Archive for the ‘Organizational Development’ Category


The Real Definition of a To Do List

March 27, 2014

The “To Do” list.

You either love it or hate it…or maybe you just loath it.  If  you are a planner – you’ve never met a to do list you didn’t love.  But if being an organized, sequential, detail thinking planner is not your thing…well then, you may just loath the idea of a to do list.

I’d like to change that.

Your brain was built to interact with ideas, not store them.  It does not make sense to use your magnificent brain to remember “to send Sally that email,” “call Carl back” and “oh, don’t forget the milk on your way home.”  What a waste of prime, precious real estate.  Your brain may be little – weighing in at only 2% of your body weight – but it takes 20 to 30% of your calories and 20% of your oxygen (according to The Daniel Plan and other brain research).  Though it may be little, your brain is mighty.

So why do we treat it like it is not important?  Using your brain to “remember milk” is insulting when it is desperately wanting to think, ponder,  create, innovate and give you great ideas.  Ever thought about where you are when your great ideas hit…how about in the shower, on a walk, sitting quietly, working out, playing with your kid or pet?  It is never at work when you are locked to your desk, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.  Your brain will work the way it wants to when it finds the space to do so, even if you don’t give it the space, it’ll just take it.

Which brings me back to the point of this post.  What is the real definition of a To Do list?  It is to capture what you need to do, want to do and don’t want to forget to do.  But with everything on one list it can be overwhelming and scary which is why so many don’t spend the time creating a To Do list.  The point is to create a To Do list that works for you.  Your To Do should be the place where everything goes that needs to get done, but that doesn’t mean you need to get it done the minute you create the list.  I coach my clients to consider different kinds of To Do lists…one for today’s or tomorrow’s  priorities, one for longer term projects you don’t want to forget about and a list of the things you will eventually get around to doing (though maybe not).  The point is you captured the idea. Because the ultimate goal is capturing the information…once the idea is down on paper and out of your brain you can stop thinking about it.  The space that “finalize marketing plan” was taking up in your brain is now released and room is made to think.

Working with one of my clients recently on her To Do list reminded me how a true creative, right brain phenomenal woman viewed “The List” and the creation of “The List.”  So I challenged her to see her To Do list different…just a place to capture all you want to do so you can decide when things will get done, on which timeline and in which order.  There are so many options when it comes to creating a To Do list and I don’t want to overwhelm you with the possibilities because your list needs to be a reflection of you.  But start by capturing all the “things” that are swimming around in your head and then categorize them by deadline…tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter, next year, maybe never.  Then focus on working daily with the “tomorrow” and “next week” list to figure out when you can accomplish the items.  One great daily To Do list that I enjoy using is the 1-3-5 rule.  It says that on any given day I can accomplish one big item (like writing this post), 3 medium items, and 5 smaller items when considering the number of meetings, client sessions and networking events I have.  I can accomplish more of course when there is less on the calendar.  You can read more and download a printed template of the 1-3-5 list (if analog is your preference) here!  (Thanks Daily Muse for the great idea).

Your To Do list should set you free…not hold you prisoner.  You control your list, you are in charge and the list is just there to capture all the great things you are going to do!

So go create your To Do list and Take Control of Your Day!


Bubble-Wrap and Mass Protection – Guest Blog Post

April 18, 2012

I am working on a blog post about Millennials, entrepreneurship and leadership when I read Cathy Maday’s recent post on bubble-wrapping our opinions and thoughts to the determinant of our company’s success, our individual success and our sanity.  I thought my readers would enjoy her thoughts so her blog post is posted below in its entirety and with permission.  Cathy Maday owns Wingspan Coaching and can be reached at  I’ll follow up with my blog post next week.  Happy Reading!

Bubble-wrap and other annoying weapons of mass protection! 

Sadly, many of us have learned to bubble-wrap our opinions/thoughts/ideas/feedback for a number of reasons:

– The first manager you ever had taught you that bubble-wrapping worked because he is uncomfortable with conflict, so he avoided it. And so did you. (Heck, what did you know? You were fresh out of college and just wanted to do well at your first job!)
– Your employee who bursts into tears every time she’s given feedback has taught you to avoid the situation altogether. (Understandable!) So you avert your eyes, keep a healthy distance and bubble-wrap the hell out of everything you say to her. You don’t want to look like the big bad wolf in the office.
– Nearly everyone around you takes things personally, so they favor approval over effective, healthy growth, real conversations, and oh yeah, profit.
– The company you used to work for had a culture of blaming/making-wrong/mistakes-are-bad/stay-under-the-radar, so you learned that bubble-wrapping might help you keep your job.
– Your last boss was a bully who only liked himself, his ideas and his way of doing things. So you learned to bubble-wrap and put up with it because your husband just got riffed from the bank and your family needed the steady paycheck.
– You attended a two-day leadership training that taught you to empower your employees! Give them the good-bad-good feedback sandwich and have a 30-minute conversation about their feelings every time they missed a deadline or performed under par. (I agree, that trainer ought to be shot.)

Yes, many of us have learned to bubble-wrap for reasons that are understandable at the time. The problem is that we’re each incredibly intelligent, creative and resourceful. So, our brains quickly make these communication patterns a habit. Then we’re on auto-pilot. And even though we get different jobs with different companies or we escape Corporate America and start our own business, we often bring along our behavior patterns. And many of them are now outdated and no longer useful.

[This happens in our relationships too, btw.]

Bubble-wrapping is a waste of time, money, resources and energy that could be put toward fun, exciting ideas, products and solutions! And greater versions of ourselves!

You can say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean. Plus, you’re so much more interesting and the conversation is more colorful when you don’t bubble-wrap.

Let go of your need for approval, your fear of rejection and your weapons of mass protection!

Take a healthy risk. Entrepreneurship and leadership are not for the weak.


Employee Engagement Wish

December 15, 2011

My wish this holiday season is not very simple. I wish that every employee enjoyed going to work. That doesn’t mean every day is a holiday but when asked if you enjoy what you do you would be able to honestly answer “Yes.”

Research shows you are engaged to a job, career or the work you do in three ways…

1. To your individual job – the function of your work, having resources and clear direction

2. To your manager – trust in your manager, quality time

3. To the company overall – the direction of the company, how decisions are made, comp & benefits

When one of the three falls out of alignment an employee becomes less engaged, less committed, less satisfied and most importantly…less productive.  The reason I started Randall Research (formerly SBR Consulting, LLC) is to help companies create work environments where employees want to come to work.  We spend a majority of our time working so it should at the very least be enjoyable and fulfilling, right?

Research shows that engaged employees outperform their disengaged co-workers by as much as 200% and are more productive by 43% in revenue generation.  What does 43% more revenue generation mean for your company’s bottom line?

Think back to a time when you enjoyed your job (maybe that time is now for you).  How productive were you? Were you willing to go above and beyond for your team or to meet organizational goals? I believe that a small team of engaged employees can outperform, out-maneuver and out-smart a big team of partially engaged or dis-engaged employees.

I explain engagement this way…engaged employees stay for what they contribute and dis-engaged employees stay for what they get.  Which do you prefer on your team?

So my wish for 2012 is for companies to get serious about understanding what engagement means for their employees and commit to making progress.  Start with an employee engagement survey, share the results with your employees, together create a roadmap for change and hold the company accountable through metrics for moving the needle. 

Here’s to a successful and engaging 2012!


Did the PwC Chairman read my Accounting Today article?

September 15, 2011

In October of last year I published an article in Accounting Today magazine titled “Managing the Millennials…Firms must deal with their changing expectations.”  In the article I discuss how accounting firms are finding themselves stuck between the way the business has been run for decades and the changing expectations of Millennials as they consider their long-range career track. I made the argument that :

“Accountants and auditors are valued precisely because of their deep knowledge and expertise, so radically altering the business model is unrealistic. Yet the looming demand for accounting services and the shrinking talent pool give urgency to finding ways to accommodate the expectations of young workers.” 

Millennials want to develop their skills, be challenged and not pigeonholed into one job or function for the rest of their career (sound familiar?).  Cross-training is considered a valuable growth opportunity as Millennials develop skills that give them mobility. In the article I urge accounting firms to start the conversation now on how to better grow and develop this need in their young talent. 

Well is seems the PricewaterhouseCoopers Chairman Dennis Nally may have read my article.  In a recent issue of The Wall Street Journal, when asked what is the biggest challenge for companies when trying to recruit talented staff, Nally responded with:

“This millennial generation is not just looking for a job, they’re not just looking for salary and financial benefits, they’re looking for skill development, they’re looking for mobility, they’re looking for opportunities to acquire different skills and to move quickly from one part of an organization to another. How you manage that sort of talent and how you deal with their expectations is very different from what’s been done in the past.” (July 11, 2011, “PwC Chairman Aims to Keep Millennials Happy”)

Mr. Nally – I couldn’t agree more and if my article helped you formulate your people strategy I am pleased it was of use to you. To other companies, not just accounting firms, it is time to understand how the needs of the Millennials regarding career growth and future expectations are changing your workplace and workforce. 


*Please note – SBR Consulting, LLC is becoming Randall Research… Data-driven solutions for people-driven companies™.  Our services have not changed but our new name better reflects our core mission of using data to drive employee engagement and productivity.  Our new website will be *


Expert Interview Series: Market Movement

May 26, 2011

Our expert series continues with a Q&A with Melissa McGuire, CEO and founder of Sherpa.  Sherpa is a Charlotte-based staffing, recruiting and consulting agency focused on the fields of accounting & finance, technology and project management.  You can find them online at

Q: As mentioned in our white paper (The Millennial Generation Today: The economic environment impact to recruitment, retention and engagement), there have been numerous recently released statistics regarding people looking to make a move and our research showed 70% of Millennials were considering the possibility of changing jobs. What is your reaction to these type of statistics?

A: I believe the statistics. First of all, I believe a large percentage of all employees are considering changing jobs. Never before have I heard so many people express so much stress about their jobs. Most have worked harder than ever during the recession and have received fewer rewards: lower or no bonuses, less 401k matching, less job security, higher health care costs, etc. Additionally, because of fears of layoffs and pressure to produce results has lowered morale in many companies. I don’t track millennials because I don’t look at age when evaluating people, but those newer to the work force are likely to be disillusioned with their jobs and believe there are greener pastures. However, I do believe that most will find better times if they stay in their current jobs. But, the trust has been broken, so many will probably leave.

Q: Do you see movement of those currently employed starting to pick up or has it held steady throughout the recession?

A: I have seen people very reluctant to change jobs during the recession. Instead, they hung on to them, even if they didn’t like them. It is the increase in confidence in the economy that is creating the environment for job changing. There are more jobs to move to and there is a little less fear of being the “last one in” at a company, which is the fear that they could be the first one out if the company had layoffs.

Q: When your recruiters contact passive candidates (those currently employed) are they more willing to consider an opportunity you may be calling about than they were 2 or 3 years ago?

A: Definitely.

Thanks Melissa for taking the time to answers our questions.  We appreciate your insight and know the statistics have some of those responsible for retaining their current talent very nervous. 

As a reminder, the white paper is available for download at


New Research Release: What we need to know NOW about our largest generation

May 18, 2011

The Millennial Generation Today: Impact of the economic environment on recruitment, retention and engagement white paper is available online at  The white paper is available complimentary.

Almost 1,200 Millennials (21 to 30 years old) participated in the national online survey to gauge how this generation feels about working in corporate America, thoughts on future employment decisions, and changing consideration of what’s important about work and their future. 

So what did our survey find? Here are a few key highlights…

  • We have entered a “flight pattern” of workers wanting to find new employment opportunities. 70% of Millennials say there is a possibility they will change jobs.
  • Women are more likely than men to consider leaving.
  • Top three priorities are compensation, flexible work schedule and opportunity to make a difference.
  • Despite the economic reality, 70% are positive about their future in general.
  • Only 41% make saving for retirement a priority.

Results include findings on Millennials and the Workplace (will they stay or go, what’s important and the continual layoff affect), the Education Debate (high cost versus ROI and does your degree work for you?) and Future Visions (retirement, entrepreneurism and CSR impact). 

Take a moment and read through the white paper and then let us know your thoughts on the results.  We look forward to engaging in conversation with you.


Follow our blog over the next few months as we talk with experts from areas related to our findings to dig deeper into the story of our data.  Up first is Shay Prosser, author of Get It Together – The Real-World Money Guide for Graduates.  She’ll discuss her thoughts on the retirement findings and the financial impact of our new economic normal on this generation. Look for her blog interview on Monday, May 23, 2011.


A Generational Leadership Vacuum?

May 6, 2011

Recently I co-presented at an event with a Dean of a Liberal Arts program on how colleges and universities are teaching students differently today and the impact that has on companies regarding development, training and work performance.  Keep in mind, for the most part, when we discuss traditional college students we are talking about the Millennial generation (born 1980 to 2000). 

But what our presentation was about is not nearly as important as the question I was asked by another academia at the end of the program.  The question was about the leadership vacuum being created within the Millennial generation.  Specifically the attendee wanted to know my thoughts on how the Millennial generation would lead one day and if we have a generation that will not be able to lead well. 

I’m not exactly sure how I answered because to be honest I think the question may be premature.  Isn’t it natural for an older generation to wonder and question – out loud – if the generation younger than them will be able to take their place one day?  When Generation X entered the workforce didn’t the Baby Boomers and Traditionalist question if we would have the work ethic to show up on time, day in and day out (remember they did call us ‘slackers’).  Now the Xers can’t wait for the Baby Boomers to hurry up and get out of the way so it can finally be their time to be in charge. 

And when in your 20s don’t you naturally make mistakes when it comes to leading or even working with your co-workers, typically your peers, and begin to develop your leadership style in the early part of your career?  Is there an expectation being set today that the Millennials should be able to graduate one day and shortly after assume the helm of a team, project or division and be successful at it?

When we discuss a leadership vacuum, is there really one?  If you look around your company how many people do you think would like to move into a leadership role? Could you make an accurate assessment that is not solely based on your subjective opinion?  And of those ready for a leadership role which ones have been trained, coached, mentored and held accountable for developing their leadership skills?  How many have received accurate and timely feedback on their behaviors and abilities?    

How many Millennials are receiving this kind of training and development now?  If you want them to lead for some future “tomorrow” don’t you need to invest in them now?

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