PEOPLE STRATGY FORUM

EPISODE #6

Wendy Graham Settle

How Offering Meaningful Career Paths Increase Employee Performance With Wendy Graham Settle

How do you increase employee performance? By using career architecture. Sam Reeve’s guest today is Wendy Graham Settle, a Dynamic Learning and Development Professional with a passion for Marketing Communications. Wendy talks with Sam about how you need to create a vision of how your new talent can contribute to your company. The only way to do that is to look at your organizational structure to determine what positions you need to fill. Then use assessment tools to understand your employee’s talents and interests to match them with the fitting job description. If you’re passionate about increasing employee performance, you’d want to listen to this episode. Tune in!

How Offering Meaningful Career Paths Increase Employee Performance With Wendy Graham Settle

Welcome to the show. If you are brand-new to us, welcome. We’re excited to have you here. This is always a fun hour where we discuss all kinds of topics. To give you a bit about what we do here, we’re a Mastermind of leaders dedicated to creating workplaces where people thrive, employers reward, and customers love. It’s a little bit of goodness for everybody. I help host the sessions here. I will be introducing our panel of wonderful speakers. I will also be looking for your questions and comments.

I’m going to introduce the rest of our panel here. We have everyone from the CompTeam crew. Sumit is not going to be joining. He’s a little unwell. We have Char. She is not only with CompTeam, she also runs her own business. She’s going to be living between the US and Mexico, a cool way to live and work, and has over twenty years of HR experience. We’re very excited to have her. Our discussion is going to be led by Sam and Wendy.

I’ll introduce Wendy. She’s part of the CompTeam crew. She is an HR professional and learning and development professional. She’s worked with everything from small tech startups all the way to Fortune 500 companies managing, training and implementing HR systems. We’re happy to have you here, Wendy. You were the very first speaker when I first jumped into the forum. You were the first person. It’s good to see you back. I can’t wait to listen to what we are discussing. Sam will also be leading us through this presentation. He is the Founder and CEO of CompTeam. He brings us this forum each and every week. His expertise lies in rewards and compensation programs. He’s got some good expertise across the board.

We’re going to discuss increasing employee performance by offering meaningful career paths. We’ll also be discussing career architecture. Sam and Wendy will be taking us through the whole process of career architecture, why it’s important, and how it all works. Char will be hopping in as well. Sam and Wendy, if you are both ready, I will let you have the floor and enjoy, everyone.

Thanks, Jules. The big thing that we’re trying to have a discussion about is the importance of having career paths and ensuring that is facilitated across your organization. Having career paths in your organization is something that can help, attract and retain your top talent. There are a lot of different ways of doing this.

When we were thinking about career paths and career architecture as what we call it, career architecture means developing the infrastructure so that you can facilitate your employees to move through and pass in their career to realize their hopes and dreams as far as their professional life, and ensuring that fits in with their personal life too. We’re going to take you through that journey as far as doing that. Let’s start off, Wendy. When we were thinking about companies and creating a career path, what is the biggest challenge that they face in getting started with this?

What I see most often is either companies or organizations have a career path, but they’re not telling their team members what they have available. They have put together thoughtful programs or opportunities and they’re not communicating it. The other thing that I see is a lot of organizations have not taken the time to define their career paths or to create a career architecture. Because they don’t have anything in place, they are not communicating the value that they offer to their employees. Those seem to be the two main issues.

I find that in a lot of organizations, employees expect that they need to leave to be able to advance in the organization at the speed at which they wish to advance. If they don’t have good and clear communication with managers, then they feel like they have to exit the organization.

From the employee side, it’s almost like part of our culture. Every 3 or 5 years, you’re going to be looking for something else. How many people, both employees and employers, would like to have a career and a long opportunity there, even have multiple careers within that organization and be able to have a lot of opportunities? That’s the desire for a lot of people, to be able to make a home, grow and develop.

Create a vision for how your new talent can contribute and how you can benefit from having them. Click To Tweet

One of the biggest things nowadays is people are looking for a choice. Careers and jobs are changing so much in the marketplace. For instance, I bring my wife up as an example. She’s a teacher and we’ve thought of teaching as being something relatively consistent as far as a job throughout the years. Now we entered into the age of COVID and remote work and her job has changed significantly.

She’s not in front of the classroom directing and learning there. She’s now doing a bit of broadcasting. She needs to know how to use Zoom and how to keep people engaged on an online platform. The job has changed. That’s happened to a lot of jobs across, not just due to the pandemic and so forth, but jobs do change on a regular basis through time. We may fall in and out of love with a particular career path that we’re in. It’d be great to have those opportunities for something different.

Another thing that I see is that organizations are putting so much time, effort, energy and money into finding the right candidate, onboarding them in a great way, and making them part of the team and all of that, and then it stops. There’s like a brick wall. You’ve spent all this to bring the perfect person in, to get them as part of the team, and to get them performing. You haven’t created a vision for how they can contribute, how you can benefit from having them there, and paint this future picture of what the options are.

When we bring in people to our organizations, if we’re not laying out a future path for them or their contribution or what they’re going to do as far as experiences are not laid out for them, they don’t feel like they have that future. It’s ambiguous. Automatically, they’re disconnecting themselves from being at that place for a long time because they don’t have a vision of the future. Char, in your experience in your career, what have you seen as far as some of the challenges that providers in your businesses that you’ve worked with have?

Working in large healthcare systems is a big chunk of my HR background. For example, one of the healthcare systems had near 60,000 employees, and a department of 10 or 12. Let’s say it’s the marketing department, the manager is assuming that all of their employees are going to stay there forever or at least until they retire.

Meanwhile, the employee is out getting a degree, focusing on moving on, and shifting careers from marketing to organizational development in the HR talent management space. These are very different career paths. Unfortunately, the leader is not aware. I do have a person that that happened with, and suddenly there are vacancies.

Even in the smaller departments, there’s a ceiling of how high you go. Oftentimes, the leaders would not talk to the other leaders to say, “I have an employee that has a passion for moving to HR or moving to change management or project management or even IT.” It’s like what we’re saying before. We’re not sitting down and having those heart-to-heart conversations about your job interests.

With my company, I now utilize the TMA method because there is an assessment of job interests. For example, even when we’re hiring our new employee, we tell our employee, “We know that you might leave in two years or hopefully, you can stay at least two years. Be upfront and honest about what’s truly your interest in their career path. It’s a challenge if you don’t open up the discussion right away.

The challenge is the leader’s way of holding onto their superstars. They don’t want to let them go. It is a benefit and an asset to the company if the employee transitions to another position in the company and then has the same knowledge of that particular department if that makes sense. Convincing a leader of the overall strategy sometimes can be a challenge because they don’t always understand.

PSF 6 | Increase Employee Performance

Increase Employee Performance: The first step in introducing a career framework is to ask your employee, “what are you excited about?”

I have a question from Nick. He wants to know, what are some of the best practices for introducing a career framework to an employee at a company who’s never had one before? How do you kick off that kind of program? 

We’re going to go through a large framework and showing how we can get started in building a career architecture and what a company can do for the first step. The first step is not all that exciting. You have to build the foundation first. The exciting part is when we put that foundation into work. We’ll talk about that but first, I want to want to talk about the opportunities of having career paths in the organization. We’re talking about what are the great benefits. We started off the conversation with a few of them.

The biggest one is to be able to retain your employees and specifically retaining your high performers because those gogetters out there are thinking ahead. They’re constantly on the move. They’re thinking about what’s next, “How can I improve this situation? How can I better my life and the lives of my family?” Retaining those individuals is quite important. When we’re looking at other opportunities as far as what career path and career architecture bring, what other types of opportunities have you seen beyond retention?

The first step is as simple as asking your employee, “What are you excited about? Where do you see yourself going?” If they don’t have the skills to think like that, maybe they’re not those go-getters who feel empowered to find their own career path, it’s a guided discussion around either the things that you’re good at, the things that they enjoy, the things they want to grow or develop into. It’s just asking, “What are you interested in?” Asking can go such a long way.

You can’t just have this discussion and then leave them on their own. You’ve got to be able to support them in terms of, “Is there a mentorship? Is there a one-on-one? Do they want to go shadow in another department? Do they want to get some training? Is there a stretch assignment that they want to try?” Whatever the aspect is that they want to work on, it’s being able to talk with them about getting that going. Asking shows that you care, and then you do need to back that up with some actions and with some support system. 

The biggest part of this is simply communication. Let’s talk about the opportunities and the benefits of this. We spoke about retention. That’s a big piece. The other is enhancing communication, understanding what your people want to do, and what their ambitions are. That gives you a magnitude of benefits. With that comes developing them on the skills, those pieces that are driving them and that they’re excited about. That’s a critical piece.

With this, we learn about a person’s superpower. I talk about this because I believe everybody has a superpower, something that they love to do and they love to be known for. Promoting that skillset brings a sense of happiness and worth across the organization. That leads to performance, which is the other benefit and opportunity that companies can have.

Culturally, particularly in larger companies, there’s an issue with siloed departments. Siloing is a big problem like those examples about shadowing and talking to other leaders and asking what talents they’re looking for. Also, talking to your employees about where their aspirations are. That is a community of all the leaders understanding their talent together and learning from each other about their opportunities. That breaks down those siloed processes in big companies. 

Let’s get to the point of the process. We’ve talked about some of the challenges and opportunities. Let’s go into a bit of the process of how to make this happen in your organization. One of the most important things, if we look at how to put a career architecture in place and develop career paths for your organization, the first thing is we need to understand what the current state is.

What is the culture of the organization? What is the makeup of the people that we have? What were they trying to accomplish? What do they value? What is their age and demographic? Where are they located across the globe and those cultural norms? We need to know that as a foundation. We also need to know the ability of the company to support a certain administrative infrastructure. Do they have managers that are skilled? Do they have an HR department that can support the organization? Do they run lean?

Look above the tree and at your organizational structure to determine what you need. Click To Tweet

This current state, their ability to adapt in the future, and what they plan on having after they roll out career architecture is going to totally determine the type of process or program that you can facilitate in the organization. Is it going to be lightweight? Is it going to be something that’s robust and that’s going to be detailed, that’s going to give maximum impact? That’s the first stage that you need to take as an HR leader out there. If you’re a CEO, you need to assess that current state. What can we handle?

You then jump into each of these in a little bit more detail. You then go into the design and the framework, and understanding what’s going to work in that particular environment. We then have to go through the job analysis. It means we need to know what jobs are across the organization and what levels those jobs are. We need to know the competencies such as the knowledge, skills and abilities that are required for each of those, and the behaviors that are required for those roles as well so we can develop people to aspire into those positions.

Once you have that basic infrastructure and idea together, I typically would recommend at that point to go to the rest of your leaders. If you’re an HR professional, you’re going to go to your leadership team and propose your idea, and make sure that you get good buy-in across this. The important part here is that this is going to impact not only the company but everybody’s job in the organization. We need to make sure that there’s a good comfort level about how you’re going to go about this in the organization. We don’t want to be disruptive.

We want to be able to allow the company to grow in that perspective. Once we get that approval, then we’re going to go into developing that administrative infrastructure to be able to roll that out. This has to do with making sure that you’re putting your coaching materials together, you’re building your personal development plans, and you’re getting ready for launch. From a high level, this is what we need to do.

Let’s go to the next thought here and dive into each one of these pieces overall. The first piece is to identify that overall business structure. We need to understand what we can handle and then start defining our jobs. Many companies out there have job descriptions. They had an understanding of what they are. It’s rare that you’ll ever find a job description that is up to date, or that track the job from a level of what you need for coaching.

Char, in these larger organizations you’ve worked with, as far as developing people and understanding the contents of the job, have they done this in those organizations to ensure people understand the job they’re in, and perhaps the next level up, and what is required for that next level up?

Oftentimes there is a lack of identifying the business structure and the business need in the organization, and the immediate jump to thinking of the people, which I know sounds negative. Sometimes you need to look above the tree and look at your organizational structure and say, “What do we need? Not just because we like George. We like George, but let’s look at what we need before we jump to say that George has this particular position.” I just want to make that clarification. I often have to remind my leaders that it is critical to have that conversation and remind the senior management team about the business structure, the structural needs, and the talent needed to fill those gaps.

That is going to be the first step. It’s important, sitting at that senior management table, to constantly have the talent and the business structural talent needs every time you meet with your senior management team. That is part of the culture of talking about it. What you do is work with your leaders to also have that same mindset. We’re hiring for the talent, for the business structure, and to sometimes remove the name. I made that point.

I worked with you, Sam, a couple of years ago on a particular project. There were some new positions that were different and/or higher or lower than what was in the current state, meaning from a pay perspective. Communication can be delicate. You also have to identify a communication plan, that’s transparency and honesty. Your question is jumping to development. With that, it is a multifaceted process. You have to surround the employee with all the different developmental processes, which includes your learning management system, but that’s not the only way you train and develop.

PSF 6 | Increase Employee Performance

Increase Employee Performance: There’s a big cultural issue with siloed departments.

Having informational interviews with the other leader or the leaders of a position you’re interested in is also very important. Also, setting the stage for HR, talent management, current leader, and the new leader to be able to talk about the informational interview, and the developmental needs that employee needs to start developing on. Also, the fact that we are now in a high technology space. It needs to be in time. A lot of our employees nowadays are on these little devices. It needs to be in time to utilize the newest technology.

I would also say that it’s quick, easy and understandable. Wendy is a pro at building that kind of learning. We were doing that with my employees through a learning portal. It’s not something that’s going to take a week-long seminar at some conference room where the employee or leader is bored to death. It’s something that they can use right in their palm and learn the developmental activities for that particular position. For example, I mentioned the TMA career coach app, and there are recommended developmental activities by competency that the employee can utilize.

We’re utilizing that. We’re able to see if somebody wants to move into phlebotomy someday, or get into biotech, that we have real-life developmental activities at your fingertips that are actually recommendations. What we do is have a leader buy into that, use that app and say, “You want to be a phlebotomist someday. I know you work in this job that does not seem like it’s connected to phlebotomy. How can we help you get to your overall goals?”

Having somebody that has experienced and accomplished it successfully, and can show the return on investment of connecting the business strategy to the developmental processes with career architecture change is a very complex process. If we can break it down into bite-sized pieces that are not so overwhelming and having easy tools that make it easier for not only senior leaders, senior management team, and the frontline leaders, that is the key. It’s the magic that makes it happen. I’ve been able to accomplish it with my company. We’ve just boomed in 2020 and 2021. My company is growing. A lot of it relates to our talent management strategy and the tools that we’re using to get there. 

Daniel is making a great point in the comment. He’s been a leader for 40 years, both experiencing management support and lack of management support. Even if they have advanced technology, it’s an uphill struggle to get HR input and to get that senior buy-in. That is so key. When I think about how do you get senior support, I want to ask Char and Sam, what does senior management care about? They care about the bottom line, the success of the company, and the performance.

That’s a stereotypical comment. I retract. How about these leaders that maybe you don’t have support from? How do you get that? One thing might just be thinking about having this career architecture in place is going to lead to higher performance. Ultimately that’s going to not only be better for our employees who we do care about, but also for the business. Being able to come from that very powerful, “This makes sense for our business,” seems like one good angle. What do you think Sam?

Ensure you get buy-in. That’s why it’s so important to understand the current state of your business and what it can support. A lot of times, companies will hire a consultant or they’ll bring an out-of-the-box solution that’s not the right fit for your company. It doesn’t take hold because it’s either too hard to administer, or it’s not connecting with the employee based on their culture or philosophy.

To ensure that this is going to work, you’ve got to make sure that you’re rolling this out appropriately. You’re having something that’s lightweight that your company can get their arms around, and be able to use and see the benefits right away. A lot of this is simply having those important conversations. There’s no technology solution out there that is going to say, “That’s going to fix all of this.”

Managers have to do their job and they have to have a conversation with their employees, and mentors need to mentor and so forth. That conversation brings awareness of what our people want to do, what they expect out of their careers, and where they want to go. These are things that a manager needs to find important because this will determine whether that employee is going to be happy, if they’re going to be here tomorrow or the next day.

Here’s my opinion also on this topic. It is not one department or HR’s job to be the people leader. Every leader in the organization, starting at the very top is a people leader, is part of the people’s strategy. When you say about buy-in, you have to make it a performance expectation of that leader that you also are a people leader, which means you need to understand the talent management strategies at all levels, from acquisition, onboarding, development, off-boarding, and career mobility.

Great companies give their employees challenging assignments to help them develop. Click To Tweet

If your leader is not a good people leader or a coach, that is a performance problem. That’s what we’re doing with my company. It’s not just the number of widgets that each department, employee or leader is producing. It’s also their coaching skills, their ability to be a people leader, and their ability to positively help their team in all aspects of talent management.

When it’s review time for that leader, if we see high turnover, inability to retain top talent, many employee relations issues, there are real numbers around employment law cases. If you have a particular department leader that you’re constantly seeing all of those problems, then that’s going to be measured. I sat at the executive table many times in my career. I’ve argued with the executive leadership about the importance of you are part of the talent management strategy as it relates to business. I hate to say you are part of HR because I know most people hate HR. I hate to say it that way but it’s true.

Getting their buy-in is part of all of our fabric. All of us are accountable for this. How can I help you be a great people leader, senior management team? How can I help you be a great people leader, director manager? It is not a technology thing. Although that’s one tool. It’s a face-to-face, crucial, authentic, real conversation at all levels. You have to be able to sit in their environments, hopefully not in their office, in the actual work environment, and have that heart-to-heart conversation.

It’s tough. I’m going to be doing just that. It’s the first time that I’m going to have a meeting with each of the managers face to face, eyeball to eyeball. We’re talking about their talent strategy. We’re putting it on our talent management plan. I am now aligning it to our business strategy, every single aspect. I will be talking to every single person in my company. 

What I see as one of the biggest failings in smaller companies is that their managers are spending so much time doing production work. They’re not managing and creating these conversational opportunities, these development opportunities for the people that they oversee.

There needs to be a concrete plan. You have to get away from your desk and out of your office. I know that’s cliche, and we’ve been hearing that over and over again. It’s even harder than moving to a remote workforce environment. It’s tough even though we do Zoom. I do Zoom calls directly with each of my employees and managers.

It’s a challenge to have that personal one-on-one connection and conversation with your team. It’s incredibly important to figure that out. I do believe that sometimes you need somebody that can look over the trees or over being in the midst of the organization. Sometimes it is helpful to get an expert that is not so closely connected with the company.

Let’s talk about what we meant by diagnosing the overall company. We’ve talked about all of these factors. One of the great ones that were brought up is making sure you have that executive sponsorship. Having a climate to where it’s going to make this successful is critical. There are a lot of pieces here of research that needs to happen. Making sure you get your current job documentation.

Do you know the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are required for each position? Do you know the behavioral competencies? Do you have a job structure? When I say job structure, it’s something that says, “Do we have our organization built by function and sub-function?” For instance, if we’re looking at HR, we know the sub-functions that fall under HR. If we’re looking at engineering, we know the career paths that are available in engineering.

PSF 6 | Increase Employee Performance

Increase Employee Performance: The senior management cares about the performance and the success of the company.

I know I’m showing an example for a large company that shows the career architecture and functions and sub-functions. We’re looking at a dual career path. A dual career path means that you can grow as an individual contributor and as a manager in separate tracks. You’re not forced to go from an individual contributor to a manager to be able to continue to grow your career. This is frankly how we’ve gotten a lot of bad managers in the past because we put people into a role that they don’t want to be in.

The dual career path idea came out several years ago in an emerging technology area to highlight the fact that some people want to become experts in their particular roles. They want to be an expert in that. They don’t want to manage. They want to be an individual contributor. When you’re designing your career architecture, it’s important to take those elements into consideration and what your company feels about the talent philosophy there. 

This is a very complex example for a larger company. Even in a small company, my company is about 25 employees right now, and it’s still moving. I had my idea of who our future leaders are going to be in our company. If it wasn’t for the TMA process assessment and a heart-to-heart conversation with one of my employees, I learned she was not comfortable in her role, nor does she want to be a manager. It was one of those conversations, “I thought you wanted to be a manager and you’d make an excellent manager.”

She goes, “I would rather support all the leaders. I would rather be the go-to person.” We are now developing her to be our executive assistant. We have conversations with this employee. Her name’s Melissa. She’s to the moon. She said, “I love being the wind under the wings of being an executive assistant, not only to the owners of the company but for every single leader and be able to connect the dots. If we didn’t have that conversation and you just promoted me to manager of this location, I would’ve left.”

She said to me, “I believe that I worked for the best company and the best leaders ever. I love what I do every day. The fact that you’re giving me challenging assignments and helping to develop me is making me realize I’m working with a great company.” Looking back at my former life as a more of a corporate HR person, it’s interesting to be a former HR person and now a real business owner and be accountable for the bottom line.

Now, I can think back that we lost so many employees that left those companies. With one health care system, the turnover rate for nurses is down to 11%. Typically, the nurses are about 22% nationally. We couldn’t do that until we can have that crucial conversation with that leader to say, “We have to retain your talent.” There’s high turnover in this department.

“What is it that George is good at?” It takes time to create a high employee engagement and have a talent management strategy and be able to teach the leader why you need to be invested in this, and help that employee transition into that new future position like the Melissa’s of the world. It can matter for big companies or small companies.

Wendy, I know that you’ve done career architecture in some companies that are currently in a process of doing the job analysis and competency mapping. Can you tell us what that looks like?

What I love about going through that process is it feels good for the leaders to go through this process, too because they are like, “We’re doing something good for our people.” We’re getting clarity because up until now, you don’t have anything defined. You have your people coming to you saying, “I want a promotion. I want a title. I want this.” You don’t have a standard of how you handle it. You’ve got people who think they are doing all the right things. In your mind’s eye, you’re not seeing what you want to see because you have not laid it out.

Having transparency and some standards, where you’ve stepped back for a second. It doesn’t even take that much time to think about, “What are the critical things that we need for someone at this level in this job?” If they want to move up or if that person wants to go manager track or wants to stay individual contributor, professional track, you stepped back for a second as a leader and said, “I know someone’s ready for the next step when I see this kind of behavior.”

Assessment tools give you valuable information about your talents and interests. Click To Tweet

There might be lots of things you’re looking for that are important, but on a scale of critical to important, narrow down what we say is critical. To be able to tell your teams, “This is the essence of what we need,” creates so much trust both ways. Your teams feel so good that you’ve taken the time to line it out. They feel good because they know, “This is what I need to do. This is what I need to work towards. I’m not good in this area. I need to develop in this area.”

To Char’s point, maybe someone has a talent for something but doesn’t have an interest. You don’t want to develop them, or they have an interest but they don’t have the talent. That’s why I love going through that process because this is not just for the team members. This is great for the leadership too. It creates a lot of good vibes in the organization.

I’m a firm believer that a lot of people can operate and become good at something if they try even if it’s not necessarily talent. The thing is that we have to realize as owners and leaders that sometimes a person is doing something that they’re not necessarily skilled in, and it’s quite difficult for them to do. For instance, if you’re afraid of public speaking, you can overcome part of that, but perhaps it may never be your strong suit to be up in front of an audience and doing public speaking. If that’s a requirement of the job, it’s going to take a lot out of that individual to be able to perform that role.

You have a choice in that particular situation. If you’re a small company, a lot of times, they do individualize job crafting. They’ll perhaps take that piece out of that particular individual’s job description and another team member can shore up that particular area that has that skillset. It’s a little bit difficult to do that consistently in larger companies. Especially, in my expertise, when it comes to making sure that there’s fair pay and so forth, that disrupts the comparable worth equation when you’re talking about matching jobs together. Doing some crafting like that can cause some complications in your structure in larger firms. That’s a little bit of a digression.

Nick was asking, “How do you introduce that at a company?” I said, “You have to have a conversation.” There are different parts of the conversation. One part is, “What do you want to do? What are you interested in?” The second part of the conversation is as a leader, you may share, “This is how I see our department growing. I’m looking for someone in this role. Would that be something you might be interested in? If so, what do we need to do to get you there?”

There are other pieces that can make the conversation more productive when we’re talking about talents. It is using assessment tools. These assessment tools can give us a lot of information about your talents, interests, and how you learn. When you put together this development plan, we can use data to ensure your success. What I was going to say about using assessments is one of our other colleagues who will remain anonymous had a talent assessment done.

She was in a role that she was very good at. She was a trainer. She was up in front of people all day every day. It was a very external-facing role. She did one of these assessments and discovered that she was literally doing a 180-degree flex every day because she’s actually introverted. To be outward and presenting and being in front of people all day every day, she would get home and be exhausted at night. She would be in bed by 8:00, asleep. 

Even though she was good at it and we all thought she was amazing, once she saw her assessment, it gave her the freedom to choose something else. She moved into human resource information systems. She got into spreadsheets, analysis and technology. She was thriving because she could put her earbuds in. She could get her work done. Do you know what’s also anecdotally interesting? She is not in bed at 8:00 these days because she’s engaged in her work. She’s not exhausted by it. I throw that out because these assessments are so huge because sometimes people know inside what’s going on, but somehow having that scientifically validated survey result gives you permission to be your true full self, then you can perform and bring your full self to work.

Assessments can be scary in the United States. Some employees think there’s right or wrong, that somehow if they take this and answer the test wrong, it could hurt their job. That’s the reason why we were big fans of the TMA method assessments because they are based on positive psychology, for which there is no wrong answer. It’s based on your work preferences and what you excel at. Wendy’s point is that we can help discover the passions of our employees, what may be their true career, what they thrive at and enjoy but maybe completely hidden to them. This is a way that we can drive performance in our organizations, by doing this discovery.

We need to get back to the basics. A lot of times leaders don’t even know what the word competency means. I remember that experience with one of the vice presidents that had sat down with me and said, “We need to build the competency of business acumen. I need business acumen across this entire organization. Every employee needs to have an IDP, Individual Development Plan on business acumen.”

PSF 6 | Increase Employee Performance

Increase Employee Performance: Scientifically validated survey results give you permission to be your true, full self.

I said, “Does everyone know what business acumen means? Does everyone know what the word competency means?” To most employees and leaders, that sounds like a bunch of corporate blah, blah, blah. I always say that. It’s a very important thing to simplify. What does competency mean? What does talent mean? What does drive mean? What exactly is this competency that you want me to develop? Luckily, I was able to create a phenomenal plan to address that competency problem. We need to get back to the fundamentals of defining exactly what we’re trying to do.

Daniel, thank you for all your commentary. This is what we love. We love hearing from you all. We always love and appreciate comments and your personal experiences as well. That’s what strengthens these sessions. It’s good to know where everyone else is coming from and what they’ve experienced for themselves. I love this. This was such a great session. Wendy, Char, Sam, thank you so much. There were many golden nuggets.

I was taking notes and I loved Wendy’s point at the very beginning when you said, “Start with asking, ‘What are they excited about?’” It’s having that lead to the guided discussion because we see it so much that people thrive on purpose. If they don’t have a purpose, that’s when they start to be a little miserable because they’re doing something and they don’t know why they’re doing it. They may not be as good at it, and then they end up hating it, and then that comes out. That’s not a good addition to any workplace.

Helping them find that purpose because when that goal shifted into another position, it was like night and day. She came alive because she had that purpose. I loved this and I hope everyone got a lot of great value out of this. It’s something that you can implement into your own workplaces and businesses. I hope everyone enjoyed this session.

Thank you, everybody, for attending. It was a great conversation. I loved it. Thank you so much, Wendy, for sharing your knowledge and sharp experience. Jules, the wrap-up you did expressed this to our audience and why it’s so important. Thank you so much.

I hope the conversation continues. We’d love to hear from you all even after the forum. Please be in touch with us as to what you’re doing, what your challenges are, what you’re finding is working so we can all get better together.

It’s a great time to practice your communication skills with us.

Share these events with all your friends, colleagues and professional partners on all of our platforms.

You’re all here to learn. If you have a project and you want a sounding board, we’re here to share our experience and we’d love to hear your perspective as well. It’d be great if we can all benefit together.

Thank you again, everyone. It was a great energetic and dynamic discussion.

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About Wendy Graham

PSF 6 | Increase Employee PerformanceWendy Graham Settle (PHR, SHRM-CP) is a dynamic Learning and Development professional with a passion for marketing. Her superpower is clearly written and verbal communication.
A highlight of her rich 20+ year career is helping small tech startups (Mercury Payment Systems, Vantiv, Local News Network) to large international Fortune 500 corporations (AIG, FIS Global) implement, manage, and train HR systems in order to improve and automate their processes.
She is a credentialed human resource professional since 2013 through the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Human Capital Institute (HCI). Wendy also brings a global perspective to her work: Her international relations background and experience living abroad make it easy for her to quickly connect with and influence others across multiple time zones.
Outside the corporate world, Wendy is also an internationally-renowned community dance leader and loves sharing her joy of music, song, and dance with people of all ages and abilities.
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