I’ve Moved

Dear Colleagues,

I’ve moved my website to  (no longer “.com”).  To follow me please go to this website or you can follow me on twitter @mvanbruaene.  At some point in the near future I will close this website.  

I’ve also started a new blog/website “Currents by Michael VanBruaene”,

Thank you for interest in my articles.  I hope you will continue to be with me.

Michael VanBruaene

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My Mundane Life Is A Creative Life

My life is mundane so it seems.  One day to the next is relatively the same.I read and think about knowing one’s self, being true to myself, embracing my self, accepting my self.  Letting my soul and spirit flow from me, listening to my inner voice.  And that this will lead to a creative and expressive life, a fulfilling life. And so I try to do all of this.  And my life is mundane, so it seems.

But what is a creative and being true to our essence life versus a mundane life?  A creative life can be our so called ordinary life.  We can have an “ordinary” life that is a creative life, a life that is very expressive of who we are innately, without doing something ground breaking or that makes us famous, or that solves a big problem out there.

It can be a life in which we are in touch with ourselves and creative about the food we eat, how we choose to treat our bodies, the clothes we wear, the words we choose, the home life we create, the physical objects we obtain for our home.  And it can be how we choose to interact with others; and how we generally choose to view and exist in the world.

Our work life can also be creative in the many small things that it entails.  Our expressing of our inner being/soul/spirit may be not in creating a great new process or product.  There can be a true expression of ourselves in how we compose a memo or report, and how we interact with colleagues and customers.  The key is to do that which is an expression of our true selfs; granted within the parameters established by our workplaces.

With this consciousness we can also find out if our workplace is a good fit for us.  If we feel too or unnecessarily stifled, then maybe we have to find a workplace that is a better fit for who we are.

All of us have great depth and uniqueness and it plays out differently for each of us.  Living an expressive or creative life is living a conscious life wherever we are, a life with awareness of who we are, and finding ways to manifest this knowledge of who we are at our core and the voice within us.

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How to Deepen Our Relationships and Allow Them to Be More Fulfilling

I can generally predict their preferences for foods, movies, colors.  Or the kinds of things they like to do for fun, also preferences for cars.  I also know a lot about their mannerisms, personality, how they will react in certain situations, how they go about their days.  I also know their values, or some of them.

But all of this seems superficial.  How can I know them more deeply and fully, and get closer to seeing their essence, and in the process have a more dynamic and enjoyable relationship?

And if in knowing them better I realize that I am not compatible with who they are there may be approaches to address this, or otherwise we can move on.

Complete acceptance.  I can accept them completely, as they are, without filtering and interpreting from my perspectives and ego, allowing them to be fully who they are, not what I think they should be.  Seeing the spirit and soul that are really who they are.  As I step back and allow this to occur there is the opportunity to enjoy their presence.  More fun!

This acceptance includes listening fully and completely to what they say and how they say it, without intent to quickly reply or rebut what is said.  Rather to consider and digest that which is being communicated by their words and mannerisms – it can be more than just words.  Allowing for our interchange to have a tempered flow, granted with all kinds of emotions as is natural.

Gratitude.  Gratitude is another helpful pathway to better understanding and closeness.  Gratitude for a person opens me up to being concerned, tolerant and thoughtful about them.  It helps me to sense and interact with the totality of the person. They have all kinds of attributes for which I can be grateful, even the ones that I find problematical as this helps me to better understand myself – how and why I think and act as I do.

Compassion.  Compassion is more than just feeling sorry for someone.  It involves my seeing the person, and being present with them, in their circumstances, both difficult and positive.  There is an appreciation for how they feel, being a sympathetic listener and working to maintain a harmonious relationship.

I am more knowable

The process of knowing someone more fully allows them to see me more fully.  What I say and how I say it, my mannerisms, and my spirit and soul become more knowable – it happens naturally and magically.

Being realistic

These approaches require that I be fully open to what the other person, and also our relationship is all about.  There is always the possibility that it’s not a healthy and/or adequately functional relationship for me and/or for them.  If so, we will have to address the underlying factors to improve it; or stop the relationship if there is no way to improve it.  Such is life.

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Our Routines Can Be Beneficial. Beneficial When We Know Their Limitations

We love that cup of coffee at the same time each morning, reading the same newspaper and same media, taking the same routes to wherever we are going.  We like the same placement of items in our homes, certain foods and even the same foods on certain days, and also the standby stores for purchasing foods, as well as the same restaurants. 

We like our work routines, what we do and when we do it, and with whom. For all the talk about the importance of change and being a dynamic organization, most employees appreciate doing routine work.  It’s comforting.

These routines complement and reinforce our thought processes and perspectives on life, and can be the basis for a perpetual and self-supporting feedback loop, not allowing truly new information and ideas into our minds.  We can be “safe in our minds” and not have to embrace other ways of viewing life and living.

On the other hand routines can be beneficial, helping us to be efficient and effective, giving comfort and structure where there is chaos, uncertainty, too much change and difficulty.  They reduce the amount of decisions we have to make each day, and also free our minds from “trivia” (to us).  They allow us to focus on important elements of our lives.

Our challenge is to prevent routines from being a wall that unnecessarily narrows our vision preventing new ideas from flowing in; ideas that contribute to new perspectives, bring enjoyment and personal and professional growth.  Ideas that help to prevent our lives from becoming stale and rigid, and less fully human than we have the potential to be.

And yes, each of us has to find a balance, which will change over time, between keeping necessary routines and seeking and allowing newness into our lives, or maybe at a minimum changing some routines periodically.

Like much of life there is no permanent answer and a lot is personal.

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Some Companies Have Eliminated Annual Performance Reviews – Doing Them More Frequently

There has been recent news that some companies are eliminating their annual employee performance review process; with the headlines and some of the related remarks implying that performance reviews are being totally eliminated.  This is not the case.

Instead of formal annual reviews these companies want to conduct them more frequently along with a revised emphasis.  They believe that the new process will be more efficient than the prior process, e.g. take less manager time, and be more effective, e.g. will improve employee performance and satisfaction. 

With a more frequent format the time period over which the review focuses is shorter, thus it’s easier to remember and focus on what occurred.  Also they believe they can look more effectively at employee performance improvement, again because there is a shorter time period on which to focus.  Of course it’s not unusual for good managers to have frequent discussions with employees about performance and not wait for an annual or biannual review.  In a way these companies are formalizing a best practice.

The basic principles and practices for effective reviews are still in place, with the Review Framework Being critical. 

Review Framework 

Whether employee reviews are annual, bi-annual or more frequent there are certain elements that are critical. 

Reviewing manager is the most important process element. Reviewing managers have to be provided with good guidance on how to conduct the reviews, e.g. an atmosphere that is not unnecessarily negative, candid comments and discussion, impartiality, no favorites, reviews occur as a discussion, there is effective manager listening. 

Appropriate evaluation criteria.  Evaluation criteria that effectively measure performance and are consistently applied throughout the organization so that all employees at the same level and position are similarly reviewed.  Before establishing the criteria make sure that job descriptions are current.

Employee participation establishing where they are headed.  There has to be real employee involvement in setting personal goals that are realistic.

Process transparency.  Employees should know well in advance the criteria by which they will be evaluated, the nature of the meetings that will occur and timetables; and also how their evaluation will impact compensation decisions.  Compensation may not be explicitly part of the discussion but there should be a recognition (of what should be obvious) that performance impacts compensation.

Employee recommendations solicited and respected.  Ideally employee recommendations to improve operations should be occurring as part of their work.  However, sometimes certain organization factors affect employee performance, and if changed can result in better performance.  Employee recommendations should be taken seriously and discussed candidly including their feasibility. 

Career improvement  There should be tangible discussion about how the employee can move up the organization’s career ladder to the extent that they want to.  This could include professional development courses, taking on certain new responsibilities, and/or moving certain responsibilities to others.

Regarding compensation.  Many organizations have found that compensation discussions should be separate from performance reviews so that there is a better focus on performance, the employee’s role and satisfaction.  And as in most organizations, compensation is also impacted by the level of organization profitability.  There still has to be a compensation decision and related discussion with the employee, just at a different time.

Regarding the reviewing manger role.  This is the most critical link in an employee review process.  The best policies, criteria, and procedures will not be effective if the reviewing manager is inept in performing the review.  Organizations have to invest in providing managers with the capability to effectively interact with employees within the context of an effective Employee Review Framework, or consider removing them if they cannot effectively perform this critical function. (More than likely if they cannot effectively do a review they have other shortcomings also.)

Michael VanBruaene.  How can I help you? How can we collaborate? See the services I provide and other organization and personal development tools and articles at  Contact me at

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Setting-Yourself-Up to Succeed. Do You Annually Self-Assess Your Work and Employment Fit?

All of us should annually assess our work status – in a comprehensive way.

Most of us assess our work status on an ongoing basis, however it may be ad hoc and in the moment, and not consider all relevant factors.  So on an annual basis we should evaluate our work status.  And do it comprehensively.

Criteria for our review should include:

Compensation, now and in the near future. Is compensation adequate and comparable to others in my field and in my organization?

Is this a good fit for me, personally and professionally?  Do I like the work and colleagues? Does the work come naturally, but not necessarily easily?  Am I positioned for career growth?  Or if it’s better for me to be relatively stationary is this a good fit?

Competency of those in-charge. Are those in-charge of my organization capable of doing what’s necessary to sustain and improve it?

The work I do and will be doing in the near future. Am I getting the work assignments that foster professional growth, that keep my job skills/knowledge competitive?

Positions I could realistically attain at other organizations.  Will I be better or worse, all things considered, to seek a position elsewhere?  Document the pros and cons.

Am I highly valued employee?  Am I making a significant contribution to my work unit and organization? If not, to what extent am I valued and how does this affect my job security?

Is the organization well positioned?  Is the organization providing a service and/or producing a product that has a viable long term position in the marketplace?  Or is it becoming obsolete and/or being outflanked by something else?

What’s going right and wrong?  Is there a sufficient amount of things going right within the organization and with its customers?  Is there enough to attract me to stay?

Do I have work flexibility?  Do I have the work/life flexibility that’s suitable for me?

Networks.  Am I making networking contacts with others inside and outside the organization; sources of information for work tasks, what’s going on in the organization and outside it?

Michael VanBruaene.  How can I help you? How can we collaborate? See the services I provide and other organization and personal development tools and articles at  Contact me at

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Onward. How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. By Howard Schultz, with Joanne Gordon, 2011

For about 6 years I’ve regularly visited Seattle and have tried many of its coffee shops, including Starbucks stores.  Earlier this year it was recommended that I visit Starbucks’ Reserve Roastery which had recently opened.  It’s a temple to coffee, like a high end winery tasting room. 

I was reluctant to go because it seemed to be just way too excessive for a coffee place.  But I went early one morning, and I enjoyed it – the quality of the coffee and the overall experience.  And I saw Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ CEO come in with a couple of people with whom he was apparently explaining the nature of Starbucks newest endeavor.  And I then went back on another morning and again saw him.  He appeared to be a decent guy, relatively earnest, but not aggressive in his mannerisms; nothing that indicates he’s CEO of a multi-billion dollar multi-national company.

Belatedly I recently read his 2011 book – Onward – and found a lot of useful insights on how to run any size organization – in good and bad times, and also the principles on which Starbucks focuses.  I was surprisingly impressed, just as I was upon visiting The Roastery.  A significant amount of the book focuses on the years when he became CEO for a second time and steered the company through the 2007/09 recession. 

I’ve selected excerpts from the book that can stand on their own as guiding principles for all of us.  In most instances they are copied word-for-word, with a couple of instances in which I’ve used partial wording from the book. 


Principles that guide Schultz’s leadership.  This passage is at the end of the book. I’ve included it first as it has a lot meaningful guidance:

Grow with discipline.  Balance intuition with rigor.  Innovate around the core.  Don’t embrace the status quo.  Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet.  Get your hands dirty.  Listen with empathy and overcommunicate with transparency.  Tell your story, refusing to let others define you.  Use authentic experiences to inspire.  Stick to your values, they are your foundation.  Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed.  Make the tough choices; its’s how you execute that counts.  Be decisive in times of crisis.  Be nimble.  Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes.  Be responsible for what you see, hear, and do.  Believe. P 309. 

The Starbuck’s experience is an affordable necessity as we are all hungry for community.  P 13.

Our intent is to create a unique community inside the company and in our stores. P 13.

Work should be personal.  For all of us.  Not just for the artist and entrepreneur.  Work should have meaning for the accountant, the construction workers, the technologist, the manager and the clerk. p 14.

Infusing work with purpose and meaning is a two way street.  Yes, love what you do, but your company should love you back. P 15.

A well-built brand is the culmination of intangibles that do not directly flow to the revenue or profitability of a company, but contribute to its texture.  Forsaking them can take a subtle, collective toll.  P23.

Starbucks is at its best when we are creating enduring relationships and personal connections.  It’s the essence of our brand, but not simple to achieve. P 23.

In my life I place enormous value on loyalty and trust. It is intrinsic to my personal relationships and to the integrity of our company’s culture, essential to how we conduct business with one another and with our customers.  P 27.

Balance had always been Starbucks challenge.  Fiscal responsibility and benevolence.  Shareholder value and social conscience.  Profit and humanity.  Local flavor on a global scale. P 30.

.…to achieve long-term value for shareholders, a company must, in my view, first create value for its employees as well as its customers.  P 64.

I have long believed in the power of a work or a single phrase to effectively communicate a business imperative – and to inspire people.  The best words are never complicated, but are packed with emotion and meaning leaving no question of what I expect of myself and others. P 96.

In any well-run retail business there is, by definition, a maniacal focus on details. Especially in the beginning. P. 97.

My optimism about Starbucks has always come from knowing that when we relegate responsibility to our partners and give them the right tools and resources, they will exceed expectations. P 110. 

I do not mean to imply that Starbucks is by any means a perfect place to work or the ideal retailer, somehow above reproach.  We have made mistakes over the years, and we will continue to make them.  But we aim high.  And we have high expectations of ourselves as we try to manage the company through the lens of humanity.  P 117

Starbucks’ coffee is exceptional, yes, but emotional connection is our true value proposition. P 117

Starbucks’ best store managers are coaches, bosses, marketers, entrepreneurs, accountants, community ambassadors, and merchants all at once.  They are optimistic problem solvers who run their stores creatively yet analytically, calling upon passion and intelligence to drive customer traffic, partner loyalty, and profit.  The best managers take their jobs personally, treating the store as if it is their very own.  P148.

We succeeded because of what we believe in and what we stand for.  P 176.

People want to do business with companies they respect and trust, especially in the current climate, when they are being more discerning and scrutinizing their purchases.  P 204.

The following passages refer to the downturn and problems that Starbucks encountered during the recession of 2007/09.

Companies pay a price when their leaders ignore things that may be fracturing their foundation.  Starbucks was no different.  P 32.

….. founders know every brick in the foundation.  We know what inspired the company and what was required to create it.  That knowledge, that history, brings with it a high level of passion to do whatever it takes to succeed, as well as an intuition about what is right and wrong.

But sometimes we are too close to a situation.  Entrepreneurs can be blinded by emotion, by our love of what we have built, unable to see it fresh and with the eyes of a more objective outsider. P 38.

If not checked, success has a way of covering up small failures, and when many of us became swept up in the company’s success, it had unintended effects.  We ignored, or maybe we just failed to notice, shortcomings. P 40.

Our overall objective was to be transparent and restore confidence in the future of Starbucks, to begin to turn around the increasingly negative sentiment while simultaneously acknowledging the real challenges facing the company. P 51.

Strategies and tactics were not enough to get us out of this mess, particularly in the early days of my return.  Passion, that intangible concept many businesspeople belittle, was also essential, and as I locked up the Pike Place store I considered what needed to be done, starting that day; muster a collective faith in the original Starbucks Experience – our purpose and reason for being – and then refocus the company on customers instead of breakneck growth.  But that faith was not something I could demand.  I had to ask for it and, ultimately, earn it day after day. P 56. 

Re-setting a beaten, dubious mind-set to an impassioned, confident one required, in my estimation, communication that was authentic, decisive, and concrete and came from all of Starbucks’ leaders. p. 57.  

What elements about Starbucks, we asked ourselves, are ritual and what elements are merely habits? P 72.

Perhaps the most important step in improving the faltering US business was to reengage our partners (Starbucks calls its employees “partners”), especially those on the front lines: our baristas and store managers.  They are the true ambassadors of our brand, the real merchants of romance and theater, and as such the primary catalysts for delighting customers.  P 77. 

We thought in terms of millions of customers and thousands of stores instead of one customer, one partner, and one cup of coffee at a time. P 97.

When did we forget that our business is about the customer and our love and passion for the coffee?  As we got tangled in bureaucracy and quarterly comp growth?  And why did we stop holding our business operations to the same standards that we hold our coffee? P 104.

Growth had become a carcinogen.  When it became our primary operating principle, it diverted attention from revenue and cost-saving opportunities, and we did not effectively manage expenses such as rising construction costs and additional monies spent on new equipment, such as warming ovens.  P 153.

We were closing almost 20 percent of our newest stores?  We thought all we had to do was show up to be successful.  I thought to myself.  As I started at the list of 600, a lesson resonated:  Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become.  Large numbers that once captivated me – 40,000 stores! –  are not what matter.  The only number that matters is “one”.  One cup.  One customer.  One partner. One experience at a time. We had to get back to what mattered most. P 156.

A quote attributed to Harriet Beecher Stowe, presented by a Starbucks board member.

When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on one minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.  P 301.

Starbucks’ transformation was being achieved not simply because we were effectively responding to external economic, technological, and social challenges, or correcting problems we had brought upon ourselves.  Rather, it was being achieved because of how our partners tried to solve these problems. P 310.

To coffee growers in Rwanda

As we look at the future, I think I personally more than ever, especially looking at all of you, the deep responsibility that Starbucks Coffee Company has in ensuring that you get the fair price that you deserve.…..What I can say in closing is that we will be the kind of partner you can depend on, and we will do as much as we possibly can to help you and your families. P 290.

Michael VanBruaene.  How can I help you? How can we collaborate? See the services I provide and other organization and personal development tools and articles at  Contact me at

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A Successful Project / Assignment Starts With How It’s Handed-Off

Many times, projects do not meet expectations because the person doing the work is not sufficiently informed about its context, objectives, deliverables, how oversight is to be provided and potential problems. Successful projects start at the stage when they are initially handed-off for planning and then implementation, based on a Project Assignment/Acceptance Framework.


The extent to which the Project Assignment/Acceptance Framework is used will depend on the nature and complexity of the project.  At a minimum there should be a commonly accepted starting point and checklist before the project is assigned, planned and started.  People familiar with the project management discipline will see well known concepts.

Background.  What is the background for this work?  Why are we doing this?

Objective. What is the objective of this work effort?  What is it intended to accomplish? What is the expected outcome?

Deliverable.  What is the required deliverable(s)?  What is the output and/or outcome?

Important Characteristics.  What are the key characteristics of the work to be performed?  What will it look like?  (This can be an area for important mutual discussion.)

RACI.  Who has these roles related to the work?

  • Review
  • Approval
  • Consult
  • Inform

Risks To Successful Completion. What are the risks that that may impair the success of the work; and what is their relative rank in terms of their likelihood of occurring and impact should they occur?   How, and to what extent, should they be monitored and managed?  Who will be responsible for monitoring and managing the respective risks?

Priority.  How important is this project relative to other projects that I (or you) have underway or need to do?  How important is it to the organization (the entire organization and/or your particular work unit, department, etc.)?

Sensitivities.  Is there any important sensitivity related to people, confidential information, technology, public or employee perception; or client / customer satisfaction?

Similar Work.  Has there been similar work done in the past that can be used as guidance or a beginning template?

Other Related Work Or Projects.  Is it related to other projects or work processes; and if so how is it related and how will it impact the work or vice versa?

Evaluation Criteria.  What are the criteria by which project success will be measured?  How will we determine that the work was successful?

Constraints.  Is there a budget and/or constraints in terms of people that can be used, other resources, time, equipment, and facilities?

Status Reporting. What is the frequency and content of required status reporting?  Initially, should there be check-ins more often to make sure the work is evolving as mutually anticipated?

Timeline.  What are the timeline, milestones and completion date?

Key Next Steps For Implementation.  Describe and discuss key next steps to get the project going on the “right foot”

What Do You Need From Me (the project assigner)?  Is there anything that you need from me before you start on this project?  Is there anything else I (person managing/doing the project) should ask?

Qualifications.  Does the person responsible for the project have the necessary background and skills?  If not, how can this risk be managed, e.g. more frequent status reporting, having an advisor available to help as needed?

Stakeholders. Are there people, within and outside the organization, who should be kept informed at certain points during the project?

Michael VanBruaene.  How can I help you? How can we collaborate? See the services I provide and other organization and personal development tools and articles at  Contact me at

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Employee Self-Organizing Is A Powerful Organization Asset. How You Can Support And Improve It.

It’s common in most workplaces for employees to self-organize to varying degrees to complete tasks and projects.  As humans it’s something we do naturally.

The advantage of this inherent capability is that it can positively impact your organization, making it be more dynamic, innovative and focused on achieving its objectives.  It’s done relatively quickly, there is minimal need for supervisory overhead and employees can find the effort fulfilling as they are doing on their own what they believe to be the best way to achieve something.  Employees, the most important resource in most organizations, are given the autonomy to use their capabilities to the fullest.

It’s important for organizations to realize that self-organizing occurs, and can occur more often and more effectively when certain organization frameworks are in place.  To maximize your employees’ self-organizing focus on the following principles.

Document and communicate organization goals and priorities; where we are headed 

Everyone in the organization should know it’s purpose, and also the purpose of their work unit.  This provides guidance to employees as they self-organize and make decisions.

Minimize formal organization structure, policies and rules.

Too many organizational layers, reporting requirements and rules can hinder employee self-organizing.  Finding the right balance in using them is an ongoing effort and is required as your organization, employees, customers, and marketplace evolve.  Do you need them? Do they require too much maintenance?  Are they simply maintaining a status quo of authority? Do they inhibit creativity and a natural work flow?

Develop and sustain an organization culture that has mutual trust and accountability

There should be mutual trust among all employees to find the best solutions among themselves to problems as they occur, rather than bureaucratically “running” the issue up (and then down) the organizational decision-making structure/apparatus.  Also, if management continually second guesses employee decision-making and does not provide guidance, there will be minimal employee self-organizing, other than for “defensive” and self-protective purposes.

Employees at all levels of the organization, including those at the top, should be accountable for their commitments and actions.  This fosters trust and integrity in employee relationships which is important for the effective functioning of self-organizing teams.

Ensure transparency of information and actions

Activities of organization leadership should not be a secret.  Employees should be informed, as much as possible, about the activities of their leadership, e.g. meetings they are attending and why.

Employees, in addition to leadership, should be aware of each other’s activities and meetings.

All organization information, other than that which may be very sensitive or confidential, should be readily available to everyone.  It should not be the prerogative of the holder of the information to determine information that is useful to others.  How and when it is used and why cannot always be predicted, particularly by the holder of the information.

Consider employee training on the basics of how to interact with others

The quality of employee interaction horizontally and vertically in your organization can affect the quality of self-organizing.  For some employees human interaction does not occur naturally and can be clumsy, others may say things that could antagonize co-workers even when that is not the intention, and some employees may not be adept at how to effectively discuss a problem or issue within a group setting.  There are many people, advisors, and consultants that can provide this kind of training.

Allow self-organizing to evolve over time

Employee self-organizing will not become prevalent throughout the organization by flipping an organization switch.  It should be nurtured and allowed to progress at its own pace, which may differ depending on the nature of the work performed.  As everyone begins to see it in action there will be an enhanced understanding of how it works and its benefits to the organization and each employee, resulting in its becoming more widespread and substantive.

Michael VanBruaene.  How can I help you? How can we collaborate? See the services I provide and other organization and personal development tools and articles at  Contact me at

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Do You Have A Strategy To Retain Your Best Employees As Employment Continues To Strengthen?

Organizations that are not formally identifying their best employees and implementing strategies to keep them have significant risk that they will depart to another company; and will then have to replace them with someone that may not be as good.  This risk becomes particularly acute with increasingly strong employment rates.

In addition to diminishing your organization’s effectiveness, losing a strong employee will result in costs to recruit and hire a new employee, orient them and then integrate them into work processes, teams and culture. 

There are several key actions you can take to maximize their retention. 

Recognition.  First thing you must inform the employee that they are a high performer and that you appreciate their contributions to the organization.  Most of us like to be recognized for doing well and in and of itself this recognition is important for retention; but of course there is more that should be done. 

Compensation.  While there are many factors that can help you keep your best employees, compensation is usually the most critical.  It should be appropriate for their position and performance, compared to your other employees and also compensation in other organizations.  Their compensation should be more than just equal, it should be more, as there are other factors that could entice them to depart. 

Career path and professional growth.  There should be clarity about how your employee can realistically progress professionally in your organization, including more compensation.  This should include identification of progressively more valuable responsibilities that are linked with more compensation. 

Listen.  Your best employees by their very nature will have a lot to contribute to your organization.  Most exceptional employees want to have an impact on the organization that goes beyond just “doing a great job”. Actively listen and as much as possible incorporate their recommendations and comments into the organization’s operations.  When it’s not feasible to implement a recommendation candidly discuss with them the pros and cons of their recommendation and why the cons outweighed the positives.   You may find that they will develop a better alternative. 

Coach/Mentor.  You can help to ensure that your valuable resource remains valuable, and becomes more valuable, through regular coaching and mentoring.  This should be more than simply meeting to “see how things are going”.  There should be objectives and a standard agenda for this effort.  And the meetings should be approximately once every two or three months.  This should be in addition to the regular meetings that focus on production topics.

Be Open And Realistic About Their Opportunities In Your Organization.  If there are minimal opportunities for professional growth and appropriate compensation in your organization openly discuss this with your employee.  This is a good way to find out if there are other benefits or working conditions that may entice the employee to stay, and if not you can begin to plan for their eventual departure.

Michael VanBruaene.  How can I help you? How can we collaborate? See the services I provide and other organization and personal development tools and articles at  Contact me at

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