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Stress Quotient: What You Need to Know

May 13, 2020

You need to find out how to control your stress, or your stress will end up controlling you. Here’s all of the information you need to know about Stress Quotient.

What is Stress Quotient?

Stress Quotient is a diagnostic assessment developed by Rick Bowers and Dr. Ron Bonnstetter, of TTI Success Insights (TTI SI) in 2014. Stress Quotient measures 7 categories of stress (Demand, Effort/Reward Balance, Control, Organizational Change, Manager/Supervisor and Social Support) that break down into 17 sub-segments. This tool can be used for individuals, teams and entire organizations to get an accurate snapshot of their stress levels in different departments.

Why Did TTI Success Insights Create the Stress Quotient Assessment?

Much like the Emotional Quotient assessment, Stress Quotient is built to increase and improve awareness of problems. You can’t fix a problem unless you know there is a problem in the first place.

“We created this tool because as businesses go through ups and downs, people perceive stress and react differently,” said Rick Bowers, TTI SI President. “If you can understand a problem to the point that you can name it, it’s easier to fix. Once you have the awareness, then you can regulate.”

Who Can Use Stress Quotient?

Stress Quotient can be used by individuals, teams, and entire organizations.

Personal Reports

undefined Take the assessment and find out your personal scores for 7 categories of stress.

Team Reports

undefined The results of a team can be combined to create an overall team result using their collective scores and finding the average.

The Stress Quotient assessment can also be used for an entire organization to get a company-wide score, or can be used for individual teams and compared across departments. If one team is overly stressed while the rest of the organization isn’t, it’s time to re-evaluate roles and responsibilities within that team. Having a baseline is invaluable for planning and proactive interventions.

“If you can understand a problem to the point that you can name it, it’s easier to fix. Once you have the awareness, then you can regulate.”

How Can You Use Stress Quotient Right Now?

This tool is a great first step or next step in a team development strategy. By getting a better understanding of their personal stress levels across different areas, they can find out potential areas of improvement.

Remember, this assessment is a diagnostic tool. Stress Quotient will tell you where you need to focus to lessen stress, with helpful suggestions. Going deeper can uncover root causes for determining next steps.

This is where other assessments come in. Emotional Quotient is an excellent tool for increasing and improving all around awareness, while Talent Insights (DISC behaviors and Driving Forces) will reveal an individual’s behavioral style and personal motivations. Our flagship assessment, the TriMetrix HD assessment, combines behavioral style, personal motivators, acumen and soft skill competencies. The knowledge from each assessment serve as layers to create a full picture and multifaceted understanding of the individual.

What’s Your Next Step?

Contact Carl Nielson today! or call 972.346.2892.

To schedule a convenient appointment time, visit Carl’s calendar at

Carl Nielson is Managing Principal Consultant and Executive Coach of The Nielson Group. He has over 20 years of experience in the field of strategic human capital management and organization development including leadership development, team and professional development, coaching and talent acquisition. Prior to consulting, he successfully led a financial turnaround of a global nonprofit professional association and implemented human capital management best practices as Chief Human Resources Officer for a large law firm that resulted in significant improvement in net profit, employee morale and talent retention. He also managed an across-the-board re-engineering project for the HR function of a Fortune 100 company resulting in millions of dollars in HR operational savings and increased HR effectiveness.

Today, Carl Nielson serves a diverse group of Fortune 500, Inc 2500 and family-owned business clients in growing revenue, strengthening leadership talent and cross-functional teams and hiring the best talent using state-of-the-art tools and processes.

Carl has served on several volunteer boards in key strategic and leadership positions. He also gives back in the form of community service using his expertise to assist high school and college students with career coaching using Career Coaching for Students, a program he developed in 2005 as founder and Chief Discovery Officer of Success Discoveries, He has created several programs for Success Discoveries including Success Discoveries for Couples (SDC), a program for use in premarital counseling, couples retreats and as a self-directed program.  

Nielson has been recognized annually for the past 10 years by TTI Success Insights, a global assessment company, for his active and continuous community service and is a member of TTI’s Visionary Partners Forum.

Carl is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (DISC, CPBA), Professional Motivators Analyst (CPMA), Professional TriMetrix HD Analyst and is a certified facilitator of The Coaching Clinic for Managers. He holds an IAC certification as a Relationship Coach and uses a number of organizational and business-focused personal talent assessment tools including individual 360s, organizational employee engagement 360s, and leadership talent.

Achieve Your Goals by Boosting Your Emotional Intelligence

May 5, 2020

By Carl Nielson
#leadershipdevelopment #EQ #EI #executivecoach #HR #leadershipgoals

As the concept of emotional intelligence has gone global, we’ve watched professionals flounder as they try to improve their emotional intelligence (or EI or EQ) because they either don’t know where to focus their efforts or they haven’t understood how to improve these skills on a practical level. An EQ assessment looks at a person’s emotional intelligence, which is the ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions to facilitate higher levels of collaboration and productivity. An understanding of EQ provides personal insight into two broad areas: Self and Others.

Self LeadershipResearch shows that successful leaders and superior performers have well-developed emotional intelligence skills. People with well-developed EQ work well with a wide variety of people and respond effectively to the rapidly changing conditions in the business world. In fact, data suggests a person’s EQ may be a better predictor of success performance than intelligence (IQ).

In my work consulting with companies and coaching VPs, directors, managers and high-potentials, I’ve found that if you’re looking to develop particular EI strengths, it helps to consider areas for improvement in context to the goals you want to achieve — and then to actively build habits and skills focused to support those goals.

To that end, start by asking yourself three questions:
1. What are the likely differences between how you see yourself and how others see you?
2. What matters to you? What goals do you have? (i.e. become a better leader, grow the business, successfully step into a managerial role for the first time, increase organizational influence without position power)
3. What efforts are you willing to invest to achieve these goals?

The first step, as with all learning, is to get a sense of how your self-perception (how you see yourself) differs from your current level of development and reputation (how others see you).

This is especially true for the development of emotional intelligence because we can be blind or biased to how we express and read the emotional components of our interactions. Assessing your talents and receiving feedback can provide the specifics for learning and shifting behaviors with laser focus.

What Lies Before You EmersonEmotional intelligence can’t be boiled down to a single score, as is done with IQ. You can’t just say that you’re “good”, “average” or “bad” at emotional intelligence. There are five distinct aspects of EQ, and we’re all better at some than others: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social awareness, and social regulation.

To give you the best sense of where the differences lie between your self-perception and your reputation, we recommend the TriMetrixEQ 360, a 360-degree feedback assessment that takes into account the multiple facets of EI. We then combine the 360º feedback with the TriMetrixEQ Talent (DISC, Motivators, EQ) and the Personal Talent Skills Inventory for Leaders (Acumen/Cognitive Thinking Skills), a powerful talent assessment suite that you complete online. By assessing your talents and receiving the 360º feedback, we have a total view of your talents and EQ makeup.

EQ More Important Than IQ in LeadershipThe assessment results are delivered to you in a confidential setting (remote or onsite). You receive an independent outside perspective on how your actions impact your relationships and your work. As your coach, I help you delve under the surface and look at how your assumptions and personal narratives may be working against you. I also introduce concepts and methods for EQ and leadership skills to develop new habits with relative ease.

What matters to you? What goals do you have? (i.e. become a better leader, grow the business, successfully step into a managerial role for the first time, increase organizational influence without position power)

When you receive the assessment results and 360º feedback, the information will certainly inform you on areas to focus. We consider your current situation and associated goals — i.e. how you want to get better at what you do now, or where you want to go for the future. When it comes to cultivating strengths in emotional intelligence, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage if your only interest (goal) is to put it on your resume (leadership and high-potential coaching is highly valued in the job market for all industries), or appease a boss or someone in HR. Your emotional intelligence is so tied up in your sense of self that being intrinsically motivated to make the effort matters much more when changing longstanding habits vs simply learning a skill like budgeting, Agile or project management.

Eliminate Roadblocks to Team PerformanceThat means the areas that you choose to actively work on should lie at the intersection of the assessment results and the areas that are most important to your own aspirations. Ask yourself: Do you want to grow your capacity to take on a leadership position? Be a better team member? Exert greater positive influence? Get better at managing yourself, or keeping the goals that matter in focus? Or — your goals need not be only professional — do you want to have a better connection to your spouse or teenager? Understanding the impact of your current EI habits relative to your goals will keep you going over the long haul as you do the work of strengthening your emotional intelligence.

For example, let’s say you get feedback that you are not a great listener — but you think you are (usually associated with habits tied up in your talent design). Instead of interpreting the feedback as an attack, or simply dismissing it, step back and consider your goals: Perhaps you’ve said that you want to better connect, understand and communicate with impact. How could better listening skills and communication strategies help you to do those things? Seeing the feedback in this light can help you position it as an opportunity for developing toward your goals, rather than a threat.

What changes will you make to achieve these goals?
Once you’ve determined which EI skills you want to focus on, identify specific actions that you’ll take. If you’re working on becoming a better listener, for example, you might learn and practice a whole new approach to conversing peers, superiors, or subordinates in a way that enables you to significantly increase engagement with that person. By focusing and staying committed, you will change the target habit.


As your coach, I help you take every naturally occurring opportunity to practice the skill you’re developing, no matter how small. You’re trying to train your brain to react and behave differently in common situations, and the principle of neuroplasticity tells us that as a given brain circuit gets used more often, the connections within it become stronger. And the brain does not distinguish between home and work when it comes to changing your habits: Practice at home as well as at work, with your partner or teenager as you would with your boss or direct reports.

Spotting these opportunities to trot out your new habit requires a bit of extra awareness. At first this will take effort (and actually doing it might feel strange). But each time you do it, these new pathways in your brain strengthen their connection, making your new approach easier and more habitual. Soon you’ll find it more natural to pause and listen for a reply, for example, than to cut off the person you’re talking with in your excitement to respond. One day you will reach a neural landmark: The new habit will kick in automatically, without you having to make any effort. That means your new habit has replaced the old as your brain’s default circuit.

I am explicitly trained in helping leaders and executives develop their EI strengths. From accessing the right kind of evaluation to observing you in action, I work with you to identify personal narratives or habitual patterns of mind that undermine your ability to get out of your own way, and instead talk you through those days when life’s pressures force you back into your old, not-so-good habits.

By answering the three questions and starting to change your routine reactions, you’ll be well on your way to figuring out the old habits that aren’t serving you well and transforming them into new, improved ones that do.

Want to learn more about Carl Nielson and The Nielson Group’s services? Complete the inquiry form below.

To schedule an information call with Carl Nielson, go here.

Mentoring Using DISC

April 18, 2020

DISC animatedLeading a successful team can be compared to directing a musical performance, such as a classical orchestra or choral concert. Individuals who bear little resemblance to each other often need to learn how to harmonize and respect the differences they bring to the team. Their diversity in behavioral style, knowledge and expertise, when properly harmonized, makes beautiful music.

It is rather easy for a conductor to identify who plays what instrument. It is no less important for managers to know the behavioral or work styles of the individuals they manage and how they can best contribute to the organization.
Behavioral models, such as DISC, tell a lot about how a person will typically behave a majority of the time. The DISC indicators can be considered predictors of how a peer or colleague approaches a challenge or influences others to their way of thinking.

Being able to adapt to a wide range of behavioral styles is the key to success in both business and in life. Since behavioral styles are observable, it’s easy to determine someone’s style and react accordingly with an understanding of DISC.

As someone who specializes in mentoring and coaching, I often discuss ways a mentor can best work with a mentoree. Even with very different behavioral styles, having a basic understanding of DISC will significantly benefit the mentor and ensure a successful mentorship. While the examples below illustrate the mentor/mentoree relationship, these skills can be applied between any two people communicating in any setting. At the bottom of this article, we’ll share information about a best-in-class online e-learning course on DISC through TTI Success Insights’LEARN platform.

DISC is an acronym that stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. The science of DISC explains the “how” a person does what they do, and can be a strong predictor of future behavior.

When someone scores higher in one particular area of DISC compared to the others, they are considered “high” in that particular factor. High-D’s are all about results. High-I’s are about interaction. High-S’s seek stability while the high-C is all about following rules. This basic understanding helps to illustrate how to identify various behavior styles when entering a room with other people.

Sometimes, you might be paired with someone because of their career trajectory or technical expertise but find that you do not share much else in common. Here are some ideas for working with a partner whose DISC style feels in opposition to your own:

A high-D and a low-D — For the high-D adapting to the low D: Slow down. Drop the intensity. Create a safe learning environment. If the low D feels calm and comfortable, they are more likely to admit “I don’t know” or “This is where I need help.” Low Ds like lessons to follow and a forum to discuss problem-solving options.

A high-I and low-I — Outwardly, these two styles share very little in common — one is people-oriented and the other is task-oriented. One tends to trust indiscriminately while the other tends to remain guarded and untrusting. The high-I will have to respect the low-I’s low-trust level and will need to seek to build trust gradually. Ask the low-I for their input while planning development activities and for their impressions on how comfortable they are with stretch assignments.

A high-S and a low-S – In this relationship, the calculated decision maker must adjust to a high-risk taker. In other words, someone who prefers a slower pace (high-S) needs to work with someone who moves quickly. The high-S will need to pick up the pace when communicating with the low-S: cover only the high points and strive for directness.

A high-C and a low-C – Because the high C and the low C are both task-oriented, the area of potential conflict lies within the scope of compliance and risk taking. The risk-averse high-C competes with the low-C’s need for independence which can many times cause a considerable amount of tension. The high-C will need to give the low-C honest feedback if they are tackling problems with little regard for the possible ramifications of a quick decision.

No matter which style each partner brings to the relationship, savvy mentors will look for opportunities to move the mentoring meetings beyond philosophical chats and/or venting sessions. In other words, to maximize learning, mentors should engage the mentoree in a variety of situations and developmental experiences.

To keep your mentoree engaged, consider their DISC style (both highs and lows) when designing development activities.

For example:

High-D’s, high-C’s or low-I’s – Tend to put tasks before people, so they struggle with interpersonal skills. If the goal is to enhance people skills — ask your mentoree to consider investing one day each month listening to the concerns and needs of his/her employees or peers. Encourage them to look for opportunities to help someone talk through a project with which they are struggling.

High-I’s or high-S’s — These two behavioral styles have trouble setting clear standards and holding others accountable – particularly people over whom they do not have authority. In this case, perhaps the goal would be to work with your mentoree to create a project management system for following up on outstanding tasks and action items.

Low-S’s or high-D’s —These two styles tend to struggle with maintaining emotional intelligence during difficult times/situations. The ideal developmental activity would be to identify someone for the mentoree to shadow who is going to lead a team through a difficult conversation about a failed project.

Low-D’s, high-S’s or high-C’s — These styles need time to think things through before making a decision or taking a risk. To help build confidence in decision-making and risk-taking, encourage your mentoree to journal about what holds them back from making a decision. At your next mentoring meeting, discuss the pros and cons of the decision and an action plan for moving forward.

ETeiwthXsAANmmKWhen meeting with a high-D or high-C: Expect these meetings to be brief and to the point. Be sure to show up on time and prepared to dive into business. [Do you have a remote team? For a free Working From Home DISC report go here.]

When meeting with a high-I: Provide a friendly and fun environment. Give them plenty of time to talk. Remember they get pretty excited about things – lots of things – so you might need to ground them a little.

When meeting with a high-S: Just like the High-I’s, they need a friendly environment. Don’t rush headlong into business, give them a chance to break the ice and warm up to you. Always give them time to think things through. Be sure to send an agenda ahead of the meeting so they know what topics you would like to discuss.

When meeting with a high-C: Be sure to show up on time and stick to business. Don’t expect the meeting to run a full hour if they run out of things to discuss. Be careful of appearing too lighthearted, casual or showy and be sure to follow through on your promises. Just like the High-S’s, they will appreciate an agenda sent ahead of time.

Whether you are in a mentor/mentoree relationship or simply communicating with a friend or co-worker, understanding and being able to adapt to differing behavioral styles is the key to great communication and success in work and in life. The Nielson Group offers an outstanding e-learning program about DISC as well as DISC assessments for management and staff. If you’d like to discuss your needs and interests, please schedule a call with Carl Nielson (see Carl’s calendar to request a convenient time) or send your questions via email below.

#mentoringprogram #mentoring #leadership #managingpeople #HR #DISC

Talk to Your Kids About Why You Work So Much

October 30, 2018

Family United650x650 (4)Working parents sometimes worry that they’re letting down their kids by spending too much time at the office. Once your children are old enough to understand, address this concern head-on by having open, honest conversations. Talk frankly with them about the pressures you feel and what you truly want. Don’t blame your company for the times when you can’t be flexible or you’re stressed at home; the last thing you want is to teach your children to despise the idea of work.

Instead, model by example. Help your children understand that the time you spend away from them is one way you contribute to the family. Talk about your passion for your work and the skills you’ve developed to excel professionally. And if you’re going through an especially busy time, explain to your children that you want to put them first and that when you can’t, it’s hard on you, too. Feeling sad together creates connection, which will help them learn that your occasional absence is not a reflection of your love for them.

Adapted from “4 Conversations Every Overwhelmed Working Parent Should Have,” by Joseph Grenny and Brittney Maxfield

Want to learn more about Carl Nielson and The Nielson Group’s services? Complete the inquiry form below.

#Leadership #talent management #personaldevelopment #executivecoaching

Which of Your Strengths Are You Overusing

January 11, 2018

You have strengths that make you distinctive. And, you’ve seen yourself in situations when those same characteristics wouldn’t be called a strength.

For example, a well-honed sense of self-control can turn into rigidity. Courage, taken to the extreme, might become recklessness. Honesty, if not tempered, can turn into cruelty. Usually, the darker side of our talent strengths are seen when we are under pressure, tension, stress or fatigue. Consider the following list of “strengths” and how others might see those same strengths when under stress or fatigue:

Talent Trait/Strength Others’ Perception
Considerate Unconcerned
Thoughtful Hesitant
Team player Detached

Also, it’s worth reflecting on which of your skills you might be relying on too much. For example, consider one of your strengths that has served you well at work and has been admired by others. Then try to recall a situation in which you relied on that quality more than you should have. A people-orientation and trusting perspective may interfere with performance management. Are there occasions when a strength became a Self Leadershipliability, causing more harm than good — and perhaps even leading to an unintended outcome?

Keep in mind that we tend to overuse our strengths under stress. When we’re not getting what we want, our instinct is to double down on whatever has worked best in the past. Instead, step back and reflect objectively on the situation. Look for alternative ways to respond that will ensure a better outcome.

Want to learn more about Carl Nielson and The Nielson Group’s services? Complete the inquiry form below.

Leadership, talent management, personal development, executive coaching

Organizational Resistance or Human Resistance to Change? The Science of Inertia.

March 30, 2017

Team PerformanceJohn Kotter is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book, the wryly titled That’s Not How We Do It Here!, is an animal fable in which two clans of meerkats in the Kalahari – one large, well managed, but rigid; the other small, relaxed and innovative – attempt to survive in the face of sudden droughts and vulture attacks.

It’s a study of how past triumphs can instill a dangerous false sense of confidence in continued success, and how companies can turn threats into opportunities.

“It’s easy for [older] organizations to slide into mature characteristics, one of which is that people tend to be complacent,” says Kotter. “If something has survived for 30, 60, 160 years, you don’t get much thought about the fact it might not survive the next five.

According to Kotter, “Some of the most successful organizations on earth are far too arrogant. They’ve been too successful for too long and they think they know everything, and that’s toxic. That’s a super-killer”. Now replace “organizations” with “HR executives or general managers or leadership or mid-level managers” and you have a more specific issue.

When you look at any historical data trends, for example looking at 1950 up to the present – volume on stock exchanges, number of patents filed, the amount of data that goes around the Earth and so on, what you see is data curves that all go up exponentially, roundish curves – things changing faster every year. They don’t go up smoothly either – they bounce around – that’s volatility.

Therefore, leaders need more than a tolerance for such volatility, but an appetite for it. “Whenever you have changing conditions and turbulence, it’s actually full of opportunities,” Kotter says.

Good times allow people to establish and hold onto bad habits.

[Adversity is] a brilliant platform for a company to say, Let’s not make the goal just to survive, to not get hurt too badly – let’s make the goal to actually advance and end up in a better position than we are today.”

So why does inertia control so many people?

It’s ingrained, Kotter says, in our business culture. “The average organization is run by people who’ve been trained by previous leadership that believed making ideas happen is all about an elite few people at the top of a hierarchy,” he says. Why not get lots of people into the game – so, while doing their regular jobs, everyone helps with these bigger, more challenging issues? Having open discussions about opportunities is much smarter than appointing committees. The world has seen enough appointed committees. With committees, there’s bureaucracy, rigid accountability, metrics that measure certain things that are relevant right now but discourage people from trying new things.

A major contributor to this change-resistant culture, says Kotter, is Darwinism. “Under conditions like Brexit or the U.S.-Mexico border wall issue, our brains – and this is something which has helped us survive for hundreds of thousands of years – have a mechanism that constantly looks for threats. This mechanism is stronger in some people. The minute a person is presented with a threat (whether real or perceived through alternative facts), it sends off signals that create chemicals that put us in a flight, fight or freeze position. We (people) also have an organic desire to surround ourselves with others who think or believe like we do (social normalization need) – which has been manipulated for ions for political or organizational profit.

In addition to the emotion of fear related to observable or believed threats, and the need to be part of a herd, another part of this challenge relates to a missing skill called futuristic thinking – which can be developed. But the greater barrier to futuristic thinking are personal motivators that drive each of us to action. Our motivators actually drive the development of certain skills to the detriment of others. It takes a certain combination of personal motivators to enjoy and want to focus on the unknown. Most people don’t have the combination of personal motivators to think and act on what Kotter is promoting – group involvement in making change happen.

Kotter thinks natural selection will need more millennia to catch up with the change in human circumstances wrought by the industrial and digital revolutions. While the broader population makeup of personal motivation does shift over time, there is no indication the shifting is toward all of us becoming change agents.

So how can we as leaders bypass resistance to change?

First, de-stigmatize failure, says Kotter:
“You have to make it clear, when you’re trying new things, that you’re not going to get it all right. In a traditional mature organization there’s so much emphasis on keeping the trains running on time that if a train is late, the first instinct is to figure out who to blame.
“When you’re dealing with inventing the future, that’s just a terrible instinct. It’ll deter people who want to get involved, be creative and take intelligent risks. It’s deadly.”

Second, recognize that people are motivated by different things and they will excel when they are doing work that rewards their personal motivators. If you want change, assign people (not committees) that are motivated by new ideas and methods, who enjoy acquiring knowledge and have an internal need to generate a return on their investment of time and money.

And third, train key people throughout your organization on Kotter’s eight steps for change.

If success isn’t incentive enough, how about the existential benefits? The possibility here is not just to increase revenue and/or market share. If you’re willing, in this turbulent world we’re living in, to open up and try new things, then ask how much are you poised to take advantage of. Encouraging a culture of risk taking and eliminating a punitive culture will increase the speed of change and make everyone’s lives much nicer. Assigning the right people on the team and using a proven change process and discipline gives you a significant advantage for bypassing resistance to change.

Is it possible to consistently hire top performers? YES. Is it possible to create high-performing teams? YES. Can you create change that creates a sustainable culture of trust, engagement and speed? YES. How costly are the missteps you are taking?

Carl Nielson is a talent strategist serving global and mid-cap market leaders & high-growth small businesses. Carl’s passion throughout his career has been to co-create sustained improvements in workforce performance.

DISCOVER ★ ENGAGE ★ ADVANCE ★ PERFORM – coaching organizations for breakthrough performance

☛ NEW for 2017: Execution Leadership for Project Managers,
☛ Talent Management Strategist Blog:

● Leadership development and executive coaching
● Talent assessments for job matching and development
● Organizational diagnostics
● Team engagement programs
● High-potential talent development
● Leadership team effectiveness
● Change management tools and strategies
● Job competency mapping, selection and job-talent matching (hiring the right talent)
● Mergers and acquisitions
● Outplacement services

Applications: Cost reduction, revenue growth, increased market share, engagement, talent selection and management development.

Assessments: DISC, TriMetrix, TriMetrix HD, TriMetrix EQ, TriMetrix Sales, Stress Quotient, 360 Feedback Surveys, Organizational Surveys, Emotional Quotient, Job Benchmark survey.

To schedule an information call with Carl Nielson, go here.

How to Handle Transition from Peer to Boss

March 23, 2017

Legal Liability,Termination, Tolerationby Carl Nielson (connect with Carl on LinkedIn)

Being promoted over your coworkers is a tricky situation. It’s important to get off on the right foot with your former peers and to make the transition as smooth as possible. You also need to realize it is a new team now with a new manager.

Ideally, the team will learn about your promotion from someone above you. But if you have to make the announcement yourself, be modest with the wording. This isn’t the time to toot your own horn. Don’t let people make assumptions about what your new relationship will be like — show them. Meet with each team member one-on-one. If you competed with a peer for the job, pull them aside to say you value their contributions. Take a specific action to back up your words, such as assigning them to an important task. And don’t introduce any sweeping changes right away. No matter how good your plan is, plan changes to go into effect once you’ve established your credibility as a manager.

For any new manager, speed to optimum performance without missteps is desired. A highly effective strategy is to bring in a facilitator to conduct a new manager assimilation exercise. This includes upfront team assessments and other prep work by the consultant. The goal of this exercise is open dialogue with the team, building of trust and avoiding the Forming, Storming, Norming Performing new team phases (Bruce Tuckman, 1965) that most teams experience when left on their own.

A state-of-the-art new manager assimilation program uses as its framework the work of John Gabarro, a professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management at Harvard Business School. In his book, The Dynamics of Taking Charge, Gabarro reported five distinct phases of management integration. The first two phases, called Taking Hold and Immersion, are focused on orientation and learning. Without intervention, this can take up to 18 months. A New Manager Assimilation Program is designed to shorten that time frame considerably to allow the new manager to arrive more quickly at Phase 3, Reshaping, in which he/she begins to implement his/her own business strategy.

To learn more about what is included in a new manager assimilation program go here.

Partially adapted from The Harvard Business Review Manager’s Handbook: The 17 Skills Leaders Need to Stand Out

Is it possible to consistently hire top performers? YES. Is it possible to create high-performing teams? YES. Can you create change that creates a sustainable culture of trust, engagement and speed? YES. How costly are the missteps you are taking?

Carl Nielson is a talent strategist serving global and mid-cap market leaders & high-growth small businesses. Carl’s passion throughout his career has been to co-create sustained improvements in workforce performance.

Eliminate Meeting Mayhem

March 2, 2017
The cost of one one-hour meeting with six manager or professional technical attendees ranges from $600 to $1,500. Add in the cost of facilities and it is likely 25% higher. That’s just one hour, one time. To convene a group meeting, here are best practice suggestions for anyone leading or participating in the meeting:

Prior to the Meeting

  • Always publish an agenda prior to each meeting or ask for an agenda prior to accepting the invite to attend.
  • Ideally collect and publish agenda items and required reading within the Calendar appointment item.
  • Send out pre-meeting reading requirements one full day in advance. Any earlier and it will be lost. Any later and it will likely be read in the meeting.
  • Review all required reading of published details prior to meetings.
For the pre-meeting agenda and at the beginning of the meeting:
  • Label agenda items as Inform, Request for Input or Request for Decision.
    • Inform – the owner will inform others, providing facts and decisions made.
    • Request for Input – the owner will provide background information (establish focus) so that the leadership team can provide input.
    • Request for Decision – the owner will present adequate summary information and if necessary guide the leadership using the full 5-step conversation model to reach consensus on a decision. Discussion is allowed and encouraged to satisfy any needs for information.

Control the meeting

  • As a first item, review the agenda and ask participants to amend as needed. (Establish Focus for the meeting)
  • Inform items need to be quick and in summary format. Handle detailed informs with one-page bulleted handouts or offline via email updates.
  • Consistently apply the ‘5-step coaching model for managers’* to meeting management.
  • Keep participants within the flow of the five steps and recognize when a circular flow (step backward)is needed. Be aware of what step you need to be on.
  • Use meeting time for exception-based discussions.
  • Use consensus agenda items to approve or accept recommendations that don’t need discussion.

Carl Nielson is an executive and team performance coach. In addition to one-on-one coaching, Carl delivers in-house development programs for managers, teams and high-potentials. His latest initiatives include Leadership Acceleration Program for High-Potentials, Execution Leadership for NPD and IT Project Managers and *The Coaching Clinic for Managers. Carl also provides highly interactive team workshops including  Communication and Collaboration Skills for Teams using DISC and other assessments.

*The 5-step coaching model for managers is ideal for meeting management and uses the following coaching conversation flow:

  1. Establish Focus
  2. Discover Possibilities
  3. Plan the Action
  4. Remove Barriers
  5. Recap

To learn more, schedule a convenient information session with Carl, go here.

Leadership Skills: Empathy for Your Team

February 16, 2017


Show Empathy for Your Team

Empathy—the ability to read and understand other’s emotions, needs, and thoughts—is one of the core competencies of emotional intelligence and a critical leadership skill. It is what allows us to influence, inspire, and help people achieve their dreams and goals. Empathy enables us to connect with others in a real and meaningful way, which in turn makes us happier—and more effective—at work.

But it’s not that simple, is it?

There’s no doubt that people want to feel appreciated and listened to at work. As a leader, it’s your job to create an empathetic environment where everyone feels valued. Here are a few simple things you can do to show empathy for your team:

  • Observe, listen, and ask questions. Stop assuming and “telling” that you know what people are thinking and feeling — you probably don’t. There’s always more to learn if you’re quiet and curious which is counter to the behavioral traits rewarded in other aspects of leadership.
  • Stop multitasking. If you’re writing an email to one person while talking with another, neither one is getting the best of you –  and whether you are aware or not, it is extremely rude and disrespectful. Put your phone down and give your full attention to the person in front of you.
  • Don’t give in to distractions. There’s always a deadline looming, a crisis to deal with, or an annoyance to put to rest. It’s important to slow down and take a step back from all of this stress. Practice mindfulness, and encourage your employees to do the same. Let them know it’s OK to take some time for themselves.

Adapted from “If You Can’t Empathize with Your Employees, You’d Better Learn To,” by Annie McKee

A Little Interview Prep and Practice Can Help Determine If Sales Candidates Will Be Successful

December 10, 2016

According to Will Brooks, COO of The Brooks Group (a leading corporate sales effectiveness training firm), the single biggest challenge in hiring salespeople is that it is both logical and emotional in nature.


The false-logic challenge is that having someone in place is better than having no one at all. This is a false position based on what we know a bad sales hire typically costs you:

  • Wasted leads and lost opportunities
  • Customer and prospect alienation
  • Loss of goodwill in the marketplace
  • Poor image and reputation
  • Morale problems caused for other salespeople
  • Lost time and energy in hiring, training and retaining
  • Delivery and customer service problems
  • Picking up the pieces after the failed rep has left

The emotional challenge lies in the danger of hiring someone you like regardless of any verifiable level of competency. Couple this with the often-used mirror test hiring strategy (the method of being able to fog a mirror and you have the job) that many companies use and you can imagine the merry-go-round of problems. It is time to get off the merry-go-round – unless you are enjoying the ride.

You’ve heard the advice. Using thoughtful and thought-provoking sales interview questions is a way around to identify the best candidate as well as remove candidates from the running. So, based on common themes across hundreds of TriMetrix HD “outside sales” job benchmark profiles (more about TriMetrix below) we’re offering a list of sales interview questions you can use to determine if your next sales candidate is a fit for your organization, your product, your team and your culture. Using these questions will help. Using these questions and administering the TriMetrix HD Talent assessment will significantly improve your sales hiring.

Suggested Sales Interview Questions

What are your longer-term career aspirations?
[Getting to know the candidate,  achievement orientation]

Give me an example of a time when a manager provided you feedback you didn’t agree with. How did you handle it?
[Is the candidate coachable?]

How would you start working a territory from scratch?
[Planning and Organizing skills]

Walk me through your process for developing a prospecting plan.
[Planning and Organizing skills]

What’s more important: planning or action?
[Balance of planning and action]

Walk me through your sales process of choice.
[Sales Strategies]

What was the last sales book you read?
[Continuous Learning]

How do you evaluate the best way to invest your time in a typical day?
[Self Management]

What expectations do you have of your manager?
[Manager – Subordinate relationship preferences.]

Describe the ideal sales team you’d like to be a part of.
[Teamwork skills]

Where specifically do you need to grow your sales skill set?
[Sales Strategy knowledge]

Where do you see the world of sales prospecting going? What’s the best place to find {buyers in our market}?

How do you differentiate yourself personally?
[Self-Awareness, knowledge of strengths]

What separates a top sales performer from everyone else?
[Knowledge and focus on continuous improvement]

Knowing what you know now about professional selling, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your career?
[Self-awareness, continuous improvement attitude, personal accountability]

What’s more important to sales success: selling skills or interpersonal skills?
[Which does the candidate prefer using. Are they disciplined or like to wing it and rely on their winning personality.]

Walk me through your process for preparing for a face-to-face call.
[Organized use of systems and procedures to be efficient and effective]

What have you found to be the most effective way to open a face-to-face sales meeting?
[Sales strategy]

Give me an example of a time that you completely mismanaged your first face-to-face meeting with a prospect. What did you learn from it?
[Awareness, Coachabilty and Continuous Learning]

How do you go about crafting a recommendation for a prospect or customer?
[Organized practical thinking skills]

What role does sales team alignment with the bigger organization play in the overall success of the sales team?
[Team player, them vs us mentality, big picture understanding]

What makes a world-class sales manager?
[Answer will be based on past experience with good and poor sales managers.]

What’s more important: profitability or volume?
[Profitability is connected to value selling. Volume is connected to speed and discounts.]

What tools do you use to learn about a prospect before making contact?
[Sales strategies]

Describe your biggest success as a salesperson.
[Understanding the candidates work experience, depth, resume.]

Describe your biggest setback as a salesperson.
[Understanding the candidates work experience, depth, resume.]

Describe a time you lost a longer-term customer. What happened? How did you handle it?
[sales strategies]

What’s more important: being decisive or slowing down to pay attention to detail?
[It is the extremes that will derail a sales person. Too slow, worried about making mistakes or being too impulsive. Both are sales killers.]

Describe a time you had to over-service an account that didn’t mean much commission to you personally. How did you handle it?
[Sales strategy]

How do you handle situations when a prospective buyer insists you cut your price?
[Sales strategies]

Holding out to find a candidate that is a “best fit” for the position will benefit you and all of the candidates, and will result in an employee who is successful.

To further assess a candidate, as well as the available position, look no further than the TriMetrix® Assessment System (a unique four-science assessment to identify the talents of your applicants, define the job’s talent requirements objectively and train, coach and develop internally). We also offer the Sales Strategy Index, a sales strategy assessment, sales DISC assessments and personal motivators assessments  for use in the hiring process and to supplement internal training programs. Let us share more about these powerful sales hiring tools by completing the inquiry form below.

The Nielson Group offers best-in-class solutions to define jobs, assess talent and develop people for high performance across your organization. To learn more and discuss your specific needs, send us a note by filling out the form below:

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