The Trouble with Hanging on to Misfit Employees

 The following article is by Judith Sherven, PhD 

It would be ideal if recruiting worked perfectly and all new hires were perfect assets to your specific workplace culture. But that’s not ever going to be the case. We humans are a widely varied bunch and every process — recruiting, onboarding, and management — is dictated by the uniqueness of the people involved.
So there are always going to be some new hires that in due time reveal themselves as inappropriate to the requirements and spirit of your workplace culture. And typically, all too often, these people are kept on and on and on until the inevitable has to happen. They must be let go. But usually this follows months and even years of team upheaval, manager distress and disappointment, and of course inadequate work ethic and output.
What’s the problem? Why is it so hard to pull the plug on these folks early on?

Three Key Management Traps:
1 – False Hope
You believed in the person when you agreed to hire him/her, so you want to give that person as much time and freedom to get acclimated and prove you were correct in your decision. You know it’s often challenging at first when someone joins an existing team or takes over for a leader that has now left the company or been promoted to new stature and greater responsibilities.
So you continue to hope that all will be well — in due time — even when the signals start to appear that it won’t. After all, you are terrifically busy and you don’t want to believe that you made a mistake and now have to let this person go and hire someone new. After all, that’s going to be a drag on your time AND on your ego AND on your professional reputation.

2 – Not Wanting To Hurt Anyone’s Feelings
Most people would prefer to never hurt anyone’s feelings or upset the status quo. And business managers and supervisors are no different. So rather than bring up the evidence that someone is having a difficult time, or is acting out their dissatisfaction by coming late to meetings, refusing to be present in team meetings by monkeying around in their iPhone, or routinely turning in their work after the deadline you wait, you put off the “big talk for small boys/girls.”
And it just gets worse. And worse. And even worse. Until you absolutely have to take action or your entire team or company will be all over you to do something.

3 – Hating To Admit The Mistake In Hiring
It’s not just that you have to face having confrontational conversations with the misfit in question; you also have to come to terms with the fact tat you got it wrong during the recruiting process. And even if you inherited the person when their former manager left the company or got promoted, you still had faith that everything would work out.
But now there’s no room for turning a blind eye, hoping against hope that you will be redeemed as having made a good decision in bringing the person on and/or having hoped they will turn themselves around and become reformed. You must accept defeat and it feels terrible.  So what to do the next time?

Three Management Misfit Musts
1 – Address Issues Immediately
The biggest mistake managers make is to wait to bring up problems. It gives both people a false sense of optimism that everything will be alright when it isn’t now and may never be. Nip problems in the bud, as they say, and you’ll be way ahead of the game when the person does step up to the plate OR they continue to spiral downhill making their exit a foregone conclusion.

2 – Allow Only One Second Chance
The second biggest mistake we see is managers waffling about what to do. They announce one thing (“You have to meet the next deadline or we’ll need to meet with HR.”) and then do something else (“I appreciate that there was some difficulty in your family this past month, perhaps you can get everything on track now.”) leaving the manage to believe they have many more options and/or chances going forward and therefore making the task of letting them go more prolonged and more painful—for both of you.

3 – Cut The Connection ASAP
We’ve seldom seen a PIP (performance improvement program) lead to someone turning it around and being able to stay on the job. We’re not saying never do it, but it’s cleaner and more in keeping with fair treatment to let the person go, allowing HR to take care of the specific details, so that the person can get on with their professional life and you can move on to recruit a more appropriate replacement. The sooner you can come to the conclusion that the person will not ever be a good culture fit, the better for everyone involved.
The key to moving forward with less pain and considerably reduced use of your precious time is to remember that almost never do people change their stripes in order to fit in where they don’t actually belong in the first place.

Original article can be found here

When Not Everyone Agrees With You

The workplace can be a stressful environment, especially when people must work together to find solutions to urgent and complex problems.  Inevitably, not everyone in the workplace agrees with one another, and it can be difficult to propose new ideas when they carry the possibility of catalyzing disagreement and conflict.  It’s important to continue contributing new ideas even though not everyone may agree with you.  In addition, it’s equally important to know when to graciously defend your ideas, and when to allow for the possibility that you could be wrong.

Being wrong feels like being right.  In the workplace, and in life, it’s essential to keep in mind that being wrong can feel exactly like being right.  Kathryn Schulz explored this idea in a recent TED talk, in which she points out that there’s nothing that feels inherently different about being wrong compared to being right.  Thus, it’s necessary to accept that an idea that feels completely on-target could still potentially benefit from improvement.

What don’t others agree with, and why?  After accepting that not all of our ideas are right, or are the best solution to a particular problem, it’s important to take a moment to ask what it is that others don’t agree with.  Seeing our ideas from another person’s point of view can help us think critically and objectively about our ideas in order to determine whether we should continue to defend them, or whether we should let them go.

Ask for specific alternate solutions.  If somebody has spoken up in order to disagree with your idea, he or she should be prepared to offer an alternative solution.  It’s easy for others to criticize, but if they do so they should be able to back up their own ideas.  For example, ask those who disagree to tell you which solutions they think would be better suited to solve a particular problem.

To learn more about achieving success and improving your workplace environment, please visit our website or blog for a variety of articles.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us!

Building Culture with the workplace

Building Culture in the Workplace Improves Profitability

A great workplace environment is the foundation true success in business. Corporate cultures that encourage positive interactions between peers experience speedy financial growth. 

 Employee retention and efficiency have been proven to be direct effects of building a positive culture within the workplace.

 Culture in the workplace.

As retention and efficiency improve, so do the profit margins of any business.

Meanwhile, operational processes become much more fluid. Customer service tends to improve when workplace culture fosters a pleasing environment.

The wine industry is very much based on customer experience. Satisfying the needs of consumers in the wine industry sets the tone for a very loyal customer base. 

Companies that are proactive in the development of building cultures that fit their particular needs provide are in a better position to achieve success. Companies can provide themselves with a strong foundation by recruiting employees that are best suited to contribute to their own workplace environment. 

The term psychographic refers to a person’s values, attitudes, and lifestyle. The psychographic grouping of employees is what creates environments where strong  bonds can be formed among workers. 

The elements that comprise the list qualities mentioned are not physical features. Therefore, companies must develop hiring models that will chooses its members based on their non physical attributes.

Find creative ways to tap into a potential employees true nature involves understanding their individual perspective on life.
Trust is required for employees to reveal their true perspectives on life.

Consistent fairness and honest consideration for individual perspectives is the key to building the trust required to meet a company’s needs.

By examining the most relevant features of  candidates, company’s can build a corporate culture that increases profitability.

Benchmark Consulting has been recruiting and screening candidates since 1995.

Over time, our reputation has come to attract clients from a wide range within the wine industry. We are experts at recruiting candidates that contribute to building a strong corporate culture. 

If you are interested in maximizing the benefits of your workforce contact us for more information.  

Keep up Wrk!!!

Dawn Bardessono Uncategorized January 25, 2013

Most professionals dread performance reviews. And who can blame them? Some employees fear being judged and found wanting; others see the process as pointless bureaucracy. Managers spend hours — if not days — agonizing over reviews when many of their employees are just looking for a grade. It’s a lot of sound and fury, signifying not much.

Performance reviews can be done right. They’re a great opportunity to synchronize manager and employee expectations, jointly set goals, and evaluate progress toward those goals. If you’re a manager and not doing these things, you might as well skip the review process — and reconsider whether you’re fit to be a manager.

But even well-executed performance reviews are glaringly one-sided. They review employee performance on terms set by their managers. Why don’t we see the reverse: employees reviewing the performance of their managers?

Some companies have mechanisms for upward or “360” feedback. But those are peripheral, hardly addressing the asymmetry of the overall review process. I’ve never heard of a manager being afraid of being fired because of 360 feedback.

Let me make a radical proposal: invert the performance review. Make the primary focus upward rather than downward.

Why? Here are a few reasons:

  1. It’s usually harder to judge managerial performance than individual contribution. Individual contributions mostly have tangible, attributable results. In contrast, managerial performance is largely reflected in how the team perceives the manager.

  2. Managers are key reason that employees decide whether to stay at a company or quit. Given this leverage, we should focus performance management on managers, and especially on senior managers.

  3. Without a formal review process, it’s easy for managers to not get meaningful feedback from their employees. Employees may be afraid of retaliation, or many simply be uncomfortable delivering feedback to their bosses. A formal process forces the issue.

There’s still a need for managers to evaluate their employees, and more importantly for managers to provide employees with feedback that helps them improve their performance and develop professionally. Evaluation is part of the coaching that should be a manager’s primary responsibility.

But that’s all the more reason that evaluation should primarily be an upward process, focused on how well managers act as coaches. Let’s invert the performance review and build better organizations by measuring and improving our managers.


The Secret Ingredient for Success

Dawn Bardessono Uncategorized January 23, 2013

WHAT does self-awareness have to do with a restaurant empire? A tennis championship? Or a rock star’s dream? David Chang’s experience is instructive.

Mr. Chang is an internationally renowned, award-winning Korean-American chef, restaurateur and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group with eight restaurants from Toronto to Sydney, and other thriving enterprises, including bakeries and bars, a PBS TV show, guest spots on HBO’s “Treme” and a foodie magazine, Lucky Peach. He says he worked himself to the bone to realize his dream — to own a humble noodle bar.

He spent years cooking in some of New York City’s best restaurants, apprenticed in different noodle shops in Japan and then, finally, worked 18-hour days in his tiny restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Mr. Chang could barely pay himself a salary. He had trouble keeping staff. And he was miserably stressed.

He recalls a low moment when he went with his staff on a night off to eat burgers at a restaurant that was everything his wasn’t — packed, critically acclaimed and financially successful. He could cook better than they did, he thought, so why was his restaurant failing? “I couldn’t figure out what the hell we were doing wrong,” he told us.

Mr. Chang could have blamed someone else for his troubles, or worked harder (though available evidence suggests that might not have been possible) or he could have made minor tweaks to the menu. Instead he looked inward and subjected himself to brutal self-assessment.

Was the humble noodle bar of his dreams economically viable? Sure, a traditional noodle dish had its charm but wouldn’t work as the mainstay of a restaurant if he hoped to pay his bills.

Mr. Chang changed course. Rather than worry about what a noodle bar should serve, he and his cooks stalked the produce at the greenmarket for inspiration. Then they went back to the kitchen and cooked as if it was their last meal, crowding the menu with wild combinations of dishes they’d want to eat — tripe and sweetbreads, headcheese and flavor-packed culinary mashups like a Korean-style burrito. What happened next Mr. Chang still considers “kind of ridiculous” — the crowds came, rave reviews piled up, awards followed and unimaginable opportunities presented themselves.

During the 1970s, Chris Argyris, a business theorist at Harvard Business School (and now, at 89, a professor emeritus) began to research what happens to organizations and people, like Mr. Chang, when they find obstacles in their paths.

Professor Argyris called the most common response single loop learning — an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.

LESS common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. In this mode we — like Mr. Chang — question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals.

In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.

The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.

The tennis champion Martina Navratilova, for example, told us that after a galling loss to Chris Evert in 1981, she questioned her assumption that she could get by on talent and instinct alone. She began a long exploration of every aspect of her game. She adopted a rigorous cross-training practice (common today but essentially unheard of at the time), revamped her diet and her mental and tactical game and ultimately transformed herself into the most successful women’s tennis player of her era.

The indie rock band OK Go described how it once operated under the business model of the 20th-century rock band. But when industry record sales collapsed and the band members found themselves creatively hamstrung by their recording company, they questioned their tactics. Rather than depend on their label, they made wildly unconventional music videos, which went viral, and collaborative art projects with companies like Google, State Farm and Range Rover, which financed future creative endeavors. The band now releases albums on its own label.

No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. Ask David Chang, who never imagined that sweetbreads and duck sausage rice cakes with kohlrabi and mint would find their way beside his humble noodle dishes — and make him a star.

Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield are the authors of the forthcoming book “The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well.”


2012 wine grape harvest predicted to be a bumper crop

Dawn Bardessono Uncategorized September 18, 2012

While the wine grape harvest is still underway and expected to last well into October, early predictions are showing an especially bountiful crop for 2012.

According to Allied Grape Growers, a Fresno-based growers association, the 2012 wine grape crop is expected to reach 3.7 million tons. That amount would tie the second-largest crop ever, and provide some balance after two consecutive years of smaller than usual harvests. 3.7 million tons would be a 10 percent increase over 2011’s harvest, and a significant increase from the some 3.1 million tons harvested in 2010. Allied Grape Growers consider 3.5 million tons an average sized harvest.

After talk of supply shortage in California’s wine industry, the 2012 crop could offer some relief. Wine shipments meanwhile were flat for the first six months of 2012, according to the Gomberg Fredrikson Report. California bulk wine exports meanwhile fell by 13 percent, while bulk wine imports were up a whopping 164 percent.

Look for the final numbers related to shipments and the 2012 crop to be announced at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, which is set for theSacramento Convention Center from Jan. 29 to Jan. 31.



Read more here: http://blogs.sacbee.com/dining/archives/2012/09/2012-wine-grape.html#storylink=cpy