Author Archive

Enhancing Employee Strengths Will Help Your Company Perform Better

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Business meetingFindings from decades of research by Gallup indicate that employees who use their strengths daily are six times more likely to be engaged at their jobs. Gallaup’s research shows a clear connection between strengths and employee engagement. This connection can increase overall business performance when organizations work on enhancing both.

According to Gallup, the best way for employees to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel and behave, which will unveil their talents. The next step in the process is to then build on their talents to create strengths.

The extensive research shows that building employees’ strengths is a more effective approach to improving performance than trying to improve weaknesses. Benefits of focusing on strengths include employees who are more engaged, perform better and are more loyal to their organization. Yet, studies also show that the majority of US businesses don’t focus on helping employees use their strengths.

When companies put the spotlight on the strengths of their team members, they are more likely to have employees who are more committed to their business. Gallup found that the best way for employers to maximize the strengths of their workforce is through company managers. However, many managers aren’t adequately trained, choose to ignore their direct reports, or worse—highlight and focus on the weaknesses of their employees.

If your managers aren’t equipped to focus on employee strengths, read some of the blogs below to help you get them on the right track:

Ongoing Training Helps Managers Reach Success

Making sure your managers are adequately trained to handle their projects and supervise people is important no matter if your budget is large or extremely limited. Considering multiple budgets, here are a few ways to train your managers…read more:

Coaching Your Managers Will Bring Business Success

Help your managers communicate and connect with their employees better. Having strong connections between coworkers at your workplace will raise employee morale, increase productivity and affect your bottom line positively. Here are a few areas that your managers should be coached in…read more here:

How HR Can Help New Internally Promoted Managers Succeed

Supervisors and managers who are promoted from within an organization face unique challenges to their success in their new role and in their relationships with peers, supervisors and subordinates. Here are six tips for how HR can contribute to the success of an internal employee who is transitioning into a new supervisory or management role…read more here:

Photo Source: Conceptkv

6 Fun Ways to Keep Your Employees Engaged in the Springtime

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

spring flowersSpring has officially started. Although it’s still a little chilly, the weather will warm up and your employees will be energized for the new season. Spring brings longer days and additional opportunities to keep your employees satisfied, as well as reward them for the hard work they contribute to the company all year long.

Try some of the springtime activities below to keep your staff motivated and productive in the warmer months ahead:

  • March Madness is upon us! Have the basketball games playing in your break room for people who are fans of the tournament.
  • Spring is a great time for a company picnic. The season isn’t too hot or too cold to enjoy an outdoor gathering with your employees and their families. It will be a great opportunity to get to know them and the people who are most important to them.
  • Warmer weather means more chances to enjoy frozen treats. Show your staff some appreciation by throwing an afternoon gelato or ice cream party. You can buy the tasty treats and serve them yourself or have a vendor dish out the goodies.
  • Your employees will enjoy a more relaxed dress code when the weather is warmer. Giving them the choice to dress more comfortably throughout the spring will show your employees that you care about their happiness while they are at work.
  • Plan a warm-weather potluck lunch. Have staff members sign up for different food dishes to bring during the lunch hour. If the sun is shining, eat outside!
  • Encourage your team members to add some fitness into their schedules by planning a company walk in the late afternoon or after work. Walking and talking with your coworkers during nice weather is a great way to bond and burn calories.

For additional ideas for employee engagement activities, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

5 Things to Know From the 2014 HR Management Conference

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Branded ppt slideMore than 300 HR professionals and company executives attended CAI’s annual HR Management Conference this year. The conference took place on March 5 and March 6 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, and the theme was HR 20/20: Evolve. Focus. Lead.

The keynote presentations and breakout sessions featured several topics aimed to help HR professionals and company leaders stretch out of their comfort zones, acquire new skills and understand the power they hold to lead their organizations and achieve their business goals.

Speakers covered several subjects relevant to the ever-evolving HR Industry, such as optimizing employee potential, future proofing technology, eliminating organizational inefficiency and utilizing emotional intelligence. Below are five takeaways from the 2014 Conference:

  • Diana Newton discussed emotional intelligence in the workplace during her conference presentation, Why Emotional Intelligence Matters at Work.
    • Diana says the first step to understanding your emotional self is to be aware and understand your feelings and their impact
    • You must also respect and accept your strengths and weaknesses
    • You can improve your emotional intelligence by improving yourself, pursuing meaningful goals, and realizing your potential capabilities


  • For her presentation, Leadership Transition: How to Assess, Plan, and Implement a Successful Strategy, Cindy Anderson shared with participants the tools and steps for developing a sound succession plan at their companies. Here’s some information she imparted:
    • In order to get buy-in from company leaders to start a transition plan, you should:
      • Approach leadership with the specific reasons why a plan is important
      • Focus on how the transition plan will add value to the organization
      • Think about why leadership has resisted in the past and deliver a message that minimizes those fears
      • Propose a timeline
      • Consider the potential candidates for leadership (if any internally)


  • Shane Yount shared helpful information in his presentation, HR Metrics – Training to Drive Sustainable Business Processes. He gave the following tips for implementing a scorecard matrix to track business productivity:
    •  Identify key business focus areas
    •  Develop SMART objectives
    •  Create standards to measure results against
    •  Establish target thresholds and color code by performance
    •  Delegate responsibilities and hold people accountable for the tasks
    •  Set how often you plan to compare results – weekly, biweekly, quarterly, etc.


  • During Ellen Baker’s presentation, Working and Thriving in a Multicultural World, she shared some useful information for interacting in global work scenarios:
    •  Observe, observe, observe
    • A handshake or nod works almost anywhere
    • Use your right hand or both hands when making contact, but don’t use your left hand
    •  Err on the side of formality
    •  Respect and honor cultural norms, but be yourself
    •  Be compassionate, tolerant and flexible
    •  Success lies in humility- admit that there’s a lot you don’t know
    •  Keep your sense of humor
    •  Minimize gestures
    •  Smile, smile, smile


  • CAI announced the 2014 Ovation Award Winners:
    • Farragut Systems won the small company award for its Employee Performance and Development program
    • Tanger Outlet Centers won the mid-size company award for its Peer Assisted Learning program
    • AICPA won the large company award for its Grow the Ranks program


For additional information on CAI’s conferences, please go to


A Short Guide for Handling Workplace Relationships

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Business people discussing.Managing workplace relationships is a good topic to discuss with Valentine’s Day coming tomorrow. Most people focus their attention on romantic relationships, but knowing how to manage workplace friendships is just as important.

Having close relationships with some of the people you work with will have a positive effect on your work life, and because you spend so much of your time at work, friendships with your coworkers are likely to occur.  Some of the benefits workplace friendships provide include:  a more enjoyable work environment, better cooperation with group activities and positive outlets to release stress.

It’s also important to realize that workplace relationships can have negative effects on your work performance if you are not cognizant of potential distractions and harmful issues that could arise.

Try following some of these tips to ensure positive friendships at your company:

  • Remember that the primary reason you are at work is to do the job your employer pays you to do. Make sure your attention is focused on your assignments and not socializing with your coworkers.
  • Avoid sharing too much personal information with your workplace friends. Some information is not appropriate to share, such as salary or health issues. You also don’t want information you revealed privately to be shared, or,  worse, used against you
  • Try not to gossip. Discussing rumors about your manager or another coworker to your office buddy has the potential to taint your reputation or contribute to a toxic work environment. Be kind, treat others with respect, and report concerns or complaints in a more appropriate way.
  •  Don’t do your friend’s work. Certainly helping your coworkers when they are in need is a great display of teamwork. However, always helping a teammate finish his assignments because of his poor time management or other issues will harm your      productivity at work.
  • Spending all of your free time with your favorite coworkers is not recommended. Evade tension, jealousy or concerns of favoritism by switching up who you go to lunch with or talk to during your breaks.

Please call CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746 for any questions regarding workplace relationships.

Photo Source: goldenray_eu

6 Workplace Perks Competitive Job Seekers Want from Employers

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Business meeting.In order to recruit, secure and retain high-performing employees, companies have to start thinking more competitively in regard to talent. Many companies are doing well as the economy continues to recover. With more companies growing and looking for new employees, highly-qualified job seekers have more freedom to pick and choose the right company for them.

Today’s job seekers believe work/life balance is achievable and will want to work for an employer who agrees. Below are some of the workplace perks top performers will be searching for:

Positive Culture

Your company‘s work environment is a critical factor in determining whether a job candidate accepts an offer or a high-achieving employee decides to stay. Employees want to work for organizations that respect both their work and life obligations. If you would describe your workplace culture as anything but positive, it’s time for your team to make adjustments and consider the number of ways you can increase employee morale and overall job satisfaction.


More job seekers are looking to work at companies that offer flexibility, and with more access to technology, working remotely is becoming an option for many employees. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to flexibility, but there are several options including: arriving late, leaving early, working from home, four-day work weeks, etc. Finding ways to make sure business gets done while your employees are content is now easier than ever before.


Allowing your employees to feel empowered is a win for them and a win for you. People don’t want to feel powerless. Giving your employees autonomy in their roles will help them feel a greater sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. You’ll also be able to cross more items off your do-to list when you give your employees more power. Delegating authority and trusting employees are qualities a well-trained manager should possess.

Opportunities for Growth

Your high-performing employees and enthusiastic job candidates want to work for a company with goals that align with their goals. Be open to discussing growth opportunities with your current staffers and those who may be joining your team. Opportunities for a promotion, raise or special project are likely to keep your staff members engaged. Employees want to know whether or not there is an open path for growth for them at your company.

Receive and Give Feedback

Receiving consistent positive and constructive feedback is essential for keeping your employees engaged. When employees don’t receive feedback, several negative repercussions can occur, such as employee frustration, bad manager-direct report relationships, or employees leaving. Your team members want to know that they are valued. So in addition to offering them feedback, you should also request their feedback on different company decisions. Whether it’s their job structure, a company wellness incentive or a new employee in the department, asking for their feedback shows that you fin them and their opinions valuable.

Continual Learning

A cost-effective way to increase job satisfaction at your organization is to provide your employees with additional training and education that will benefit their careers. Investing in your employees means that you are also investing in your company. Here are some inexpensive ways to help your employees and new hires continue to learn information from their fields: Encourage them to join professional groups and associations, set up a company mentor program, purchase subscriptions to industry-related literature, or sign them up for professional training.

For additional help on retaining employees or increasing company loyalty, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Passive Income Dream.Com

8 Ways to Engage and Reward Employees Through the Cold Weather

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

winter weatherWith Valentine’s Day approaching at the end of next week, the season of sharing love and being cold is upon us. Showing love, compassion or empathy shouldn’t be reserved for only your family or friends. As an employer, it’s important to also show kindness and understanding with your employees.

Making your employees feel valued affects job satisfaction, staff performance and retention levels positively. There are several things you can do to reward your employees for their hard work and to also keep them engaged. Here are eight ways you can show your staff some love during the coldest time of the year:

  • Buy tickets for your employees to attend a local sports event. Basketball and hockey games are two winter sports that are always fun to watch.
  • Send each of your employees a personalized Valentine’s Day card. You can include candy, a gift certificate or even cash.
  • Coordinate an ice skating friends and family event. You can rent out a local ice house for a few hours and supply participants and their family members with a pair of ice skates.
  • Treat your staff to a winter-weather breakfast. Warm goodies like an egg casserole or blueberry muffins will pair nicely with hot chocolate, warm apple cider or freshly brewed coffee.
  • Buy tickets to a winter or love-themed movie, and encourage your staffers to see the movie with their friends or family members.
  • Have a clear and accurate work plan for dealing with inclement weather, such as snow or hail.  Being flexible with adverse weather conditions will be appreciated by your employees.
  • Throw a Valentine’s Day party for your staff. Hold the get together in the afternoon and supply sweet treats for a fun social break.
  • Keep an ample supply of free snacks and drinks in your break room or kitchen for employees who don’t want to go out in the cold to satisfy their hunger.

For additional tips on engaging or rewarding your employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: alex_ford

Ryan Estis Shares Insights on Why Companies Need to Rethink HR

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

ryanBio02[1]Ryan Estis is widely recognized as a leading expert on several business and HR topics, such as leadership, culture, sales effectiveness, and HR/workforce trends. For CAI’s 2014 HR Management Conference scheduled for March 5 and March 6 at Raleigh’s McKimmon Center, Ryan will kick off day one with his presentation, Rethinking HR: The Future of Work and Human Resources.

In his keynote session, he will explore the evolving role of HR and introduce new tools, techniques and technology to keep up with the different trends developing in the practice of people. I recently had the pleasure to talk with Ryan and discuss some of the information he plans to share with conference participants in March.

Starting the conversation on a positive note, Ryan said, “This is a great time to be in the practice of human resources.”

When combining the different trends that are emerging in the industry, he sees new opportunities for HR professionals. HR is receiving more attention from companies, and Ryan explained that this is the reason for additional opportunities. He says that the challenge that comes with these opportunities is that the work is going to look a little different.

One of the big trends that Ryan is seeing is a strong focus on recruiting and hiring talent. He said that because many companies did well financially in 2013, more companies are in a position to grow their team in 2014.

“[Organizations] recognize that in order to grow, in order to drive continuous innovation, [they] need the right kind of people and that brings HR to center stage,” Ryan said.

Another trend that he points out is that the workforce is becoming more mobile. In other words, employees are electing to switch jobs more frequently.

“The average employee in the US has been with their employer for less than five years, the average millennial is projected to stay less than two – that creates an entire [new] set of challenges for an organization, and specifically an HR function,” Ryan said.

Several top performers leaving a company can really paralyze the performance of the business, he adds. This trend isn’t going away, so HR will be required to think differently on designing roles, functions and systems to keep up with the more mobile workforce. Ryan believes that HR will be tapped to solve the new challenges that companies will face.

At the 2014 HR Management Conference, he will dive deeper into the topics mentioned above. Ryan will also talk about the requirements of today’s new workforce, why a culture that embraces continuous learning is important, and how HR has shifted from a service-providing function to a function that is driven by capabilities.

Please join us for our March conference to hear more from Ryan and discover the ways in which you need to prepare for the future of work and HR. Visit to see the full agenda, session descriptions and speaker bios. Register today!

6 Actions You Need to Take to Find and Retain High-Performing Employees

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Two businesspeople holding briefcases outdoorsAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the country’s unemployment rate has dropped to 7 percent as of November 2013. Over the last year, the unemployment rate has continued to decline and the overall economy is continuing to slowly improve. With these positive economic signs, employers will need to be competitive in order to obtain high-performing employees for their organization.

Because the economy is improving, talented job candidates have more organizations to choose from when looking for a new position. Employers must make their company stand out. There are several steps your organization can take to ensure you’re appealing to hardworking individuals. Take the six actions below to get stellar job seekers onboard at your company:

Quicker recruiting

Employers may be losing great candidates if their recruiting and decision-making processes are lengthy. As competition increases for a smaller pool of job seekers, applicants will grow tired of waiting for next steps in the hiring process with their company of choice and accept a position at an another organization simply because the process moved faster. Ensure this doesn’t happen by communicating with your candidates every step of the way. Don’t make rush decisions that may result in a bad hire, but do avoid any roadblocks in your system. Be prepared to make a decision.

Pay competitively

Be prepared to offer higher compensation and stronger benefits as the economy improves. Do not make the common mistake of overlooking or devaluing the importance of pay to your employees’ motivation. If you want to attract qualified applicants to your open positions, provide a base pay that is at or above market rates.

Challenging assignments

Boredom is one of the fastest ways to have your employees look for a new job. There is little or no excitement for an employee that performs the same routine day-to-day. Even though mundane tasks need to be completed, make sure your top employees are participating in interesting projects that provide them with a challenge.

Offer flexibility

Top-tier job candidates are looking for flexibility, and your competitors are probably already offering it as an attractive, non-compensation-related perk to help reel them in. Options, such as working from home and customized schedules, can make one job opportunity more appealing than another.

Opportunities for growth

Your high-performing employees and energetic job candidates want to work for a company with goals that align with their goals. Be open to discussing growth opportunities with your current staff and those that may be joining your team soon. Chances for a promotion, raise or special project are likely to keep your staff members engaged.

Positive acknowledgement

A good way to retain your best-performing employees is to create a culture that embraces praise and recognition. Confirmation of a strong performance is a great way to show your employees that you see the hard work they put in and that you value all of it. By publicly acknowledging the achievements of your staff, you remind individuals of their own personal value to the organization and that’s critical for keeping them engaged.

For additional help with recruiting and retaining employees, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: The-Lane-Team


6 Steps to Complete a Beneficial Employee Performance Review in the New Year

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

performance blogFor many managers and supervisors, completing employee performance reviews is a task at the top of their to-do lists at the beginning of the year. Performance reviews are important for a number of reasons. They are imperative for keeping employees in line with their individual goals, as well as the goals of the company. They often determine the career path of an employee and whether or not someone is eligible for a merit increase.

Because they indicate past work history and future potential, spending adequate time to prepare for your meetings with your direct reports is essential. Performance reviews are a vital part of the employer-employee relationship, and they should be beneficial to both managers and their direct reports.

Before you conduct performance reviews with your employees, consider the six tips below to achieve a productive and mutually valuable meeting:

Create an Ongoing Process

Instead of waiting for an annual performance review, managers should provide both constructive criticism and praise to their employees throughout the year and use the annual performance review to summarize the performance from the prior year. This will eliminate any surprises when completing reviews with your team members.

Take Time to Prepare

A good review starts with good planning. If you’ve kept notes throughout the year, your performance reviews will write themselves. Reexamine goals discussed in past meetings and collect specific examples of the times employees excelled and the times employees needed to improve during the year. Use this information to guide your review and help convey the expectations you have for your direct reports.

Have a Two-Way Conversation

A beneficial employee review includes participation from the manager and the employee. Allow your direct reports to reflect on their own performance and let them prepare answers for questions regarding their work flow and company activity for the future. Employees should be able to offer suggestions on how they can improve their work. Make them feel comfortable to mention items that could be hindering their performance or other concerns they may have.

Share Praise and Constructive Criticism
Reviews that only highlight negatives will deflate employees and leave them wondering if they are in the right position or with the right employer. However, managers who shy away from negative comments to avoid hurting feelings are doing their employees a disservice. Without constructive criticism, employees will not improve and will eventually become stagnant in their position. Strive to include praise and constructive criticism for a balanced review.

Match Merit Increases with Performance Levels
Giving two different employees very different performance appraisals and awarding them identical increases sends a message that performance does not matter. Your top performers are going to realize your poor performers are receiving the same compensation if not the same recognition, and you risk them decreasing their productivity or even moving to another company. Keep your employees motivated by giving awards based on performance.

Pay Attention to Your Employees
Performance reviews provide opportunities to give your employees feedback and also to gain valuable insight from their perspectives. It is an important time to give employees your undivided attention and listen to them to get their viewpoints on their performance and the organization as a whole.

For additional assistance in employee performance reviews, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

5 Tips to Keep Productivity High During the Holidays

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

holiday breakMany people use their vacation days to take extra time off from work in December in order to spend quality time celebrating the season with their family and friends. Because of the excitement that is generated during the holidays, employee productivity can temporarily decrease. However, putting off work before your vacation means you’ll have more work to complete when you make your way back to the office.

Incorporate these five tips in your work routine for the next several days so you can enjoy your time away, instead of worrying about all the assignments you need to do when you return:

Prioritize Your To-Do List

Create a list of all of the tasks and projects you’d like to complete before you leave for your holiday vacation. Work hard to complete as many items on your list as you can. The more items you cross off, the less work you’ll have waiting for you when your vacation is over.

Review Calendars

Ensure that your coworkers are aware of your holiday schedule, and also make sure that you are aware of their schedules. This is especially helpful if you’re working on projects with other people. Eliminate confusion or the potential to drop the ball by tying up loose ends and coordinating due dates before you leave.

Focus on Work at Work

When getting bombarded with the exciting sights, sounds and festivities related to this time of the year, it is easy to get distracted from your work. So you don’t have to spend time on the weekend or the evening catching up on your work because you were making gift lists or looking up a holiday recipe online, focus on your work obligations when you are in the office.

Help Your Body Help You

December isn’t always the greatest month for your health. Coworkers bring goodies into the break room, people spend several hours in a day shopping, and holiday parties make nights longer than usual. To make up for all of these things, exercise and sleep more to help your brain and body stay alert and function properly.

Leave Work at Work

If you follow all of the tips above, you will likely not have to work on any of your company projects during your holiday break. Your time away from the office should really be spent focusing on your loved ones, friends and yourself. Use this time away to relax and recharge your brain so you’ll be ready to work when your break is over.

For additional ideas on how to keep productivity high at your workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Resolution Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Reno Tahoe Window Cleaning & Christmas Lights