As Boomers Retire, Need For Workers Increases

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It’s no secret that the baby boomer generation will soon be retiring out of the workplace.

In fact, this report suggests that most boomers will be retired in the next 10 years.

The question is, will America be ready to fill the jobs left by boomers? That’s the question NBC News asks in this article, as they explore the situation, bringing it to life in the context of employers in the Pittsburgh region.

According to the article, “employers, educators and policymakers in the region must immediately accelerate efforts to educate, train, retain and attract talent for more than a million jobs, which, by 2025 will need to be filled to meet anticipated demand.”

Some of the biggest needs from new employees include computer skills, comfort with technology, and adapting to change. The article also claims manufacturing will be one of the biggest sectors with holes that need filling.

Read the whole article here, and consider how the retirement of baby boomers might impact your organization – or your own career!


Know Anyone Guilty of These 5 Annoying Coworker Behaviors?

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If you’ve ever worked in an office environment, then it’s almost certain you’ve had to deal with an annoying coworker.

I’ve heard so many horror stories over the years! The cubicle mate who not only takes cat naps, but snores. The coworker who clears their throat loud enough for the entire office to hear it. The person who dresses for work like they’re going out on a date. The list goes on!

But as documented in this recent Business Insider “Ask The Insider” column, there are  five common workplace behaviors that lead to more complaints than any others.

You should definitely check out this list, because you might be surprised to find out even you are guilty of one or two of them!

  1. Coming to work sick.
  2. Being loud.
  3. Grooming at your desk.
  4. Imposing smells (they’re talking to YOU perfume wearers and leftover heater-uppers!)
  5. Talking about yourself.

You should definitely read the whole article for insight into each of these behaviors.

But even more importantly, if you’re guilty of any of doing any of these, stop now – it’s intangible things like this that can keep you from getting your next promotion, job or opportunity!


New Career Column: Grieving is a Healthy Part of Change

St. Louis Post Dispatch career column

Below is an excerpt from my latest St. Louis Post-Dispatch Career Column. Read the whole column here.


As an executive coach, I see disappointing changes in people’s careers and lives all the time.

The promotion isn’t happening. The company is making you transfer to a new city. The new job didn’t work out. The restructure of the department means your role is changing.

All of us have likely experienced at least one of these scenarios. In the moment, we feel traumatized by the news and our emotions run in circles trying to resolve (or come to terms with) a “new normal.” We can’t help but take it personally, because in reality we are experiencing a loss.

On top of that loss, most changes come with additional unwanted changes. For example, not getting a promotion also means delaying your plans to buy a new car. Moving away means leaving friends. A change in workplace role means dissolving your old team. We could go on and on.

Businesses go through this as well. Companies win new clients and lose established clients simultaneously. Those changes often affect the workforce and workplace culture.

The point here is this — you are going to FEEL IT.

But all too often, I see people stuff their feelings down, not allowing time to grieve. This ultimately makes it harder to move forward.

So what’s the best to navigate your way through tough changes? You must PROCESS IT. Here are three simple, helpful steps you can use to let yourself feel the pains of change in a positive way…

Go here to read the rest of this column.

What All Managers Should Know About Employee Engagement

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If you’re in management, getting to really know your team is critical to your success as a manager of people. Defining expectations and the role in which you want each one to perform is so important in helping your team stay engaged.

But statistics suggest that most managers aren’t even considering the importance of engagement: 75% of leaders have no engagement plan or strategy even though 90% say engagement impacts business success (ACCOR). In addition, less than 50% of chief financial officers appear to understand the return on their investments in human capital (Accenture).

Why is engaged “human capital” important? Well, the stats tell the story there, too:

  1. Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy $370 BILLION annually. (Gallup)
  2. 70% of engaged employees indicate they have a good understanding of how to meet customer needs; only 17% of disengaged employees say the same.
    (Wright Management)
  3. 78% of engaged employees would recommend their company’s products or services; only 13% of the disengaged would do the same. (Gallup)

Now that you know the numbers, the question is this: How will you start in developing meaningful relationships with your employees?

If this is a topic that interests you, dig deeper with my book RINGMASTER: 8 Strategies To Become a Star Performer in the Midst of Change.


3 Things You MUST Do When Communicating Change in the Workplace

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Whether you’re the one communicating the change or the one receiving the communication, there are three things you must do to communicate effectively.

The first is to repeat, repeat, repeat. You can’t communicate too much when introducing a change of any kind. When I was working in corporate America, I made it a habit to repeat back to my boss what I thought I heard when defining what I was asked to implement or change moving forward. You might have heard me say, “To make sure I’m on the same page, what you’re saying is… is that correct?”

Now, the “…” is where confirming and clarifying come into play.

When repeating back to my bosses what I interpreted them to be saying, I confirmed deadlines and clarified how I would notify my boss once my action was completed, for instance. By doing this, I was able to guarantee that I wasn’t misinterpreting any details or expectations.

A plan to repeat, confirm, clarify may sound simple, but it can be a challenge if you’re in a rush to get back to a project or move on to the next one. It also gets more complicated when you go from one-on-one communication of change to one that involves a team dynamic.

Interesting Stats on Salary Transparency

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If we’re being truly honest, I think every one of us would admit that we’re curious about our coworkers’ salaries, or at least people in our industry in similar positions make.

The debate has always been, would it be a good thing for companies and professionals to be transparent about their salaries, or a bad thing?

This Money article has some interesting statistics on the subject. Per the article:

According to Glassdoor’s latest survey on salary transparency, 70% of employees think transparency around pay improves worker satisfaction, and 62% say they would be willing to share information about their own salary if they could do so anonymously.

The article continues to claim that employees would be happier if there was more salary transparencey.

Nearly 70% of American workers agreed with the statement, “I wish I had a better understanding of what fair market compensation for my position and skill set is at my company and in my local job market.” With so few employees confident they’re being compensated fairly, the result is a troubling knowledge gap around pay transparency.

I’m curious what you think. Is salary transparency necessary to help you know your market value? Or is it the kind of thing that could just stir up discontent and envy?

What Behavior Does Your Workplace Reward?

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The leadership within a company drives its culture. So the question to ask yourself (and to always keep asking) is this: “What behaviors does the company and its leadership reward?” You will quickly find out the company “currency” (meaning what makes someone valuable) when this question is answered. You’ll thereby discover what it takes for you to stand out, as well as whether or not the organization is really living up to its mission, vision and value statements. Some examples will really help illustrate this point.

I recently met a very successful salesperson – we’ll call him Dave. He was hitting all the numbers and kept his head down, staying out of company politics, focusing on scaling the next mountain. But despite all of that, Dave was given the pink slip. Understandably, he was confused since he routinely surpassed his sales goals. But after we talked further about his role, I found out that he wasn’t recording and keeping accurate information and data on his processes and sales. He was unpredictable. Sure, Dave’s sales numbers were good, but everyone else was running around having to track his numbers. This was not a corporate culture that accepted, much less rewarded, letting the details fall through the cracks in exchange for better numbers. He was a results-oriented performer failing in a process-oriented culture. But Dave’s not unique. Many of us focus so much on how to build our careers that we forget to look up and make sure that how we work may actually be the thing the organization rewards.

I also worked with an executive who was employed by a global organization. We’ll call him Toby. He had been there for over 15 years and had been promoted many times, ultimately landing an executive role. So what he experienced next caught him by surprise. You see, Toby was known for his ability to take large amounts of financial data and condense it to easy-to-understand but meaningful applications. He really loved this part of his job and was rewarded for his performance in this area – until the organization decided to restructure several departments.

Toby now reported to someone new. He continued to do what he had always done before, but this time he noticed a change in the responses to his efforts. There was a new reward system in place. In the past, Toby had challenged the status quo (including his management) when looking for the most effective approach to solving or finding a solution around efficiencies. But the new boss didn’t like his aggressive approach and began limiting his job duties. The manager began bringing in new employees from other departments. After a year of this, Toby found himself stuck in an office with very little interaction with others. He was dying a slow professional death. He had not realized earlier that when the new boss took over, the culture he knew had dramatically changed, and that it was his job to adapt to that change. And that’s a lesson we all need to understand and embrace.

Learn more about this topic in my book RINGMASTER: 8 Strategies For Becoming a Star In The Midst of Change.

Approaching Career Change Like a… Thumbtack?!

Career Change

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There’s an old saying in business: “If you’re not growing and transforming, then you’re losing business and heading backwards.” That statement refers to companies, but the same goes for individuals. If you are not growing and learning something new, then you are too content with living in the status quo, waiting for someone else to change your world. Wouldn’t you want to direct change before someone else does?

It then becomes a matter of knowing how to make that change without pigeonholing yourself. To help bring my thought to life here, let’s start by looking at three ways to attach one material to another – a nail, a sticker and a thumbtack.

First, the nail. By itself, it’s pointed so that when you nail it into wood it’s secure and hard to remove. The nail delves into one very specific area and represents being a niche expert in your field, with real depth of knowledge. This is someone you might call a “guru” in a specific area of focus.

Let’s think about the sticker. It is broad and thin, representing someone who is a “generalist” with limited but useful knowledge in many areas related to their field. Generalists know enough about the multiple areas of their department so that they can be flexible and fill in for someone who is out of the office at any time. Managers can conveniently move them around as needed, even though they don’t really have a specific expertise.

A thumbtack is both. It has qualities of the nail and the sticker. This person has both a broad knowledge of topics related to their work, but also in-depth knowledge and skills in at least one relevant discipline. Why would anyone want to be a thumbtack in this metaphor? Because when a company is reorganizing the department or looking to lay off part of their workforce, they’ll most likely value someone who is both a generalist and a niche expert. These people have more to offer the organization because they don’t have just one skill, nor are they limited in their knowledge of related functions. In other words, as a thumbtack, they are pretty good at everything and great at something!

Learn more about The Thumbtack Approach and gain more career change insight in my book, RINGMASTER: 8 Strategies For Becoming a Star In The Midst of Change.

How To Advance Your Career Once You’ve Made It To The C-Suite

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While this post may seem catered to corporate executives, it’s also applicable for anyone in management who wants to further their careers!

The C-Suite got its name because top executives’ titles tend to start with the letter C – like “chief” as in chief executive officer, chief operating officer or chief information officer. A lot of professionals see C-Suite status as the ultimate goal. But once you’ve arrived, you can’t just sit back and be content in your title! Once that happens, you’re already at risk of losing it.

You have to constantly seek to learn, advance and progress. I recently came across an article titled “3 Ways To Advance Your Senior Management Career”, and I think it does a nice job of laying out what I’m talking about here.

The article calls out three ways high level executives can further position themselves for personal and professional success:

  1. Expand your network.
  2. Market yourself (in a targeted way).
  3. Become a board member.

Read the whole article for more rationale as to why these actions are important at the C-Suite level, and if you’re already there, share how you are trying to not only maintain your career – but advance it.

Learning To Let Go In Your Career

St. Louis Post Dispatch career column

Below is an excerpt from my latest St. Louis Post-Dispatch Career Column. Read the whole column here.


During a recent vacation, I picked up the book “From Chaos to Confidence, Surviving Strategies For The New Workplace” by Susan M. Campbell. It was an enlightening read. I was specifically impacted by her concept of how to practice the art of letting go and I think you will be, too.

Since several of my speaking/training programs focus on how to manage change in the workplace, I was delighted to see how Campbell’s book supported my beliefs and yet also deepened my own understanding.

Her point-of-view is we have trouble with change because we don’t approach life or work as a continual learner. We find confidence in what we know rather than continually looking for a greater understanding/learning and that ultimately holds us back.

Here’s a quick look at six common ways we block learning by holding on, as featured in Campbell’s book.

1. Holding on to a self-perception or habits that no longer serve you.

The main thing to take away from this point is we too often hold on to patterns in how we work and live because we benefit from them, giving us a false sense of security or confidence. These pattern benefits won’t last forever (in fact they may have already expired) and we need to recognize by persistently trying to learn, we can constantly build new habits that benefit us.

2. Fear of the past repeating itself.

We’ve all taken risks or put ourselves out there and then it didn’t work out. If we hold on to that fear, we let it drive our careers and lives — which never gets us to our goals! You can’t move forward until we let go of the past.

3. Fixating our attention on things we have no control over.

I see this all the time. The key is to turn your attention to what you can control and let go of things you can’t do anything more about.

Read ways 4-6 here