Denise Reading

Tuesday, 28 February 2006 07:57

Work force development

The customer service representatives have disagreements without resolution, the people in production are feeling that they are not part of the team and the absenteeism rate for a number of key managers is climbing. Meanwhile, the shareholders are expecting big returns.

What is the quickest way to make things right again? According to many experts the answer may be as simple as implementing a professional development program.

It is a win-win proposition for both employers and employees. Today’s high school graduates will have 15 distinctive careers during their lifetime. They — and their employers — will need to recognize that workers can never stop preparing. That’s why businesses and industry need to execute training and development strategies for lifelong learning,

The effort will pay off. Providing leadership development courses is one major way to improve recruitment, retention and morale. “We know that Generation X and Y look for opportunities to grow and develop and want to work for companies who can help them reach their goals,” says Amy Shannon, executive director of Corporate College’s Professional Development Institute.

Professional development courses can fill both employers’ and employees’ need for training and education. These courses focus on improving and enhancing the skill levels of current employees who can make or break a business — depending on their competency in key areas.

Introverts, poor communicators and workers who don’t understand how to be team players can all benefit from classes including customer service training, leadership training, teamwork training, time-management training, writing and communications, finance and payroll, management and business planning courses such as strategic planning, administrative professional skills, diversity awareness and human resources training.

Professional development has two definitions, according to Shannon. “We delineate between soft skills (i.e. teamwork and communication), and the hard skills such as continuing education for nurses, financial planners, attorneys and others who need coursework to maintain their licenses and certifications,” she says.

Many local colleges and institutes offer both levels of courses towards the goal of cross-training and up-skilling workers so they can remain competitive in the job market of the new economy as well as add value to the company.

Shannon offers the following tips for choosing a professional development vendor.

  • Look for a provider that performs a needs analysis and customizes a flexible training program. A consultant should listen to your needs and objectives, before offering solutions.

  • Stay away from canned, training-in-a-box catalog offerings. An off-the-shelf class won’t always meet specific needs.

  • Look at reputation and robustness in terms of the size and experience level of the instructors and staff.

  • Talk to other clients and ask for customer testimonials. In some cases, it is not necessary that a provider has done exactly the same work for someone else, but it is important that the prior clients are satisfied with the results.

  • Choose a company that will work as a partner with your business — someone who seeks to learn and understand your specific needs and corporate culture.

“It’s important that the professional consultants meet with every new client and conduct a needs assessment to understand the client’s organizational culture, vision and strategic direction. Only then do they identify the skills gaps and design courses to close the gaps,” says Shannon.

“The training can then help organizations by enhancing individual job performance, teamwork, and overall corporate competitiveness. Many times clients ask for a variety of delivery systems including traditional, instructor-led courses, e-learning and distance learning programs to maximize their employee’s time management. In the hierarchy of business, not everyone can play a leading role. But successful organizations know that employees at all levels need to develop the critical skills necessary to do their jobs efficiently,” adds Shannon.

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College and the Professional Development Institue, visit or call (866) 806-2677.

Tuesday, 29 November 2005 04:19

Going strong

So you want to be your own boss, huh? You’re ready to take the plunge into the entrepreneurial world of owning your own business. Or maybe you are already running a solid home-based or small business and you want to improve your enterprise.

Running a small business is not for the faint of heart. In addition to working long work weeks, small business owners must overcome financing hurdles, regulatory requirements and other challenges to successfully compete in their industries, according the Small Business Administration’s State of Small Business Annual Report for 2004.

“If you think you are the kind of person who can succeed working solo or with a small staff, you need to have a great idea plus self-discipline. You need to be self-directed, motivated and organized. You need to be customer-centric. It’s important to think about the needs of your customer and how can you organize your business so that it meets their needs,” says Anne Blum Hach, director of the Key Entrepreneur Development Center at Tri-C’s Corporate College.

Hach offers the following 10 tips on things you can do to grow your business now.

  • Focus on your core product. Concentrate your sales efforts on products or services that generate the highest return. If these are not your core products, consider why not.

  • Update your marketing pitch. Make sure that your marketing statement fits into a concise 30-second pitch that includes the benefits of your company and its products. You need to come up with an easy way for people to remember you and establish a reason for them to contact you.

  • Stay up to date. Make sure that the information you have about your market is current. Don’t make decisions based on market information from five years ago. Know the current trends of your industry and those of your customers.

  • Set the right price. Make sure that you have priced your product correctly. Raising prices is never fun, but then neither is selling at a loss. Analyze your cost structure, your market position and your competition to make sure that your current prices reflect where you want to be.

  • Incorporate your business plan into your to-do list. Many people create a business plan when they start their business but fail to make it part of their day-to-day operations. Break down each goal you established in your business plan to specific action steps and make them a part of your weekly to-do list.

  • Offer rewards. Reward customers for word-of-mouth referrals and make it easy for current customers to pass your name along. Word-of-mouth is still the best form of advertising but you need to make it easy for people to refer your name. Offer a reward or, at the very least, remember to say thank you.

  • Network. Join associations and organizations to network with customers and potential referral sources. It’s not what you know or who you know, it’s who knows you.

  • Consider forming strategic alliances with related businesses. Find people who serve the same market but sell different products or services from yours. Talk to each other. Refer each other. Both of your businesses will grow. Remember the best way to get a lead is to give a lead.

  • Take a step back. Take time out to work on your business, not just in your business. This is the classic dilemma: You work so hard to get a client and then you get the client and they give you a pile of work. You work hard for months to complete the project. Now that it’s finished, you have to work to find more clients. Never stop looking for new clients.

  • Consider the nuts and bolts of your business. Think about these questions: Have I picked the right business for me? Do I have all the right permits to do what I’m doing? Do I know how to keep track of receivables and payables for the IRS? What kind of insurance do I need?

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College, visit or call (866) 806-2677.

Monday, 30 January 2006 09:16

Learning to lead

Today’s companies are often under pressure to improve their bottom-line performance through downsizings, reorganizations, redeployments and other organizational transitions.

During these times, leadership training and development isn’t usually on the agenda. But it should be, according to human resource experts including the Center for Creative Leadership.

“Business leaders are struggling to use leadership styles that will successfully lead their organizations through these transitions. Often, these leaders are not sure how to balance ‘soft’ leadership skills such as trust, empathy and communication with the more ‘bottom-line’ approaches typically used in these situations,” a recent executive summary from the Center states.

And that’s not the only issue. Executives are often unsure of how to recognize or address necessary leadership development at all levels, from supervisory through management.

“Why should I invest in leadership training now?” A Northeast Ohio business leader asked Amy Shannon, executive director of Corporate College’s Leadership Institute, at a recent meeting. Shannon explains the importance of leadership development as an ongoing business objective that can have a major impact on a company’s bottom-line — whether the business is going through a downsizing transition or trying to improve productivity.

“Dollars are being lost through poor leadership. High turnover, lawsuits, excessive absenteeism and continuous conflict are the results of weak leaders who may be coasting along in your organization right now,” Shannon says. “When we perform an audit for a client, we can quantify and identify the challenge areas and develop a comprehensive training program that includes measurement tools to identify return-on-investment,” Shannon adds.

What are the success factors for effectively executing corporate leadership education and development programs? Michael Andrew, HR consultant and head of Management Education Services, came up with the following qualities that are necessary for developing successful training solutions for his global clients.

  • Commitment from senior executives. Senior executives own the process. They understand the use of executive education as a strategic vehicle. They play the roles of mentor, faculty, supporter and beneficiary of the executive education process.

  • Leadership-led development. In high-impact leadership development, senior executives often play a role as faculty to complement the external consultants. They realize that good companies don’t just teach their managers and leaders — they learn from them.

  • Connection to strategic agenda, key issues and workplace realities. Leadership is best learned within the context in which it will be practiced. This provides the relevance — where the rubber meets the road.

Almost every leadership program deemed best practice is linked to the specific business in which it operates and competes. This is a must. The content, the action-learning initiatives, the overall purpose and objectives of a leadership program must be linked to the business context.

  • Executive development professionals as active business partners. This factor seems so obvious, yet it is not nearly as common as it should be. For example, the best human resources people are those who were good business people first, and HR professionals second.

  • Focus on the right participants. Leadership development may not be for everyone in the company.

  • Action learning with follow-through and measurement. Action learning is simply learning by doing. Learning by doing involves teams working on key or pressing business issues.

  • Enhancement of the “know-who”. The best executive-leadership programs not only act as strategic vehicles, or as vehicles for communicating strategy, focusing behaviors and driving change, but they also enhance each executive’s “know-who” in the company. With many clients, this is often the number one take-away.

Think about the impact — participants know some of the senior executives a lot better, and they have a greater knowledge of their colleagues around the world. They now know who to call or where to go for answers or help in executing their plans.

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College, visit or call (866) 806-2677.

Thursday, 29 September 2005 09:46

Event management

Hotels and corporate cafeterias are not the only places to host the company’s annual meeting anymore. You’ll often find local businesses renting out the latest space du jour — the more exotic and off-the-beaten-path, the better — and relying on inexperienced facility staff members who really are not in the business of hosting important corporate events.

What usually happens? The catering department does not communicate with the audio/visual department, and the servers start distributing lunch in the middle of the CEO’s live telecast. Or someone in facilities doesn’t get the memo and forgets to unlock the doors to the break-out rooms. The result is utter chaos for meeting attendees and maybe even a pink slip for whoever planned the event.

Research shows an increasing number of corporations and businesses want to hold memorable and productive meetings and events. But often, no one at the company understands the importance of selecting, negotiating and contracting for services.

That’s why savvy companies often hire corporate event planners who know there’s more to the art of planning a successful training seminar, national sales meeting or charity benefit than renting out the hottest new venue and setting up tables and chairs.

Vicki Raynor, executive administrative assistant for human resources and corporate meeting planner for JoAnn Stores, plans dozens of meetings and events that bring in hundreds of executives from around the country each year. She says it’s attention to the little things that make the difference between hosting a successful, memorable event and just another meeting.

Ginny Sukenik, owner of GS Special Events, has been planning corporate events for more than 25 years, and says that following a standard plan for every event is a good place to start. Both event planners offer these tips for planning successful, productive business meetings that leave an impression.

  • Know your audience and their expectations.

  • Establish a realistic budget and stick to it.

  • Secure a meeting site and set the date(s).

  • Meet face-to-face with the meeting site staff to make sure everyone is on the same page. “I tell people it’s important to know the facility team and build a partnership so they know the specific items that your company needs,” Raynor says.

  • Develop a standard worksheet that addresses each element of the event, including audio/visual needs, catering, parking, overnight accommodations, entertainment and signage requirements. Make sure all team leaders have a copy of the worksheet.

  • Rent two-way phones with headsets to stay in constant contact with staff on the day of the event.

  • Expect the unexpected and be prepared to handle anything.

The need for trained event planners is growing, as more companies understand the importance of hiring the right people to coordinate and manage their events. To meet this need, area colleges have begun offering specialized training in event planning.

Program goals include teaching the essentials of how to plan and successfully execute meetings and special events. Objectives include core competencies and comprehensive training in the essentials of meeting and event planning — everything from food selection to online registration.

Classes are designed for new and aspiring meeting and event managers or planners, hoteliers, as well as those considering a career change.

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College as an event location, or to find out more about event management training, call (866) 806-2677 or visit

Thursday, 01 September 2005 06:57

Health and productivity

Area colleges and institutions are partnering with risk-management and insurance firms to implement innovative health-management programs that have saved participants more than $325,000 in medical claims during the past three years. In today’s world of double-digit cost increases for health care, the reversal is almost unbelievable.

So how can your company realize such a savings when it comes to health-care costs?

“Set a strategy, realize it won’t happen overnight and don’t blindly accept the fact that health-care costs are going to rise; you wouldn’t do that in any other area of your business,” says Debra Dailey, director of the Health and Productivity Institute at Tri-C’s Corporate College.

For example, Dailey says, one approach is to understand the role health-risk factors play in health care utilization, productivity and absenteeism. From there, employers can begin to develop a strategy that will maximize their investment in employee health and control excess employment costs.

The University of Michigan Health Management Research Center has found that employees who improved their health-risk status experience measurable improvements in work productivity and lower health-care costs.

“When you control health-risk factors, you control costs,” Dailey explains.

According to the Integrated Benefits Institute, more than 85 percent of employers, over the next five years, want to link health and medical data to employee absence, lost productivity and financial performance. By beginning with the right organizational change strategy, employers can make this happen.

“Employee health, in a broad sense, should be viewed as a competitive advantage, not a cost burden,” says Neil Quinn, director of health management services for the Oswald Cos.

Quinn and Dailey pose the following question to businesses everywhere: “Why don’t companies apply the same rigor and have the same success in controlling health-related costs as they do with safety programs, quality management or other enterprise-level change initiatives?”

Their answer: “Because they don’t have an integrated health-management model that provides a blueprint for change, metrics for monitoring progress, targeted tactics for achieving results, and a data-driven method for evaluating success and return-on-investment.”

Another example from Quinn and Dailey deals with pregnancy. “No one can change the fact that women get pregnant, but you can change their access to quality prenatal care to reduce future risks and future costs,” Dailey says.

These academia-business partnerships provide clients “with resources and strategies to save money — not by reactively shifting costs to employees or reducing insurance benefits, but by enabling area employers to understand how they can use overall employee health as a competitive advantage,” says Quinn.

  • Opportunities will benefit organizations with the following characteristics.
  • Unwilling to accept 10 percent, 20 percent or 30-plus percent yearly increases in health-related costs
  • Do not want to waste time doing things that can’t be quantified
  • Believe in proactively setting strategies and engaging employees in win-win solutions
  • Have confidence in their ability to overcome challenges
  • Want to distinguish themselves as best-in-class
  • Believe that there must be a better way to increase worker productivity and manage health-care costs

 "Employers can ill afford to view health-related expenses as simply the cost of doing business. To do so in today’s economy is a critical mistake,” says Eric Krieg, senior vice president, benefits, Oswald Cos.

Institutes and partnerships offer many benefits for employers.

  • Integrated team training designed to empower organizations to effectively manage the total costs of health
  • Employer-tailored consultation coupled with a proactive approach to systematically implementing a results-driven health and productivity management strategy
  • Data-driven methods for evaluating success and return-on-investment for health management strategies
  • Unique networking and professional development opportunities that propel forward, out-of-the box thinking
  • Access to cutting edge resources, technology and tools designed to support organizational change strategies

“The most important thing to keep asking yourself is, ‘What can we change in our culture?’” Quinn says.

Dr. Denise Reading is president of Tri-C’s Corporate College. Visit or call (866) 806-CORP to learn more about the Health and Productivity Institute.

Wednesday, 29 June 2005 05:17

Entrepreneurship and innovation

Everybody loves an entrepreneur. You probably know a few -- they're the men and women who take a simple idea and turn it into gold. How did they do it? What was their thought process and what motivated these so-called mavericks?

Foremost, they're creative and they don't let the status quo or bureaucratic red tape trip them up. In fact, the definition of an entrepreneur is someone who is willing to take risks in order to make a profit.

Today, big business and industry are increasingly using the methods, strategies and practices of entrepreneurs to position their organizations for innovation and growth. "Corporate entrepreneurship" is the catch phrase, and changing the corporate culture to accommodate creativity is the mission. Companies are inventing new products and services at a breathtaking pace.

But innovation is more than just invention.

Successful companies grow and profit by improving processes and streamlining services in addition to inventing new and improved products. And for corporations to enhance the innovative abilities of their employees while increasing revenues, radical environmental change must take place.

Does your company have what it takes to innovate? Kathleen Razi, director of corporate innovation and growth at Tri-C's Corporate College offers the following suggestions for successful innovation in organizations.

* Develop a senior management team that is committed, aligned and involved.

* Build a corporate culture that values, affirms and supports creativity and innovation.

* Employ teams to make the innovation successful.

* Focus on the customer for insights, both internal and external.

* Look for opportunities to recognize the team/organization as a winner.

* Create opportunities for learning networks and concept development through interactive processes.

* Establish a climate that nurtures creativity, provides information and gives feedback.

Innovation survives and thrives in an environment that has the following characteristics.

* A clear strategic direction

* A culture where people are encouraged to pay attention and respond to emerging trends

* A culture where people are encouraged to challenge the status quo

* A culture where people actively engage with clients to determine new opportunities

Fostering an innovative environment requires that an organization is constantly aware of opportunities and ready to shift focus as needed. Ask yourself, "How can we find new ideas and applications for old ideas?" Then consider the following tips.

* Look at challenges and opportunities from a different perspective.

* Get and keep people involved, especially upper management.

* Celebrate and share successes.

Another way to spur creativity and innovation is to get company leaders and key team players involved in special innovation programs. Some of the most-requested course topics for executive education in Northeast Ohio are innovation and entrepreneurship training. These skills are imperative to growing businesses and helping the region prosper.

When evaluating potential innovation classes or training programs, look for ones that focus on teaching participants how to turn innovative "thinking" into a way of "being" to reach the end goal of profitability. Also helpful are courses that bring in local business experts and that facilitate networking and the exchange of tips and ideas.

Dr. Denise Reading is president of Cuyahoga Community College's Corporate College. For more information or to register for Tri-C's Corporate Innovation and Growth programs call (866) 806-2677 or visit

Tuesday, 01 November 2005 02:53

The right questions

Do your customers enjoy doing business with you? Are they delighted with the sales process from order to delivery? Are they likely to be repeat customers? How do you know if you've never asked?

More often than not, these are the questions that local companies must address when looking for ways to improve their bottom line.

A major local security company thought their clients were happy until they did some research.

The company -- which provides security services to major banks including National City -- felt their regionwide customer base was satisfied. After conducting a survey of 700 customers, they were devastated to find their satisfaction rating was a mere 4.2 on a scale of 10. "That's the difference between a good company and a great company," says Vera Lewis-Jasper, executive director of the Institute for Organizational Excellence at Tri-C's Corporate College.

"This company was willing to look at the issues, invest in research and manage all aspects of their business from training, finance, human resources, operations and quality systems and when all was said and done, their satisfaction rating rose to 8.7 and today they are saving $100,000 a year as a result of implementing a holistic continuous process improvement plan," she adds.

The security company recouped their investment the first year after installing an ISO-9001 quality-management program. So just how do organizational excellence initiatives improve a company's performance?

"We look at how a business operates and what processes they use that can be improved. We have the tools to help businesses look at their organization as a whole," Lewis-Jasper says.

She adds that companies should consider asking the following questions when thinking about improving their productivity.

  • What I am doing to operate as lean as possible?

  • Am I only taking steps that improve the processes of getting the product into my customers' hands?

  • Where can I remove costs when it comes to machinery and projects?

  • Do I have a team in place that can address these questions?

Area institutes and organizations provide programming to assist businesses in streamlining operations, as well eliminating inefficiencies, which results in greater quality management. And it doesn't always have to hurt.

With today's blended learning and e-learning options, time spent out of the office or plant is minimized. Where previously a Six Sigma certification required 122 hours of classroom time, today only 60 hours of classroom time is required.

The drastic time reduction is a result of an individual, online, instructor-led curriculum, chat groups and Internet research -- all of which are reinforced during class time.

"When we show this to people, they are floored," Lewis-Jasper says.

Local businesses -- in any sector -- can improve their profits by engaging in a wide variety of quality training programs including Lean, Six Sigma, Baldrige Quality, Process Improvement, Environmental Health & Safety and Organization Process Improvement.

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College, visit or call (866) 806-2677.

Wednesday, 26 April 2006 10:57

Managing the generation mix

The faces of today’s workplace are changing faster than you think. For every two experienced workers (the generation born before 1946 and baby boomers) leaving the workplace, one new young person (from generations X and Y) enters the workplace.

The shift is causing huge challenges for businesses trying to manage a productive workforce. As all four generations clash and work side-by-side; each at different life and career stages; each with different perspectives, needs and expectations, management is struggling to keep everyone engaged.

Already, generations X and Y command a powerful segment of the workforce. A combined demographic of 120 million people, generations X and Y count some of today’s top performers among their ranks. Independent, socially conscious, technologically savvy and open to change, these groups are distinct from the baby boomers. They also require special efforts on the hiring front.

Bruce Tulgan, founder of Rainmaker Thinking, leading consultant and author of more than 15 books, is confident that managing the generation mix is possible.

“Between 1993 and 2003,” Tulgan says, “a profound revolution has taken place in the values and norms of the American workplace; the impact has been felt throughout the world. We call this revolution the ‘Generational Shift.’”

His 10-year study of how the generations mix at the workplace found:

#1. Work has become more demanding on employees.

#2. Employer-employee relationships have become less hierarchical and more transactional.

#3. Employers are moving away from long-term employment relationships.

#4. Employees have less confidence in long-term rewards and greater expectations for short-term rewards.

#5. Immediate supervisors are now the most important people in the workplace.

#6. Supervising employees now requires more time and skill on the part of managers.

An excerpt from one of Tulgan’s reports called “Generational Shift” explains: “No matter how effective organizations may become at retaining older workers in flexible roles, soon generation X and generation Y will become the dominant players in the prime age workforce. As they do, they will usher out the last vestiges of the old-fashioned workplace values and norms and finish the workplace revolution. Meanwhile, huge cadres of aging workers (often with significant power in organizations) will reach advanced life stages, at which they will need and demand more flexible work conditions — ironically — pushing the ‘free agent’ agenda in their own ways for their own reasons. On top of all that, a new generation of younger workers with no attachment to the old-fashioned career path and work patterns will emerge.

“The traditional career path and old-fashioned management tactics will finally fade away. The one-size-fits-all approach to employer-employee relations will be dead. In good times and bad alike, the idea of a long-term career in one company will be rare. Employees will come to accept that they must take responsibility for their own success and fend for themselves as best they can. The most successful people will be focused on learning marketable skills, building relationships with decision-makers who can help them, and selling their way into career opportunities.”

So where does all this new information leave recruiters and human resource professionals? According to a special report from “Recruiter’s World,” focus on the following to effectively attract and retain employees from generations X and Y:

  • Emphasize the Internet in your recruitment strategy. Create media that is modern and upbeat, focusing on unique ways to deliver information. Also, provide lots of online tools to help candidates learn about the company and interact with recruiters.

  • Create a high impact recruiting message. Generations X and Y are used to being marketed to and need a very distinctive message to get their attention. Be careful not to go overboard though. A genuine, straightforward approach usually works best.

  • Deliver a work culture with options. Work-life balance is very important to generations X and Y. These groups want flexibility, learning opportunities, relationships with decision-makers, challenging work projects, responsibility, and personalized career development.

DENISE READING is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College, visit or call (866) 806-2677.

Wednesday, 29 March 2006 09:41

Human resource solutions

Problems with employee turnover, talent development, employee retention and hiring practices often cripple companies that would otherwise be superstars in their industries.

When this happens, management is in turmoil and needs the issues addressed — immediately.

Human resource folks often react quickly and start implementing job assessment programs that, at best, may not identify the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for the targeted job positions and, at worst, could lead to non-compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission standards.

“The mistake companies often make in this situation is using a canned assessment tool that they find online,” says John Joyce, manager of HR Solutions at Tri-C’s Corporate College. “Usually, it won’t have validity or reliability because they missed a key step in the process: conducting a job analysis.”

A job analysis is important because it identifies the KSAs — the knowledge, skills and abilities — along with competencies needed for the targeted positions. “If you don’t conduct a job analysis, you might pick an assessment that won’t test the appropriate competencies that are representative of the content of the job,” Joyce says.

The advantage of conducting a job analysis is that it employs a strong statistical base, which leads to reliability and validity of the chosen assessment tool. A job analysis involves convening subject matter experts for each targeted position and asking them to rate and categorize the importance of each task involved for the job.

“It’s only after a company has gone through this step with its own talent — we call them subject matter experts — that they can properly align the identified job competencies with an appropriate assessment,” Joyce says.

It’s obvious that employing a job analysis is helpful for evaluating new hires and identifying current employees for advancement. It’s also useful for identifying where training needs to be improved.

Another way companies can gain a competitive edge in their hiring practices is by using behavioral interviews. “The technique is quite different than a traditional interview where you ask straight-forward questions and ask candidates to complete open-ended statements like, ‘Tell me about yourself,’ and ‘Give me three words that best describe you,’” Joyce says.

Conversely, a behavioral interview focuses on specific employment situations and how candidates behaved in the past. This questioning process allows employers to analyze behaviors and discover how interviewees usually act in situations related to employment.

Once competent candidates are identified, Joyce says it’s important to provide them with a realistic job preview. “The realistic job preview saves time and money, and gives candidates a clear vision of the duties of the position,” he says.

Often, a realistic job preview involves a video presentation from current employees or simply a packet of written information that describes the position.

Consultants’ services
Companies that don’t know where to start this process of analyzing, assessing, interviewing and retaining human capital often rely on the expertise of consultants.

Look for a consultant that offers customized solutions to these and many more strategic objectives. Qualified consultants are trained to meet the needs of various industries, with backgrounds in organizational development, human-resource management, training and development, and industrial and organizational psychology. This broad range of expertise allows them to develop a customized solution with thorough, timely turn-around.

Consultants should offer employee selection and development solutions to address issues such as identifying qualified candidates, analyzing skill gaps of current employees, reducing turnover and increasing performance. Typical services include:

  • Job analysis to determine the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies for each target position
  • Expert assistance to conduct research and to identify quality assessment tools that help you select qualified employees, or develop your current workforce
  • A selection system audit to ensure that your process is consistent, reliable, valid and EEOC compliant
  • Behavioral interviews and realistic job previews can be added as part of a comprehensive and customized selection

DENISE READING is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College, visit or phone (866) 806-2677.

Tuesday, 27 December 2005 10:08

Leading by example

Pioneering businesses agree: It is now possible to consider employee health as a performance driver, not a cost burden.

All it takes is a primary shift in focus that starts at the top.

“It’s important that top management demonstrate full commitment and be shining examples — in words and deeds — when starting to implement a company-wide health management initiative,” says Debra Dailey, director of the Health and Productivity Institute at Tri-C’s Corporate College.

Dailey says the organizational process needed to facilitate the change is not unlike Lean Six Sigma or other organizational excellence initiatives. “We help clients build a health management strategy for sustained results with goals that align with their corporate culture and business performance measures,” she says.

Building strategies involves assessing what drives health risks and excess costs, evaluating ways to intervene, instituting programming, and monitoring and measuring and results.

“We’re working with companies so they can understand that a health and productivity management strategy is something appropriate to nurture, grow, measure and manage,” Dailey says.

Why invest the time and resources?

“Progressive businesses already are profiting from initiatives designed to approach employee health as a performance driver, versus a cost burden. Health risks and subsequent costs in populations continue to grow and for enlightened organizations, there is a way to gain control through an effective risk reduction strategy,” says Neil Quinn, director of health management services for the Oswald Companies.

Area businesses and institutions have teamed up to provide solutions that will help Northeast Ohio business and industry gain a competitive advantage through strategic planning in the areas of health, wellness and productivity. Employers using this Integrated Health Management Model have experienced excellent outcomes, including health care cost trends at half the national norm.

Dailey and Quinn offer the following 10 goals for effective senior leadership in reducing health risks and decreasing health care usage.

  • Be an exceptional champion and role model in the support of personal health maintenance and a healthy work environment and culture.

  • Apply equal diligence to improving employee health and health care consumerism as is applied to other mission-critical business processes.

  • Measure and monitor the organization’s health risk and health care utilization behavior, and set specific goals for improvement.

  • Establish a five-year integrated benefits and health management strategy, and create a detailed, rolling 12-month plan for intervention.

  • Openly and frequently discuss the importance of reducing health risks, managing chronic health conditions and improving health care consumerism with employees at all opportunities.

  • Provide formal and ongoing education and training for employees in the area of health maintenance and health care utilization that is comparable in scope to that which is provided for other high-priority initiatives.

  • Implement policies and practices that support and encourage a healthy and productive work force.

  • Set expectations for leaders at all levels of the organization that they will reduce health risks and maintain good health themselves, and actively promote and encourage employees to do the same.

  • Provide resources, programs, activities and events to empower employees and their dependents to improve their health and appropriately decrease health care utilization.

  • Share and reward success by providing strong incentives for individuals, teams and the organization as a whole to improve health and appropriately reduce health care utilization.

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College, visit or call (866) 806-2677.

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