Career Help Coach


5 Things Your Company Needs to Do Today in Order to Stay Competitive

by Patty Prosser, OI Partners - Career Consultants Indianapolis

When thinking about what organizations need to do to effectively compete in today’s challenging marketplace, I can’t help but turn to that sage advice offered by Jim Collins in his books “Built to Last” and “Good to Great.” Great companies really do know how to turn crisis into opportunity by focusing on two key things 1) staying committed to enduring values and 2) making certain they have the best talent.

And, although we are still operating in uncertain times, there is a silver lining called “opportunity.” There are many “opportunities” savvy companies can capitalize on to stay competitive and ensure their future success.

So, here are 5 things your company may want to consider now, to stay in the game:

1. Communicate often and be consistent about your company’s values. You must reinforce and be clear about your organization’s principles and core vales that explain why you do what you do.

2. Set a clear direction that your employees can get behind. You must be consistent in your messaging so employees are clear about where the organization is going and allow them to have a role in shaping the direction it will take.

3. Focus on your customers. Be a good student to your customers’ business by consistently staying up to date on where their business is going and what they need to succeed. Become that trusted advisor they can turn to for solutions to help them get there.

4. Make certain your key leaders are doing the right things right. Invest in growing the skills and competencies of your top leadership. Provide leadership executive coaching andleadership development initiatives that can equip your leaders to not only execute what they need to do today, but in the years to come- and set an expectation of continuous improvement.

5. Stay agile. Know that whatever you are doing today won’t be what you need to be doing tomorrow. Pay attention and be a student of your own business.

No one knows for certain what the weeks and months ahead will bring, but one thing is certain—having the right mix of strategic vision, processes and leadership talent will give you the advantage your company needs to successfully compete. So, I ask you:

-          How well do you really know what’s going on in the businesses of your customers?

-          Are the leaders you have in place today prepared to take advantage of the opportunities the market will bring?

My Thanks to Patty Prosser for this contribution.  So what do you think? What steps  are you taking? What's working? What's not?

Got an Opinion?  Please share it.

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is an Executive Coach, the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.  He also chairs the Hennepin / Carver Workforce Investment Board -representing Minnesota's largest Workforce Service Area


Get The Skills – Get The Jobs

Yesterday I spent spent the afternoon with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development & Workforce Development folks. Discussed the looming skill shortage and steps to solve.

A key point of discussion centered around the real shortage of skilled workers.   In business circles  it seems  to be common knowledge that  here are jobs to be filled - but for many  - companies are unable to identify and attract people with the unique technical skills required to do the job.  The problem is -  all too often -  there is not a practical way to teach the skills required in an affordable or timely way to meet the immediate need.

The education and government bureaucratic systems recognize the problem but aren't nimble enough to help the both the job seekers to  learn whats 's needed - now.  Stories of unfilled quality manufacturing  postions are common because the required specialized  training is complicated and not available locally.

So a question worthy of more conversation is:   Should a comprehensive Workforce and Economic Development "System" take some libertiies and  focus - for example -  on specialized or unique market niches and adjust (bend) the rules to provide industry / company specific government training dollars to bring the necessary training expertise here - and get people hired?

Got an Opinion?

Please share it.

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is an Executive Coach, the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.  He also chairs the Hennepin / Carver Workforce Investment Board -representing Minnesota's largest Workforce Service Area.


Minnesota State Government Shutdown?

MN Governor & Legislature still at odds. State "mis"government shutdown very real possibility at midnight tonight.
State Workforce Centers likely to close.  BUT - judge rules unemployment checks will still go out.

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. He also chairs the Hennepin / Carver Workforce Investment Board - Minnesota's  largest.



As we seem to be slowly moving out of this very serious economic recession, the issue of attracting and retaining top talent is moving up the on the list of Human Resource issues facing organizations. Perhaps cutbacks have created the need to do more with less. Maybe you have lost talented people to competitors.

Surveys and research show that there is a huge population of employees who have been waiting - afraid to make an employment change, but who are primed and ready for new opportunities as the economy improves .

Since the beginning of 2011,Ten thousand people are turning age 65 every day as the first Baby Boomers move more and more towards retirement or semi-retirement.  We know we must compete for talented employees. Corporations that attract and retain the best and the brightest employees achieve dominant market share and the profits that go with it. Yet these new (younger) intellectual assets can be difficult to manage and they generally lack the loyalty to the employer that previous generations demonstrated.

As we look forward to the coming end of the recession,
I wonder: Are we returning to a time of of highly contested demand for new empoloyees with specialty skill sets?

Today's guest commentary - and six strategies - comes from Burt Burrell, Managing  Partner of the OI Partners office in  Salt Lake City.

He begins with . . .


You remember a few years ago when many employers were in a feeding frenzy fighting over employees with the skills and knowledge required to move their companies forward. An example was Brian, a 23 year old developer, who left his job with a Utah-based Internet provider and relocated to sunny California to start a new position with a similar company. When asked why he was willing to leave his job after having been there for only a little more than one year, Brian's response came right out of The Godfather ,"They made me an offer I couldn't refuse." Though he didn't want to be too specific, he reported that he was offered a little over twice as much as he was making before, putting him just into six figures. Not bad for a 23-year-old who didn't have a resume or even know what he should wear to an interview. It isn't that Brian is that smart or that he is that talented, though he is bright, and he is good at what he does. Brian is fortunate to have the knowledge and skills that were in such high demand.

In the past, from time to time, it has been harder to find and keep good employees than it is to come up with new products. Could that scenario once again be in our future?

The Cost of Turnover
Turnover is more than just an inconvenience; it is costly. The U.S. Dept. of Labor puts the cost of replacement at 30% of an employee's annual compensation. By all accounts, that estimate is a conservative one. As just a beginning, consider these line item costs of replacement when an employee leaves:

* The cost of processing the employee out of your department and off of your payroll
* Money spent advertising the open position
* Time interviewing new applicants
* Time and manpower spent training the replacement and salary paid during training;
* Lack of productivity during training
* Less efficient service
* Lower quality while waiting for the new employee to get up to speed
* The impact that a new employee has on other employees as they compensate while the new employee gets up to speed

STRATEGY ONE: Management by Measurement

George Odiorne said it best: "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." If you don't know what your employee turnover rate is today, how will you know if the strategies and tactics you implement tomorrow are working?

Having a good feel for your turnover rate is a good start. The next step is to identify and track your costs of turnover. These costs usually occur in three areas: Recruiting costs, Hiring & Training costs, and Opportunity costs.

Recruiting Costs -
* Cost of advertising
* Estimated hours spent in responding to first inquiries, either over the phone or in person
* Managers' time spent in sorting applications and contacting the best applicants for first interview

Hiring and Training Costs - How much time and money are you spending on interviewing, orientation, training, and everything else it takes to get a new employee on board and up to speed?

Opportunity Costs - Turnover generates a variety of both tangible and intangible costs that we refer to as opportunity costs. These costs might in fact be a loss of revenue because a project is delayed or scrapped altogether when a key employee is lost. It might be loss of sales revenue because personnel are either unfamiliar with customer options, or have not yet acquired the skill or awareness to sell needed, but not requested offerings. Lost knowledge, poorer service, slower production, higher scrap, greater stress, more rework, and higher wear and tear on equipment are just the beginnings of a list of costs (or lost revenue) associated with higher turnover that if eliminated would allow the business to invest in other opportunities.

STRATEGY TWO: Tailor the Strategy to the Worker Group
When it comes to keeping your valued employees, one size does not fit all. Adjust your strategy and retention efforts to specific workforce populations. According to a study done by the AMA, turnover is especially high among employees younger than 30 years old, yet only 8% of companies have special retention efforts in place for this group. These Gen X-ers are different from the baby boomers that are looking for a balance between their work and their personal lives. Gen X-ers on the other hand will likely ask, "Am I learning? Am I growing? Am I having fun?" They are looking to develop their careers, make money, and enjoy their spare time. Keeping and grooming this group of employees for management will become more critical as the population ages and the need for middle managers, typically 30 to 45 years of age, increases. Asked why he was leaving, his answer was simple, "No one ever asked me to stay."

STRATEGY THREE: Hire the Right Person for the Right Job
Putting the right person in the right position is critical. Most jobs are described as a set of skills and/or previous experiences that will enable the employee to successfully complete the job. However, the fact is that strong skills don't always reflect or lead to job satisfaction, a key ingredient in the decision to stay.

STRATEGY FOUR: Compensate Fairly
Ask employers what they need to do to keep their employees from leaving, and they will likely tell you that they need to pay them more money. Paying a salary increase is one of the top four strategies used by employers according to a study of Human Resource Trends conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). However, when a similar question was asked of 1,563 employees in a variety of industries, "compensation based on performance" came in at the eighth position behind such things as: more responsibility for one's work, sense of worth, better use of skills, recognition, encouraged to challenge the "status quo," chance to develop skills, and having a good relationship with supervisor. In fact, an Inc. Magazine/Gallup survey of Americans @ work reported that almost 75% of workers believe that they are fairly paid. Competitive pay gets you into the game, but the decision by employees to either stay or go will most likely be made on other more subjective criteria.

STRATEGY FIVE: Provide Opportunity for Development
Authors Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans, authors of "Love 'Em or Lose 'Em, Getting Good People To Stay," spent two years researching both employees and employers to find out what they considered to be keys to retention. Employees listed training and education as one of their best reasons to stay.

STRATEGY SIX: Balance of Work/Life Issues
Balancing the demands of work with the need to also deal with personal and family issues has been a hot topic in recent years. Many companies give it lip service and at the same time pile more and more work on employees, requiring them to work overtime, on weekends, and forego vacations. Smart companies are finding ways to not only offer expensive work/life benefits; they are finding ways to make them work for both the employer and the employee. The employees get a better life and the employers get a better employee. On the other hand, when employees know that personal concerns like childcare or elder care are taken care of, they are able to focus on their work and can be innovative and passionate about their contribution.

Keeping employees, especially the good ones, is difficult at best and is projected to only get worse. Compensation aside, turnover is usually symptomatic of other underlying problems. Employers can reduce turnover substantially by placing the right employee in the right position, investing in their development, recognizing employees need to balance work with personal life, and tailoring retention strategies to specific groups of employees.

There is not one formula that will work for all companies or all industries. Get creative if necessary, and be willing to experiment. Try to balance the cost of your retention strategy with its benefits by recognizing the real cost of turnover within your organization. Target specific results you want to achieve. Be open with your employees about your interest in keeping them and don't be afraid to ask them for help in developing your strategy.


I trust this gave you some insights as to what it takes -in this changing economic and social landscape to Acquire, Engage, Develop and Retain a 21st century workforce.

I wish you success.

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.


Would Your Boss Be Elected Leader?

At this week's MN Multicultural Forum, We're asking:

If your business was a democracy, would your boss be elected leader?

What are your thoughts??

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.


Social Media For Talent Management “Recruiters Breakfast”

What?   OI Partners  - "Breakfast" Meeting for Corporate Recruiters and HR Executives

Topic?   Social Media Recruiting – Are you in or out?

When?   Friday, March 25, 2011, 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM

This Month's Host Company:

Bluestem Brands, Corporate Offices

6509 Flying Cloud Drive

Eden Prairie, MN 55344

This is our bi-monthly event for employers in the Twin Cities to discuss what's working and what's not in social media and recruitment.

The Challenge:
A few recruiters actually enjoy executive support, enabling them to innovate with social media on a significant scale. But not everyone is so fortunate. Just starting a program can be a challenge, and asking for resources to do so in a challenged economy can be risky.

How do you know where do you start?   How do you develop a successful program and get it funded?

A Solution:
We’ll outline a path that creates success first   - and then builds on it. If you’re struggling with how to build the business case, and where to start with social media, this is the place.

As always, this is a discussion forum for attendees to share their thoughts, ideas, experiences, and questions around social media. Our attendees include employers that have significantly advanced social media strategies and programs to those that are just considering starting a social media program to recruit talent.

RSVP to Jake Bodin at

We are now in our second year of offering these "get togethers". We look forward to meeting you.

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.


Upcoming Minneapolis Diversity Event

I attended the HRP Diversity SIG this AM in anticipation of OI Partners exhibiting at the upcoming (3/22-24) Multicultural Forum in Minneapolis.

So why is the Multicultural Forum held in Minnesota?

Minnesota is home to 21 Fortune 500 companies.  The Twin Cities area ranks as a top U.S. market and business hub with 1 million businesses and 80,000 manufacturers within 500 miles of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity began 23 years ago in response to managers at these companies seeking information to improve their practices in diversity and inclusion.   The Forum now attracts to Minnesota attendees from 35 states and more than 400 companies.

That's why.

And For You  - A JOB FAIR  and  Extensive Networking – 1,200 participants are expected from multiple industries throughout Minnesota and the U.S. representing organizations committed to advancing diversity and inclusion. For more info:

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.



OI Partners (Minnesota) -  C-Level Group - executive"C"onnections - meets monthly in Minneapolis - next is tomorrow -  Wednesday 3/9. Purpose: obtain, discuss and share with peers creative ideas and concepts related to succeeding in  the current work environment or discovering new career opportunities. Contact me for more info.

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.


National Unemployment Rate Drops Below 9%

The national unemployment rate has "officially" fallen to 8.9 percent.  Best in nearly two-years.

Private employers added 222,000 jobs last month.  This is an indicator of more confidence in the economy.   And - by extrapolation - more confidence in their own financial futures. Factories, professional and business services, education and health care seem to be expanding, but retailers are cutting back and local government is waiting for the first shoe to drop.

But still, the  number of unemployed people, although decreasing, now sits at 13.7 million, nearly double of that  before the recession.

Statistically, as reported yesterday, Minnesota is still ahead  of the curve with a statewide unemployment rate of 6.7%.

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.


Is The Axiom “Hire Slow” Still Valid?

I attended a Twin West Chamber of Commerce meeting this AM. Shared with them my belief that our economic future will be driven by Economic Development and its impact on Job Creation.

As a business owner and one who is closely associated with the need for increased collaboration in Economic and Workforce Development, businesses have to move forward and begin thinking more about how their reluctance (risk avoidance) to hire is a major obstacle to overcoming - and is actually extending - this prolonged "recovery".

I know there are practical (financial), as well as emotional and political reasons to "hire slow", but as a society, we are all paying the price for what I've heard others simply call "stubbornness". Interestingly, I'm hearing and observing  that it's frequently the smaller growth companies and new business startups that are now beginning to take the risks and do the hiring. The largest companies, while not - not hiring -  are typically still procrastinating - waiting - and leaving their money sitting in the bank.

Where do see the jobs coming from? Who do you see doing the hiring?  Where is business investing?

Remember what the all the company recruitment brochures and annual reports used to boldly declare:  "People, Our Most Important Asset"?

What's happening out there? I'd like to hear from recruiters, bosses,  the employed and the unemployed. Will you share with me and my readers?

Tom Bodin
The Career Help Coach

Tom is the Managing Partner / President of OI Partners / Organizational Innovations, Inc. and founder of, – both headquartered in Minneapolis, MN.