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


Hotlips . . .

Hotlips@(domain name).com might be a fun email address for friends, but its not for your job search!  You know better.  So  - you will set up a professional email account.  Promise me.

Thanks goes to Kim Marrone of Career Summit for reminding me to include this and pass it along.

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.



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.


Share your Comments / Expertise

Yes, this is my blog, but I'm smart enough to realize I don't know everything.  Do you have something of value to offer? I can always use your help.   I can share and I do play well with others.

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.


Beauty Or The Beast?

Who Gets Hired?

The following  post was submitted by my friend  Raghav Singh. Raghav works with me and writes in several different forums.  It is good to note - whether you agree with him or not - he always has an opinion.

So  . . . Raghav asks:

Are you a good-looking man or woman?

Depending on how many X chromosomes you have this could be a good thing if you’re looking for a job.

A new study ( shows that good-looking people are more employable. Well, men at any rate. Women are out of luck.

The study done in Europe and Israel shows that employers contact good-looking men in significantly higher numbers than they do women. More importantly, good-looking women appear to be at a disadvantage even compared to less attractive women. Employers in the study contacted almost 20 percent of male candidates considered attractive (based on a picture attached to their resumes) compared to about 13 percent of the men with “plain” looks. For attractive women applying to a company the call-back rate was about half that of their less attractive compatriots.

Of course in America nobody includes a picture with their resume but that’s increasingly irrelevant since most recruiter’s inclination ( is to immediately surf over to a candidate’s Facebook page or Linkedin profile, which does include a picture.

Revenge of the Nerds

So why are attractive women being punished for their looks? Digging deeper the researchers found that the vast majority of screeners were single women under 34. The researchers conclude that much of the discrimination is the result of jealousy. That suggests that if more screeners were male the level of discrimination may be less. More than likely the results would be skewed the other way.

This is a challenge for both candidates and employers. Attractive men and less than attractive women need to apply for half as many jobs as their opposites to get an interview. Just wait until someone at the EEOC gets hold of this and we’ll have a whole new set of laws and legislation to deal with. Of course, the definition of “attractive” is subjective and difficult to define but that kind of thing has never stopped lawmakers from attempting to craft a solution if they think they can.

A more relevant problem for employers is that if a trait like physical appearance, unrelated to talent or capabilities, has such a big impact on who gets through the initial screen then they are losing a lot of qualified candidates. It could be claimed that those that are eliminated early on based on their looks may be eliminated later anyway, but there’s no reason to believe that would be the case. Interviewers at later stages of the hiring process are usually not the same ones that are the initial screeners. Even if they are then their biases may be counteracted by the information collected in the interview.

There’s no reason to believe that the results would be meaningfully different if the study was replicated here. So any recruiting team that employs largely women as screeners would be well advised to increase gender diversity. Otherwise don’t be surprised if the workplace seems to be getting stuffed with handsome men and plain looking women.

OK - That's Raghav's read on a survey. What's been your experience?

Does appearance matter?   Tell us.

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.


* Attracting and Developing Courageous Leaders: Part 3 of 3

Attracting and selecting the organization’s next leaders is a strategic decision to either buy talent from the external marketplace or till the internal soil to grow leadership. No matter the strategic route chosen, the mission is the same—to minimize risk and guarantee success.

A critical piece to the courageous leadership model is a philosophy and practice of people development. High-caliber, competent and energized talent shows up where like-minded folks are present and thriving. Organizations that invest in talent not only attract superior leaders but they also tend to have more options available internally to fill their leadership needs.

Insider-Outsider. Tapping into all kinds of internal relationships, including staff, board members or volunteers, some of the best leaders come from inside the organization. Effective, homegrown leadership maintains enough detachment from the residential issues to retain outsider objectivity. The insider’s advantages are knowing: the people, systems, and company culture as well as the company's strengths and weaknesses; where world-class competence does or does not reside; how things can best be transformed; and who can be relied upon to help.

The risks in choosing an insider are also painfully documented. There are many examples of organizations investing in an individual’s leadership training and development that doesn't deliver the needed leadership. Either the development program was faulty, prematurely abandoned, or loses its priority before results can be experienced.

The Outsider. One of the challenges in the selection process is usually the insider will look incomplete, while the outsiders will look like an imperfect match. However, given the lack of internal options or other organizational dynamics, selecting external talent might just be the best course of action.

External choices can be attracted from a variety of companies or organizations. A proven external leader brings an additional viewpoint to the industry providing knowledge, cultural, and procedural variations. Going external provides the opportunity to target a specific skill set or a missing strategic expertise.


The path chosen, whether external or internal, to select the organization’s next leader requires forethought and diligence. What is often looked at as a “flip-the-switch” activity, in actuality, is one that, when done strategically, can present a tremendous choice in leadership choices and sets the organization up for a dynamic development culture.

(Submitted by Leland Foote – OI Partners -The Brighton Group)

Hope you found the series beneficial.

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.


* Attracting and Developing Courageous Leaders: Part 2 of 3

Attracting and Developing Courageous Leaders: Part 2

Our exploration of how organizations attract and develop courageous leaders continues. The organization’s challenge to define its unique leadership competency mix requires diligence, forethought, and clarity. When successful, it’s because the organization assessed and articulated the organizational realities while creating a precise alignment between key markers and executives strengths. Three of the most critical alignment markers are:

Defined Vision. Most organizations spend many hours defining its vision and estab-lishing its level of importance. The vision’s importance, however, is elevated into the stratosphere when looking to attract the next generation of leaders. Today’s leadership candidates listen for and seek the compelling vision that is handed to the next gener-ation of leaders to maintain, expand or radically change.

Leadership Zones. As organizations mature over time, they progress through lifecycles most often seen in budget and employee count growth that call for a varying leadership zone. This requires a corresponding jump in complexity, competencies and leadership.

  • Zone 1 – Launch Captain. Launching an organization requires a hands-on leader that is focused, energized and involved in all aspects of daily operations. Leaders motivate and vision cast, holding tightly to the monarch title while rallying the people and the cause.
  • Zone 2 – Rapid Advancement Artiste. At some point, organizations will find them-selves in the zone of rapid advancement calling for a substantially different leader style. Talent engagement becomes a hub since more information must flow through additional people. Leadership must release the reigns and drive results through the team.
  • Zone 3 – Sustained Success Architect. As organizations mature, the new call on leadership is for operational process to become highly developed and sustainable. Strong leadership allows the organization to attract high-level and even higher–potential employees.
  • Zone 4 – Strategic Industry Leader. As the organization becomes a sustainable entity, it’s also charged with creating and sustaining a culture of engagement. Leadership’s focus moves from processes to a culture of interdependency between functions.

Ethos. Present in all organizations, many issues can arise through the ethos review. Is the organization run with tribal knowledge versus more formal processes and struc-ture? Does the organization encourage and support change easily? Will it accept new leadership or simply tolerate it? The ethos speaks to potential “elephants in the room” or “sacred cow” issues that will need to be addressed so leadership can deliver results.

Organizational lifecycles are not necessarily logical, predictable or sequential making the selection of the right leader arduous, but the resulting roadmap gives distinctiveness to the leadership mandate.

(Submitted by Leland Foote – OI Partners -The Brighton Group)

My thanks to Lee. A nice follow up to last month.

I’m looking forward to next month's concluding segment.

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.


* Share your Comments / Expertise

Yes, this is my blog, but I'm smart enough to realize I don't know everything.  Do you have something of value to offer?  I can share and I do play well with others.

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.


Attracting and Developing Courageous Leaders: Part 1 of 3


Wanted: Bold and Courageous Organizational Leaders

Experience: Proven track record of success in forwarding new initiatives and ideas, taking calculated risks, recruiting top leaders, and focusing personal and organiza-tional resources to develop people. Successfully traverses the fires of business with few scars or skeletons. Builds exceptional relationships and inspires.

Personal Values: Deep passion, focused beliefs, intestinal fortitude, straight talk, humor, willing to think big and act bigger.
Although representing a fictitious ad, it speaks to the reality behind the leadership personality being sought by today’s organizations to provide courageous and bold leadership. The journey, of attracting and developing outstanding next generational leadership, requires a powerful mix of boldness and demanding individual courage.

Organizational leadership is not for the fainthearted. Challenges are daily, adjust-ments are constant, and demands for results are high. How do some leaders successfully surf the changing waves while others are often caught in the turbulence and undertow?

Courage of Conviction. Uncertain times drive leaders in one of two directions. They either move toward expedient, self-serving accommodations and adjustments, or they reach deeper to find and surface their convictions for the challenges they face.

Courageous Disciplines.
Successful organizational leaders bring with them a set of personal and corporate disciplines that keep them rooted in the market, their customer, and the organizational reality. These disciplines may be guided by experience, research, relationship, and wisdom. Whatever the mechanism, the end result is the same—focus and execution that moves the organization forward.

Courage to Empower.
Exceptional leaders have mastered the art of surrounding themselves with diverse and complementary talent. They value synergy above unity and create an atmosphere where every voice matters, issues and concerns are aired openly with an eye toward solutions, and the best idea wins resources and rewards.

Courage to Release.
Leaders who value talent recognize that every contribution has a shelf life within the organization. They are willing to make the difficult call when extending the employment of a valued direct report would compromise the current or future viability of the organization.

The dimensions of courageous leadership have a penetrating and sustaining affect on the organization. When fully present and operational, they bring vitality, focus, and resolve to divisions, departments, and work teams that have a transforming influence.

(Submitted by Leland Foote - OI Partners-The Brighton Group)

My Thanks to Lee.

I'm looking forward to the next two segments.

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.