The 14 Qualities of Great Leaders—How Many Do You Have?

"In today’s Advisor, business and leadership blogger Dan Oswald offers his thoughts on qualities of great leaders. (Oswald, CEO of BLR® offers these thoughts weekly in The Oswald Letter.)"

Marvin Bower joined McKinsey & Company in 1933 and served as the management consulting firm’s managing partner from 1950 to 1967. In 1997, he published a book titled The Will to Lead: Running a Business with a Network of Leaders, in which he shares his perspectives on leadership.


Development, Mentors, Opportunities, Risk, and Reward Keep HIPOs Engaged

"In yesterday’s Advisor we offered tips for handling the difficult situation: high potential employees low on the career ladder who are antsy because Boomers won’t retire. Today, more tips, plus an introduction to the unique guide just for HR “Lone Rangers”—the one-person HR departments."

Here are some more tips for managing HIPOs (high potentials):

  • Increase risk and reward. This might mean giving more at-risk salary in the form of bigger bonuses or incentive pay for outstanding performance. Having more say over final take-home pay can allow HIPOs to feel more in charge of their career outcome, even if the title isn’t changing immediately.
  • Provide development opportunities. This might include training programs, conference attendance, certification opportunities, and more. The key is to ensure that there are continual opportunities to gain new skills and grow. Look both externally and internally within the organization for ideas.
  • Give them a mentor. There are people in the organization who can help these employees learn, grow, and better understand the organization as a whole. Be sure to choose the mentor wisely—he or she should be a good match on an individual level, not just chosen at random. This can be difficult to implement, but pays off when done well.
  • Keep a performance review schedule. Even in organizations with a performance management system firmly embedded, it’s easy to let employee performance reviews take a back seat. Don’t let that happen. Especially for HIPOs, getting feedback on performance can be invaluable when it comes to staying motivated. Performance management can include discussions about career progression and development as well, as we noted above.
  • Ensure the HIPOs’ supervisors are on-board with these efforts. Many of the above programs will fall apart without the active management by the direct supervisor of the HIPO employee. Work with your supervisors on all of these steps to ensure everyone is on the same page. If necessary, move HIPO employees outside of the standard organizational system and allow them to report to someone else in the organization when doing so makes sense for that individual.
  • The key to all of this is showing HIPO employees how much they matter to the organization. By following some of the above strategies, employers can make a big impact and reduce the likelihood of turnover among HIPOs, even without fast career progression.


Training Programs—What’s Happening in the Real World?

"Everyone knows how important training is, but finding the time and budget is another story. So what’s happening in the real world? What are your competitors up to? What are best practices? Help us find out!"

Please participate in our brief survey and see how what you are doing for training stacks up against what other successful companies are doing.

We’ll get answers to these questions and more:

  • How often do your employees receive training?
  • What kind of training is conducted?
  • What specific topics is training offered on?
  • What are the best sources for training materials?
  • What is HR’s role in training?


Boomers Won’t Retire; My HIPOs Are Antsy

"The Boomers aren’t retiring and the HIPOs (high potentials) below them on the career ladder are starting to wonder when, if ever, they’ll get to move up. What’s to be done?"

Although the economy is slowly on the mend, it’s still noticeable that many employees near or past traditional retirement age have opted to stay working longer. Often, this is to bolster a nest egg that took a hit during the recession. Sometimes, it’s because they don’t feel the desire to leave the workforce just yet, and would rather be productive in a job. Some feel their job is what gives them status. Some are frightened by the prospect of retiring. No matter the reason, there are ripple effects throughout the organization.


Shutdowns, Furloughs and Weather Delays—Wage/Hour Minefields

"Yesterday’s Advisor featured guidelines for deductions from exempt pay; today, deductions for business shutdowns and weather closings, plus an introduction to a practical guide to wage and hour compliance."

Business Shutdowns and Furloughs

It should be no surprise that many employers have sought creative work arrangements in order to weather bleak times without resorting to morale-killing layoffs. Furloughs, temporary shutdowns, and reduced-hour schedules are common workplace solutions. However, the intricacies of the FLSA make these solutions tricky.


Danger Zone—Deductions from Salaried Employees’ Pay

"When it comes to assessing an employee’s exempt status, the duties requirements get the lion’s share of attention. It’s easy to forget that the salary basis rules are nearly as complicated—and just as important."

Generally, payment on a salaried basis means that employees receive a predetermined amount of pay that can’t be reduced due to variations in the quality or quantity of their work. Employees must be paid their full salary for any week in which they:

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  • Perform any work, regardless of the number of hours or days worked; or
  • Are ready, willing, and able to work but unable to do so because no work is available.


What Changes Are Employers Making to Retirement Benefits?

"In yesterday’s Advisor, we presented the first set of results from our 2014 Retirement Benefits Survey. Today, more survey results plus an introduction to the all-things-compensation-in-one-place website,"

Changes Contemplated

Our survey shows that 9.8% of employers plan to add or make changes to their 2015 retirement benefits package, 64.9% of employers have no additions or changes planned, and 25.3% are not certain at this point in time.

For those that are planning to add or make changes to their retirement benefits, 27.4% are planning to add a defined contribution plan such as a 401(k), 403(b), or Roth 401(k), and 20.8% are planning to increase their employer match to their existing defined contribution plan, while 6.6% are planning to reduce the level of their employer match.


Retirement Benefits? Results Are In! Survey Says …

"Results are in for our 2014 Retirement Benefits Survey. Here are some highlights: "

  • 86.6% of the employers responding to our 2014 survey offer either a 401(k) or 403(b) retirement savings plan to employees.
  • 60.3% of the employers responding to our survey that offer a 401(k) or 403(b) plan to their employees also provide a matching contribution.
  • 41.4% of employers match employee contributions dollar-for-dollar. 31.3% go 50 cents on the dollar.
  • Other retirement benefits offered by our survey participants include: defined benefit plans (23.7%), Roth 401(k) (33.2%), 457 plan (13%), profit sharing (22.7%), stock options (3.9%), employee stock ownership plan (7.2%), union-sponsored pension plan (2.6%), and/or SIMPLE or SEP (4.3%).


Windfalls and Changing the Terms of Commission Agreements

"In yesterday’s Advisor, Attorney Allen Kato gave tips for avoiding litigation related to commission agreements. Today, more on commission vesting, plus we announce a new webinar on salary communication."

Vesting of Commissions

One particularly difficult sticking point with commission agreements is failing to define what is supposed to happen if a sale is canceled or the terms need to be renegotiated.

One solution that eliminates many problems is to state that a draw or advance becomes a vested commission only after all conditions on vesting have been removed (e.g., vested only after customer’s time to cancel has expired, and/or terms have been accepted by customer with no right of renegotiation).


Bad Commission Agreements—Lawsuit Magnet

"A badly written (or nonexistent) commission agreement is the primary reason for litigation over sales compensation, says Attorney Allen M. Kato."

Sales compensation litigation is especially tricky because commissioned salespeople are particularly litigious. They are trained to read complicated agreements, and they will find the bad provisions.

Furthermore, sales personnel are very persuasive speakers—that’s why you hired them—and they’re likely to be able to convince the court of their interpretation of the commission agreement.