Limit Your Vulnerability to Employee Theft

Are Your Employees Hiding Anything?

By Chuck Sujansky

Employers in every industry are increasingly becoming victimized by theft of goods and services from once-trusted employees. How widespread is the problem? Ninety-five percent of employers are believed to be victims of theft and 75 percent of employees who steal from employers do so repeatedly. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that theft by employees costs American companies $20 to $40 billion a year. To pay for it, every man and woman working in America today contributes more than $400 per year.

Dealerships not Immune to Employee Theft

These estimates don’t take into account losses from employee theft that may harder to measure. Acts of theft and fraud committed by employees can also rob a dealer of invaluable intangibles, such as lost time, damaged trust, ruined relationships and ruined reputations. While organizations of every size and in every industry may fall victim to employee theft, the damage can hit smaller employers the hardest. A report by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that organizations with fewer than 100 employees lost an average of $147,000 through occupational fraud, compared to an average of $100,000 for companies with 1,000 to 10,000 employees.  1

Consider a few examples from within the automotive retail industry:

  • A dealership accountant issued checks made out to cash with her 17-digit credit card account number listed on the memo line of the checks. Instead of depositing the checks in the dealership’s account she used it to pay off gambling debts.
  • A dealer’s General Manager eventually pled guilty to fraud charges for altering lease documents to increase his commission by altering signed lease documents adding dealer-installed accessories that never existed.
  • An Assistant Parts Manager was fired after altering sales documentation by recording sales as a “quote only” then pocketing the cash. The losses were found when the parts department performed their annual inventory.
  • The parts manager at a Nissan dealer was convicted of scamming more than $165,000 from his dealership by submitting false warranty repair claims, as well as stealing inventory, voiding bills that had been paid by customers and using a debit machine to transfer money into his own accounts.
  • An employee at a Honda dealership in Arkansas was caught skimming $25,000 from sales of parts on eBay. 2

Can You Afford to Gamble When Hiring New Employees?

What if you knew in advance that hiring the wrong job candidate could cost your organization thousands of wasted and lost dollars? Would you change your hiring processes? Would you invest in better screening methods? Most employers don’t realize that:

  • 30% of job applications contain false information.
  • 20% of workplace death is linked to alcohol or drug use.
  • Negligent hiring cases against employers have resulted in verdicts of up to $40 million.
  • The average settlement of a negligent hiring lawsuit is nearly $1 million. 3

Dealing with Workers with Substance Problems

One of the biggest challenges facing most employers today is dealing with workers that struggle over drug and alcohol problems. These employees are the most likely to lie, steal, cause accidents and create innumerable other problems for employers. According to the 2014 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA)

  • 27.0 million Americans age 12 or older admit to illicit drug use in the last 30 days.
  • 16.3 million Americans age 12 and older and 12.4 million adults admit to “heavy” drinking (5 or more drinks on at least 5 or more occasions in the past month). 4

These workers are involved in 55% more workplace accidents and sustain 85% more on-the-job injuries than other workers.  In addition the National Safety Council reports that 80% of those injured in “serious” drug-related accidents at work are not the drug abusing employees but non-using co-workers and others. Finally, the US Navy estimates that each drug user costs his or her employer an average of $6,600 more than non-substance abusing co-workers each year. 5

Fortunately there are instruments available to help employers make the right hiring decision the first time. These tools represent a small investment that can pay big dividends to employers that wish to avoid problems with employee theft, substance abuse, criminal record, performance problems, and related issues:

Background Checks

Comprehensive and timely criminal background check services provide employers with the information necessary to make an informed decision when hiring an applicant

Pre-employment screening refers to the process of investigating the backgrounds of potential employees and is commonly used to verify the accuracy of an applicant’s claims as well as to discover any possible criminal history,workers compensation claims, sex offender list, aliases, address history, governmental watch lists, motor vehicle records, and legal working status.  Background checks cost about $20 to $50 depending on how extensive the research is.

Drug Testing

Standard urine drug testing panels range from five to 10 drugs. Specimen validity testing is available to detect adulterants or specimen substitution resulting from a donor’s attempts to mask drug use. The use of an independent Medical Review Officer (MRO) to review all non-negative test results is recommended. Drug testing costs range from a low of $28 per drug test to a high of $42 per applicant.  77% of surveyed employers said that since implementing drug testing they were receiving a much better caliber of job applicants simply by telling applicants they require drug screenings.

The Step One Survey

The pre-employment Step One survey is used as a screening tool early in the candidate selection process. The survey, which can be completed by employees online, assesses work-related values such as employee background, employment history, integrity, personal reliability, and work ethic.

Don’t Miss The Signals

Most employers, whether inside the automotive industry or outside of it, probably tend to trust that their employees are for the most part honest and trustworthy. They don’t anticipate employee fraud and often miss the signals that all may not be as it seems when it comes to employee honesty and trustfulness. But within the Automotive Industry the ramifications for employee theft and fraud are enormous. As a 2015 National Automobile Dealers Association report explained:

  • More than 1.05 million people were employed at U.S. new-car dealerships in 2014, which is higher than any other auto-related industry.
  • New-car dealers, on average, employed 64 people per dealership.
  • Wages at new-car dealerships have increased an average of 3.3 percent since 2011, with employees, on average, earning more than $55,000 a year.
  • Annual payroll at new-car dealerships was more than $58.1 billion in 2014, an average of $3.5 million per dealership.
  • Total dealership revenue, which included new-car and used-car sales (as well as parts and service sales) reached an all-time high of $806 billion in 2014, an increase of 8.6 percent from 2013. 6

When auto dealerships and related businesses bring new workers aboard their managers don’t have access to a “crystal ball” that can help identify which employees might be prone to steal, lie or commit fraud sometime in the future.  But, by following the strategies and recommendations above employers should be able to reduce the potential for employee problems and avoid unnecessary expenses.


1. “Association of Certified Fraud Examiners – 2012 Report to the Nations – Key Findings and Highlights.” Association of Certified Fraud Examiners – 2012 Report to the Nations – Key Findings and Highlights. Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, 2013. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.

2.  “Stories of Employee Theft and Lies –” Stories of Employee Theft and Lies –, 1 Apr. 2008. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

3. “Experience the Employee Background Checks.” Experience the Employee Background Checks. Profiles International, 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

4.  Hedden, Sarra L., Joel Kennet, Rachel Lipari, Grace Medley, Peter Tice, Elizabeth A. P. Copello, and Larry A. Kroutil. “Behavioral Health Trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.”  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Sept. 2015. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <>.

5.  “Marijuana Fact Sheet: What Is The Truth?” National Drug Free Workplace Alliance. Web. < Fact Sheet 111913.pdf>. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

6.  “NADA Data 2015 Report.” NADA Data. National Auto Dealers Association. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.


Practical Tips For Preventing Employee Theft and Fraud

Personnel Management and Training

  • Conduct thoroughgoing interviews of all applicants and conduct detailed background checks, with pre-employment screening and drug testing.
  • Ensure that all new employees understand their job duties and responsibilities, especially with regards to safety and security.
  • Conduct regular security reviews and training sessions to bring all employees up-to-date as well as to review ongoing operations and procedures.

Systems and Procedures     

  • Make sure that all procedures in place for all departments – sales, service, parts, finance and accounting – are airtight and meticulously followed by all employees.
  • Conduct frequent audits, refresher training, and procedure reviews for all employees.

Security Technology

  • Install surveillance cameras and enhanced lighting in all areas of the dealership, especially covering blind spots
  • Conduct regular reviews of surveillance footage to ensure nothing suspicious is taking place.      
  • Invest in state-of-the-art locks and access control in areas where theft of valuables (cash, credit cards, checks, merchandise, parts, etc.) are most likely to occur.
  • Install alarms as necessary and conduct regular tests to assure they are functioning.

Preparing Next Generation of Business Owners

How to Ensure Your Kids Have the Needed Skills

By Chuck Sujansky

 According to Forbes Magazine 90% of American businesses are family owned or controlled. In terms of dollars and cents family owned businesses represent 50% of the US Gross Domestic Product. (1) Are you ready for the next generation of business owners

But family owned businesses also face some pretty stiff challenges. Less than a third survive the transition from the first generation to the next. Apart from the financial challenge, family-owned businesses fail because the first generation holds onto the reins too long or is reluctant to step aside. Sometimes the older generation simply fails to prepare the next generation for future leadership.

The Challenges of a Family-Owned Business

Many businesses are common in the automotive industry. New and used car dealerships, auto parts stores, collision centers and mechanical repair shops all are passed down to heirs. But how many of these offspring are prepared for executive leadership? What skills and abilities will the succeeding generation need to run the businesses successfully? To illustrate the challenges involved, consider the following case study. (2)

Bobby Hansen, the owner of a large suburban new car dealership has a dilemma. A second-generation owner himself, Bobby expected his three children to join the family business following college. But the new car business is much more complex since the days when Bobby joined the dealership following high school. As each of Hansen’s children graduated from college they assumed positions in different departments of the dealership.

The oldest son, Rob, joined the sales department and gradually became one of the top-producing members of the sales team. When the top management position in the sales team opened up he was a natural choice to assume the position.

Bobby Hansen’s middle child, his daughter Katy, spent summers during college in the dealership office processing paper work and managing records. Following graduation she came into the dealership full time to manage the office staff. Due to her knack for details and understanding of procedures she was well-respected by her employees.

Hansen’s youngest son, Billy, was the “gear head” of the family. He was passionate about cars and trucks and was very knowledgeable about repairing and customizing them. When he wasn’t managing the parts department he could be found tinkering under Next Generation of Business Ownersthe hood of a car.

Together the Hansen family was a formidable team when it came to running the dealership successfully. But when Bobby began to think about retiring from the business he realized he had a dilemma. Each of his three children possessed differing strengths and abilities and any of them could potentially be the best choice to lead Hansen Motors into the future.

The oldest son, Rob, was the obvious choice for future president of the dealership. But while he was good with people he disliked details and didn’t always see the big picture. His daughter was very detail oriented and well respected by her employees, but she didn’t necessarily understand the technical side of vehicles or possess the persuasive  skills to work with sales staff. Billy, the youngest son, possessed technical skills and a true passion for cars and trucks. But he showed little enthusiasm for managing others and showed no ambition for stepping up to greater responsibility.

Future on the Line

When it comes to preparing the next generation of leadership within any family business functional knowledge and skills are not always enough. Family members with specific skills in sales, service or office procedures may not be effective at supervising dozens of employees or directing a multimillion-dollar operation.

And selecting a successor without considering his or her skill sets only serves to postpone problems into the future and possibly sow the seeds of future challenges. For top leaders the question is not just “who is ready to step into the top spot and lead the organization now?” The problem becomes “what skills and capabilities will be needed by top leaders tomorrow to assure the dealership’s continued growth and success?”      

Specifically, owner Bobby Hansen needs to ask himself two questions:

  • Which of my children is the best candidate to succeed me now?
  • How can they each acquire the skills necessary to guide the dealership into the future?

The answers to those questions will help Bobby prepare for transition to the next generation of family leadership. In our experience the best strategy is to start with a validated assessment tool to determine each offspring’s strengths, weaknesses and potential.

After all, an auto technician wouldn’t begin repairing an engine just because the “check engine” light on the dashboard is glowing     g. He or she would first use an Onboard Diagnostic Scanner to evaluate the engine’s performance and pinpoint the components in need of repair.

The same is true of all of the people charged with managing the dealership. Before making promotion or development decisions the owner should take steps to evaluate each candidate’s skills, potential and developmental needs. We believe the most effective tool for that job is the Profile XT® by Profiles International.

Assessing the Future

Choosing a successor for the top leadership position of a family business, or any business, is tough. It’s possible to gain an objective assessment of a candidate’s qualifications and capabilities using validated instruments like the Profile XT®. Unlike traditional “tests” this assessment doesn’t evaluate accumulated knowledge or measure right and wrong answers. Instead it examines what an individual may need to succeed within a given position.

But it also pinpoints areas that person should develop to be effective within the job. It’s a reliable way to understand what an individual brings to the position as well as what the individual needs to learn to build on his or her success.

In the case of Hansen Motors, the oldest son might benefit from developing stronger financial management skills, learning performance management techniques, and understanding strategic planning concepts. Hansen’s younger son could benefit from improving his “people skills” as well as from receiving in-depth exposure to the dealership’s other departments. Bobby Hansen’s daughter could benefit from developing strategic management skills, receiving cross-department exposure, and gaining sales experience.

The final decision about which of his three children should succeed him doesn’t have to be made right way, so long as Bobby Hansen is committed to implementing a succession plan based upon the individual strengths, developmental needs and accumulated skills of each heir.


  1. Aileron. “The Facts of Family Business.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 31 July 2013. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
  2. This case study is based upon the experience of several family-owned businesses to whom we’ve provided consulting. Those businesses are ‘exemplified’ here to illustrate the challenges faced by family owned businesses within the automotive industry.

Fine Tuning Your Employees

How to make the “Hard Talk”, easy

By Chuck Sujansky

You know that sinking feeling! Your boss casually mentions that “it’s time for your annual performance review” and sets a date and time for that discussion. On most employees’ list of unpleasant experiences the annual performance review must rank somewhere near the bottom, just ahead of root canals and tax audits! But it doesn’t have to be that way. See what you can do to fine tune employees.

Dealerships couldn’t function without performance standards for their vehicles. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determines safety rules for vehicles. The US Environmental Protection Agency sets standards for pollution. And Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations set the standards for engine efficiency and low fuel consumption. Yet too often organizations in the automotive industry, particularly dealers, fail to set standards of performance for their employees. As management expert Peter Drucker pointed out, “You can’t improve what you can’t measure.”

That Dreaded Conversation

The performance review is a valuable process that can clarify expectations, establish goals and prevent problems from getting out of hand. But the reason it causes so much dread – probably as much for reviewing managers as for employees – is because it’s conducted so badly by so many people. You’d be hard pressed to find an employee whodidn’t have a performance review “horror story.”

Why are performance appraisals so dreaded by employees and managers alike? For one thing many employees fear being judged and criticized. Too often the discussion seems to focus solely upon the employee’s failings or inadequacies. And those employee fears may be justified if the manager bases the discussion on a worker’s personality instead of his or her actual performance on the job. Plus, when the manager’s expectations for the employee are unclear (or unexpressed) the discussion automatically seems unfair to the worker.

In many cases the problem is a lack of clear and objective means of measuring the employees’ performance. In that situation the discussion becomes entirely subjective and seems totally unfair to the employee. Too often employees harbor negative feelings about performance appraisals because they associate them with criticism, demotions, lost opportunities and even lost money (should they fail to receive a raise).

The concept of rewarding employees for performance through raises and bonuses seems logical on the face of it, but unless the employees are commissioned sales representatives it can be difficult to measure their performance. Yet, while it may be more challenging to measure employee performance on the service side of a dealership, it’s well worth the extra effort.

Measuring Employee Performance by Department

The performance of employees within the F&I Department could be measured in terms of Gross profit per retail unit (new and used), extended service contracts sold, lease penetration or total F&I gross profit (among others). For sales personnel the metrics could include the number of units sold, the number of demos, the closing ratio ofine tune employeesf ups to closed deals, the number of appointments scheduled, and wholesale profit/loss or Internet sales leads closed.

In the parts department measureable performance could consider calculations likewholesale parts sales, counter sales, repair order sales, and gross profit margins, among others. In the service department employee performance could be calculated by measuring

For the service department reviewing managers can take into consideration technicians’ flat rate hours produced or clock hours worked, the hours per repair order by advisor, the number of appointments scheduled or the number of carryovers.

Dealerships typically track metrics like these, although not always in such detail per employee. But these variables are “track-able” behaviors and measures that can turn an employee’s performance review into a productive, informative discussion. While it’s important to track performance by the entire department, discussing an individual’s track record is the most effective way to improve individual efforts and sustain overall growth.

How Not to Conduct a Performance Appraisal

At all costs managers should avoid the tendency to base performance evaluations solely upon personal characteristics. It’s too tempting for managers to:

  • Base reviews on the employee’s personality instead of his or her performance.
    “Your not a hard worker – or – you’re not a team player!”
  • Avoid describing his or her specific expectations and standards.
    “You just need to work harder!”
  • Speak in generalities and abstractions.
    “you’re too introverted” or “you’re not aggressive enough”
  • Gloss over an employee’s real problems.
    “You’re still new here. You’ll catch on sooner or later”
  • Compare employees with each other.
    “Bill used to be just like you, but look at him now.”


An Organizational Tool

The performance appraisals can be so much more than just an excuse to critique employees once a year, or used as a justification for giving (or withholding) pay increases. Employee performance appraisals provide managers with the tools to make a powerful impact on their organization. Specifically, managers should consider the following points:

  1. Annual appraisals should not contain any surprises – managers should provide feedback on a regular basis.
  2. The employee’s goals should be made clear.
  3. Appraisal meetings should be a chance to clarify and modify goals or standards.
  4. Appraisals should include a plan for the next review period.
  5. The manager can take the opportunity to do some coaching.
  6. And perhaps most important … document, document, document!

For Additional Information

For more details about the manager’s roles and functions within performance appraisals, readers may order the eBookFrom Renter To Owner: Performance Reviews That Transform Employee Attitudes by Dr. Joanne G. Sujansky (a KEYGroup publications) by visiting Select the “Products” option.


By Jan Ferri-Reed

Great leaders lead by example, not just by their words and ideas. The most effective form of leadership is built upon a sincere desire to make a positive contribution – linked with key leadership skills. The desire to make a positive contribution is more of a mental framework or mindset. Rather than skill, yet it is a mindset that can be fostered and developed through effective training, coaching and mentoring. No one is “born” a natural leader, as some would suggest. Environment and personality style can create the illusion of a “natural” leader, but all leadership skills are learned.

Many leadership skills are learned by the example of others, such as our parents, teachers and others who guide us. Some are learned through experiences with sports, siblings and friends. Others are learned more intellectually in school, training programs and personal reading. Anyone can develop the mindset and skills of leadership if a true desire exists.

Those who lead best are those for whom leadership itself is not the primary aim. True leaders inspire others to see and act upon the positive values and priorities they themselves possess. More importantly, those positive values and priorities must be validated by the leaders actions and behaviors by which they themselves live.

True leadership is not derived from a title or position. It is derived from personal participation and effectiveness. To be a leader, be an example. Les Brown, a world renowned public speaker, says “In order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have, you must be willing to do the things today others won’t do.” Leadership at its best enlarges and duplicates the efforts of the leader. Make those efforts the best they can be, and they’ll result in true, effective leadership.

Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.

Ten Positive Behaviors to Help You Stand Out in Your Company

By Jan Ferri-Reed

In today’s business world, being self-motivated is critical for anyone to become successful. But, doing a great job and waiting for recognition won’t work. You must also market yourself and let key people know about your skills. Career development is in your hands. Your manager is there to support you, but you are the creator of your career mobility. Here are 10 tips for standing out and moving forward.

  1. Discover your expertise. Try new tasks that may not be of interest at first. You will create expertise through greater knowledge and experience.
  2. Strive to be the best. Invest in your own development. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either. Do this without being full of yourself.
  3. Take charge of the situation. Think about the “big picture”, not just the here and now. Try to get involved in the organization in as many ways as possible. A leader is a person who leads, guides, or takes charge.
  4. Look and act the part. Recognition takes time and practice. Model behavior of those you admire: dress more professionally, sharpen your language skills, etc.
  5. Engage others and contribute to the organization. Collaborative management skills are essential. Managers want people who are innovative and full of excitement that can add fresh ideas to the organization.
  6. Take responsibility for all of your work. Speak up and acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses; don’t just blend into the woodwork. Learn from mistakes. Apply the learning to new opportunities and challenges. Admitting to your faults shows that you are willing to learn and grow from them.
  7. Share minute details. Recognize all efforts– Part of being a star is the ability to recognize your supporting cast. Mention the accomplishments you are proud of.
  8. Celebrate the successes of others. Show appreciation for other’s accomplishments, organize celebratory get-togethers, etc.
  9. Be visible. Get involved in community services and events. Get to know as many people possible to build your network. People will soon recognize the true person inside.
  10. Re-imagine the possibilities. Take time to learn how to market yourself for your current or future career. Think outside the box!

Business success grows from dedication and incomparable excellence and/or service. Marketing your key advantage shows people who you are and what you are capable of becoming. Share your vision for yourself with others and let them be captivated by your motivation and drive.

Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.

What it Takes for Managers to Partner

By Jan Ferri-Reed

The underlying principles of partnering are:

Partners feel comfortable with each other and know they can count on each other.

Partners interact professionally and put personal differences aside; they focus on what the business needs from each of them.

Each partner must follow through on commitments and work toward meeting agreed-upon goals, milestones, objectives and deadlines.

The Ingredients of Effective Partnerships
Whether change occurs through solving problems or through seizing opportunities, partners can only be as successful in these activities as they are in their partnerships. Effective partnerships have the following three main ingredients:

  • Vision
  • Commitment
  • Action

VISION is a clear picture of what can be. It creates the forward focus necessary for an empowered team. It motivates people to act and fosters creative thinking. Without vision, long-term goals become vague and short-term goals are activity – oriented with little or no consideration given to the “big picture.” You can invent the future or let it happen by accident. You make the choice.

COMMITMENT is the internal decision a person makes when he or she says, “I see the need for this change, I believe in it and I will make it work.” It is a personal and individual choice. Research has shown that the more involved, informed and appreciated people are, the more likely they are to commit to the goal. Lack of commitment among coworkers will send any vision spinning out of control.

ACTION is the carrying out of a process initiated by clear vision and supported and developed through solid commitment. Action also involves the planning, monitoring and adjusting is necessary to keep the vision in sight and to ensure that all efforts are directed toward it.

As a manager, you are in a position to create an environment where people feel appreciated and valued for what they do and who they are. Therefore, they are more willing to commit to the vision and take action to make the vision a reality.

Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.

Getting a Pulse on Employee Satisfaction: When and How to Survey Your Employees

If you answered honestly, how would you respond to these questions: How do your employees feel about their jobs? Are they satisfied? What would they change if given the option? A Gallup Poll survey suggested that “78% of Americans think interesting work is a key element to job satisfaction, but only 41% think their jobs are interesting.” According to a survey done by United Directories, Inc. (the Business to Business Yellow Pages) of 3,500 senior executives, “76% said they were actively seeking new employment…58% said they had been offered at least one job during the past year.” It is time to deliver an employee satisfaction survey to your employees, when any one of the following situations occurs at your company:

  1. As economic conditions improve, job competitiveness increases. When that competitiveness seeps into your organization, it is necessary to stay in touch with your employees to retain the talent you want to keep.
  2. When your organization is undergoing a major change, such as reorganization, a growth spurt, or a change of leadership; it is important to check in with your employees to make sure they understand the direction of the company and to ensure that they are on board with the changes. It might also be a good time to evaluate how employees see themselves fitting in with the future of the organization and what they feel they have to contribute.
  3. If there seems to be a noticeably high turnover rate at your company, that is a definite sign that it is time to survey your employees to assess their attitudes and perceptions of their jobs, the company, their coworkers, etc.
  4. When you start to hear rumors about the company on a daily basis, it could be a sign of other underlying problems. This is a good time to survey your employees to get to the bottom of the rumor mill and to show that you, as a leader, are interested in what they think about their jobs and the organization itself.
  5. Lastly, when there are money issues occurring within the organization (decreasing revenues), it is your responsibility to be upfront and honest with your employees about where they stand. By surveying them, it gives the employees a voice and a chance to not only express concerns but also to provide ideas for growth and viability.

The survey process varies in scope, length and time depending on the organization’s resources. It is up to you as the organization’s leader to determine the kind of survey that would best suit your needs and the needs of your employees. The most important component of the survey is communicating the results to your employees once the surveys are completed. If you don’t give feedback to your employees, there is no point to doing the survey at all. Communicating the results and working together to develop a plan of action from those results are the most important benefits to be gained from the survey process. So the next time you are asked how your employees evaluate their job, their leadership and the organizations, you can answer with confidence, having employed the tools necessary to make a change for the better.

Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.

Coaching: Giving Feedback

By Jan Ferri-Reed

Coaching refers to managers and employees helping each other identify ways to enhance or improve individual and group effectiveness. This involves using active listening and positive response techniques to help each individual develop skills, leverage resources, acquire information and make decisions.

As a leader, you play a significant role in your organization’s future. Your assistance, guidance, direction, enthusiasm and willingness to grow could very well determine whether your team meets its objectives. Coaching will help maintain commitment in the workplace by helping employees:

  • Adapt to change
  • Acquire the skills, information, authority and resources they need to overcome obstacles
  • Develop and use their strengths and creativity

Recognizing Positives; Overcoming Negatives
“I never hear anything when I’ve done a good job but I always hear when I make a mistake?” Sound familiar? This is often the perception of employees when reflecting on feedback they have been given in the workplace. Leaders can change that perception by acknowledging and recognizing employees’ contributions on a daily basis. They can also take time to provide one-on-one feedback that highlights an employee’s positive performance. Unfortunately, many leaders spend most one-on-one time with employees in problem-solving discussions. The following model will help leaders conduct effective positive feedback sessions to credit employees’ positive performance and contribution.

KEYModel: Giving Recognition

  1. State the specific achievement.
  2. State why it was positive. Be specific about the impact on the team, goal attainment and the company.
  3. Ask the person to describe who or what contributed to his or her success.
  4. Encourage him/her to talk about obstacles that were overcome.
  5. Discuss how the achievement or behavior can benefit the team in the future.
  6. Express appreciation for the achievement.

Of course, at times it is necessary to give corrective feedback as well. The following model will help make the feedback process productive and non-threatening.

KEYModel: Giving Corrective Feedback
Use these steps when helping associates improve their behavior:

  1. State the specific behavior.
  2. Explain why the behavior is causing a problem.
  3. Give the person being confronted the chance to respond.
  4. Mutually establish the desired goal(s).

Decide on specific actions to be taken to avoid the problem in the future.

Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.

Common Characteristics of Five Top-Performance Companies

By Jan Ferri-Reed

What do Wal-Mart, General Electric, Bank of America, Nestle, and Hershey’s have in common? Besides the fact that all five are among the top one hundred profit-making companies in the world, these companies also have similar values that contribute to their success. While each company has its own unique bundle of values, three ideals stand out across the board: leadership, integrity, and teamwork.

Leadership is a continually evolving science, which is partly why it is so valued by corporations. It is also the most important asset that companies possess. The success or failure of an organization often rests on the quality of leadership within that organization. One example of outstanding leadership is General Electric. GE believes that “change is the essence of what it means to lead.” It is known for having one of the best leadership development models in the country. Part of that model involves moving GE managers and executives from job to job every two to three years, each change being a well-thought out process that provides GE managers with much-needed experience and exposure to different elements of the business. The end result is that GE is able to build a management core that is very knowledgeable and experienced in the operations of the giant corporation. The Navy uses this model in developing talent also.

Bank of America represents another example of exceptional leadership. Named to DiversityInc’s listing of Top 50 Companies for Diversity for the third year in a row, Bank of America is recognized for national leadership in every aspect of managing diversity, from sales and marketing to recruiting and retaining the best talent.

Integrity is also an important corporate ideal. Integrity represents honesty, honor, and reliability. It is the firm foundation of a corporation. It is important to all stakeholders: employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, the community, etc. Nestlé’s core values, unchanged from the beginning of their company, continue to be fairness, honesty, and a general concern for people. Nestlé’s leadership believes that a company’s success “is a reflection of the professionalism, conduct and the responsible attitude of its management and employees. Therefore recruitment of the right people and ongoing training and development are crucial.”

Bank of America is committed to “doing the right thing.” One of Bank of America’s values is that every employee has “the freedom, authority, and responsibility to do the right thing” for each of their stakeholders, and for each other. The organization has a code of ethics that is consistently updated and improved. Leaders believe in hiring according to their culture, and creating incentives and rewards for associates who “do the right thing.” Furthermore, when it is called for, they don’t hesitate to fire individuals who breach their culture of integrity, “regardless of potential or performance.”

Teamwork stands for cooperation, collaboration, joint effort, and solidarity. It involves listening 80% of the time and speaking 20% of the time. It requires an appreciation for different people with different ideas, patience, individuality, self-confidence, encouragement, and leadership. Teamwork is an important value of Wal-Mart. Former Senior Vice Chairman of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Don Soderquist, comments, “’Our people make the difference’ is not a meaningless slogan – it’s a reality at Wal-Mart. We are a group of dedicated, hardworking, ordinary people who have teamed together to accomplish extraordinary things.” Wal-Mart employees come from different backgrounds and races, and have different beliefs, but everyone is treated with dignity and respect. In 2000, Fortune magazine’s Global Most Admired Companies list ranked Wal-Mart No. 5 based on characteristics such as leadership, and values that emphasize the importance of people and teamwork. In 2003 and 2004, Wal-Mart moved up to the top spot on the list.

Hershey’s is another company that portrays outstanding teamwork. Certified by Guinness World Records on June 25th, 2002, Hershey Foods Corporation launched a team and achieved the record of making the World’s Largest Lollipop. The lollipop weighed in at a massive 4,016 pounds and measured 62.8 inches in diameter and 18.9 inches thick! The colossal candy was created by Jolly Rancher, a division of Hershey Foods Corporation, to celebrate the launch of one of their new products, Jolly Rancher Fruit Chew Lollipops. Jolly Rancher Marketing Manager, Randy Hansen, commented, “We are very proud of the teamwork and dedication of our employees that enabled Jolly Rancher to break this historic candy record.”

All five of these top-performing companies have achieved great success, profitability, and growth through three common values: leadership, integrity, and teamwork. KEYGroup® recognizes these companies as ones characterized by a Vibrant Entrepreneurial Culture. These cultures encourage employees to be the best that they can be by modeling leadership behavior and taking risks that permit personal and organizational growth.

Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.

Ten Ways to be Prominent as a Leader

By Jan Ferri-Reed

Have you ever asked yourself “How can I stand out as a top performer and leader in my organization?” Top executives of organizations are always on the lookout for well-rounded leaders who are able to move the organization forward. According to Bill George former Chairman and CEO a medical technology company, Medtronic Inc., “Every great leader is at least three standard deviations from the norm.” Below are ten ways to reach your full potential and to surpass the norm as a leader.

  1. Get motivated: Motivation is the key to success. Find what motivates you and your work will progress. Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about?” Then create a working environment around your passion.
  2. Be optimistic: A positive outlook towards your career and life will affect your relationships with the people around you as well as your work.
  3. Be Ethical: In today’s world, especially with recent scandals, executives are looking for leaders who are ethical. Keep focus on your tasks rather than distractions. Your leaders will value you as a respectable employee who has integrity.
  4. Strive to be the best: Setting high standards for yourself and creating the most effective team will enhance your work ethic and determination. Doing your best work will open doors to advancement.
  5. Do more than what is expected: Executives look for employees that do more than what is expected. Take pride in every task and you will receive promotional benefits and other opportunities!
  6. Never stop learning: Taking night classes, reading books/scholarly journals and/or attending conferences will unlock new ideas and ways of tackling problems. Knowledge and wisdom will be an asset to you in everyday life.
  7. Pay attention: Reading the newspaper, watching the news or even researching your company will show that you are informed and knowledgeable.
  8. Network: Meeting new and different people will develop opportunities for the future. Talk to people everywhere you go, and you may find an opportunity in an unsuspecting place. Attend professional conferences and seminars when you are able and get to know industry professionals in your area.
  9. Be amicable: Take a little time everyday to talk to your colleagues and leaders. Your peers will have a positive outlook on you as a team person and colleague.
  10. Exercise and eat healthy: Exercising promotes more energy and confidence, and reduces stress. This will give you a better attitude towards work. Overeating can cause fatigue and laziness. With a combination of exercising and eating healthy, you will produce a clearer and healthier mind.

Personal growth will help you in phenomenal ways. Job advancement, wisdom and new experiences are keys to becoming a successful leader. By following these ten strategies, your career will advance in new ways. Reaching your full leadership potential is an obligation to yourself and your organization.

Jan-Ferri-ReedDr. Jan Ferri-Reed, is President of KEYGroup and provides businesses with insightful information to create engaged, productive and profitable multi-generational organizations. She is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Keeping the Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It.” To hire Jan, visit: or call 724-942-7900.

This article may be reprinted for your use in an organizational newsletter and or e-zine provided that you contact Kelly Hanna, Director of Sales and Marketing at 724-942-7900 to gain permission.