Who, What, Where, When, How…But Why?

There are two simple words that have the power to completely change one’s approach to work and life forever. These words have the potential to evoke fulfillment, enhance productivity, and create daily peace of mind.

You may have found yourself saying some of these already today:

  • I have to go to this team meeting.
  • I have to get this proposal to our client.
  • I have to get caught up on emails.
  • I have to take the kids to practice.

We act as if we don’t have a choice, as if we are imprisoned by people or a system forcing us to do things we don’t want to do. In reality, we do have a choice. We have the freedom to choose our actions, our profession, our financial needs, and the path of our life. Each day is not about what we have to do. It’s about what we get to do.

So, besides having a renewed sense of gratitude for being alive in a free world, why does this matter?

If you start to realize that your employees don’t have to come to work each day but instead choose to, there must be a reason for that decision. That reason is their “why”. As a leader, understanding each employee’s “why” will enable you to create a meaningful career path for them, empower them during times of burnout, and help them stay engaged. As your own leader, knowing your own “why” is essential for each of those situations as well.

The How

Start with a simple exercise. Take out your pen, and write down your answer to this question: “What is your why?” It sounds like a big esoteric question, but why is it that you choose to go to work each day? Why do you choose this profession, instead of something else? Why do you choose the role you are in, as opposed to others?

Encourage yourself and others to press beyond the obvious answer of “I need to make money”. There are countless ways to earn a living; why have you chosen this one?

Once you begin to list all of your why’s, you will notice they fall in two categories. The first category is similar to Maslow’s lowest hierarcy of needs – food, water, shelter. “I’d like to be able to pay my mortgage.” “I want to send my children to college.” “My elderly parents will rely on me to provide for them.” “I have always dreamed of buying a vacation home.”

The second category recognizes that there is a bigger purpose, a desire to make a difference, and a need to higher meaning behind the choices we make. It’s these things that are connected to your overall purpose, your sense of contribution, and the most important aspect of your “why”. Both categories are important and not mutually exclusive. An individual who only cares about money will likely live with a void in their life, while an individual who is all about the big picture has their head in the clouds but lacks feet on the ground.

Having a deep understanding of your career’s purpose is equally as possible as meeting and exceeding financial goals. This exercise is around understanding both. If you, or your team, has a hard time articulating this purpose, give some additional guidance:

  • When you were first drawn to this industry, what compelled you? Why did this industry or vocation strike you as being the calling for your career?
  • At what point in your career were you most challenged? What circumstances created that challenge?
  • What circumstances push you to be more, learn more, accomplish more, take on more, and grow more?
  • Who or what inspires you most? What qualities inspire you from those individuals or factors?
  • What do people compliment you on professionally?
  • What are you chasing? Why are you chasing it?
  • Given your talents and passions, how could you use those to serve, or to help, others or your organization?
  • When you retire, what do you want to be remembered for? What legacy do you want to leave?

The When

When is it important to go back to the “why”? Most of us get entrenched in the day to day routine of work, family, and life. We go through most days on auto-pilot, knowing what is expected and performing to that expectation. Connect the routine of your daily performance to the fulfillment of the “why” of your life purpose.

As a leader, when you know the “why” for members of your team, you can connect that “why” to their daily responsibilities and broader performance milestones. Every job has mundane or less desired tasks, but when the “why” is strong enough, there is meaning connected to even the most tedious of activities. Then the paradigm shifts:

  • I get to go to this team meeting because I have team members dedicated to learning and living up to their fullest potential.
  • I want to get this proposal to our client because they trust us to solve a problem they cannot solve on their own.
  • I want to get caught up on emails because I have knowledge and insight that others are relying on me to share with them.
  • I get to take the kids to practice because I am fortunate to have a family and resources to help them live a full and varied life.

There is an opportunity to connect purpose and meaning to each daily activity, and a choice to connect it. When the “why” is strong enough, there is no limit to what you, and those on your team, can achieve.

Finding People Who Make a Difference®

Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about bringing out the best in your team, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.

—Karen Schmidt


Employers: Why Your Offer Letters Need to Be Awesome

Do you know why most offer letters sent by companies to candidates don’t really stand out?

Because they’re more geared toward “covering the company’s rear end” than actually making an exciting, enticing, and attractive offer.  Here’s one of the reasons why this is the case: because the offer letter is written in such a way as to suggest that it’s a foregone conclusion the candidate is going to accept the offer.  In today’s candidate-driven marketplace, candidates are getting multiple offers and if you want to stand a greater chance of having yours accepted you need to add a little more love.

I have many years of experience in the civil engineering marketplace in the executive search industry.  As a result, I’ve seen more than my fair share of offer letters.  Some companies throw together a “quick and dirty” offer letter with job title, start date, salary and Oh by the way, we’re excited to have you work here.”  Zzzzzzzzz…..

Then there are the exceptional clients I’ve worked with who have written beautifully crafted offer letters that paint a picture of their culture and growth plans and how the candidate will be an integral part of their team.  I just read an offer letter that a client of mine wrote and it was such an amazing offer, it made me want to work there!  For instance try using descriptive verbiage such as:

“We envision you becoming an integral member of our team…”

“We value your experience and hope to leverage it in assisting us with furthering our strategic goals…”

If you were reviewing 3 offers which letter do you think is more effective?  The fact of the matter is that you’re not just offering a job.  You’re offering a future—the candidate’s future.  You’re trying to convince the candidate to spend part of their future (quite a substantial part, as a matter of fact) with your company.

With that in mind, below are five tips for writing great offer letters for candidates you want to attract to your company:

#1—Ditch the corporate jargon

You’re not issuing a writ of habeas corpus.  You making an offer of employment.  Don’t go cold and corporate.  Be warm, inviting, and even (gasp) cheery.

#2—Express excitement

If you want the candidate to be excited about working for your company, you must be excited about the candidate working for your company.  Makes sense, right?

#3—Cast a vision

Candidates (especially top candidates) want to work for a company with vision and direction.  If they’ve come this far, they probably believe that you are such a company.  Don’t lose them at the altar.  Instead, keep them hooked by reiterating where you want to grow and how they will grow with you.  (Bonus! This will also help override a possible counter-offer situation from occurring.)

#4—Place the candidate within that vision

This is the best way to get the candidate excited about the offer.  Explain how they fit into your organization’s plans for the future and the contributions they’ll make to the achievement of its goals.

#5—Make the candidate feel wanted

What’s one of the major reasons that candidates reject offers?  Because they don’t feel wanted.  The standard offer letter does NOT make them feel wanted.  Be proactive about doing this.  It will make a difference.

In this highly competitive market where, in many cases, candidates are reviewing multiple offers, you need to make your offer stand out by painting a picture.  In that picture, the candidate should not see themselves just “taking a job.”  Rather, they should see themselves working, thriving, and excelling at your company and building a better future for themselves.


Establishing Mutual Commitments

According to a recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million individuals who voluntarily quit their jobs in January 2015. This is a 17% increase from January 2014, proving that opportunities for employees are abundant and we have shifted back to a candidate-driven marketplace. Why is this important?

Employee retention should always be of utmost importance, but requires awareness as to why employees leave to begin with. A Gallup poll of more than 1 million employed U.S. workers concluded that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a disconnect or poor relationship with their boss or immediate supervisor. “People leave managers not companies…in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup wrote in its survey findings.

In other words, the responsibility rests primarily on leadership’s shoulders to engage, mentor and retain employees.

Establishing mutual commitments is the key to a meaningful relationship. This is true for personal relationships, relationships with clients, and relationships with employees. The bedrock of a meaningful relationship is trust, and trust is solidified or broken based on reliability in the form of honoring our commitments. We have all heard expressions like, “his actions spoke so loud, I could not hear his words” or, “she says what she will do, and does what she says.” Spouses, friends, co-workers, and our employees do not have a rule book for correct behavior by either themselves or by us unless we get one from them, give them one, or co-create one.

Leadership Expectations
The easiest way to create this blueprint? Solicit feedback from the team! They are your audience of judges, and they will give you the answers to the test. Ask questions and be open to receiving feedback:

  • Who would you say is the best boss you’ve ever had (present company excluded, of course)? What characteristics or qualities did they have that stand out?
  • What would you replicate from previous companies or departments in which you’ve worked?
  • What do you most appreciate about the leadership of our organization/team?
  • As leaders, what are we not doing that we should be?
  • If you became CEO tomorrow, what is the first thing you would change? Why?

From that feedback, come up with a list of five or ten expectations to which you know you can be held accountable. Make the expectations quantifiable, so that issues will not arise with relativity. Do not commit to something in which you will likely fall short; this should be set in stone on both sides and waver only for special exceptions or with permission from the other party. The key is that you cover what your team can count on from you in your professional relationship, and that what they can count on are things that matter to them.

Clear Expectations
It can be easy to create a list of the behaviors that we want others to exhibit, but tougher when we have to declare the same for ourselves. The following are some examples of commitments that could be modified for your own professional environment, and made quantifiable as much as possible:

  • Go to the Source: I will have the courage to respectfully confront (to provide feedback) and be confronted (to receive feedback). I will provide you with honest guidance regarding your performance on a consistent basis, and do so in a private environment.
  • Career Path Blueprint: I will provide a career path with quantifiable benchmarks, and educate you as to the vision I have for you and your contribution. I will see potential in you that you may not yet see in yourself, and remain committed to your professional development.
  • Mutual Accountability: In service of your long-term potential, I will hold you accountable to doing the things you said you would do. I will invite feedback consistently about my leadership abilities, our team’s dynamic, and how things can improve.
  • Timely Response: I will respond to all emails promptly and will not cancel standing meetings unless there is a true emergency or unavoidable last-minute conflict.
  • Consistency: I will have times of being intensely focused on a project or unavailable at times, but I will not allow myself to have any passive aggressive or “bad days.” You can count on my consistency as a leader and colleague.

Two-Way Street

Create the same list of commitments for employees, and consider asking current staff to help create the list of things they want in teammates. The expectations could include things like desired behaviors, time in office, work ethic, required results, or any other guidelines that allow an employee to know they are meeting expectations. Resist the urge to simply say “I’ll know a job well done when I see it” – if you can’t articulate expectations clearly, employees will never know if they’ve achieved them. This is when a disconnect happens, and the foundation of the relationship begins to crack.

What happens when an expectation is not met? Give both sides permission, early on, to approach the other when this happens. When it does, there is the opportunity to engage in additional dialogue and share relevant information that may shift the perspective of the situation. There is also the opportunity to course correct immediately, as sometimes we don’t realize an issue exists until an outside party points it out! Choose to foster, and demonstrate to employees, an environment of high accountability and expectations of one another. The strongest organizations and teams are built by those who honor their commitments.

Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about best practices related to retention strategies, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.

-Karen Schmidt


Entrepreneur or Wantrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur, or having entrepreneurial abilities, is an admired trait in our society. If you asked a candidate in an interview if they view themselves as entrepreneurs, the socially acceptable answer is a resounding “absolutely.” If you asked individuals on your current team or in your department if they felt they had an entrepreneurial spirit, the answer would likely be affirmative. However, these types of questions often garner answers associated not with the true self, but with the idealized self. The idealized self is an image of what we should be, must be or ought to be, in order to be acceptable.

Why is this important in a professional setting? Not every role requires an entrepreneur. In many cases, the engine of an organization is fueled by those who perform a role consistently and efficiently, day in and day out. However, in a leadership capacity, having a true entrepreneurial mindset and spirit is essential.

In life, self-actualization occurs when a person’s “ideal self” (who they would like to be) is congruent with their actual behavior. In business, we may not have the time to wait for the two to align. We need to make sure we have entrepreneurs in the right roles, no matter how senior or junior the opportunity, instead of wantrepreneurs.

So what traits should you look for in your current or future team?

Again, “passionate” is one of those qualities that few would admit they do not have. So how does passion manifest itself? Passionate individuals wake up every day craving success. They are obsessed with the idea of achieving their goals and wasting as little time as possible doing it.

The key, of course, is that passion is channeled into action. We have all met individuals who are passionate about so much yet accomplish so little, because they lack the ability to focus their thoughts into action. They live in their dreams instead of in reality, often because the fear of failure holds them back and becomes easier to talk than to do. Entrepreneurs channel that passion into action. Identify individuals who generate results; anything that’s not a result is an excuse.

Isn’t that what business is all about? Figure out a new way to sell a product, or create something that doesn’t exist, or streamline a process, or identify a solution that your competition has not identified. Creativity is sometimes more easily found in our children than it is in ourselves! Why is this? In that question lies the answer; children are always asking “WHY?”

Creative thinkers are intensely curious, so identify those within your organization who crave answers and alternative ways of approaching problems. Identify those who provide new avenues for thinking,instead of simply following directions.

Foster this in people as well; give them permission to find their own new answers. It is acceptable to say “I don’t know;” it is impossible for anyone to know anything about everything, but creative thinkers go about finding the answer. No matter what issue is faced, there is someone else who has had the same issue and has likely already solved the problem. Give permission for creative thinkers to seek out those who have come before them, and pull spokes from the wheels of others instead of reinventing the wheel from scratch.

When researching the traits of true entrepreneurs, before the question of “how did they do it” comes the “why.” Many experts believe that most entrepreneurs who have made significant footprints throughout history have been driven by a need for approval. Many people have a burning desire to prove other people wrong. That’s a great motivator. Instead of creating a lack of confidence, this conviction is the force that causes someone to fight harder.

This concept of “true grit” was discussed at length in a previous SRA Update. In his book, Self-Made in America, John McCormack references a trait studied by Kathy Kolbe: conation. Conation is “the will to succeed, the quest for success, the attitude that ‘to stop me you’ll have to kill me,’ that elusive ‘fire in the belly’ that manifests itself in drive, enthusiasm, excitement, and single-mindedness in pursuit of a goal – any goal. All consistently successful people have it. Many well- educated, intelligent, enduring, and presentable people don’t have it.”

So how can we start to understand an applicant’s or an employee’s grit? Try some or all of these questions to identify the trait:

  • What experiences do you feel had the most impact in shaping who you are today?
  • What goal have you had in your life that took you the longest to achieve? What did you learn from that experience?
  • Give me an example of a time you made a major sacrifice to achieve an important goal.
  • What has been the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in life? What about in your career?

Not every player on the team needs to embody an entrepreneurial spirit
– but identifying and mentoring those who do can start to shape the next generation of future leaders within your organization. These are but a few of the traits to look for as you evaluate those capable of taking your department or company from where it is today to the achievement possible in the future.

Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Executive Search Review has recognized the totality of the Sanford Rose Associates network as being one of the Top 11 Search Firms in North America. Sanford Rose Associates has 60+ offices worldwide and is a member of the International Executive Search Federation (IESF). To learn more about how to identify Entrepreneurs instead of Wantrepreneurs, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates consultant today.

-Karen Schmidt


4 Crucial Questions to Ask About Your Company’s Retention Efforts

You’ve probably seen the news headlines, all telling variations of the same good news:

Last year was the best year for employment and hiring since 1999.  This year will be an even better year for hiring than 2014.  The economy is nearly back to full strength.  And so on and so forth . . .

This is good news for civil engineering companies, all of which are looking to achieve healthy growth and profits in 2015.  However, there’s a “flip side” to this equation, the consequences of which could potentially sabotage these plans for growth and prosperity.

With a better economy come more employment opportunities and more workers who make the decision to leave their current company for “greener pastures.”  Make no mistake about it: top candidates in the field of civil engineering are viewing the economy differently then they did a year ago.  Specifically, they’re thinking about career advancement, and they’re certainly open to the idea of advancing their career with a new employer.

So—how can you prevent your best employees from exploring other opportunities by offering them the advancement that they’re seeking?  The first thing to do is ask yourself the following four crucial questions about your company’s retention efforts:

#1—Do we have a path for professional growth?

Are you encouraging our engineers to participate in professional societies?  (Okay, that’s two questions and not one, but they both speak to the same issue.)  If employees can’t see a definite path for professional growth within your company, they won’t be able to envision themselves working there for much longer.

#2—Are we changing our workplace to reflect the changing needs of our employee base?

The first step is to identify those changing needs, which in today’s market include job sharing and telecommuting.  With resources such as Skype and GoToMeeting, it’s becoming easier to get the team together for quick meetings.  Employees value these resources and the flexibility that they offer.

#3—Do we offer the benefits that are important to our team?

Sometimes, the benefits that seem important to the more senior staff members are not as important to the Millennials and Generation X members—or important at all.  If you’re not making sure that what you offer is in line with what your employees actually want, then you’re at risk for those employees leaving.

#4—Are we tracking statistics on employee turnover?

As the saying goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.  During the Great Recession, it wasn’t as important for managers to effectively motivate their staff.  That’s because employees were gritting their teeth, happy just to have a job.  That time has now passed.  These days, if you’re not effectively managing and motivating your best employees, those employees are going to leave.

When is the best time to pay attention your company’s retention programs?  NOW is the best time!  Actually, you should always be paying attention to these programs.  That’s because, by its very nature, employee retention is a pro-active process.  If you wait until your best employees submit their two-week notice, then it’s already too late.

And that is definitely not good news.


We Can Survive Without Oil . . . But We Can’t Live Without Water

We Can Survive Without Oil . . . But We Can’t Live Without Water

“The U.S. population grows by one person every 15 seconds.  The total amount of water grows by one gallon never.” Will Jernigan 

These days, it seems as though you can’t go more than a day without seeing a national news headline about the price of oil . . . or the factors that determine the price of oil . . . or the possible future price of oil.

And what about natural gas?  How many times have you heard or read the word “fracking” within the past year?  Probably more times than you can count.  The price of oil and gas affects all of us but when was the last time you saw something in the mainstream media about the impending scarcity of water?

For example, Sao Paulo, Brazil has approximately 60 days left before its water supply runs out.  There are over 12 million people living there.  Quoting a recent article on the BBC, “they are sleepwalking into a water crisis” while the government has been too slow to acknowledge the problem.

As another example, the level 4 drought in California: towns in California are also running out of water.  This is not a problem that exists “somewhere else in the world.”  Even with severe water restrictions over the past three years there, the rich and famous are not heeding the warnings to conserve.  Oprah Winfrey has water trucked into her 40 acre estate over and above her allotted water ration. The swanky Biltmore Four Seasons was fined nearly $50,000 for using a million gallons of water over its allotment in one month.

You are probably well aware of the extreme weather patterns—including severe drought—that have occurred globally on a more consistent basis during the past several years.  These patterns have not followed any discernable pattern, and as a result, they are not predictable.  This phenomenon only underscores the urgency of the water scarcity situation.  Although many scientists point to the deforestation of the Amazon contributing to climate change that is contributing to the severe drought in Brazil, nothing is being done to slow this from happening.

As an executive recruiter in the civil engineering niche, I read these articles more than most people because it’s important in my field of work.  It should be a priority for everyone whether they are a civil engineer designing stormwater retention ponds or nurses caring for the sick, or farmers or factory workers or accountants.  The wrong priorities can have dire consequences.

We can survive without oil . . . but we can’t live without water.

What are your thoughts?  Without sounding like Chicken Little, what can we do to continue to raise awareness of this issue?


The Latest Comcast Controversy – (Insert ENR Top 500 firm?)

You might have already seen the story in the national headlines. (If you haven’t, you can read it by clicking here.)  The short version goes something like this:

Conal O’Rourke held a non-accounting staff position at PricewaterhouseCoopers. O’Rourke had a problem with his Comcast service and bill. Specifically, he was charged nearly $2,000 for equipment he never received and didn’t need.  Needless to say, O’Rourke lodged a complaint with Comcast. Despite the fact that the charges were removed, his account still went to collections. As a result, O’Rourke had to complain again. (Who wouldn’t?)

Eventually, the matter was cleared up. A happing ending, right? Unfortunately not. O’Rourke was later fired by PricewaterhouseCoopers, with company officials stating that an investigation determined that “he had violated its standards and practices.”  What’s the connection? PricewaterhouseCoopers does consulting work for Comcast….to the tune of about $30M a year.  Comcast has publicly apologized for poor service but O’Rourke has filed a lawsuit alleging defamation and other charges

Did O’Rourke have a legitimate complaint? It certainly seemed that way. Was O’Rourke fired because he escalated his complaint to an executive within Comcast who discovered that he worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers?  It’s become a case of “he said, they said,” but it’s also a case where it’s fairly easy to connect the dots.

What does this have to do with Consulting Engineering?  It poses an interesting ethical question: could this same scenario happen with an ENR Top 500 consulting engineering firm?  For instance, let’s say that engineering firm does consulting business with a national client, such as Wal-Mart or Coca-Cola. What happens if a Civil Engineer who works for that firm slips and falls and sustains an injury at Wal-Mart . . . and that injury is a direct result of negligence on the part of Wal-Mart?  What if that Civil Engineer decides to sue Wal-Mart? What if a Wal-Mart executive discovers that he works for said engineering firm? Can Wal-Mart put pressure on the firm to fire this employee if he pursues the lawsuit?

Okay, that’s more than one question, but you get the idea.

Business relationships between consulting firms and powerful companies operating on a national level can cause potential complications such as these.  At the very least, if you work for a consulting firm, you should know the specific companies with which your employer has a business relationship. Because ethical or not, these things can happen, even if there’s a very real and strong possibility that you haven’t done anything wrong.

Just ask Conal O’Rourke.

What do you think about this story? Do you believe O’Rourke was fired for complaining about his Comcast bill? Or is there more to the story? I invite you to share your thoughts.

Article link:


Why ‘Back to School’ = ‘Back to the Job Search’

Believe it or not, summer is coming to an end.  Labor Day is almost upon us, and that holiday typically signals the end of summer fun.

As most of you already know, this is “back to school” season.  But what you may not already know is that it’s also “back to the job search” season.

The months of August through December are usually my busiest time of the year as a recruiter.  The reason for this is that once kids are back in school and vacations are over (for the most part), companies begin to once again assess their workforce.

In many instances, companies are starting to make these assessments in preparation for the coming year, which means if they have a hiring need, they want to take care of that need before the end of the current year.  Not only that, but right now, there is also a marked decline in candidates who are “available” to fill these open positions.

And THAT means the job market is starting to heat up!

As a candidate, this is a great time to evaluate where you currently are in your career.  You can accomplish this by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Am I on track with where I want to be in my career?
  • If I’m not on track, why aren’t I?
  • Can I get where I want to go in my current position?
  • If there’s opportunity for advancement at my present employer, how far can that advancement take me?
  • Should I be seriously exploring other career opportunities?

So don’t think of it as just “back to school” season . . . think of it as “career upgrade” season, as well.

This could be the season that your employment situation—and your career—change for the better.


LeBron James and the Art of (Not) ‘Boomeranging’

As just about everybody in the world knows, professional basketball player LeBron James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years and two NBA championships with the Miami Heat.

In other words, James is “boomeranging” back to his former employer.

Human resource consulting firm Robert Half recently published a blog post on its website titled, “Coming Home: 6 Lessons Boomerang Employees Can Learn From LeBron’s Return.”

While I’m sure that some people have successfully “boomeranged” back to a previous employer, I speak from two levels of experience when I say that doing so is the exception far more than it is the rule.  Those two levels of experience include both my own experience attempting to “boomerang” and my 14 years of experience as an executive recruiter.

My own attempted “boomerang” did not last very long.  Not only that, but my experience has also been shared by many people with whom I’ve spoken during my professional career.

To be sure, the evidence that I’ve collected along the way has been largely unscientific.  However, after a while, patterns begin to emerge.

That’s why I’m confident in saying that in MOST cases, attempting to “boomerang” back to a previous employer ultimately doesn’t work because the initial reason the person left was because they were unhappy with something tied to the core culture of the organization.  Those things typically involve one (or all three) of the following:

  • The personalities of upper management
  • The idiosyncrasies of co-workers and/or supervisors
  • Broken promises at all levels


The “boomeranging” phenomenon mirrors that of a bad relationship.  After you end such a relationship, you tend forget all of the “bad stuff” that convinced you to end it in the first place.  Instead, you begin to “wax poetic” about the way things used to be.

What happens next?  As you might expect, once you’re back working at your former employer, all of those cultural idiosyncrasies you forgot about begin to rear their collective ugly heads.  Eventually, “waxing poetic” has been replaced with the employment equivalent of a M. Night Shyamalan plot-twist ending.

Yes, James wrote in the letter announcing his return that “his relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball.”  He could be “waxing poetic,” and if he is, to what extent is he doing so?

There’s a chance that James might be in for a rude awakening.  “Coming home” may not be as easy as he thought.  As with all employment situations of this nature, only time will tell.

To be fair, the Robert Half article does state that “being a boomerang employee isn’t for everyone.”  I would agree, but it goes further than that.

Being a “boomerang employee” isn’t for the vast majority of people . . . unless, of course, you’re the most talented basketball player on the planet.

What do you think?  Is LeBron James’s situation unique?  Have you successfully “boomeranged” back to an employer?  Did you try and fail?  What’s been your experience?


Article link:


An Important Question to Ask About the AECOM-URS Acquisition

Sometimes, the word “mega” is used in an unnecessary fashion, designed to infuse a situation with hype in order to lend it more perceived credence. However, “mega” is absolutely an appropriate term to describe the recent “mega merger” of AECOM and URS, an acquisition that was officially announced this past Monday.

Both companies are giants within the Engineering and Construction industries. They’ve been “gobbling up” smaller, mid-sized, and even fairly large Engineering firms during the past five years. However, those acquisitions pale in comparison to the convergence of these two titans. Consider this statement from the official press release announcing the sale:

“The combined company will be a leading, fully integrated infrastructure and federal services provider with more than 95,000 employees in 150 countries. It would have calendar year 2013 pro forma revenues of more than US$19 billion and EBITDA of approximately US$1.3 billion.”

The press release went on to describe all of the benefits associated with the merger, including the positive impact it will have within Engineering and Construction. However, in the midst of all the “buzz” surrounding this recent announcement, there’s one important question that should be asked about the AECOM-URS deal:

How well will the two firms be able to merge their company cultures, and if they aren’t able to merge those cultures well, what form will the fall-out take?

The inability to successfully integrate the different cultures of two companies has proven to be the outright downfall of quite a few large mergers in this country’s history. Below are just a few examples:

  • AOL and Time Warner
  • Daimler and Chrysler
  • Sprint and Nextel

However, Martin M. Koffel, chairman and chief executive officer of URS, made it a point to address this issue. He’s quoted in the press release as saying the following:

“Our two businesses are complementary, and our cultures are highly compatible. We anticipate that employees from the combined company will benefit as the organization integrates its leadership talent and capitalizes on its greater scale to invest in its people, improve their career opportunities, and advance their capacity to compete globally.”

When ARCADIS acquired Malcolm Pirnie a few years ago, there was quite a “ripple effect” in terms of employees and personnel. Obviously, not all of the employees from both companies remained with ARCADIS. Many moved on for various reasons, the majority within 18 monthsof the acquisition.

There is no reason, considering the industry-wide impact of this most recent development, such a “ripple effect” won’t happen again . . . only larger this time. While the question posed above may be the most important question to result from the merger and accompanying “ripple,” there are other pertinent questions, as well.

How many key employees from both companies will be leaving within the next 18 months? What will be the reasons they leave? Where will they be going? What companies will benefit from this transfer of talent? How will they service their clients?

Only time holds the answer to all of these questions.

1 2 3 4 5 7 Page 3 of 7