees feel comfortable bringing them forward.

Employers should examine existing policies in critical areas such as onboarding, employment screening, privacy, compliance and issue resolution and escalation. assess their current programs with the goal of creating a security roadmap that:

• Gains a baseline understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in current policy.
• Advances the company’s ability to prevent, mitigate and respond to incidents.
• Incorporates threat assessment into your plan.
• Factors in best practices in emergency preparedness planning.
• Views the company’s security risk management program holistically.

Assessments will identify gaps and opportunities for improvements and provide guidance on execution. The analysis should include key functions and departments such as Security, HR, Operations, Legal, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and line management.

Closing the Gaps In Workplace Security Has Long-Term Benefits

Employers today are tackling a spectrum of issues ranging from post-incident internal investigations and messaging to employee populations deeply concerned about their own safety, to formal workplace violence prevention program development and – very importantly – the broader framework and integrity of each company’s respective physical and technical security protocols and practices. Here are some resources as well as the link to the LCS Open Line event on the same topic:

Additional Resource Links

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC Open Line event
Advancing best practices in workplace violence prevention
https://lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/051922/OpenLine051922.mp4

Jensen Hughes Service Offerings
+ Workplace Violence Prevention
+ Security Assessments
+ Active Assailant Awareness and Response Training

Jensen Hughes Publications
+ Workplace Violence Prevention in the Automotive Industry
+ Creating a HR Services Workplace Violence Prevention Program
+ Improving Security while Workplaces are Empty

External Resources
+ US. Department of Labor: OSHA Workplace Violence page
+ Federal Bureau of Investigation: Active Shooter Resources page

Taking an all-in approach to workplace violence prevention is vital to protecting people, property, performance, and reputation. Aligning security and safety with strategic business issues such as production and profitability brings broad business benefits that include increased workplace security, higher employee morale, greater cross-functional collaboration and information sharing, and uninterrupted business operations.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022 Jensen Hughes and Lighthouse Consulting Services.

Howard F. Fisher, Esq. a senior vice president with Jensen Hughes, advises on security risk consulting. He works with senior executives and their legal counsel who want to better manage security risk and emergency management. Jensen Hughes, a leading safety, security, and resiliency professional services firm, is a joint venture partner with Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC. Howard has held executive positions at several large professional services firms and corporations where he was entrusted with rapidly increasing responsibility for the strategic, operational, and financial performance of multiple teams.

Don’t read the horrible headlines about other businesses and think it will never happen to you. Hopefully you may never need their services, but isn’t an ounce of prevention worth looking into?

To learn more, click here: https://www.jensenhughes.com/services/security-risk-consulting

If you are open to a conversation about how to better manage security risk and emergency management, please contact howard.fisher@jensenhughes.com or 312.560.0336.

We strongly recommend you sign up with Howard to receive a 24-hour hotline number to call in an emergency. If a security or violence problem hit your business, who would you turn to? Sadly, workplace violence is becoming more commonplace. Obviously, this is not something you want to do at the last minute. When something happens that is not the time to scramble for help. Having the 24-hour hotline number to call can give you a measure of peace of mind.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style and personality assessments for new hires and staff development. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops on team building, interpersonal communication, and stress management.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code, and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Checklist To Create A Hybrid Work Environment Culture

By Patty Crabtree

“I just want everyone back at the office and let’s just get back to normal,” many a business leader has said.

But let’s face facts: the old ways of business will never really happen again. That train has left the station, that ship has sailed.

During the pandemic businesses have been exposed to the possibilities of remote work. Many workers found it to be liberating as they were no longer tied to that commute or the rigid nine-to-five schedule. Now that we have seen what is possible, how can we capitalize on it and develop that world class service?

Here is a surprising statistic: If given the choice between a $30,000 raise or permanently working from home, employees at some of the biggest companies said they would choose the latter. LinkedIn News, citing a survey by professional network Blind, reports 64% of respondents would forgo the extra cash for the remote work benefits. About 67% of Google respondents preferred permanent work-from-home, as well as 64% of Amazon, 62% of Microsoft, 69% of Apple, 76% of Salesforce and 47% of JPMorgan Chase employees.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Chelsea Jay-Wiltse, a career coach at Intelligent.com. “The pandemic provided an opportunity for many professionals to reset and rediscover their priorities. Most professionals found working from home provided a better work/life balance, more time with family and friends, and decreased stress levels. Utilizing technology to its fullest extent is the way of the future.”

She offers this prediction: “More employers will need to offer flexible scheduling and remote work options to remain competitive when it comes to attracting talented professionals.”

However, the message we keep hearing at Lighthouse Consulting is businesses want to return to normal, all the peas back in the pod. We are not a fan of this word normal. This word gets thrown around every time something pushes us outside our comfort zone as people crave the known and are afraid of the unknown.

Normal is such a disempowering word. It takes away from the opportunity and encourages things to go to back the same. But a return to normal is just an illusion as our world has changed. With all the opportunities that have occurred, why would someone want to go back to the way things were when there is a possibility of something better?

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Déjà vu is the feeling you have experience something before. For me, I faced this dilemma many years ago as my company faced a staffing crisis. As a small company, our solution was to start building a remote workforce. Through trial and error, we developed a high performing and successful workforce that cultivated a high retention rate of both clients and staff. Our culture of innovation thrived, and collaboration was strong. As profitability increased year over year, we had proof this concept worked.

As more people are vaccinated and the infection rate is decreasing, the talk is about moving back into the office toward that normal. Many leaders are inferring they will demand everyone return to the office while employees are wanting options. Some want to be able to work remotely a few days a week. Others want to work remotely full time.

Managing A Hybrid Workforce Takes Focus

So, how do you balance this desire for a hybrid-work-environment so it supports everyone’s desires?

Managing a hybrid or fully remote workforce takes a different focus. One word I like to use here is intentional. A more intentional focus on the nuances of a diverse work environment is important to continue a healthy, successful workforce.

Here are some aspects to consider as you plan for continuing a hybrid or remote workforce:

  • Culture. How has your culture evolved during this time and how does it need to further evolve to support a hybrid or remote workforce? Do your current core values fit this new environment? Is a fine tuning needed?
  • Communication. Have you established a formal communication plan to ensure all messaging is heard by staff? This would include the types of events that can occur throughout the month, who should be included in the communication and what method the communication is expressed.
  • Strategy. How have your leaders ensured a focus on both short-term and long-term strategy? What is the long-term vision and plan for the company while embracing a hybrid or fully remote work environment?
  • Management. What training has been provided to managers to ensure they effectively supervise the hybrid or remote workers and maintain a high level of productivity and staff retention?
  • Customer Service. How has customer service evolved? Has this been an intentional practice or in the moment solution?
  • Collaboration. How have you encouraged collaboration in a hybrid or fully remote environment? What tools have been put in place to ensure collaboration continues to thrive?
  • Team Building. What hybrid team building activities have been established? Are they scheduled on a regular basis?
  • Training. How has ongoing training evolved to support a hybrid or remote workforce?
  • Flexibility. Is that nine-to-five work environment really the only effective way for your staff to be successful? Is there an opportunity to provide flexible schedules that support company needs along with a healthy work-life balance for your employees?
  • Meetings. What tools have been put in place to facilitate effective meeting and encourage a healthy dialogue?
  • Recognition/Engagement. How has your recognition program evolved to be inclusive of both office and remote workers? What is your engagement plan?
  • Interviewing. What practices have been put in place to support effective remote hiring?
  • Onboarding. Do you have an effective plan to onboard new hires both in the office and remote workers? Does you plan include team building and culture activities?

“The pandemic lockdown only accelerated the work-from-home trend,” says Dennis Consorte, a small business consultant at digital.com. “In a digital age, commuting is a waste of time for many professions. If you work in retail or construction, then sure, you need to show up to do the work. If facetime is important to company culture, then businesses should consider rotating schedules where staff visits home base once a week. The key is in measuring the value that people provide, rather than the hours they work.”

Consorte says this mindset eliminates concerns over employees who work fewer hours than their peers, because it’s the value they produce that matters, regardless of how long it takes. “Work-from-home rewards workers with hundreds of more hours of personal time each year, making for a better work-life balance, and happier employees produce better results,” he adds.

Developing a successful and lasting hybrid workforce takes building a new muscle. A muscle of enhanced communication, unique team building approaches, leaders driving the conversation and showing the way with a new focus and creating an offering that is attractive to existing and potential employees along with ensuring your customers continue to feel valued.

This is like any new strategic initiative. Being strategic takes planning, focus, communication and accountability to implement and thrive.

If you are open to a conversation about any of these aspects of creating a hybrid work environment culture, please call or email and we will set up a time to talk.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patty Crabtree is a Senior Consultant at Lighthouse Consulting Services with 25 years of operations and finance leadership experience. Her phone number is 310-453-6556, ext. 410 and her email is pattyc@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

If you are open to a conversation about how our in-depth work style and personality assessment could help your team, including pricing and the science behind the tests, please contact us at 310-453-6556, extension 403.

For more information, please visit our website, www.lighthouseconsulting.com to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly Keeping On Track publication or to order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.