Finding Motivation for the Day | Quick Reads (2 min read) — The Millionaire’s Digest

Important to find ways to stay positive and stay motivated. Good read!

Cari Desiderio                              

Written by Millionaire’s Digest Team Member: Dustin Meyer Founder & Owner of: Evolutionary Mind Millionaire’s Digest Team, Contributor, Successful Living Writer Daily motivation is something that we as people always are seeking to find. The big thing is, where do we find it to get through our day to day lives? Simply put, self motivation […]

via Finding Motivation for the Day | Quick Reads (2 min read) — The Millionaire’s Digest

15 Ways to Leverage the #1 Contributor to Job Satisfaction for Leadership Success

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports, for two years running, that respectful treatment of all employees at all levels is the #1 contributor to job satisfaction. Compensation, tr…

Source: 15 Ways to Leverage the #1 Contributor to Job Satisfaction for Leadership Success

Favorite HR Groups in Chicago

By, Cari Desiderio

Are you an all out HR fan like me?  Well if you are in Chicago there are tons of ways to get connected to maintain your certifications (PHR, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-CP, SHRM-SCP) and keep up on a variety of HR updates around the globe.




HR Management Association of Chicago

Management Association




Relationship Management 101 – The Stuff of Success?

By, Cari Desiderio

Sometimes the complex is actually simple.  The longer I am in the corporate environment, the less complex is the lens through which I see it.  We are here to as a teams of diverse, talented, well organized people, to create products and services that produce revenue.  Simple enough.  We are successful at this if we are apt at our jobs, and if we can work well with one another to be productive together.  At the center of this all is a little thing called relationship because productivity does not happen in a bubble.

I recently enjoyed a post from SHRM’s website about how to be a “Relationship Management Star!”  The post truly hits on some simple principles that have to do with caring, information sharing, considering body language and signals, communicating and more ( Link to Article ).  None of the principles, I thought, are rocket science. In fact most of us learned the bulk of these behaviors in about kindergarten!

At core of this litany of Relationship 101 steps, is intentional and active caring and inclusion.  Great managers, great employees, productive members of the corporate world, are effective because they can move things forward through people and communities.  This means that they build relationships and choose to see the act of doing business as the act of working together to produce something.

So each day, let’s ask ourselves, what are we doing to make our TEAM a little better and to communicate and relate in a way that makes the day a little brighter?

Happy relating!

“Communication is the real work of leadership” Nitin Nohria



Be a Thermostat!


By, Cari Desiderio

Recently one of my closest friends and confidants was sharing with me something profound she was applying in her life.  She heard it from a friend of hers.  When I heard it, I have pondered it, and then shared it with quite a few friends myself. And now I’m blogging about it.  Truth ripples. So awesome.

She suggested to me a perspective that can be situation altering.  She said she was learning that she should be a thermostat.  You see, as a pretty intuitive and caring person, she has a heightened sense of awareness for people’s state of being.  This is fine and well, she explained. But it has little impact.  It helps little to “be a thermometer” and measure the state of a situation and people.  Instead, “be a thermostat” —  be able to measure a situation, and then do something about it.

Wow I thought.  This can be profound in a lot of settings.  How would my life change if I was a thermostat in my relationships? In my community? In my parenting? Since my blog is about all things HR, I am going to apply to the corporate setting.

One of the most frustrating experiences I have had in HR is when companies conduct engagement surveys and then do little with the findings. I think the perception is that, hey, if we do a survey people think we care and that will help the culture.  Wrong.  Doing an engagement survey (note I do not say satisfaction survey – we want happy engaged people, not happy disengaged people).  In any event, doing a survey like this is essentially the act of being a thermometer.  We typically learn that several of the top things people want are in need of some impact and change.  The most common I have seen are employees will say:

  1. I want to be listened to and respected
  2. I want to see better communication and know where the company is headed, and how I fit in
  3. I want to be developed and see my career grow
  4. I want a boss who is a player/coach and really cares about the team and not just him/herself

Interesting to note – occasionally we see things about income on the top wants list, but rarely.

What a cool thing it is, if we enter into an engagement survey and set out to be a thermostat!  Now, a word of warning, however.  Don’t try to be Superman.  What do I mean by that?  Well don’t set out and promise to fix every possible woe.  Some things are just contextual based on the business model.  You are probably not going to be able to create robust career promotion paths if you are a company of fifty because you are too small.  You are probably not going to be able to offer state of the art benefits and 99% percentile salaries if you are a nonprofit, because your mission isn’t to be a cash cow.  You are probably not going to be able to offer 40-hour work weeks with limited travel, if you are private equity firm with consultants serving the globe.  And so on.

However, within the context of who your organization is, you can still be a realistic thermostat.  You can change things for the better in a way that fits who you are.

The key to this is strong follow through, with action committees led by teams of employees and well coached management to guide the outcome in a thoughtful and committed manner.  Notice I did not say action team led by HR.  HR can facilitate, but if HR is the lone ranger trying to make change, it will actually backfire and be worse than never doing a survey.  Because change only happens top down.

One other critical note when seeking to be thermostats when it comes to corporate culture.  You’re going to have to be incredibly cognizant about who you give the honor and privilege of management too.  Good managers need to be people who listen and are emotionally mature enough to receive and act on feedback.  Be prepared, if you decide to take this stuff seriously, to have an “up or out” ultimatum to any leaders who are not remotely interested in being thermostats with their teams.  In other words, leaders who are stubborn and more interested in #1, and who frankly dislike having to lead people or receive feedback and do something with it.  Because ultimately, employees typically leave their boss not their company.  If you look at the list of common issues, it is the line manager who can most directly impact it.  Managers are commissioned with creating individual development plans for employees.  Managers are the ones with the ability to close or open their ears when employees have ideas, and to create an environment that welcomes ideas.  Managers are accountable to create team environments that uphold respect. Managers have the choice daily to care or be indifferent to those they have the honor and privilege of leading. Managers can choose to dictate, or to be player/coaches.

Be a thermostat. Such a cool concept.  Let’s try to be thermostats in our homes, in our friendships, in our communities, in our workplaces. We’ll all be happier and more engaged, in life! Thanks to my friend Wendy for sharing.




Bottle up that Holiday Cheer – it’s Contagious!


By, Cari Desiderio

I’m sitting here fat and full, enjoying the joy of this simple day, a hearty meal, time with family, songs and relaxation. Yes, it is the holidays. For me that is a precious time to simplify and celebrate the gift of forgiveness, joy and faith. But today is otherwise not too different from the rest. The weather is cold and damp and not too pleasant. Nothing is marvelously changed about life. But it is different all the same, isn’t it? It is the holiday season and so that substantially changes the environment due to the meaning of the season. I feel cheer because of what that symbolizes.

Which makes me wonder. Why should this day be so unique? Why should a holiday day really be different than any other day?

So here is a challenge I put forward today. Make every day something special. Don’t be complacent and accept the status quo. For those in the business world, the challenge is this. Bring more than work back to work. Bring some purpose and bring some fun. As Seth Godin says in his book TRIBES, be a heretic, “Heretics are the new leaders. The ones who challenge the status quo, who get out in front of their tribes, who create movements.”

I will never forget the fun bag one of my bosses who did this well gave me at a healthcare company I was at a few years back. She was a VP of Finance, not known to be the more energetic of professions. But she defied the status quo of what COOs and Finance VPs were supposed to be. She was a heretic you might say, after the Godin definition. She brought laughter everywhere she went. The fun bag was literally a bag with a clown nose in it, and a book about how to bring joy and fun to each new day. Many of us on her staff received this little gift, which symbolized something she wanted us to remember. She taught me to not let the status quo, the should be, the dreariness, the boredom of corporate America, stifle the wonder of life. She made work fun and appreciated the value in relationships. To this day my best friendships from the workplace are from this company. Because when you let your guard down and approach business and life not as a place to win and conquer and “perform” so hard, but a place to cultivate relationships and find joy, something happens. You are that heretic that Seth Godin speaks of. You are a magnet for followers. You are joyful. And you lead engaged teams. It was in this place of work that I learned to hold fiercely to the principle of positivity and relationship. Yes we will face obstacles to this. I have in fact faced strong resistance when I have held steady to the principles of relationship based management in environments a bit more cold to this, where distance based control and fear management was preferred. But in the end, loyal employees win out and engaged teams are the ones that produce the most profound things. When you lead with a little joy, with a little focus on others before self, you wind up with a loyal group. A tribe as Godin would put in. And these tribes equate to high retention and high performance in the workplace.

So, enjoy this holiday season all! And bring a bottle of that celebration with you to work in 2015!


Godin, Seth. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Learning from the Masters: What our Sales Folks can Teach About Creating Happy Teams


104px-Team_work!_2013-06-24_11-59 (1)


By, Cari Desiderio

Over the course of my HR career I have supported sales, manufacturing, engineering and healthcare organizations predominantly. Each genre has it’s strong suits when it comes to creating an attractive employee environment. My healthcare friends were masters as creating an environment of care and belonging. This was related to their slant towards nurturing and nursing I suppose. The engineering and manufacturing folks had a very organized and steady culture in terms of laying out expectations and having clear communication.

But I’ve learned the most from my sales teams. There is no team in the company that has a better handle on “gut check” when it comes to understanding the state of employee contentment and engagement. Even the HR professionals miss the boat, sometimes. We can get so fixated on the process and the policy and completely miss what is going on on the streets and in the trenches with our people. We can become more concerned with form and less about substance if we forget the art of people that our sales teams know so well. So what is the remedy?  A little Sales 101 my friend. It is the cure all for any HR person afflicted with the malady of being a schoolmarm instead of a being an effective team coach.

Why do our sales folks get it? Well I think it’s simple actually. To be in sales you just simply need to be a people person. It’s in the salesperson’s blood. That said I’ve thought about this a bit and I think there are four main ways that sales people can teach us the art of creating happy teams.

Intuition. This is the quality of just “getting it” you might say. Street smarts. It is the art of sensing what is going on in person’s head and what it around the bend based on the circumstances in front of them. This is about having a sense of how your employees are feeling, who is a flight risk, what they need to be motivated. Some people would argue that intuition cannot be learned. But I think some of it can be. If you get out there and hang with your people enough, and make yourself approachable, you will soon be in the know. Lower that window of separation and pretense and get real. Take them out to lunch. Crack a few jokes in meetings. When you break the ice people open up. Listen to them.

Communication. This is the quality of speaking the love language of others as well as the discipline of just making yourself frequently check in and talk with teams. Sales people communicate all day long. They go to industry events and chat with people. They fly on planes to visit customer sites and talk to all the key people. Now applied to teams this is about one on ones, walking the floors, talking to people about their lives and what’s going on. Finally, this art form is also about being able to speak the language of others. A simple book I’ve taught multiple times on this is Julie Straw’s The 4 Dimensional Manager. It’s about knowing your personality makeup, studying that of others, and learning to tailor your method of engaging and approaching to reach others.

One Class Act. This is the art of treating people like they are special. Sales folks figuratively wine and dine their prospects all day long. This simply means they treat them like they are special. This too is not a complicated thing. When you go out on a date to McDonalds for a burger and fries in your shorts and tank it just doesn’t feel as special as a night out on Lake Michigan on the Odyssey Boat with formal wear, a four course meal and stars in the sky. Now treating employees with a little class act thought doesn’t need to involve nights out on the town. But when a service with a smile culture culture is applied to employee engagement there can be simple ways to make your teams feel special. I’ve seen grill outs with leaders donning aprons and serving food. I’ve seen recognition ceremonies where leaders thank team members for contributions and provide service awards and a gift. It can even be the little things like being sure to recognize the team as the real reason for success (and downplay self) when a leader is speaking in a group setting. Class Act behavior is about respect and treating people like they are special. Because, they are.

The Art Of Negotiation. This is probably the skill that is the more substantial that our sales friends teach us.  Sales folks are very aware that if they go to their customers and threaten them with contract loss and insist they pay higher rates that they will commit sales suicide.  Now do they want to get a contract signed and charge more money?  Of course.  But they have to immerse themselves in discussion with the customers, talk, negotiate, give and take a little here and a little there in order to get that contract signed. Transferred to the team management dynamic, a healthy team is one that learns to manage conflict among themselves and negotiate the working structure.  The leader who can step back from any need to be the big boss who imposes rules, and step into the role of negotiating a team structure that works for all will create the most lasting engagement success.  This is because people are hard wired to need to be heard.  So if they are at the table in negotiating team rules and structure they will be most bought in.



Picture By User:Jacquelene88 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons!_2013-06-24_11-59.jpg