Archive for October, 2008

Social Networking Encouraging Employee Retention

October 30, 2008

A new report by thinktank Demos has concluded that staff should be encouraged to use socialnetworking sites as part of their daily activities.

The report highlights key areas where social networking can be a boon rather than a burden.

First, allowing staff to interact with each other in social networks encourages company cohesion and employee retention. Secondly, encouraging networking outside the company bolsters business operations and avoids concentrating all outside contact in the hands of a few individuals, which could hurt the company if they leave.

“The answer is not to close down staff access to social network platforms, nor is it investing blindly in collaborative platforms,” the report finds.

“Rather, we argue that we need to understand how, once we accept the implications of social networks, we can manage the new challenges and trade-offs. Understanding and closing these fault-lines is now critical to business success.”

The report goes on that businesses may be tempted to shut down access to social networks in an effort to save time that employees spend on them, but that the savings are outweighed by the benefits.

Additional benefits include staying in contact with workers who have left the firm and are likely to be working in related industries.

Mark Turrell, chief executive of Imaginatik, a firm that participated in the Demos research, said, “There is a real question of how you get the best, most bright people to work for you.

“We have a range of incredibly bright people here who benefit from having the space to explore their ideas and develop them into business opportunities. In this situation, having a networked environment is really important to keep people together and maintaining the coherency of the organisation.”

There are downsides, however. Staff will have to be educated in safe networking, particularly in light of the growing amount of malware that attacks social networking systems.

“Networking has always been a fundamental part of good business practice,” said Robert Ainger, head of corporate at Orange Business UK.

“Its profile and significance is increasing now because of the proliferation of new technologies that enable us to connect to each other in our personal and professional lives. But it is also good for companies to be aware of the tensions and look at deploying practical guidelines and technologies that will protect the positive impact of networks, not hamper it. Changing how your business approaches and facilitates social networking could present a significant opportunity in the current business climate,” he said.

(Source Written by Iain Thomson in San Francisco

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit


Don’t get stressed thinking about the problems- do something positive!

October 30, 2008

DON’T spend time worrying about the stress level in your life – take action!

That’s the message that experts are trying to get across on this year’s National Stress Awareness Day on November 5 to help people to take action to reduce levels of tension.’Don’t spend time worrying about the stress level in your life – take action’ is the message sent out by the champions of the campaign – which is now in its tenth year.  

National Stress Awareness Day aims to raise awareness of stress, the causes and how to manage it and to highlight the debilitating and destructive nature of stress. 

Many people don’t realise how much pressure they inflict on themselves and how many different elements contribute to stress levels – particularly the habit of worrying. 

“We want to encourage the nation to reduce their stress levels by taking positive actions,” said Ann McCracken, vice chair at ISMA -the International Stress Management Association (ISMA). 

Stress is now one of the leading causes of absenteeism in the UK, accounting for many millions of lost work days, and mental health problems is the single biggest source of incapacity benefit. 

Ann continued: “The purpose of the day is to highlight what science shows are the main sources of stress, such as long working hours, excessive overload, lack of work-life balance, external and internal pressures, but also importantly, how people can address these triggers.” 

ISMA recommends the following as key ways to reduce stress: 

Take Action – evaluate all available options, then make a decision and act on it. There is often something you can practically do about a situation you are worried or anxious about. Consider each worry one by one, then ask yourself, on a scale of one to 10. How important is this worry? If it is less than five, leave it for another day! 

Write it down – Worrying often happens when it is time to go to sleep. Keep a notepad by the bed, write it down and tell yourself you will deal with it in the morning. You can use this technique in the day too, deferring all your worries for e.g. 30 minutes, to a designated later time is really helpful rather than being unproductive all day. 

Try not to worry about things you have no control over – worries can often be blown out of proportion. There is often something you can practically do about a situation you are worried or anxious about. If you have no control over the worry – for example the worry that your train will be late – accept it as a possible reality and think about how you can deal with the outcomes 

Positive thinking – Changing your thoughts is not as difficult as you may think. Try to adopt an outlook on life that stops you seeing external events as determining your happiness. Instead, see your thoughts as the determiner of your happiness. It takes practice, but if you can do this you’ll reduce negative tension that leads to much of the stress in your life. 

Talk to friends – they may suggest a possible course of action or solution.

Worry is often a habit, doing a ‘reality check’ with others can help change thinking from negative to positive. 

Relax – A good relaxation technique is an anti-stress weapon that you always carry with you, to help you deal with any stressful situation as it arises. Make relaxation a regular part of your daily routine. There are many relaxation techniques, from deep-breathing and visualization to meditation and self-hypnosis. Find one that works for you – check out books, CDs and DVDs that can help.

Log on to to learn more about how to take action and reduce stress in all areas of life. The interactive website encourages people at work and those at home to reduce worry and reap the benefits.
(Source:By Kate Lahive
Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit

Should Employers Reconsider Coming into Work?

October 27, 2008

Posted by christian harris

These days I’m pretty much chained to my desk at home. No matter how much I try to motivate myself to head into the smoke and pitch for new work, I can’t. I should, I know, but the commute is such a chore – and often the train is full of people who look like they live on there. Why isn’t everyone happy [and clean] like on CBeebies’ Me Too?

Luckily, I’m not alone – for a minute I thought my computer had turned me agoraphobic. It seems the credit crunch is paving the way to a travel revolution, as organisations and staff look to cut costs during the current economic turmoil. Thousands of employers are already helping themselves and their staff through workplace travel plans. Policies such as staggering work journeys, home working, and encouraging cycling and walking, are enabling staff to get to work in a better way and in the process saving time and money while improving health and wellbeing. I’m yet to work for a boss who’s so accommodating, but apparently they’re out there somewhere.

I’ve been saying for years that being green and commuting smart have never made more commercial sense, but it seems companies are finally starting to take heed. The CBI estimates that road congestion alone costs the UK economy some £20 billion per year. Even a limited take-up of travel plans could save £1.9 billion per year within five years. And with that money we could buy a new Government – wishful thinking!

In these cost-conscious times, employees and employers should look at the cost of travel and realise the absurd waste of time and resources, especially of one person commuting by car. If you’re a company bigwig you should think about making it easier for your employees to get about, travel more sustainably and tackle travel issues such as congestion, pollution, carbon emissions and health. Why not take the initiative and promote many alternatives to the usual one-person-per-car approach such as remote working, public transport, cycling and walking. Not only that, but innovative new techniques such as personalised travel planning, car sharing and car clubs – sorry, the last one sounds a bit creepy.

I might even go so far as to suggest that ‘smarter commuting’, such as walking, cycling, car sharing and reducing the number or journeys by allowing remote working, leads to better productivity and cuts business costs. There are not only direct savings, such as mileage allowances, but also hidden costs such as parking provisions, staff retention and employee health issues that can be addressed through travel planning. In the current challenging economic environment, it makes more sense than ever for employers and their staff to look at how and when people travel to and from their workplaces. But more importantly, it helps me to justify not getting out of my seat for another couple more days…


Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit

Employee Retention involves a lot of energy but it’s “WORTH IT”

October 26, 2008


As the competition in the market heats up, the acquisition of skills, talents and knowledge becomes a difficult job for the organization. The company feels in pressure when in every management meeting managers come and repeat this excuse for poor performance, then the pain comes out “stop the turnover”.

Many of the companies are facing problems in retaining employees. Where recently a survey shows that employee turnover can cost an organization almost 4 – 5 times more than an annual employee salary. A study conducted by some B – schools researched that 80% of employee turnover is attributable to blunders committed during the recruitment process. Being an HR professional we need to understand employee turnover is not a disease but it is a symptom of the disease.

Employee Retention is a process in which the employees are encouraged to be with the organization for the maximum time or as of now, until the project gets completed.

Though, employee – employer relationship has undergone a fundamental change, which has implications on the attrition, motivation and retention of talented employees. Employee retention is beneficial for both the organization and employee.

In this era of globalization employees are blessed with good opportunities. As soon as they feel dissatisfied with the current employer or with the job they switch over. It is becoming hard on the employer to retain employees, as the organization would not be left with good employees. Being HR personnel one should know how to attract and retain its employees.

A company, which wants to strengthen its bond with its employees, needs to invest in their developments. This involves the creation of opportunities for role enhancement within the company as well as training & skill development that allow employees to enhance their employability in the internal/external employable market.

Employees should be trained and given a chance to improve & enhance their skills. This helps them to perform better and also boosts their self- esteem and commitment towards work.

Employee Retention involves five major things:

1. Compensation
2. Environment
3. Growth
4. Relationships
5. Support.

If an organization is able to focus on all these areas, it can retain employees. Taking employee retention very seriously companies/ HR personnel have come up with various retention schemes like ” Bell Curve method” which means to provide good benefits and incentives to employees those who fall within “critical People”to the organization. Few of them are as under:

1. Retention Bonus
2. Employee Reward program
3. Career Development program
4. Performance based bonus
5. Employee referral plans

It is not about managing retention, it is about managing people.

The glue is quality work, responsibilities, recognition, respect, growth, opportunities, compensation, support and friendly supervision. If an organization manages its people well, employee retention will be taken well care of. Organization should force on managing the work environment to make better use of their human assets.

(Source Contributing Writer:  Anjali Sarin

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit


Reduce anxiety and stress levels with a relaxing read

October 25, 2008


READING has been compared to exercise for its health benefits to help people manage stress levels.

Experts believe that reading a book can help to improve people’s health and wellbeing by acting as a form of relaxation and escapism.

This in turn can help people to manage stress and anxiety levels.

The revelations come in the midst of the National Year of Reading in Wales, which is being co-ordinated by the Welsh Books Council.

And they follow the growing use of reading therapy to help people who are suffering from mild forms of depression.

The scheme has also been extended across parts of Wales to children with emotional and psychological problems and their families.

GPs, health visitors and school nurses are able to recommend self-help books, which can in turn help people to understand and manage their conditions. Wales led the way in the UK by setting up a nationwide book prescriptions scheme in 2005 after it was piloted in Cardiff.

It has since been copied across the UK with so-called bibliotherapists working with health professionals who prescribe high quality self-help books, which have similar treatments to those they would receive in counselling.

But simply reading a book for pleasure also has its health benefits as it can help people to take their minds off everyday problems.

A few minutes reading is thought to have a therapeutic and long-lasting effect.

Dr Tony Jewell, Wales’ chief medical officer, said: “Reading can be helpful in understanding all sorts of health problems, giving people information and tips on how to help manage their illness better.

“For example in the field of mental illness, if you have problems then there are books on all types of issues from depression and anxiety to anger management that can be obtained to give advice and support.

“In Wales a range that has been recommended by experts in their field can even be prescribed by your GP and lent free from the local library.”

And NHS Direct advises that: “Reading is beneficial for both children and adults. It can help you to cope with stress and anxiety, and provide a form of relaxation and escapism.

“It is also a great brain tool, helping people of all ages to learn and develop important life skills, in terms of education, self improvement, positive life choices and all round wellbeing.

“Reading is great for adults too – settling down with a good book or a favourite magazine is a great way to unwind at the end of a stressful day, and enjoy some ‘you time’.

“It can take your mind off your worries and woes, and often a bit of time-out helps you to put things in perspective and cope better.”

It is thought that all types of books can help people relax including novels, fiction, non-fiction, biographies as well as self-help, self-improvement, health, motivational and educational books.

The National Year of Reading in Wales brings together people from all across Wales to share the joy of reading. A wide range of activities have already been held as part of the year ranging from locally arranged reading groups through to the Give a Book Week and Reading Communities initiatives.

More information about how individuals and communities can get involved can be found on the National Year of Reading website at

(Source: Madeleine Brindley, Western Mail)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit

How To Start An Employee Referral Program

October 25, 2008


In this highly competitive market, finding top talent can be a challenge. Employers are searching for successful recruiting methods to bring in the right employees to grow the business. An employee referral program (ERP) can provide you with great talent and at a low cost.


Copyright (c) 2008 Pat Brill

In this highly competitive market, finding top talent can be a challenge. Employers are searching for successful recruiting methods to bring in the right employees to grow the business. An employee referral program (ERP) can provide you with great talent and at a low cost.

It does take some upfront time to create the right program for your company, as well as marketing time to educate the employees on the value of the program. Once this initial investment has been done, the effectiveness of your recruiting efforts becomes more powerful.

==>Why would you want to create an employee referral program?

-Attract strong job candidates – employees are usually careful who they offer as a referral.

-Involve employees in the growth of the company – your employees are great sales people as they know the company.

-Employees receive acknowledgement for their involvement.

-Cost effective – an effective award pays out a “referral fee” but it is a lot less than outside recruiting firms.

-Decreased time in hiring – since the employee did the initial screening for you, you can move quickly to see if this candidate is a right fit for the position and the company.

-Retention – there is indication that employee referral hires have a strong retention value. The value of retention affects both the existing employee as well as the new hire from this recruiting program.

You do need to do some research to create the program that works best in your environment, though there are basic components of the program.

==>Create a Process

Set up a process for the employee to submit a referral…keep it simple.

-Designed the employee referral program (ERP).

-Create an online system as it cuts down on the employee, candidate, and company’s time to process the application. If you go manual, have a form the employee must complete, attaching the candidate’s resume. I would put in a question on why the employee recommends the candidate.

-Contact the referral within 48 hours…if not sooner. Employee referrals should be highlighted and fast tracked through the recruiting process.

-Keep the employee in the loop as to the status of the candidate.

-Thank the employee throughout the process…recognition is a powerful tool in maintaining interest in this program.

-If the candidate is hired, notify payroll for payment to the existing payroll.


If the employee finds a strong candidate, they need to be recognized and awarded for their efforts. As you see, I used “recognized” and “awarded”, both of which are important ingredients of a successful employee referral program (ERP).

Most employee programs are not for significant amounts…up to $1,000 per hire, depending on the position. It can be as simple or as elaborate as the talent you need to find…do some research when you develop the reward portion of the program.

==>Marketing The Program

-Out of site, out of mind…very true words for programs that a company initiates. Therefore, keep this program in front of the employee via emails notifying open positions, posting on the intranet, or publicly acknowledging a successful employee as the company’s “talent scout.”

-Have senior leaders involved in the program’s success. We all know that if top management supports a program, the program is likely to get more publicity and recognition. They could recognize at a company meeting all the “talent scouts” and present them with a token of recognition.

==>Ongoing Support of the Program

-You need to have at least one champion of the program. This individual or department is responsible for keeping the employees up-to-date on the open positions as well as educating them on the value of participating in the program.

-This education must provide tips for the employee to evaluate potential employees for the company. You want them to refer candidates that are at least as good as they are or better.

-Have a lunchtime seminar…market it with $500 dollar bills (make believe) posted everywhere. The picture of the dollar bill should indicate the amount that you are actually offering for each employee referral….whatever the amount, peak the employee’s interest.

-There are many places an employee can find potential candidates…friends, peers in other companies, professional organizations, someone they know in another organization that could recommend a potential candidate…it’s all about networking.

-If the employee has a network of contacts… have them use their rolodex to find talent for the company.

==>Problems with this program

-You want great talent….you have to educate your employees what you are looking for. Give them guidelines or they will refer family and friends who may not be a match for the company.

-Too many rules and regulations and the employee will lose interest…keep it simple and effective.

-The reward for finding talent must be effective…or they will not be interested. Do some research and find out what other companies are offering.

-If you don’t actively market the program, it will collect dust. This is a definite waste of a great recruiting method.

Take the time to research this topic…the market for great talent is very competitive and you have the inside talent to locate new talent.

(Source: Copyright (c) 2008 Pat Brill)

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit

Watson Wyatt Suggests Communication Tenets for Senior Executives

October 25, 2008


To maintain employee morale during times of financial crisis, senior leaders can allay employee fears by communicating clearly on topics such as pensions, 401(k) investments and even job security, according to communication experts at Watson Wyatt, a leading global consulting firm.
"The current turmoil in financial markets is obviously a distraction to workers," saidRichard Guinn, senior communication consultant at Watson Wyatt. "While companies cannot advise their employees about their investments, they can reassure them about the security of their defined benefit pensions, which are government-backed. Employers can also help their workers understand the implications of their 401(k) investment strategy, including the importance of saving, diversifying portfolios and taking a long-term perspective."
Guinn suggests that senior executives should keep basic communication tenets in mind:
-- Be a leader. Leaders don't have to have all the answers. Tell employees what you know and what you don't. Explain the steps the organization is taking to identify issues and resolve problems. Knowing senior executives are there to lead through uncertain economic times is crucial to your people.
-- Show your strengths. Reinforce the core competencies and values that make your organization successful. Talk about how they will help the organization thrive in the future.
-- Be visible. Credibility, conviction and passion are important messages that only actual presence can convey. Employees can benefit from seeing engaged and informed senior leaders through Webcasts or other interactive vehicles.
-- Use your team. Make sure the management team knows how and what to communicate, and that no one is a bystander. Limit potential damage from leaders' informal conversations that are overheard and ripple through every organization.
-- Be coordinated. Coordinate your internal and external messages. Employees should hear company news from the company first.
-- Share responsibility. Be clear about what you want your managers and your workforce to do. People want to help -- tell them how. It's never a bad time to reinforce customer focus.
-- Give up the myth of message control. Find ways to listen to what is on employees' minds. Monitor the press and social media for what is being said about your company and your industry. Have a process for quickly developing and distributing answers to rumors and for clarifying inaccurate statements, such as possible layoffs.
-- Be humane. Some employees are experiencing personal trauma from falling 401(k) account balances and home prices. Acknowledge their pain and make them aware of the resources at their disposal, such as the company's Employee Assistance Plan.
About Watson Wyatt
Watson Wyatt (NYSE, Nasdaq: WW) is the trusted business partner to the world's leading organizations on people and financial issues. The firm's global services include managing the cost and effectiveness of employee benefit programs; developing attraction, retention and reward strategies; advising pension plan sponsors and other institutions on optimal investment strategies; providing strategic and financial advice to insurance and financial services companies; and delivering related technology, outsourcing and data services. Watson Wyatt has 7,200 associates in 32 countries and is located on the Web at
SOURCE Watson Wyatt
Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance Program
Stress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism
Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. 
For more info visit

IT challenge raring to go

October 25, 2008

More and more teams are signing up to compete in a major UK IT competition set to be held next year.

The 2009 Microsoft UK Challenge is set to take place in the Cambrian Mountains in Wales from June 10th to June 14th next year.

Firms who have already signed up to compete include HP and Fujitsu Siemens, with all entries hoping to take home the IT Cup.

A combination of business competition and adventure sport is likely to get both brains and bodies working in overdrive and provide a great teambuilding and networking opportunity for individuals and companies.

Productivity and staff retention can also be improved through the event, its organisers claim, while it has already raised more than £3 million for the NSPCC in the last nine years.

Last year, Accenture won the IT Cup, while 120 teams competed in the event and more are expected this year as the Challenge celebrates a decade of competitions.

Register and view the details of the next networking event.

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit

Mentoring: The intelligent network

October 25, 2008

Mentoring has ancient and established roots yet is often seen as a modern approach to staff development. In essence learning from someone more experienced and hopefully wiser, Annie Hayes finds that a successful mentoring programme not only encourages staff to develop and share their knowledge but can have added benefits such as retention.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is often confused with coaching. The terms are used interchangeably, rolling off the tongue in a merry-go-round of terminology where professionals mistake one for the other.

But John McGurk, learning, training and development adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says that they are not the same thing at all: “If I want someone to show me how to do something then I need a mentor, but if I want to be shown how to do something myself then I need a coach.” Any clearer? I thought not.


Photo of Professor David Clutterbuck“The retention levels between people who are mentored and people who are not are typically three to one – sometimes even higher.”Professor David Clutterbuck, Clutterbuck Associates

Professor David Clutterbuck, of Clutterbuck Associates, a coaching and mentoring consultancy, sheds some light on the distinction and remarks that mentoring is about long-term development. A point in difference that the CIPD concurs with in its factsheet on the subject. “Traditionally, mentoring is the long-term passing on of support, guidance and advice.”

Looking at the origins of the word helps – it comes from the Greek myth where Odysseus entrusted the education of his son to his friend Mentor. So mentoring, says the CIPD, is a form of apprenticeship, whereby an inexperienced learner learns the tricks of the trade from an experienced colleague, backed up by offsite training.

According to Anna Britnor Guest, joint managing director of The Coaching & Mentoring Network, one of the most common forms of mentoring is aimed at helping ‘high potential’ employees to develop up the management chain, but mentoring for performance improvement, in support of change initiatives and executive mentoring, is also popular. “So too are schemes aimed at particular populations – for instance BT has run a very successful e-mentoring programme within their Minority Ethnic Network.”


Clutterbuck says that mentoring plays an incredibly important role in ensuring the business continues to be successful over time: “Mentors provide the link between generations.”

It’s a benefit that accountancy powerhouse, Ernst & Young has picked up on. Richard Gartside, HR director at the firm, says that in his organisation, mentors are used to extend the counsellor/counselled relationship from development, in the context of current roles and career paths, to personal development more generally. “Not only do our people have their manager/counsellor but they can also choose to have a formal mentor or many unofficial mentors throughout the business. In a competitive and fast-paced world, these can also provide both business development advice and pastoral care if needed.”

However, it’s not just business continuity that is proving advantageous. According to Clutterbuck, mentoring is also a powerful lever for improved retention: “The retention levels between people who are mentored and people who are not are typically three to one – sometimes even higher.”

An impressive statistic; and McGurk says that retention works both ways: “The experienced person passes on their insight and is able to build self-esteem, whilst the mentee benefits from someone who has gone down the ski slopes themselves and can learn from their triumphs.”

Gartside says that another advantage is the bringing together of people from across the business: “Mentoring transcends the different areas and roles within the business; the system provides a range of inspiration and advice on the broader development agenda as the mentor is often not from within the same area or role as the mentee.”

The upside is easy to see – it creates a more powerful internal network across a business such as Ernst & Young and exposes people to different skills, disciplines, career paths and personal development opportunities.

Gartside says it can also do wonders for building a positive culture: “It encourages a people friendly culture and helps the personal development of both the mentor and mentee.”

So can anyone pick up the mentoring baton and is it appropriate for all disciplines and industries?


Good mentor, bad mentor   

  • Purpose – of the mentoring programme
  • Fit – with other development initiatives
  • Target – mentee and mentor population
  • Support – how the organisation culture will support or hinder the adoption and sustainability of the mentoring programme
  • Recommended logistics – how often do mentor and mentee meet, what is the nature of their communication etc
  • Mentor/mentee matching – how does the company assign the right mentor to the mentee?
  • Guidelines, codes of practice and support for the mentor – setting the rules
  • Mentor training – what, where, how
  • Measurement – how will the organisation know it’s successful?
  • Expansion – successful programmes tend to attract increasing requests for mentoring!

Source: The Association for Coaching

Clutterbuck believes that effective mentors are volunteers, who have a track record of developing others and developing themselves: “They need some practical experience in the general area, in which the mentee wants to grow, but don’t have to be an expert – this is not about the detail of a particular job. That’s a role for a traditional coach.”

At Ernst & Young, the firm differentiates between formal and informal mentoring and picks out champions accordingly: “At an informal level, any individual can approach a colleague or individual outside the firm and ask them to act as a mentor on a temporary or ongoing basis. On a more formal level, the firm seeks to instigate processes to match those interested in acting as mentors with those who are seeking a mentor,” says Gartside.

Sector and profession does have a bearing on the success of some mentoring schemes. McGurk comments that where the knowledge is ‘messy’, it can be difficult and says there can be problems where the mentor is a highly linear person: “A good mentor should listen and know what can be achieved. They often have the same skills as a coach has,” says McGurk. However, he points out, one of the mistakes organisations can make is in assuming that an experienced person is a natural mentor, which is not always the case.

Clutterbuck adds the ability to understand organisational politics and help the mentee think things through for themselves to McGurk’s wish list of skills: “Effective mentors don’t impel mentees towards goals, but allow goals to emerge over time from the learning conversation.”


Photo of Professor John McGurk“The experienced person passes on their insight and is able to build self-esteem, whilst the mentee benefits from someone who has gone down the ski slopes themselves and can learn from their triumphs.”John McGurk, CIPD

And Gartside highlights commitment as a further required skill: “A willingness to invest time and energy in the development of another individual and to act as a sounding board for their development and career discussions.”

A skill which requires the mentor to be approachable, engaged and able to draw on a wealth of relevant experience and a good understanding of the business and internal or external network. “There is an element of being able to show the way in a mentoring relationship, both in terms of perspective and also in terms of suggestions and opportunities,” says Gartside.

What’s HR & training’s role?

Clutterbuck believes that HR plays a pivotal ‘policing’ role: “HR and training can start by ensuring the programme design is congruent with the International Standards for Mentoring Programmes in Employment (ISMPE). Appointing a dedicated programme coordinator is also important, with a clearly defined role.”

He also recommends coordinators attend a specialist training programme based on the ISMPE: “It’s also critical to avoid the sheep-dip approach. Both mentor and mentee need to be trained and then given periodic support in reviewing the relationship and acquiring relationship management skills appropriate to the phase of development, which the mentoring relationship has reached.”

Britnor Guest agrees and says that HR & training is key in the mentoring programme design: “It’s important not to strangle the programme with bureaucracy and paperwork but it is important to start off with some clear processes, guidelines and structures which will help the programme to be successful, not just at launch but through the life of the programme and other mentoring spin-offs.”

Gartside says the role of HR and training departments: “Is primarily to explain the benefits of the mentoring relationship to both parties and create a culture in which mentoring is valued and individuals are encouraged to seek the input and advice of a mentor.”

Mentoring is as old as time itself – famous mentoring relationships date back as far as Socrates and Plato, Aristotle and Alexander the Great – the list is endless.

Whilst the concept is ancient, the benefits are timeless and organisations as thoroughly modern as Ernst & Young are putting their own twists onto this age-old wisdom with their new ‘reciprocal’ mentoring, where junior staff can turn the tables on senior players, giving them a helping hand in the development of their management skills. Clearly mentoring is here to stay and those that embrace it benefit with improved retention and business continuity.


Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit

Retention Leadership: Three Key Drivers for Retaining the “Best of the Best” in Your Organisation

October 25, 2008


In this article by Karla Brandau you will find her thoughts on the three critical leadership drivers that  bring high retention results. We hope you find the material both  interesting and useful for  your call center.

In the executive offices of high-tech companies across the globe, a new weapon is reemerging in the executive arsenal with powerful implications for driving business success: Retention Leadership.

Executives whose daily challenges in the 21st Century global environment are how to work with China and India, understand the MySpace Generation and get more free publicity while paying for less advertising, are familiar with initiatives to increase innovation, streamline business processes and motivate for higher individual productivity. However, these executives are now looking at the work of their organization through another dimension: leadership and the retention of employees.

According to the Harvard Business Review, not paying attention to the retention of employees puts the company in a position to lose people with talents they need, often inadvertently retaining people with outdated or ordinary skills.

In a brain-based economy in need of retention, people are your best assets, not empty chess pieces to be moved around by inexperienced managers. Top managers improve retention rates if they immerse themselves in creating an environment where the best, the brightest and the most creative are attracted, motivated and set free to produce.

Three critical leadership drivers bring high retention results:

Driver #1: Connect on a Human Level

Dealing with data, bytes, and scientific thinking in a high tech environment can obscure the fact that you are working with human beings with emotions and mortal needs. A good retention program starts with managers who know how to connect on a human level, not just be someone whose position on the organizational chart makes it possible for him/her to force compliance to rules and policies.

People will personally commit to certain individuals who on the organizational chart possess little authority, but instead possess pizzazz, drive, expertise, and genuine caring for teammates and products. Think of the power of having a position on the organizational chart as well as the personal charisma to inspire and lead.

These three things will make your formal title jump off the org chart, creating synergistic team work and expanding your influence:

Check the Ego. Never let your ego get so close to your position that it defines your position and eclipses everyone else in the department or on the team. In well-run organizations, titles are also pretty meaningless. At best, they advertise some authority, an official status conferring the ability to give orders and induce obedience. But titles mean little in terms of real power, which is the capacity to influence and inspire.

Flex your style. Blindly following strict managerial guidelines or the current management fad generates rigidity in thought and action and reduces your credibility. Learn to flex your style: Sometimes speed to market is more important than total quality. Sometimes an unapologetic directive is more appropriate than participatory discussion. Some situations require the leader to hover closely; others require long, loose leashes. The best leaders honor their core values, but are flexible in how they execute them. They understand that management techniques are not magic mantras but simply tools to be reached for at the right times.

Exhibit optimism. In a recent seminar, I met Bernard “Butch” Deuto who was a young man at NASA working on the ground crew during the Apollo 13 crises. He said that during the crisis, there was no doubt, no negativism, no whining, no pointing of fingers. There was only an optimistic attitude and a determination to succeed. Failure truly was not an option. Failure never entered their minds. In a similar fashion, when faced with tough competition, cost overruns, product defects and a myriad of other problems, a leader with determination and optimism focuses workers on solutions, not problems. Morale improves.

Driver Two: Offer leadership Training that Focuses on the Growth of the Employee

Studies document that an employee’s level of satisfaction with their direct manager’s leadership style is critical to a satisfactory work environment and to retention. Researchers find that the relationship with the employee’s immediate supervisor carried more impact on the employee than overall company policies or procedures. This relationship also determines productivity levels. To keep bright employees engaged in their jobs and performing at high levels, managers should provide:

· Information. Information is a source of power. Unskilled managers keep it close to the vest and stingily dole it out in snippets of information on a “need to know” basis as if the employee was on a top secret mission. Without a big picture of the project, it is easy for employees to stray from the vision or end-goal of the product or service.

· Support. Mental and emotional support takes many forms. Setting clear goals, accepting ideas, affirming suggestions, making recommendations when stuck on a particular point are all ways to support. Perhaps the best support for the retention of entrepreneurial-minded, innovative employees is to give them the room to try innovative ideas and take calculated risks without the fear of failure, retaliation or a pink slip.

· Resources. Resources are not just pencils, printers and up-to-date software but also involve access to other people in the organization. Providing the appropriate resources may involve putting together special teams to tackle tough problems and stimulate creative ideas.

· Opportunities. Employees need the opportunity to improve their own status within the organization and to invest in themselves in the form of personal development. People will jump ship not just for more pay, but for better opportunities to learn and grow. Retention leadership encourages everyone’s evolution.

Driver Three: Insist on ethical conduct.

The fastest way to alienate the best and the brightest of your workforce and send them networking for another job is to destroy trust by unethical behaviors. Since the Enron debacle, ( maintains a list of corporate accounting scandals with tainted companies ranging from Bristol-Myers Squibb to AOL Time-Warner. Just recently, national news carried the blow-by-blow confidential information leaks from industry giant, Hewlett Packard.

Unethical behavior is a precarious precipice with resulting chaos in employee ranks. Successful organizations have a leadership team that insists on honesty and ethical conduct at every level in the organization. In essence, the excellent leadership team creates an organizational culture of integrity.

Culture integrity, however, is more than insisting on ethical behavior. It is more than requiring ethics training for all employees. On a deeper level, it is:

· Living and validating organizational mission and vision.
· Leading by example in matters of honesty and trustworthiness.
· Aligning employees with organizational values.
· Encouraging candid conversations.
· Insuring that deadlines are met.
· Demanding high product standards.
· Replacing blame with problem analysis.
· Rewarding employees appropriately.
Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in the Employee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit