The Daily Recruiter

The Ezine for Executive Managers … brought to you by The SearchLogix Group.

Breaking Through Joy Barriers in Our Organizations

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Written by:  Scott Savage, www.thindifference.com

If I asked you and your teammates to describe your work culture in one word, what words do you think would show up most often?

(Name two or three words to yourself silently before you keep reading)

The One Word You Probably Didn’t Use

Of all the words you just thought of, I’m going to guess “joyful” probably didn’t make the list.

Think back to your last team meeting or hallway conversation. What was the feeling like once everyone lost the momentum of holiday vacations or New Years’ resolutions? When a spouse or a friend asked about a meeting or interaction during your day, did you reply, “I got so much joy from that moment”?

There are so many barriers to joy in our organizations and companies. Some of them are clearly visible while others are more subtle.

I define “Joy Barriers” as the attitudes and mindsets which keep us from contentment, confidence, and delight in our organizations. 

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The End of Water Cooler Conversations

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“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation.” – Mark Twain

Managers no longer try to have a conversation with their people. While social media has proven itself to be very beneficial in some areas of communication, I believe it has also to some extent has sabotaged in-person communication.

Meaningful Conversation is an Overlooked skill

“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books”- Chinese Proverb

Good news, bad news, or any kind of news, gets communicated through email and WhatsApp. These may not always convey the correct meaning of what one wants to say.

Effective conversation is more important than just communication. Technology has helped us to connect and communicate, but these are superficial connections.

Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT, and author of the book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, talks about CEO’s who now make it a point of instructing employees to work out disagreements and apologize in face-to-face meetings.

Imagine that you have to deliver a poor performance review to one of your team members or have to ask one of your best team members to resign since his role has become redundant. It is not proper to do this with an email or WhatsApp. But nowadays, many managers fear doing this in person and shy away from a conversation because it is painful.

Conversational competence is the most overlooked skill today. It’s time organizations review their competency list and add this one as most critical. Not just effective communication, but effective conversation. Conversation builds respect, empathy, friendship, love, and also improves productivity.

Stephen R. Covey in his book ” The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” talks about Seek first to understand, then to be understood (habit 5).

Importance of good conversation with your team

The days of water cooler conversations are coming to an end. You now see a bunch of people standing around the water cooler or the coffee machine, but each is engaged and focused on their mobile screens.

If you notice someone under-performing, engaging with the person in a conversation would be more constructive than just emailing. It would be a difficult conversation, but as a manager and a leader, you need to face it. You cannot run away from it.

Allowing your team member to talk is very important. Give him your full attention and be non-judgmental.

You need to develop successful working relationships with your team and you cannot depend on technology and social media alone to do that for you.

You may be a great communicator, an excellent orator, and speaker who knows how to make a compelling presentation to the bosses, but that is not enough. In the VUCA world, you need to be a great conversationalist. You need to have a frequent conversation with your teams. They are the ones who would drive your goals for you. You need to, therefore, connect with them at a deeper level.

Tips to having a meaningful conversation

  • Don’t shy away from open-ended conversations. Talk with a wish to understand your team member and connect at a deeper level.
  • LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN and connect. Show interest in what they are saying. Refrain from the urge to get your point across.
  • Do not judge, ask questions, give a solution from your point of reference or your experience. Listen and be nonjudgmental.
  • Put away your electronic devices and ask others to do the same when you are getting into a conversation.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

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Here’s Why Bold Leaders Are More Successful

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Article written by:  LaRae Quy, www.smartbrief.com

There are two reasons why people separate themselves from the crowd: they are either bold leaders or timid followers. The rest of the herd sticks together.

Bold leaders move toward obstacles and do not let hesitation or doubt impede their progress. Timid followers lurk behind because they are afraid of obstacles and look for ways to avoid them.

As a counterintelligence agent, I looked for both personalities in the targets I attempted to recruit to work for the US government. The blue flamer often rushed ahead; they could be a good target if they failed to use good judgment. The slackers represented the other end of the spectrum; they were timid souls who always looked for the easy way out. Often, that meant cooperating with the FBI.

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Great Leaders Are Great Listeners

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Written by:  Dennis C. Miller, SmartBrief

Few, however, would think to add the one trait that truly sets great leaders apart: their ability to listen.

Leaders of high-performing teams know that hiring top talent is not enough. They want to know what their employees have to say. The benefits are twofold. First, if you have invested in recruiting high-caliber employees, you stand to gain from their knowledge, experience and creativity. Second, high-quality team members want to contribute. That’s why they signed on in the first place. Employees who feel like they are sharing in a common goal will bring their best to the table.

It’s not rocket science. Just take a minute to think about how you feel when you know that someone you are talking to is really listening to you? You feel terrific, right? The simple act of listening to employees across your organization will give you a ground-up view of everything that is happening in your organization. You will obtain valuable information about how they think and feel about key issues.

Chances are, you will find out that your employees have been thinking a lot about your company or organization, and they may even have a few ideas about how to improve what you do.

When I first became the president and CEO of a major medical center a few decades ago, I had to make numerous changes in an organizational culture that was highly resistant to change. The staff had become comfortable with the status quo, even though the center’s future was at risk due to poor financial performance and a negative customer-service reputation.

At one point, my executive assistant took me aside to say, “Dennis, I know who you are and that you have a heart of gold, but people working here are scared to death with all of the changes being made.”

I listened, really listened, to my assistant. (See what I did there?) And then I decided to listen some more. I scheduled time with employees at all levels of the organization, called “dialogue with the president” meetings. At each session, I shared my management philosophy, making it clear that employee satisfaction and patient satisfaction go hand in hand. I asked them to rate their satisfaction as employees, on a scale of 1 to 10. Were they brutally honest? Oh yes.

Was it the beginning of change for the better? You bet. I promised them that we would work very hard — together — to implement many of their suggestions to increase employee satisfaction.

In just two years, we achieved an award from the country’s top medical center marketing and customer-service company because we had placed in the top 1% nationally for patient satisfaction.

Those who listen to their employees are in a much better position to lead their organizations to greater levels of success. By listening to people’s concerns and ideas, you can dramatically improve and remove obstacles to greater levels of business performance. Asking employees questions and listening to what they say makes them feel you care. And if they feel you care, they will be more productive. Their contributions to organizational success will grow.

Listening is a leadership responsibility that does not appear in the job description. It isn’t hard, either, but it does require commitment. Here are a few suggestions for using your listening skills in the workplace:

  • Make sure your employees feel they are valuable assets who bring unique capabilities and aptitudes to their job functions.
  • Engage your employees and encourage them to share their opinions on all aspects of the workplace.
  • Many leaders avoid emotional interactions, but the best leaders know how to make themselves approachable and show empathy when their employees are in need of attention.
  • Don’t judge or make harsh criticism when others show different ways of approaching or solving problems.
  • Make eye contact. Take note of what is being said and of how it is being said.
  • Compassionate leaders don’t interrupt the flow of conversation. They earn respect from their colleagues by being a patient listener.

By becoming a great listener, you will be well on your way to becoming an effective leader who knows how to bring out the best in others. Organizations reach their highest levels of success when every member feels that their voice, concerns, and actions matter.

 

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How to Negotiate a Better Job Offer in Just 1 Simple Sentence

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Interviewing for jobs can be grueling. But if you manage to drum up the right answers to trick interview questions and prove you’re worth hiring, there’s light at the end of the tunnel: a job offer.

Once that offer letter hits your inbox, you know what you’re supposed to do next. Always negotiate. That’s easier said than done, especially if you desperately want the job and it’s already a pretty good offer. Is asking for more money or a better compensation package pushing it?

Fortunately, there are people who specialize in coaching candidates through this mission-critical moment. One of them, Karen Catlin, is a 25-year tech veteran who now advocates for women in tech. She’s a speaker and coach who helps clients get better salaries, signing bonuses and higher-level roles.

Catlin recently shared one of her favorite negotiation tips in a blog post. It all comes down to one, succinct sentence. Not only will it get you more money, Catlin says, but recruiters love to hear it. (She actually got the tip from interviewing recruiters.)

The 12 magic words? “If you can get me X, I’ll accept the offer right away.”

Catlin recently encouraged a young woman to use this tactic who was deciding between three job offers. The one she was most excited about was also the highest offer. But Catlin thought she could get more. The candidate used that exact phrasing and asked for 5 percent more. Two days later, her counter offer was accepted. She accepted on the spot.

Why hiring managers love to hear these words

Recruiters and hiring managers expect candidates to counter. But there’s a right and a wrong way to do it. There are a few reasons why this particular phrase is so effective in getting you more money.

It shows you really want the job

Hiring managers look for more than competency and cultural fit. They want to hire people who are enthusiastic about the role and company. It’s one reason why ending your interview with a candid statement could sway the hiring manager in your favor.

When it comes time to negotiate, using this phrase shows the hiring manager how excited you are about this job. They know you’re likely considering other offers. But now you’re telling them you’re willing to forget the others because this is The One.

It eliminates the back-and-forth

Catlin says there’s often some wiggle room in the salary or the compensation package. If the hiring manager knows you’re ready to sign on the dotted line, that gives her some leverage. She’s more likely to be able to meet your request if she already knows you will say yes.

“Assuming it’s a reasonable request, the recruiter has something tangible to bring back to the hiring committee,” Catlin writes. “It’s easier to make a case to dip into the reserves if the recruiter knows you’ll say yes.”

It displays confidence

No one wants to hire a wishy washy candidate. They want people who take action. That’s exactly what this negotiation tactic does. You’re not just asking for more money, crossing your fingers that they’ll say yes. You’re laying out a clear course of action. One that involves a better offer to move forward.

“Recruiters also love this approach because it demonstrates a decisive leadership style,” Catlin says. “Chances are, they want to hire people like that.”

While the candidate from Catlin’s success story asked for a higher salary, remember you can make other requests at this point. Some other example:

  • If you can get me one work-from-home day a week, I’ll accept the offer right away.

  • If you can get me one more week of PTO, I’ll accept the offer right away.

  • If you can get me a corner office, daily visits from a massage therapist and a personal chef, I’ll accept the offer right away.

OK obviously kidding on the last one, but you get the point. There are a lot of things you can ask for beyond a higher salary. As long as the ask is reasonable, you have a pretty good chance at landing an awesome job that comes with an even awesomer offer.

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Why Your Team Won’t Collaborate (and What To Do About It)

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“I’m sick of this crap! My team won’t collaborate – why can’t they just figure this out?”

Scott was CEO of an engineering firm that produced communications hardware and software for industries around the globe.

He had worked hard with his board and senior leadership team to settle on their strategic M.I.T. for the next 18 months. They needed to launch a new product to remain competitive in a market they had once led.

He held a company meeting where he made the goal painfully clear to everyone in the room. “We need to get this new product to market by this deadline, or we’re out of business in five years.”

Within six weeks he was exasperated. His people were at war with one another. Several senior VPs were about to quit and the do-or-die deadline was looking like a dream.

We see this frequently: leaders lay out a clear M.I.T. (for more on the Most Important Thing), they check for understanding, and they turn their people loose to get after it.

Before too long, customer service and sales are at each other’s throats. Engineering and marketing are having shouting matches in the halls while finance and human resources won’t talk at all.

When their team won’t collaborate we’ve watched executives get frustrated and shout, “Why can’t you guys figure this out? Just work together and solve the problem!”

Maybe you’re a frontline leader and you’ve worked hard to establish a clear, shared team vision and the M.I.T. initiative for this quarter, but your team ends up squabbling.

Why Your Team Won’t Collaborate

When your people can’t unify in pursuit of a common, clearly established goal, the problem is usually that you’ve only established 50% clarity.

You’ve clarified results, but you haven’t clarified relationships – and that is frequently why your team won’t collaborate.

In Scott’s case (and this is VERY common) he had made the new product a priority, but was still evaluating individual departments based on other criteria.

For instance, customer service was evaluated on their ability to retain customers, but at the same time, engineering was all but ignoring response-to-existing-customer requests in favor of getting the new product to market. So customer service naturally saw stubborn engineering as a threat to their bonuses and even employment.

Customer service continually requested that sales lend some of their people to try to save existing accounts. Sales people were being assessed on quotas that were unrelated to the new product’s launch.

In short, everyone was doing what made the most sense for their individual success and was frustrated that their colleagues wouldn’t cooperate.

Scott had defined an overarching goal, but had left the organizational systems and processes untouched.

Those systems and processes were built to achieve different goals.

When his people came to him and asked whether the engineering prioritization of new product over customer retention was okay, he got frustrated. “Why can’t they just figure it out?”

The answer: Because he’d given them conflicting goals.

What To Do About It When Your Team Won’t Collaborate

Real teams succeed or fail together. They have a clear goal and they all have a clear role to play in achieving it.

Effective leaders establish clarity of results and relationships.

Clarity of results is often easier to define:

  • What’s the M.I.T. we must accomplish this year?
  • What are our three most important strategic M.I.T. initiatives?
  • What are the M.I.T. behaviors we need at the executive, manager, and frontline levels?

Clarity of relationships, however, requires you to address some additional questions:

  • How are roles and handoffs defined and communicated?
  • How do department or individual team member priorities align with M.I.T. initiatives?
  • What are the most important values, systems, and processes guiding everyone’s behavior?

In Scott’s case, this meant we had to ask and answer some tough questions:

  • Would customer retention goals be lowered or continue at prior levels?
  • Either way, how could these be achieved in ways that aligned with the timely new product launch?
  • How much attention should engineering give to resolving existing customer issues?
  • How would performance bonuses be changed to align with the stated M.I.T. of the new product launch?

Your Turn

If you’ve established a clear M.I.T. but people are siloed, caught in endless arguments, and the team won’t collaborate, take a hard look at the relational clarity and how you can get everyone aligned with the new goal – not just in theory, but in reality.

Leave us a comment and share your thoughts: How do you ensure that everyone on your team understands their role in achieving a shared goal?

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5 Qualities of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

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Written by:  Joe Garfinkle, SmartBrief

What do they have in common? The qualities can best be described as emotional intelligence — the ability to be aware of their own and others’ emotions, giving them the capacity to better handle interpersonal work relationships.

If you aspire to be a better leader, you would do well to work on your emotional intelligence quotient. While these traits may seem natural and inborn, they can also be learned, fostered, developed and honed. If you’re looking to better connect with others, draw the best resources and keep your team happy and focused, read on to learn about identifying and developing these qualities.

1. Empathetic

Empathy is the ability to understand how another person is feeling. Great leaders are able to look at issues from many different perspectives and to consider the effects from other points of view. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when viewing a problem can be invaluable to finding a solution and gaining consensus. With a bit of effort, there may even be a solution where everyone ends up happy.

How to practice: Make a concerted effort to visualize yourself in the other person’s position. What would the problem look like? What would your attitude be? How would it differ from yours? This helps validates and understand their perspective. Even if the answer to a problem is not the best outcome from any given viewpoint, acknowledging the positions and feelings of others can go a long way to creating acceptance and understanding.

2. Self-aware

Do you know the situations that bring out the best in you? What about the worst? Have you considered your biases, preferences and general dislikes? Self-awareness is having an understanding of your own feelings and an active knowledge of the history you bring to the table. When you’re self-aware, you can add your own ideas but also be aware of how your past experiences and current emotions play into the situation. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and when you can and can’t trust your own instincts can make you an even better leader.

How to practice: When faced with a problem or situation, examine how you feel in the moment, and try to determine why. If you can identify the emotions that are at play in your attitude and your assessment of the issue, you can determine whether they need to be tempered or modified by other factors.

3. Positive

Can you call yourself an optimist? The art of being truly optimistic lies not only in the ability to keep a positive attitude in adverse situations, but also in being able to offer sincere, realistic leadership that gets the team through the hardship in one piece. No one is looking to have sunny platitudes hashed out or unrealistic predictions made. Great leaders can be positive in the face of difficulty and still be very much in touch with the situation.

How to practice: When a problem arises, you’re frustrated or the situation is difficult, take a moment to consider the positive aspects of the issue — whether you’re building a stronger team, providing a learning opportunity for someone, or uncovering and fixing a deeper problem, there’s always something to be gleaned. When conveying optimism to the team, be sincere: The situation might not be great right now, but you have confidence that you’ll all find a solution and, in the end, it’s all going to be OK. Be authentic and positive, and people will want to help you make it right.

4. Considerate

Caring and consideration can go a long way to creating a cohesive, high-functioning team. Taking the time to acknowledge others, noting their contributions and making sure they’re heard can be invaluable in drawing people to you and bringing out their best work. Great leaders know that getting to know their team members — professionally and personally — and caring about them and their careers will mean that everyone works better together in the long run.

How to practice: Take the time to check in with others, even when (especially when!) the pressure is off and there’s time to talk. Concentrate on giving others your full attention when discussing them and their careers, and follow up to help them meet their goals. In meetings, make sure everyone at the table has had a chance to talk. Seek out the opinions of anyone you may have missed. If your memory isn’t great, be sure to take notes that you can refer to later, and give credit where it’s due.

5. Authentic

No leader can apply any of the tenants of emotional intelligence without being sincere. Authenticity is critical in leadership – be an open book with your intentions and your agenda. No amount of other leadership behaviors will make up for a lack of truthfulness in what you say in do.

How to practice: Your integrity is paramount to your reputation as a leader, so only say what you mean and don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be trustworthy and follow through with your statements. It may seem counterintuitive, but when you make a mistake, admit it honestly, and follow through with the actions needed to make amends. It is a lot easier to recover from a misstep than from a loss of trust.

Take every opportunity to practice your emotional intelligence skills. Beyond work, think of ways to apply yourself at home, in social and community situations. Every chance to work on your skills will make you a better leader, no matter the location.

 

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How To Keep Your Company From Getting Ahead Of Your People

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Written by:  Paul LaRue, The UPwards Leader

Over a decade ago a restaurant company had a change in executive leadership, with the former founder and CEO stepping down into partial retirement.

The new CEO vowed to take the company into a new direction, and promptly stepped on the accelerator. He implemented weekly initiatives, operational overhauls, off-hours conference calls, and a myriad of new strategies that were totally foreign to the managers in the field.

Beyond that, his vision for the company was taking the concept into a different direction in order to “modernize” the brand.

As these changes were being implemented, the new CEO took his leadership team around to tour all the restaurant locations. This included the former CEO who was on in an advisory capacity.

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If the CEO’s High Salary Isn’t Justified to Employees, Firm Performance May Suffer

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Written by:   Dina Gerdeman, Harvard Business School “Working Knowledge”

It’s no surprise that business executives make more money than lower-level employees. But when that pay disparity between a CEO and the average worker is perceived as unfair, the result may be more than unhappy workers: A firm’s performance can deteriorate.

The gap between the large sums that CEOs take home versus average employee pay is taking on added importance in 2018, as public companies in the United States are mandated for the first time to disclose pay ratios between the CEO and employees. Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Ethan Rouen warns that if those disclosures are not made with proper context, they could ignite worker backlash and harm productivity.

“When you hear the amount that a CEO makes, it is going to seem outrageous. People are going to react with passion,” Rouen says. “So, it’s going to fall on every company that has to disclose these figures to provide some explanation and give a measured response justifying the pay disparity.”

Connections between wage disparity and company performance are detailed in Rouen’s recent working paper, Rethinking Measurement of Pay Disparity and its Relation to Firm Performance (pdf).

In essence, firms can flourish when they pay their workers fairly—and struggle when they don’t, the research suggests.

Resentment leads to employee backlash

Rouen’s research findings add a layer of understanding to previous studies on the effects of pay disparity on company performance, which produced mixed outcomes.

Some studies support an economic idea known as Tournament Theory, which says that as pay differences between job levels increase, the value of receiving a promotion also rises—spurring employees to put in more effort.

“People make work decisions based on what they’re being paid and what others around them are being paid,” Rouen says. “If the person above me is making a lot more money than I am, but I feel like I could work harder and get promoted to get the same salary, I will be motivated to do that.”

Other researchers backed the concept of Equity Theory, which says that pay disparity generates feelings of unfairness—leading lower-paid employees to shrug off their responsibilities or leave their jobs. In other words, Rouen explains, if employees feel their hard work isn’t being rewarded, “this pay disparity will create resentment.”

“PEOPLE MAKE WORK DECISIONS BASED ON WHAT THEY’RE BEING PAID AND WHAT OTHERS AROUND THEM ARE BEING PAID”

Rouen believes the results of these earlier studies fall short because they don’t take into account how CEO and employee compensation are determined. In essence, they ignore the reasons for the pay disparity, which can make a difference in how the gap is perceived by workers.

Rouen set out to explore the factors at play. He obtained data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for 931 firms in the S&P 1500 between 2006 and 2013, including total employee compensation and the composition of the workforce.

He found that CEOs in the study took home an average annual paycheck of $5.8 million while the average employee earned $42,000, and determined the ratio of CEO compensation to mean employee compensation. He also figured out what he calls the “economic pay ratio” you might expect to see based on economic factors influencing both CEO pay and employee pay (such as worker performance and labor market characteristics), as well as the “unexplained pay ratio”—the portion of pay disparity not driven by economic factors.

Rouen then studied how these measures of pay disparity affected future firm performance. He found that firms with an abnormally high unexplained pay ratio saw their performance drop by as much as half, compared to their industry competitors that had low levels of unexplained pay disparity.

In the most glaring cases—about a fifth of the companies studied—not only was the CEO overpaid, but the employees were underpaid, as well. “When both occur—the CEO is overpaid and the employee is underpaid—that’s when you really see the firm performance suffer,” Rouen says.

These firms can feel the backlash in a variety of ways: They may suffer weak corporate governance, lower sales, and higher employee turnover.

“You have this high turnover, and that is incredibly costly because you have to search for new people and train them, plus you have a short-term decline in productivity,” Rouen says. “And then you have the people who stay but are dissatisfied and won’t work as hard. If you’re not making your employees happy and creating an environment where they’re doing their best work, your firm is not going to succeed.”

The research found that as compensation at a firm moved closer to the expected levels based on economic factors, firm performance increased.

Pay ratios need explanation

Rouen was particularly motivated to study the issue because the US Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2017 adopted a rulestemming from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The rule mandates that companies disclose the ratio of the CEO’s compensation to median employee pay starting in the 2018 proxy season.

Sources: “How Much (More) Should CEOs Make? A Universal Desire for More Equal Pay” by Sorapop Kiatpongsan and Michael I. Norton, copyright 2014, Perspectives on Psychological Science “Executive Paywatch: High-paid CEOs and the Low-Wage Economy,” copyright 2015, AFL-CIO

Rouen is concerned those pay ratios may appear misleading to both employees and investors because, in some cases, economic factors that drive those earnings differences won’t be apparent. For instance, Apple is likely to have a CEO-to-employee pay ratio that is much higher than other firms in its industry. That’s because the company employs a large number of retail workers who earn less than, say, engineers, and that lower pay grade will skew the average employee pay figure lower.

“You may say the pay ratio at Apple looks outrageous because it might be 200 to one. This is a number people will latch onto, but at the same time, it’s not really fair, and it won’t capture what regulators are hoping to capture,” Rouen says.

Once the new SEC disclosure rule comes into play, firms should brace for some worker disgruntlement.

“WHEN YOU DISCLOSE COMPENSATION, YOU WIND UP LOSING TALENT”

“When you disclose compensation, you wind up losing talent,” Rouen says. “[Many companies] will see this negative reaction from employees, who know how much people at other companies are making, and that can change their expectations about what they should be making.”

Companies should offer detailed information to investors and employees outlining the economic justifications for their pay ratios, Rouen says. For example, firms can spell out whether a simple factor like geography is creating pay diversity; clearly, an employee in New York City will be paid significantly more than a worker in rural Alabama due to huge differences in the cost of living.

Corporate culture creates large impact

In addition to providing a clearer explanation of pay disparity effects, the study also spotlights the importance of corporate culture in creating value for employees.

“The evidence more and more suggests that corporate culture is a first-order driver of company performance,” Rouen says. “It’s something that can differentiate one company from another in a competitive industry.”

Companies can boost workplace culture in ways beyond compensation, particularly by providing promising career opportunities and allowing workers to pursue personal interests at work, Rouen says.

“Yes, people work for money, but they also work for other things. Firms should think creatively about how to retain their top talent,” he says. “Executives need to determine not just how to pay their employees better, but how to make their employees’ lives better in some way.”

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You’re More Likely to Screw Up in The Afternoon. Here’s How to Stop It.

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Written by:  Daniel Pink is the author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, from which this article is adapted.

It’s a cloudy Tuesday in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and for probably only time in my life, I’m wearing hospital greens and scrubbing in for surgery. Beside me is Dr. Kevin Tremper, an anesthesiologist and professor of the University of Michigan Medical School’s Department of Anesthesiology.

“Each year, we put 90,000 people to sleep and wake them up,” he tells me. “We paralyze them and start cutting them open.” Tremper oversees 150 physicians and another 150 medical residents who wield these magical powers. In 2010 he changed how they do their jobs.

Flat on the operating room table is a twenty-something man with a smashed jaw. On a nearby wall is a large-screen television with the names of the five other people in hospital greens—nurses, physicians, a technician—who surround the table. At the top of the screen is the patient’s name. The surgeon, an intense man in his thirties is itching to begin. But before anybody does anything, they call a time-out. Almost imperceptibly, each person takes one step backward. Then, looking at either the big screen or a wallet-size plastic card hanging from their waists, they introduce themselves to one another by first name and proceed through a nine-step “Pre-Induction Verification” checklist that ensures they’ve got the right patient, know his condition and any allergies, understand the medications the anesthesiologist will use, and have any special equipment they might need. When everyone is finished and all the questions are answered—the whole process takes about three minutes—the time-out ends and the young anesthesia resident begins to put the patient, already partly sedated, fully to sleep. Soon the patient is out, his vital signs are stable, and the surgery can begin.

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