The Staffing Advisor


February 2011

in this issue ...
Succession Planning for Small Businesses
Bob Corlett & Kelly Dingee to Speak at MC SHRM
Sample Questions for Misconduct Investigation
How to Avoid GroupThink
How to Spend the Last 5 Minutes of Your Day
Study: It's Hard to Find Good People
How to Not Be a Terrible Boss
Solving the Problems of Performance Appraisal
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Succession Planning for Small Businesses

Ninety percent of U.S.businesses are family-owned, and one-third of the Fortune 500 are either family-owned or family-controlled. Yet only 30 percent of family-run companies today succeed into the second generation. An even smaller 15 percent survive into the third generation. The reason, according to many experts, is the lack of an orderly succession plan.  


Small Business Note offers a thought-provoking online series on succession planning.  The first article in the series - "Succession Planning" - recommends that you begin to plan while you are still healthy and active in your enterprise. If you wait until after you're 65, you may not be able to do many of the jobs associated with succession planning, such as teaching, explaining how the business operates, and passing on the spirit and vision with which it was founded. 


The time to plan is between the ages of 55 and 65. And, the handing over of the baton, the plan itself, should be a process rather than a single event. Some succession consultants recommend a three-to-five year plan while others advocate five-to-10.  The more time allotted for planning, the better the outcome.  


Adequate planning time enables you to test potential successors in different roles and evaluate their maturity, commitment, business acumen, and leadership abilities. If you've already anointed your successor, adequate planning time allows that individual to build up expertise so the passage is graceful. 

The series includes two other important and useful articles: Choosing Your Successor and The Financial Aspects Of Succession Planning 





Bob Corlett and Kelly Dingee are presenting: 
How to Recruit Effectively (When You Don't have Any Time or Budget)
Montgomery County SHRM:


Join us February 16 for this dinner meeting (6:00-8:30 pm) at the Gaithersburg Marriott.  

Bob Corlett2011 will bring some of the most difficult recruiting of your career, and probably no new staff to help.  As the economy continues to recover, long dormant employee turnover is on the rise.  With everyone working at full capacity, even slight company turnover (or growth) gives Dingeereal urgency to every hiring need.  Overburdened managers are slow to approve requisitions and frantic to fill them.  New business initiatives receive intense focus from senior management but also require the hiring of people with very different skills than your current workforce.   Stressed-out hiring managers will be slow to define their needs, hard to schedule, indecisive, and quick to blame you for not delivering results.  So recruiting is at once more important, riskier, less familiar, and more urgent.

So with no time and no budget, how can you recruit effectively? 

The only solution is to stop doing things that no longer work and focus your time and attention on a very few things that really will impact your results.  Information and registration ...  

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Computer-GlassesToo busy to read our blog?  Here's what you missed. 

Are you "Thinking About" Your Staffing Issues?


When a job is vacant for a long time, it's often because someone is "thinking about" some aspect of it.   Thinking about the job description, thinking about who to interview, or thinking about

making a job offer.  So how can you move from thinking into action?


Who is Your Staffing Consigliere?


When you have a "people problem" where do you turn?  If your vendor relationships are with people you don't really trust, or people who just agree with you, or worst of all people you trust who are uninformed,  then you are not getting full value from your vendors.

Sample Questions for a Misconduct Investigation 

WorryMisconduct investigations are never easy for any HR manager. But they're necessary, and HR employees need to know how to handle them. To make the job a little easier, attorney Jennifer Brown Shaw offers her suggestions for how to brief and question the complaining employee, the accused employee, and witnesses.  Shaw is a partner in the law firm of Shaw Valenza LLP in Sacramento. Her comments were made during the Society for Human Resource Management Annual Conference and Exposition held in San Diego. Here are her tips.

How to Avoid GroupThink 


5PeopleMeetingMany managers work hard to build cohesive teams and find people with similar backgrounds and personality types in order to reduce conflict.  One unfortunate side effect of that effort is that "GroupThink" may emerge, making it impossible to explore alternatives, examine thought processes, challenge assumptions, question power, and be open to new ideas.


An article published at offers a list of the unfortunate results of GroupThink.  More importantly, the article suggests several practical steps to avoid it:

  • Leaders should assign each member the role of "critical evaluator." This allows each member to freely air objections and doubts.
  • Higher-ups should not express an opinion when assigning a task to a group.
  • The organization should set up several independent groups, working on the same problem.
  • All effective alternatives should be examined.
  • Each member should discuss the group's ideas with trusted people outside of the group.
  • The group should invite outside experts into meetings. Group members should be allowed to discuss with and question the outside experts.
  • At least one group member should be assigned the role of Devil's advocate. This should be a different person for each meeting.

Read the whole article. 


How to Spend the Last 5 Minutes of Your Day


FeetOnDeskPeter Bregman, in The Harvard Business Review, says he was once asked if an organization could teach only one thing to its employees, what single thing would have the most impact.  His answer?  Teach people how to learn. How to look at their past behavior, figure out what worked and repeat it, while admitting honestly what didn't work and change it.

That's how people become life-long learners.  And it's how companies become learning organizations.  It requires confidence, openness, and letting go of defenses.

It takes only a few minutes. About five, actually. A brief pause at the end of the day to consider what worked and what didn't. Asking yourself three sets of questions is all that is required.

Study: Good People Are Hard to Attract

BalanceScaleThe Towers Watson Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey, a study of 1,176 companies globally, found that a majority of respondents are having difficulty attracting critical-skill and talented employees. Companies also said the cost-cutting measures they took during the recession and financial crisis had an adverse impact on employees' workloads, their ability to manage work-related stress and overall employee engagement.


As a result, companies are beginning to re-evaluate their reward and talent management programs and how they attract, retain, and motivate employees. Read the key findings of the study, including an interesting section on top reasons employees choose a job, versus what employers think their top reasons are.

How to Not be a Terrible Boss

Striking the balance between good management and good leadership is a daunting but necessary challenge for anyone who wants to be a great boss. In Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, Harvard Business School professor Linda A. Hill and former executive Kent Lineback note that learning to be an effective manager is a painful, difficult journey that many managers never complete. At best, they learn just to get by. At worst, they become terrible bosses.  This new book explains how to avoid that fate, by mastering three imperatives:

  1. Manage yourself: Learn that management isn't about getting things done yourself. It's about accomplishing things through others.
  2. Manage a network: Understand how power and influence work in your organization and build a network of mutually beneficial relationships to navigate your company's complex political environment.
  3. Manage a team: Forge a high-performing "we" out of all the "I"s who report to you.
Carmen Nobel writes about the new book - and interviews the authors -- in HarvardBusinessSchool's "Working Knowledge" newsletter.
Solving the Problems of Performance Appraisal 
Working TogetherDerek Irvine, writing for Compensation Caf´┐Ż, has published a thought-provoking piece on performance appraisals.  First, he identifies the inherent problems with the process:
  • A general dearth of feedback in the workplace.  "Think how much more productive you (and your employees) could be if your progress was validated, praised, and, yes, corrected along the way."  A once-a-year discussion is completely insufficient in terms of feedback.
  • A company culture that tolerates head-in-the-sand management.  Being a manager of people requires being willing and able to notice the work your employees do, the attitude with which they do it, and then praising or correcting them accordingly - in the moment. This takes presence, courage, foresight, and insight.
  • Reliance on too few tools for accurate performance assessment.  This is where strategic employee recognition can add so much value. If all employees are allowed and encouraged to express their appreciation for colleagues' efforts, those assessments can be included in the review process.

Think of it this way, he says: "Would you rather rely on a once-a-year assessment from one person passing judgment, or on many assessments throughout the year from many people sharing appreciation?"


Read the entire article.

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