Category Archives: Managing Employees

Does Your Organization Have Committed Owners or Disengaged Renters?

Namita Kutty

Does your non-profit have owners who view the business as their own and go over and beyond their job description or renters who just get by viewing the job as a regular 9-5 chore?

Who are your Owners, Renters and Vandals?

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 33% of workers in the United States are really engaged in their jobs which means they bring their full self to work and are Owners.

51% of employees are disengaged Renters and bring themselves and their skills to work but may not really put in their full heart into it.  Vital to your organization, but they are there for money and view it as a 9-5 job. A more concerning note is that 16% are actively disengaged and alarmingly a small portion of them might even end up as up as Vandals as per Cueinc*. Vandals are employees who don’t just not care about your organization but may also derail it and your other engaged team members with their negativity and personal agendas.

Does it matter if employees are engaged?
Here are some metrics from Gallup on the difference that engaged employees make :

Highly engaged business units:

  • Realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity
  • Achieve a 10% increase in customer metrics and a 20% increase in sales.
  • Overall, it can result in 21% greater profitability

First, how do you identify a highly engaged employee ?

An engaged employee doesn’t just view it as a job or a gig. They will go over and beyond the job description to work towards the mission of the non-profit. She not just believes in the mission, but is an evangelist ! Example : An employee works in a hotel and as he is walking down the corridor, he spots an piece of paper on the floor. Will he pick it up and throw it in a bin, or kick it under the carpet or will he throw something else down and walk away?

Five quick tips on increasing engagement and having more owners :

1. Invest in what motivates individual employees :

Employees feel most engaged when they feel cared for. So, your first step is to identify what motivates an individual employee. And then cater to them by developing individual development plan & reward for each of them.

2. Help them grow:

Radical Candour by Kim Scott shares a great way to give feedback by caring personally but challenging directly. Which means giving direct feedback while also building a personal connect and rapport with the employee thereby giving guidance that’s kind and clear, specific and sincere.

3. Help your employees shine :

Employees are most engaged when they enjoy their jobs. An efficient way to do this, is to  play by their strengths. Identify what they are best at and ensure that they have opportunities to shine by they doing what comes naturally to them.

4. Freedom to make big changes :

A renter can change the drapes, but can’t break down walls can she? A owner can. Give your employees the freedom to make big calls and have them take the accountability for it.

5. Rewarding & Celebrating your owners :

Do the promotion and big increments only go to your renters who have been there forever or do you proactively identify your upcoming owners and reward them?

Wishing you all the very best in your quest to increase your business owners and weed out the vandals ! Au revior.

Source :

Community for Positive Employee Relations – http://www.cueinc.com/ Gallup – https://news.gallup.com/reports/199961/7.aspx                    
Radical Candour by Kim Scott   https://www.kimmalonescott.com/

Author: Namita Kutty, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Working Remotely

Robin Noah
Robin Noah
The option to work outside the office is a dream come true for employees who want better working options, however, managing remote employees can quickly become a boss’s worst nightmare. Remote working, telecommuting, flexible working – thanks to the wonders of technology, is increasingly finding new ways to get the job done. The ability to telecommute, whether full time or on occasion, has become an increasingly common workplace perk. In fact, according to one Gallup study 43.

It has been said that allowing people to work from home attracts and retains top talent in a competitive market, but there are factors to consider.

1. Eligibility: One of the first things any employer needs to consider when deciding on a remote work assignment is whether the employees’ attitudes, work ethics and personalities align with the company’s expectations of telecommuting. Managers should accommodate on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind what’s best for the company, its team members and the project at hand.  Sometimes looking at the employees profile will give the best clue when looking for candidates or responding to a request.

Take some time  to cover all areas of remote working and create a job description that includes the nature of the position, how long a person has been at the position, past job performance and how frequently a staff member can telecommute, i.e., full time, once a week, etc.

2. Expectations:  For geographically dispersed teams, or in cases where remote work helps, accommodation for family schedules and obligations, official “business hours” may vary from person to person.  However, regardless of their work hours, employees also need to be held accountable for their assigned jobs. “It is important to provide very specific remote work guidelines and policies for employees to review and acknowledge in a telecommuting arrangement.

Workers who do not meet these expectations risk losing the trust of leadership and sidelining their team. Minimum considerations:

  • Clear expectations with employees
  • Adhering to company expectations
  • Available during office hours
  • Meet deadlines and complete projects with excellence
  • Maintain communication with their manager and co-workers.

Other concerns that may be addressed

  • Security of company owned equipment
  • Accountability and visibility
  • Security – both physical, and digital
  • Maintaining boundaries between work life and home life

3. Equipment and Cybersecurity

Enabling employees to work remotely opens up the likelihood that they’ll use their work devices to communicate via unsecured public networks. Password-protect all business devices; make sure that data going out from those devices is encrypted. Keep a current inventory of all devices and make sure each one has its GPS tracking turned on. Additionally, install technology to remotely wipe data from any device that has been lost or stolen.”

4. Communication methods: With the appropriate use of communications technology, companies can also ensure their culture remains intact, even with full-time telecommuters.  It’s wise to explicitly state that remote work is a privilege that can be revoked if it’s discovered that an employee is not meeting his or her expectations while working outside the office.

This article is informational. Please see a labor law attorney for any questions you may have.

Author: Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

How Valuable Is Time To Your Employees?

Dave Blankenhorn

As our day to day lives have become busier and technology has eroded the line between work hours and personal time, many people are working longer hours than ever before. From cell phones to laptops people are now accessible at virtually any hour of the day. The result is that people feel stressed and lack more free time.

When it comes to work, it turns out that giving people more freedom can foster greater productivity and creativity among employees. This can include such things as more vacation time or short breaks within the workday. Companies such as Netflix have gone so far to introduce vacation policies allowing people to take off whatever time they need. Interestingly, these companies have found most do not abuse such freedom and tend to be happier and perhaps more loyal. At the least companies should encourage people to use all of their allotted vacation time.

Another way to give employees more time is to allow them some flexibility to run the occasional errand during the workday. Some find it hard to juggle everything they need to do on the weekends.

For people who run on “auto pilot” when it comes to repetitive tasks or routines mixing things up can have a big impact. It forces them to become more engaged in what else is around them.

In our rat race world finding ways to ease the stress on our staff can pay big dividends.

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

Leadership Is About Coaching – Here’s How To Do It Well

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

Michael Bungay Stanier is a Canadian coach. He is the author of “ The Coaching Habit.” He is one of my favorite people on coaching.

The following piece of his is terrific.” If you’re a leader or a manager, you probably wear a lot of hats. You’re a project manager, delegator, spokesperson, and most importantly, a coach.

But the problem is that no one ever tells you how to be an effective coach, or even what that means. Are you supposed to act like a sports coach? A therapist? Perform some bizarre (and arcane) HR ritual?

The answer is none of the above. In fact, it’s about making one tiny change to your behavior, one that will bring about significant impact. Being a coach is about being more curious, and being slow to give advice and take action.

But the truth is, most of us are advice-giving maniacs. We do not listen as much as we should. Being curious involves asking questions. The best question is What else?? It is based on the understanding that the first answer someone gives is never their only answer.

Coaching is an essential leadership behavior. Curiosity is the driving force in being more coach-like. Questions fuel curiosity. Remember as a leader and a manager, your job is not to have all of the answers-but to guide your employees to come up with the right ones.”

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

A Case For Risk Management

Robin Noah
Robin Noah

A case for risk management: You may have read about a case where a federal jury recently awarded Taco Bell workers approximately $496,000 in a class action case that alleged meal and rest period violations. Taco Bell ended up in court because of problems with its policy on meal breaks and rest periods.  A clear case of failure to comply with labor law.

For example Meal Periods: Employers must allow employees to take meal periods at the proper time. More than 134,000 employees claimed that Bell failed to properly provide meal breaks before the fifth hour of work as required by California law.   This case demonstrates the challenges California employers face in the ever-persistent litigation over meal and rest periods.

The workers did win on their claim that Taco Bell failed to properly pay them when a meal break was skipped. If an employer fails to provide an employee a meal period, the employer must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of compensation (Labor Code, sec. 226.7). This is often referred to as “premium pay.”

The Taco Bell workers claimed that the company paid them only 30 minutes of wages when a meal period was skipped, rather than the full hour of required premium pay. The jury agreed.

Of great interest is that Taco Bell faced litigation because its employee handbook policy did not meet California’s strict meal and rest break requirements. Evidence submitted at trial alleged that Taco Bell used a meal period “matrix,” which reflected a policy of providing the meal after five hours of work, instead of before.

Though there are many laws requiring employers to notify employees of certain workplace rights, there are actually no federal or state laws specifically requiring an employer to have an employee handbook. However, for a number of reasons, creating and maintaining an employee handbook is a good idea and a best practice.

Moreover, an employee handbook is a useful tool for providing employees with that information that, by law, must already be delivered in writing (e.g., equal employment opportunity (EEO) statements).

Rather than provide employees with a haphazard pile of mandatory written notices—and then attempt to document that those notices were received—it makes sense to collect them into an organized, easy-to-use handbook or similar document.

Consider managing the risk by making clear what appropriate activity is by enacting a company-wide program that will educate everyone on what is acceptable and unacceptable workplace behavior.

Please see a Labor Law attorney for employee handbook issues.

Author:  Robin Noah, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

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

Performance Reviews Made Easier

Many managers dread the performance review process because of the time and preparation needed to deliver to and support their employees. BoardSource recently posted an article with practical suggestions to make the process easier.[1] The premise of the article is that more frequent, focused, and conversational discussions are more effective than the once a year variety. The author also contends that these are more efficient and timesaving.

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

The Quarterly Review: Future Outcomes

The article recommends having goal-focused reviews quarterly, keeping the focus on future outcomes. Even checking mid-quarter on progress helps. Holding positive conversations about progress makes the process far less full of tension and anxiety. Here are some questions to pursue:

  1. What has gone well in your progress toward your goals?
  2. What has blocked your progress, and what changes do you need to make?
  3. What do you plan on doing next?
  4. How can your manager help you?

As a coach, I think this model is a very good one for one important reason – it teaches all involved to think strategically. At the end of the time frame (quarterly or yearly) a team can ask:

  1. If performance went well, what can we capitalize on for next year;
  2. If the project didn’t go as planned, what changes can be made the next time, and/or what adjustments can be made.

Thinking strategically is a very important skill for being a manager. Therefore, by following this pattern, managers are also mentoring employees for more responsibility or promotion. In addition, employees receive clarity about  their manager’s expectations.


[1] 3 Ways to Lighten up Performance Management Process, Randal Vegter, NewsCred, BoardSource, February, 2019

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

New Year Invites Reflection and Evaluation

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

On behalf of all the coaches at Executive Coaches of Orange County, we want to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May it be blessed with good health, peace and happiness. We at ECofOC are grateful that our 150 clients have chosen to turn to us for individual coaching or for our Executive Director Forum (36 members), or for both.

For the past 16 years, we have been living our mission of helping nonprofit leaders  and managers become more effective, efficient and successful so their organizations can do more of their good work in our community.

The new year offers a time for us to pause and take an inventory of where we have been and set new goals for the future. The services of ECofOC may provide you an opportunity to move forward and up your game. Change  needs to be met with accountability.

Coaching  provides a  one-on-one relationship to nonprofit leaders. Our coaches help managers set specific goals and solve difficult issues from a nonjudgmental perspective in a confidential setting. Coaching can address virtually any nonprofit management issue, including board development, fundraising, outreach, leadership, management, finance, IT and HR issues, personal development and career planning.

Our Executive Director Forum is comprised of 10 to 12 executive directors facilitated by two experienced ECofOC coaches in monthly meetings using a proven process to guide the group to practical solutions for issues brought to the table by each participant. These sessions allow executive directors to test ideas and work though issues with a group of their peers.

We  hope you will consider getting a coach. If you are a manager with a non-profit organization in Orange County, you can apply here at www.ecofoc.org. The price is right; it is FREE! Our team of coaches are prepared to take you where you want and dream to go. The moment and power of change is now!!

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange  County,  www.ECofOC.org