It’s been a remarkable summer for Leap Solutions recruiting. Here, we highlight four of our recent success stories because we’re not only proud of our accomplishments and delighted to match our clients with their ideal candidates, but we’re also struck by the uniqueness and complexities of each search. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to what we do at Leap Solutions, as no two recruitments are alike.
When United Way of the Wine Country needed a new CEO—and fast—they partnered with Leap Solutions. They wanted a candidate with high-level strategy and vision, and they preferred someone local, if possible.
Vital to their recruiting success was the formation of an unusually diverse search committee representing a variety of industries and perspectives. Some members brought to the table extensive experience and knowledge in interviewing and hiring, while others took advantage of Leap’s seasoned guidance and interview coaching. “Each committee member was looking for something a little different, so when we unanimously agreed, within minutes, that our candidate was the right person, we had a lot of confidence,” recalls Karissa Kruse, United Way of the Wine Country’s 2018-2019 board chair. (They were so confident, in fact, that the candidate was still making her way home from the interview when she got the call!)
While there was a sense of urgency throughout, the process never felt rushed. From job description and posting to candidate screenings and in-person interviews, Leap kept everyone focused and on target, accommodated busy summer schedules for all parties, and recommended several stellar candidates. In just six short weeks, Kruse happily reports, Leap helped land “the perfect leader to take the United Way of Wine Country to the next level.”
Congratulations to Lisa Carreno, CEO and president, United Way of the Wine Country!
Slow and Steady
With an interim CEO in place, Canine Companions for Independence had the luxury of time for their executive search. They turned to Leap Solutions for our strong nonprofit background and national reach, and, together, we launched a massive national search for their ideal new CEO.
Leap used traditional and non-traditional advertising methods, sifted through hundreds of resumes, formed a robust search committee spread across the country, and employed a variety of committee interview techniques (from phone to video conferencing to face to face) with the most promising candidates. Success wasn’t immediate, says Chris Kittredge, national board member for Canine Companions for Independence, but the Leap team was “persistent and thorough, and they maintained an incredible calmness and an appropriate sense of humor” to stay the course.
Leap’s connections and ability to see candidates beyond their resumes led to additional, better-fit candidates. To whittle those down, Leap asked the final candidates to give a 15-20-minute presentation. Hands down, one “knocked it out of the park,” says Kittredge. “I am absolutely thrilled and can’t wait for our new CEO to start!”
Congratulations to Paige Mazzoni, CEO, Canine Companions for Independence!
Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau looked to Leap Solutions when they needed to fill an unexpected Executive Director vacancy. They were eager to get a new leader in place in order to move forward with business planning and strategy during their busiest season.
We didn’t have the time to go through the usual job posting channels. But because the Leap team is deeply connected in the community and knows so many people in the industry, we were able to quietly and quickly source a solid selection of local candidates.
“There’s no way we could have done this without the Leap team,” says Hunt Bailie, board president of Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau. “They were our sounding wall, but they didn’t just repeat what we said. They walked us through the emotional parts and were strong enough to come back with, ‘let’s think about the direction you initially asked us to go—does this person really fit?’ Ultimately, I was very impressed.”
From the candidate’s perspective, Leap was equally invested in ensuring the perfect match. “The Leap team was very good at talking not just about the position, but about the entire process, the organizational culture, and the opportunities that it presented to me and my career,” says Tim Zahner, the newly hired Executive Director. “There was no overselling of anything—just honest discussion so that I was informed, prepared and ready not just for the interview but for the job.”
Congratulations to Tim Zahner, Executive Director, Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau!
When Los Cien Sonoma County made the momentous decision to hire their first-ever paid employee as an Executive Director, they knew they needed the kind of customized support, coaching and executive search services that only Leap could provide.
For nine years, Los Cien had been a volunteer-led startup. “We needed somebody with the depth and breadth of background to succeed in our startup setting and be a strong fit with our founder and chair, founding board members and board of directors,” says Lisa Carreno, board member of Los Cien Sonoma County. The Leap team coached them to identify what they genuinely wanted from the position; heard and addressed their concerns and fears; and sourced quality candidates, including standout Magali Telles, who now serves as Executive Director of Los Cien Sonoma County. “Through Leap,” says Carreno, “we got exactly the right person at the right time.”
After walking the board through every step of this meaningful hire and milestone placement, Leap continues to partner with Los Cien. We’re coaching Telles through the transition, aiding in establishing connections and more. “I feel like I’ve grown so much that I can’t even articulate it,” she says. “I’m very grateful to the Leap team for helping me live up to this huge responsibility to the community.”
Congratulations to Magali Telles, Executive Director, Los Cien Sonoma County!
These success stories illustrate just how much we tailor our recruiting services and processes to our individual clients. We never lose sight of what you want and need in a position, we meet your timeline, we guide you skillfully through every step, and we leave no stone unturned in finding and placing your perfect fit.
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Goal-Setting Your Way to Your Vision
Another new year is well underway, and many people are working diligently toward personal resolutions such as eating healthier, exercising more, sleeping better, saving money and focusing on relationships. But how may of us direct that same resolve and commitment to our professional lives?
Here’s the thing: people with goals have a far greater chance of achieving their vision than those without. That means anyone with a vision for making a greater impact and experiencing genuine growth within a company should be spelling out specific, measurable goals to that end. If you want your leaders to thrive and drive the success of your organization, invest in their development. Quality leadership coaching enables leaders to set and achieve the kinds of goals that can dramatically transform their work and their lives.
The Time is Now
Goal-setting with the guidance and support of a seasoned coach can be invigorating. The perfect candidates are leaders who are ready to visualize their best selves and eager to create, refine and implement strategies for becoming just that. The process can be exceptionally useful for leaders who are:
- Often, leaders have a nagging awareness that something isn’t working right. They might not yet be able to pinpoint the problem, but they feel a disconnect between team members, perhaps, or they find their team falling short of the progress or outcomes they desire. A skilled coach can provide insight and understanding about issues that keep people from moving forward as well as the motivation and tools to address them.
- In transition. Leaders who are new to a company or role or are looking toward a promotion may be facing new responsibilities and/or new direct reports, teammates and bosses. Goal-setting can be incredibly powerful for tackling changing demands with enthusiasm and ease.
- Looking for opportunity. Maybe things are working well for a particular leader…but they could still be working better. Or perhaps a leader is feeling stagnant or bored in a position and is itching for advancement. A coach can challenge them to set and attain goals to become even stronger, more proactive leaders who create opportunities for themselves and their companies.
Coaches engage with individual leaders as well as whole teams and boards. When engaging with entire groups, a coach can work both one-on-one and all together, which offers the benefits of opening a dialogue about member commonalities and uniquenesses; establishing a shared language and set of intentions; identifying, breaking down and overcoming systemic issues; and setting goals that serve each member as well as the whole. Team coaching also allows for group learning and training opportunities. Team members enjoy the advantages of a coordinated, integrated effort toward more effective working relationships along with group camaraderie, support, transparency and accountability.
The best coaching and goal-setting programs are entirely tailored to each individual leader without losing sight of the direction and mission of the organization. The coach strives for a deep understanding of the individual, the individual’s role and relationships within the organization and everything that’s required to thrive there. The process may include:
- PDP ProScan. This thorough exploration into leaders’ personality types and core behavioral traits helps them learn how to leverage their natural state to improve the way they operate, adjusting what doesn’t work well and moving with intention on what does.
- 360-degree evaluation. Through surveys and interviews, key people provide invaluable feedback about leaders’ competencies; leaders can use this to differentiate their own perception of themselves from the actuality.
- Situational analysis. A thoughtful evaluation of the real-world environment, culture and dynamics of workplaces and teams can reveal opportunities for leaders to be more collaborative, inspiring and influential.
- Challenge questions. Coaches use these to push leaders out of their comfort zones and be critical where they’re not currently critical; determine their tolerance levels and willingness to change; proactively address the aspects of their jobs they find most tough while learning to focus on what’s most meaningful to them; imagine what might be possible as a leader; and hone in on where they want to truly make their mark in the company.
These types of exercises hold a mirror to the individual leaders and to the organizations they lead. What’s reflected are gaps, issues, priorities, strengths and opportunities for growth. This heightened awareness and newfound clarity allow meaningful goals to surface. Leaders then work with their coach to make those goals tangible, measurable and motivating.
Goal-setting is an incredibly informative and worthwhile process…but it’s only a beginning! Coaching partners then hunker down with leaders to develop a realistic, workable action plan for reaching those goals. The coach helps leaders expose their driving personal motivations, tap into resources (further education, time, support, equipment, access to certain people or leadership, etc.) and come up with effective strategies for actively changing behaviors to become better leaders.
After equipping leaders with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to put these new ideas into practice, the right coach holds them accountable for the outcomes they want to achieve; this might include reminders, tips and check-ins to track progress and even assigning mentors and/or accountability partners within the company. The coach remains a trusted partner throughout, continually supporting, encouraging and strengthening leaders into who they aim to be.
Leap Solutions Group has coached countless leaders to find the clarity, motivation, skills and confidence to strengthen their roles and performance in their companies, achieve their highest goals, and experience exponential growth not just as a leaders but as human beings. Organizations and leaders who partner with us can count on lasting changes, incredible accomplishments and personal fulfillment that extend well beyond the office.
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As the calendar year is winding down, Leap Solutions Group is gearing up to prepare employers for the many new employment and labor laws that could impact your organization, your employees and your bottom line in 2018. Here, we highlight just a few imminent changes and provide insights and recommendations for addressing each proactively and confidently.
Ban the Box on Criminal History
Effective January 1, 2018, Assembly Bill 1008 makes it unlawful under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) for employers with five or more employees to ask applicants about prior convictions on job applications. According to the bill, it’s illegal to inquire into or consider an applicant’s conviction history until after extending a conditional job offer.
At that time, employers may conduct a background check but are prohibited from considering, distributing or disseminating information related to prior arrests not followed by convictions as well as any diversions and/or sealed, dismissed, expunged or eradicated convictions. Further, should an employer intend to deny a candidate a position solely or in part because of the candidate’s conviction history, the employer must make a clear, individualized assessment as to whether that history has a direct and adverse relationship with the nature and specific duties of the job. The bill explains detailed guidelines for notifying the applicant of the intended decision, granting time for the applicant to respond (and possible additional time to dispute the decision and gather evidence) and making and presenting a final decision. (Certain specified positions, including criminal justice agency jobs, are exempt from this bill.)
What this could mean for you: Meant to help formerly incarcerated people support themselves and their families with gainful employment, AB 1008 restricts employers’ abilities to make pre-hire and personnel decisions based on an individual’s criminal history. Employers should immediately review and update applicant screening procedures, including revising all job applications to remove any boxes that ask about prior convictions or criminal history. You must also refrain from inquiring about criminal history during interviews. As an alternative, you may opt to request criminal history information in your offer letter. You are still entitled to conduct a background check on any candidate after an offer is made (and you might want to consider doing so as a matter of course if you don’t already). However, should the results of an applicant’s background check alarm you and make you reconsider hiring, we urge you to consult with Leap Solutions Group. We can help you perform the required individualized assessment, make any adjustment to your offer, and ensure that you remain in compliance throughout the process.
Effective January 1, 2018, Assembly Bill 168 makes it unlawful for employers to ask an applicant (or the applicant’s current or former employers)—orally or in writing, directly or indirectly—about prior salary, compensation and benefits. (Salary history may be discussed, however, if the applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” discloses it.) Employers may not use an applicant’s prior history as a factor in determining whether to offer employment or what salary to offer. In addition, upon request of a job applicant, employers must provide the position’s pay scale.
What this could mean for you: AB 168 aims to address pay inequalities. Employers should immediately review and revise all job applications to remove questions about previous salary or salary history. You must also refrain from inquiring about criminal history during interviews. This is an ideal time to conduct a market-based compensation analysis; Leap Solutions Group can help you determine your compensation formula based on job, region, function and industry and develop or update pay scales and clear job descriptions. (Don’t forget that 2018 also brings another increase in hourly minimum wage—as of January 1, for employers with 25 or fewer employees, minimum wage is $10.50 per hour; for those with 26 or more employees, minimum wage is $11.00/hour.)
Parental Bonding Leave
Effective January 1, 2018, the New Parent Leave Act (Senate Bill 63) requires California employers with 20-49 employees within a 75-mile radius to provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption or foster care placement. To be eligible, employees must have more than twelve months (and at least 1,250 hours) of service with the employer during the twelve-month period prior to the leave. Employees are entitled to use any accrued paid time off, such as paid vacation and sick leave, during the parental leave. In addition, employers must maintain and pay for the employee’s continued coverage under a group health plan at the level and same conditions that coverage would have been provided had the employee continued to work. If an employer employs both parents, and they are entitled to leave for the same birth, adoption or foster care placement, the parents’ combined leave will be capped at twelve weeks. An employer may (but is not required to) grant simultaneous leave to both employees.
What this could mean for you: The New Parent Leave Act allows more Californians to take leave to bond with a new child without fear of losing their jobs. If you’re an employer of 20-49 people and don’t already offer this type of bonding leave, you will need to fully understand eligibility and conditions and how they might impact your employees and your organization. You’ll want to develop and communicate clear policies and processes for facilitating and managing these new mandated parental leaves.
Paid Family Leave/State Disability Leave Expansion
For periods of paid family leave or state disability leave starting after January 1, 2018 (but before January 1, 2022), Assembly Bill 908 substantially increases the weekly benefit amount available under California Paid Family Leave (PFL) and State Disability Insurance (SDI) from the current 55 percent of earnings to either 60 percent (for higher wage earners) or 70 percent (for lower wage earners). AB 908 also eliminates the waiting period for PFL claims (but does not change the waiting period for SDI claims, which remains at seven days).
What this could mean for you: Employers should inform affected employees of their benefits and plan for any additional expenses. You’ll also want to monitor for any potential changes to payroll deduction rates.
Immigration Worksite Enforcement
Effective January 1, 2018, Assembly Bill 450 prohibits employers from voluntarily allowing federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to enter nonpublic areas of the workplace without a judicial warrant or to access, review or retain employee records without a subpoena (with exceptions). AB450 also requires employers to specifically notify affected employees (in writing in the language the employer normally uses to communicate employment information with each) of any ICE inspection of I-9s or other employment records within 72 hours of receiving notice of the inspection. AB450 further prohibits employers from re-verifying a current employee’s employment eligibility when not otherwise required by federal law.
What this could mean for you: While Governor Jerry Brown has made California a “sanctuary state,” his landmark legislation does not prevent or prohibit ICE or the Department of Homeland Security from acting on federal immigration enforcement. What you can do as an employer is know your and your employees’ rights and responsibilities and understand that some employees experience fear or concern. Most importantly, you must communicate thoroughly and effectively (and in writing) about any ICE inspection; to that end, the California Labor Commission will develop a template notice by July 1, 2018; until that time, employers are required to create their own written notices in accordance with the specific guidelines spelled out in AB 450 (Leap Solutions Group can help with interim notice writing and translation).
- Human Trafficking. California law currently requires certain types of employers (including but not limited to alcohol retailers, airports, emergency rooms and adult or sexually-oriented businesses) to post a specific notice concerning human trafficking and hotlines available for assistance. AB 260 extends this requirement to hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns. In addition, SB 225 requires the notice to state that an individual may text a particular number to access support and services.
- Transgender Rights. SB 396 requires employers to prominently post a poster, developed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, on transgender rights. (The bill also requires employers with 50 or more employees to include information on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation in prescribed sexual harassment prevention training for supervisors.)
- Agriculture Overtime. Beginning January 1, 2019, Assembly Bill 1066 will gradually lower the daily and weekly hours-of-work thresholds for paying overtime to agricultural employees. At the outset, employers will be required to pay agricultural employees 1-1/2 times their regular rate for all hours worked over nine in a day or over 55 hours in a week. (Employers of 25 or fewer employees will have a delayed phase-in starting January 1, 2022.) The thresholds will drop annually from there so that by year 2022 (2025 for smaller employers) agricultural employees will earn overtime wages on par with most other non-exempt employees.
The HR professionals at Leap Solutions Group can demystify these and many other complicated new employment and labor laws for you and your HR staff, hiring managers and supervisors. We specialize in compliance; we stay continually up to date on federal, state and local requirements; and we have expertise in pay equity and compensation, management/employee training and handbooks, FEHC/FEHA, FMLA and much more. Moreover, as a small business ourselves, we appreciate how challenging it can be to do business amidst these ever-changing rules and regulations.
Count on Leap to guide you through the complexities of each new piece of legislation and provide the knowledge, tools and resources you need to respond efficiently, reduce legal risk, minimize expenses and achieve the peace of mind that comes with keeping your organization and your people safe, strong and successful.
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Recovery Strategies for Employers
Everyone has been impacted in some way by the catastrophic fires that recently ravaged our beloved Sonoma County, and Leap Solutions Group is no exception. All of us were evacuated from our homes and sought refuge with neighbors, friends and family. One of our team members is still displaced, and another is regrettably among the many thousands who lost their homes entirely.
Residents are returning to their homes and workplaces or sifting through the sites where they once stood, and businesses are resuming operations where possible. As our community begins to cope with devastating losses, employers and employees find ourselves managing situations we never could have anticipated.
At Leap Solutions Group, we are heartened to see Sonoma County already proving to be stronger and more resilient than ever. As you and your organization navigate toward your new normal, we encourage you to start with these areas:
- Now is the time to reaffirm your commitment to each and every employee in your organization. Take roll call to confirm the safety of all, and check in personally and continually to assess the unique, immediate and ongoing needs of each individual. Provide resources in different languages as appropriate, and remember to perform workplace safety checks.
- For most of us, a disaster of this proportion is unprecedented. Providing flexibility to your employees can go a long way toward easing their stress levels during these unusually intense times. Temporary modifications—whether in the form of adjusted work hours, work-from- home arrangements or other creative ways to meet personal needs—might
not be in keeping with your company’s existing policies, but extraordinary times may well call for makeshift measures. You must, of course, remain compliant with local, state and federal regulations throughout the recovery period. As you determine what works best in this particular situation, you may choose to incorporate a version of these modifications into a formal disaster policy.
- Employers can’t fix everything, but we can certainly do our part to support the emotional wellness of our employees. People cope with trauma in very individual ways, so it’s key to meet everyone where they’re at and manage our own perceptions, assumptions and expectations accordingly. Some have experienced unimaginable losses, others may seem fine but actually harbor some form of survivor guilt, and most everyone is in varying stages along the recovery process. Give your employees the freedom to talk openly about how they were impacted and what their future plans might be, help them look into their benefits packages for free or low-cost counseling sessions, and communicate widely about any and all mental health support services you know to be available to them, including California state Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offerings where applicable.
- Many people feel understandably paralyzed after trauma, but volunteering can be a great way to get out of the immediacy of our current situation, regain perspective, renew purpose and focus on a brighter future. Inspire your employees with any of the countless feel-good stories of how the disaster has already brought out the best in our community, and look for ways this shared tragedy might actually provide a rare opportunity for employers to galvanize our teams in the spirit of service.
Further, we urge clients, employees, self-employed individuals and businesses to look into the many resources available to support ongoing recovery efforts, including (but not limited to):
Local Community Resource
Information site for recovery efforts related to the Sonoma County fires. This is an official page for the County of Sonoma and City of Santa Rosa and is a resource for all things concerning these unprecedented disasters that have affected our community.
California Employment Development Department (EDD)
(also available in Spanish)
The California Employment Development Department (EDD) provides a variety of services to people and businesses impacted by disasters in California. These range from assistance for people who may have lost jobs due to the disaster to employers who are forced to shut down operations.
The Governor has issued a State of Emergency proclamation, and the President has issued a Federal Emergency Disaster Declaration for the California wildfires. For these disasters, the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits is waived, and Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available for people who are not eligible to receive regular state unemployment benefits.
Note: The EDD encourages anyone out of work due to these wildfires to apply for unemployment benefits through either the state or the federal unemployment insurance program. The deadline for filing claims is November 16, 2017.
Employers directly affected by the disaster may request up to a 60-day extension of time from the EDD to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest.
Local Assistance Centers (LACs)
Local Assistance Centers (LACs) are open to assist those impacted by the California wildfires. LACs include representatives from the EDD and other local, state and federal agencies, non-profit and voluntary organizations with disaster assistance programs and services, including unemployment benefits and payroll tax extensions for employers.
Disaster Loss—California Franchise Tax Board (FTB)
For California purposes, a casualty loss becomes a disaster loss when both of the following occur: (1) you sustain the loss in an area the President of the United States or the Governor of California declares a state of emergency, and (2) you sustain the loss because of the declared disaster.
Taxpayers may deduct a disaster loss for any loss sustained in California beginning on or after January 1, 2014 and before January 1, 2024. You can claim a disaster loss in the taxable year the disaster occurred or in the taxable year immediately before the disaster occurred. The advantage of claiming a loss in the prior year is that the loss will generally reduce the prior-year tax liability, generating a refund that Franchise Tax Board (FTB) can issue quickly.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
The mission of FEMA is to support citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.
The mission of the Disaster Assistance Improvement Program (DAIP) is to provide disaster survivors with information, support, services, and a means to access and apply for disaster assistance through joint data-sharing efforts between federal, tribal, state, local, and private-sector partners. The Disaster Assistance website allows you to:
Benefits.gov is the official benefits website of the U.S. government, with a mission to reduce the expense and difficulty of interaction with the government while increasing citizen access to benefit information. The website provides online access to information from 17 federal agencies.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-for-victims-of-wildfires-in-california Special tax relief and assistance is available to taxpayers in Presidential Disaster Areas.
Consult with your individual insurance carrier and policy for benefits you might not realize you have, such as business interruption insurance.
Small Business Administration (SBA)
The SBA offers disaster assistance in the form of low-interest federal loans for businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate or property. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. The SBA works alongside FEMA at Disaster and Business Recovery Centers, where disaster survivors are able to apply in person and get counseling on the next steps toward recovery.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
State of California Employees and eligible dependents have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP offers completely confidential, no-charge, face-to-face counseling or telephone coaching for state employees, managers, supervisors, and eligible dependents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
At Leap Solutions Group, our hearts are with you and our door is open as we, together, begin to recover and rebuild.
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Retreats with Purpose and Impact
Like many of our clients, you’ve probably wondered whether a retreat could be a good thing for your organization. Maybe there’s some dysfunction on a particular team or a specific problem you know you ought to address, or you want to build excitement for upcoming changes in your organization. Perhaps you feel your team could benefit from a longer conversation about important issues, or you could really use a dedicated planning or brainstorming session that just isn’t happening within the regular workday. Whatever the reason, you’re thinking the time could be right for a retreat, but you might not exactly know how a retreat could be beneficial or what to actually do when you get there.
It’s absolutely true that a retreat can re-energize your people, foster greater trust and strengthen internal connections, expose hidden talents and boost knowledge, and trigger new and fresh ideas—but only if it’s well planned, well organized and well executed.
Facilitating Your Retreat
You don’t need an outside facilitator for your retreat, but a skilled facilitator can bring a level of professionalism, objectivity and efficiency to the event that can yield a far more dynamic, robust and lasting outcome. An internal facilitator must either forgo participating in order to lead the discussion or, at the very least, wear dueling hats as both facilitator and participant, which can be confusing, distracting and disconcerting to everyone. Further, participants aren’t nearly as likely to open up and speak candidly to “the boss” as they are to a neutral party.
Expert external facilitators come without preconceived notions and biases and know how to safely and comfortably ask tough questions and genuinely involve and adeptly manage all participants—the introvert, the minority opinion and the life of the party alike. Moreover, the best will serve as your start-to-finish planning partners in creating a retreat with incredible impact.
Before the Retreat
As you start conceptualizing and developing your retreat, you should be totally clear on why you’re doing it, who will participate and what the event might look like. The retreat specialists at Leap Solutions ask the right questions and provide all the guidance and support you need to make your retreat purposeful and powerful.
A retreat can accomplish anything you want it to: team building, leadership development, business development, planning, visioning, problem-solving…you name it! But to determine your retreat goals and priorities, you must first thoroughly examine the dynamics, characteristics and personalities at play in your organization and the complexities, challenges and opportunities you’re currently facing.
When you engage with Leap, we’ll start with the end in mind: at the end of your retreat, what do you hope to have accomplished? We then do whatever it takes to plan the ideal retreat to make that a reality. We talk to you at length, gathering information and brainstorming, to help you clarify your purpose and fine-tune your objectives and goals. Our pre-retreat activities might include community surveys, individual profiles and in-person interviews with key players. We then draft a retreat agenda that is focused, action-packed and reasonable, and we collaborate with you and your team to finalize it such that every item is tied to your desired outcomes.
When you know your ultimate retreat goals, it’s time to decide who will participate. It could be a specific team, executive team, board, staff, or some combination of the above. You might opt to include all employees, only upper management, or perhaps a vertical slice of your organization. You could choose to mix people up in order to encourage cross-department collaboration or keep them in teams to tighten cohesion. Again, Leap can be your trusted, seasoned guide, asking probing questions and helping you stretch your vision and base your decision solidly on your core objectives.
We are also committed to doing everything it takes to get your chosen group ready for their retreat. From soliciting their input and eliciting their buy-in to providing complete background materials and assigning relevant homework, we ensure that your people are eager and fully prepared to make the very most of our retreat time together.
What will your retreat entail? You don’t have to go somewhere on a retreat, but a change of view can be powerfully effective toward achieving your goals. While we assure you that a retreat is a priceless investment in the outcome of your organization, we always keep your budget considerations at top of mind as we help you find and design just the right location, environment and event.
Whether it’s on- or offsite, half a day or multiple days, what matters is that your retreat is out of the ordinary, unique to your organization and has a purpose that is evident to each and every participant. A well-planned retreat feels entirely different than a usual workday—it’s less formal, it’s exceptionally engaging, and it brings about a special kind of openness and dialogue that doesn’t happen otherwise. Ropes courses and “Kumbaya” moments aren’t required—though if you’re doing things right, there will be plenty of bonding and fun!
During the Retreat
With expertise in agenda management, time management, group dynamics and crowd control, the highly experienced facilitators at Leap Solutions come thoroughly prepared and completely focused on driving your retreat toward your desired outcomes. We facilitate purposeful, thought-provoking conversations and engaging exercises, challenge your team to rethink assumptions and advance fresh ideas, bring about strategies and help set action-oriented priorities and timelines.
We’re always watching and reading the room, making sure everyone has the chance to speak and feel heard but no one dominates, and keeping your event on track and on time. We’re also taking copious notes to document everything that’s covered, including an action list for tracking commitments, responsible parties and deadlines. It’s our mission and promise that every participant comes away feeling more productive, accomplished and motivated than ever.
After the Retreat
Your retreat isn’t over when the event is done! Afterward, we prepare and deliver detailed retreat notes to you. Then, together, we go over the notes and use them to develop an implementation plan for taking your organization to the next level. We identify and assign champions to the cause—people who won’t let your organization forget all that you’ve accomplished and how you’ve committed to moving forward—as well as owners to individual tasks and next steps. We also conduct a post mortem to inform your future retreats, including participant evaluations about individual components of the retreat and the overall experience.
Ultimately, we at Leap Solutions want every one of your participants (even the skeptics!) to feel that the time spent was truly enjoyable and wholly worthwhile. Each individual should take something away from the retreat that enhances his or her day-to-day role and distinctly and noticeably improves your organization. Moreover, everyone should leave renewed and bonded by a shared purpose and direction that can launch your organization to a level you never thought possible. These are the rewarding, tangible retreat results that bring organizations back to Leap year after year.
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Trainings are often overlooked or undervalued as occasional workplace necessities—mind-numbing information dump sessions dreaded by employees and leaders alike. But the smartest and most successful organizations wouldn’t settle for any such thing. They have learned to leverage quality training programs to support, strengthen and develop their employees, equipping them with the mindset and skills they need to succeed, lead and contribute immeasurably to the organization’s overall strategy and long-term goal achievement.
When It’s Time
A great training program can be ideal for any number of scenarios, including:
- Required programming. Whether it’s a mandated training, industry-specific in-service, process-oriented safety training, or supervisory training, a quality program will keep you in compliance and out of hot water. You’ll want it to be customized to your unique needs as well as relevant, engaging and memorable to every person in attendance.
- On-boarding. Training programs for new employees, individually or in groups, can be an invaluable part of a smooth on-boarding process. Why make new hires guess at how best to fit themselves and their talents and knowledge into your company when you could instead ease the transition by actively training them into the culture and systems you’ve created and virtually guaranteeing that they’ll thrive there?
- Performance management. When many people think of performance management, they think of the perfunctory yearly performance review. But that’s just one piece of an effective performance management system. With a solid training component in place, you can intentionally develop and strengthen employees at all levels, providing the ongoing support they need to consistently perform at their very finest as they—and your organization—grow.
- Management training. People often fall into middle management positions as companies expand, and they would be well served by formal training to hone skills in managing, coaching and developing employees; giving compelling feedback and handling discipline; resolving conflict; building effective teams; anticipating the unanticipated; and much more.
- Leadership training. A comprehensive leadership program can turn leaders into visionaries. Top-tier training can show them how to drive change, inspire innovation, and translate simple ideas into brilliant ventures for your organization.
- Team building and development. When you want a particular board, department, team, or sub-group of your organization to work together more collaboratively and efficiently, training can be ideal. A skilled training facilitator will see threads between members, bridge distinct communication styles, develop mutual understanding, and link systems and processes for a far more connected, cohesive and effective group dynamic.
- Problem solving. Don’t overlook the value of training to address specific challenges, issues or problems. A great trainer will be able to analyze symptoms, identify hot issues and tailor a program to break down barriers, create workable systems, broaden communication, build relationships and pave the way for success.
How Training Works
A professional training facilitator should be much more than a subject-matter expert. The best will start a conversation with you well before the training to build rapport, learn about the culture of your organization, gain a thorough understanding of your employees, and begin to identify pain points, conflicts, challenges and opportunities.
The facilitator will then design a training program that’s totally tailored to your organization and people and entirely based on what you’re aiming to accomplish. It’s likely to include examples and case studies geared to your industry, role-playing of applicable scenarios and how to handle them, hands-on activities and much more. The training should be an informative, interactive, collaborative session that’s genuinely meaningful and motivating to the participants, and everyone should come away feeling that it was an incredibly wise use of time and resources.
Leap Solutions doesn’t offer “canned curriculum.” When you work with us, you can be assured that your training program will be industry-specific, entirely customized to meet your needs and goals, and thoroughly engaging from start to finish. From human resources, compliance and succession to organizational development, retreats and team building—you name it, and you can count on Leap to design and deliver one-of-a-kind, focused, high-impact training programs with lasting results.
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Coaching Leaders to Thrive
Smart, dynamic organizations prepare their leaders for success by actively developing them, and coaching can be one of the most transformative, lasting ways to do it. Coaching helps leaders establish powerful, career-long tools for setting and achieving meaningful goals, managing with confidence and grace, and intentionally and continually creating the kind of culture that’s vital to success as individuals and as a company.
Is Coaching for You?
When you’re ready to take your leadership to the next level, you’re ready for coaching. The process can be particularly valuable for:
- Managers and executives in transition. Whether you’re new to an organization, you’re being groomed for advancement, or you’ve been recently promoted, you’re facing new responsibilities requiring fresh skill sets, and you’re likely to have more or different people reporting to you. To come this far, you’ve already proven that you’re capable and adaptable and could certainly manage on your own, but why not get a leg up? Coaching can be exceptionally beneficial during times of transition, and an investment in coaching for an organization’s most promising leaders can ensure that they’ll excel and thrive.
- Struggling leaders. Different times call for different leadership styles. What once worked beautifully for you may no longer be effective. Don’t flail and risk failing when coaching can take you where you’re at and move you to the dynamite person you know yourself to be—someone present, forward facing and vital in your role. Coaching can also help a leader to manage up or even manage out of an organization entirely if the time is right.
- Whole teams and boards. Perhaps meetings rarely start on time or stay on task, and agendas fail to encompass what members feel they should; maybe group relations feel strained, or people just aren’t working together as collaboratively and efficiently as they could. There’s a special advantage to engaging entire teams or boards in the coaching process. By working with groups, coaches can see threads between members; identify, break down, and tackle systemic issues; and guide them toward a transparency and efficacy they’ve never experienced.
- Individuals at any level wanting change. If you’ve lost passion for your job or industry, or you find yourself fantasizing about an entirely new career path, career coaching can bring you much-needed clarity and support in developing a realistic, workable plan to move you from where you are today to where you want to be. In addition, the coaching process can help you discover viable career options, build a better resume, engage in a fruitful job search, and land your ideal position.
What You Can Expect
Every person is unique and every goal is individual, so a quality coach will provide a highly tailored coaching program. The coaching relationship can be short or long term, but six months is a typical contract (renewable as desired). Initial sessions tend to be lengthier and more intense; you might meet with your coach regularly for 1 to 1-1/2 hours in person or on the phone for several sessions before easing off to every other week, every third week, or even once-a-month sessions. By then, you’ll want time between check-ins to put new ideas into practice and get a genuine sense of how you are progressing.
During the initial discovery phase, you can expect your coach to work hard to develop a deep understanding of you as an individual and of your role within the organization and what’s required to thrive in that role. The process may include a thorough exploration into your personality type and core behavioral traits; a 360-degree evaluation of your leadership competencies, including surveys and interviews with people who can provide invaluable feedback about you as a leader; and a strong situational analysis to determine the environment, culture and dynamics of your workplace and how you fit within and influence them.
Your coach will then ask the kind of questions that get you out of your own head to see a new view and develop a new interpretation of what’s possible as a leader. You’ll learn how to distinguish your perception of yourself as a leader from reality and how to leverage your natural state to manage with wisdom and centeredness. Together with your coach, you’ll determine and address the root causes of specific problems or performance challenges; weigh options and walk through decisions; role play difficult situations and challenging employee relations; and translate your own life experiences to the workplace so you always manage from a place of authenticity and strength.
Style matters when you’re looking for a great coach. You’ll want someone engaging and insightful, someone who inspires and energizes you personally and professionally. Look for an expert you can trust with confidentiality concerns and with whom you’ll feel confident to open up and explore strengths as well as opportunities for improvement and growth.
The coaching relationship is an open dialog. Your coach should be compassionate but direct, someone who connects with you and fits you but also challenges you and holds you accountable for the outcomes you want to achieve. A coach is your partner, working with you and supporting, motivating and strengthening you into the leader you want to be.
Your Best State
When you’re ready to envision your best state and then develop, refine and implement strategies to make it happen, you’re ready to Leap! Leap Solutions coaches have decades of leadership development experience, and we’re eager to put our expertise to work for you. When you partner with us, you’ll come away with vital tools for identifying and overcoming barriers, strategies for meeting and exceeding objectives, and interpersonal and management skills that will make your life as a leader more successful and rewarding than ever.
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Organizational Assessment—Is it Time?
You’re probably familiar with Organization Development (OD), but you may not be familiar with Organizational Assessment, which can serve as a vital first step to truly powerful and successful Organization Development. Organization Development is a focused, organization-wide effort using sound behavioral-science knowledge to implement planned process changes aimed at increasing an organization’s effectiveness and health. But how can you make wise, well-informed interventions without first taking stock of the current state of your organization? That’s where Organizational Assessment comes in. An Organizational Assessment is a systematic process for obtaining valid and valuable information about the performance of your organization and the many factors affecting that performance. Think of it as a check-up, a thorough examination of the inner workings of your company.
Every business is a system of interconnected pieces that can, when put together properly, function like a fine-tuned engine. If pieces are missing, damaged, or simply don’t align, the engine can’t run smoothly and efficiently. An Organizational Assessment analyzes the fit, form and function of each working part individually and together as a whole to affirm organizational strengths, identify areas for improvement, and determine thoughtful, workable, productive ways to make your organization run like a well-oiled machine.
What an Organizational Assessment Entails
Looking beyond specific policies, projects and programs, Organizational Assessments focus on culture, structure, resources (human and other), strategy, and planning and decision-making to pinpoint issues and harness opportunities for strengthening and progress. It’s critical, for instance, that you be fully aware and genuinely understanding of your organization’s culture—its core beliefs, norms, dynamics, and ways of thinking, behaving and working—in order to determine the types of internal changes that will maximize the health and wellbeing of your business and your employees. Likewise, structural understanding is also critical, as it’s what keeps all the moving parts organized and functioning at optimal conditions. And, naturally, the human resource—the people at every level of your organization—is vital to the success of your organization.
Why You Should Consider an Organizational Assessment
Any company looking for improved performance and a better bottom line can benefit from an Organizational Assessment. It provides stakeholders with key information about your organization that can be used for more effective planning and decision-making. It delivers a realistic evaluation of existing and/or needed resources (human and other) that can lead to dramatic improvement in performance and achievement. Further, it identifies priorities and goals to be addressed with a robust action plan.
The Ideal Time for an Organizational Assessment
An Organizational Assessment is often the most telling and productive when:
- A company seems to be in trouble and/or in pain and needs to figure out how to survive and thrive;
- A company has not changed its operations or positioned itself for growth and finds itself stagnating and/or becoming irrelevant;
- A company wants to grow, but its people only know what they know and thus find it increasingly difficult to rely on their internal resources and
instincts to move to the next level; or
- A company is in growth mode but has enough foresight and strategic thinking to realize they need help to continue down their desired path.
A quality Organizational Assessment can be an invaluable tool for informing and guiding companies in each of these situations and ultimately positioning
them for tremendous success.
How Leap Solutions Can Help
It’s not easy to figure out the true causes of issues impacting your organization, but the Leap Team has your back! With decades of organization development
experience in a vast range of industries and in both the public and private sectors, we can provide the skilled, balanced, and objective outside perspective you need. We begin your Organizational Assessment with a series of interviews to systematically and thoroughly break down and fully and deeply understand the
many facets of your unique business. From the discovery phase, we outline a multi-pronged, custom-tailored approach to problem-solving within your company. In our implementation phase, we collaborate with you to design and develop a transformative action plan rooted in your organization’s priorities and desired outcomes.
We can’t promise a magic wand at the end of the process…but we can help and support you and your team as you knock down barriers, make tough decisions, plan, and work the plan to make impactful, positive change for growth and prosperity.