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Let’s Get Specific #agreesharon


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

 Let me know what you think.

Dealing with a high-stress situation a few years back, I shared my woes with a friend who responded in generic terms about how everything would work out and “this, too shall pass”. Anxious for assistance and simultaneously scared to put “labels” on the situation at hand, the generic nature of my friend’s response infuriated me. I had no doubt in her desire to help me; it was obvious that she did not want to overstep any undefined boundaries in the friendship.

Instinct took over. I found myself getting pretty specific in defining the resources that I required. I then took it another step further and defined the people in her own network that I wanted her to call — on my behalf. A series of phone calls, emails and text messages soon followed — on my behalf. By better defining what I needed, I had empowered my friend to help me solve the problem. And, she was as excited as I was when the puzzle pieces starting coming together.

Did you have a situation this week where you clearly defined what you needed from another person?


Make like a honey-bee!

Sharon Lewis


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

honeybee 1Waiting on a store check-out line, I listened to the telephone conversation of the person standing behind me. The dialogue was around customer service. “ I want my customers to receive the best possible customer service from my staff. At the same time”, he continued, “I will not allow my own staff to be bullied or intimidated.”

It seems that a staff member was upset because the customer’s approach was something like: “This is what you will do to correct the situation now” as opposed to “I would like to see you do the following to make good on the situation. What…

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Non-stop Tidbits


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

Learning something new every day does not change with age….that’s good to hear! Source: AARP Research #DisrutptAging

I recently started keeping notes on the new things that I observe during the day…..when you take the time to write it down………you realize how much you take for granted. So much activity! So many at mirror

The Oxymoron of HIPPA #agreesharon


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

       Let me know what you think.

doctor patient talkingOxymoron : You are sharing a semi-private hospital room with someone.

Are HIPPA policies enforceable? How?

If you were the one in the 2nd hospital bed, would you leave the room whenever your roommate has a conversation with a medical professional?

Would you tell your family and friends about the roommate’s situation?


Customer Experience? Customer Engagement? Just do it!

To positively experience something OR to engage with something:

Are they any different?

Speaking to another marketing-industry friend recently, we joked about the overuse of the words: customer engagement and customer experience. The word engagement implies a deeper connection with the customer although the two of us agreed that every experience can make a lasting impact on ones’ choices and impressions.

  • Just do it.
  • Make me buy your product.
  • Make me use your service.
  • Make me smile.
  • Make me say “Thank you so much for making this happen for me.”

Here are a few simple examples.

Walking back to the office one afternoon, I passed this Starbucks promotion. Looking to bring patrons back into the store for a mid-afternoon energy boost, the offer plays to one’s earlier purchase and reinforces Starbucks position as an all-day food source.  The price point for the treat equates to a chocolate bar. Having been in the store earlier in the day, you would know that the breakfast crowd paid 3-4 times that price. (And, to those snickering, let’s assume that the product freshness is intact.) starbucksMake me buy your product. 

Our family does not own a car and we become weekly rental customers during the summer. blue carFinding myself in Boston with a customer service problem involving a car picked up at the local Boston airport, I first called the Executive Member Customer Service center. Fail. Then I called our local rental site hoping that they would help. Fail. A direct FB message resolved the problem in one hour.
All four components of that experience made an impression on me.

Make me want to use your services.

This photo was taken at a marketing conference about a year ago. infographicThe artist was quick, creative and able to distill key points into a visually appropriate sequence. Looking at the info-graphic, like watching a twitter feed at a conference, served to reinforce my own learning while the visual format highlighted nuances in the presentation.

The multi-sensory experience made me smile. 

Walking around Manhattan during the bewitching hour of the mid-afternoon school dismissals, can be most entertaining. The other day, I literally stopped and turned around as I heard the voice of a very young child telling his mother that he splattered paint in class similar to the Jackson Pollack style of painting. It was not surprising when the child then went on to ask his mom about her email follow ups to confirm his weekly play dates.

As a mom, I was mighty impressed with the school’s ability to engage this very bright young child. I could almost hear the mom saying to herself:

“Thank you (school and teachers) for making this love of learning happen for my child.” 

Customer Experience. Customer Engagement. Whatever you call it. Just make it positively – memorable.



Originally posted for MENG on Feb 20. 2015: Customer Experience? Customer Engagement? Just Do It? by @sharonlewisnyc [TODAY’S POST] #MENGonline #Marketing

The Ongoing Conversation Needed with Performance Management

How does the performance management system tie to the needs of the business and how does individual performance get measured at the business dashboard level?

This question provided the big picture challenge addressed at the March 22 NYHRPS Forum facilitated by Dr. Anna Tavis. While previous practice sought to replicate the GE methodology, it is no longer the gold standard for management and leadership. Rather today’s leaders have become fast, lean machines that try something and test it on the go.

Intrigued by the case studies presented by Dr. Tavis, NYHRPS members wanted to continue the dialogue with specific action items that they could take back to their offices. And so, on May 3, NYHRPS Board Member Deb Seidman facilitated a Mastermind Group amongst a small group of members who had participated in the earlier Performance Management discussion. Participants brought case studies that reflected their current work. As a Mastermind group, questions were posed and advice was given, allowing the NYHRPS member to leave with an agenda that they could develop in their own organization.

Cultural Changes at the Grassroots Level will Impact the Success of a New Performance Appraisal System

While a wide range of questions came up during the discussion, case study conversations focused on three specific themes across organizations
• How does a small company take the best of the processes followed in a large enterprise while keeping its entrepreneurial spirit and nimbleness?
• How do you create of a culture of feedback at a grass-roots level?
• How do you create a common line of sight across organizational and personal missions… as to improve performance and achieve common goals?

With Forum participants representing both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, Dr. Tavis asked:
• How do employee motivations differ in for-profit vs a non-profit entity?
• If nonprofits are mission driven, what does the concept of top down goal setting look like?
• Is a bottom up approach to goal setting more applicable to the non-profit where grass-roots programs and local area relationships are critical in meeting the organizational objectives?

One group considered what they would do if they were starting a performance system from a clean slate. Lessons learned from previous discussions provided the important anchors for building a new system or revising one in place.
• First and foremost end with a positive impact on the business strategy
• Focus on a simple method to identify good performers
• Create a culture of constructive feedback to accelerate and sustain high performance
• Get buy-in by incorporating the employee perspective
• Include customization for significant groups by division, generations, etc.

Another interesting moment in the conversation focused on finding champions to support those spearheading the organizational changes. Both the General Counsel and the Marketing teams were singled out as strong partners.
The Mastermind meeting structure was a new format for the Forum Committee. It brought nuances to the meeting that can only be discovered when individuals share the specifics of their individual stories in the spirit of trust, confidentiality and peer advisement. The Forum Committee thanks both Anna and Debbie for their contributions in facilitating these programs and to our participants who came prepared to share and to learn.

A recap from the March 22 discussion can be found here.

NYHRPS Break-Through Innovation Series of Forums provides a platform to discuss emerging issues among thought leaders, peers and HR decision makers in intimate settings limited to 15 participants and 2-3 experts.

Performance Management on Trial: To Keep or Not to Keep. Is that Really the Question?

Some 20 HR professionals gathered on the morning of March 22 to discuss Performance Management on Trial; an intimate Forum led by People and Strategy editor Anna Tavis. Participants ranged from senior executives in the corporate world to leaders in smaller entrepreneurial environments to those currently consulting to both of these businesses structures.

Are today’s performance evaluations enhancing both the employee experience and the business results?

As the group discussed today’s business environment and the current work being piloted by industry leaders such as Deloitte and Adobe, consensus was that the key question is not “Should we keep the performance management system”? Rather the first question today is “How does the performance management systems tie to the needs of the business and how does individual performance get measured at the business dashboard level?

The rise in collaborative teams used in the technology and service driven industries is a strong factor in this shift in focus, further ignited by social media, economic dynamics and the new cultural norms of conducting business. HR teams must be ready to support the business leaders with tools that can be readily created, piloted and adjusted.  checklist photoCookie cutter, off the shelf solutions, have gone by the way of the manual typewriter!

Hence today’s pioneering programs are designed to maximize the feedback that will motivate individuals to achieve their personal best within the organizational focus.  The science behind motivational behavior is playing a large role in today’s strategies. Designers are further doing everything possible to minimize the rater bias which historically played a negative role in the evaluation process.

What are the critical success factors emerging from today piloting PM systems?

Three of the key points that emerged from our pre-reads and our Forum dialogue depend on how you answer these questions:

  • How do you ensure a direct link between business objectives and individual contributions?
  • Is it possible to eliminate the inherent bias in the PM process?
  • What are the key success factors to allowing performance feedback to be continuous, collaborative and transparent?

Deloitte is piloting a program that addresses these objectives with a four-question performance snapshot *1. The snapshot looks to uncover how best to utilize the individual moving forward as opposed to a snapshot of the individuals’ past performance. Conceptually, Deloitte asks the leader to consider:

  • If it were my money, would I award this person the highest possible compensation increase and bonus?
  • Given what I know of this person’s performance, would I always want them on my team?
  • Is this person at risk for low performance (potentially jeopardizing service delivery?)
  • Is this person ready for a promotion today?

The Deloitte pilot is providing thoughtful input for the industry and impressive results for their own business.

Other organizations are considering rating-less systems while others are striving to create programs that recognize the necessary agility and forward thinking behaviors demanded from today’s top leaders. The group agreed that the annual rating system developed by GE in years gone by, is indeed a program that is no longer relevant.  The business is demanding real time feedback loops that provide coaching; the cookie cutter solution no longer works. The business needs and cultural norms demand customization and personalization; an approach that is surely in keeping with the way we manage every other part of our lives from shopping to investments to healthcare.

Where are we going?

As Anna Tavis summarized, we are living in a new reality. To be effective we need to start outside the box. Even if we have a roadmap to manage change and we follow the process to a successful end, we need to be prepared for disruptions anywhere along the way. Ask yourself, “What is the new reality?” More importantly, “What is your organization’s new reality?”

smart kidWhen once we sought to replicate the GE methodology, it is no longer the gold standard for management and leadership. Rather GE has become a fast, lean machine that tries something and tests it on the go. The new organization seeks to be agile and follows scrum and sprints (not waterfalls) as teams adjust their strategy in the middle of implementation.

Is your organization becoming a federation of businesses when once it was a hierarchy? As businesses customize products and services for their customers, they become uniquely different from the other businesses in their organization. When the variations become significant, and the hierarchy doesn’t work to improve performance, performance management evaluations need to be changed to meet new requirements. Such new requirements may be providing real-time performance data for individuals who come on and off multiple teams during the year, goals that change quarterly, work that gets done horizontally and evolving technology that takes new competencies to master and requires real-time feedback to learn.

In addition to these changing models in the business world,   the new reality is taking place amongst the military units stationed in Afghanistan. The old military model of handing off knowledge of new territories, cultural nuances and local game plans no longer work. The new reality is guerrilla warfare where one unit hands off intelligence to the next while on the run.

Closing Thoughts

Change management roadmaps are helpful in keeping organizations up to date with the shifting economy…. But be prepared for disruptions and agile shifts or you will miss the market, the financial opportunity, or the customer’s needs.

*1 Harvard Business Review. April 2015. Reinventing Performance Management.  Ashley Goodall