From Game 1 to 324 and Everything in Between

2013 Vikings Final Game Playbook | Feature of J. Forrest | By Mike Wobschall and J. Forrest

This past Sunday marked the final game at Mall of America Field, the stadium the Vikings have called home since 1982. Many fans have seen many great moments in this building. But J. Forrest, a passionate Vikings fan from Minneapolis, can lay claim to a unique feat: He was in the building for the first Vikings game and he will be here for the final Vikings game in the building. Forrest has been gracious enough to share his thoughts on this feat and all the memories he and his family made while watching games in this building.

Vikings final dome gameWhether it was the cold or the crowd or perhaps my persistence, at some point my mom relinquished her Viking ticket and let me assume the regular seat next to my dad. We said “Farewell to the Met” in December of 1981 while wearing moon boots and snowmobile suits. Our game day rituals were about to change [...]

Employee Evaluation Systems

Now we are in the fourth quarter and the most dreaded employee event is upon us. The annual review! You know the conversation or monolog about how you did or didn’t do well at your job this past year. Lovely. There is so much to assail when reviewing the review process…does anyone actually formally review the review system? Generally, we keep what we have, for the fear of the unknown is a powerful deterrent to change.

year end reviewAbout 12 years ago, I was in the midst of inventing the IPAD (The Individual Performance and Development) Review tool for a local organization with about 12,000 lucky employees. During our research, we uncovered a fairly common practice by some very reputable organizations. The practice was to stack rank employees—similar to a Class Rank system currently used in schools. Often times, these organizations would then cut the bottom 10% of the stack’s ranked list. This practice was outlined in exquisite detail in a Management book of the late ‘90’s. It sounded like a good idea until the fired employees got together and noticed some common trends in their ranks —mainly they were part of a couple of protected classes. Oops.

Unfortunately, these practices have not ended. Let me start by saying, I think Microsoft could have used my help. I could have explained to Microsoft’s management that stack ranking employees from best to worst is not a good idea. It does not increase revenue and does not foster collaboration [...]

Setting Goals

Easier than it sounds.Goals

Setting organization goals is something I have seen even the best and brightest leaders struggle to develop over the past 15 years. What tends to happen is that the process and formulas become so cumbersome and nuanced that even the goal writers themselves hardly understand what has been captured. At Employee Strategies, we have a few truisms—one of which, is an Einstein quote, “If you can’t explain it to a 6 year-old, you don’t understand it yourself. “

Our lesson learned: Keep it simple.

What are the ideal goals for your organization? The answer resides in the power of focus. In sports we have very identifiable goals like winning the World Series. But at work, winning isn’t always that clear. Many times, the leaders go on retreat and come back with what they believe to be the best path. The game of Telephone Operator starts to dilute the goal message the minute the team leaves the retreat.

Our lesson learned: Consistent & clear communication on results is vital.

What do good goals look like? Take a look at NASA and the space program. In 1961, President Kennedy set a goal to send a man to the moon and return him safely before the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped off that lunar lander, right on to the Moon’s surface. Kennedy’s goal setting was far more detailed than his predecessor. Eisenhower set what he called a goal, but was really more a strategic intent—To Be the Leader in Space Exploration [...]

How to Attract and Retain the Next Kirby Puckett — or Byron Buxton

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This past week, my family went to Ruttgers Bay Lake Lodge for a 12-person family reunion of sorts. Although we all live close, schedules and moving parts make long visits a rarity. Over the course of four days, you can get caught up on all those questions you wanted to ask at the birthday party but didn’t have time. One morning, I visited my mom’s cabin and was pleased to see my almost teenage niece, sister, and brother-in-law enjoying an earnest discussion on why the Minnesota Twins seem to be a minor league team for the All-Star Game rosters. A hot cup of coffee and a chance to talk about the Twins roster sounds like a great way to start a day! We had a really fun discussion about past player trades, increasing salary demands and expectations for the many talented rising minor league stars in New Britain, Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. Are we really going to lose Byron Buxton before we get to know him?

As the owner of an HR consulting firm, I am frequently asked the questions, “How do I keep my best young talent? What are they looking for? What can we provide that other companies don’t?” Although not all companies may be able to find and hire the next Lisa Grimm, named to The (Real) Power 50 by Minnesota Business magazine, there are three things young, talented people are looking for. Lisa shares with us her focus, “When I was approached by space150 to lead PR efforts, I assessed three things: Culture, its mission and vision, and how my vision would be supported from a leadership perspective. In addition to being able to actualize my purpose, which is very important to me, strong leadership within the organization I work for has been the hardest thing to find in my career thus far — and I crave it so much. As a really passionate person that can get pretty far in an autonomous environment, I have so much to learn, and therefore seek opportunities that offer superior and diversified knowledge and experience from both my peers and bosses. The lack of both has been the common denominator in me moving on from prior roles [...]

Igniting Energy and Excitement at the Workplace

“Please tell me we aren’t going to do ‘trust falls’ today?” At the beginning of a recent strategic planning session, I was asked this seemingly omnipresent question. Whether it’s an acoustic guitar, trust falls or a rope course, there are many misconceptions on how we drive change or energy within our workplace. Trust is an outcome of a great place to work and culture helps to create that dynamic. I believe culture is something you can influence and it doesn’t happen in a 30-minute exercise; you build it over time, actions and authenticity.

Much is made about improving culture or increasing employee engagement. In fact, these are words we use on our websites to drive business. From my experience, the workplaces that have the most positive energy have intentionally created their culture and community and do it in specific and well-derived ways.

They allow employees to float and hope they come to work. Forward-thinking companies are making spaces for employees to move around and feel at home while achieving higher work related attitudes. The layout of office spaces is changing dramatically from cubicles to offices with open space. Collaborative and community space is now vital. Regardless of size, organizations that expect a lot from their employees and show ample amounts of recognition create an environment where employees don’t want to work from home every day—for fear of missing out on what’s happening. Space matters in this regard [...]