5 Attributes to Look For in High Performing Employees

Posted on February 26, 2014 by in Blog

Since you can’t clone yourself, what should you look for when hiring high performing employees? Is a great article written by Ryan Caldbeck on Entrepreneur.com .

With so much attention paid to innovations and disruptive business models in the venture capital and startup world, it can be easy to overlook the vital importance of great people.

I keep a quote from legendary venture capitalist Arthur Rock in mind when hiring: “What I’m interested in is investing in people.”

Of course, every company wants stellar employees who are impactful, high performers. Identifying those high performers, however, takes hard work in recruiting, screening resumes and interviewing.

Here are five key attributes that CircleUp looks for in candidates, in no order:

Horsepower: I’ll take intelligence over experience any day of the week. Job descriptions alone can intimidate a lot of people — particularly younger people, who often feel that they lack the experience that the job description suggests they will need. That’s unfortunate, because I’ve found that most of the time intelligence trumps experience. An intelligent candidate can quickly learn a job and frequently ends up doing it better than someone (less intelligent) who has been doing a similar job elsewhere. Experience is certainly valuable, but brains are the horsepower that drives the business.

Ownership and pride: “Run the mile you are in.” This is a distance-running mantra from Runner’s World Editor-in-Chief David Willey that I think applies to many aspects of our personal and professional lives. No matter your current job or where you are in your career, are you focused and engaged and do you take ownership? Do you have pride in what you are doing? Do you have pride in your colleagues and your company? “Run the mile you are in” applies not only to distance running; it applies to life, and it applies to how you will succeed — or not — as a teammate in business.

Work ethic: What we are doing — redefining the private equity investing model and bringing fresh capital to consumer goods startups — requires both smart and hard work. We achieved strong growth in 2013, our first full year in business, because our team works very hard. It’s more than that, really. It’s teamwork that is self initiated. The valued employee is not only the one willing to work hard; she is the employee who searches out ways to contribute most. She should have a work history of having demonstrated not only a willingness to contribute, but a desire to lead, come up with ideas on her own and to grasp fully the feeling of pride in his or her accomplishments.

Integrity: This is an attribute that is not always easy to flesh out. But it is too important to gloss over in the interview process. I try to gauge integrity by asking interviewees for examples of difficult decisions they have had to make or ethical dilemmas they’ve faced. I’m looking for candid responses as to how they handled these situations. What was their decision-making process?

Teamwork: This is my version of the ‘no jerks’ rule. So much of what we do involves collaboration that we must have team players across our business. It is good for business results and our corporate culture. I’ve met nice people who just weren’t effective teammates, but I haven’t met a lot of great team players who were jerks. This is what Reed Hastings, in his manifesto Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility, calls selflessness. I want people who are ego-less and put the interests of the company above their own and are eager to share information and help their co-workers.

This year, we will hire a substantial number of new employees. We’ve had great success in our first two years recruiting fantastic talent. I see it in our productivity and growth, and in the endorsements we receive both from investors and startups. It is also evident in the engagement and enthusiasm I see among our team members — smart, hard-working people thrive alongside other smart, hard-working people.

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/231383#ixzz2uTAQvHDr

Leadership Development

Posted on January 4, 2013 by in Blog, Human Resources

Which Approach is Right for Us  and How Do We Begin?

by Angie Martin

I’m a leader, she’s a leader, and wouldn’t you like to be a leader too?

John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”; I agree. Although leadership development has been going on for years, more recently there has been a heightened awareness that the key to organizational success is built on the bases of strategic alignment—who knew? Although that sounds like a duh moment, I’ve found that not all leaders are as aware of this fact as one may think, mainly because most people in roles of leadership are not leaders at all. Most of them are individuals with the potential to be leaders who have not yet been equipped with tools to be great and effective leaders. Having leaders with potential is great, but how does an organization capitalize on that potential and prepare its leaders for great opportunities as the organization grows? Additionally, where does the design and creation start for an effective leadership development program and how do you justify it to obtain financial support from the organization’s chief contributors or those that bless the budget?

We all know that financial resources can play a significant factor in the design and execution of a full leadership development program, but not everyone has the budget to construct lavish enrichment programs where well-known motivational speakers come to speak or train attendees with curriculum based on specific leadership competencies. Besides all of this, who is to say those things will work for your organization in terms of alignment with your mission and, most importantly, your culture. That’s when the beauty of leadership development comes in.  It’s yours to create and own. A company can set up a program that is low cost and low maintenance or one that is highly staffed, robust and costly. When building a program that is right for your organization, there are just a few key things to focus on, and having financial resources is the least of them.

First, consider your organization’s mission and vision. What capabilities are available as a result of where the organization wants to go? Discovering this will start a framework for what competencies need to be strengthened. Second, what platform will the information be delivered through and how? Is the organization a more tech savvy group or are they more of an I-use-technology-’cause-I-have-to group? Knowing this will allow you to determine if you can use social media technology to send out and engage participants through the use of podcasts, webinars, interactive simulations and/or assessments. By knowing your audience, you will ensure they are engaged at a level they understand and thus increase the probability of follow through and effective learning.

The most important thing to remember when considering a leadership development program is to keep it simple and effective. Follow the 70-20-10 base rule. Seventy percent of your program should be self-directed through hands on interactive project involvement.  Twenty percent should be through networking, relationship building, asking questions, and obtaining feedback.  The final ten percent is where formal training comes in. Yes, folks, only ten percent should really involve hard costs; the rest of the program can be built using internal resources and searching the internet. The internet has a great deal of cost-effective leadership development program ideas.  One doesn’t have to have a lot of money to run an effective program, just good ideas and innovation.

Remember that starting a leadership development program doesn’t have to be complex. Consider your organization and the gaps that need to be filled to create and inspire better leaders. Examine the audience and find out what is comfortable for them, what will keep them engaged. Lastly use internal resources and consider simple things like starting a book club. There are books associated with almost every competency you can think of including Trust, Conflict, Collaboration, Communication, and Change.  Someone from the participant group should be the leader and if there is an additional resource, they can be the project planner. Put together assessment worksheets to examine discussions after a podcast. Simple mentor programs can be formed.  Pair together participants with an executive to create an on -the-job dialogue with someone in a leadership position the participant aspires to. Like I’ve always been told, keep it simple…you know the rest.

*Angie Martin is an HR Consultant with ProvisHR with a background in Talent Management and Workforce Solutions.


Tips to Relieve Workplace Stress

Posted on December 18, 2012 by in Blog, Human Resources

For millions of Americans, the workplace is a major source of stress in their lives.  Stress is a primary contributor of unproductive behavior.  It’s unrealistic to think you can control everything at work, but you can have some control on how you react to work stressors, and how they ultimately affect your health.  The holidays are around the corner, which often times places additional stress on individuals.  Following are a few tips to help tackle workplace stress:

  • Take mini breaks – if you have been sitting for more than two hours, get up and move around.  If you are able to get outside, enjoy the fresh air!
  • Get control of your schedule – Try not to have meetings scheduled back to back to allow you time to refresh before the next one.
  • Learn to say “no” – When other people’s expectations get too high, say “no” – know your limits!
  • Be positive!  Positive attitudes are contagious!
  • Driving to and from work, listen to something enjoyable and motivating.
  • Leave the office or your desk for lunch – a change in atmosphere can be refreshing.
  • Use your time off benefits – everyone needs a break from the demands of work.
  • Stretch!  Sit straight in your chair and raise your arms up and interlock your fingers.  Inhale and exhale deeply while stretching.

The goal of managing stress at work is not to get rid of it, but to get control of how it affects you.


A Quick Fix to Improve Your Bottom Line

Posted on November 6, 2012 by in Blog, Human Resources

Financial loss due to Unemployment Compensation (UC) can be completely avoidable and, if addressed, a quick win for a company’s bottom line.

Not all former employees who file for Unemployment Compensation are actually qualified to receive it.  In these cases, it is worthwhile to appeal Unemployment Claims that are undeserved:

General Eligibility Requirements state that the former employee was:

1. Involuntarily terminated through no fault of own, and

2. Willing and able to work full-time.

Former employees who file UC claims are generally ineligible if even one of the following is applicable:

• Too ill to work

• No means of transportation

• Unwilling to forfeit retirement benefits

• Let go for cause (generally misconduct, poor performance, or policy violation)

• Voluntarily leaves (or reduces work hours)

So, maybe you knew this already–and you have already appealed to UC claims accordingly, but you still end up losing the appeal. Why does this happen?

Here are a few reasons companies lose money to UC claims and some suggested quick-fix remedies:


Missing separation information Establish clear accountability and communicate throughout company: 1. Identify specific focal point to handle unemployment claims, including:

  • responding to states’ requests for separation information,
  • appealing UC claims where appropriate,
  • attending follow-up hearings scheduled by the state (usually conducted via phone)

2. Communicate above across company,

3. Communicate to managers that they are responsible for submitting separation information for their direct reports to the UC claims focal point promptly (at the time of separation).

Not responding by the state’s required deadline upon notification of UC claim.  (Each state has a different response time requirement.) 
Not responding at all to the state’s request for separation information 
Company representative specifically requests no further appeal (on behalf of company) Establish and communicate the circumstances where this is justified 
Employers miss scheduled hearings after filing initial appeal—by default, the company loses The state schedules the hearing–if focal point is unavailable to attend, find an appropriate backup! 
Insufficient Documentation to justify an appeal, (e.g., no proof of misconduct, poor performance, policy violation)  Hold managers accountable for and maintaining any/all documentation related to the separation (e.g., emails, conversation notes/dates, performance improvement plans, etc.) 

Amy Rozelle Williams, M.S.

Change: Embodying Who Really Matters

Posted on October 26, 2012 by in Blog, Human Resources

Change: Embodying Who Really Matters (Not What Matters) to Ignite Acceptance of What Is to Come.

By Angie Martin, MBA

Is the stagnate culture you work in constricting your flow of innovation? So many organizations today are talking about change, change, change, but they seemingly only recognize change as a process or policy enhancement or improvement, leaving most of its employees still sitting idle and stale – lifeless. Is your organization constricting your flow of thought, no longer considering your point of view or what it is that ignites you? A dynamic culture that breeds success is one where engagement of all the minds is embodied. True change within an organization starts with the people who make up the environment and thus define the culture. In order to be most effective one must know the environment and understand the people within it before systematic changes involving process improvements can and will occur.

In an article titled How to Change a Culture’s DNA, written by Diana M. Smith, a Chief Executive at New Profit Inc. and contributor to the Chief Learning Officer Newsletter, a MediTec Publishing Inc. publication, the author explains that by engaging in the processes of building powerful relationships and learning these relationships, organizations can effectively change the culture or the “DNA” of the organization. Ms. Smith emphasizes that both “building” and “learning” relationships jump starts the true cycle of intervention and change. She spells out three relationship level types that one must identify and build to lead one to initiate cultural change. They are:

  • Vertical: Build relationships across hierarchical levels that can devise innovative solutions that take into account both functional realities and corporate imperatives.
  • Lateral: Build relationships across functional boundaries that invent options that address conflicting interests while meeting the interests of the whole enterprise.
  • External: Build relationships with external constituents — customers, suppliers, distributors, investors — that fully grasp their needs and create ways to meet them that are better and less expensive than competitors.

If you flush these out you can begin to build an effective change model for the culture your organization seeks to be successful in. Relationships are powerful; more powerful than some might admit. If you recognize this first off; you will be more successful than you could ever imagine. Face it; the bottom line is that people are truly what comprise the success of a flourishing organization so by examining the people to include partnerships and clients along with the structure and strategy one will be able to begin to build to change the culture; the true DNA of an organization.

*Angie Martin is an HR Consultant with ProvisHR with a background in Talent Management and Workforce Solutions.


Medical Loss Ratio Rebates

Posted on October 8, 2012 by in Blog, Human Resources

Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) Rebates–What You Need to Know

Many insured plans recently received rebates from insurance agencies due to Medical Loss Ratio Rebate (MLR) calculations required by the Affordable Care Act.

These rebates are generating many questions:

  • What is the MLR rebate?
  • Why am I getting a rebate?
  • How can I use the rebate?

Below are some general answers and a link to a webinar/presentation for help with additional questions.

What is the MLR Rebate?

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to spend a minimum percentage of premium dollars on:

  • Clinical services (e.g., reimbursement of provider claims), and
  • Health care quality improvement activities

Insurers must spend:

  • 80% of premium dollars on claims and quality improvement activities for individual and small group markets in a state
  • 85% for the large group market in a state

Measured on a calendar year basis beginning August 1, 2011, MLR is calculated for each insurer, broken down into lines of business.

If needed, MRL rebates are distributed to individual and group policy holders by August 1 each year.  Letters must be mailed to enrollees and group policy holders.

Why am I getting a rebate?

If you received a rebate and letter from your insurance agency, the insurance agency did not spend the minimum amount of premiums within your state or market for the prior year.  The rebate is not based on your plan’s claim experience – it is based on a percentage of your paid premiums for the prior year.

How can I use the rebate?

The answer to this question can be complicated and varies for ERISA and non ERISA plans.  Generally speaking, the rebate can be used to:

  • Distribute amounts to enrollees;
  • Enhance benefits under the plan for current enrollees; or
  • Reduce future employee premium contributions to the plan.

The allocation method must be “fair” and “reasonable.”

Refer to the presentation, “Understanding Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) Rebates”, a presentation by Groom Law Group sponsored by Cigna, for additional details regarding rebates and how they should be distributed.  Please consult an ERISA attorney with any specific questions.

Tina Tiller

Incenting Employees Could Bring You Higher Dollars

Posted on July 31, 2012 by in Blog

One of the first things a buyer will ask is: who will run the company in your absence and are they willing to stay?  Having the right people in the right jobs and retaining them will get you a higher price for your business, not to mention some pretty nice financial numbers on the ramp up to the event.  Short and long-term incentive plans should be a part of every business owner’s play book.

Incentive aspects to consider:

  • Amounts should be significant and meaningful
  • Criteria to achieve goals should be written, clearly articulated, and directly impact the value of the company.
  • Implement the strategic use of long-term plans that vest over time and build so that leaving becomes very unattractive and hard for a competitor to match
  • Impact to the financials.   Payouts are evaluated as liabilities and the overall numbers need to look good, so use the plans sparingly where they make the greatest impacts.

This white paper provides detailed information and tips of some of the incentive plans that can be used to drive your business.  When used correctly, incentive plans can take your business to the next level.

Happy Employees = Higher Profits

Posted on July 20, 2012 by in Blog

It’s no secret that companies with happy employees do better financially and realize higher profits. Gallup reports that business units with higher employee satisfaction report 1-4% higher profits than their less happy counterparts within the same organization.  CEO’s are taking notice!  Companies are turning to their employees to help them squeeze more profit in times of flat revenue and greater competition.  Take a look at Entrepreneurs most recent article.  Companies of all sizes can increase their profits by empowering and supporting their employees.