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  • Writer's pictureSherry

January 2013 S. Benjamins & Company Newsletter: Looking Forward

By now you are probably well into 2013 planning and doing, connecting with friends, and setting priorities. I am glad we can look back at 2012 as a year of unpredictable, fast moving change along with disconcerting economic overtones. On the positive, the global economy began to recover. We averted the ‘fiscal cliff’ for now, but unemployment continues to be high, and slow growth is the name of the game, but not everywhere.

There are some very cool new areas of growth and the shortage of specific skills and experiences at the technical and managerial level continues to hold some companies back. This is a tough predicament – great numbers of folks are available yet they do not match up with the skill requirements. We see this here in So Cal and around the globe.

As I reflect on the conversations last year with our clients, there are several factors I’ve heard that will drive focus this year: the need for preparing and developing leaders doing more with less and consolidating specialty functions introducing mobile and social technologies for the soon to be five generations in the workplace working on your inside so that things get done on the outside – in the words of Stan Slap, “implementing well means to enroll the employee culture in fierce support of its strategies.”

In our search work, we've completed more searches than the previous year with a substantial amount in HR. That kept us busy in our quest of "business savvy leaders with a human resource and talent management expertise." Tough to find...the HR agenda is changing and CEO's know they need a business perspective and strategic counsel from their people leader. Karie Willyerd, of 2020 Workplace, says one of the skills of the future HR leader is being an "Executive Whisperer." We must understand how to engage, listen and ask questions that demonstrate knowledge of the business.

Before I share our playbook for 2013, I took a moment to speak with my trusted friend and business, total rewards and OD strategist, Jim Finkelstein (President of FutureSense in Northern California). Jim revealed his views for this year in key people areas:

  1. Retention of key human assets – Are you vulnerable for losing talent and intellectual capital? “They” are out there coming to get your best and brightest.   Better watch out.

  2. Total reward and motivation strategy – Is equity ownership really “da bomb” anymore? What melts people’s butter these days? We need to reinvent our approach to compensation, benefits and the 20th century thinking on these old programs.

  3. Engagement – Are you taking the steps necessary to improve accountability and action to move the employee engagement survey beyond simply scorekeeping? Engagement can produce significant results, but too many companies just worry about what percentile they are in rather than producing sustainable, meaningful results.

  4. Change leadership – Do all of your change initiatives really have sustainable paths? Or are they just quick wins and then revert back to bad habits? More change is afoot –at an unprecedented pace – as the economy starts to recover. We need to have change leaders prepared to lead and companies committed to investing the time and resources to make it happen.

  5. Strategic workforce planning – Have you forecasted your needs for 5-10 years from now? Do you have control of your human capital supply chain? It is my belief that those that do the planning, and build the right strategy for the future workforce, win the talent acquisition and development game.

  6. Simplicity – In an age of purported complexity, those that realize simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication (thank you Mr. da Vinci) will become unstuck, will unlearn old habits, and will find that organization efficiency and effectiveness will improve! (see

Our 2013 Playbook – We are excited about continuing our search services, a unique project based approach to recruiting. We do this at the mid to senior level and support internal hiring teams to find the talent they need with an on-demand service model.

Congratulations to our own Kate Kjeell, who now leads our recruiting team and projects for the search practice.

She is celebrating ten years with S. Benjamins & Company, during which time she has been a recruiter, a project lead and a recruiting process advisor to our clients.

Training internal recruiting teams will continue this year as we have developed a flexible, virtual coaching model to help recruiters be the “strategic talent advisor” and engage hiring managers in a mutually shared process.

In the area of learning forums; we will continue our 14th year of the HRoundtable for Orange County top level HR leaders. We bring new ideas, provocative thinking and robust dialogue to a group of 25 on a quarterly basis.

We are launching a new HRoundtable for emerging leaders in HR for the LA and Orange County community, which promises a rich exchange of ideas and learning for Directors who are driving business change.

We will also test the concept of virtual meetings and introduce digital marketing, use of mobile and social mediums to connect thought leaders with our clients and colleagues.

You will see our Newsletters continue with stories about leaders being innovative, taking risks and addressing new challenges. In my quest to bring new ideas to you and “master the best of what others have figured out,” check out www.farnamstreetblog.

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