Why you need to use your strengths, everyday!

This article was posted on Gallup’s Strengths coaching website.


Why Good Managers Are So Rare

A great article by fellow colleagues at Gallup.

10 Shocking Stats About Employee Engagement

Great info for business leaders to keep top of mind.

Performancepoint, LLC.


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Happy Employees + High Performance = Awesome Companies!

teambuildingOver the last few months, I have been curious about what makes employees tick and how or if this is related to high-performance cultures. I thought it was common sense that keeping employees happy would result in higher productivity, better service and ultimately higher revenues/profit. However, it seems that common sense is not so common, especially when you add the recent economic troubles into the mix.

Many companies are trying to figure out the best approach to engaging employees and developing high-performance cultures. This blog highlights some interesting research and findings related to what the best companies are doing to motivate, engage and inspire employees to perform at a high level.

First, and most important. Without establishing a strong core (internal culture/values/brand etc…), it is extremely difficult to engage employees, which in turn negatively impacts customer service and growth. See the causal diagram below.

Internal and external growth

Since the first box is necessary to build a strong culture and foundation, it is imperative that all employees are engaged and aligned with the company’s mission, vision and goals. This sounds simple, but employees aren’t easily motivated to produce outstanding results just because it’s a priority on the CEO’s agenda.

Many companies use the same strategy to build a high-performance culture (ie. Give annual bonuses based on performance), yet not all companies are high-performing. I believe that aligning pay with performance is only a small part of the strategy, especially since employees are not motivated by money alone (click for infographic)! In order to prove this, I decided to do some research to figure out what the best companies in the world were doing and what the most engaged employees were saying about these “best companies”.

Every year Fortune Magazine releases the “Top 100 Companies to Work For.” In 2011, it released an interactive infographic that shows the Top 100 Companies in “Employees’ Words”. The results are very interesting and useful for any organization that wants to develop a high-performance culture. For instance, the top three values for employees include:

PEOPLE – most employees said they valued working with intelligent, positive, active, engaged, and committed individuals.

FAMILY – many employees have a great work-life balance and many employees even consider their work a second home. There’s a natural sense of “family” when people are at work.

TIME – employees found flexibility as a key ingredient to happiness – both at work and outside of work.

For specific quotes from employees at the top 100 companies, click on the circles in the interactive infographic link above.

There are numerous ways for companies to ensure employees remain happy, engaged and productive. The top three ways to make employees tick are:

1.    Give employees meaningful work – everyone wants to feel like they are contributing to a larger cause/goal/objective.

2.    Provide autonomy – flexibility in how to complete an assignment, where to do it and when to do it. This also stimulates creativity, but only works when individuals are held accountable for production.

3.    Recognize and reward performance – showing employees recognition for a job well done can be in the form of money, thank you cards, lunches, gift certificates or even a points system. Irrespective of the method used to recognize great performance, it is critical to show your appreciation in real-time (big trend with social media) and reward it instantly (also easier with social media).

Ultimately, the link between a brand, employees and customers is strongest if the internal stakeholders are engaged and aligned. In order to sustain profits in the long term, leaders always need to remember that happy employees = happy customers = increased brand loyalty = increased revenue/profits. In order to make this causation a reality, more focus needs to be put on 1) providing autonomy, 2) giving employees meaningful work and 3) recognizing and rewarding performance in REAL-TIME, as well as aligning pay with performance.

5 Ways to Improve Your Life Without Making More $$$!

Life is short, so why not make it the best it can be!?! In a world where YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE (YOLO) has become synonomous with material riches, I have put together 5 ways to improve your quality of life without making more money or having more ‘toys’!! Sometimes we can have a profound effect on our own lives by simply channeling the energy within us towards the right activities/actions.

With the economic turmoil, many companies cannot afford to motivate employees via tangible rewards like cash bonuses, which makes this article extremely relevant for managers, employees and anyone else interested in improving their quality life.

1. Meditate

Many studies have shown that meditation can increase happiness, meaning in life, social support and attention span while reducing anger, anxiety, depression and fatigue. However, you shouldn’t meditate because a research study says it’s good for you. Instead you should experience it for yourself to see how you feel/think before and after. This will be the true determining factor of whether or not meditation increases your quality of life.

2. Exercise

This is probably one of the hardest routines to follow rigourosly, but provides significant benefits. Along with health benefits, which we’re all aware of, exercise also makes you smarter, happier, improves sleep, increases libido and makes you feel better about your body. A Harvard study that has tracked a group of men for more than 70 years identified it as one of the secrets to a good life.

3. Make friends with nature

When I was growing up in a house with 8 kids, my parents always convinced us (me, my siblings/cousins) that going on road trips was beautiful because we got to see nice scenery along the way. As you would expect, the kids in the family seriously revolted against these “scenic road trips”, nonetheless we ended up going anyway because the alternative was staying home alone…and unfortunately we weren’t THAT brave.

More recently, through golf and meditation I have found that being out in nature helps reduce stress, increase creativity and happiness. Similarly, I have stumbled across numerous research studies that  supports exactly what I’ve been experiencing! Well-being has become such a hot topic that companies are investing in this research to improve the culture within organizations.

4. Spend time with family and friends

Relationships are worth more than you think! See below for real life Monopoly:

  • A happy marriage is worth $105,000 a year
  • Separation costs you $255,000 a year 
  • Divorce seems like a bargain, costing the equivalent of only $34,000 a year
  • Seeing friends and family regularly is worth $97,265
  • By comparison, your health is worth $463,170
  • Death of a spouse is like losing $308,780 per year

To learn more about why spending time with family and friends is benefical, click here.

5. Express gratitude

Through many books, experiences and awesome role models I have learned that expressing gratitude is contagious. It not only improves relationships, but also has an intrinsic ‘feel-good’ component to it. This has become so relevant that people have started things like the World Gratitude Map. For more information about the importance of gratitude in improving life, click here.

 Ultimately, improving your life starts with you! With the new year among us, it’s helpful to make small changes that will ultimately lead to a more healthy and happy lifestyle. Start practicing one, two or all five of these recommendations (if you’re not already) and see if there’s any positive change that comes your way in the new year.

Best wishes for the new year and feel free to share your stories/comments.

– Gagandeep Singh Anand

Performance Feedback Can Be Awkward, But Don’t Make It Awkward – READ THIS!

feedbackGiving performance feedback can be difficult for managers, but even more difficult for employees if it is not delivered effectively. As the year comes to an end, many managers and employees will be engaging in performance reviews. The advice below will help managers deliver feedback in a way that empowers and motivates employees rather than demotivate and discourage employees.

Through various books, professors and experiences, I have learned that performance feedback should always be constructive and focused on results. This means that the conversation needs to be information-specific, issue-focused, and based on observations/evidence. The guidelines for giving constructive feedback fall into four categories: content, manner, timing, and frequency.

1 – Content/Context

Content/Context is what you plan on discussing in the constructive feedback.

1. In your first sentence, identify the topic or issue that the feedback will be about (Content).

2. Provide the specifics of what occurred (Context).

Start your key points with evidence related statements rather than opinions. For example, “I have noticed,” “I have observed,” or “I have seen” are good ways to introduce different issues. This type of delivery will help you remain issue-focused and deal with the specifics immediately. Also, avoid using the word “you”. There’s nothing more discouraging than “you didn’t meet the deadline” or “because of you, we didn’t meet our goals.” See the two examples below and see which you would prefer if you were an employee receiving feedback.

EXAMPLE 1: Last month you missed 3 deadlines and we did not meet our goals.

EXAMPLE 2: We weren’t able to meet the last 3 deadlines. Are there any obstacles in your way that, if eliminated, would help us improve our goals?

AdviceAvoid criticism and increase praise! Rather than critizing employee for not accomplishing something, help them understand what they can do differently to make progress. Similarly, recognize employee via praise, NOT ONLY during one-on-one feedback meetings, but also in front of the team. This type of recognition is FREE and oftentimes motivates employees a lot more than cash rewards (Read more).

2 – Manner

The content/context can quickly become irrelevant if feedback is not communicated in a constructive manner. Manner is how you say the feedback. As you may know, how you say something often carries more weight than what you say. Here’s a method to increase your chances of delivering feedback successfully and eliciting the desired outcome.

Use the burger analogy!

Burger 1

Start with the soft stuff – highlight the positives and recognize a job well done (top bun)

Burger 2   = Deliver the improvements (meat/veggie patty) WITH


Burger 3      = Specific examples and/or suggestions for doing things differently (toppings), and

Burger 4

  = Restate the positives to make sure you appreciate the employee’s efforts (bottom bun)

AdvicePeople are more receptive to feedback if they are recognized for their achievements upfront. Moreover, people will likely make changes if they can understand where the improvement needs to be made (E.g. give specific examples). Lastly, if an individual leaves a conversation feeling valued, they are more likely to use the feedback as an opportunity to improve rather than becoming defensive and apprehensive.

3 – Timing

When do you give an employee feedback for a performance effort worth acknowledging?

The answer is as soon as possible (ASAP)! Feedback is meant to be given in real-time, as close as possible to when the performance incident occurs. When feedback is given well after the fact, the value is reduced.

AdviceWhen giving negative feedback, you may want to apply a different timeline: ASAR (as soon as reasonable/ready — that is, when you’re ready). Sometimes emotions can lead to unreasonable thinking. In these situations use the one-day rule of thumb. Come back to the issue after 24-hours (with a cool mind) and then give feedback. This will increase your chances of giving constructive feedback rather than destructive feedback.

4 – Frequency

How often should your employees receive constructive feedback on their performance?

This last guideline is the most important because it makes all the other guidelines work. Use constructive feedback regularly to acknowledge real performance. Try to catch and respond to employees doing the job right just as much as you catch and respond to them doing something not quite right — and don’t acknowledge how they are performing only once or twice a year.

AdviceRemember to keep notes on the performance feedback that you give. It helps you track what’s happening over time rather than relying on your memory.

Many of these tips will help managers deliver effective constructive feedback and employees will leave the conversation feeling valued rather than discouraged. Obviously, there’s a wide spectrum of employees, which means each of these tips should be tailored based on the Content/Context (step 1).

Goodluck with your year-end performance reviews! 🙂

9 Tips to Advance Your Career

After completing my graduate studies and reflecting on conversations I have had with senior leaders, colleagues and mentors I have learned some secrets about career advancement. I’m hoping that you will appreciate and understand the importance of developing diverse skill sets and remaining flexible in order to progress in your career.

Here are 9 tips to help fast-track your career progression:

  1. Talk to your boss!
    • You’d be surprised how many people are afraid to have a transparent conversation with their boss. You can only build a rapport with someone if you talk to them
  2. Get involved with extra-curricular stuff at work.
    • Almost every company has a charity that it supports or a committee that organizes corporate events. Where possible, join these special teams. This will allow you to contribute to a good cause, while increasing exposure, perhaps develop leadership skills and maybe even feel good about helping a great cause!
  3. Be innovative.
    • Research, read and network — or do whatever it takes to provide innovative ideas. Stay on the lookout for creative solutions to problems that will make you — and your boss — look good.
  4. Take on lateral movements and stretch assignments.
    1. Seek opportunities to move laterally, not only vertically. After speaking to numerous senior leaders, there seems to be a common theme – most senior leaders have taken a detour from their original plan to tackle other short-term assignments (ie. roles, projects, special requests etc.).
    2. Whenever possible, allow yourself to feel discomfort now and again because if you’re planning on becoming a senior leader, this is a part of the job.
  5. Communicate rigorously to clarify and understand goals/objectives.
    • While working with my friends in Marketing Communications (MarCom), they have taught me that you can never communicate enough. The saying goes: communicate, communicate and then communicate AGAIN! If you don’t understand your objectives, ASK. If you’re a manager and you’ve communicated your objectives, make sure they are CLEAR.
  6. Social collaboration.
    • If you’re planning on advancing your career, think about networking like a lottery ticket. If you buy 1 ticket, your probability of success is 0.00005% (1/2MM). Now let’s say you buy 1,000 tickets, now your odds become significantly better (1K/2MM – 0.05%). However, this requires spending extra money to purchase the tickets. Similarly, networking and social collaboration requires an investment of your time, but the outcome is an increased chance of advancing in your career. The more people you are connected to, the higher the probability of landing the role/job/career that you want.
  7. Leverage resources.
    • Whether you’re using your network or taking advantage of training opportunities at work, it’s always helpful to utilize what’s available to you. For example, if your company offers Education allowance, use it!! Similarly, if someone on your team is an expert and you’re trying to learn the same thing, talk to them…you might learn something quicker and faster.
  8. Continuous learning.
    • Always look for opportunities to learn something new, whether it’s through meeting with people or staying informed about a topic of interest via reading, blogging etc.
  9. Find a mentor.
    • One of the best ways to advance your career is to gain sponsorship from everyone that you work with. This becomes much easier if you actually take the time to connect with others and deliver outstanding work. Nowadays feedback is becoming transparent and instant. You can endorse people on LinkedIn or comment within internal social media platforms (Salesforce – Rypple etc…).

In Summary, it’s your career and as the old cliché goes “you’ll only get back what you put into it”. The more time and effort you exert implementing some of the strategies above, the better your chances of attaining your personal career goals. Feel free to comment or add to the discussion…I’m always happy learn new and different perspectives.

Gagandeep Anand
Talent Management Consultant

Grad Recruitment for Dummies

  1. 1. Network Early and Often – too often I’ve seen students waiting until the jobs are posted on their careers site before networking with industry professionals. Make this a regular routine and connect with people that may help you learn more about the job/career that you’re interested in before jobs are posted. However, be reasonable and genuine…DO NOT send “Connect” invitations to anyone and everyone on LinkedIn! A new survey from Right Management, an arm of ManPower, states that the number one source of finding a new job still remains Networking, even though social media has revolutionized recruitment.

 2. Integrity – Character – Confidence – nowadays everyone wants to be a leader after graduating from a business school without reflecting or soul-searching to understand what that REALLY MEANS. During my experience with recruitment I have found that companies value and appreciate individuals that exemplify a high level of integrity, have a good character (including values) and are confident in their abilities.

Going one step further, it is essential to do 3 things: 1) be true and honest in your abilities, 2) connect with people through your interesting personality (if you don’t have an interesting personality, make friends with Sales people), and 3) deliver results with confidence, not arrogance. Keeping these three things intact oftentimes results in great leadership and more importantly likeability. At the end of the day, people normally enjoy working with individuals they like. Lastly, eliminate negativity and adopt a positive outlook/attitude if you don’t already have one (read The Greatness Guide or Good to Great to see what great people and companies do well).

 3. Innovation – JUMP ON THE BAND WAGON or get left behind – almost every organization is building a component of innovation into their strategy. This is now surfacing in Grad Recruitment, as well as corporate cultures! For example, RBC has created a greatest Innovator challenge, Mastercard allows its candidates to submit creative videos and art work when applying for certain marketing roles and Deloitte has a chief in charge of Innovation.

Just like organizations are investing time and energy into innovative recruiting methods, new graduates also need to consider using innovative approaches when applying to jobs. This includes the traditional thank you notes, as well as creating infographic resumes, maintaining a portfolio of accomplishments and coming up with creative ideas to help companies.

Overall, companies are data rich when it comes to applicant information, but in a world that is complex and unpredictable, organizations are looking for creative thinkers that can generate innovative ideas, but also back these creative thinking skills with logic and reasoning (qualitative and qualitative). If you can provide all of this with a positive attitude, companies will not only hire you, but they will invest in your future.

If you made it to the end of this blog, check out this video on Grad Recruitment (tips): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3XVaih1uLg

Goodluck with 2012 Grad Recruitment!!! 🙂

HR is changing RAPIDLY…are you ready for the shift?


With so many factors impacting Businesses globally, HR is in a critical state because it’s no longer acceptable to simply satisfy the needs of each business and say “we’ve done a great job”. Future HR leaders must UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT various businesses. In my opinion, there are 5 critical areas that will need careful attention in the coming years:

1. FOUR Generations in the workplace – there are 4 different generations working together and each one has a different style and preference for work.


2. Mission, vision, values  Now more than ever, I believe there’s a shift towards alignment between personal beliefs/values and organizational beliefs/values. Individuals want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, while engaging in meaningful work. If managers and companies do not satisfy employee needs in this area, turnover is likely to rise.


3. Efficiency/Cost Reduction = Critical   Companies like LinkedIn, Workday, Rypple and Facebook have made it possible to leverage technology in order to better serve customers (both internally and externally). Nowadays, recruiting has become so fast paced that you might think you’re on a trading floor…the only difference is, instead of yelling about financial jargon, you’re yelling about people jargon (Eg. that person is awesome…they have accomplished x,y,z in 2 months, “buy” them quick or in today’s tech terms offer them the most ridiculous perks, so they can’t say no!). Through  this improvement in technology comes efficiency gains and cost control, but it really needs careful attention because if technology is not managed correctly, it may decrease productivity and create more problems.

4. Social MediaIf you’re a top tier organization and don’t have a method for your employees to communicate with one another, you need someone from Rypple, Yammer or Salesforce (Chatter) to come talk to you. Or if you’re a tech savvy organization, you probably have hidden talent that can create a system internally. Either way, don’t take social media lightly…there are significant advantages to collaboration and crowd sourcing.

5. Metrics/Trends – It is no longer acceptable to have HR leadership roles without understanding key metrics or at least basic measurement principles. With the abundance of data available through Marketing, Technology and HR platforms, HR leaders are going to be more equipped to make insightful decisions in the future . However, this is assuming that HR leaders understand what the data is telling them. This is the perfect opportunity for companies to invest in “new” talent. Typically, HR folks are seasoned in recruiting, regulations, employment standards etc… However, with the new shift, it may be useful to consider getting analytic/marketing skills along with traditional HR leaders.

Summary of Future Trends:

See the video below for an excellent depiction of where the workforce is headed (high level).

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