Archive for May, 2014

The Top 5 Aspects of Job Satisfaction

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has just released its 2012 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report, and the findings are very interesting.

What first jumped out at us is the continuing downward trend in overall job satisfaction, a slide that began in 2009 when the survey showed a peak of 86% of employees overall were satisfied with their current positions.  That number has slid a bit in each of the succeeding years to its current level of 81%, though it’s still a bit higher than numbers typical of the early part of the last decade, when satisfaction hovered around 77%. Still, one wonders if the improving job market might in some ways be “responsible” for the decline; perhaps when opportunities increase people begin to think that the grass might be greener elsewhere, and so their ratings of current positions drift lower. It will be interesting to watch the trend over the next few years.

More interesting to us is the list of the top five aspects of job satisfaction. In particular, numbers four and five fascinate us because of the common factor they share: the importance of the relationships among employees, co-workers, and management.

In our consulting and coaching work we have always emphasized the vital importance of mutual relationships between individuals, teams, functions, and departments—the give-and-take necessary to actually get things done. Daniel Goleman, the father of Emotional Intelligence, reminds us that “…business people often don’t get the importance of establishing human relationships.” Nowhere is that sentiment more clear than in these survey results.

The survey also addresses the key drivers of employee engagement, an important correlation to job satisfaction. Here, too, relationship is found to be a vital element, talking slots two and four on the survey.

So what’s the lesson as we see it? We admit, of course, our own professional bias, but it seems to be that working more and more on our work and business relationships can only be a good thing….

How are the relationships where you work?

All tables © Society for Human Resource Management

SHRM members can access the entire report at


4 Reasons to Choose a CERTIFIED Leadership Coach

I just did a search for “Leadership Coaching” on Google and admit to feeling a tad irritated on seeing the number of results: 1,740,000.

Granted, a lot of those are articles covering the topic itself, and a number of other promote coaching programs. But that still leaves a lot of hits, tons of which are links to people who call themselves “executive coaches” or “leadership coaches” or “business coaches.”  No matter how you slice that results list, you’re going to end up with a pretty large number of people co-opting the title.

Why so many? Opportunity, of course. A Forbes article from 2011 noted that the market for business coaching in the U.S. alone had topped $1 billion—and that was in a down economy.  Meanwhile, a 2013 Stanford/Miles Group study found that “[n]early two-thirds of CEOs do not receive outside leadership advice—but nearly all want it.” In addition, the study found that nearly 100% of CEOs who had received coaching had enjoyed the process.

But care should be taken in selecting a coach. Turns out that just about anyone can hang out the proverbial shingle and call themselves an executive coach if they want to. There’s no licensing or certification required. At all. (In fact, it’s possible that your hair stylist has more formal training than some coaches out there.) Yet these are people routinely invited through your doors and asked to shepherd some of the most powerful and important leaders in your organization. Sounds like that could be risky….unless you look for some kind of certification.

The International Coach Federation (ICF), a certifying organization that “supports members through continual professional development and growth opportunities, both locally and internationally,” argues strongly that education and certification for leadership coaching are what separate the few from the many: ICF currently has just north of 20,000 members worldwide, all of whom carry the “Certified Coach” designation (making them far and away the leader in coach certification).  Other organizations (such as the International Association of Coaching) add a bit more to that total. That’s a large enough number, but still only a small percentage of the total sum of those who today call themselves “business coaches,” “executive coaches,” or “leadership coaches.”

What are the reasons for wanting a certified leadership coach?

  1. Certified coaches have been taught a set of common core competencies
  2. Certified coaches follow a code of ethics which they have signed as part of their certification process
  3. You can use multiple coaches for multiple clients, and know that there is consistency in skills and techniques
  4. You can be assured that the coach continually enhances his or her knowledge and skill by taking a required amount of continuing education courses

Coaching is—and will continue to be—an important part of leadership development. Certified coaches are the best way to make sure that you are entrusting the future of your company to the best qualified ones.


Just One Thing

On Monday of this week I attended the annual conference sponsored by the New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility (NHBSR) — and what a fantastic day it was! The attendees spanned small, medium, and large businesses across northern New England that are focused on, and dedicated to, providing the means for their employees to develop practices in sustainability and social responsibility. Interests ranged from environmental and people engagement, to energy efficiency and volunteerism. Everyone came to hear sessions on a variety of relevant topics (including a keynote by Honest Tea co-founder Seth Goldman).

There was also a series of exhibitions offering services that support sustainability and social responsibility, and an energizing power-panel of leaders who provided their view of the trends we can expect with regard to sustainability and social responsibility in our communities and organizations.

I was fortunate enough to participate as a facilitator for one of the breakout session topics (we called them Huddle Ups). These were seeded by gathering interest from conference registrants during the registration process; the Huddle Ups were truly their sessions, conversations that struck to the heart of their challenges and hopes for their organizations.

The day was fulfilling and rich with learning.

The conference theme was “Just One Thing” – a simple message – conveying the notion that individuals or organizations do not need to implement a large, complex initiative to gain a commitment to sustainability; it takes just one thing (a small step) to begin the journey.

The most important aspect of the conference was this message – Just One Thing – that everyone understood to mean this: that the efforts of each and every one of us can help to sustain our environment, employees, and communities, and that these efforts can be simple and inexpensive, yet still impactful. One brilliant and simple suggestion that I heard from a participant in my session was about reducing the size of the trash cans in each office, a simple way to develop an overall awareness (and habit) of generating less waste. Another idea was to offer volunteer days with pay so that employees could offer their services to a needs-based organization of their choice, a way known to deepen the meaning that workplaces have for employees. Another was to have the employees create a “12 Steps to Sustainability” campaign and to dedicate a step (or initiative) for each month of the year. By year’s end, they could then celebrate seeing the fruits of their efforts.

The NHBSR message of Just One Thing is both powerful and simple; it doesn’t take much to make an impact. In fact, the smallest steps can sometimes be the most impactful overall; those small steps can make a difference to a few or to many—it matters overall. What matters is that we have a chance to connect our whole lives through our work, family, and community. When we have the opportunity to do that, our lives make so much more sense overall.

What is just one thing that you can do?