Category Archives: Dave Blankenhorn

What We Can Learn From Baseball

Dave Blankenhorn

A recent article, authored by Dave Blankenhorn (my son), in The Zweig Letter uses an interesting baseball story to illustrate the importance of “top down” and “ bottom up” communication in any organization.

There was much controversy in the last World Series when Dave Roberts, the Dodger manager, removed pitcher Rich Hill in the seventh inning who had at that point held the Sox to only one hit. The result was a Dodger loss which led to their eventual defeat.

What happened?

Following the game, it was revealed that the decision to remove Hill stemmed from a quick statement Hill had made in the dugout at the end of the sixth inning expressing concern to Roberts that he might not be able to hold up much longer. Roberts did not reply. So after walking the lead off hitter in the seventh Roberts walked to the mound to simply check in on Hill. He did not raise his hand signaling for a reliever. It was just a check-in. However, Hill assumed he was coming to remove him. Without a word he handed the ball to Roberts and walked off the mound. This lack of communication changed the trajectory of the game and in the end the World Series. Both said later that had either of them followed up with a question to clarify the intent of the other then Hill would have stayed in the game and the World Series would possibly have ended in a different way.

This story highlights the importance of complete and clear communication in any organization. Leadership needs to set a clear vision on the culture and strategy and let the staff know where to focus their energy. In turn staff needs to listen to staff to gain that input on how to be more effective. Any explicit or implicit message should be clarified to avoid a “7th inning” moment that could do great harm to your organization.

Author: Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Ghosting Is Not Just a Halloween Term Any More

Dave Blankenhorn

It’s a recent phenomenon describing the practice of of suddenly ending a relationship without explanation. While this term frequently crops up in dating circles in recent years it has spread to the workplace where employers are donning the the role of jilted lover.

Ghosting can take several forms. A job candidate may ditch an arranged interview or even be a no show to the office on Day 1. More than that it can take hold among seasoned staff members who simply leave one day and don’t return to work. One staffing agency estimates it happens with up to 20% of white-collar workers.

Experts point to low employment and a plethora of available jobs as reasons why some job seekers and seasoned employees are willing to ditch working commitments.

This is obviously troubling. What can you do to neutralize any negative effects?

For starters consider launching a top down effort to be respectful to all employees and and transparent when communicating with them. By modeling positive the organization stands a better chance of staff modeling this behavior. It is also important to monitor employee morale to ensure some are not slipping between the cracks.

Organizations should also try to view things through the eyes of prospective employees. Some employers themselves are guilty of ghosting candidates by stringing them along for a time and then ceasing all forms of contact. Job seekers should not be left hanging indefinitely recognizing that that successful hiring is a two-way street.

You might consider a more user-friendly hiring experience. Some companies have launched programs that allow job applicants to track progress through each stage of the hiring process.

If you have been a victim of ghosting know that it can happen to anyone but seek to learn why and take steps to mitigate this troublesome issue.

Author: Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Don’t Forget to Plan for the Unexpected

Dave Blankenhorn

Often in our planning we forget to look at what might happen in favor what we want to happen. As we consider our goals for the coming year give some thought to what might upset your best laid plans.

What internal and external threats could disrupt your mission?

Internal risks could include unplanned expenses, disruptions in revenue, inadequate reserves, or IT crashes, internal fraud or theft, inadequate insurance coverage, hacking, or reputation risk.

External issues could be how to operate if there is a natural disaster, economic downturn, or regulation changes.

Identify the risks, measure the possible impact of each, determine the probability of the occurrence of the risk, then prepare a plan to mitigate those with the highest potential to damage your organization.

These should be then incorporated as part of your overall plan tied together with your contingency plan.

Continue to review and update your assumptions during the year. As the Boy Scouts say: “Be Prepared”.

Author:  David Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Are you an effective time manager?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

A recent Harvard Business Review CEO survey tracked how CEOs spent their time over a three-month period. As you might guess CEOs have huge demands on their time and use a mix of strategies to manage these. However, they found CEOs could become more effective if they paid more attention to what happens when they aren’t crossing items off their to-do lists and planning ahead. Getting out of the “weeds” is important in every size organization

More time to think- CEOs need more time to reflect, recharge, strategize, and prepare for upcoming events. Many CEOs easily fall into the habit of being reactive not proactive. Time can help them and others in their organizations come up with new ideas and strategies to implement them. 

Attend fewer meetings- the higher you climb in the ranks the more meetings you will attend. The surveyed CEOs spent over 70% of their time in meetings. It may help to take stock of the types of meetings attended and pull back from those less strategic ones.  Also having a clear agenda and prepared participants will reduce the time by half. 

Delegate and move on– great CEOs try to surround themselves with a highly qualified and dedicated team. These CEOs then try to delegate as much as possible to this group. By empowering them you have more time to spend at the strategic level.

Author: Fave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Is your organization ready for Telecommuting?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

A growing number of workers are looking for benefits that lead to a greater balance between and home life. Recent research from the staffing firm of Robert Half found 77% of professionals surveyed would be more likely to accept a job offer if there is a possibility of telecommuting at least part of the time.

53% of employees polled by Gallup say a role that allows them to have a greater work-life balance is “very important” when considering a new job with 37% indicating they would switch jobs if an opportunity arose with a telecommuting option at least part of the time.

An organization needs to decide if there are positions that would lend themselves to this model. It seems people who perform creative tasks can be 20% more effective but those with repetitive roles 10% less so. There is a proven cost savings factor in reduced turnover and absentee rates by allowing people to work from home.

The drawbacks according to the Half survey include people abusing the benefit (22%), and strained personal interpersonal relationships due to a lack of face time. Many people like to be around other “team” members and are more productive in that atmosphere.

When it comes to telecommuting there are no easy answers. However, as the job market tightens and more competitors move this way, it makes sense to evaluate it and see if this a time to take the step.

Author:  David Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Do you have Board term limits?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

A recent survey on boards by a community bank trade group highlights issues pertinent to not just banks but also to nonprofit organizations.

While many board members are “baby boomers” and getting older many boards have avoided the issues of term limits. This is a touchy subject as many are “founders” and feel a proprietary interest in the group. On the flip side without limits directors can become stagnant or cliquish and can stunt the success of the organization. In some cases, the long-term directors may prevent a younger and more diverse crop of leaders from joining the board.

Advantages to setting term limits include: the ability to add directors with specific skills, avoids stagnation, group-think, boredom and loss of commitment, avoids the potential for unhealthy insider attitudes, allows for a respectful and efficient way to remove ineffective directors, and most importantly brings in new ideas, perspectives and contacts.

There are some disadvantages to term limits; potential loss of expertise, loss of organizational memory, the time spent required to recruit and educate new directors, a loss in board cohesiveness and possible donation losses.

It is important for the current board leadership to step back and view what is right for them. While new blood and fresh ideas are vital to any organization so to are the loyalties and knowledge of existing members.

A way to retain these valuable people would be to set up an “Honorary Board” informing them of current activities, soliciting their input, and giving them the recognition, they so deserve.

No matter the path you choose about this issue not making one is a decision in itself.

Author: Dave Blamkenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC,org

Is turnover higher than you would like?

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Then maybe you need to look in the mirror and see if you have been a factor in that number.

A recent poll by BambooHR found that 44% of respondents said that very thing. Specifically, they pointed to a boss’s management style, condescending attitude, temperament inappropriate behavior and harassment as top reasons for leaving.

The top most egregious behavior is taking credit for employee’s work. 17% of the respondents said they left because the boss stole their ideas. Age played into this. 57% of employees between the ages if 18 to 29 say this totally unacceptable while 77% of workers over 60 feel the same way.

Number two on the list is a boss who doesn’t appear to trust or empower employees.

Number three is a boss who doesn’t appear to care when employees are over worked and number four is a boss who doesn’t advocate for employees when it comes to monetary compensation. Rounding out the list is a boss who hires and/or promotes the wrong people.

The study finds notable differences in how men and women view these behaviors. Men were more apt to find the bad behaviors more unacceptable and were more likely to leave compared to the percentage of women.

What are some good ways to retain your best employees.

Promote appropriately, pay according to the employee’s job and performance, solicit and employ input, encourage innovation, and encourage healthy competition for increased engagement.

It is easy to get caught up in the daily routine and overlook certain things. However, the future of your organization relies in large part on your human resources. Keeping good people around will most certainly lead to positive results.

Author:  Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.orf

Employee Improvement

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Indulging in our favorite foods is wonderful but can be unhealthy at times. Too much chocolate, ice cream and cake can add those calories very quickly and cause you problems. In the same vein playing favorites with employees can also result in negative results.  We are all human so we tend to gravitate to those with similar interests and personalities. To avoid that perception, you may need to validate that you are not playing favorites and are willing to treat everyone  evenhandedly.

Giving everyone a chance to grow and develop produces a team that can accomplish much more through expanded perspectives and creativity.

Here are some things to consider in this area;

Think inclusively when you assign work. Give people things to do and ideally tasks that will help them grow.

Hand out assignments on an equitable basis. Keep track of who is doing what. Rotate project leadership roles.

Encourage employees to participate. Greet new ideas warmly in meetings even if you don’t ultimately implement them. This will encourage more creativity within the staff.

Look for things you may have in common with others. Cultivate conversations about similar interests.

Wear their shoes. See their points of view.

Skipping that second helping of potatoes and gravy will do wonders for your health and in the same vein focusing on employee togetherness should result in a more effective organization.

Author:  Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

 

Nonprofit Budgets and Forecasts

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Is the way your organization budgets and makes projections getting the job done?

If not take a look at zero based budgeting and rolling forecasts to improve the accuracy of your results.

Zero-based budgeting (ZBB) is the idea of looking at your expenses from the ground up rather than using your existing figures and adding some percentage. ZBB can reduce general and administrative costs by 10% to 25% if done right.

Another approach to think about is the use of a rolling forecast which allows continuous planning through a number of periods. For instance, if your period is a fiscal year you will always be forecasting 12 months ahead. As one month ends you will add another. You can always add more months.

Rolling forecasts are living documents allowing you to make decisions during the year based on changing information and data. Because you always have 12 months (or what whatever period you choose) you have long term data when you need it or can change your plans for the short term when circumstances demand it.

Rolling forecasts can also give you more accuracy than the traditional budget. By the time you complete a standard budget it is probably already out of date. The rolling budget is more flexible so you respond rapidly to changing conditions. As factors fluctuate you may respond accordingly. The results of adding new expenditures or adding to old ones can immediately be forecast as well as increases or decreases in income.

So if your present system is not what you want it to be give this new approach a try.

Author:  Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org 

Giving Employees Feedback

Dave Blankenhorn

 

Do you believe you know how to give employees proper feedback? Do they learn and develop from your assessment?

If you believe you could do better think about some new ways to become more effective. No one really likes to hear criticism but there are ways to make it more palatable and productive for the organization and the employee.

When giving negative feedback decide whether it is better to do so immediately when you see the problem or at the time of more comprehensive review. No matter the approach when you give negative feedback be specific. While there is no need to bring up every single time the employee has erred it should be detailed enough that the employee clearly understands your concerns and sets the stage for a solution.

As part of this tie the comments into the employee’s values and goals. For example, If the behavior causes others to do more work the employee who values what others think about them will be more receptive to changing their behavior.

When giving feedback maintain a neutral voice and watch your body language. Yelling is counterproductive. Being calm sends the message that you are there for constructive purposes, that it is part of the normal business world.

Be specific about the solution. Be sure you have a remedy in mind before talking with the employee but before you do so ask the employee if they might have a solution to the problem. If it matches yours so much the better.

Lastly infuse any criticism with words of encouragement and praise for what they are doing well. This is a coaching opportunity to build confidence, communicate respect, and hopefully build a better relationship with the employee.

Author:  Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org