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The Carbon Fiber Principle: Reveal Skills with Affinities to Retain your Top Talent.

carbon fiber

Custom-fit jobs to people if you want a high-performing team. Cram people into ill-fitting roles if you want to burn them out.

“But, Jim, you are so good at your job. Why are you leaving?”

I’m burned out. I need a break. I need to do something else.

How often have high-performing employees left your company? How many current employees are complaining of burnout?

Turnover, absenteeism, and presentism are companies’ most significant costs.

Employee turnover costs 50% – 200% of an employee’s annual salary. An 8% turnover is healthy – you need new blood. Above that, you are throwing money down the drain because you are hiring the wrong people or putting them in the wrong roles.

The Carbon Fiber Principle

I rode the carbon fiber Specialized Aethos during the 1700-mile Fallen Hero Honor Ride. Last week, I got to see how the bicycle was made.

Alex at the composite’s lab explained the jigsaw-like puzzle he needed to assemble to ensure the bike met the highest performance standards. Some carbon fiber pieces were for strength, others for stability. You cannot bend a strength piece, but you can twist it. The opposite goes for stability pieces.

Alex had the jigsaw-like puzzle arranged on a lay-up, the product of careful testing so that he had the right pieces in the right places.

Swap a strength for stability or vice versa, and the bicycle will underperform and might even break apart.

The precision with which Alex and his team assemble the pieces results in Specialized producing the world’s best bicycles.

Most organizations aim to get the best from their materials.

Why should you do anything less with your people?

Like carbon fiber, employee performance is a composite of affinities and skills that require a custom fit.

You need to put people in a position where their skills can amplify their natural strengths.

Imagine a double-axis chart with “Love it” on the vertical and “Good at it” on the horizontal. Love it means you are using a natural talent. Being good at it means you are using an acquired skill.

The bottom left quadrant – Hate it and Suck at it – is the dropout zone; it’s a complete mismatch.

The bottom right quadrant – Hate it and Good at it – is where you lose your best employees because they burn their energy faster than they can replenish. Their performance is excellent, but they are dying inside.

The upper right – Love it but not yet good at it – is where you want to cultivate the necessary skills to thrive. Steve Jobs, for example, had an inspiring vision for Apple but did not know how to treat people. His board fired him. Jobs learned from the experience and developed sufficient people skills to make Apple one of the world’s best companies.

Jobs moved into the upper right – Love it and Good at it. This quadrant is where people thrive, set new standards, and operate in a natural state of flow.

Imagine the impact if all of your employees were there.

People’s job skills are easy enough to identify; learning their natural talents is harder, and many people cannot identify them easily for you. They know what feels right and what burns them out, but most do not have a language to describe their natural superpowers, let alone figure them out in others.

A great place to start is with my PROM Archetypes ® assessment. In 8 questions, you will find out if you are a Pioneer, Reconciler, Operator, or Maverick, be able to identify your natural superpowers, and what kinds of roles are likely to put you in a natural state of flow.

You’re right back on track with:


“As an Operator, what are your superpowers, Jim? Do you feel like you are using them every day?”

“In what ways could you use your superpowers to even greater effect for the company, Lisa? What new skills do you need to make the most of them?”

“I know you are in a situation that burns your energy faster, Jeff. Let’s make sure you get enough recharge time between these events.

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Getting Good at Getting Better
Reply to me with the program(s) that interest you.

Becoming a WHY Leader ™. You will build the habits that inspire your employees to contribute their best to your organization’s success. You will come away with behaviors that increase engagement, improve communications, and create productive accountability. You’ll gain the ability to lead organizations of increasing complexity because you have grown from a HOW to a WHY leader. I have five places remaining. The program begins on Dec 19; the fee is $4500 before December 7 and $5500 after that.

Building an Inspiring Culture ™ results in your employees doing what’s right, the right way, without constant supervision so that you can focus on strategy and growth. You’ll develop the habits that create and sustain an inspiring culture that adds unique value to your employees, customers, communities, and investors. You will gain action steps that make giving feedback joyful and tough conversations easier and more impactful. The program begins on March 6. The fee is $4500 before January 1 and $5500 after that. Six seats remain.

Sign up for both programs by Dec 7 for only $7500.

Expert Consulting Mastery takes you step-by-step to soar your consulting practice to new heights. Your consulting business thrives when you are successful at 1) creating a mission and value proposition, 2) organizing your time, talent, and energy, 3) developing a business model that matches passion, skill, and market need, 4) identifying and marketing to their ideal buyer, 5) having joyful sales conversations, and 6) possessing the self-awareness to know how to get good at getting better. You will come away with the skills to master all six. This program begins on January 17. The fee is $5500 by December 31 and $6500 after that. Seven seats remain.

Significant Lives (April 25-28). This experience focuses on how George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant built powerful legacies that won great victories and made America a better place. You and seven others will examine how these two historical figures led, built winning cultures, made decisions, and bounced forward from failures and setbacks. They were very different leaders – one was a detail-oriented driver of results, the other a visionary strategist. Each of them had to win the most important battle of all – the battle with themselves. We’ll stay in Richmond and visit the Yorktown and Appomattox battlefields to bring the history to life. You’ll apply the insights we develop into action steps that advance your legacy and the value you provide to loved ones, employees, customers, communities, and the causes you want to advance. The fee is $5500 by January 31 and $6500 after that. Spouses or significant others are welcome for an additional fee. Six seats remain.

Bicycles and Battlefields at Antietam and Gettysburg (June 6-9). In this unique experience, you will join seven peers and me to advance your skills, experience American history, and get fitter as your get better. You will come away with the new abilities to inspire people to great performance, hold people accountable without feeling awkward, build cognitive diversity, and make impactful decisions that take your business to new heights. You’ll gain more stories, analogies, and examples that boost your thought leadership and make you an object of interest. Experiencing the battlefields by bicycle provides a powerful perspective. It’s an event you’ll remember for the rest of your life. No bicycle? No problem. We’ll arrange for an excellent bicycle or e-bicycle so that you can experience this joyful and impactful event. This extraordinary event goes June 6-9; the fee is $8500 before March 1 and $9500 after that. Spouses are welcome for an additional fee.





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