Goal Setting: Starting Your 2021 Out Right!

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over!” That’s certainly a common opinion. But here’s the thing – I don’t think anything is going to miraculously change just because the calendar now says 2021. This “new normal” may last for another six months or more. So instead, I prefer to look back at 2020 and think about what we learned and how we can turn that into action in the New Year.

By looking at the positive, I can appreciate some aspects of 2020. For one thing, I think we learned how to be flexible. After all, in many cases we had to do a complete 180 overnight! I had to cancel some thirty trips and I love to travel. Was it fun not being with family? No! But in the positive, I didn’t experience the “overwhelming type of busy” as in the past. From a business perspective, 2020 gave me the gift of time while it also helped me focus and ensure we stayed aligned to our goals.

In 2020, we also importantly devoted time to thinking about how we could better function as a team. Since people were no longer in their office right down the hall, we developed new ways to stay in touch and even grow. As I mentioned in a previous blog, many companies realized the six-month or yearly performance review no longer was effective. Those systems were replaced with much better ways of setting goals and tracking effectiveness on both a personal and professional level.

So instead of being excited that 2020 is finally over, I say look back and try to find something positive. Hey, we’re still here – making an impact and collecting revenue. And that is something to celebrate!

Training and Development: Why It’s Necessary!

What’s your biggest asset?

You Already Know.

Have you ever heard a company say, “Employees are our biggest asset?” When I hear that, I want to know what they are doing to back that up. Job seekers, in particular, are impressed if they learn a company is investing in their people to make them more efficient and productive. That’s exactly what great training and development programs are designed to accomplish.

 Attract and Retain Employees

 One of the biggest benefits of a training and development program is it’s effectiveness in attracting and retaining the best employees. Knowing an organization is willing to spend money on training and development not only attracts the interest of excellent candidates, but it will make your current employees feel valued and even increase loyalty. A combination of internal and external training (perhaps collaborating with a local college or university) will pay long-term dividends. It also will improve your reputation in the community which certainly will help your recruiting efforts.

 Build Your Bench Strength

We’ve talked about this…

We’ve talked in other blogs about how disruptive it can be when you have to replace a valued employee. Having a program that trains and develops workers will go a long way to minimize that disruption by providing a smooth transition. A successful training and development program provides you with a pipeline of qualified employees ready to step up and be rewarded with a promotion. You’ll find it’s a lot cheaper than starting over in the hiring process.

 Do Your Research

Survey Your Employees

They know what they need!

Have you thought about surveying your employees to see what they would like to see in terms of training or development efforts? It will give you some great feedback and allow you to tailor a program that is effective and appreciated. You’ll find it will also increase communication, collaboration and teamwork. It’s a great chance for employees to show you skills you didn’t even know they had.

Training Transformation

In challenging times like these,

Organizations are often tempted to cut employee training and development programs. Even some of the most experienced leaders I’ve met feel training is something they can do without in a tough economy, or at a minimum cut it back to the bare essentials (compliance, onboarding, job skills, etc.).  When revenue is decreasing and operating costs are going up, I can see how this looks like a no-brainer.

Take a

minute to

frame what

you’re asking

your people to


And you’ll likely start to see why training and professional development should be the LAST line-item that takes a cut. When times are tough, money gets tight – I get that. But right now, organizations are asking leaders, teams, and individuals to innovate like never before.

 To enact change rapidly, and make sure it sticks.

 To collaborate much more broadly.

 To assist team members and external clients in working through massive changes to how their products and services are created, delivered, and supported.

 Those types of initiatives require a training approach that is structured for efficiency and designed to enable your teams to drive the business to long-term success. It has to be customized, widely bought into, rapidly deployed, and universally adopted and executed on.

Effective training will not only improve workers’ skills; it will improve morale, which helps reduce expenses by contributing to employee retention.  When job roles, expectations, success factors, and a host of other critical factors about your business change as rapidly as they have, and will continue to do so, your leaders will be the ones who make or break the effort.


Now is a great time to examine your training. Traditional training tends to be transactional, event-based, and often is just a single session or two conducted over a short period of time with limited follow-through and validation after the fact. That’s been appropriate for some things but highly ineffective with other focus areas, like driving true transformation in your culture and how your teams operate.


I suggest you take a new approach to training that is transformational. This training is longer in duration. It’s conducted across the organization with consistent follow-through. It’s action-based and has high levels of accountability.


While the training and development effort is underway, make sure you make time to get feedback. This will tell you how well the program is received and it will give you valuable insight into its effectiveness. 

Engage people by asking for their opinion and suggestions. You’ll likely find they have a very keen understanding of the work they do, the opportunities tied to it and the paths for improvement.

Remember, it’s one thing to train your people on a specific task, issue, or organizational initiative.  It’s another thing entirely to develop, nurture, and effectively prepare your teams to proactively identify opportunities, to naturally innovate and optimize, and to consistently work towards enhancing the value of your organization.  Training your leaders and teams to transform requires the transformation of your training approach and methodologies.

Talent Attraction: Lots of Great Talent Available, Are You Ready?

It’s 2020 and Everything Has Changed

No one would argue the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been dramatic. Our world has been reshaped in ways we can’t have imagined. However, as difficult at these current times are, there are opportunities for forward-thinking companies. Businesses should be preparing now for post-crisis recovery and growth.

Time to Scoop Up Great Talent

 One important opportunity is that the pool of available talent has expanded. Far-sighted business leaders should stay calm and understand that many talented people are suddenly available. If you’re a strong business, well-capitalized with a solid growth plan, now is the time to scoop up top talent. It’s just like the stock market. When the market is down and you have cash – that’s the time to buy.

YOU NEED A PLAN. 30 Day. 60 Day. 90 Day

Pay can be important, but research shows what truly motivates workers is a high level of belonging and purpose. You want a candidate to say, “This is where I want to work.” Candidates will join an organization because they can see a company has a plan in place. That requires the right plan for the current situation. Your five-year plan may not work right now. You need to have a 30-day plan – with your workforce being a major component. You also need to have a 60-day and a 90-day plan – all based on where your revenues are today and where they might look in two or three months. Do you need to hire more people? Do you need to reorganize your current staff? These times demand flexibility.


Once you get the right people in the door, you have to keep them. The cost of turnover is enormous. People today want to grow. They want professional development. They want to be valued – to know their opinions are being heard. They want to be an important part of an effective team.


Perhaps in your organization, there isn’t a defined career ladder for a particular job. But you can still develop those employees professionally and help them become better at what they do. If you look at successful businesses, they’ve worked on this piece. They have an effective and engaging employee culture. They have learned to lead with their heart. They are invested in their people and as a result, have employees who are loyal. Businesses that haven’t learned will be the companies that struggle.

Your Company Culture, Share It.

Your Company Culture Matters-Share It!

When many millennials (individuals born between 1981 and 1996) were growing up, it was common for their baby boomer parents to encourage them to find a steady job – perhaps one with a pension plan and a defined pay scale. My own baby-boomer father has worked for the same company for 38 years. However, ask human resources professionals today and they’ll tell you that dynamic has certainly changed.

If your company wants to do a better job of hiring and retaining millennials, it’s important to understand what motivates them and what doesn’t. Research shows while millennials are looking for a salary and benefits package to pay off college debt, they are more drawn to a company’s culture. They look for growth opportunities, great managers and jobs that match their talents and interests. Organizations that award creativity, find ways to engage and develop workers are highly valued.

Millennials want to believe they’re contributing to a company that is making a positive impact in the world. For example, they take seriously an organization’s commitment to charity and social causes. They also value a collaborative office environment that increasingly blends work life with their outside-of-work interests and values. When organizations can provide these attributes, and promote them in their branding, they will attract millennials – and perhaps just as importantly – keep their millennial employees from pursuing the next best thing elsewhere.

Your Employer Brand is Already Out There

An organization’s branding may make it seem like the company is a great place to work. But is it? With just a bit of research, it’s easy for job applicants to find out. A quick search of the internet and social media sites gives applicants a first-hand look at a company’s culture. Moreover, sites like LinkedIn can easily let potential applicants find out if they know anyone working at the company to get the “real” story. The bottom line? Companies can’t fake it. As is often said, you have to “walk the walk” if you’re going to “talk the talk.”

Employer Branding: Absolutely Essential

Lisa Bottorff

 Essential, Engaging, Effective.

A company that is not working on employer branding is frankly missing the boat. With the abundance of social media avenues available today, promoting your employer brand has never been easier. Prospective applicants want to know your company is a good place to work. That your organization is fair. That you embrace diversity. That you treat employees like family. If all of this comes across in your brand, your organization becomes a place where people want to work. It is the most effective type of marketing available to you!

Developing an effective employer brand certainly starts at the top. Make sure human resources has a seat at the management table. Examine your policies and procedures and most importantly, your Mission, Vision and Values statement. Ask yourself, is the message communicated throughout your entire organization so employees on the front lines embrace it just like your management team?

Employees need to know how important their jobs are. Why that little piece they are putting on a wheel is vital – and what can happen if something happens to that wheel because they didn’t take the care required. Organizations with the most effective cultures make sure employees understand how their part of the puzzle fits in the overall picture.

How Do You Look?

You can’t hide these days. A quick Google search will turn up almost everything about your company from financial statements, employee satisfaction to pay and benefits. Your employer brand communicates it all to your community and your potential workforce. If you can get your employees bragging about how great your organization is then you’ve got it made. You won’t need to do a lot of marketing to find top talent if you’ve become a great place to work and you have everyone talking about it.

Employer Branding: Culture And Commitment

Company Culture and Commitment in the Employment Marketplace.

You Can’t Do Without It Anymore.

When we talk about branding, most of us likely think of the type of branding associated with a company’s public image – perhaps created by marketing and advertising. For this blog post, let’s talk instead about “employer branding.”

Employer branding is what attracts potential hires to your company. It’s similar to a shopper using Consumer Reports to compare various washing machine manufacturers. Job applicants are no different. They do research by going to any number of websites. In today’s competitive job market, candidates look at more than just salary and benefit packages. They’re also researching a company’s culture and commitment to employee learning and development. Effective employer branding communicates your organization is a great place to work. And that keeps your current employees engaged and boosts both retention and recruitment of top talent.

It’s important to recognize benefits, compensation and a company’s culture means different things to different people. For example, benefits that are important to someone with grown children are likely vastly different in importance from the needs of a millennial. For example, the baby boomer worker may want three weeks vacation and a lower deductible health plan with a more coverage. The younger worker may prefer more vacation and a higher deductible medical plan with less coverage. Each will have varying degrees of interest in a company’s 401(k) plan, charitable efforts or non-traditional benefits like employee happy hours or free lunches.

The workplace today is changing. Don’t get left behind.

There is no question offering something to everyone can be an administrative nightmare. However, more and more benefit providers are recognizing the workplace today is changing. They’re being pushed to offer more packages and a la carte options. How many different varieties of Coke are there for example? There is something out there for every taste. There’s no reason it can’t be the same with benefits.

To begin, make sure human resources has a seat at the management table. That ensures your employer branding is strategic and part of a measurable plan. Because after all, without a strong, committed workforce, you don’t have a company!

Get The Right People for Your Business-Soft Skills Matter!

The Individuals You Hire Impact Your Existing Staff.

If there is anything a business needs to consistently get right when building effective teams and a winning culture, it’s recruiting. The individuals you hire communicate clear expectations regarding performance to your existing staff.

In the recruiting process, successful companies look not only at an applicant’s skills and experiences but also at their personality, drive and motivation. Understanding what will fit best with the existing team is critical. That means the hiring manager should have a clear picture of the needs of that team and how the recruit will fit within that group. From my perspective, in many situations, passion and drive can exceed the value of skills and experience.

 Reassess and Be Flexible

For example, look at the situation facing many organizations today. Right now, there are thousands of fantastic people in the job market looking for work due to layoffs. They are more than willing to provide significant value to employers who have stayed in operation throughout the global pandemic, even if it is a short-term value! Businesses need to reassess their expectations as it relates to commitments around employment timelines. Having a short-term superstar is definitely better than having a role unfilled due to passing on that hire while looking for a longer-term team member.

Can an Outside Recruiter Help?

Sometimes traditional methods of recruiting can be limited ineffectiveness. If your candidate flow is weak, or if you are not getting the specific characteristics you need in applicants, an outside recruiter can be extremely beneficial. An outside recruiter can leverage a broad range of connections and other resources to find the candidates with the skills and characteristics you need to fill your specific job role.

 An outside recruiter also uses a thorough, formal and consistent recruiting process. That allows the hiring manager, and in some cases, key members of the team, to more effectively assess the “fit” of a candidate. Depending on the situation, or the organization’s strategic direction, the candidate with the best resume may not be what a team needs.