We’ve all seen it before, where co-workers in a company recognize a problem performer, but these same people can’t understand why the boss hasn’t yet taken action or has taken so long to come to grips with the issue.
Conversely, as the boss, how many times have you made what you considered to be an extremely difficult personnel decision and have done so only after protracted analysis, a fair measure of agony and more than an adequate amount of second guessing yourself?
Case in point: One of your top managers has hit the skids, and in your gut, you know that a change is needed. Fearing the worst, you play over and over in your mind the potential negative consequences that could occur if you were to fire this individual. Finally, after all else fails, you pull the trigger and decide to part ways with the onetime A player. Before you tell associates, you rehearse in your mind how you will explain your decision. Once you gather your lieutenants together and finally utter the previously unthinkable, the reaction is almost a unanimous, “What took you so long?”
After you breathe a sigh of relief, your team members start making not-so-subtle comments suggesting that they weren’t surprised, followed by a litany of examples of why your now fallen superstar wasn’t hacking it.
This begs a bigger question: Were you really the last one to realize that there was a problem? Furthermore, did it actually take you too long to make that final decision that, as they say in spy novels, this person was “beyond salvage”?
This provides a good opportunity for introspective analysis. The end result just might help you understand that you were not the last to know, but in fact, you may have been the first to recognize what was looming on the horizon.
Virtually every leader has to rely on experience, combined with instincts, to decide when to either cut and run or try to rectify a problem. Being an executive requires being a very good teacher. When a pupil is not measuring up, the first question is how can you help and what can you do to improve a person’s performance? Most everyone at one point in his or her career hits a rough spot, and with a bit of mentoring, a fair number of wayward employees can turn the corner and again blossom. Also, it’s more economical to at least try to turn someone around after investing time and money in developing the individual. After a certain period, the employee has gained valuable empirical knowledge about the ins and outs of the company and, just maybe, a little extra coaching can make the difference.
However, in some situations, your optimism for achieving Mother Teresa status through patient mentoring wanes, and you begin to come to grips with the fact that it’s time for a change. You then map out your what-if scenarios. Not only one but several. You ruminate over your game plan until you have the best probable solution locked and loaded in your mind for that moment when you have concluded that you’ve run out of road.
Most times, trying yet failing is not a bad thing; actually, it is a good thing and the way a responsible leader must approach an important human resource decision. You can never forget that you’re dealing with the life and livelihood of a person and his or her family, which can be adversely affected by the decision. Many top employees who veer off course and don’t work out were, at one time, effective and loyal contributors to the organization. It’s mandatory to make the effort not only to try to stem the negative tide of poor performance, but also to develop an alternative replacement and transition strategy. This takes time and can be a very solitary task depending on the level of the person to be replaced.
In reality, the boss knows in his heart of hearts before most, if not all, others when something ultimately has to give. Being the boss requires making the difficult decisions after meaningful deliberation and then living with them and making them work.
The boss the last to know? Highly unlikely. Instead, he probably is the first to know when the time to act was finally right.
Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. Reach him with comments at email@example.com.
A unique new book with an unorthodox, yet proven approach to achieving extraordinary success.
What does it take to grow rapidly and effectively from mind to market?
This book offers an unconventional philosophy for starting and building a business that exceeds your own expectations.
Beating the competition is never easy. That’s why it requires a benevolent dictator.
Published by John Wiley & Sons. AVAILABLE NOW! Order online now at: www.thebenevolentdictator.biz
Also available wherever books and eBooks are sold, and from Smart Business Magazine and www.SBNOnline.com. Contact Dustin S. Klein of Smart Business at (800) 988-4726 for bulk order special pricing.
Retaining top talent in these turbulent times remains very high on today’s executive agenda. Equally critical is the need to minimize the crippling effects that key talent departures have on organizations, especially those that rest much of their success on these high output, unique talents. Yet very few firms create and follow through on a retention strategy that really makes a difference. Why is this? And how can organizations "crack the code" on talent retention? Based on recent interviews with a several executives in firms with outstanding reputations for leadership retention, there are several ingredients that, when effectively blended, result in an environment where the very best talent thrives. They raise their own performance bar, often feeling a synergistic relationship with the organization, and are less likely to abandon ship. Key ingredients in the retention of top talent cited by these executives in the know include:
- Culture focused on talent development
- Broadened leader bandwidth
- Effective general manager
- Well-developed retention strategy
- Effective orientation and on-boarding
Culture focused on talent development
I pull my team together for just about every morning to discuss briefly what took place the day before. We often cover highlights and lowlights, recognize combined contributions and review what we need to do better. We refer to these sessions as our morning huddle — whether in person or by conference call. When we break, people are pumped to reinforce our customer-focused atmosphere.
Comments such as these define the benefit of a work climate or culture that focuses on individual and team development. They don’t just talk about it, they live it! Retention is typically very high in organizations where the culture supports team work, individual development, recognition for contributions, and encouragement to perform.
Broadened leader bandwidth
Organizations that enable leaders, through a variety of means, to identify individual needs and respond with a portfolio of styles typically achieve significantly higher levels of retention. One size does not fit all! Top performers need to be treated as exceptions, because they are indeed exceptions. If leaders over rely on their most comfortable style, they’re bound to miss the mark on many occasions. It’s interesting to note that in cases where leaders have the capacity to respond with a number of styles, the total team and organization benefits.
Effective general manager
The factor that seems to have the greatest influence on retention of key talent is the effectiveness of the general manager in creating and maintaining a high performance culture. One executive vice president commented that her most promising general manager has a deep-seated need to raise the bar for each employee just enough so they feel truly stretched all the time. Her leadership cascades down the organization to every contributor to the point where individuals choose to raise their own bars. The signal here is for organizations to both unleash leader capacity and invest in development so leaders can realize extended capabilities.
Well-developed retention strategy
Some organizations have actually created "offices of retention" to elevate the challenge to a higher level. Often a very senior executive is accountable to the CEO for shepherding retention-related efforts and takes the lead. Even without this level of focus, many organizations see significant retention progress with well-developed and communicated retention goals and objectives for the entire organization.
Effective orientation and on-boarding
By my third week with the company I felt totally connected and ready to do battle! By my second month I realized that everything I was told on the way in was accurate. Now, three years into my relationship with the firm I realize that a solid beginning was a key reason for staying.
Comments like these are common in organizations recognizing that effective induction, orientation, and on-boarding have a huge impact on retention. Yet, very few firms treat these early phases with the attention they deserve. This impact is magnified for top talent.
A final observation on "cracking the code"
Organizations should remain in close contact with top talent, being careful to consider adopting retention practices that are truly desirable, and can be effectively managed. Too often firms select more initiatives than they can handle, and more than they need. Firms that have achieved their desired levels of top gun retention know all too well that just around the corner is another lure tempting their most prized possessions.
Sheryl Dawson is an executive partner with Talent Strategies Group, a Division of Career Partners International (CPI), Houston. She has over 25 years experience in talent management, team assessment, leadership development, and career coaching and consulting. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (713) 784-3197.
Read more from Dawson: Talent management solutions: How CPI Houston helps companies optimize their bottom lines
A recent Harvard Business Review study revealed that almost 40 percent of a company’s strategy can be diluted due to poor execution. Additionally, estimates attribute up to 70 percent of a company’s operating expense to labor costs and yet only 38 percent of employees are reportedly engaged. With this much at stake, the importance of development activities and alignment of organizational goals with strategy is paramount. In spite of the apparent need for investment in employee development, what remains a challenge for many organizations is the determination of, or perhaps acceptance of, returns associated with investments in development activities.
Coming from a position with direct financial responsibility with a laser focus on clearly measurable ROI to a talent management consulting role, I have observed that the focus is often on process rather than results. It’s understandable that CEOs and leaders with P&L responsibility struggle with justifications in which clearly stated expectations for outcomes are absent or fuzzy.
Most leaders accept that employee development has value, but determining how much and what programs requires some effort. To assist in establishing value of development activities, the investment required, as well as the methodology to employ, considering the following three areas proves useful:
- Business need
- Development requirements
- Desired business result
Defining the business need
Defining the business need should begin with clarity around the organization’s goals and what skills, competencies or behavioral changes are necessary to meet those goals. While on the surface this may sound simplistic, assumption is the enemy here. A thorough identification and assessment of what skill sets reside within the targeted group or employee is required to reduce risk and improve organizational engagement toward stated goals. This can often be accomplished through the mining of information available in the HRIS/LMS system, utilization of assessments, and the application of knowledge transfer mapping strategies.
Defining development requirements
Once the business need is clearly defined and competencies identified, a plan outlining methodologies and deliverables can be designed to address the development requirements or gaps. Key questions that should be addressed include:
- How will the change in required skills, competencies, behaviors be achieved? Options may include traditional training, coaching, mentoring, or blended approaches.
- When are the assimilation of these skill sets required?
- How will the outcomes be measured?
Development of human capital is a complex endeavor, with differing needs among employees. While training offers an organization the opportunity to "roll out" learning to multiple assets at one time, each employee will assimilate skills based upon their personal experience and capabilities as well as work/assignment opportunities. Another consideration often overlooked, is that the more senior the level of responsibility, the greater the requirement placed upon emotional intelligence in addition to "technical" competencies. These realities expose the limits of traditional training in improving leadership competency. Coaching and mentoring provide the opportunity to raise self awareness and encourage individual accountability to achieve growth initiatives. Continual improvement in leadership effectiveness attributable to coaching interventions may be satisfactorily quantified by attention to specificity of expectations and measured outcomes.
Defining desired business result
After clearly defining the business need and the development requirements, defining what changes in business results can be anticipated due to the development activities is essential to effective measurement of the return on investment. Estimating improvements in productivity, sales, customer retention, etc., can be specifically anticipated, forecast and measured to further quantify and validate the business value of development activities within your organization. The proposed investment balanced against the anticipated outcomes will then provide leaders who have financial responsibility a quantifiable method of weighing the value of development against other investment opportunities.
Identifying delivery options
Following approval of the development initiative, the selection of talent management resources (internal or external) for delivery will determine its success or failure. The organizations and individuals who provide the training and coaching services should be vetted as rigorously as you would a prospective employee. In this process, it’s helpful to determine:
- What are their qualifications as an executive coach? As a trainer, facilitator, etc. (depending on application)?Degrees, certifications, etc.?
- What is the scope of their business experience? Their services?
- What type of project or area of expertise best defines them?
- Can they provide the necessary resources locally/nationally?
- What references can they provide?
Development initiatives are often considered expendable due to more immediate, and seemingly concrete, issues associated with near term performance; however, when 70 percent of operating cost is associated with labor and statistics report that only 38 percent of the workforce is highly engaged, to ignore the need is to risk collision with the unseen iceberg just below the surface. Our responsibility as leaders, regardless of functional responsibility, is to understand and clearly quantify the investment opportunities that will result in the greatest return for our stakeholders.
Matt Williams is the director of executive coaching and leadership development at Talent Strategies Group, a Division of Career Partners International (CPI), Houston. A certified executive coach, Williams has over 25 years in corporate roles including 10 years as president and CEO of a medical technology company. For more information visit www.talentstrategiesgroup.net or call (713) 784-3197.
 Harvard Business Review, Turning Great Strategy into Great Performance, Markins & Steele
Hiring can be a difficult, time-consuming process, but failing to take the time to do it right can be disastrous. Using a direct hire recruiter can assist an employer with the hiring process. These recruiters can serve as consultants and their immense knowledge of the local labor pool can help you choose the best candidates to fill your particular needs.
This investment can not only help prevent hiring errors, it can save time by eliminating the need to devote resources to screening candidates.
“A company may not be hiring every day of the year, whereas a direct hire recruiter is constantly talking with candidates,” says Michael Stanley, a recruiter with The Daniel Group. “This gives recruiters an expert level of knowledge of the pool of potential hires, compared with the snapshot that an employer might get during intermittent hiring periods.”
Smart Business spoke with Stanley about how to select a recruiting firm among the many that are vying for your business.
How do recruiters choose employees for clients?
Recruiters should work to discover the particular skill sets its client is looking for in a candidate to ensure the new hire matches an employer’s needs. This requires working from more than just a job description. Your recruiter needs to understand your culture and general atmosphere to gauge the intangibles that a potential hire might need to fit in, such as personality.
To achieve this, it’s important that the recruiter visit with an employer to get a feel for the environment. Have your recruiter meet with the hiring manager and visit your location to get a more detailed picture of the total work environment. This will greatly improve the chances of finding the right person for the job.
Also, during initial meetings, it’s important to convey to the recruiter what career path you expect the candidate to progress through. This will allow a recruiter to best match what the candidate is looking for with what you expect.
How can a company work with its recruiter to ensure it is getting the best employees for the position?
Ideally, companies should reach out to a recruiter during the planning stages of their hiring process, or about six to 12 months before they expect to bring additional employees on board.
When talking with your recruiter, be honest in terms of what you need in a candidate. The more information a recruiter has about a company, the position, and its short- and long-term goals for the employee, the better chance he or she has of finding the perfect candidate.
What if an employer is dissatisfied with the candidates being referred?
If the candidates being presented are not in line with what you’re looking for, be honest and offer feedback as to what needs aren’t being addressed. A recruiter will then reassess its approach and work to close the gap between what is being provided and what is needed.
In the event that a hiring decision has been made, some recruiters offer a guarantee that if the employee doesn’t work out, for whatever reason, within the first year, he or she will be replaced without charge.
What responsibilities does a recruiter have regarding the employees it selects for clients?
Recruiters take candidates through a full screening process that can be standard — criminal background check, salary verification and reference checks — or catered to the particular needs of an employer. Once the candidate has gone through screening, a recruiter will give the client a basic description of the potential hire’s skills and qualifications, as well as an off-paper account of the person.
While a recruiter works for the client, meaning its primary responsibility is to meet the client’s needs, a relationship is also established between the recruiter and the candidate. This means that not only will the recruiter be honest and up front with the person about the company, the position and what it entails, but candidates tend to be more honest with a recruiter than they are with an employer. This can help a recruiter dig deeper and discover personality traits and experiences not listed on a resume that can help determine who might be the better fit.
What cost savings are involved by working through a recruiter?
There are a lot of resources devoted toward filling a position, including personnel, time and money. Employers should do what they do best, which is run their business. The cost savings realized from working with a recruiter come from allocating resources that would otherwise have to be tied up in hiring to more critical functions.
Time saved is also a significant consideration. Recruiters can distill the candidate pool down to the top candidates for a position, rather than the employer having to review hundreds of unscreened resumes, which is incredibly frustrating and time consuming. Why screen 200 resumes when a recruiter can provide you with three or four that match the exact skill sets you’re looking for?
How can employers drill down to find the right staffing firm?
There are lots of staffing firms and they all deal in people. What sets staffing firms apart are the individuals who work for them. Having that direct relationship with a person you can trust and have had success with is important.
Also take into consideration the firm’s history, how long it’s been in the market and its successes in your industry. While an Internet search can offer an initial list of staffing agencies, it’s a good idea to ask a firm for client references to get a sense of its performance.
Michael Stanley is a recruiter with The Daniel Group. Reach him at (713) 932-9313 or email@example.com.
Insights Staffing is brought to you by The Daniel Group
Many businesses are interested in doing business internationally, but may not know where to begin. Ianni Palandjoglou, senior vice president, international, at Cadence Bank, says that regional banks can guide you through the process and mitigate risk while opening the door to global markets.
“Ultimately, engaging in international trade requires an accessible, informed and educated adviser capable of helping you navigate the embedded risks,” he says.
Smart Business spoke with Palandjoglou about how regional banks can help small to mid-sized businesses navigate the challenges of doing business on a global scale.
What is international banking?
From a regional bank’s perspective, international banking provides support to small and mid-sized businesses engaging in business globally in three primary segments: trade finance, trade services and foreign exchange.
Trade finance focuses on finding solutions for the needs of the exporter and the importer, with more emphasis on exports. Trade services facilitate various payment methods used in international trade, such as export/import letters of credit, documentary collections, standby letters of credit and open account shipment. Foreign exchange provides support in currency management risk using such tools as spots, forwards and swaps.
International banking differs from domestic banking in that it addresses the unique factors that can impact doing business abroad. These include political and economic risks, foreign legal systems and business practices, cultural and language barriers, infrastructure for distribution and other issues that could potentially hinder transactions. With more than three-fourths of total U.S. exports coming from small businesses, they can look to regional banks as an adviser that can address these needs and help improve operations.
What value does a bank bring to companies interested in engaging in international business?
Regional banks help their customers by serving as a counselor of sorts to understand their business while mitigating currency, country and payment risks. Also, by working through the Export-Import Bank of the U.S. (Ex-Im), regional banks can guide an exporter in obtaining insurance on foreign receivables or help it acquire working capital for pre-export on purchase orders with much higher advance levels on raw materials and inventory. What makes regional banks with an international department unique is they work with governmental agencies such as Ex-Im Bank and the Small Business Administration to provide different types of financing solutions to customers, which, in general, domestic institutions would not otherwise be able to offer.
What advice would you offer a company that is looking to import or export for the first time?
From an exporter viewpoint, the appeal to go global is attractive. It offers the potential to increase and diversify sales, spread risk by expanding into a variety of markets, extend your product life cycle, and ensure your global competitiveness and adaptability. However, there are things you need to address when working internationally, such as getting to know your buyer well, structuring your sales to protect your money and your assets, learning the various methods of payment in international trade, buying insurance on your receivables or selling only under a letter of credit, and getting to know the Department of Commerce.
The government, including the DOC and 19 other agencies, has undertaken a very strong initiative to increase exports. These agencies are working to promote U.S. exports and can provide information and grants that allow you to attend conventions and seminars held outside of the country that can facilitate meetings with potential buyers and partners.
What role do the Ex-Im and the SBA play for U.S. businesses looking to trade internationally?
They are critical. Without these agencies, regional banks in the U.S. would not be able to provide financing for domestic borrowers because banks would not be able to mitigate the risks involved. These agencies provide guarantees to U.S. banks so they can lend on export-related purchase orders under the working capital guarantee programs, which cover 90 percent of the export risk for performance and disputes, as well as political and commercial risk.
Some regional banks, like Cadence Bank, have delegated lender status with the SBA and Ex-Im, meaning they can approve export capital working loans up to a predetermined limit without prior approval from the agencies.
How can banks help mitigate risk in transactions involving foreign currencies?
There is an embedded currency risk in any transaction involving a foreign entity. Although paying or receiving U.S. dollars for your international transactions may seem like a prudent way to mitigate your foreign exchange risk, the opposite is true. In fact, when you conduct international trade in U.S. dollars rather than in the functional currency, you are exposed to the foreign exchange market.
If you have an international payable and the U.S. dollar weakens, your vendor could ask for additional funds to cover the shortage. Conversely, if you’re exporting and your customer’s currency weakens against the dollar, then it’s harder for your customer to pay you and it may default. Accordingly, the most conservative manner in which to conduct your international transactions is by dealing in the foreign currency to better manage the risk.
Say you’re exporting from the U.S. to Mexico, which has seen its currency depreciate 23 percent during the past year. As an exporter, the strengthening U.S. dollar against the peso makes you less competitive and potentially exposes you to nonpayment.
This risk can be offset and hedged using forward transactions with your bank’s foreign exchange team, locking in today’s exchange rate for future delivery. By doing so, you remove market volatility and exchange uncertainty, while minimizing your costs and maintaining your profit margins.
Ianni Palandjoglou is senior vice president, international, with Cadence Bank. Reach him at (713) 871-3908 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by Cadence Bank
If your business leases equipment, vehicles, office space or other facilities, the proposed lease accounting standards could have a significant impact on your company’s financial statements.
Over the past two years, the business and financial communities have been awaiting finalization of the proposed lease standards that will transform balance sheets. The proposed changes, originally outlined in an exposure draft issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) in August 2010, have been delayed due to the large number of comments and questions received during the comment period. Some companies may have been hoping that the scope of standards would be lessened before they were finalized.
However, that doesn’t appear to be happening. In July 2011, the boards agreed to re-expose the revised standards to businesses and financial statement users. While the revised exposure draft isn’t expected until later in 2012, the boards have released some tentative decisions reached in their June 2012 meetings that shed light on how the standards may ultimately look.
“The boards haven’t changed their initial position that long-term leases represent an obligation that should be reported on a business’s balance sheet,” says Mark Lund, assurance services partner for Weaver. “The tentative decisions reached in their last meetings helped clarify some questions raised during the first round of responses from the public. Additionally, the boards appear to have addressed the issue of the acceleration of expenses for lessees in certain circumstances, which was criticized in the initial draft. Beyond that, I don’t see any reduction in scope or administrative relief in the updates.”
Smart Business spoke with Lund about the tentative decisions on the proposed standards and what they mean for businesses.
What are the major components of the proposed lease standards?
The proposed lease standards are a joint effort to help create convergence between U.S. and international accounting standards for leases and to address perceived weaknesses regarding current financial statement presentations of leasing arrangements. Under existing U.S. standards, leases are either classified as capital leases or operating leases. Businesses are not required to include operating lease commitments as liabilities on their balance sheets.
Under the proposed standards, lease commitments — existing and new — are to be recorded on a company’s balance sheet as liabilities with an offsetting asset called a ‘right-of-use asset.’ The lease obligation will be divided between current liability and non-current liability, similar to a note payable, and the existing capital lease presentation. The boards expect to issue a revised draft in the third quarter of 2012 and then take additional comments. The final standard likely will be issued in 2013.
How has the acceleration of expenses over the lease term been tentatively addressed?
In the first draft, capitalization of leased assets and liabilities accelerated the recognition of expenses earlier in the lease term. Companies were required to amortize the asset over the lease term, while the lease obligation was amortized using the effective interest method. That method results in more interest expense being recognized earlier in the lease term. Based on concerns, the boards have tentatively decided leases of property, such as buildings and real estate, can be accounted for using a straight-line approach, meaning the expense recognition will be recorded evenly over the lease term.
However, if your lease term represents the major part of the asset’s economic life, or if the lease payment obligation amount is the equivalent of essentially buying the asset, you won’t be able to utilize the straight-line expense approach. All other leases of assets other than property will continue to be accounted for as outlined in the original exposure draft, including:
- A business will initially recognize a right-of-use asset and the related liability for its lease obligation measured at the present value of the lease payments.
- The right-of-use asset will be amortized, similar to depreciation, on a systematic basis that represents the use or consumption of the asset.
- The amortization expense of the asset and the interest expense related to the liability are shown separately on the income statement.
What are some other key provisions?
The FASB further identified leases that are within the scope of the new standard to include long-term leases of land. Leases of 12 months or less, including the option periods, however, are excluded from the new standard. Proposed financial statement disclosures are lengthy and will add time to comply.
How will the changes impact businesses?
There will be an immediate gross-up of the balance sheet, adding right-to-use assets and related current and noncurrent liabilities to financial statements. The amounts could be significant, depending on lease activity. Bankers, sureties and other users often analyze companies’ liquidity and performance using financial ratios.
Current ratio, debt-to-equity ratio, and other leverage and coverage ratios will be affected with the addition of these new lease liabilities and related interest expenses. Covenant agreements will have to be revised for companies to remain in compliance.
How can employers prepare for the changes?
Prepare a pro-forma of your company’s balance sheet and income statement reflecting the new standard. Then, sit down with the users of your financial statement and discuss how the new standards will impact your company’s financial statements and ratios. This proactive approach will help bankers and creditors plan ahead on what to expect and how to maintain covenant compliance once the standards are finalized.
Mark Lund is an assurance services partner for Weaver. Reach him at (713) 297-6907 or email@example.com.
Insights Accounting is brought to you by Weaver
I am bullish on Houston and proud to be part of a "can do" attitude in Texas. The bottom line is that our Houston economy continues to remain healthy, with overall leasing activity strong in the second quarter of 2012. The main driver in the Houston market is simple — strong job growth.
Our city added almost 90,000 jobs between May 2011 and May 2012 and our unemployment decreased to 6.9 percent, from 8.1 percent one year ago. Landlords continue to report strong velocity in leasing activity, resulting in over 1.4 million square feet of positive absorption in the second quarter, pushing the year to date total to 2.4 million square feet.
With all the positive news, the key is the energy sector. Some of the recent growth includes the expansion in North Houston and Woodlands, including Exxon Mobile's North Houston Campus, which is under construction, and Anadarko's second corporate tower in the Woodlands. Other submarkets are growing, including Phillips 66's recent announcement regarding plans to build a headquarters in West Houston, along with Apache's acquisition of the Galleria area land for a new headquarters building.
Although obviously one of the strongest office markets in the country, I believe the Houston market still will face some challenges due to mergers and company consolidations that will result in new sublease space hitting the market. At the end of the second quarter overall, we had almost 1.1 million square feet of sublease space available citywide, and in the CBD there is 360,500 square feet available, primarily in the Class A properties.
With the strength in our economy, our clients are now making longer term lease commitments (5-10 years) compared to a year ago. Landlords are now evaluating their tenant mix in their buildings, and if the tenant prospect has solid credit, they are offering aggressive tenant allowance packages to entice them to commit long term.
John S. Parsley, SIOR, is the principal and director of the Houston office of Colliers International. Reach him at (713) 830-2140 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Human beings find comfort in routine. As children, we gain a sense of security from knowing what will happen, when it will happen, for how long and how we are expected to react to each situation. As we mature, knowing that home and family will be where we left them allows us to go out and explore the world as young adults, secure in the knowledge that we can always come home if we need. However, as we age, this penchant for sticking to the routine can work to our detriment.
We begin to settle in at home more and more, often opting to camp in front of the television rather than venture into a new neighborhood or to try a new vocation. Our sedentary ways can have damaging health consequences, most significantly for that muscle that drives the body: the heart. To stay strong, the heart needs daily movement that includes periodic challenges (to force it to pump more oxygen than normal), foods that declog blood vessels and keep them flexible, limited preservatives and refined foods, and regular activities that relieve stress. But, once sedentary, inertia can make it seem as if changing our habits is an insurmountable task.
However, with concerted effort in three areas, what I call affect, behavior: and cognition – the ABCs of Change - we can break the cycle and embrace good cardiovascular practices.
First, start by tracking your moods, your activities and your thoughts in relation to heart-healthy activities such as walking, jogging or any other activity that works up a sweat. Jot down on paper how you are feeling and what you are thinking at the moment when you decide to engage in any act that undermines your heart.
Next, write down how you will change your behavior each time you feel yourself slipping into the unhealthy mindsets that precede unhealthy behaviors. Now, write down what things inspire you to get up and move or to make heart-healthy decisions.
Then, commit to doing at least one heart healthy activity each day and to modifying your environment as needed each time you feel yourself sliding into unhealthy practices.
Last, give yourself time. Generally, it takes 21 days of repeat activity to develop a new habit; however, you may slip up. They key is to review your strategy and recommit each time you fall. Ultimately, your heart will be the better for it.
Patricia Adams is the CEO of Zeitgeist Expressions and the author of “ABCs of Change: Three Building Blocks to Happy Relationships.” In 2011, she was named one of Ernst & Young LLP’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women, one of Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year Award and the SBA’s Small Business Person of the Year for Region VI. Her company, Zeitgeist Wellness Group, offers a full-service Employee Assistance Program to businesses in the San Antonio region. For more information, visit www.zwgroup.net.
In business, confidence is key. I would say that it is foundational. All other factors, such as motivation, training, drive and leadership, depend upon a core of inner confidence.
Whether you work for someone else or run your own business, tapping into your inner confidence is vital in order to succeed. A few people do this with the greatest of ease, but for most of us it is a daily challenge that takes hard work and determination.
Here are four “tools” that will help you to find and tap into your inner confidence in order to propel your business forward:
First: Refuse to give consent.
I pull this idea from a saying of Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Refusing to give consent to feeling inferior is the jumping off point for the daily challenge of using confidence in business. Here is what I mean:
Your first step into tapping your inner confidence is to refuse to see yourself as less, no matter what anyone else might say. This refusal forces you to take a stand and begin to think differently about yourself.
Dr. Wayne Dyer says reminds us here that: “Self-worth comes from one thing – thinking you are worthy.”
When you take this first step, it awakens your inner confidence. It stirs it up and gets the ball rolling. It becomes active in the process of your success.
Quite simply - it empowers you.
In business, being empowered leads to the desire to grow, the ability to step outside your comfort zone and the determination to act. I have discovered through coaching others that empowered, powerful people do powerful things.
Tapping into your inner confidence requires you to step up refuse to see yourself as inferior, less or wanting.
Second: Be willing to change.
Unwillingness towards change holds you and your business captive. It takes the wheels right out from under you and stifles vision and action. It halts growth.
I believe that fear of change is a problem of confidence. Most business people who struggle with change are, at the root, struggling with confidence. For some, it is easier to stay stuck and inactive.
They do not realize that being willing to change frees up your inner confidence. The willingness becomes the catalyst to move past the fear. It frees you up and drives you forward.
What kind of change must you be willing to consider? You must be willing to change your thinking.
Having the same thought patterns over and over again is not beneficial to your success. The problem is that the same old thoughts lead to the same old behaviors and, in the end, the same old results.
Albert Einstein said it this way: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
In order to propel your business forward, tap into your inner confidence by being willing to change your thinking.
Third: Envision the end result.
This tool is about making choices.
In his book, “Hostage at the Table: How Leaders Can Overcome Conflict, Influence Others,” George Kohlrieser talked about these choices when describing successful athletes:
“The power of imagination is incredible. Often we see athletes achieving unbelievable results and wonder how they did it. One of the tools they use is visualization or mental imagery….they made the choice to create their destinies and visualized their achievements before they ultimately succeeded.”
Story after story has been told about athletes, race car drivers and men and women in business who have taken the challenge of looking into their mind’s eye and envisioning the end result they desire. They “made a choice to create their destinies.”
In my opinion, visualization is the tool that sets your inner confidence in stone. Tapping into this well is a sign for all to see that you have the confidence needed to achieve your desired result, whatever it might be.
Fourth: Practice positive self –talk.
Over the years, I have encountered two very distinct groups of people when it comes to self-talk. The first is the over-the-top, fake, often arrogant folks who can’t stop talking about themselves – always with a positive “I’ve done that and better than you” attitude.
The second is the self-humiliating, always down on their luck, also fake folks who can’t find one good thing about themselves.
Both groups are uncomfortable to be around. Neither group will work well in business.
The ability to speak to yourself in kind and affirming ways builds up the well of inner confidence and keeps it alive and well. This ability is necessary to energize yourself as you encounter the ups and downs of life and business.
Positive self-talk is the maintenance tool. It keeps everything running smoothly.
There you have it – four distinct and powerful tools. Refusing to give consent, together with a willingness to change, the ability to envision the end result and positive self-talk, will allow you to tap into your inner self confidence and propel your business forward.
I wish you all the best on your journey.
DeLores Pressley, motivational speaker and personal power expert, is one of the most respected and sought-after experts on success, motivation, confidence and personal power. She is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. She helps individuals utilize personal power, increase confidence and live a life of significance. Her story has been touted in The Washington Post, Black Enterprise, First for Women, Essence, New York Daily News, Ebony and Marie Claire. She is a frequent media guest and has been interviewed on every major network – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – including America’s top rated shows OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight.
She is the author of “Oh Yes You Can,” “Clean Out the Closet of Your Life” and “Believe in the Power of You.” To book her as a speaker or coach, contact her office at 330.649.9809 or via email email@example.com or visit her website at www.delorespressley.com.
You might think I’m a warm, fuzzy and “Kumbaya” kind of Guy. Most of the time I am, but I have strong feelings about e-mail etiquette and what it takes to get your e-mail read — and answered.
As someone who gets dozens of e-mails every day and sends a handful of e-mails every day to get strangers to do things (“digital evangelism”), I offer these insights to help you become a more effective e-mailer.
Craft your subject line. Your subject line is a window into your soul, so make it a good one.
First, it has to get your message past the spam filters, so take out anything about sex and money-saving special offers.
Then, it must communicate that your message is highly personalized. For example, “Love your blog,” “Love your book,” and “You skate well for an old man,” always work on me. While you’re at it, craft your “From:” line, too, because when people see the “From:” is from a company, they usually assume the message is spam.
Limit your recipients. As a rule of thumb, the more people you send an e-mail to, the less likely any single person will respond to it, much less perform any action that you requested.
This is similar to the Genovese Syndrome (or the “bystander effect”): In 1964, the press reported that 38 people “stood by” while Kitty Genovese was murdered in New York.
If you are going to ask a large group of people to do something, then at least use blind carbon copies; not only will the few recipients think they are important, you won’t burden the whole list with everyone’s e-mail address. Nor will you inadvertently reveal everyone’s e-mail address.
Don’t write in ALL CAPS. Everyone probably knows this by now, but just in case: Text in all caps is interpreted as YELLING in e-mail. Even if you’re not yelling, it’s more difficult to read text that’s in all caps, so do your recipients a favor and use standard capitalization practices.
Keep it short. The ideal length for an e-mail is five sentences. If you’re asking something reasonable of a reasonable recipient, simply explain who you are in one or two sentences and get to the ask. If it’s not reasonable, don’t ask at all.
My theory is that people who tell their life story suspect that their request is on shaky ground, so they try to build up a case to soften up the recipient.
Another very good reason to keep it short is that you never know where your e-mail will end up – all the way from your minister to the attorney general of New York. There is one exception to this brevity rule: When you really don’t want anything from the recipient and you simply want to heap praise and kindness upon him or her. Then you can go on as long as you like!
Quote back. Even if e-mails are flying back and forth within hours, be sure to quote back the text that you’re answering. Assume that the person you’re corresponding with has 50 e-mail conversations going at once. If you answer with a simple, “Yes, I agree,” most of the time, you will force the recipient to dig through his deleted mail folder to figure out what you’re agreeing to.
However, don’t “fisk” either (courtesy of Brad Hutchings). Fisking is when you quote back the entire message and respond line by line, often in an argumentative way. This is anal if not downright childish, so don’t feel like you have to respond to every issue.
Use plain text. I hate HTML e-mail. I tried it for a while, but HTML is not worth the trouble of sending or receiving it. All those pretty colors and fancy typefaces and styles make me want to puke. If you can’t say it in plain text, you don’t have anything worth saying.
Control your URLs. I don’t know what’s gotten into some companies, but the URLs that they generate have dozens of letters and numbers.
It seems to me that these 32-character URLs have almost as many possible combinations as the number of atoms in the universe — I don’t know how many URLs a company intends to create, but it’s probably a smaller number than this. If you’re forwarding a URL and it wraps to the next line, it’s very likely that clicking on it won’t work.
Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of Alltop.com, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the Web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki is the author of 10 books including “Enchantment,” “Reality Check” and “The Art of the Start.” He appears courtesy of a partnership with HVACR Business, where this column was originally published. Reach Kawasaki through www.guykawasaki.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org.