Posts Tagged ‘career development’


Is Corporate Loyalty Dead?

December 4, 2013

Nope, but it is a former version of itself.  It doesn’t look the way it looked 30 years ago…gone are the days (for most) of working at a company for 25 to 30+ years and retiring with the gold watch.  So if loyalty from employees is different…what is it, how do you define it, and most importantly…how do you capitalize on it?  Consider this example…

In my local December 1st paper there was an article on airline frequent flier miles and transferable policies.  It compared the largest U.S.-based airlines on clear and published polices vs. vague, unpublished and inconsistently applied policies.  It also compared on specific policies like if the accumulated points were transferable and if a fee was charged, or not, on transferring the points.  Another policy compared was whether there were limits to whom you could give your points too, especially after death.  (In case you are wondering, US Airways was the clear winner on providing clear guidelines and in my opinion had the best consumer policies.)  And the last sentence of the article packed the biggest punch…”the average American is a member of 22 loyalty programs.”  Twenty-two!  A quick look in my wallet had me as a member of 16 loyalty programs.  I was kinda surprised…who knew I could be so loyal?  The research firm in the article – Colloquy – estimates that “memberships in such programs increased more than 26% in the past 2 years, and all those miles, points and rewards are worth some $50 billion.”

Clearly Americans love loyalty programs.  Why?  While the programs provide repeat customers to the company, in the consumer’s eye they benefit greatly, and in some cases in really big ways. (Think lots of free flights.)  A loyalty program puts me at the center…I get sneak peeks on new items, first notification of big sales, free products and some special treatment.  Loyalty programs put ME first (or for the most part I have agreed to believe they do)!

But companies are different with their employees…they expect loyalty before giving you big rewards. Consider that for the most part all I have to do is sign up for a consumer-based loyalty program and I’m accepted.  So what if companies flipped the idea of “loyalty”.   What if loyalty was no longer equated with job stability or employment for life, as it is defined today.  But what if it was defined as how a company invests in you – from day one.  Put the employee at the center, support them in their development, provide clear, published expectations and throw in some fun rewards!  And remember to remind me of why I am loyal…a consumer-based loyalty program reminds me every time I check out and get a discount with my card or redeem my miles/points for free stuff.  Companies need to do the same too.

Final thought:  To all the companies…It’s true, I may not be employed with you for the next 20 years but we could have a good 3-to 5-to 7-year run in which I do right by you and you do right by me.  Loyalty, redefined.


What have you fixed today?

November 21, 2013

I should clarify…what have you fixed at work today?  Not to downplay the importance of the things we fix at home (Superman has me to thank for getting his head back on), but let’s focus on work.  Think back over your day, your week…what problems did you solve, what issue did you fix?  Showing up every day at work — in your office, cubicle, window table at Starbucks, or dining room converted into a home office — did you add value by solving a problem?

For some it is an easy question with an easy answer…for others, not so much.  In the September issue of Talent Management magazine, a column by Jac Fitz-enz, talked about an experience he had at a hospital in which the doctors told him he had a problem and they were going to figure out what it was and fix it.  He discusses the “massive” investment in the machines, technology and facilities the hospital had made and pinpoints the real competitive advantage…”all that technology would be useless without the knowledge and skill of the people to leverage it.”  And in this case they leveraged it to fix him.  Now his article focuses on what HR/OD/TM divisions within companies should do to help fix business problems.  His argument is strong, but let’s take it one step further.  To you.  Yes, you add value to your company, to your team, to your clients and vendors when you solve problems…but more importantly you add value to yourself.

So look around…do see an issue, concern or problem…are you the one to fix it?  As 2013 quickly wraps up end your year strong by adding value to your work world (and take some time to add value to your personal world as well).


Well That is Just Depressing

November 7, 2013

I recently read in my local paper an article titled “Not happy with work? Wait till you’re 50 or older.”  The article provided data from a study conducted by The Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.  The study found that 9 in 10 workers who are 50 years or older say they are very or somewhat satisfied with their job.  It seems older workers, regardless of who they are, reported higher satisfaction with their job.  The assumption drawn from the study was that “older workers generally have already climbed the career ladder, increased their salaries and reached positions where they have greater security, so more satisfaction makes sense.”  The study also reports that 38% of young adults express deep satisfaction with their work as compared to 63% of those 65 years and older.

So if I’m not engaged and satisfied with my work I should just wait until I get older?   That can’t be right.  Yes, I understand the subtle point the article is making…there are more variables to cause me unhappiness in a job the younger I am.  And as I age I can become more settled in the direction of my life and my career.  But waiting till I am 50 years or older to be satisfied in my work is just depressing.

When I work with companies or teach classes/workshops on employee engagement I break engagement down into four parts, four equal parts yet some are truly more important than others.  Those four parts are the individual, the manager, the team, the company. (For smaller companies there may only be three parts as the company isn’t large enough to have different teams.)  Engagement starts with the individual so the idea of just waiting around to grow older to become satisfied or engaged doesn’t add up.  You can’t motivate someone who doesn’t want to be motivated but it is an employee’s responsibility to show up willing, with a mindset, that he or she wants to and can be engaged in their work.  And that doesn’t just happen with age.  That happens by choice.


Levels of Aspiration

April 25, 2012

Do you have a “level of aspiration” when it comes to your work and career? When you mash Tamara Dembo’s and Kurt Lewin’s “level of aspiration” theory with David McClelland’s work on achievement motivation an interesting concept starts to take shape.  Some of us will reach a level within our work or career and will not desire to go any higher.  According to McClelland some of us are just not born with a high desire to achieve.  But of course some of us are.  Makes sense, right?

So if this makes sense why do companies tie themselves in knots trying to figure out why employees may not want to reach the corner office, become a partner, or at the very least take that next promotion?  Now of course this is the opposite of the Peter Principle (which is being promoted to a level of incompetence).  If you have a boss who suffers from the Peter Principle – remember he or she allowed themselves to be promoted to that level (and they may not be aware of their incompetence, which is always the kicker).

But I digress. The level a person wants to reach in terms of title, responsibility, expected connectivity and stress is different for each person and in society we tend to frown upon those who don’t aspire for more.  But is the reality that there is a lack of desire to become a corporate executive alive and well?

One new study from Intelligent Office (IO) found in a survey of 1,075 people no one, not even one person, aspired to become a corporate executive.  More than half, 65%, want to work as an entrepreneur or independent.  The “Work IQ” survey found a shift in work styles as well with an emphasis on more flexible work hours, have more mobility in life, and access to technology (like laptop or iPad) that affords the desired mobility.

The survey results bring up three thoughts for me…
1. Were the results a fluke due to our economic environment?  I mean there are approximately  157,000 students in MBA schools across the country (rough estimate from AACSB accredited schools).  Aren’t most MBAs in school because the masters degree could lead to the next promotion and possibly to a position as a corporate executive?
2. IO didn’t provide a breakdown of the demographics in the release so I’m not sure if their survey respondents reflect more of our working society versus their customer base (Intelligent Office is the leading virtual, professionally staffed office space for mobile executives and small businesses in North America).  If the respondents mirror their customer base then the results make sense.  If the respondents mirror more of the workforce as a whole then the results are a cause for concern.
3. Considering the results mirror our current workforce then it does mean a new trend is being highlighted.  Could a shortage of corporate executives be on the horizon, exacerbated by the Baby Boomer retirements?

What would a shortage of potential corporate executives mean for your company?


A University Recruiting Perspective on Millennials and the Recession

August 6, 2011

Our expert series continues with a conversation with Lisa Simmons who is the assistant director of recruiting for the Schools of Business at Wake Forest University.  Our research uncovered interesting findings on the value of education and degrees and Lisa provides insight from her perspective of working within higher education.  Enjoy!

Q: As the Assistant Director, Recruiting for the Wake Forest Schools of Business, what were your initial reactions to the findings in the white paper? 

A: Actually, several points really struck a chord with me.

  • Distrust of “big business“ – Millennials hold out a larger and more holistic ideal for companies than the profit motive.  Their model business is engaged in sustainability, diversity, and is giving back to the community. By and large, they are people and not profit focused.  They believe in “doing good” and expect to be treated as a human being and not a commodity by their employers.  
  • Dissatisfaction with current employment – Your findings about Millennials actually reflect that of the larger American workforce.  So, while this was no surprise, it did reinforce the belief that college students need careful career exploration and a career plan.  
  • Doubt about cost versus value of college education – This has been in the news a lot lately.  Parents, students, and even various pundits have been discussing the issue.  There is no doubt that college can be an expensive endeavor.  Yet, without a degree, it is difficult for young adults to find work and then to grow.  That’s not to say that it cannot happen; only that it is very rare. It is just very difficult to get a foot in the door of a company without the requisite education.  

Q: From your perspective, what are some best practices employed by Wake Forest University Schools of Business in preparing students for the “real world?”


  • Focus on lifetime career management – Our career staff provides students with the necessary tools to manage their career and job search, not just while in college, but for a lifetime.
  • For-credit career education – Career education is a mandatory part of the curriculum.  While academics are of supreme importance, the student’s ultimate success will be measured by employment.
  • Four P’s Program – The career coaching staff trains students in the Four P’s of Purpose, Passion, Preparation, and Performance, which is a solid foundation for career contentment and achievement.
  • Dedicated Employer Relations – Having a dedicated staff allows full-time pursuit and development of employer relationships.  Some models I have seen place the responsibility for employer relations on the career coaching staff.  That leaves less time for specialization in either area. 
  • Mentorship Program – Career staff carefully pair corporate volunteers with students to provide a more rounded real-world experience.
  • Supportive administration – Our administrators understand the importance of student success in our own success as a school.  They supported the building of a career staff that could meet the needs of students.  Wake Forest Schools of Business was featured in a June 10, 2011 Inside Higher Ed article entitled MBA in Job-Hunting?

Q: Do you find that students ask different questions than students did 5 or 10 years ago regarding the ROI on their college education investment?

A: It’s my opinion that the value of a college education has not changed but the perception of its value has in the weak job market.  A college education has been understood to be the usual gateway to the “American Dream.”  It is a door opener and a box that must be checked for many jobs. While it is still true that a college degree is a necessary step on the path to a career, given the state of the job market, some students (and even parents) may have begun to doubt. 

The competition for jobs is high.  Job seekers not only need a degree for many jobs, but also must be competitive in job seeking. It’s like the adage, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”  Thus, job seekers need to outpace the competition.  The resume, elevator speech, and interview skills must be polished.  The candidate needs to be able to relay his or her value to the employer.  In addition, the candidate should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the company, industry, and competition.  That is why university career services offices are crucial to student success.  

Q: As mentioned in the white paper, there have been numerous recently released statistics regarding people looking to make a move and my research showed 70% of Millennials were considering the possibility of changing jobs.  As someone on the ground floor working with the Millennial generation, what is your reaction to these type of statistics?

A: I think there may be a few factors at play here.  First, as students step out into the world for the first time, they may learn that things are not quite as they once imagined.  Reality may shake apart previously held idealistic views when they finally get on the job.  Perhaps the job that they thought they wanted no longer seems to be a good fit, or maybe the industry in which they are working is no longer desirable.  Of course, the current economic conditions are not facilitating employee satisfaction by and large.  The temptation for employers is to try to do more with less, and this usually falls on the shoulders of the employees via increased workload, light to non-existent raises, few promotion opportunities, and benefit cuts.  There may even be inadequate funds for professional development and other needs / programs.

Another reason that Millennials might be unhappy is that they did not receive enough career assistance while in college.  Either their school did not stress career management or students never believed it to be necessary.  They may have taken the first job offered rather than having set and pursued a goal throughout college, culminating in a close approximation to their dream job.  How many undergrad students become engaged with career services when they are freshman or sophomores versus the last semester of their senior year when graduation is knocking on the door?  How many graduate students ignore the career resources at their disposal? The temptation may be to pursue the academics and let the career development take care of itself.  Unfortunately, that strategy works best at or near full employment and not during a recession. 

Wake Forest is concentrating on the development of the whole person since the launch of the Office of Personal & Career Development. Likewise, the Wake Forest Schools of Business, faculty and staff are very involved with students because our success is measured by their success.  Thus, shortly after orientation, our career staff begins to expose students to the work world through industry panels, company information sessions, company site visits and trips, practical learning opportunities and other career education opportunities.  In addition, they assist students in putting together a plan and a brand and provide a mentor.  This leads to more informed career decisions that are likely to boost eventual job satisfaction. 

Thank you Lisa for your time!


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?

%d bloggers like this: