Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Once again why benchmarking does not help with employee survey work

Benchmarking employee survey data leads to the wrong conversations -thus the wrong actions and zero results in most cases.

I was just watching a short video that Mark Effron posted on the problems with  benchmarking.  He joins a distinguished group of scholars and authors who have been discussing why benchmarking does not work for the last few years.  The two people who come to mind are Mark Huselid and Jac Fitz-enz.

It's great to hear someone else explain why benchmarking makes no sense.  Despite the logical case against it, the process continues to be used.  Let me add my two cents to the discussion (ok, it may be more than two):

* Benchmarking is a going backwards exercise.  The data you are comparing yourself to were collected in the past.  It's like comparing your stock price today to the average stock price of your competition from last year.  Who would do that?

* Benchmarking focuses your managers on the wrong stuff.  Benchmarking is a deadly denial barrier; it allows conversations to be diverted to why a score is higher or lower than data that are irrelevant.  Time is taken talking about things that really don't matter when you could be focused on gleaming insights from the data about what is happening today in your own organization.

* If you are going to benchmark, why use just one data set?  When we do compensation studies, we always use multiple data sets because we know there are problems with the data.

* When you collect data matters.  At eePulse we have been doing surveys (short energy pulses) as frequently as weekly since 1996.  We know for a fact that when you collect your data impacts your results.  Trends are better than point-in-time data, but when stuck with point-in-time data at least be clear about what the time period of collection does to your results.  Benchmarking does not take this fact into consideration.

Mark Effron's short video on benchmarking

Friday, November 9, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Random energizing moments

Learn how to energize and re-energize employees to drive growth.

or ... make sure your processes don't de-energize and kill innovation and growth.

Article link 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Interesting post on giving performance feedback. Your thoughts? http://www.tlnt.com/2012/10/23/in-praise-of-performance-observations-for-managers/?utm_source=TLNT&utm_campaign=934f16e319-tlnt-daily-how-jerk-bosses-and-employees-are&utm_medium=email#more-66282

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

New discussion on how to energize your teams. The secret- keep it random: http://www.inc.com/theresa-welbourne/why-great-management-is-random.html

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Entrepreneurship lessons from the world of children

I was in the grocery store this week picking up some things for my parents.  This statement alone may shock many people who know me because I really dislike going to the grocery store.  However, they wanted bologna.  I haven't eaten bologna since the days of my mom packing my lunch.  So .. standing at the counter, I asked the person working there what exactly is in bologna.  It's one of those questions you probably don't really want to learn about; however, the person helping me did not know.  So she came out from her safe area to the outside customer space, lifted up the glass and then read the label.

Then I looked at the counter a bit more and found some tapioca.  I asked her what exactly tapioca was.  By now she was getting mad at me, and I realize my curiosity did not find a home in the grocery store.  My husband was with me and listening to the conversations, so as we strolled the aisles, he picked up a box of tapioca.  You would have loved the description on the box -- tapioca was -- well -- tapioca.  That's all it said.

That's when I had a flashback.  I remember my children constantly asking "why - why - why."  I sometimes got annoyed with them in the same way that the person at the meat counter was finding my two questions troublesome.  At first, she had fun learning what exactly was in bologna; she took a risk and walked from her safe spot behind the counter to the area where she did not have to be (in front with the customers) and explored with me.  But after the first adventure she was tired of it.

After this experience, I started looking at my student business ideas.  I'm teaching an entrepreneurship class.  We're using story boards for the business planning process (virtual story boards), and the students are asking questions about each others' ideas.  The questions are incredibly good; the students with the original ideas are reforming their ideas and getting more clarity every day.  However, as I read I wondered if the student with the idea was getting annoyed.  Answering questions and listening to comments about your idea are hard to do.  Then you have to change your original idea in response to what you learn -- also annoying.  However, as the ideas evolve, they get better.  The students reached out of their "safe" zones and by exploring with their peers, they were able to improve upon their ideas.


The magic process is the "why" question.  If you ask enough why questions, you can invent new processes.  If you ask why, you can be entrepreneurial.  Because when you ask WHY you find that sometimes there are no good reasons for why, and there are multiple ways to improve products, services and processes.

This week -honor what we learn from our children.  Use the magic WHY question to become more entrepreneurial in your own work. And when someone asks you why, take pause, think and go out of your own safe zone to explore the answer together.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What I Learned from the Most Effective Leadership Practices Competition Winners

by Theresa Welbourne, PhD

The Most Effective Leadership Practices competition™ was a first in 2012.  We started the work on the competition in 2011, and then the winners were announced at the 2012 TLNT Transform conference in Austin, Texas.

Now that all the work is done, we have time to go through the data and really dig into what these most effective leaders are doing.  In this article I will briefly review the contest process and then summarize a few of the big learnings that are coming out of our research.

Not Another Contest

At this point, you may be wondering "why one more contest" and thinking "don't we have enough."  I too am tired of the "best" this and that competitions that are focused on public relations, so I am with you and understand this reaction.

The reason we ventured down this path with yet one more contest is that we were seeing a lot of managers motivating and energizing their teams, with no resources and getting no recognition.  The recession has turned a lot of every day people into super stars, and the lessons learned from these every-day managers are important for the rest of us who need to learn.  Sure, you can read about Google, Southwest Airlines, GE and other large, successful organizations that are just so massively different from many of our organizations that the lessons just don't apply.  What many managers want is to learn from people like themselves.  That's why we started this new competition.

Contest Process

Nominations were accepted via an on-line application form at www.leadershippulse.com.  For those of you interested in getting involved next year, you can get more information at this site. 

The project team went through the nominations and selected those who met a minimal set of criteria.  The people who passed through this phase were called, and then the team at eePulse set up a data collection process with these individuals. 

Employees affected by the leaders practices were sent a short survey.  This survey used metrics that have been validated as predicting high performance in teams, thus, we did not ask about the manager per se (not a 360) but examined the effects of the practices.  To understand what the practices were, open-ended comments were asked in the survey, and interviews were conducted.

Winners were determined by using an overall score and ranking the data from high to low.  The qualitative data were then used to validate which people should be winners. 

And the Winners Are

Below is a list of the 2012 winners:

Winners - Category

Robert J Remenar - CEO/President

  • President and CEO
  • Nexteer Automotive

Philip Potloff - C-Level non CEO/President

  • Chief Information Officer
  • Edmunds.com

Patricia Hill - Senior HR Executive

  • Chief Learning Officer
  • NISC

James W. Miller - Director Level

  • Executive Director of Production Control and Logistics
  • Nexteer Automotive

Steve Spicer - Leader in a Non-Management Role

  • Global Business Line Sales Manager, Electric Steering
  • Nexteer Automotive

Carol Walewski - First Line Manager

  • Engineering Supervisor
  • Yazaki North America

Hilary Simmet - Co-Winner Non-Profit

  • Community Director
  • Michigan March of Dimes

Melissa Van Dyke - Co-Winner Non-Proffit

  • President
  • The Incentive Research Foundation


Craig Crossley, a senior executive at Schwan's, relayed a story to me a few years ago that I have not forgotten.  Craig and I were working on a project, and he said that what he wanted for his teams was an overall score of their health.  He talked about taking his children in for their regular physical exams and how the doctor would talk about the percentile they were in on height and weight.  What we did with the Most Effective Leadership Practices competition score card is an answer to Craig's request (thanks Craig!). 

Below you will see a graphic that shows the components that make up the overall score card.  We used metrics that are validated, using longitudinal data and control variables, and that predict key business performance outcomes.  They are not just correlated, they predict.  We then took the validated metrics and pieced them together in a way that make up an overall score sheet for a team.  That score was used in the contest.

Below is a sample.  I don't have time in this article to review the details, but anyone who is interested can feel free to write and ask for more information (info@eepulse.com).  

Teams that participated could see how they scored against other teams' data and against company level benchmarks.  Below is a sample of the benchmarking scorecard.  
High performing team scores, overall, are higher than the high performing companies.  That should not be a surprise as the overall mean for any company is from a much larger and more diverse sample.

What we Learned from the Most Effective Teams

Looking over all the data, qualitative and quantitative, we found that the most commonly mentioned practices were focused on communication.  You are probably saying "not again."  Yes, we hear this in employee surveys, in focus groups and in almost any employee-centric mode of gathering data. Employees want communication.

What's different about the most effective leaders is how they do the communications.  They don't just talk more; they don't throw out more tops-down communications.  Instead, they are more effective at two things:


They listen better, and then they are incredibly effective at pulling out the core nuggets of relevant information and doing something.  They listen and take focused action, and then they continue to listen to what happened after they took action.  They are adept at interactive dialogues with their employees, customers and other stakeholders.

The Nexteer Automotive Story

They are willing to listen when times get tough.  An excellent example of this behavior can be found in the story of Nexteer Automotive.  Robert (Bob) J. Remenar not only won the CEO category, but his score was higher than that of any other participant. You will see that other Nexteer employees are on the winners list. That's because, in true listening well fashion, they involved their employees in the nomination process.

The HR team at Nexteer asked employees to nominate teams or managers who they thought were most effective.  They then used the results of that process to nominate people to the contest.  In essence, then, the people nominated from Nexteer were the best of the best, meaning their scores and stories were fairly high.  Also, Bob, the CEO, was nominated by his employees.  They told many tales of ways Bob listened and helped the company as it went through dramatic change.  Nexteer Automotive had been Delphi Steering, and Delphi was for many years one of the largest bankruptcy stories.  From bankruptcy to seeking an owner, the level of change was extraordinary.  Then Delphi Steering moved from financial trouble to finally being purchased by a Chinese company.  This was yet again a dramatic change for the Nexteer employees, and every inch of the way, the Nexteer team took steps to listen and do -- to do whatever they could under extremely high change conditions. 

Listening is an Undeveloped Art Form

What we learned from the Leadership Pulse™ overall (www.leadershippulse.com) and from the competition is that most leaders don't know how to communicate.  They answer the need for communication by doing more newsletters, holding more meetings and talking at people.  They then create a bigger communication problem.

Effective leaders listen, and  they engage in ongoing, interactive dialogues.  We find that this skill, when taught, leads to higher energy, confidence, ongoing alignment, accountability and high performance. 

We have examples of teams around the world who have changed their performance by learning to engage in interactive, focused dialogues.  This is what we found the most effective leaders do, whether the team is 5 employees or 50,000 employees -- and whether the team is virtual or in the same room. 

For more information on the interventions used and additional lessons learned, contact our team at info@eepulse.com.  We would very much like to listen to your stories. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Energize or re-energize your teams to improve performance

I meet a lot of managers who want to energize their teams.  There are many reasons teams become de-energized.  The draining years of recession, working more hours than they have in the past, success coming far and few between, waiting for new business to come, layoffs, lack of confidence in leaders and strategy ... and the list goes on.  The reasons are many, and they don't matter.  What's important is moving forward with an energizing strategy.

Working with managers and organizations around the world since 1996 in doing this work, we've learned what many of you already know.  Communications is at the heart of energizing.  However, when most people hear that, their reaction is to solve the communications problems by doing things that do not have a positive impact on energy.  Leaders and executives start to think about ways to do more top-down communications.  The answer is more newsletters, more meetings, and more emails.  These are the things employees actually find annoying and de-energizing.

What employees want when they ask for communications is more:


The art of listening and doing needs to be taught and requires tools.  Managers are trained at talking and communicating down; there is much less time and attention given to the act of listening.  And even less attention is given to learning how to listen and then select what information to act upon.

It's not a skill you develop in a one-day seminar.  We've instituted 6-month programs for managers to change habits by practicing new ones.  These new habits are formed by using new tools to help managers listen, do and energize.


We also find that what employees do want information on is direction.  The continuous sidetracking is making employees, managers and even CEOs frustrated.  Strategically addressing the need for direction dialogue can have amazing positive results on improving employee energy at work.


You may wonder why I am  talking about energy.  With over 1 million data points on employee energy at work, my research shows that energy predicts individual, team and firm performance.  That's why this phase of work was developed. If energy matters for performance, then the next question is how to help improve energy at work.

Check out the energy core metric at:


If you want to learn more about the manager intervention work, contact info@eepulse.com

Monday, March 19, 2012

Women in initial public offerings

Over the years, our initial public offering (IPOs) research team has built up a body of work on the role of women in the top teams of IPOs. Starting with data from the "class of 1993" and moving forward, we found the following:
  • Having women on the top team improves the first day gain in stock price.
  • Having women on the top team improves the first 90-day stock price gain, first year gain and gains up to 3 years post IPO (that's all we investigated).
  • The woman factor also positively affects earnings.
  • These results all control for other factors, so the "science" is done to account for other things that may be spuriously affecting the numbers.
  • The number of women never goes over 50% (that we've seen so far at least).
  • We just finished coding 2011 to see if this finding still holds up, and even though experts would say the market has changed a lot, we still get positive effect for women in management teams of IPOs.
This all begs the question -- why?
It would be easy to go down the path of the research showing that women are "different" as managers; they are better at blah blah and worse maybe at XYZ. I personally don't go there when talking about this work. That's because I hate bucketing the diversity of the world into these two buckets, men and women, and putting labels on what we do as better or worse.
Now, we see an effect -- a gender effect --so if I choose not to go down the path of how great women are, then to what do I attribute this effect? I call it the "mixing it up" effect.
Given that the IPOs never reach 100% women on their top teams, my theory (unproven so far) is that 100% women would be no better than 100% men. The key behind our finding, we think, is that women cause a "mixing up" that makes people a bit more uncomfortable. This results in asking more questions, thinking differently and making better decision, which then leads to better business.
We have some data that support this view, but in many ways this finding still remains a mystery. What do you think?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Engaged in what?

Why do organizations start employee engagement programs? In this blog, Mike talks about the research we are doing on the "engaged in what" question.
In our extensive literature review we found that most of the employee engagement work, although "talking" about the "above and beyond" work, focuses instead on the core job role. When people are engaged, they work more overtime; they stay with the company, and they are loyal. But there's not much talk about being "engaged in" innovation or other non-core job roles. Why is that?
Maybe it's because we're not even asking the "engaged in what" question.
Read Mike's article and let us know what you think.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Start-up people

I just read a post on Fast Company about life in start-up companies. The author discusses what it is about a start-up company that makes it a hotbed of innovation and creativity.
Overall, start ups have a high sense of urgency, and in successful start ups, everyone has that high sense of urgency or higher energy level that compels them to keep moving forward and trying to succeed. The high sense of urgency results in people working together even when it may not be in their best personal interests to do so. High sense of urgency cultures are made up of start-up people.
Start-up people can be in a big company, self employed, in an entrepreneurial firm or working for a not-for-profit company. They are people who can work well when multi-tasking; they are people who are willing to take calculated risks and not be afraid of people laughing at their ideas. Start-up people get the job done without being told. Start-up people may not have the highest GPA or come from the top top schools; it's not easy to find them. Start-up people are fun to work with, and they make a positive difference in the firms that employ them.
I now have a team of start-up people in all the jobs I have .. in academics and in business. These teams are doing a lot with few resources. To all the start-up people on my teams, thank you!
To firms that want to hire and retain start-up people, let's talk. There is a way to bring them to your firm, or even better, to find them as I guarantee there are some in the midst of your current employee population.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Energy Pulsing for Higher Performance in 2012 and Beyond

Verb: Focusing, directing, aligning, and motivating employees to move forward together and along the right path to achieve incredible success; changing direction as needed quickly, becoming an organization with outrageously positive evangelists and raising the stakes to create a dynamic, high powered, high performance business. Driving a high sense of urgency and high-performance culture.

Noun: Continuous improvement, innovation, and engagement process.

Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne started her groundbreaking work on employee energy at work in 1993. Since then organizations all over the globe have used Energy Pulsing to improve performance, drive growth, sell more and navigate in high-change environments. eePulse built a proprietary technology to leverage the research and learning, allowing organizations to not just track employee energy but also to simultaneously implement powerful interventions that improve energy at work, align energies and drive innovation.

Traditional employee engagement surveys and processes are book ends. They help ignite conversations with employees, but they are limited in how they can drive performance because they are done infrequently, and they often do not address the real issues that affect energy at work. eePulse's research on energy is based on millions of data points, with people around the world. Energy predicts performance. Firms that track energy and use the Energy Pulsing process outperform their competition.

Start 2012 with Energy Pulsing in your team.

Call now or write for a 15-minute introduction and demo



eePulse provides the technology for the Leadership Pulse. The Leadership Pulse is the only real-time learning process that allows all participants to receive personal benchmarking and trendmarking reports. Learn about trends in energy, confidence, change, business drivers and more. Learn from your peers; be ready for what's new in 2012.

To sign up for no-cost membership, go to www.leadershippulse.com.

Risk Management Strategy as Part of the Employee Energy and Engagement Work

2021 may become known as the the year of the employee. 2021 is characterized by more employees having more choices about where they will wor...