Blog Archive


CEO’s guide to Surviving the Economic Downturn

How to Manage, Lead, Grow and Protect your organization in economic downturn.


Aligning business strategy with talent strategy- case study with Teakdecking Systems


Teakdecking Systems is an anomaly in the marine decking and flooring industry. Whereas most of the company’s competitors are small shops of 10 or fewer people, Florida-based Teakdecking Systems has grown to 120 employees, offering products and services both domestically and abroad. The company’s diverse range of offerings and global footprint have helped insulate it from economic ups and downs—and made it one of the industry’s most highly regarded teakdecking providers. Founded in 1983 and originally based in Sweden, Teakdecking Systems has expanded its services to include more technical offerings, including synthetic decking and digitized templates.

The Opportunity

Richard Strauss is a veteran in the boating business, so when the opportunity to take the reins as President of Teakdecking Systems arose, he didn’t hesitate. According to Strauss, the company’s “stellar reputation” and “diversity” of products and services were easy selling points. However, once on board and in a leadership position, he quickly recognized another very different opportunity.

“Our founder ran the company his way. Then he brought in a president—my predecessor—for seven years, and he tried to emulate [the founder],” Strauss said. “I come on the scene, and I just have a different style. I don’t like to micromanage. I like to set expectations and give people the right tools to do their jobs.”

However, many of Teakdecking’s employees had been there for decades. While obviously a testament to the company’s dedication to its people and customers, this also meant most employees hadn’t had another job or experienced any other style of leadership. For a company that’s “slow to change,” drastic shifts in leadership, company strategy, and culture could be jarring—and potentially erosive.

The Solution

Teakdecking Systems’ Director of Human Resources Julie Pietrantonio and her team had been using The Predictive Index® Hire solution for three years to assess new hires.

“I haven’t met a single person that has doubted PI and the results because I think when they get their PI profile, they’re shocked at how it nails them,” said Strauss. “I was totally amazed by the whole process. It was such a simple, fast test, but it nailed me.”

When it came to strategic decisions, however, Teakdecking relied on other tools. The leadership team had previously worked with a consultant to set strategic objectives, so they sought his guidance in navigating the shift in leadership and defining the company’s strategy. When he suggested the PI Design solution, a tool he’d learned about through a PI Certified Partner, Cindy Moran of MVP-Results, Strauss and Pietrantonio didn’t hesitate to try it.

The senior leadership team completed a PI Strategy Assessment™ to define the goals they felt most strongly about pursuing and rank how confident they felt in being able to achieve them. Next, a PI Certified Partner led them through the results and facilitated a discussion on next steps as part of the Execute Strategy with Confidence workshop.

“We’re going through a little bit of a culture change, and a lot of our objectives, initiatives, things that we want to do for next year fell into a quadrant of PI’s model,” Strauss explained. “Then we overlaid all of our PI profiles and we were 180 degrees opposite of where our objectives were.”

“We were all surprised at the results and found out where we need to shore up some of our issues,” said Pietrantonio.

Armed with clarity and self-awareness from the Strategy Assessment, the leadership team set out to plan a strategy they were aligned on and felt confident in executing.

I haven’t met a single person that has doubted the results of PI because I think when they see their own profile, they’re shocked at how it nails them.Richard StraussPresident of Teakdecking Systems

The Results

Since taking the Strategy Assessment and participating in the Execute Strategy with Confidence workshop, Teakdecking’s leadership team is operating with more self-awareness than before. It’s also more realistic about what it’ll take to achieve its goals.

“It makes you more aware of what you need to do, how hard you need to work, what you need to overcome, who’s going to do a better job at something than you thought,” explained Strauss. “I think it was just very eye-opening.”

The positive effects of senior leadership alignment and heightened self-awareness echo throughout the organization.

“We just did a survey with employees and one of the questions was, ‘Are you proud to work for Teakdecking?’ And the score was unbelievably high,” said Strauss. “It was all eights, nines, and tens, so people are very proud to work here. They definitely believe in the product and take a lot of pride in their work.”

As the company goes into a period of “focusing on the fundamentals,” the leadership team plans to continue incorporating PI into team building and strategy setting. Locking in a sound talent strategy and optimizing its people’s potential will set Teakdecking Systems up for future growth and continued category leadership.


2020 State of Talent Optimization Report

600 executives reveal the talent optimization practices that drive superior business results.


Organizations Will Need Data Analytics to Survive

​Jack Phillips, CEO and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics
​Jack Phillips, CEO and co-founder of the International Institute for Analytics, speaks Jan. 14 at the Society for Human Resource Management People Analytics conference in Seattle.

SEATTLE—HR professionals play a critical role in getting their organizations to use data and analytics strategically to compete more effectively.

Great article on SHRM’s website gives details


The story about our course, why we created the Blueprints for Managers Course

Since 1998, thousands of managers have taken part of our constantly improving, award winning Blueprints for Managers Course.

Today, the course teaches leaders how to use analytics, data and “optimization plans” to Manage, Lead, Grow and Protect their organization and career. Starting in 2020, the course is also being conducted live via ZOOM webinars for managers around the country. This gives busy managers the ability to participate in the course from their office, laptop, tablet or phone.

For more information on the Blueprints for Managers Course, contact us at our website.


Diversity and inclusion go hand-in-hand with talent optimization

January 3, 2020 Nicole Smart 5 minute read Last updated January 3, 2020

Talent optimization is the discipline of aligning a client’s business strategy with their people strategy to deliver maximum results. Given how important people are to the equation, it should come as no surprise that diversity and inclusion play an essential role in optimizing talent.

Having a diverse workplace means celebrating the differences in others while valuing their experiences and opinions. It means having an employee base that’s demographically—and behaviorally—rich.

Inclusive environments, meanwhile, are workplaces in which people can thrive. They have organizational processes in place to ensure everyone’s treated fairly. They value everyone’s perspective and provide equal access to resources and opportunities.

Talent optimization is the invisible thread that binds these ideals together. It’s driven by people data: the collection, analysis, and application of objective data to drive talent and achieve business results. It’s a way to predict workplace behavior, design high-performing teams, build championship cultures, and manage employees effectively.

The changing face of America

At the core of any business challenge are people. Not because they’re necessarily unproductive, but because they’re misused, disengaged, or not properly valued. 

Creating a diverse and inclusive workforce presents its own set of challenges—especially without the right processes, resources, and strategies in place. If not addressed, this can even cost a company productivity—and profit.

There’s a growing demand from employees and candidates for diverse and inclusive workplaces. The big reason why? They want companies to better represent the people of today. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2044 all groups currently viewed as “minorities” will reach majority status. Not only that, but per the Pew Research Center, by 2065 the U.S. population won’t have any ethnic or racial majorities at all.

For consultants, this begs several questions. How equipped is your client’s organization to welcome and accommodate these minorities? Does it have the proper resources in place to ensure their success in the workplace? What about members of the LGBTQ community, or people with disabilities? 50 years ago, these issues were important. Today, they’re mission-critical.

Two employees having a conversation

The ROI on investing in D&I

Diversity and inclusion initiatives aren’t just important due to the changing face of the workplace—they also have proven business value.

Take team decision-making. According to People Management (UK), teams that have diversity of gender, age, and geography outperform individual decision-makers 87% of the time. By contrast, homogenous teams comprised solely of males outperform individual decision-makers only 58% of the time.

Diversity is also critical to business success. According to Boston Consulting Group, diverse management teams earn an average of 19% higher revenue than teams lacking diversity. Harvard Business Review echoes these findings, determining that diverse companies are 70% better positioned to capture new markets than homogeneous ones.

The results are clear: Diversity of opinion matters. That means fostering a culture in which employees of all walks are welcome and given their fair share of opportunities.

For talent optimizers, this is second-nature. Using tools such as behavioral and cognitive assessments, organizations can hire talent based on data—not gut or bias. They can also use this data to determine how best to structure teams and ensure job fit. 

These tools don’t guarantee diversity—that responsibility lies with the person using the tools. But people data ensures a level of fairness to candidates and employees of all backgrounds.

The cost of inaction

As the workforce becomes more and more diverse, the cost of inaction will only rise for today’s businesses.

According to Glassdoor, more than 50% of current employees desire increased diversity within their organizations. Likewise, 67% of job seekers consider diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities.

For companies that fail to invest in D&I initiatives, the risks are great. If left on the back-burner, a lack of inclusivity can result in toxic cultures—ones with high turnover, bad bosses, and low-performing teams.

Businesses also risk losing their competitive advantage in the market. After all, if an organization can’t determine how best to foster a culture of inclusivity, it’s at a disadvantage compared to companies that can.

People data is the future.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to making a more inclusive and fair workplace. As the world becomes more diverse, it’ll take managers and leaders at all levels to create meaningful change.

Challenge your clients on these issues. What organizational culture do they envision? Is it in line with their current business strategy? Are they actively measuring employees engagement? How well do their employees work together?

Use people data to help facilitate these discussions and identify gaps. From there, use tools to help provide meaningful solutions.

One such tool is The Predictive Index® Talent Optimization Maturity Model. It’s a short assessment that helps you measure your client’s competency in talent optimization. Based on your results, the tool isolates problem areas—and places for improvement.


Identify their problem areas with this tool.


With this knowledge in tow, you can develop an action plan to better optimize your client’s talent—and foster a more diverse, inclusive workplace.

Nicole Smart is a Certified PI Partner and the founder of Smart EDI Solutions. Prior to starting her own business, Smart worked for both the NFL and the NCAA, where she oversaw a variety of diversity and inclusion initiatives.


Recognition makes a difference

In our recent people management study, 76 percent of employees surveyed said that great managers recognize good work. There are many ways to reward employees. But, when you manage people with different needs and behaviors, what does effective recognition look like?

Encouragement and feedback are important topics in workplace culture. Most managers know they should be recognizing and rewarding their employees–but few know the best way to do that.

A pizza party or happy hour might be fun for some employees, but excruciating for others. A coveted parking spot would reward an employee who seeks prestige but might embarrass someone who doesn’t like to be on display. A handwritten note of thanks might be very meaningful to one employee but feel cheap to the next. While choosing the right reward can feel like a balancing act, one thing’s for sure:

As human beings, we thrive on positive feedback.

According to Psychology Today, feeling appreciated is a cornerstone of positive self-worth. It also strengthens the bond between two individuals.

Studies show that workplace recognition is important to employees of every generation. And it’s a key driver in employee engagement. In fact, OGO found that 40 percent of American workers would put in more effort if their employers recognized them more often.

Ways to reward employees include saying thank you and meaning it

As we’ve said before, people who have passion and energy for their jobs put in more discretionary effort. And aside from job fit (working in a role you’re naturally suited for), there’s nothing quite as energizing as being recognized by your boss.

Unfortunately, managers fail at recognizing their employees in meaningful ways.

Here are some stats:

The disconnect is deadly. Employees who feel unappreciated are less productive and have higher rates of attrition. But, employers who get recognition right enjoy upticks in retention, engagement, and productivity. They also see less absenteeism.

Finding meaningful ways to reward employees makes good business sense.

Employees with “excellent” well-being had a 19 percent higher work output than employees with “poor” well-being, according to the O.C. Tanner Institute.

Gallup advised organizations that want to retain employees or boost organic growth to focus on employee recognition.

Employee in workplace

And according to Bersin by Deloitte, “companies which fall into the top 15 percent in building a ‘culture of recognition‘ have 46 percent lower rates of voluntary attrition.”

To maximize engagement and minimize turnover, make appreciation part of your day-to-day culture.

Here are five ways to reward employees and recognize great work on your team:


See how your company rates on a scale of 1-100.


1. Say the words “thank you” and mean them.

It’s surprising how often leaders throw rewards like parties or bonuses at employees without ever saying those two words. Hosting a monthly beer night to thank employees in bulk is nice, but it isn’t going to cut the mustard. It won’t make your employees feel special and it won’t deliver the engagement results you want.

Take the time to understand what your employees are bringing to the table. Then thank them—and really mean it. Dropping by someone’s desk with words of heartfelt thanks can do more for morale than a whole season of free drinks. You could even try penning a handwritten note and mailing it to the employee at home.

2. Be specific about what someone did that was so great.

Being specific about why you’re recognizing an employee can actually give that person an extra dose of dopamine. Analytical employees in particular like hearing what they’ve done well. This is because it transforms praise from something empty to something targeted and tangible.

The bonus of being specific? Your employees will understand exactly what you like to see, and they’ll do more of it.

Two employees talk

3. Personalize employee rewards.

By “gifting” an introvert tickets to a sporting event with you, you could be burdening them with forced fun. A work from home day might be more appreciated. Someone who’s driven to receive public praise might prefer the prestige of being employee of the month—and getting that coveted parking spot.

Use what you know about your employee’s goals, needs, and traits to tailor your reward to him or her. Understanding your people is key to keeping them motivated and engaged.

Not sure what your employees would like? Don’t be afraid to ask them. One company we know asks employees what their favorite stores and snacks are, and how they prefer to be recognized, as part of onboarding. Then they use that intel to tailor rewards and recognition down the road.

4. Gift cards or a monetary bonus can make employees happy.

There are conflicting points of view about the efficacy of using money and tangible rewards as a motivator. Some experts say that these rewards don’t inspire loyalty. Also, employees need to pay taxes on cash awards, which can leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.

However, once again, it all comes down to understanding the employees you manage. Are your employees entry-level and strapped for cash? If so, money can help them pay their bills—and that can lower stress levels.

If you decide to give money or gift cards, consider outlining specific times when these rewards should be given. For example, you might choose cash rewards when an employee has gone above and beyond. This way they’ll feel less transactional and more special. Cash can be a great way to make employees happy, but our advice is to consider making cash or gift cards just one part of your reward program.

5. Let your team do the gifting.

Allowing employees to reward their peers can be good for employee engagement. Consider having employees nominate each other for important quarterly or annual rewards. Make sure you require them to be specific about why they’re nominating this person—you don’t want it to become a popularity contest. When it comes time to present the award, read nominations out loud so the recipient can hear all the nice things his or her colleagues said.

Employees like to receive kudos from peers. At Google, employees recognize each other through a successful internal peer recognition and reward system. At Zappos, employees nominate their peers for rewards according to how well they lived up to or promoted company values.

How much should you be spending on employee rewards? Experts recommend setting aside one percent or more of payroll for recognition and rewards. If you don’t have that room in your budget, spend what you can on tangible gifts and be sure to say thank you often.


Onboarding blueprint

Every day in offices across the globe, bright-eyed sales reps begin a new journey with a company in hopes of blowing the lid off their quota and advancing their careers. 

But that initial feeling can wear off quickly if they’re not set up for success. Poor onboarding—or a lack of onboarding altogether—contributes to a whopping 16% turnover rate in sales roles. 

Onboarding new employees is critical—especially in sales, where employees need to know the ins and outs of what they’re selling, how they’re expected to sell it, and the technology associated with the sales process. 

Kristen Robertson, People Operations Manager at The Predictive Index®, defined onboarding as“integrating an employee into your organization—which means getting them immersed in your company culture, your core organizational values, your beliefs, performance expectations, technology, everything.” 

In this blog, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to onboard new sales hires.

PI Sales Reps

Good onboarding starts with good hiring.

You could have the best onboarding in the world—but if you made a bad hire, it won’t lead to the results you’re looking for.

When hiring salespeople, it’s important to look for behavioral and cultural fit. Does this candidate have the right comportment for the role? That’s behavioral fit. Does this person embody our organization’s core values? That’s cultural fit.

If a candidate isn’t a behavioral or cultural fit, they’ll struggle to be successful in the role.

Make better sales hires by following these three steps:

1. Craft a good job description.

The best job descriptions don’t just outline the tasks associated with the role, but also the behavioral traits necessary to be successful.

For example, your sales team may spend a good amount of time on the phones and entering prospect data into a CRM. Those are the tasks associated with the role. What characteristics would make a candidate good at those tasks? Probably extraversion, persuasion, and some degree of detail-orientation.

2. Incorporate people data into your hiring process.

Hire the right people by leveraging data. Resumes, education, and interviews are all forms of data—but they’re not very good at predicting job success. Include behavioral and cognitive assessments to gain additional data points that will help you find the right fit for the job.

3. Uplevel your interviewing process.

While most interviews focus on the role itself, consider interviewing for cultural and behavioral fit.

For example, if the role requires following a certain procedure as part of the sales cycle, and your candidate isn’t very process-driven, you might ask them to tell you about a time they had to follow a strictly-defined process. What was the procedure? How did they stretch themselves to follow it? What was the result?

sales manager coaches sales account executive

The key to effective onboarding is understanding your new hire.

The first step in building an efficient onboarding process is to understand who exactly will be going through the onboarding. Do your candidates prefer to see the process mapped out? Do they want to dive right in and figure things out as they go?

The PI Behavioral Assessment™ can help with this. It measures four primary workplace behavioral drives: 

Dominance: Dominance is the drive to exert influence on people and events. More dominant individuals want to put their fingerprint on things, while less dominant people aim for harmony and collaboration.

Extraversion: Extraversion is the drive for social interaction with other people. People with higher extraversion prefer to work with and through others, while those with lower extraversion may be more reflective and heads-down.

Patience: Patience is the drive to have consistency and stability. Those with high patience are more steady and even-keeled, while those with low patience tend to like variety and moving at a fast pace.

Formality: Formality is the drive to conform to rules and structure. Those with high formality are thorough and disciplined, while those with low formality need freedom from rigid structure.

Based on how high or how low these factors are, the individual is assigned a Reference Profile—which tells you, at a high level, what motivates and drives that person. 


Start revamping your onboarding today.


Typically, sales roles require a higher degree of extraversion. Reference Profiles with higher extraversion tend to call in a category called “Social Profiles.”

The best onboarding strategies for the six Social Profiles

In the workplace, Social Profiles tend to focus on relationships—perfect for a sales position.

Here are suggestions for tailoring your onboarding based on the six Social Profiles:

1. Altruist

Altruists get their fulfillment from supporting their peers and finding harmonious solutions. They’re also detail-oriented, precise, and invest a lot of effort into follow-ups. 

If your new sales hire is an Altruist, help them ease into the group. Don’t make them get up in front of the team to introduce themselves. Instead, try pairing them with an experienced sales leader who can guide them through the ropes.

Altruists also like to know what to expect and what success will look like in the role. Be sure to outline clear expectations and guidelines for them. 

2. Captain

Captains love the opportunity to rise to a challenge. They’re very independent and easily build relationships. Captains are natural leaders who motivate their teams to work hard while consistently raising the bar. 

When onboarding a Captain, make sure to introduce them to the team—then let them hit the ground running. 

3. Collaborator

Collaborators are very outgoing and love helping out their co-workers. 

When onboarding Collaborators, give them opportunities to connect with other new hires and the team they’ll be working with. This will help them build the relationships that drive their success. 

23 questions to ask on your employee engagement survey

4. Maverick

Mavericks are outside-the-box thinkers. They love to do what’s never been done before. Their fearlessness when confronted with challenges and willingness to take the risks necessary to move a deal forward make them great salespeople.  

When onboarding a Maverick, let them dive into work and figure it out for themselves. If possible, give them the freedom to do things their way—they don’t enjoy being bound by someone else’s process.

5.  Promoter

Promoters are supportive team players who are well-liked among their teams. People who work with Promoters often describe them as charismatic, flexible, persuasive, and very diplomatic. 

When putting together a personalized onboarding experience for Promoters, offer opportunities for them to connect with the team and participate in team activities. Also, consider having them shadow a more experienced member of the team. This will allow them to learn the ropes while building close relationships.

6. Persuader

Similar to Mavericks and Captains, Persuaders are natural leaders who work to motivate their teams in the face of risk. They’re very poised socially and are fearless when facing problems. 

Persuaders are also exactly the person you want on your team when handling major projects. This is because they’re gifted in pushing their teams to meet deadlines and are comfortable making important decisions with confidence. 

When onboarding a Persuader, allow them to jump right in. Let them sit in on sales meetings that offer insight into key initiatives important to the business. Persuaders love making high-level decisions—and being part of these meetings helps them feel like valuable members of the team. 

Build the perfect onboarding program for each of your sales hires.

Each sales hire has their own interests, values, and set of beliefs, all of which should frame how you onboard them. 

Good onboarding leads to better retention and stronger employee engagement—resulting in higher performance and increased revenue.


Building a different kind of construction company with talent optimization

Have you ever asked someone how things are going when they’re in the midst of building a home or conducting a renovation? Typically after the ceremonious “good,” a litany of complaints follow. 

They told me the job would be done in six months, and it’s been nine! 

I’m fed up! They quoted me a reasonable amount, but we’re already way over budget and nowhere near done.

The list goes on.

Conscious that the construction experience can sometimes be viewed with apprehension, the founders of Windover Construction vowed to do things differently. 

Hiring team-oriented employees to stand out from the crowd

To stand out in such a commoditized space, Windover focused on being the kind of construction company “Where teamwork builds results.” They decided to make team-oriented talent their differentiator.

When it came to hiring team-oriented employees, Windover partnered with The Predictive Index® (PI).

“PI provides us with the people data we need to develop successful teams that can work together toward our core purpose of building great things with great people,” said Windover Executive Assistant Rhiannon Casey.

And speaking of hiring, boy did they ever! Windover grew from 20 to 100 employees in a fairly short period of time. But hiring wasn’t the only thing the construction company used people data for.

“Whether it’s a brand-new candidate walking in the door for an interview or a seasoned superintendent stepping onto the job site of their 20th Windover project, we utilize people analytics every day to inspire conversations, navigate relationships, and manage team dynamics,” Casey said.

Taking talent strategy to the next level with PI

While Windover initially leveraged PI’s Behavioral and Cognitive Assessments to collect people data for hiring and team management purposes, they have since expanded their use of PI to truly develop a holistic talent strategy. 

To reach its business goal of building exceptional projects for its customers, Windover recently began a large scale project to improve team cohesion, alignment, and performance. 

To do that, they leveraged the PI Job Assessment™—a simple assessment that helps organizations get clear on what behaviors will lead to on-the-job success in any given role. Windover created “success blueprints” (Job Targets) for every position in the company

The PI Job Assessment proved especially helpful when a long-standing member of the Windover team retired after 10 years in one role. 

“Last year, our warranty manager was retiring after 10 years in the role. It was a role that had developed organically over time, so there was no job description,” explained Casey. 

“Before his departure, we worked together to create a job description and leveraged the Job Assessment to make sure we were all on the same page. [We] saw a need for a highly independent, driven person in the role, while the supervisor filling the position envisioned a more collaborative and patient candidate. We were able to meet as a group and talk through the differences. In doing so, we actually came to a better understanding of the role’s requirements.”

Executive meeting

Discovering valuable insights to improve business outcomes

Casey and the Windover team have uncovered valuable insights about how employees on the same team can have very different expectations about the same role. 

“For the first time,” Casey said, “we now have clear data to support the assumption that a job description is a great starting point, but it is only one part of the picture.”

Casey continued, “Having the team sign off on a Job Target not only allows us to improve our hiring outcomes but helps employees and managers when it comes to goal setting and performance evaluations.”

And they didn’t stop there. Given the temporary nature of projects in the construction industry, the Windover team leverages people data to level set on how best to work with each other. 

Casey elaborated, “We use the BA and corresponding reports to help the team understand how they can work well together and what areas might need extra attention. This discussion sets the tone for the project and lets the team know they are supported.”

Delivering business results through a high-performing team

According to Casey, focusing on optimizing talent is paying off. With an attrition rate well below the industry average of 21.4%, according to the ADP Workforce Vitality Index, they’re becoming even more invested in their talent strategy.

“We are incredibly proud to say that for the past two years, the annual rate of attrition at Windover has been below 10%—over 50% better than the industry average!” said Casey.

Casey noted that this level of employee retention wouldn’t be possible without a devoted focus on people.

“As we have grown exponentially from a company of 20 employees to now nearly 100, we have made a concerted effort to ensure we have the right people in the right roles as we continue our push to create high performing teams,” Casey said. “Using data from The Predictive Index provides us with a road map to keep our employees motivated and engaged.”

By taking an intentional approach to talent strategy and leveraging people data to guide decision making, Windover continues to set itself apart.


Blueprints for Managers now in LIVE webinar format

Our on-line webinars are the same award winning Blueprints for Managers Course modules, except participation is done live via an on-line webinar. Participants interact with our live public class and with others logged into our Zoom platform. Participants that attend all of their required modules will receive the same certificate of completion and can transfer hours to their Manager Certification designation.