Category Archives: Round Table Notes

Building the Connected Team

This month’s discussion on Building the Connect Team is a critical one. Team work is essential in the work environment. Every company strives to have high-performing teams they can count on. Take a look at the challenges and solutions we discussed in our monthly Round Tables.

Some people make things happen.
Some people watch things happen.
Other people don’t have a clue.


  • A connected team is not possible when it includes poisonous people
    • Individuals having a cancerous “me-first” attitude; not team values.
    • Wrong people filling key positions
  • A disconnect with the leadership
  • Don’t confuse connectivity (relationships) with results
  • Career path impediment
    • Some sabotage, make waves to diminish performance and connection.  The motive is to move someone out of the way.
  • Alignment vs Connectivity
    • Alignment: Motivated by energy moving forward with goals and aspirations of the team.
    • Connectivity:  Across a team but not pulling the team forward.
  • Political correctness is a false connectedness
  • Not many leaders can see connectedness well
    • Not present, late for meetings, too focused on self
    • Wrong indicators – going by what people tell you
    • On a “Power Trip” and managing negatively
    • Lack of trust for employees
  • Employees not understanding the business
  • Lack of consistency –people are unpredictable
  • Cell phones – interrupting the working environment
  • Lack of defined objectives and common understanding
    • They don’t know what they don’t know
    • Lack of trust for leaders or team members


  • Military/War Strategy
  • Relationship Building / Team Building
  • Training/Development – Learning Management System (LMS)
  • Career Development
  • Building Trust
  • Focus in increasing Employee Engagement
  • Company Blog
  • Picking up on clues/red flags in people that are not team players and adjusting as needed
  • Alignment that team is important
  • Anchor on mission/visions/values and seeing the big picture
  • Put a cell phone policy in place to minimize distractions
  • Working for a common goal with a focus in mind (Row the Boat)
  • Approach teams like you are raising your children – know their personalities/likes/needs/wants, adjust efforts to make activities productive for their particular proclivities, etc.


  • You need to see the big picture
  • Anchor on mission/vision/values
  • Hire consistently for with your values in mind
  • Encouragement – I am doing the right thing?
  • Work for a common goal with a focus in mind

Learn More

Join us Friday, January 20th in Kalamazoo, Michigan as Jen Randall (Co-Founder & President, Maestro) elaborates on this topic. Register Here

Join the Conversation

What challenges do you face with your teams? What strategies have you put in place to build an effective, high-performing team in your company?

Training Leaders for the New Global Economy: How Do We Compete?

In our April Round Table Meetings we discussed the topic: “Training Leaders for the New Global Economy:  How Do We Compete?

This proved to be a challenging topic that led to much discussion on the future of the business world and how we as business leaders can prepare for the upcoming changes. Below are the notes from our discussions.

Kalamazoo -Thursday, April 9, 2015


  • Outsource work
  • A lot of tax returns are prepared in India.
  • Radiology reports read in different countries.
  • Even third world countries have IPhones.
  • Technology
  • Global capacity
  • Not be a commodity-commoditization
  • People skill set
  • Funding
  • Marketing


  • Provide Value and Expand Boundaries
  • Grow, have affiliates, advisor, resource, and to guide businesses
  • Hire the “Best Athlete”
  • People that can learn and deal with people
  • Upgrade IT
  • Recruiting never stops
  • Have the right people and service for a differentiation.
  • Alliances-Mergers and Acquisitions
  • Training and Development

Take A Ways:

  • Global reach –focus on market
  • Resources
  • Things are not going to happen organically, be intentional.
  • Keep athletes passionate about who they are playing for.
  • Not being a commodity business.
  • Evolution creates new opportunities
  • Service Excellence

Kalamazoo -Friday, April 10, 2015

Global Economy – what does it mean to us?

  • Increasing costs across the globe
  • Not cost effective to ship across the globe
  • Seeing more on-shoring
  • Some exporting is going on as well to China from the U.S.
  • Hiring staff in other countries and challenged to maintain the same/similar culture
  • Western Michigan is very global with many students


  • The world wide web has permanently changed things
  • Competitors can compete more easily – ie. The banking industry
  • Now purchasing agents can change the way we do business
  • We tend to think our way is the right way
  • Dealing with educated buyers
  • There’s lots of info out there
  • Other global/foreign businesses could cloud the waters with wrong info
  • Need to emphasize building trusting relationships
  • Understand who you’re working with and talking to
  • Need to be aware of the culture and values of the other countries
  • Can’t think that it (globalization) doesn’t apply to us
  • Ie. MSDS – now written on a world-wide level so anyone can recognize the standards

How do we train leaders to compete in the global economy?

  • Establish a training plan for all employees
  • Training language barriers/other languages
  • Understand cultures we may be dealing with
  • Ie. Mexican vs. Spanish – how do they do business?  What are their processes?
  • Diversity training
  • What characteristics/experiences do our current employees have that open their perspectives/bring others to the company
  • Examine diversity – people are fascinated to get to know others
  • Welcome foreigners to our land – biblical principle

What will happen 3-5 years out?

  • Swells in technology trends
  • Diversity training
  • More global competition
  • More online evaluation/research/RFP/RFQ
  • We may need people specifically from the culture/background that we’re doing business with to help train/understand that specific culture
  • Focus on learning more from others
  • Tailor your business/marketing to other cultures
  • Change your website to have it in different languages
  • Prepare our employees to think in a broader scope
  • Focus on team decision making – team approach
  • Get wisdom from global environment
  • People don’t have the work ethic – experiences can define that
  • Ie. Corn De-tasseling for children
  • Think about the bigger picture
  • U.S. Dollar will loose it’s standard
  • Federal reserve is broke – watch how that will affect
  • Shemittah – stock market uncertainty
  • There are a lot of ways our regional business is affected by the global economy
  • Look for more information on what’s happening out there and stay educated
  • Have a better understanding on how our businesses can be affected
  • Understand how different cultures learn


  • Globalization is here and we need to deal with it/embrace it – not fight it
  • Multiple levels are involved from employees to clients
  • Team building – learn, adapt, and trust; don’t shy away from it – participate
  • Educate kids to be more prepared to work with different cultures to bring more exposure

 Kalamazoo -Tuesday, April 14, 2015


  • Development Training
  • Marketing
  • Not overselling
  • Not only dealing with price, but quality.
  • Competition
  • Technology, Robots


  • Development Training has to become more important.
  • Right people
  • Brain power
  • Investing, relationships
  • Promote culture
  • Integrity foundational
  • Marketing Process
  • Look for right match/fit – right partners
  • Ask the right questions, “How can we help?”
  • Relationship with the customer
  • Competition
  • Convey: longevity, integrity, consistency, quality
  • Technology
  • Brain power – people
  • Quality Standards
  • Product standards – good value
  • Relationships with companies
  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Win-Win Intention
  • Align with their goals
  • Service
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Pride in our products
  • The first Walmart in China was a real disappointment to the Chinese people.  They were expecting American quality and found that a lot of what was in the store was from other countries with lower quality. America pride is good quality.
  • Book Suggestion:  “In His Steps”
  • This book addresses:
  •  What will it cost to have integrity?  Long term benefits for standing and keeping focused.

Take A Ways

  • Stay ahead of Technology
  • Reputation now, based on quality and service.  Employees pick this up too.
  • Training and Development of Leadership and People – Character development, having an info-structure, process very well defined.
  • Drive quality
  • Integrity of the Company – which will be sparked by the integrity of the leadership.
  • Create a Culture people are more important than things.
  • Go back to fundamental principles.  The Pride and quality of America.
  • Win- Win Intentions –have no fear

 Holland -Thursday, April 9, 2015


  •  Technology changes
  • Environmental challenges
  • Lack of an opportunity to grow
  • Knockoff products
  • Cost pressure / competitiveness
  • Implementing technology changes
  • International culture
  • Other countries are negative to outside influence
  • Good suppliers
  • Leadership Training


  •  Mentoring
  • Providing the right environment
  • Education and training
  • Hire young
  • Scorecard suppliers
  • Servant style
  • Balanced scorecard
  • Transferring knowledge from older workers to younger workers
  • Help current suppliers get up to speed
  • Relationship based
  • Look at whole person
  • Stay ahead of competition
  • Go inside country / use nationals
  • Work with faith based communities


  •  Working within the culture
  • Mentoring / on-going education
  • Develop a leadership track

Grand Rapids -Tuesday, April 14, 2015


  •  No borders / worldwide
  • Keeping up with technology
  • Cannot plan based on the past
  • How to play / engage in this arena
  • Lack of human capital
  • Level of sophistication
  • Government involvement
  • Poor educational infrastructure – today’s worker not ready for the global economy
  • Restrictions on imports
  • Insufficient background / education
  • Trying to predict
  • How to imagine…..quick enough
  • Communication
  • Logistics
  • Changing product sets
  • Competition
  • Changing demographics / language


  •  If you can imagine it… it
  • Adaptation to the changes
  • Identifying the needs of the customers
  • Learn / re-education
  • Grow – do not tread water
  • Create a diversity officer
  • Hire to bridge diversity within company
  • Market to the customer
  • Build cross cultural teams
  • Create international partnerships
  • Step outside comfort zone
  • Hire with diverse set of experience / including generational diversity


  •  Learn to adapt and grow
  • Diversity officer
  • Flexibility
  • Open and willingness to change / including technology

Grand Rapids -Thursday, April 9, 2015

Key Challenges

  • This is no time to be myopically focused on just our local markets! Everything is connected globally now, and will be even more so in the next 5 years.
  • Distractions are increasing.  The volume of information overload is growing. Discerning between what is important and what is not important is requiring more and more energy to figure out.
  • The gap between what higher education teaches, and what our incoming work force really needs to know, seems to be widening.
  • Employer loyalty is not a high value attribute in today’s younger work force, yet retaining our top talent is becoming more and more essential.
  • Globally, economic factors like inflation, interest rates, stock markets, unemployment, war, etc.  are unpredictable, creating an unstable global environment, and increasing risk factors for us locally.  (What happens in Europe DOES NOT stay in Europe)
  • Analysis paralysis is creeping in, “I just can’t figure out how I’m going to have enough $ to take the risk.”
  • Investing in better cyber security is expensive, essential and rapidly changing.  Not addressing this need will be devastating.

Key Solutions

  • Make our mission clear; communicate it frequently, live it daily.
  • Get a good handle on our long term debt, now.
  • Connect our business, our people, our mission and our impact with our local communities.  Invest in our local communities. Doing so creates a work environment that works. (tee hee, sorry, I couldn’t help myself on that one…)
  • Private industry must continue to thrive and lead in creating innovation, particularly in the area of customizing locally services and programs across broad ranges of social, cultural and demographic needs.  Think the opposite of one size fits all, aka government programs.
  • Make our organizations more like a family.  But, don’t just instill family values; model the principle that being a family IS the value.

Key Takeaways

  • Listen: to one another, and to God. Create deeper partnerships, invest in more profound collaborations. Synergy must be increased.
  • Be open to change, more so in the future than in the past.
  • Be visionary, more so in the future than in the past.
  • Be servant leaders, more so in the future than in the past.
  • Strategically export our mission; do so in a nurturing way.
  • Seek God’s will and guidance in prayer, especially when things are going well. (As opposed to more frequently seeking God’s help when we think things are not going well.)

Building Leaders and Engaging Employees: Building Your Strategic Leadership Team

In March we focused on the topic: “Building Leaders and Engaging Employees:  Building Your Strategic Leadership Team”. 

Don’t miss out on our April Round Table’s where we will discuss: “Training Leaders for the New Global Economy: How Do We Compete?” It’s not too late to reserve your seat, if you’re in the Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids or Detroit area contact us to register today!


Kalamazoo – Tuesday, March 10, 2015


  • Having no Strategy
  • Creating a Strategic Leadership Team
  • Finding the right CEO – it took one year to find
  • Navigating employees to the right positions
  • Lack of Leadership
  • Having the right people in the right place
  • Commitment
  • Taking the talent you have in employees and finding the right expression of that talent.
  • Leaders coaching/developing employees
  • Disconnected Management Team
  • Balance as a Manager/Leader


  • Merit Base Compensation
  • Staying engaged and not shying away from tough conversations
  • Get to know your people
  • Directing the energy in the right direction
  • Running things tight with your people.-Not missing details.
  • Addressing both good and bad issues right away.
  • Engaging employees
  • Getting the right people in the right position
  • Remember; Engagement is a two-way street.

Conversations of confidential case studies

Take a way:

  • Seeing signs of being engaged or disengaged early.
  • Not shying away from tough conversations
  • Get to know your people and directing their energy in the right direction.
  • Running things tight with your people.  Don’t miss details that could make or break the company.
  • Engaging employees – discipline/accountability.
  • Having the right people in the right place.
  • Information from confidential case studies

Kalamazoo – Thursday, March 12, 2015


  • Not assuming your good employees are going to be on your leadership team.
  • The top leadership not following through with training and engagement.
  • Statistics: 54% disengaged employees
  • Nothing is fair about being a leader.
  • Building a leader takes a natural born leader
  • Great employees might not have the skills or want to be leaders in the company and that is ok.
  • Not assuming they have to have the title.  Example:  Most Doctors offices have Office Managers.  They are not Doctors or RNs.  Sometimes they are the unique piece.
  • Assuming the employees are as engaged as you are.
  • The company is busier than it was 5 years ago and yet we haven’t hired everyone back. How do you engage when you are so busy?


  • Having a trial period
  • Give employees bite size pieces to see if they are leadership material
  • Be intentional with early engagement
  • Walt Disney’s parking lot attendants have planning training prior to the first day on the job.  The company knows they are the first person the customer sees.  Budget time and resources for employees right away.
  • Confidence building
  • Lessons learned – “We have sessions where we ask what lessons are learned from situations our company has.”
  • Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins every time.
  • Look to God for your answers. Pray and seek him.
  • Communication: Plan to have time to talk  and have discussions getting feedback.
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Open heart
  • Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?
  • Invest

Kalamazoo – Friday, March 13, 2015

Re-phrase the question:

  • 3 different thoughts
  • Building leaders
  • Engaging Employees

Building your strategic leadership team

  • See your vision of where you want to go and build towards it.
  • As leaders, we need to cast the vision more often
  • Clarify the win & communicate
  • Take a little extra time to think things through
  • Keep employees engaged at all levels – from the lowest guy on the totem pole to the COO
  • Leadership Training Program
  • On-boarding
  • What defines a leader in our organization?
  • How does each role contribute to the success of the organization?
  • It’s a challenge to cast the vision while growing
  • Listen and give people a voice
  • As we continue to grow how can we stay high in value and stay connected – continue to communicate the vision
  • Strategic planning meetings with staff/divisional levels
  • Implement/follow-up from focus groups/make change
  • Dealing with the pressures of wearing multiple hats in one role & communicating the vision & lead people
  • Having more shorter meetings
  • Huddles – no sit downs – stand-up meetings and do them consistently
  • Football analogy – if they don’t huddle, someone will run the wrong play
  • Know your values and teach our leaders those values & design LDP around it
  • Take a genuine interest in their lives; show that we care
  • Do handwritten notes
  • Ask your employees engaging questions at the end of each day to show you care:
  • What are your victories from today?
  • What do you need and from whom?
  • We need to lead ourselves to lead others in a healthy way
  • Have a caring approach and culture of caring
  • Who are the 3 leaders we most look up to?

Marshall – Monday, March 9, 2015

The group discussed the biggest challenges faced in this twofold topic, and the following solutions were suggested:

  •  Building Leaders
  • Mentor managers through one-on-one discussions.
  • Off site group meetings with the managers.
  • Set a good example for your managers.
  • Engaging Employees
  • Sharing pertinent information on the status of the organization with your associates.
  • Willingness to listen to your employees when approached with a problem or suggestion.
  • Setting a good example for your employees.

Grand Rapids – Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Your Challenge:

  • Lack of remembering who is the customer
  • Lack of proper culture
  • Geographic constraints
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of free time
  • Lack of servant style leadership
  • Knowing what makes a person tick
  • Engaging leaders engage
  • Lack of identifying core works who align with vision
  • People don’t leave companies – they leave managers / leaders
  • Distressed workers
  • Lack of strategic vision
  • Lack of learning
  • Lack of courage / true self reflection
  • Non-credible leaders
  • Lack of authenticity
  • Lack of process
  • Focus only on weaknesses

The Solution:

  • Delegate
  • Monitor
  • Meet with purpose
  • Training
  • Communication
  • Blend inside / outside people – promotions
  • Use Strength Finders 2.0
  • Daily huddles
  • Getting on the same page ….
  • Get rid of cancers
  • Bad people rarely leave
  • Headwinds / tailwinds / key asks – “what is getting in your way” / “what is helping you” / “what needs to change”

The Take Away:

  • Alignment
  • Meetings with a purpose
  • Have to remove the cancers
  • Hire slow / fire fast
  • Don’t be a lid
  • Executive leadership in “other” roles
  • Don’t give people more than they can handle

Holland – Thursday, March 12, 2015

Your Challenge:

  • Leadership and ownership on different pages / vision
  • Transition phase for the organization – 5 years of limbo
  • Dysfunction
  • Poor leadership
  • Built in conflicts of interest
  • Public company pressures
  • The “who”
  • Geographic
  • Peter Principle
  • Wrong people in leadership
  • Poor homework on people – hiring and retaining

The Solution:

  • Testing during the interview process
  • Profiling before hire
  • Measure employee engagement
  • Found out what fulfills your employee (s)
  • Quarterly / weekly meetings
  • Grow the business to provide opportunities
  • Identify leaders now and the future

The Take Away:

  • Measure employee engagement
  • In review process understand “fulfillment portion” of employee