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Your Next, Next Career is Closer Than You Think

Your Next, Next Career is Closer Than You Think

It is not just the youngsters today who are changing the employment landscape; the older cohort of workers are also doing their part to significantly alter the environment. This is seen strongest as working seniors redefine “retirement” to mean something entirely new and exciting. With that comes a significant amount of planning – what we like to call our clients’ “Next, Next.”

Whereas 65-year-olds used to stop working and live off their pensions, today’s older workforce is finding significant joy and productivity by creatively remaining engaged in the economic engine of employment. We encourage our executive clients to consider living a portfolio personal and professional life that is comprised of a handful of jobs that in aggregate comprise a fulfilling and fruitful new career.

Before engaging with the portfolio career there is a lot of preparation and steps that need to be taken. When we work with clients in career transition who are in their 60s we map out a very specific plan that includes dual focus of preparing for his or her next job, which is usually the last stop on their climb up the corporate ladder and urge them to consider what happens after that chapter ends.

To be sure, there are many who by the time they reach their mid-to-late-60s want to sit poolside and lounge in the sun-drenched glow of retirement, but we know from experience most C-Suite executives are not wired that way. I enjoy asking my clients: “have you done your greatest thing yet?” and witnessing the moment they realize they still have that fire. They, and we, know there is still a lot of work to be done and much to be accomplished late in careers and life. Consider the creative and business accomplishments by the following leaders of their crafts who were in “retirement” age:

  • At 62, JRR Tolkien published the first volume of his fantasy series “The Lord of the Rings;”
  • At 66, Noah Webster completed his “American Dictionary of the English Language;”
  • At 70, Cornelius Vanderbilt began buying up railroads.

Ready to get started on your Next, Next plan? Here are the three critical steps everyone should take to managing their “retirement” before it manages them:

Coaching. Reflection is generally not something executives do well on their own because they are so focused on their careers. These highly driven people are usually set on a specific career path and never look back until the very end of the road. Having a guide in the form of a coach can be an efficient and productive way to set a new course. Coaches can be invaluable resources to helping clients formulate what retirement looks like and how to get there without distraction.

Monetize. As part of the reflection piece, executives should start thinking about where his and her passions truly lie. Ask oneself what it is he or she loves to do and then how can they make money doing it.

Start. It is never too early, nor is it ever too late, to begin the process of considering this new and exciting phase of one’s career. Reflect, self-assess and start preparing.

Why not get ready for your Next, Next right now? The sooner you start, the more prepared you will be, and you will realize that your greatest career accomplishments have most likely yet to be achieved. With a little bit of planning and guidance you can make it happen.


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Your Next, Next Career is Closer Than You Think

When Career Transitions Go Sideways, Keep it Cool

The social contract between employer and employee that was in place for generations has pretty much fallen by the wayside. In the past, people worked in one company for a lifetime believing that the company would “take care of them”. Today’s C-Suite needs to be prepared for a bumpy exit no matter how unlikely he or she may think it is.

Don’t believe me? Here are just a few stories of some of our clients:

A CEO of a $400M healthcare company was fired without warning. The news was leaked to the press before he could reach his family. A local television reporter called his home, his 16-year-old daughter answered, and the reporter asked, “How do you feel about your father being fired?”

If that doesn’t make your stomach turn just a bit, how about this one:

The chief operating officer of a private company had been promised that he would succeed the chief executive officer when the time came for a leadership transition. The founders called him into a previously unscheduled meeting, fired him on the spot without cause and then dared him to do something about it, saying: “We are not going to honor anything in your contract. If you don’t like it, sue us.”

These are just two of the many stories we have heard from our clients and each one makes us angry because it is avoidable.

No matter how poorly a termination is handled you must keep your cool. Take it in, control your emotions, let the person know that you need time to process what you have been told, and terminate the meeting as soon as you can. It is important to remember that every action you take while in, and after that meeting, may well determine everything that happens later.

Most of the clients who come to us are at the top of the leadership ladder – a Board Member, a CEO, a direct report to the CEO, or a Division Officer – but no matter who they are, they need a solid reference from the organization they are leaving. It is important to maintain a professional business demeanor because that is the final and lasting image that people will have of you. No one wants to help an executive who “kicks the furniture” on the way out the door.

Listen. I get it. We are all human and we’ve had situations where we let our emotions get the best of us. But don’t let this situation be one of those situations. How?

Breathe. Reach out to us. Using our confidential process, we can debrief you and help you understand what happened and examine appropriate next steps. We will ask a lot of important questions.  How was the situation presented? Who was in the room? How did they present it? What did you hear? How did you react to it? If we sense that our client took the low road, we offer solid counsel on how to regroup. Most senior executives are smart enough not to do anything rash or make idle threats, but they are justifiably upset – particularly if they didn’t see the termination coming.   But, our client has to go back to his or her former boss, apologize for the emotional response, and ask for their help to make the dissolution of the partnership as fair and equitable as possible to both sides.

Our clients have small but highly influential inner circles. When they later run into friends and colleagues, they are often asked, “What really happened?” It is our role to make sure that our clients have that answer ready to go – a truthful, carefully constructed, positive (or at least neutral) story that provides an opportunity to say good things about both the company and herself or himself.

After all, job loss is viewed as one of the top three most stressful situations in a person’s life – preceded only by the emotional disruption of a death and or divorce. That is why if you can’t rush through or repress the healing process that is required. Our team of coaches, advisers and executives have significant P&L expertise and understand the unique needs of the C-Suite. Armed with that knowledge and understanding, we help clients neutralize the emotion that can be so close to the surface when someone asks why he or she left. Once we have achieved that, clients will be ready to re-enter the marketplace with confidence.

Once that emotion is resolved, these very smart, talented and successful people begin to regain their perspective about who they are and what they have accomplished during the careers. As the process moves forward they will say, “Good grief. I’m not so bad, am I?” Or “Wow! I’ve really got a lot done, haven’t I?” They also recognize that they are in good company, because transitions are part of the risk/reward equation that is part of any top job.

Then it’s time to prepare for interviewing by developing compelling stories about the challenges they faced during different parts of their career, what actions they took to resolve them, and the results of their actions. This puts the “fire back in the belly” and they are ready to engage in finding the next opportunity.

This phase includes developing relationships by reaching out to those they know and meet, expanding their scope of influence, and interviewing for roles that are interesting and challenging. When negotiating for that that new role we are behind the scenes conducting compensation studies, recommending employment lawyers to review contracts (with appropriate severance provisions) , and developing a detailed On-Boarding Plan to ensure early success.

Signing on the bottom line to accept that new role is a moment we all relish and celebrate together. These men and women have learned from what came before, increased their self-knowledge, and developed fresh insight into what the market needs. They also know they can handle any unexpected change to their employment status with confidence.

Now Is the Time to Build Your Leadership Bench

Now Is the Time to Build Your Leadership Bench

Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/middle-market-growth/build-your-leadership-bench

The economic crisis caused by COVID-19 has led many businesses to focus on challenges related to working capital, supply chain, or the accelerated shift from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce. Yet alongside these urgent priorities, talent planning continues to be important, particularly as companies position themselves for the post-pandemic future.

Bob Ryan, a partner at Shields Meneley Partners, and Keith Goudy, the managing partner at Vantage Leadership Consulting, return to the podcast to discuss the pressing issues related to talent management and hiring that business leaders and private equity owners are grappling with today.

Drawing on their experience working with clients, Ryan and Goudy describe how the COVID crisis has changed what companies are looking for in their leaders, and how to lead effectively when employees are working from home. They offer actionable tips for advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives in a virtual work environment, and they explain why succession planning is now more important than ever.

Ryan and Goudy first appeared on the Middle Market Growth Conversations podcast last year, in an episode titled “How to Get Hired at a Private Equity-Owned Company,” available here.

Link(s) to Article:

To defend budgets in a downturn, L&D must focus on the future

To defend budgets in a downturn, L&D must focus on the future

Budget cuts and downsizing present an unfortunate reality, but that isn’t the full story for L&D, sources told HR Dive.

It’s an unfortunate reality during the COVID-19 pandemic, as with economic downturns past: talent development and training departments are likely to be subject to budget cuts and downsizing.

“History tells us that training is a line item that gets sought,” Dale Rose, president and co-founder of California-based consulting firm 3D Group, told HR Dive in an interview. “It’s a familiar path.”

But the trend is not necessarily a universal one, and Rose and others who spoke to HR Dive have worked with employers that take a different view. The difference between the current economic moment and that of the late 2000s recession, so goes the thinking, is that the underlying structure of the economy isn’t being impacted by COVID-19. “The one thing we do know is that this isn’t permanent,” Rose said.

Layoffs, furloughs and other cuts are taking up a lot of energy for organizations, Bob Ryan, executive advisor at Shields Meneley Partners in Chicago, said in an interview, but employers need to prepare for when the script flips. That means a certain percentage of staff should dedicate themselves to outlining the organization’s future, and “a part of [that percentage] needs to be L&D people,” he said.

As L&D professionals go into meetings with executives — in some cases to literally advocate for their department’s continued existence — their pitch cannot be to simply return to business as usual, Ryan said; “This is the time to be creative and show the CEO, CFO and CHRO that L&D is important, but it’s going to change.” Top companies, he continued, are opting to increase, not decrease, investment in talent after the pandemic.

“I believe the conversation with business leaders needs to start and end with how learning supports business strategy and outcomes,” Chris Holmes, director of global learning and development at Booz Allen Hamilton, told HR Dive in an emailed statement. “If learning is integrated as a part of a shared outcome, then the need to ‘advocate’ for training investment can be a very different conversation.”

L&D departments can also appeal to their role in shaping the organization’s future competitiveness. “The competitive advantage that companies have coming out of this is going to depend on their talent,” Cat Ward, managing director of JFFLabs, a division of workforce and education nonprofit Jobs for the Future, told HR Dive in an interview. “We’re moving into a pretty fluid environment here.”

Distance learning provides a way forward

It’s simple enough to say that talent development will be important, but how L&D professionals keep it top of mind during and after the pandemic will differ. Ryan described practitioners at one manufacturing industry client who took matters into their own hands by making reopening-oriented training videos with their phone cameras. L&D teams elsewhere have held Zoom calls to step back and brainstorm solutions for assisting workforces that may have moved to remote status during the pandemic.

Some teams will struggle with a learning environment that is more digital. “There’s the chance for disinvestment in workplace learning, and a lot of that is due to the fact that a lot of learning at work hasn’t been digital-first in nature,” Ward said. “If you want your business to be competitive, you need to be preparing your workforce for these changes.”

But digital transition can be an advantage for L&D teams, particularly those at employers that had not embraced digital transformation before the pandemic, according to Rose. “Maybe there are benefits to someone sitting at their home office; maybe they have more time,” he said. “The opportunity of the moment is to embrace distance learning.”

At Booz Allen Hamilton, employees are actually consuming more learning content, and they are particularly focusing on content covering how to work and lead effectively in a virtual environment, Holmes said.

One understated impact of the movement to online learning post-pandemic is that it could level the playing field for talent development. In his own experience doing online presentations with clients, Ryan said he’s seeing high levels of participation and engagement from learners. “I can look at 20 to 30 people as I’m leading the meeting, and it’s just easier to manage.”

Employers will still need to deal with some hurdles when it comes to online learning, Ward said, particularly ensuring all workers have access to a reliable internet connection and other necessary technology. Front-line and middle-skill employees will also need to be included: “It’s a business advantage that your entire workforce is able to keep their skill sets fresh and stay competitive,” Ward added.

It will also be difficult for talent professionals to advocate for internship programs, many of which have been cancelled or otherwise rolled back during the pandemic. But online delivery can help here, too, Ward said. Companies like Microsoft have opted to turn their internships into digital experiences, and the tech giant has said that this move will influence its approach to internships well into the future.

Virtual reality and augmented reality, previously used by globally spread, remote-based organizations to disseminate training programs, could also help navigate a situation in which on-site operations are suspended. Ward said she’s aware of companies that have considered sending sanitized VR headsets to employees so that they can train at home.

Reopening as a blueprint

COVID-19 may not be the disruption L&D teams anticipated, but it is nonetheless a reminder that the field’s future may lie in preparing organizations to adapt to massive change.

“The way we work has completely changed,” Rose said. As organizations look to reopen in an environment of social distancing and disease prevention, L&D could emerge in a highly visible role that supports all employees. “Caring for my people has always been important, but that’s more important now. If they’re going to be effective in their work, I need to be tending to them more than I might normally.”

This care can take many forms, from facilitating how employees should reorganize their schedules to literally helping them move from point A to point B within a facility.

Soft skills training is a particular area of emphasis for companies that moved remote. “I think that has just gotten really ratcheted up here,” Ward said. Workers and managers will need assistance adapting to phone-based and web-based communication, especially if they are used to an environment that is dependent on face-to-face communication. Even the subtler act of reading the body language of team members will require adjustment, Ward noted.

In some ways, moving to a remote basis can create a new standard for work itself. “It’s a different way of setting goals,” Ward said. “There’s much more of a premium on execution … and that is going to require even more communication.”

The pandemic is not just a chance for L&D departments to prove that their programs have a return on investment; workers are watching, too, and evaluating the responses that employers put forward.

“Remember that employees will remember and value the choices that companies make,” Rose said.

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An Unexpected Networking Opportunity

An Unexpected Networking Opportunity

Believe it or not, this is a great time for executives in career transition to network and to meet people. In my role as a coach for C-Suite members looking for their new jobs, one of the things that we talk about is how important networking is in general and during this time with more people being at home, they’re actually starving for interaction with people. That desire to connect intersects with the fact that potential new contacts are more available because big holes have shown up in their schedules since they are not traveling and they are not commuting. So, they have time.

At Shields Meneley Partners, we have relationships with the most influential search firms and we are finding that recruiters are available. I have already lost count at the number of calls I have had with these people who do not understand why people are not calling them or returning their calls. This is a huge mistake. If you are an executive, particularly in the C-Suite, and you are in career transition, do not assume that nothing is going on with recruiters because nothing could be further from the truth.

Generally speaking, we know about half the positions, executive C-level, are on hold or at least moving slowly, but that also means the other half are full speed ahead and filling these positions is really important. No one wants to go into a board meeting this spring and say that a key position has not been filled because of the pandemic. So, recruiters are still looking to fill those roles.

Even if you are an executive not in career transition, this is still a good time to continue networking. With so many executives home and not busied with travel and in-person distractions from the office, people have the time to catch up. I recently made a list of 16 people that I wanted to contact over the next couple of weeks and after only a few days I had conversations with 15 people! In normal times that would have not happened during such a short timeframe. This is a good time to stay connected with people, offer your help, and at the same time listen. and share what is going on in your life.

Based on what we are seeing in the marketplace, best-in-class CEOs are staying in contact through Zoom or other video tools, with their leadership team, but also getting messages out on video vignettes that are pushed out to all employees, including those whom are furloughed, working, out in the field, or working from home. This is executed with a very human touch that shows leadership’s concern for families first and bringing them up to date on the business.

Link(s) to Article:

Your Next, Next Career is Closer Than You Think

It is Definitely the Time to Redefine Networking

With the COVID19 pandemic dramatically reshaping the once-hot job market, today’s C-Suite in transition must master the art of networking. For many executives in job search mode, reaching out to strangers is a misunderstood opportunity to share rather than to ask. Shields Meneley Partners’ Principal and Executive Coach Elizabeth Olson discusses how she helps her high-powered clients to reap the rewards of this powerful tool.

Whether the job market is robust or weak, virus-challenged or not, being a good networker is imperative. When we work with individual clients, more often than not they do not understand what networking actually means. Many think of it as a sleazy or a dirty endeavor focused on asking for favors. To be sure, when you ask someone you do not know to spare his or her valuable time with you, there is a level of goodwill that is being asked however, the real purpose is different and has generosity at its core.

That is why I want to change the term. My definition of networking is: cultivating current friendships and building new relationships for mutual benefit. Positive relationships include give-and-take. That means you have something to offer the person with whom you are talking, be it sharing your own experiences, information, advice, and network. You need to have the mindset that this is a two-way conversation that just by talking to another person, it is going to be mutually beneficial if you are being authentic.This is the opposite of selfishness.

Here is my laundry list of what networking is not:

  • Networking is not arrogance
  • Networking is not self-promotion or pretending to be someone you’re not
  • Networking is not collecting business cards or followers on Twitter, or friends on Facebook
  • Networking is not selling
  • Networking is not about a number’s game or throwing spaghetti against the wall
  • Networking is not just for senior executives, salespeople, and the gifted few
  • Networking is not just for extroverts
  • Networking is not only attending events or playing golf
  • Networking is not only used when you lose a job
  • Networking does not create instant connections
  • Networking is not only with people that you don’t know
  • Networking does not mean you have to be out every night
  • Networking is not brown-nosing

I’m promoting the idea of asking for advice and offering it when asked, which is about growth and advancement. People are attracted to learning, growth, and advancement. It is this subtle mind shift that I try to get across in sessions with clients. Instead of networking feeling inauthentic, what makes it authentic is discovering similar worldviews, similar aspirations, and similar values.

It does require forcing a new mindset. You have to literally stop and say, “I have the opportunity to share my learning with other people and these are people that I have things in common with. Perhaps we’re in business or philanthropy, or we’re in the same city, or in the same industry. We are inevitably having common problems and challenges that we deal with.” You really have to stop your amygdala from going to the fight-or-flight response, and use your executive function to remind yourself why people want to talk with you, the value you’re bringing, and that you’re not just taking, you’re a giver also.

I always suggest finding a higher purpose for the meeting, and during this time of health and economic challenges, this must be top of mind. A higher purpose of learning about people’s family, sharing the “why” of what drives each of you, and sharing your network with other people. As soon as you link in, or LinkedIn, with people, you’re sharing your network with other people, that’s of value to them and by you getting to know them a bit, you’re going to expand your network to them.

Instead of feeling needy and less than the people with whom you are networking, when seeking new opportunities you can reach out with a real sense of gratitude for having the time to connect with each person. That’s a big mind shift–it is all about reframing the activity of networking to one of generosity from one of selfishness.

Put Your Career on the Fast Track

Put Your Career on the Fast Track

Are you clear about what you really want to do? Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t really matter to you.

Article Author:
Gail R. Meneley, Partner, Shields Meneley

As an executive transition coach, I’m often asked how people should plan their career. It’s an interesting question since every case is different. For example, have you been in your job for three or more years and are ready for a change? Were you just been passed over for a promotion? Do you have a new boss who is giving you mixed signals? Did a search firm reach out and stir up your curiosity about what else might be out there? Did your company just merge creating competition for all existing roles? Are you clear about what you really want to do?

I believe the last question is the most important. If you have been in a role that no longer inspires you, and you don’t make a change, you have a long, boring career ahead of you. Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours doing something that doesn’t really matter to you.

5 Critical Steps

  1. Take time to complete executive assessments to learn more about yourself. Assessments can help you identify what you are good at, what challenges you, what work brings you the most satisfaction, and what culture aligns with your values. If your feedback report indicates a need for you to develop new skills or competencies, enroll in some courses so you become a more qualified and credible candidate. You will never make a better investment in yourself and in your career.
  2. Invest in a professional writer to add appropriate weight and sizzle to your resume and LinkedIn profile. Share your new resume with your boss and with HR so they better understand what new skills you have developed and results you have achieved for the company. They will see you in a new light and perhaps put your hat in the ring for roles you might be interested in. Additionally, you will have an up-to-date resume to share with others who inquire. Review it quarterly and add additional business results.
  3. Reach out to schedule a time to sit down with your boss to talk about your future. Make it clear that this is a career discussion, not a threat to leave the company. This will ensure the conversation is focused on what you are doing now and what you would like to do. Bring your new resume to the meeting so he or she will understand exactly what roles you would like to have and why you should be considered for certain positions.
  4. Remember that networking is important throughout your career. If you have a contact database, update the information and sort it into personal and professional contacts. Then indicate who you believe the real connectors are. Establish a regular contact schedule with them by sending a note as simple as: “Hello, ____ I hope you are well. It has been too long since we have connected and I miss seeing you. Can I buy you a cup of coffee or lunch to catch up in the next few weeks (of course, this is dependent on when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted)? I’m doing well as (role) at (company) and have enclosed my updated resume. I look forward to hearing from you.”
  5. Keep your eye on your professional goal. If you want to be the chief executive officer of a company, build a plan that connects the dots as you move up the ladder. (Remember that at every step you have to excel in the current role!) Here’s an example: If you are a marketing manager today, the likely next step will be in marketing, but it could go one of several ways. You might focus on a more technical marketing role such as digital marketing, from there to a director of marketing role and then chief marketing officer. Where do you go from there? Most companies have created a succession plan of sorts. The company might want to move you into a senior role in strategy or operations to round out your background and position you for a shot at being CEO.

So there you are: a primer on career planning that should serve you well. Now’s the time to make it happen!

Gail R. Meneley is a partner at Shields Meneley. Hundreds of high-profile executives in America have chosen her as their adviser and coach to advance their work and careers. They rely on her “straight talk” to help them think through their most important leadership and career decisions. As a result, their personal and organizational goals are reached sooner and with greater impact. Meneley’s clients include Allstate, Johnson & Johnson, Heller Financial, American Red Cross, McDonald’s, Baxter, Fort James, Bristol Meyers, Fleming, Galileo, Anthem Health, GE, Motorola, Quaker, CNA, R.R. Donnelley, Anheuser Busch, and Sears. As a leadership peer, Meneley has extensive P&L, strategy development, and management experience within professional services, financial services, and nonprofit sectors. She was president, CEO, and a member of the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Institute of Financial Education, a national financial services training organization. She also has served on the boards of public and not-for-profit corporations, including the United States League Management Services, a subsidiary of the United States League of Savings Institutions in Washington, D.C.

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Your Next, Next Career is Closer Than You Think

My Virtual Board of Advisors

For the past 18 years, I have been utilizing a powerful tool that I look at as my Virtual Board of Directors. I formalized this process into a semi-organized form of keeping in touch with people whose perspectives I respect. In some ways, this is my rendition of Networking 2.0. (Before you read on, I recommend you first read my thoughts about best practices for Networking.)

So, how does this virtual board of advisors work? To start, we have never had a board meeting, never met in person, and none of the members even know they are part of this esteemed group, yet all have played incredibly important roles in the development of my life and career.

Wait, what?

I know, this sounds like the visions of a lunatic, but bear with me.

I have a group eight trusted advisors with whom I communicate individually three or four times per year. This team has a singular, shared objective to be a critical source of information and feedback. I turn to them to act as a sounding board, to provide creative input, to offer common sense, and even to play around with crazy ideas.

To be sure, this is not a hodge-podge assemblage of people. The group is diverse by design and includes men and women of all ages, geographical locations and professions. The youngest is 28 years old; the oldest is 81 years old. Members represent global perspectives from Canada, the United States, Germany and the UK. Professional backgrounds are just as diverse with a human resources professional, a country singer, a senior level recruiter, a chief executive officer, and an entrepreneur. A couple of the members are retired, several work on their own, and others work for companies. This mix helps with the quality and breadth of counsel I receive.

Several key principles make it work:

It must be a two-way relationship. I make sure that each meeting or call fulfills a need for the other person too. That could be as simple as buying lunch, listening, or coaching. I call quarterly even if there is no clear need or objective on my part. It is good to just catch up regularly.

Imagine the individuals as a team around a table. Even though this never happens, I prepare as if it will. What is the objective of the next round of calls and meetings? What do I want to accomplish? I prepare as if I am going to a board meeting. I enter quarterly call reminders on my calendar and spend a few hours preparing for the first call since inevitably, that discussion leads to topics that I may carry into the follow-on meeting with other board members.

Eight is enough. I believe too many advisors can be a problem to manage, just like any board. That said, I also feel fewer than five may reduce the diversity and richness of the input. In reality, I probably catch six of the eight in my quarterly meetings.

Keep track and take notes. I admit it. I started out as an engineer and I like building spreadsheets and tables. I keep a matrix that tracks contact information, last call, input from each member and some personal information. The latter gets the conversation going on the next call. I also color-code the input. Crazy ideas (orange) have led to some of the most valuable paths I have pursued.

You are the membership committee. I carefully considered who I wanted on my board. Diversity was important to me for a number of reasons. I also thought carefully about each relationship. I suppose the board could flex depending on the need or issue, but I have chosen to stay with the same eight people for several years. Importantly, I would like to have someone in their twenties and over the 18 years, that person has changed several times. I believe if you tailor the team to the task, you miss out on a unique viewpoint from someone who may not be knowledgeable about the specific issue – but may have related experience that informs your thinking. I also value people who are “fun’ to talk to – who are interested and interesting.

There is no need to let each person know you see them as part of a team. I suppose this article lets “the cat out of the bag” for my advisors who read this article, but, I don’t think they need to know the structure since it may lead to assumptions about the issue or the team that might be distracting and irrelevant. The bottom line is that I enjoy keeping up with this group of interesting people and I want to make sure our conversations are as genuine as possible.

I would love to learn more about how you network and use feedback from your trusted advisors. Please drop me a line in the comment section. Let’s get our own discussion started.

Link(s) to Article:


Your Next, Next Career is Closer Than You Think

Can Comp and Conferences Help Board Recruiting?

As boards compete to recruit highly sought-after diverse directors with a particular set of skills – such as technology and cyber-security expertise, for example – consultants are prompting boards to revisit some aspects of their compensation plans and to consider educational opportunities that could help their boards stand out to desirable candidates.

Generally, board compensation and attendance at global conferences aren’t the primary drivers that compel executives with data analytics or cyber-security experience to join boards, consultants say. However, on the margins, boards can optimize their recruiting efforts by making sure comp plans take into account the interests of younger, active executives and that onboarding and educational opportunities allow curious and intelligent but less seasoned board members to get a feel for an entirely different business or industry than the one they’re in.

“There is an element of board shopping that goes on,” says Hugh Shields, an executive coach who also works with board members at consulting firm Shields Meneley Partners.

Active executives, particularly those whose skill sets are highly coveted by boards, know they have “one shot” at an outside board seat, Shields says, so they try to find the best position they can. Executives will announce to colleagues and advisors that they’re interested in joining boards, visit the board practices divisions of search firms to get to know recruiters, and conduct their own networking to let board members know they’re looking for a seat, he says.

“There’s much more competition,” says Shields.

And while many aspiring directors are working hard to make themselves known to boards, it appears that many companies are creating similar wish lists for new board members, putting a premium on certain skill sets.

Among the 462 new directors who joined Fortune 500 boards in the past year, 55% were active executives and 42% had digital and social media or cyber-security expertise, according to a Heidrick & Struggles report.

A survey of 113 nominating and governance committee members conducted by Spencer Stuart found that the most high-priority recruiting profiles currently include women board candidates with technology experience. In three years, the profiles will also include minority candidates with digital and social media expertise, the survey found. Those skills will surpass financial and operational expertise, according to the results.

Therefore, many boards may be attempting to lure a lot of the same executives in the coming years, and the quest for board talent will grow increasingly heated. For some boards that have had recruiting challenges, directors may want to consider modifying their approaches.

Don Delves, managing director in executive compensation and practice leader for North America at Willis Towers Watson, points out that he sees a generational shift taking place as boards are recruiting more diverse directors. New board members, whom he calls “the human capital generation,” are more interested in workforces and question how people are valued by companies and the way organizations create shareholder and societal value. They also want to clearly understand what might be fascinating about a company and could interest them, he adds.

“They don’t hesitate to ask about the whole employee population and the whole pipeline of people moving through the company,” says Delves. Directors are asking, “Do you have the right people in the right places doing the right job?” he says. “That’s clearly a change that’s happening.”

Another Look at Equity

Directors aren’t primarily motivated by their compensation, and boards would be ill-advised to recruit a new member who was interested in a board seat simply for the money, says Dan Laddin, a founding partner at Compensation Advisory Partners (CAP). Most new directors are motivated to join a board if they believe they have the ability to contribute to the company they would be overseeing, and whether the work would be interesting to them.

Beyond those two screens, however, potential director candidates do want to understand how they will be compensated for their time, Laddin says. He notes that some of the active executives will be at different life stages than more traditional board members, with younger family situations, mortgages, school loans or children in college. Given that boards are attracting directors from a much broader pool of talent these days, board compensation becomes more meaningful than if the board were recruiting a former CEO, says Laddin. As boards diversify, they’re looking for a diversity of backgrounds in terms of career, which might also mean differences in wealth.

“The market for talent is highly competitive and companies can choose to compete or fall behind,” says Matt Vnuk, a principal at CAP. “One way to effectively compete for talent is through differentiation in compensation.”

A new director compensation report from CAP suggests that boards may want to revisit provisions allowing for initial equity awards to new directors. Initial equity awards have trended downward in recent years, but they could appeal to directors who are considering multiple invitations to join boards.

Among the 100 largest companies, 13 currently provide initial equity awards with a median value of $175,000, according to data from CAP. Vesting varies by company, CAP finds, with immediate or one-year vesting the most common schedule. An equity award upon election or appointment to the board can differentiate a director pay program in a way that ramps up new directors’ alignment with shareholders, Vnuk says.

“An initial award can make a lot of sense in attracting a candidate to your company versus another company,” Laddin says.

In addition, stock ownership guidelines, which have tended to grow more stringent as boards have adopted hold-until-retirement or hold-until-after-retirement requirements, could also be revisited, CAP suggests in its report. Directors could be required to hold stock until their holdings are equivalent to a five-times multiple of the annual cash retainer, for instance, rather than holding stock until they leave the board.

If a director joins a board and is paid half in cash and half in equity and is required to hold the equity until they leave the board, that means they’re only earning roughly 25% of their total compensation because they’ll be required to pay taxes on the cash compensation, points out Laddin. Having access to the other portion of their board compensation could be valuable to an actively employed board member who is at an earlier stage of their life and career, he says.

“If you can use compensation in a way to differentiate yourself in the recruiting process in away that remains very responsible, that’s certainly a plus,” says Vnuk.

Director Education

In addition, other issues to consider include onboarding and director education opportunities, says Delves. Once pay is competitive, it may not make a difference to some executives, he notes.

However, if a board can emphasize the importance of the job and provide opportunities to take in-depth corporate governance courses at top universities, a membership with the National Association of Corporate Directors or a subscription to board-director-focused publications, for example, an active executive could be interested in the opportunity to dive headfirst into learning about corporate governance.

In addition, Delves says that director orientation programs should be organized to allow executives the chance to visit company headquarters and offsite plants and locations and talk with executives and learn everything they can to immerse themselves in the company they’ll be overseeing.

In addition, boards benefit when directors bring broader perspectives into the boardroom, he says. Attending conferences or traveling to the Aspen Institute or the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, helps board members stay on the cutting edge while also bringing ideas back to the boardroom. Depending on the amount of time a director has and the board budget for education, one conference or event per new director could provide an interesting education component to board membership.

“Some of them are already making a lot of money,” says Delves. “What can you do to make it interesting and a whole fascinating adventure for them to take on that’s different from their daily lives?”

Originally Posted: https://www.agendaweek.com/c/2535213/302043/comp_conferences_help_board_recruiting?referrer_module=issueHeadline