Delegation Part II: The 5 Levels of Delegation and Effective Implementation

Along with communication, delegation is arguably the most important aspect of effective leadership. Yet as crucial, necessary and productive as delegation can be, it is still quite often underused, underappreciated and underrated.

The more effective and successful a leader is, the more crucial his or her ability to delegate becomes. Why? Because no one can be everywhere and do everything all the time — at least until cloning becomes 100 percent effective and foolproof. That makes the ability to effectively delegate responsibility and tasks to qualified peers, co-workers and subordinates extremely important, not to mention valuable.

So how do you go about implementing delegation? What is the best way to utilize it and how do you avoid going to extremes by either under- or overusing it?

There are five basic levels of delegation, but there are many ways to use it. There are also a lot of ways to introduce and implement it.

Levels of Delegation, Take Five

Everyone is different, and that is why there are different levels of delegation. Not everyone can handle, or responds well to certain styles. A good and prescient boss knows which level to use with which subordinate when assigning a task. Although some may disagree that there could be many more, there are at least these five basic levels of delegation:

Ÿ  LEVEL 1: Follows right to the letter. The first, and most obvious, is the “This is your task. Do it exactly as these instructions say and no other way – No exceptions” level. This leaves no wiggle room or margin for deviation. The person assigned the task is to complete it EXACTLY as instructed with no changes, slight or significant. This type of delegation is often used for new employees who are embarking upon an entirely new profession for which they have absolutely no experience.

Ÿ  LEVEL 2: Assign, evaluate, and/or consult before approval. This offers wiggle room, as the desired task is first assigned, then the employee either consults with the manager to come up with a jointly-agreed-upon course of action, or the assigner then delegates which course to take after consultation. After the consultation, the boss or manager may also give instructions or a checklist of needs, such things to assess, tackle and complete the task satisfactorily. This level offers opportunities for more instruction, coaching, and development of the employees. It is often used for employees who may be changing companies but staying in the same career, so they are familiar with the task but not with the new employer’s working style and requirements.

Ÿ  LEVEL 3: Assign, evaluate, decide and wait for approval. The third method is a derivative of Level 2, with the added step of offering more input and creative involvement by the person or persons assigned the task. Not only does this convey more trust and faith in the chosen employee, it also facilitates training, improves the overall experience and increases educational opportunities for the assignees. This is a good happy medium for both new and veteran employees and works well in large workplaces where the tasks must be managed properly for structural purposes.

Ÿ  LEVEL 4: Assign, evaluate, decide and do it… unless. At this level, the employee is almost entirely held accountable for the task with very little instruction. However, the ultimate decision making is still made by the manager. This method shows a lot of faith and pays a compliment to the assignee as to their manager’s level of confidence in their ability to complete the task successfully. It is often left for seasoned employees, particularly those who have performed the repeated or said task successfully in circumstances prior. One drawback to this approach is it can also be a source of frustration for an employee who is told they have the expertise and capability to do what is requested the way their boss wants it done, but then if they lack the confidence in their boss to follow through or if something goes awry, then it makes this person almost entirely accountable. This Level requires trust, rapport, confidence and understanding.

Ÿ  LEVEL 5: Assign, evaluate, decide and run with it. This level conveys the highest confidence in the employee’s abilities, as well as the idea that he or she is well on their way to promotion and advancement. Level 5 is the ultimate in autonomy and confidence shown in the person or persons chosen to complete a task assigned by a superior. The boss doesn’t even require a heads-up or check-back before the assignee starts work on the task. This is not only complete freedom, but also the ultimate compliment in terms of a superior’s confidence in the assignee’s ability to complete a task to the assigner’s complete satisfaction. Many companies who have seasoned staff members use this type of delegation to accomplish more. It can also be beneficial for smaller companies who trust in their employees to help them perform at maximum potential. 

The Art and Implementation of Delegating

When it comes to effective delegation, you can’t just simply order people around. Just as every worker — and person — is different, and therefore responds best to different stimuli or styles of delegation and criticism or praise, so too are there varying degrees of even those five basic levels of delegation.

This means in order to be most effective, and get the best results from people chosen to have tasks and projects delegated to them, bosses must be both creative and knowledgeable when it comes to picking the right person for the right kind of delegated assignment.

Don’t be afraid to seek input from the person you’re considering for a certain project. While people generally are capable of more than their higher-ups may think, there is also a lot of truth in a memorable line uttered by one of Clint Eastwood’s characters when he said “A man’s got to know his limitations.”

When it comes to effective delegation, there are many ways and styles to do it, but it’s always a good idea to practice clear and detailed communication. That includes spelling out exactly what the task is and what’s expected of the person tackling it. Other key factors in effective delegation include:

Ÿ  Emphasizing your teaching skills and making yourself available to help whenever questions or problems crop up.

Ÿ  Using standards that are consistent, so subordinates have a clear idea of what is expected and to what degree those results and outcomes are expected.

Ÿ  Be sure to extend assignees plenty of freedom, but also conduct regular progress checks so any possible snags don’t turn into major roadblocks or delays.

Ÿ  Share the wealth. When a subordinate worker completes the delegated task successfully, or to an even higher degree than expected, be sure to share the credit and single that person out for accolades and praise. The worst thing to do it to take sole credit for the delegated project’s success. Not only does this make workers distrustful and resentful toward their bosses, it also provides disincentive for future tasks to be performed to the best of an assignee’s ability when he or she knows they won’t share in any of the credit or reap any rewards for their hard work.

“The growth and improvement — and thereby success and profitability — of your business is directly linked to the growth and improvement of its employees.”

Another benefit of delegation is that it is a proven way to develop and determine the best candidates to succeed their bosses and administrators. Failure to develop successors through delegation means a lack of qualified candidates to fill higher-up positions of leadership and skill when leaders and skilled workers retire or move on. That creates a vacuum of leadership, skill and productivity. It could turn into a disaster if not done properly, but if done right, delegation will streamline the business and put you in a valuable position amongst your industry.

One of the best ways to spur business growth is also by delegation, because successfully implemented delegation leads directly to increased confidence, experience, and capability; and thereby a more capable workforce overall. While delegation doesn’t always lead to promotion, improved productivity and experience, failure to use delegation almost certainly guarantees a total lack of those factors and an overall stagnation and malaise among your subordinate workforce. At best, it means the business is increasingly more reliant on the small minority of workers who can perform higher-end projects, and at worst it means certain projects and tasks may not even be tried or started unless the boss or a small circle of proven workers are available to do it.

Delegation Part I: Knowing When and How to Let Go of Control

If you are like the majority of leaders, you have paid your dues. You have completed your education, internship and may have even started at the bottom of your field and worked your way to the top after many years of employment. And whether you are currently at the bottom, middle or at the top of the ladder, you have experienced delegation.

While barking orders from busy managers may come to mind as your perception of delegation, there is much more to be understood about why it is such an essential skill of successful leadership.  From small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, delegation is a fundamental process that makes everything fluid, creating a streamlined environment that works.  Delegation is necessary to ensure the well-being of the customers and the development of the staff.

Why?  You may not like taking orders from superiors, yet without a leader everyone could be doing the wrong things.  There would be miscommunication and little opportunity for advancement.  Some employees actually prefer to have ‘duties’ rather than to make decisions, especially when it comes to making choices that are critical to success.

Plainly put, delegation is required in order to prevent a leader from becoming exhausted with doing everything.  A leader who accepts and acts on this fact will maximize their time and resources by allowing followers to perform tasks he or she should not be doing.

“The moment a leader realizes how much he needs other people is the very moment he can begin abandoning himself to their strengths

 – Max De Pree

 Why Should We Delegate?

For starters, think of all the things you could get done if you let someone else did them. Granted, they will need training and will probably never do it exactly the way YOU would, however that is one of the necessary traits in order to be a leader.  Knowing when to relinquish some power or control will actually give you more power.

We’ve all been in work environments that may feature two extreme scenarios.  The first is the Control Freak… the boss who doesn’t want your ideas or who has the attitude that things are ‘My Way or the Highway.’  This type of boss is known as a micro-manager. This creates resentment in the workplace and leads to unhappy employees, because no matter how hard they try, the control freak micro-manager is discontent with the tasks performed.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the opposite personality with the Dish-Off Delegator.  This type of supervisor dishes off everything, including their own responsibilities.  They may appear lazy or lacking abilities, but one thing is certain. The overworked employees lack respect for this type of management because they have too many tasks and get in trouble if they are not all completed in a timely fashion.  Both extremes lead to resentment in the workplace.  There should be a balance of what – and when – is delegated and those tasks should be outlined in the employee’s lineup of responsibilities, not as a “dish-off’ of someone else’s work.

As a leader, delegation allows you to:

  • Multiply yourself: Ever wish you had more than two hands?  Or “two of you?” Delegate by training certain people to perform duties that meet your expectations.
  • Create a motivated group:  Giving others small tasks make people feel part of a team. The team environment becomes a tight-knit unit that is able to perform duties to maximize time, enhance customer service and streamline the workflow process.
  • Develop people:  Becoming known as a people developer means that you are teaching them and giving them valuable knowledge, skills and information that will empower them to be able to become self-sufficient.
  • Master stress & time management:  Those who try to take on too much often feel burned out and spend less time with their families or relaxing. If all you do is work, work, work… it may be time to seek help.
  • Create opportunities for yourself and others:  Why hoard all of your talents and knowledge?  By investing your time and relinquishing skills to subordinates you can help them grow and help the company or organization grow, as well.  Having more staff that is less reliant on you means you will be able to take on more clients, which can lead to greater profitability.  It also allows your staff something to strive for as they reach less levels of dependency and become more motivated for promotions and raises.

 “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Why Don’t We Delegate?

Even though we’ve gone over a couple of the extremes with the Control Freak and the Dish-Off Delegator, there are a few psychological points to consider as to why the superior often choose not to delegate.  However, the underlying reason is a fear of letting go of too much control.  Some leaders want to keep the power to themselves, fearing that by showing or telling the staff members too much it may eventually try to take their own positions or do the job better than the leader is able to do.

This is often a disastrous scenario and one that can lead to a decline in the care of the patient, who we are ultimately responsible for.  Some leaders choose not to delegate because they just don’t know where to begin.  Uncertainty of how to offload the workload is one reason that some supervisors don’t delegate.

Others choose not to because they are unsure of whom to give the work to. If they feel that the staff members are too inadequate or incompetent, these leaders may choose not to offer any additional tasks.  Some feel that it’s just “easier to do the job myself” than to waste time instructing others in how to do it to meet their expectations.  Those high expectations are yet another reason, as many leaders feel they are the only ones who can do the job to meet the customer’s satisfaction.

A third group fall into the category of having no time whatsoever to delegate because training often takes too much time.  Constantly busy managers are a prime example of those who fit into this stereotype.  They are pulled in many directions, therefore they lack the time needed to devote to proper training.  Everyone suffers by this attitude, the employees, customers and the leader.  If that person is not there, everything falls apart because no one knows how to complete the tasks needed for the organization to be part of a streamlined process.

7 Steps to Effective Delegation

Once you realize the need for delegation as part of a fluid workplace, what now?  First and foremost, the leader must recognize the need for delegation and commit to taking the time and effort to teach others to perform certain duties that will make the process run smoothly.  Start by:

1)   Create a plan: First determine those tasks that could be given to others. What things could be given away and what things should be done yourself?  How will you implement this process so that everybody has a thorough understanding of their duties?

2)   Responsibility = Results:  Once people realize and learn their said tasks, it gives people something to strive for and enables them to become self-sufficient. It also gives them new direction and purpose, which can create better results and care for the patients.

3)   Choose the Right Person:  If you see specific characteristics in an individual that makes you think they are capable of handling new tasks, then choose that person to delegate related tasks.  For example, you may wish to delegate organizational tasks to someone who is very detail oriented and thorough; whereas you may distribute errands and busywork to another employee who appears restless.  Match certain tasks with the personalities of those individuals for best results.

4)   Authority:  Even though you want to seem likeable to your employees, you must first become respected by them.  You can’t always be their “friend” without being their boss first.  Make sure as you dish out the tasks, you are there to double-check their work and either reward or reprimand as needed. This will put you in the light as their superior and one that staff members look up to for advice and counsel.

5)   Checkpoints:  Creating milestones gives measures to gauge success. When employees meet or surpass your set of expectations, it could be a good time to add more responsibilities or give that person a promotion.  Checkpoints give the staff a chance to prove their abilities to you, as their leader.

6)   Motivating Environment:  There is something to be said for happiness in the workplace.  Reward those who go above and beyond your expectations.  Recognition is a key to creating an atmosphere of teamwork.  Beyond just a simple pat on the back, you may wish to create tangible rewards, such as bonuses, trophies or gift cards that your employees can work to earn and that will foster an ambitious work atmosphere.

7)   Accountability:  Make people accountable for certain tasks. If they fail to do them, you can reassign them to the right people who are more capable of handling the tasks you choose to delegate.  Accountability also spurns people to take action, rather than to leave the work for someone else.  You can do this by using a chart that people have to check off certain duties, or by reporting them with an email to you by a specific deadline, etc.

If you’re new to the art of delegation and are someone used to “doing everything yourself”, you must realize that you are holding back your own success.  Some fear that by letting go of control over most of the responsibilities they may be viewed as weak or incapable, rather than the opposite.  People often respect the one who delegates, as long as they pull their own weight.  What I mean by this is that if the supervisor just commands orders to everyone and then heads out for the golf course, this is not setting a good example to the staff members and they may feel as if they are doing all the work while the management is out enjoying life.

The true art of delegating is being able to take on more work but to give the work you should not be performing to someone else who is perfectly capable of doing their tasks.  It’s like having octopus arms.  In Part II of our Delegation Series, we’ll go over the 5 Levels of Delegation and What You Can do to Implement Delegation.

Putting Success in Succession Planning

By John Bentley and Lucille Force, RN MSN, MSA

Some might think the term “succession planning” wouldn’t be so difficult to incorporate in the corporate sector. After all, the word ‘success’ is front and center, but in reality the term is much more easily said than done.

Succession planning ensures the continued effective performance of an organization by establishing a process to develop and replace key staff members, over time. It should involve businesses investing time, ideas, and planning in order to entrust continuity of their leadership talents.

Great succession plans are linked to the organizations’ vision, mission, and goals; and those plans then identify the required leadership behaviors to achieve those goals. Effective and successful organizations do not passively wait for their future. They create it; by investingLeaderhip Succession Planning their time, planning and creative thoughts into assurance in the stability of their leadership talent.

Quint Studer, founder and CEO of Studer Group, and named by Modern Healthcare as one of the “Top 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare, published this in 2007:

Yet in a 2004 study, the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) reported that only 21% of 722 hospitals engaged in routine succession planning. Chances are high that the best candidate for a director level position is a current manager and that the best candidate for your next vice president is a director. Unfortunately, many organizations are focused on senior leaders, never considering the talent hiding even deeper in the organization.

 As rooted in common sense as succession planning may be, getting it from theoretical status to practical application can be a challenge. Why? There are many reasons – from simple self-preservation – to awkward or inappropriate execution of a succession program.

Three Degrees of Succession

 There are three types of succession planning: Simple replacement planning, developmental succession planning, and talent pool planning:

1)     Simple replacement planning is a process that indicates possible internal replacements for critical positions.

2)     Developmental succession planning is a process that identifies possible internal candidates to fill critical positions AND that provides for developing individuals to meet the challenge of future organizational change.  Through encouragement, these leaders in the making are developed through continued technical proficiency and by grooming for possible advancement.

3)     Talent pool planning involves identifying a group of possible internal replacements for key positions and then cultivating the development of groups of people to meet future organizational change challenges.

No matter the type of succession plans that are used, the ultimate goal is to plan a sequence of personnel moves and training to groom and prep candidates.  Arming them with proper training for key positions is preemptive to prepare for a time they are called upon to meet the challenge of future organizational change. 

Why plan for succession?

Many businesses and organizations already are (or soon will be) experiencing a leadership crises in the form of voids at or near the top.  As large numbers of upper and middle management position employees – most of whom are baby boomers – retire, there will be a need to fill their shoes.

Approximately 80 % of middle and upper managers in the federal government are already eligible for retirement, and although the percentages for similar management position employees in state and local governments are unknown, they are assumed to be alarmingly high. On top of that, the United States will have 10 million more jobs than skilled workers to fill them by the end of this year. (It’s true!)  Those numbers alone should adequately convey an urgent need for businesses to pursue succession planning.

 Another reason for succession planning is the traditional approach many organizations employ regarding short and long-term capital improvements and operational programs planning. They do so without fully integrating the accompanying impacts on developmental needs of employees that are responsible for delivering services or goods. The result is those employees’ capabilities are not developed accordingly to match the skills needed do deliver those services and a gap occurs between what the organization requires and the employees’ ability to respond to those requirements.

According to William Rothwell, author of “Effective Succession Planning”, research suggests that 70 % of all U.S. companies do not have a working succession program of any kind.

Failure to anticipate and plan for veteran talent and leadership drain — or succession plan — is one of the best ways to prevent either gradual or sudden erosion of leadership and experience at key positions.

Lucille Force (RN, MSN, MHA) says; “If organizations don’t get on board with succession planning, many may implode.”

When succession planning fails

There are a surprisingly abundant number of reasons why succession planning either fails to get off the ground, fails in general, or makes things worse.  Many organizations fail to plan because they are always in “crisis mode” and succession planning is barely an afterthought.  Certain companies (many of them) simply overlook potential leadership drain and don’t react until it’s too late.

One significant barrier is a general lack of experience in succession planning at many companies.  Most current leadership positions in organizations and businesses are held by baby boomers, which may look at succession planning as unwelcome competition for their jobs.

“I have personally witnessed this,” said Force.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as a failure to identify the best potential leadership candidates.  Many organizations place too much emphasis on new blood as the answer for leadership losses. While new employees and fresh faces may indeed bring in new and different ideas, there are potential drawbacks. Among them, failure of the new faces to know and understand the rich history of their organization, a lack of awareness of the unique nature or composition of their clientele or customer base, and/or a naiveté when it comes to the current climate or internal political situation at their organization. These things take a long time to learn and understand, as well as either overcome or utilize.

Many times, businesses correctly select people to put in leadership positions who are technically sound, but never provide adequate training, coaching, or mentoring. Conversely, they have the training in place, but fail to select the best candidates.

 A little-known problematic approach to succession planning involves implementation of a program promoting or focusing only on upward and not lateral movement.  Another pitfall involves promoting people with certain personalities or behavioral styles, instead of looking for leaders who understand behavioral adaptability or how to connect with everyone.  Do they make employees feel valued and inspire employees to give their best efforts?

Many don’t.  So, what are the two biggest mistakes made involving succession planning? Not holding managers and leadership accountable for succession planning and not sharing data with employees.

How to succeed in succession planning

A great succession plan is linked to an organization’s vision, mission, and goals. It requires leadership behaviors to achieve those goals and realize those visions and missions. These behavioral styles and traits become part of a leadership development program and may be learned through various methods.  Those include classroom, online, developmental, on-the-job-training, and coaching/mentoring. All of these things combined ensure that an organization has leaders who create a healthy overall organization in which employees can unleash their full creative power to achieve the overall mission.

Succession planning is not a new idea. In fact, it has had its success demonstrated more than once.

Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch was quoted as saying; “From now on, choosing my successor is the most important decision I’ll make. It occupies a considerable amount of thought almost every day.”

That’s no small statement coming from a man who increased GE’s value from $13 billion to $410 billion in his 19-year tenure as the company’s CEO.

It’s the role of every manager to help their promising subordinates develop their fullest potential by continually challenging them and increasing their leadership competencies.

Successful execution must include succession planning.  You could say that the development of future leaders must reflect an organization’s objectives and goals. To that end, succession planning should involve:

  • The support and backing of a company’s senior management.
  • Identification of the skills needed by an organization over the next five to 15 years.
  • An integrated human resources process involving development, training and performance review.
  • Identification of key positions and their inclusion in the succession program.
  • Analysis of the existing workforce and identification of which employees are eligible to retire within five years.
  • Identification of qualified high end employees ready or almost ready to step into key positions.
  • Select the specific competencies and skills needed for viable replacements.
  •  The existence of a solid communication system with managers.
  • Establishment of a system for locking in on the best potential replacements for outgoing leaders, and evaluating those candidates’ backgrounds.
  • Development of candidates’ skills through work experiences, job rotations, projects and special assignments.
  • A system of monitoring candidates’ progress in addition to one that offers encouragement, feedback and rewards.
  • Ownership of the succession program by the entire organization, not just its HR department.

Primary and peripheral benefits

Besides the obvious reward of preventing the erosion and loss of leadership, experience and talent; succession planning also fosters other benefits.

A potentially underrated dual benefit to successful succession planning is the establishment of a wider and better field of talent that will one day become the next generation of leaders of the company.

Employee turnover can be lowered due to having more satisfied and happy employees who want to work, and want to work longer at a certain organization.

Less time, effort, and resources are wasted in replacing retired or outgoing leadership talent, thereby saving money and improving the bottom line.  This is also beneficial to healthcare, due to lower reimbursement costs and higher levels of quality and improved patient satisfaction.

Another plus not to be overlooked is the boost it levies above competitors who are failing to utilize succession planning.  Much of success — as in business or other arenas — comes from staying ahead of your competition or peers.

Putting the ‘SUCCESS’ in succession planning is not something you should put off, as a senior leader at any company.  Instead of being afraid of relinquishing control or telling too much, it should be seen as a way to grow and become even more powerful at the company. You are the leader and the one that subordinates turn to.  Share the knowledge and see what a boost having succession planning can offer to your organization.  

John Bentley, president and founder of Power 2 Transform has earned a reputation for getting to the heart of the matter by helping healthcare organizations develop a culture where employees operate at their full creative powers ensuring the highest levels of patient safety and satisfaction. You can contact John at or 

Lucille Force, RN, MSN, MSA is an Associate Chief Nursing Officer in Massachusetts.  She has over thirty years of nursing experience and is certified in Nursing Administration by the American Association of Nurse’s Credential Center.

Hamburger Cook as a Leader of People

I had the joy and honor of meeting Kathy Barnes while visiting my daughter @ Vanderbilt Medical Center today. Kathy was cooking hamburgers in the cafeteria and asked me about the book I was carrying. I shared with her Jon Gordon’s “Training Camp” How to bring out the best in yourself and others.

For a moment, I thought here’s another opportunity to share my leadership and personal development philosophy. However, I was pleasantly surprised as Kathy, the food and beverage manager, began sharing with me the books she reads to connect with those she is fortunate enough to lead. Kathy told me how she uses the appropriate communication style to connect with each employee based on their preferred method of receiving information. Read more

Happy Holidays!

During this holiday season more than ever, our thoughts of gratitude turn to all who have made our progress possible and successful.

In this spirit we sincerely say
THANK YOU And BEST WISHES For A Safe And Wonderful Holiday Season.

We look forward to working with you in the New Year!

From all of us at Power 2 Transform!
John Bentley

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The Cost of an Unhealthy Workforce

With the health of the U.S. economy so much in the news these days, it seems natural to also analyze the health of the average U.S. worker, considering how much influence the latter has on the former. That analysis, considering the current state of the national healthcare system, does not paint a pretty picture.

There are two sides to this issue. The first is the more obvious of the two: the actual cost of healthcare. During the past decade, that cost has skyrocketed in relation to other business costs. In fact, it’s skyrocketed in relation to just about any other product or service, with the possible exception of oil and college tuition. Every year, businesses and corporations have passed more of the cost of their health insurance programs on to their employees. Despite all of this, politicians have been unable to hammer out a workable solution. Read more

Healthy Employees = Productive Employees

Companies are constantly searching for new and better ways in which to increase the productivity of their workforce, and thereby, enhance their bottom line. They try new tactics and strategies, all of which are designed to help employees reach their full potential and maximize their contribution to the company.

However, sometimes the best solutions are the ones that are so readily apparent they go unnoticed. One such solution involves the health and lifestyle choices of the employees in question.

Factors for success . . . or failure

There are many factors that can impact employees’ productivity levels. They include diet, sleep (or lack thereof), stress, morale, and exercise (or lack thereof). A recent survey conducted by ComPsych, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, sheds some interesting light on these factors and how they can negatively—or positively—affect employees.

ComPsych surveyed more than 1,000 employees across the United States during the timeframe of January 1 through February 15, 2008. The survey involved companies of all sizes and those operating in a variety of different industries. Overall, the survey was quite extensive and unearthed a wealth of data. However, in the interest of brevity, we’ll address a few of the more important findings, as they relate to the factors listed above.

• Diet—Of employees with balanced diets, 73% reported having high levels of productivity and 50% reported having high levels of energy.
• Stress—Approximately 70% of employees with poor diets had high levels of stress. In addition, 76% of employees participating in no physical activity reported a high level of stress.
• Exercise—Over 65% of physically active employees reported high productivity levels, and 67% reported high energy levels, as well.
• Morale—Of course, as you might imagine, the three factors listed above can have a profound impact on morale. About 55% of very active employees reported having high morale, and 51% of workers with ideal weight reported the same.

The power of promotion

So . . . what does all of this mean? You might be thinking to yourself, “I already knew this. It doesn’t help me any!” Or perhaps you’re thinking that you can’t force employees to be healthy, so this information constitutes a moot point at best.

But that would be underestimating the power of promotion. There is plenty that a company can do to build and cultivate a corporate culture that promotes a healthy lifestyle. While it’s true that you can’t force an employee to make healthy choices, you can make it easier for them to make those choices. That’s why it’s imperative for company officials to analyze their culture and ask some tough questions:

• Does our culture promote health and well being?
• Do we make it easy for employees to make healthy choices during the workday . . . or difficult?
• How much more productive could we be through promotion and other health-related programs and initiatives?

The evidence is indisputable. Healthy employees are productive employees, but it even goes beyond that. They’re happy employees, as well, and that combination is almost impossible to beat—especially by your competition.

We encourage your participation and comments.

Also, please feel free to forward this blog to your friends and colleagues and to come back often.
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John Bentley

‘Common Sense Retention’

There are many facets in regards to the all-important issue of employee retention, but perhaps none makes as much sense as the one that we’ll explore in this article.

The reason?

Because it benefits you in ways that go beyond simply retaining your best employees. (And that, all by itself, would be enough.)
There is a crucial mistake that many companies make when they’re delegating tasks to their employees, and even when they’re considering which ones to promote and how to promote them. That mistake is tied to a golden rule of corporate productivity, which is this:
Make sure that everybody in the organization does what they do best.
Simple, right? Well, you’d be surprised at how easily “simple” becomes “complicated.”

An example from The Office

Let’s use an example from the hit television show The Office to illustrate this point. The show is a “mockumentary” about a paper company by the name of Dunder-Mifflin, located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The manager at this particular branch is Michael Scott. Prior to becoming manager, Michael was a salesman at the Scranton branch. In fact, he was the top salesman at the branch, which is the main reason he was promoted to manager.

That, in a nutshell, was a mistake. Anybody who has seen the show can attest to that. What the Dunder-Mifflin brass did is something that’s actually quite common in the corporate world: they put Michael in a position that does not play to his strengths. What he does best is sell, not manage. Their attempt to “reward” Michael with a promotion clearly backfired. However, Michael occasionally turns his attention away from managing to sales, and when he does, he enjoys success.

Michael Scott should have been promoted to a sales manager position, if he was promoted at all. That would have been best for him and also best for the company, especially his co-workers. Many times within a company, a key employee is moved from what they do best to something else they don’t do nearly as well, and this is often the result of a promotion. It even happens when a candidate is first hired.

Because the candidate has an expanded skill set (and there are more than one openings available), the company might be tempted to bring them in for a position that’s outside their range of expertise, a position that’s perhaps more managerial in nature. Unless this is truly an exemplary individual, the strategy is almost certain to backfire. Below are the two main reasons why it will:

• As a general rule, what people do best they enjoy the most. If the employee is not able to pursue their passion, they will eventually become disenchanted.

• The company is hurt on two different levels. First, the employee isn’t doing what they do best, so the company loses productivity. Second, the employee is becoming disenchanted, which means they’ll lose their drive and motivation, further causing productivity to suffer.

The silver lining

Despite all the doom and gloom portrayed to this point, there is a silver lining. By ensuring that everybody within the organization is doing what they do best and playing to their strengths, you can raise your retention rate drastically. When a person is doing what they do best—what they truly love to do and have a passion for—there’s practically no way to tear them away from it. Even money won’t do the trick, unless they can be convinced that the new situation will be identical in every way to their current one.

And this is a classic “two-for-one” bargain, because it also means that these employees will be infinitely more productive, as well. So not only will your retention rate increase, the company will make more profit and continue to grow for the foreseeable future, since your best candidates are locked in, happily doing what they love to do. That truly is the best of both worlds.

This type of “common sense retention” falls under the category of “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome, and some of you might be saying to yourself, “Of course that’s the best way to retain employees!” However, the hustle and bustle of the corporate world has a way of clouding even the best of intentions, to the point of distraction. So review every member of your team, and make sure that you can identify the one thing that they do better than anything else. Once you’ve done that, then make certain that their role within the company fully embraces that one thing.

Because as funny as Michael Scott might be—intentionally or not—his situation is better left to television and not the real world.
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Building the Best ‘Before-and-After’ Experience

In our previous post about retention, we discussed the importance of helping your best employees to grow, mainly by giving them the proper amount of attention. This provides them with the experience they crave, thereby increasing your rate of retention. In this, our next article in the retention series, we’re going to take a small step backward for the purpose of going forward.

That small step involves what the candidate hears during the interview process vs. what they experience after accepting the offer and starting their employment. This “before-and-after” dynamic is crucial to the overall retention experience, and it’s all the more crucial because many employers don’t take the time to examine what type of experience they’re providing for their new employees. And then they wonder why they take another job after only three months.

It’s human nature

The “before-and-after” experience is a smaller component of the larger, more complex subject of onboarding, which we’ll be discussing in future articles. However, it differs from onboarding in the respect that it continues for a greater length of time after the candidate becomes an employee—for at least the three-month period mentioned above, and perhaps even longer.

What it comes down to is this: you have to pay as much attention to what you say and do both before the candidate is hired and after they’re hired as the candidate does. The fact of the matter is that the majority of company officials fail to do that. The reason? They don’t have the time to do it, or perhaps more accurately, they think they don’t have the time. Sure, everybody’s busy, but those people willing to apply energy to critical areas are the ones that will be more successful in the long run, and providing the best experience to candidates in this situation is most definitely critical.

You see, an employee is mentally comparing and contrasting what you say about the company and the position during the interview process with what they experience after they’re hired. They do this either consciously or subconsciously. (It’s human nature . . . there’s no way around it.) And if the notes they compare don’t match, then the experience you’re providing is ultimately a negative one.

Consequently, your chances of retaining that employee decrease dramatically.

A hierarchy of needs

Okay, so what are some of the areas about which employees take (and compare) mental notes? There are a few, to be sure, but there’s also a hierarchy of importance:

• Job requirements—This is the one that can cause you the most damage. Nothing will deflate a new employee more quickly than discovering that what they were told about their new position during the interview was nothing like it actually is once they started the job.

• Company culture—Telling a candidate during the interview stage that they won’t be expected to work past 5 p.m. isn’t wise if the company culture is one that dictates—in an unwritten fashion—that longer hours are not only encouraged, but expected.

• Perks—This could include the availability of a company car, the number of holidays the company observes each year, the amount of vacation time afforded new employees, or even the details of their health insurance plan.

• Miscellaneous expectations—If the new employee has been told that they’ll meet with their immediate supervisor for an hour every week for the first four weeks of their employment, and that doesn’t happen, then their expectations were not met. This category can include a host of other things, including what equipment you’re providing the employee, the length of their lunch break, the company’s policy regarding personal phone calls, etc.

There are two measures that you can undertake to ensure that you’re providing the best “before-and-after” experience. The first is to meticulously write down what you tell candidates during the interview process and then consult the list in the weeks after the candidate begins employment. Keep an eye out for any discrepancies. The second measure is to conduct a “post-interview” with the employee and inquire as to whether or not their expectations are being met.

This is probably the more difficult of the two measures, since there’s a prevailing company mindset that stipulates new employees “must prove themselves.” (That’s why companies have a probation period.)
What many company officials fail to realize, though, is that they’re on probation, too, as is the company in general. Not only does the employee have something to prove, but in a way, you do, as well. By realizing this and addressing it in a pro-active fashion, you can enhance the experience that new employees receive and dramatically improve both their satisfaction and your overall rate of retention.

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Helping Your Best Employees Grow

Providing a positive experience for your employees is the best way in which to increase retention within your team, your department, or your company. In this article, we’re going to address a specific way you can provide that experience, and it involves giving your best employees the proper amount of attention.

This is important for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it’s human nature to not pay enough attention to your best employees and top performers. Why is that? Because they’re usually self-motivated go-getters who need no prompting or anybody looking over their shoulder. As a result, managers don’t feel the need to interact with them as much, or to “check up on them,” if you will.

This gives the manager more flexibility and more freedom to tackle other issues. After all, there never seems to be enough time to get things done. If you have a select number of employees who are high achievers, people who need a minimum of supervision, it only makes sense to leave them be and let them do their jobs, right? To a certain degree, that’s correct, but if that philosophy is taken too far, it can prove disastrous in terms of retention.

The 20-80-20 rule

For superstar employees, a positive experience with the company includes the opportunity for professional growth.
If they don’t believe that they’re growing in their current position and that they’re working toward something bigger and better, than they’re going to think about leaving. Even if they like everything else about their job—including their boss—feeling as though there’s nowhere to grow will prompt them to begin contemplating whether or not the grass is really greener on the other side.

With that in mind, here’s a practical strategy for solving two problems at once. Let’s say that your team or department adheres to the standard 20-80-20 rule, meaning that 20% of your employees are superstars, 80% are competent but not spectacular, and another 20% are bringing up the rear. Instead of spending precious time and energy attempting to motivate the bottom 20%, cut them loose and upgrade their positions by replacing them with star candidates.

By doing that, you’ve already increased the overall quality of your team. In addition, you’ve created extra time for yourself, since you don’t have to devote it to your underachievers. You can now take that time and put it to better use. For example, you can focus on your top 20% and discover what their professional needs and career goals are.

Involve yourself now

This may sound a bit simplistic, but the best way in which to do this is by asking them. Not in casual conversation, of course, but behind closed doors during a formal meeting. It shouldn’t be an intensive, pressure-packed meeting, though. It should be one that fully engages the employee and makes them feel comfortable enough to broach topics they might not bring up themselves. Below is a loose blueprint for how you should conduct this meeting.
• Ask what their expectations are for their employment with the company. This type of open-ended question may prompt a response you didn’t expect, but that’s information you need to know.
• Ask what their career goals and objectives are.
• Ask what the company can do in order to help them achieve their goals.
• Begin to formulate a concrete plan based upon their responses to the above questions.
• Plan to meet on a consistent basis in the future in order to gauge progress and set additional goals.

Star employees think about their career ambitions all the time. It’s in their nature. So if that’s the case, then it makes sense to be part of their thought process and to be involved in their plans for the future.

If you don’t make sure that your company is involved now, you increase the chances that it won’t be involved down the road.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Copyright protected, all rights reserved worldwide. ©Gary Sorrell –

We encourage your participation and comments.

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