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Kathi Crawford, MMC – Featured in the IAC Voice “Meet the Coach” Column


In the July edition of the International Association of Coaching IAC Voice Newsletter, I was invited to share my experience and focus as an IAC certified coach in their first “Meet the Coach” column.

My journey to coaching began in 2006 at the height of my career as a Human Resources leader. I realized at that point in my life I had achieved the pinnacle of my career in human resources, yet deeply missed working one-on-one with people and making a difference in their lives. I started to explore the field of coaching and hired a coach, Mattison Grey, MMC (IAC), to work with me. Mattison inspired me to pursue my interest in coaching and learn the skill sets for success. This included pursuing my coach certification with the IAC. I joined the IAC in 2007 and completed the certification in 2009.

In 2008, People Possibilities was born. The name of my company speaks to my belief that there are endless possibilities to pursue in our business and work life. And pursue we do! It’s human nature to want to grow, expand and feel a sense of accomplishment. Whether we realize it or not, our path is about progress. We want to be more!

If we are stagnant or slip backwards, it’s usually because we lack clarity. When we don’t know what to do, we will do nothing. This is the exact opposite of our human nature and potential. Each day we make choices that direct our path. And if the path we choose at first seems impossible — or a change in direction is needed — seeking clarity and making choices to alter our path, in its own right, makes it possible.

I am delighted to work with my clients to assist them in clarifying what changes to make to reach their full potential. My approach is to inspire, challenge and support them as they build leadership capability, identify career development opportunities and transform their careers. It is a joy to see the spark in their eyes when they realize that they have options and choices they can make that move them in a direction that they feel is right and true to what motivates them.

A tool that I have found crucial to the work I do is The Birkman Method™ assessment (www.birkman.com). I am a Senior Birkman™ Consultant and use the assessment for career coaching, leadership development, team building and aligning roles and relationships for maximum productivity and success. It uniquely addresses all of these situations because it integrates behavioral, motivational and occupational data together to predict behavior and work satisfaction. We use it as a guide and common language as we explore those options and choices for moving forward.

In addition to my coaching practice, I have continued my human resources career, exclusively focusing on providing services to small to mid-sized companies. I work directly with the business owner, organizational leader, entrepreneur, and game changer. They recognize that an investment in themselves and those around them yields immediate and ongoing results, creating a supportive and success-oriented culture.

If you want to know more about me and what I do, visit my website at www.peoplepossibilities.com.


Link to the article here

4 Steps to Help Get You on Track with Employment Branding

This blog is written by guest blogger, Kathi Crawford posted December 15, 2013 on the Chief Outsiders’ blog.

Chief Outsiders’ blog is written by top CMOs and executive guests for CEOs looking for business growth strategies, current thinking on effective leadership skills, and ideas and insights from real-world marketing strategy implementation.

Word travels fast in our social, interactive, digital world where everyone and everything has a brand vying for attention. No doubt, significant resources and effort are devoted to branding a company’s product or service. However, it is easy to make the business case that branding in the employment marketplace is equally as vital to an organization’s success. Many CEO’s often overlook this business driver.

The Hamster Wheel – How to Get Nowhere Fast

hamster wheel resized 600

I worked many years for a division of a company that was rising in their industry and yet suffered from perpetual high turnover, specifically in the sales function. It was like watching a hamster race around the wheel…recruit, hire, train, lose employee – recruit, hire, train, lose employee – and do it all over again. It doesn’t take a financial whiz to grasp that all these trips around the hamster wheel add up to lost revenues and increased costs. Eventually, this type of destabilizing force will have a cumulative negative impact on the business.

Are you better than your competitors at attracting and retaining the best talent in the marketplace? Today’s employment climate is complex and competitive. While there are millions of people out of work who need jobs, there is a stark shortage of qualified talent. On top of this, the talent is finicky – they want what they want and are not “loyal” to an organization. They are loyal to themselves, ready to leap at the next opportunity if it provides the right development opportunities and desired work environment. (By the way, money is not a differentiator, it is a threshold requirement.)

For a more in-depth look at the skills gap and talent shortages, read “The Future of Work – So where’s the Talent?”

Step 1 – Make an assessment. Your employment metrics provide an excellent starting place to determine if the bottom line is suffering from excessive turnover, high recruitment costs, low employee engagement, etc. Do you track these metrics? If not, start now. Survey your existing employees to find out their perceptions of professional development opportunities and your work environment.

Who are You – Are You Being Authentic?

In addressing my division’s high turnover, I realized that a key issue was that the experience a sales consultant had once joining the company did not meet their expectations from the interview process. We painted a pretty picture, but when the sales consultant showed up, he or she realized that it was not as easy or as fun as we had described. Our brand was out of synch! We realized that we did not set up our new sales consultants for success when they joined the company. We had expected them to “hit the ground running” and did not provide adequate training and on-boarding so that they could feel confident once being tracked for results. Learning this, we initiated a training process for new sales consultants, thereby increasing retention and success in the initial ninety day period and beyond.

You may not be actively working on your brand or have a branding strategy, but you can rest assured your company has a reputation in the job market. The key to being authentic is that what you say is what you are. Your external message about your employment brand should match the experience that someone has in the interview process and once they are on board.

How are you perceived in the marketplace? The worst thing that can happen in the recruiting process it to think you’ve hired the best candidate only to have them underperform or quit because they don’t mesh with your organization’s management style or fit in with your culture. One size does not fit all.

Herb Keller, CEO of Southwest Airlines, once received a letter from an angry customer who was appalled at the light-hearted way safety procedures were presented. His response: “fly another airline.”

It may seem obvious, but if you hire a technology genius with a great work ethic who wants to play in the company game room at lunch and you are a conservative investment firm – this mismatch will fail. If you’re a hard-charging company that expects long hours from your employees, then own it and target candidates who are interested in meeting those expectations.

Step 2 – Be authentic. Look at who you really are as an employer, the type of candidates that will best fit with your management style and culture, and develop your brand messaging accordingly just as you would when marketing your product or service.

Who’s Hiring Who – Are Potential Employees Your Customers?

It’s possible that you had not considered this question before. In fact, your potential employees as well as those that are working for you now, or who leave your organization in the future are your customers. If you consider this as true, would you treat them differently? How would you handle the experience they have with your company, whether they are researching your company as a possible employer, interviewing with you, starting their first day as your employee or they have just given you notice that they are quitting their job?

This is the essence of your employment brand. If your messaging is consistent with the experience that your employees have and the people you hire at all levels are a fit for your culture and aspire to achieve your mission and vision, you will not only boost employee engagement, you will increase the value of your brand – employment or otherwise!

Storytelling is at the heart of marketing and also a cornerstone of a successful employment brand. A great brand will energize the best potential candidates to apply for jobs and have a common theme so that current employees tell friends and contacts a similar story about what it is like to work at your company.

By telling your story and having your current and former employees serve as brand advocates, you will leverage your reputation and reinforce the public image of your company’s culture, work practices, management style and growth opportunities.

Step 3 – Develop a compelling message. Much like your branding strategy for products and services, your employment brand needs to tap into the audience’s emotions with a clear message and provide a compelling reason to work there.

What makes you Different – Why Would I Work for You?

In any brand strategy, the key is to determine your value proposition and identify what makes you different. The same applies to employment branding. In fact, one of the most powerful ways to develop your employment brand is to integrate it under one umbrella with your overall product or service branding strategy.

Think Apple, Starbucks, or Southwest Airlines – these are companies who are very adept at hiring employees that reflect their external brand and internal values and culture. All three of these companies have an employment brand strategy designed to attract the type of employees they need in order to succeed. What their products and services are known for could easily be interchanged with the type of employees they hire. For Apple – think different, and build a tribe, Starbucks – offer personalized service, create a “third” place and be socially responsible, and Southwest Airlines – work hard, persevere, find a better way and have fun.

The messages that these companies convey are integrated. Starbuck’s overall brand strategy is to create a very personal connection with their customers creating a “home-away-from-home” and build a reputation as a socially responsible organization who works as a “partner” to local communities and suppliers across the globe.

They apply this same philosophy to the relationship with their employees. They are one of the few retailers that offer part-time employees a health and welfare benefits plan and their strategy to encourage employee participation in local community events is one that has been tremendously successful. They train their employees to learn the names of each of their customers and build a long standing relationship so that customers feel like Starbucks is their “home-away-from-home” or third place. The measurable results include increased employee engagement and retention, development of employee leadership skills and reinforcement of the company’s overall reputation.

In simple terms, their differentiator is that they “care intensely” about the customer, their employees and the greater world at large. Their branding hits the mark of being current but timeless and excites across generations and job functions. It all works in synch and comes together under one umbrella with each branding effort reinforcing the other.

Step 4 – Know Your Differentiators and Integrate Your Brands. Determine your own unique value proposition and differentiators to develop an employment branding campaign that dovetails with your product or service brand.

For an example of integrating a personal brand strategy with an overall company marketing strategy, read “The Elton John Brand – Lessons in Marketing Management from The Rocket Man”



Kathi Crawford, CEO of People PossibilitiesKathi Crawford, SPHR, MMC is the CEO of People Possibilities, providing business services and strategic solutions based on a “people” focused approach. She effectively guides leaders and teams through challenges like growth and changing market conditions, startup operations, succession planning, and exiting the business – all of which have a critical people element. For more information, visit www.peoplepossibilities.com.

An Open Letter to Gen Y – #JoinTheCommunity

#WhatTheySay, #DontSellURselfShort

Were you born after 1981? If so, you are a member of Generation Y; otherwise known as a Millennial. Whether you know it or not, there is a lot being said about your generation. If you believed the media buzz, you would think that aside from working at Starbucks, your prospects of career success are dismal at best.

“They” say you’re not the best employee, lazy and entitled, lacking the skills and maturity to properly fit into the box, the workplace structure. Do you believe this perception? Is this how you feel about yourself? I’m not buying it and neither should you. Perhaps you’ve been unfairly labeled or misunderstood.

#SoManyChoices, #WhoAreU, #URGPS

One thing that IS certain, you have more options and choices than any previous generation. That can be a problem in itself, too many choices. The possibility of making a wrong choice can be paralyzing. Not to mention with so many choices, you can spend a lot time going in circles if you don’t know how to narrow your focus. And even if you know the direction, there is the issue of how to get from where you are to where you want to go.

Let’s say you want to go to Seattle. There are many ways to get there. Your GPS will give you the most direct route. But once on you’re the road, you change your mind and decide you’d like to check out Chicago first. Now, the directions you originally got need to be adjusted to match your new choice.

If you look at your life and career as territory to be explored, then the directions someone else gives you might not take you to the destination where you want to go. The direct route may not be the best and you might need to take a detour or even get lost to find your way. And that’s all right, mistakes are okay.

The question to ask yourself is “what GPS are you using to navigate your life?” Is it the one society, your parents, or your friends gave you or the one inside of you? (See my last blog post for more about “Finding the Work Inside You”).

#TheScript, #Unleash, #BeReal

People have good intentions and want to help you, but often the “advice” they are giving you is what they want for themselves and that’s not helpful to you. Your parents, of course, want more for you than they had. That’s the way it’s been for many generations. So they have certain expectations for what you “should” do. But, you are different and your field of entry is different! The way to achieve your goals and overcome challenges has definitely changed. For example, your parents didn’t grow up in the socially interactive digital dimension that you live in.

Suppose your deepest desire doesn’t match the script your parents or society has in mind. Some of you already have a degree and have decided that you don’t like what you chose as your career. If you’re in debt from college, it can feel like you’re stuck with that choice and must live with it. I can assure you, there is a way to start over with a clean slate and regain momentum in a direction of your choosing.

No matter how much you want to please “them” or stick with it because that’s what you’re supposed to do or that’s what you’ve invested your time and money into, it may not be what’s best for you – it may not be an expression of the REAL you. Here’s the thing, the only script that matters is yours. It’s your life and it’s not over!

The career you choose should be the thing that feeds you rather than takes away from you. If you are doing what you love and you feel like you are contributing positively to your job, your family and your world, everything melds together. You’ll feel better for it, you will be empowered — and you’ll be expressing the unique you.

#PandoraURLife, #TakeControl

Your life CAN be like Pandora, where you are in control of choosing and putting together the channels that make up your individual lifestyle. But before you program it, you have to determine how you want your life to look and how to make that happen. You can’t choose your favorite music if you don’t know what you like.

How do you sort through all the daily digital distractions, what your parents are telling you, what your friends are telling you, what your coworkers are saying and the judgments society (does the phrase helicopter kids ring a bell?) has placed on you to find your own direction in life?

#URValues, #OwnIt, #CraftIt

The first step to crafting the direction for your life is to know yourself and your values. The word value can mean what you hold as right or wrong, and it can also mean what you place value on, as in the things you spend your time doing or desire to spend your time doing. What you value is what makes you come alive. If you are not coming alive every day, it’s possible that you are not living what you value and are not on purpose with what matters to you.

The idea behind following your passion is terrific, yet there is a difference between “blindly following your passion” and being on purpose about what you do, having a strategy to get better, upgrading your ability, and then using that as leverage to climb higher.

Let’s say a roadblock to doing what you love is that it isn’t going to yield a large sum of money. If that is your goal or purpose (a large sum of money) that is one thing, though what really gets most people out of bed every day is the opportunity to do what you enjoy and feel competent in that also makes a difference to others. Making good money doing it is a bonus.

Many of us are still figuring out how to live within our own reality and making the lifestyle choices that support what we do. Once on the career track that requires a 70+ hour work week, it’s hard to get off. Later we realize the impact it has on our personal life and other aspects that are important to us outside of work. How long are you willing to live a life of work that negatively affects your lifestyle needs and, ultimately, your overall health and well being?

There is no right or wrong choice; it’s a matter of figuring out what your terms are as you craft the life you want. What works and what does not work for you? We are all different and unique in what matters to us. Defining what matters to you is uncovered through a process of discovery, it is not an event. If you know yourself, what you value, and have the tools to help you “see the truth” of situations, I promise you that you’ll be able to make good decisions for yourself and successfully craft your life’s work.

#whatsnext, #wantadventure, #urcommunity, #getinvolved

Are you ready for the next step? I invite you to be a part of a community that will be there to support you no matter what goals you choose to pursue. This will be a community of your peers who also want to take on this adventure.  I call it #CRAFTURLIFESWORK. As your tour guide, I will lead this community in a process that launches each participant’s adventure.

This is a whole person experience, not an intellectual exercise. It is an adventure in being and learning how to understand yourself as well as write your own new rules for success.

Will you take the adventure with me? Let’s talk about it – call or text me for more information at 281-450-6316.

Kathi Crawford, SPHR, MMC

Finding the Work Inside You

There are so many books, webinars and experts today talking about finding your “purpose.” The word has become cliché, but the thirst we have to find it is no doubt a reflection of the dissatisfaction we feel in our lives and that includes our careers. Perhaps there is no immediate answer and this can leave us feeling frustrated in our quest to find “it.” In terms of career, my experience and perspective has shown me that we are seeking what I call “the work inside you.”

Are You Really Trapped? (Perception versus Reality)

As people, we are constantly evolving, and it is natural that the way we engage in the workplace and how we bring that part of ourselves to the world will also change over time. I have helped many clients of all ages and in vastly different fields of work make a course correction in their work lives.

One obstacle that sticks out is the false perception of being trapped, locked into a current career situation. If someone has been working in oil and gas accounting for 20 years, their peers and friends will often advise them that there is no way they can change careers now. For the younger generation, their parents often give the traditional advice – go to college and get “xyz” degree so you’ll make money.

Personally, I don’t buy into these perceptions as I myself have made significant course corrections in my own career. As a small town girl from Ohio, I moved half way across the country to the big city of Houston; and at the ripe young age of 19, I found a job. I did not discover a career goal until my early 20’s when I decided to go back to college. I obtained a degree in economics and had a successful career as a consultant with a (now) Big 4 accounting firm. However, I discovered that I didn’t really enjoy that type of work and made a transition into an internal business process consulting role. It was at that point that I discovered my passion and transitioned into the human resources field. After a successful run as an HR leader in a variety of organizations, at the ripe age of 47, I started my own business because it was more compelling to create streams of income and bring my gifts to more than one organization as well as work with individuals as a career coach.

What I bring to the workplace may be similar, but I evolved as I grew older, and how I engaged in my career needed to change too. The reality is you simply can’t afford to listen to the naysayers if you want to be happy. You must ask yourself and decide what’s true for you. So, who are you?

You Are Your Brand – Or Are You?

The brand is where it’s at today. Everyone and everything is a brand – companies, products, celebrities and you – you are a brand! It is not uncommon to realize that your external brand is not in synch with your internal brand. On the outside we want to check the boxes – college degree, check – internship, check – work experience, check. And then we get the job, the career and the lifestyle that goes with it. You have to eat and pay the bills after all.

But there is much more to you than your external brand or online presence. We’ve all probably known someone who looks great “on paper,” but not so much in reality. The issue is that many are trying to “fit in” to meet a job description as well as feel part of a workplace community.

The inescapable fact is that you are also a human being with an internal brand. And that is what makes you “stand out” as your unique self. When your internal brand is not aligned with your external one, I’m willing to bet you are settling, stressing and not giving the best of yourself to your career or the world. You may not realize it, but in hiding your “unique” self to “fit” a job description, you may in fact, not revealed the very thing that would differentiate you as the number one job candidate.

Synching Your Brand (How to “fit in” and “stand out”)

So it is a paradox – how can you “fit in” and “stand out” at the same time? The primary problem is a lot of us don’t know who we really are and what we really want, much less having any idea of what the work is inside of us. We’re too busy working and living life to find out. The first step in finding the work within is to realize something is not right. You must authentically look inside to discover who you are and what is important to you, and then determine how to build your life and occupational goals around those truths.

What kind of environment and culture do you do your best work in? Do you want to work in a conservative, large, quiet corporation or are you more comfortable in a small growing technology company where there is no dress code and you can hang out in the game room at lunch? You may be an accountant, but what industry really motivates and inspires you? Or are you an entrepreneur trapped in a corporate job?

Often the answers to these questions are a process of discovery and the path may be winding. Sometimes you even have to try the shoes on to see if they fit. But having the courage and curiosity to open up to what moves you and what you are meant to do is step one in resolving the disconnect in your external and internal brands. Synching your brand is the only way your essence will come out, and enable you to bring your whole self to the job. And guess what – it will make you “stand out” as the best accountant, lawyer, traffic director, chef, teacher or techie and “fit in” with a community where you can fulfill the basic human need to belong.

A career shift might be as simple as changing industries or as major as changing your field of expertise. I worked with a client who gave up a long-term career in the petrochemical industry in order to explore other options. He recently completed culinary school and is happily working in the field. On the outside it appeared he was giving up everything he worked for. But the truth is that everything he worked for had brought him to the moment of change. You can be you and it’s okay! The available options are only as limited as your mindset. You can choose to be locked up, inauthentic and less effective than you could be otherwise or to leverage all that you are and to unleash the work that is inside of you. It’s a choice, and the choice is yours.

Six Questions to Ask Yourself about Your Work Life

  1. Are you thriving or just surviving at work? Are you inspired by what you do?
  2. Do you have an awareness of the difference between your external image and internal brand? Are you being authentic?
  3. Do you stand out from the crowd? Are you noticed and rewarded for your unique talents?
  4. Do you like your job, but you’re not sure “what’s next” for you in your career?
  5. Do you know how to recognize a dead end job before you get into it?
  6. Do you want to leverage your education and experience to create a future of your choice?

Whether you are interested in a career shift or strategies for moving ahead in your current environment, I can help you create and chart a plan for a successful transition into your desired career situation. I also provide career workshops for a more group focused experience and available for speaking engagements on a variety of career topics. Contact me at kcrawford@PeoplePossibilities.com to learn how People Possibilities can assist you.

The Future of Work – So Where’s the Talent?

A tsunami of change has washed over the world of work, and many businesses as well as job seekers and labor force members, are still playing catch up to the waves that have already swept through. Technology is a major driver continuing to create rapid and profound changes in both the way business is conducted and the skill sets needed for the workforce to effectively do their jobs.

Globalization, increased automation, social media and working in “the cloud” to name a few, are all the results of technological innovations. The way in which we work is different and this has impacted businesses both large and small in every industry ranging from manufacturing and financial services to retail and catering.

The Skills Gap and Talent Shortages

It’s no secret the unemployment numbers have been a serious concern in the U.S. since 2007. However, you might be surprised to know there are currently millions of job openings in America. Why? The latest research from the 2012 Manpower Talent Shortage Survey reports there simply are not enough qualified workers to fill the demand. As the economy continues to recover, this problem will become even more severe.

The issue has made headlines and not just in the talent management press. 60 Minutes is only one media outlet that recently aired such a story with their segment, “Three million open jobs in the U.S., but who’s qualified?” Their focus was on the manufacturing sector where there are more than 500,000 unfilled jobs. One of the unintended consequences of new technology is that while companies have capitalized on the latest “smart machines,” they are unable to realize profits or expand production due to a shortage of skilled labor. After all, the machines can’t operate themselves but the problem is by no means confined to manufacturing.

With high unemployment numbers, it’s obvious the immediate problem is not the number of potential candidates. While the buzz is that there is a talent shortage, perhaps a better way of stating it is a “talent mismatch.” Employers are seeking ever more specific skill sets and combinations of skills—not just technical capabilities alone but perhaps in combination with critical thinking skills or other qualities that will help drive the organization forward. As a result, the “right” person for a particular job is becoming much harder to find. Talent is elusive as the statistics show in the 2010 Manpower White Paper: Teachable Fit – A New Approach for Easing the Talent Mismatch. Even for businesses who find the “right” talent, there is the issue of “jumpers”, those who will readily move on to the next best available offer.

The lack of qualified talent is across the board and not confined to only highly skilled occupations. Adding fuel to the fire is the large number of Baby Boomers who are exiting the workforce and an educational system not producing what the market needs. All the while, there are millions of workers who are unemployed or underemployed, even degreed professionals, who are unable to contribute due to a lack of job-ready skills. Gen X and Gen Y (also known as the Millennials) have been particularly hard hit. The players are changing and so is the music.

Reality Check: How the “Square Peg” Recruitment Strategy Limits – Everything

While there may indeed be a lack of available talent, the traditional recruitment process is playing a critical role detrimental to business as well as the economy. Reality begins with the recognition that conventional methods – once considered the cutting edge of talent management – are simply not working anymore as a response to the broader challenges ahead.

Companies are missing the mark in attempts to find exceptional workers. The screening practices require online applications forcing job seekers to check “yes” for every box on the employer’s wish list. If these boxes are not checked – the job seeker does not even make it to the interview process. When the square peg (candidate) does not exactly fit in the round hole (skill set), employers are missing out on a vast amount of potential talent. The practice of just going on to the next peg not only causes missed opportunities to find great employees but is also a waste of valuable company resources.

A secondary issue is the candidate who looks perfect on paper – but not so much when placed in the real world. The best hires must also bring a set of attitudes, behaviors and commitment for success. The value of these soft skills and desire to do the work (beyond the hard skills) is what creates a win-win where both the company and employees can thrive in a sustainable manner.

Beyond Limits – Finding the Right Box

So, how can we expand our qualified talent pool? To close the gap between business needs and the abilities of candidates and employees, employers must first recalibrate their mindsets and broaden their talent management strategy. This is especially true for systemic shortages of in-demand roles.

The new reality demands employers consider some training and development will be a necessary investment. Small to medium-sized businesses in particular are reluctant to put resources into training without knowing their ROI. To address these concerns, a change in the recruitment practice is called for. To find the “right” person for the “right” box, employers should first consider candidates who are a fit for their organizational culture, have a desire to do the work and are able to build and sustain relationships up, down and across the organization. These candidates may not have ALL the specific hard skills a job requires but have the foundational attitudes and behaviors and a willingness and aptitude for learning.

Positive things happen if an employer is open enough to accept this … “I might not get the exact match on the skill set. Here’s what I can teach them [fill in the blanks]. If I can get the right match on these other things and I know they really want to be here, then I can really have something to work with long-term and therefore am ready to make the investment and commitment.” They know … “This person can grow with us, let’s plant them”.

To close the gap between business needs and the abilities of candidates and employees, employers need to ask four questions:

  1. Which capabilities are essential to performing the job? Employers must refine job descriptions and candidate evaluations to identify people with a “teachable fit” based on adjacent skills rather than a traditional fit. Candidates can also be considered for multiple jobs to maximize recruitment resources.
  2. Which of these are teachable in an efficient way? A commitment to onboarding, reinforcement for performance (answer the question – “how am I doing?”), and ongoing training and development is central to building a sustainable talent strategy.
  3. Is there adequate time and money to develop these capabilities in the candidate? A strategic plan ensures your talent pipeline is keeping up with your internal demands for talent and leadership, thereby building in time needed to develop capability.
  4. Do candidates have the capacity (motivation, capability, commitment) to develop? Knowledge and skills are teachable, but not necessarily attitudes and behaviors. People come with those. How do you know what those are before you hire someone? How do you make sure someone is a fit long-term, the job is what they really want and are going to be committed and excited about?

A Call for Action

How would you rate your current Talent Strategy? Are you a growing organization? Do you struggle with attracting candidates and/or employee retention? If so, you need to complete a Talent Strategy Assessment. Contact me at kcrawford@PeoplePossibilities.com to learn how People Possibilities can assist you.

Kathi Crawford is the CEO of People Possibilities, providing business services and strategic solutions based on a “people” focused approach. She understands regardless of the industry or business type, organizational and financial performance is directly tied to how effectively you engage your workforce. Working closely with business executives as a trusted strategic partner, Kathi has successfully helped small to medium sized businesses navigate the transitions involved in change. She effectively guides leaders and teams through challenges like growth and changing market conditions, startup operations, succession planning, and exiting the business – all of which have a critical people element.
Top Ten Skills for the Future

Sense Making – Ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed

2  Social Intelligence – Ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate desired reactions and interactions

3  Novel & Adaptive Thinking – Proficiency and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rule-based

4  Cross Cultural Competency – Ability to operate in different cultural settings

5  Computational Thinking – Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning

6  New-Media Literacy – Ability to critically access and develop that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communications

7  Transdisciplinarity – Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines

8  Design Mindset – Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes

9  Cognitive Load Management – Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive function using a variety of tools and techniques

10 Virtual Collaboration – Ability to work productively, drive engagement and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team

Source:  Future Work Skills 2020, Apollo Research Institute


Entrepreneurial Hopscotch

Presentation to Kent State University (KSU) Center of Excellence for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation

by Kathi Crawford, SPHR, IAC-CC

In March, I was invited to speak to the Entrepreneurial students at KSU. This was very meaningful to me on many fronts – my undergraduate degree is from KSU and I am an entrepreneur. It was an honor to have this opportunity and I wanted to inspire these students to reach for their dreams as I had throughout my life.

Before presenting my topic to the students, I learned about each of their businesses and the way in which KSU supports these students in creating an entrepreneurial experience. We then played a game of hopscotch. I asked the students to put “life step” cards in the order of how they saw their life playing out. These cards included steps like undergraduate degree, family, first job, first company, master’s degree, manager, “made it”, top job, and the rock.

In our lives, just as in hopscotch, we may be hitting two squares at the same time. So steps were placed either one-by-one or side-by-side. Some found a card was missing. If so, they created the card that fit the vision of their future. There were given a total of ten cards.

I was asked “what is the rock card for?” Great question! In the game of hopscotch, the rock is the marker. In life, the rock is our purpose, reason for being, and motivation to get up every day. As I shared my story, it was clear that I had used more than ten cards! In fact, we moved well past three jobs, a few “made it” steps, along with multiple education and family steps. All the while, I found that the reason I found my rock was self confidence, the ability to adapt and be flexible and an incredible belief in the possibilities available to me.

My personal brand speaks to my purpose – a constantly moving energizer and evangelist for people. The name of my company – People Possibilities – and its tagline – Be More – speak to my purpose as well. Our main goal in serving our clients is to create innovative solutions for people at work and change the culture of business one leader at a time. Many experiences over the course of my life have opened the door to create a company with this focus.

As I was preparing to meet with the KSU students, the message I wanted to share came in this way – The path in front of us is the most compelling yet the path inside of us is the most rewarding. Do you know what your rock is? Are you living your rock? No matter if you are a student graduating from college or someone who has lived a long life and is looking at the next stage, the journey is enhanced in fulfilling your purpose.

Case Study – Start Up Human Resources Department

Taking a family retail business and ramping it up for expansion means having a team of qualified and committed people. Personnel needs for retail businesses pose a specific and ongoing challenge for management. Getting the right people in the right position and productive quickly is the key to sustained growth and profitability.

In 1972, the Baskin family opened their first store in Trinity, Texas. For working families in Texas, BASKiNS has become the place they count on for exceptional value and a friendly hometown environment. The Company’s service philosophy continues to be – “neighbors serving neighbors.” From the first store in Trinity, the Company has grown to 19 stores all across East Texas with over 250 employees and revenues in excess of $30 million. In 2004 the Baskin family sold the Company to an investment firm who kept things exactly as they were. In 2009, new ownership took over with exciting plans for the future. Addressing the human resources needs of the Company was CEO, Jack Gunion’s first task.

The case study is attached here:


Case Study – Employee Recruitment and Retention

Staff turnover in catering, as any industry, is high and has been for many years. Given the competitive pressures from other types of work opportunities, the difficulty in the catering industry isn’t just one of finding people for the job – it is finding the right people and placing them in the right job. This was an area that Kim George, President of Catering by George, wanted to improve in her business.

The case study is attached here:


Breaking the Generational Myth: How to use Coaching Skills for Effective Leadership

by Kathi Crawford, SPHR, IAC-CC

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit today’s age-diverse work force, where the generation gap between the youngest and oldest workers can span more than 40 years. For the first time in history, there are four generations of workers. On one end of the spectrum, there are the 20-somethings, who are fresh out of graduate school or college; on the other end are employees nearing retirement.

It’s well-documented that each generation comes with its own set of values, needs and attitudes, and vastly different expectations on communication styles and work expectations. While this may be true, I constantly ask myself “isn’t this the way it’s always been?” We have always had an “age-diverse” workplace and it’s likely that we’ve had multiple generations in the workplace at one time.

What’s changed is the landscape of the workplace today. Let’s face it—the world of work is vastly different than it was even 30 years ago. Economic drivers have influenced not only how we work together but also the nature of jobs. To compete globally today, we need every worker using his or her unique strengths to maximize productivity. We need everyone to tap into their creativity and desire to contribute.

As a Leadership and Career Coach, I hear daily examples of how companies and leaders are wasting their human resources because of unfounded and biased beliefs about groups and individuals, whether based on age or other characteristics. Some leaders are making assumptions about employees rather than getting to know each of them as individuals.

So, if a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work, what can a leader do? Rather than generalizing age-related behavior, a leader should use a coaching approach to connect with his or her employees. The most successful leader finds a way to ensure every generation is heard.

I teach a leadership class at the University of Houston called “The Power of People,” where leaders learn ways to increase workplace productivity by improving processes to attract, select, develop and retain people with the required behavior, knowledge, skills and aptitude to meet current and future business needs. We ask each leader to make a list of their direct reports and identify the following:

 Full name, month and year they joined the company
 The main reason the employee wants to work for the company
 What the employee considers to be his or her biggest achievement this year
 What the employee believes is his or her most important professional goal for this year
 How, other than money, the employee would like to be rewarded
 The last time the employee expressed his or her opinion on a work issue to the leader
 The most recent development program the employee attended

I was surprised to see that many leaders struggle with answering all of these questions for every one of their employees. They might find that they can answer the questions for the employee(s) they favor or connect with the most, but not for everyone. These leaders often find that this exercise motivates them to learn more about their employees. They also discover this is the first step in developing a coaching approach with their employees.

It’s here that I provide companies with a word of caution. Coaching is an over-used term in the work place today. It is an often misunderstood process and is generally not used correctly by leaders. Forcing people into what WE want has never worked, and it’s not coaching. Instead, I encourage them to get to know their employees. To find out what motivates them at work and at home. To find out what inspires them to action and give them the opportunity to do their best work.

So, I’m left with the question: When the Generation X and Millennial generations reach their fifties, will they be asking the same questions about younger workers as the Baby Boomers are today? My guess is that they will. And the cycle continues.

Do you have experience coaching leaders of age-diverse teams? Please share your comments below this post.

This article originally appeared in VOICE, the newsletter and blog of the International Association of Coaching
(www.certifiedcoach.org) in July/August 2010, and is reprinted with permission.

Your Career in the Post-Recession Workplace

By Aubrey Bloom, University of Houston

On June 8th 2010, the EMPOWER Program at the University of Houston hosted their inaugural Leadership Luncheon on campus at the University Hilton. The luncheon focused on helping participants to prepare for careers in the post-recession workplace. The event was led by a panel of experts including Kathi Crawford, SPHR, IAC-CC, President of People Possibilities LLC, Cheryl Smith-Bryan, Executive Coach and President of Coaching for Career Success, Kathy Rapp, Vice President and Managing Director for hrQ-Texas and Mercedes Suraty-Clarke, Assistant Director of Continuing Education at the University of Houston.

Guy Felder, Program Director for the University of Houston EMPOWER Leadership Program, opened the luncheon with a presentation about the concept of organizational flattening. One of the trends in the post-recession era that is expected to continue, he said, is a movement away from an emphasis on technical skills and toward emotional intelligence. According to Felder, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to work with diverse groups of people in a variety of situations. In the past, advancement within an organization was based on the ability to perform tasks. While technical skill is still important, often it has become secondary to the ability to motivate others and collaborate with co-workers. As a result, career paths often no longer go “up.” Modern career paths can involve constantly shifting roles across multiple departments or organizations. To read more of Guy’s views, check out his blog “Work Need Not Feel Like Work.”

Following Felder’s presentation, the panel shared ways in which you can prepare yourself for the modern workplace. The topic that participants were most interested in was awareness of your personal brand. The panel agreed that in the post-recession era, it is important to showcase not only your ability to perform in the role you have, but also to demonstrate your ability to perform in roles you want to move into. This is key in interviewing for new roles. A growing trend is demonstrating not how a prospective employee fits a role, but how a role fits them. Companies want to hire dynamic individuals who can influence beyond their title. Your title in your imagination is as important for your career advancement as the title on your door.

Much of the conversation also focused on how we work with those around us in the workplace. Emotional Intelligence (“EI”), as coined by Daniel Goleman, who wrote a book by the same name in 1994, has become an integral skill for the modern workplace. The basic components of EI (self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management) are vital to effective communication, building relationships and increasing productivity. An increased awareness of how we behave and what others need from us can easily bridge behavioral and cultural gaps in the workplace.

Participants in the luncheon came away with a better understanding of the current trends in the workplace, and some advice on how to get the tools they’ll need to succeed. The biggest theme that came across throughout the luncheon was awareness. Awareness of the roles you have held compared to the roles you see yourself in moving forward. Awareness of how your personal brand affects the role you currently hold in your company. Most importantly, awareness of how your Emotional Intelligence influences yourself and those around you.

The host of the luncheon, the University of Houston EMPOWER program, has a course designed to increase understanding of Emotional Intellegence and how it affects the workplace called the EMPOWER Leadership Fundamentals Certificate Program. People interested in the program can visit the program website.

Aubrey Bloom is a freelance writer and the Program Coordinator for Continuing Education at the University Houston. Aubrey’s passion for writing is mostly around sports. If you want more, you can follow Aubrey’s blog “A Bloom With a View.”