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Media Mentions

Media outlets frequently contact F&H Solutions Group experts to comment on trends, recent developments and emerging issues in human resources and labor relations.
Onboarding A New Employee? Follow These 11 Effective Strategies

In this Forbes article, FHSG COO Brad Federman and other Forbes Coaches Council members discuss how to properly and effectively onboard new hires - a very important process that many companies get wrong.

Forbes   |   
15 Signs That It's Time To Pivot Your Business

A startup business usually begins with a singular focus, with defined plans and goals in place. Yet, as time goes on, market forces, new technology or even waning enthusiasm may make it necessary for a business to change its strategy in order to stay relevant—or survive. To help, FHSG COO Brad Federman and other members of the Forbes Coaches Council provide one clear signal that shows a business is ready or needs to pivot.

Forbes Coaches Council   |   
13 Signs That You Should Walk Away From Your Startup Business

Starting a business is a complex, ever-evolving monster of a task, and tough decisions have to be made almost every day. Perhaps no decision is quite so tough as when an owner has reached the crossroads where money’s tight, frustration is setting in and it’s time to decide whether to press on or cut losses. That single decision could mean the start of a new direction for a business—or its end. In this article, COO Brad Federman and other Forbes Coaches Council members discuss when you should walk away from your business.

Forbes Coaches Council   |   
Are Whistleblowers Good for Your Company?

In this article, Jerry Glass, President of F&H Solutions Group, is interviewed regarding a new academic study, which highlights some of the positive effects of whistleblowing on companies.

HR Executive   |   
Sears workers demand hardship fund as company teeters on edge of closing

As Sears Holdings Corp teeters on the brink of liquidation, its employees are pushing for a hardship fund they hope can replicate the success of bankrupt retailer Toys 'R' Us, whose workers collected $20 million in severance pay from its former owners.

Sears on Tuesday agreed to consider a revised takeover bid from Chairman Edward Lampert, temporarily staving off a liquidation that would have spelled the end of the company.

The latest attempt by Lampert follows a decade of revenue declines, hundreds of store closures, and years of deals in an attempt to turn around the company he put together in 2005 in an $11 billion deal.

Now, the retailer's approximately 68,000 workers are pushing Lampert to set up a financial fund giving laid-off workers a week of pay for every year of service.

"If he (Eddie Lampert) can drum up the money for another takeover bid, he can find the resources to come up with a hardship fund," said Onie Patrick, a laid-off Kmart employee who is part of the organizing effort.

A Sears spokesman declined to comment.

The fight for a hardship fund has become the new normal in U.S. retail, signaling a growing push for severance pay and benefits in an industry that has witnessed a raft of store closures and bankruptcies.

Sears is among the dozens of retailers like Gymboree, Claire's, Nine West, Payless Shoe Source and True Religion that have filed for bankruptcy in the past two years. Others like Bon-Ton Department Stores and Toys 'R' Us have gone out of business.

In the case of Sears, if liquidation is announced, employees will have to file claims with the court for both lost wages and severance that was promised to them, said Jerry Glass, president of labor relations at consultancy F&H Solutions Group.

Sears employees will be competing for the limited funds available, with other creditors, investors, and management employees who will be retained to assist in the liquidation, he said.

Last year, private equity firms Bain Capital and KKR & Co Inc — which bought Toys 'R' Us in a 2005 leveraged buyout and loaded it with billions of dollars in debt before liquidating the chain in June 2018 — set aside $20 million for retail workers, who had demanded $75 million.

The fund was an unusual move for private-equity owners, who are not required under bankruptcy law to provide such assistance for ex-employees.

Rise Up Retail, a campaign from labor group Organization United for Respect which assisted Toys R Us employees, does not think that will be a barrier.

The group has sent a letter to Lampert and other creditors demanding financial assistance for workers. It is also pushing for state and federal legislation that would require bankrupt companies to make severance payments.

"Eddie Lampert has picked apart this company and this is about him taking financial responsibility for his actions and the impact that is going to have on thousands of families," said Lily Wang, deputy director for Organization United for Respect's Rise Up Retail campaign.

Sears workers are hoping a combination of public shaming and political support will move the needle, as it did on Toy 'R' Us.

"When I saw that Toys 'R' Us employees were able to get so much public support and win some financial assistance for their families through that fund, I knew we needed to fight back," said Gabe Maguire, a Kmart worker whose store is closing in March.

15 Strategies For Turning A Lackluster Brand Around

A big part of running a successful company is getting people to buy into and become loyal to your brand. If a company’s brand is lackluster it can damage the chances for further success and growth.

In this article, COO Brad Federman and 14 other Forbes Coaches Council members discuss how to turn a lackluster brand around.

Forbes   |   
The Business Case for Succession Planning
In April 2004, McDonald’s CEO Jim Cantalupo died suddenly of a heart attack after what many on Wall Street considered to be a successful 16-month run as the company’s Chief Executive. Within six hours of Mr. Cantalupo’s death, 43-year-old Charlie Bell was voted into the CEO position by McDonald’s board. While McDonald’s had been grooming Mr. Bell to eventually succeed Mr. Cantalupo, circumstances warranted quick action. Within weeks of accepting the position, Mr. Bell was diagnosed with colon cancer. His illness forced him to resign in late 2004, and he passed away in January 2005. While these deaths hit McDonald’s hard, the company had the foresight to plan for succession in advance of these catastrophic events.  Jim Skinner, who had also been in the pipeline for the company’s top job, took over when it became clear that Mr. Bell could not continue. Mr. Skinner then led as McDonald’s CEO until 2012. Among his many accolades, Mr. Skinner was named the “2009 CEO of the Year” by Chief Executive Magazine. How was McDonald’s able to respond so quickly to these tragic, unforeseen events? Succession planning. Every leader at McDonald’s is expected to have at least two people they are grooming for their positions.
While the death of two CEO’s in one year is rare, this series of events brought the importance of succession planning to the forefront of many companies’ talent strategies. While most companies understand the importance of succession planning, only 21 percent have sufficiently prepared for viable successors and succession planned for key positions, according to Towers Watson Strategies for Growth Study.
Why don’t leaders plan for succession?
Some leaders say they don’t have time for succession planning. They view the processes associated with talent reviews, development planning, and mentoring as time consuming and outside of the scope of their “real” jobs. These leaders dismiss succession planning as a Human Resources function rather than a core and strategic component of their role. Other leaders view succession planning as important but lack the tools, processes, or support needed to benefit from succession planning.
Commonly noted factors that limit succession planning include:
  • Successors leave. High potentials often have strong, active networks and can be recruited away.
  • Incumbents in key roles stay. Well-performing incumbents remain in business critical roles, depriving junior talent of the learning experiences associated with those roles. This limits the business’ pipeline and ability to develop its future leaders.
  • Leaders make gut level, past-based decisions rather than engaging in future-focused, process driven-decisions. When deciding on developmental opportunities, leaders may assume they know what people need or want without undertaking a rigorous approach to development planning that serves the business’ future while considering peoples’ career aspirations when planning.
  • Low quality development plans. Far too often, leaders accept development plans that list “take a course” or “read a book” without specific connections between activities, competencies developed, and benefits to the business. Many employees will recycle the same plan year after year because the development planning is a mechanical, check-the-box process with no accountability, follow-up, or link between development and business results.
  • Poor or lacking follow-up and metrics. Building on the points above, managers are not held accountable by executives for ensuring that developmental activities have been completed and provided tangible value to the business, and thus, managers don’t hold their people accountable for completing learning activities.
  • Some companies bite off more than they can chew. While the examples listed above fall under the umbrella of doing too little, some companies try to do too much. They adopt cumbersome, time-consuming processes that don’t deliver value to the business.
Start with business critical positions instead of people
In a 2005 Harvard Business Review article, Mark Huselid and his colleagues offered leaders a different way to think about succession planning. Rather than start by focusing on top talent, they recommended that leaders start by focusing on business critical positions. To identify these positions, leaders must be clear about the company’s strategy to determine which positions are most crucial in driving the strategy. The authors suggest that only 20% of the jobs in a company are likely to be “business critical” and these roles are not defined by hierarchy. While there is no doubt every company should have a viable plan for its top offices such as CEO, CFO, etc., the company’s strategy will determine which positions are business critical. An organization that differentiates itself based on service quality might focus on its service representatives or sales people, while a company focused on efficiency and low prices might focus on jobs associated with logistics management and purchasing. Roles are not inherently more or less strategic. To determine whether a role has critical significance, it must create value by driving the company’s strategy. This is not to undervalue positions that support and contribute to a company’s success but rather, to offer a starting point for succession planning. The authors note that companies should focus their more rigorous planning efforts on business critical or “A” positions, but also have talent strategies for B and C positions that serve as “feeders” to business critical positions.
According to a structured development plan, for business critical positions, succession plans should go at least two people deep. At least one “Ready Now” successor and one that is being groomed, either in 1-3 years of the job, meaning, they are 1-2 jobs away from the focal role. While two successors is typically considered the minimum, more is better. Identifying junior talent in B or C positions who have the potential 3-5 years (or 2-3 jobs away from) key positions should be counted among every leader’s business objectives and part of his or her annual evaluation.
Next, identify top talent
Without using getting overly complicated, leaders need to determine the criteria that define success for A positions. While many companies identify multiple competencies they view as critical for positions, having too many competencies leads to the cumbersome review process that leaders dread (and thus, don’t do). Instead, focus on a handful of core competencies with well-developed behavioral benchmarks that truly differentiate top performers from the rest. Consider competencies needed to drive business strategy today and those that will become increasingly important in the next 3-5 years.
When leaders measure people against success criteria, they are looking backward. That is, performance reviews evaluate people based on the prior review period’s performance. That’s why most talent reviews also include evaluations of people’s potential – that is, what are people capable of in the future? Popularly used processes such as 9-box ratings consider both past performance and future potential in assessing individuals and their place in succession plans for key positions.
Invest in development
Most companies invest considerable time and energy into developing actionable business plans, supported by budgets that enable plans to be executed. Leaders meet on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly) to discuss plans, evaluate progress against milestones, adjust actions as needed, and measure individuals against their targets. Interestingly, few leaders invest similar energy in developing the people who drive business plans.
Developmental planning, if done at all, typically consists of one liners such as “attend a communications course” or “shadow a colleague in the Operations Department” without any linkages between actions, competencies to be developed, and benefit to the business—even when planning forms include those categories. Few businesses would thrive if their business planning processes mirrored their development planning processes.
As the 70-20-10 model of development suggests, the best learning comes from doing. Seventy percent of a person’s development plan should be action learning based on doing work that builds on strengths, closes gaps, and/or develops skills that will be needed for the future. The Center for Creative Leadership’s “Developmental Assignments: Creating Learning Experiences without Changing Jobs” is an excellent resources for managers seeking to identify assignments that develop people while accomplishing business objectives. Successful developmental planning does not necessarily add burden to people’s already full jobs. Instead, assignments are undertaken with the intention of developing a competency that supports a person in their current and future roles.
According to the model, 20 percent of a person’s development should focus on building developmental relationships. While working with a mentor is an obvious resource to satisfy this developmental action, colleagues in other work groups can also provide learning for individuals. Lastly, 10 percent of a person’s development should come from what most people think of when they write their plans: Courses, books, seminars, online education, or completing their degrees. Well-planned coursework and training provides information and a foundation for growth, but it’s only when the “rubber meets the road” in real-life challenges that people and companies derive tangible value from education.
When it comes to talent reviews and development planning, keep it focused, simple, and business-related. Be ready and make sure you have at least two people groomed to take on the business critical role just as McDonald’s did. Make the time to succession plan; find the resources and tools; focus on business critical roles; use rigorous evaluation and planning processes for top talent, which includes using the 70-20-10 rule of development planning – and, just like you’d do for business plans … monitor, adjust, and hold people accountable for their development plans.
HR Professionals Magazine   |   
Making It a Win-Win When Retirees Return to Work

In this article, Brad Federman, COO of F&H Solutions Group, discusses how to make it work when retirees come back to work.

HR Daily Advisor   |   
Launching Your First Podcast? Follow These Eight Tips For Success

Podcasts are not only popular right now, but they’re also a great way for a business to spread its message in an engaging way. While creating a podcast is open to anyone, however, it’s not necessarily easy. You need to create a show that’s not only interesting and informative, but also attracts a loyal audience that will keep coming back.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of advice out there for podcasting newbies looking to get a show off the ground. From planning out your content to marketing your brand, here are eight tips from Forbes Coaches Council to capitalize on this trend.

1. Do Your Research

Currently, there are more than 550,000 podcasts vying for listener attention. Chances are, a number of your LinkedIn connections manage a podcast. Find them. Ask them what they did right and wrong. There is also a slew of resources via search. Just Google “How do I start a podcast?” My advice: Don’t leave marketing to chance. People can’t listen if they can’t find you. - Jeff IklerQuetico Career Coaching, and Consulting

2. Create A Content Calendar

Plan your content and decide how many episodes you want to publish in a month. Establish a content calendar to have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish. Follow an outline so you won’t get off topic, but don’t write a script and read it word for word. Remember, the plan should build on the brand you are creating or have created. Make sure everything you do is aligned with that in mind. - Brad FedermanF&H Solutions Group

3. Determine A Structure For Your Show And Stick To It

Organize your podcast into a show with parts and predictability so that your guests and audience know what to expect. Start with a topic, a question and a musical lead every time. Make sure you stick with the time allotted for each segment, then wrap up and end with the music or something memorable. Stay within your time bounds. Act like your podcast is a serious commercial show. - John M. O'ConnorCareer Pro Inc.

4. Make Your Show About Your Listeners

Know your goal and purpose for doing a podcast. It can be a lot of work, especially if you’re interviewing guests. Your podcast is a marketing and sales tool that can softly lead prospects to work with you and your company. Find ways to make the show about the listener, providing them with a value that keeps them engaged and wanting to know more about you. - Gina TrimarcoPivot10 Results

5. Prepare Your Show Guests As Thoroughly As Possible

I don't typically send my guests a list of the questions that will be asked, but I always provide an outline for the show with the time frame that we will spend discussing each topic. This gives them an idea of how to prepare without being too prepared, and it helps to keep us on track during the show while covering all of the desired topics. - LaKesha WomackWomack Consulting Group

6. Get Objective Feedback On Your Speaking Abilities

Join a speakers club like Toastmasters. It gives you the opportunity to speak regularly and get empowering feedback. Bad grammar can be distracting, as are filler words like “so,” “you know” and “um.” These can be irritating to your listeners. Writing and speaking are different; be sure to practice so you know how it’s going to sound. - Frances McIntoshIntentional Coaching LLC

7. Ask For Listener Reviews

One of the techniques that I have seen work very well with growing your podcast is asking your listeners for reviews. The podcasting market is saturated with a lot of different choices. In order to stand out and differentiate your podcast from the market noise, ask your viewers to leave reviews, no matter how small your audience. Those reviews will attract more listeners quickly. - Kamyar ShahWorld Consulting Group

8. Just Get Started

It’s easy for first-time podcasters to get analysis paralysis by trying to get everything perfect the first time. The truth is that your 20th podcast will be so different from your first one. You’ll learn as you go, refine your style and fine tune your theme. So get the basic equipment, shape your topic plan and record your podcasts consistently! See it as a six-month journey, and enjoy the ride. - Gabriella GoddardBrainsparker Leadership Academy


Forbes Coaches Council   |   
11 Signs That A Client Is On The Brink Of A Life Crisis

FHSG COO Brad Federman and other Forbes Coaches Council experts discuss signs that a client is on the brink of a life crisis.

Forbes   |