Brad Karsh is CEO and Founder of JB Training Solutions, a company that simply makes work better for organizations throughout the world. Brad is the author of three business books including the critically acclaimed ‘Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of Management’. Brad travels the world speaking at major organizations including Marriott, Google, Harvard University, Discover, and The Chicago Blackhawks, among many others. Brad is a SHRM fanatic and was rated #1 out of 214 speakers in 2016.
HR expert, speaker and author, Brad Karsh shared his insights with the Bravo team on why it’s necessary to have more than leaders making decisions, how ‘stay interviews’ could help retain millennials at work and why knowing an individual’s style of appreciation is important to perfect engagement at work.
Q. You have had an illustrious career in HR. You are the founder and CEO of JB Training Solutions and also a top ranked SHRM speaker. Could you take us on this journey of yours?
Brad Karsh: It’s definitely a journey! I began my career at Leo Burnett, an advertising agency right here in Chicago. I started working in media, and eventually transitioned to HR and recruiting. After 15 years there, I went on to start JB Training Solutions – which just last year celebrated 15 years in business. My history speaking at SHRM dates way back to 2010, and I’ve enjoyed every year since.
‘If more than just leadership is making the decisions, people will feel more appreciative of each other for having a hand in the future of the organization.’
Q. It isn’t enough that supervisors recognize employees. Winning companies build positive cultures where colleagues, subordinates and cross-functional partners all recognize each other. How can organizations introduce an appreciative culture at work?
Brad Karsh: Camaraderie is essential to continue to build a great culture. Interest and affinity groups are one way to encourage that the workplace atmosphere is by the people, for the people. And if more than just leadership is making the decisions, people will feel more appreciative of each other for having a hand in the future of the organization.
Q. Can you suggest an interesting case study to illustrate the above point?
Brad Karsh: We implemented it right here at JB Training! We developed an engagement survey that was distributed to our staff last year. It asked many questions, and an overwhelming majority identified health and fitness as a top priority and hobby. We’ve since implemented team outings to try new workouts and adventures. Every employee receives a chance to choose the next excursion, and it really helps connect our team on an empathetic level.
‘Annual reviews are now turning into year-round feedback conversations’
Q. Technology is an extension of millennials. What can employers do to keep millennial employees more engaged at work? How can workplaces transform to make this happen?
Brad Karsh: In terms of technology, millennials are generally very well-connected and up-to-speed on the latest and greatest. Some workplaces that I’ve consulted are utilizing technology to improve their internal processes. For example, annual reviews are now turning into year-round feedback conversations, and there’s software out there to help anonymize that feedback.
‘One way to retain millennials is to implement ‘stay interviews’, where the company asks millennials what they ideally would want to see in order to stay with the company.’
Q. Unlike the baby boomers, millennials tend to switch jobs often. What challenges does this pose to employers and what in your opinion could help build loyalty amongst millennials?
Brad Karsh: It has been a growing trend among every generation to have more jobs than the previous generation – even Generation X tends to job-hop! Employers are changing the way they recruit and their expectations on retention. Most millennials expect to stay in a job less than 5 years, so the focus of most organizations should be to find out how they can turn 5 years into 7, and so on. Millennials do feel a sense of loyalty, but they also grew up in the recession where many people were laid off from their jobs. Their heightened senses and high-achieving tendencies are often mistaken as disloyalty. One way to retain millennials is to implement ‘stay interviews’, where the company asks millennials what they ideally would want to see in order to stay with the company.
‘Once a manager has awareness of how each individual would like to be managed, it’s easier to set expectations and avoid becoming the micromanager or the missing-in-action leader.’
Q. I am quite intrigued when I hear of managers being a problem because either they are “too hands on” or “too hands off”. Is there an ideal balance? Which is the better end of the continuum? Why do managers struggle with this?
Brad Karsh: My opinion is that it all comes down to style. In our management workshop at JB, we identify personal styles and how managers are tasked with flexing their own style to meet the needs of their team. Once a manager has awareness of how each individual would like to be managed, it’s easier to set expectations and avoid becoming the micromanager or the missing-in-action leader.
‘Some employees don’t like the spotlight, they probably would be mortified by a company-wide congratulations email – know the way they like to be appreciated!’
Q. A piece of reality is that way too often employees don’t get what they want most i.e. being recognized for their individual contributions. Despite so many studies, we still find many organizations stuck in a blindspot when it comes to employee recognition. How would you approach this problem/opportunity?
Brad Karsh: Employee recognition always feels like a large undertaking, but it can be any act of appreciation, even as small as a thank-you email. Similar to management style, everyone also has a recognition style. Some prefer grand gestures while others prefer smaller, private acknowledgement. The best way to identify this is to just ask! Task your managers with surveying their team to see what type of recognition they like. Because if they don’t like the spotlight, they probably would be mortified by a company-wide congratulations email.
Q. Which is the product or technology related to HR applications that you are most excited about for in the future?
Brad Karsh: I really am excited about performance management platforms and how they are going to change employee experiences and interpersonal relationships.