coworkers taking coffee break

How to Recruit a Diverse Workforce

James is the Chief Human Resource Officer at a Company G, a professional services firm. For years he has been committed to increasing the diversity of the employee population at the firm, especially at the mid- and senior-management levels. He is well aware of the beneficial impacts of diversity on multiple measures of company success, from innovation to customer relations to profitability. He has the backing of the CEO and the senior leadership team. He has helped to establish Employee Resource Groups for women, LGBTQ, and members of racial minority groups. He has brought in trainers to increase employees’ awareness of racial and gender bias and stereotyping. Every year he has been tracking the number of new minority hires. And the numbers haven’t budged.

This summer, the sharply increased focus on racial injustice and exclusion has led James to reflect once more on his own attitudes and biases. It has renewed his commitment to make a difference on the diversity front at Company G. But he is very frustrated – what else can he do that will really make a difference?

woman sitting on suitcase in airport

Putting aside the new normal for the new better

I hate the phrase “new normal” to describe this horrible time we’re living through and what lies ahead. I wrote about the phrase in early May, quoting my colleague, Constance Dierickx, who said, “This situation is not the new normal; it is a time of extreme disruption.” To me, “new normal” implies resigning yourself, settling, saying, “Well, I guess this is the way it’s going to be and there’s nothing I can do about it.”

And then, a couple of weeks ago I attended a panel sponsored by the Executives’ Club of Chicago on “Reinventing to Reopen: How to Succeed in our New Normal.” One of the speakers introduced the phrase “the new better.”

video chat with masks on

Returning to work: Who should come back to the office?

Here in Illinois, the COVID restrictions are beginning to loosen. Personally, I had ten people at my home for dinner last Friday. I hope to have my hair cut soon. And on the professional front, employers are talking about when and how to have their teams begin returning to work.

In some ways, shutting down the office was easier. The rules were announced and companies sent their people home. Sure, there were a lot of technological and process issues that had to be solved fast, but at least it was clear. Unless you were an essential worker, everyone had to go home — period.

Now — it’s a lot murkier. When should an employer bring people back? What are the precautions that need to be in place? Maybe it would just be better to let people continue to work virtually? After all, many employers have found that the online work force was just as productive as they were in the office. 

meeting woman on computer

How to find inner strength during COVID or any crisis

Everyone is getting very tired of trying to dredge up inner strength. There are the big things — the constant fears of terrible disease and imminent economic collapse. And there are the relatively little things — boredom, loneliness, feeling constrained, Zoom fatigue, wearing masks and gloves, and  constant handwashing.

It’s exhausting.

Meanwhile the regular stresses of life haven’t gone away. Family relationships, work, lack of work, non-COVID health issues, political strife — they all continue to be demanding and draining.

man and woman arguing

Managing disruptive personalities that impede important work

The best thing about a crisis is that it often brings out the best in people. So many individuals step up with courage, creativity, and generosity. They help each other out, they find new solutions, and they stand firm in the face of adversity. In the business world, these people are your most important assets. But at the same time, there are others who make things worse. For a variety of reasons, they engage in behavior that is undermining, distracting, or disruptive. 

paintings in a museum

Curating your life in the time of Covid-19

My book, Curating Your Life, was published on April 8. News flash – the middle of a pandemic is not the best time to launch a book! But there’s also some good news. Although I wrote the book long before anyone had heard of COVID-19, it turns out that learning how to manage your energy for peak productivity is a highly relevant topic in this challenging time. As a result, I’m getting plenty of opportunities to write and speak about the book, including a recent “Coffee and Connect” session for the Executives’ Club of Chicago. 

We talked about how the demands on our energy have changed. Some of the tasks that used to exhaust us – commuting, hosting big meetings, going to networking events – are no longer such a big part of our lives. At the same time, other demands have ramped up – learning new technologies, connecting through Zoom and other media, doing our own housework, cooking all the meals and spending much more time with family members. The specifics vary from person to person, but the challenge is the same – how do we manage our energy for peak productivity and joy during this strange time?

person washing hands

How I am choosing to fight COVID-19

As I write this on March 10, I’m feeling helpless. I hate that! So far, my daily life is pretty normal. I’m in my downtown Chicago office, and I just got back from a large lunch meeting listening to some very interesting panelists. My day, and the rest of my week, is heavily scheduled with both in-person and phone meetings. 

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the tidal wave to hit: the day when everything gets cancelled, when my clients suffer severe financial losses, when my travel is curtailed, when people I care about start getting sick, when I get sick. It’s really scary, and it feels as if there’s nothing I can do. As I said, I hate that!

woman in corporate dress standing

Executive coaching benefits rely on these predictive factors

More and more companies have been investing in coaching for their senior leaders in the past 20 years as they recognize the benefits of executive coaching. As a result, coaches now come from a wide variety of professional backgrounds and use many different approaches. How can a company, or an individual leader, predict whether a coaching engagement will be helpful or not?

woman in front of computer with head in hands

Much Ado about Nothing or How to Embrace Boredom

When I’m talking with new coaching clients, I’m often stunned by how busy they are. It’s not unusual to hear that someone has just received a big promotion, is managing a team of 20+ people, has several young children, is looking after an older relative, and is heavily involved with his or her church or other community activities. Please note, this is not just a woman’s problem, although many women think it is. Most of the men I work with are also juggling multiple commitments and responsibilities, and like the women, they often feel they are coming up short. When I hear people describe their lives, I usually respond with the quip, “So what are you doing with all your free time?” And we both laugh ruefully.

3 tips for attracting and retaining talent

Each week GGC Principal Gail Golden lets us take a look at her open tabs to see what’s going on in the world of workplace psychology. Here are her insights on the week’s news….

You run a business in an industry where competition for top talent is gruesome. Not only that, but your industry is being disrupted from several directions. How do you attract and retain the best people so you can innovate quickly? According to Weber Shandwick CEO Andy Polansky, the key is to listen – to your employees and to your clients. It sounds simple, but his article shows how demanding it really is. It means getting out of your office to engage with employees at all levels of the company. It means road trips to spend time with key clients. And it means keeping an open mind to others’ priorities and perspectives. GGC is proud to have partnered with Weber Shandwick through the past decade of turbulence, and we applaud Polansky’s vision and his emphasis on creating the right culture to make magic happen.

5 tips for winning a negotiation

Each week GGC Principal Gail Golden lets us take a look at her open tabs to see what’s going on in the world of workplace psychology. Here are her insights on the week’s news….

This week I thought I’d let my colleagues answer two pressing management questions. The first comes from Molex CEO Martin Slark, who spoke to the Executives’ Club of Chicago last week. The key responsibility of a business leader is to create value for the company and the customers he or she serves. And how do you create that value? According to Slark, there are four essential elements:

  • a foundation of integrity
  • clear vision
  • a focus on satisfying customers’ desires
  • creative destruction

Slark pointed to three companies as examples of creative destruction. The world’s largest transportation company owns no vehicles (Uber). The world’s largest hospitality company owns no properties (Airbnb). And the world’s largest retail company owns no stores (Amazon). By providing value to their customers, these businesses have built a new world!