Michelle M. Smith

Michelle M. Smith is the Vice President of Business Development at Salt Lake City-based OC Tanner, an international appreciation company that helps more than 6,000 clients worldwide appreciate people who do great work through consulting, training, and creating customized award and recognition programs. Michelle is a renowned speaker, writer, consultant and trusted advisor to Fortune 500 companies and governments, and President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association.

Articles by Michelle M. Smith

HR Management, Talent Management

Keeping Workplace Teams Fresh, Relevant — and Productive

123RF Stock Photo

At the heart of successful organizations are people who work well together.

But, what are the circumstances that lead people to want to team up again and again?

Research by Stanford University sociologist Daniel McFarland suggests the reasons people continue to collaborate with others in their professional networks are quite different from the motives that led them to begin those relationships in the first place. Read more…


Traits of the Great: 5 Qualities That Distinguish the Best Managers

Performance Great Best

Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year.

One of the most important decisions leaders make is simply whom they hire as managers, according to research by the Gallup Organization. Yet Gallup finds companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82 percent of the time.

This is an alarming problem for employee engagement and the development of high-performing cultures. Without the raw natural talent to individualize, focus on each employee’s needs and strengths, boldly review their team members, rally people around a cause, and execute efficient processes, the day-to-day experience will burn out both the manager and their team. Read more…

HR Insights, Leadership

Information Overload: Why Brevity Is Becoming a Business Basic

From istockphoto.com

Brevity is emerging as an essential new business basic.

In the fast-paced, multi-tasking, attention-deficit workplaces we find ourselves, getting to the point quickly matters more than ever. If you’re long winded, you’ll lose people’s attention and get lost in the data deluge.

But we face daunting challenges just to be heard.

The average person’s attention span is now only 8 seconds, and professionals are interrupted 6-7 times an hour, often unable to get back to their task at hand. More than 43 percent of us abandon complicated or lengthy emails in the first 30 seconds, and the majority of us admit ignoring half the emails we receive every day. Read more…

Talent Management

The Path to Success: 8 Little Secrets to Getting Promoted

Job promotion

It’s never too early to carve out your path to success.

Start to think, act, and communicate like a leader to get the promotion you ultimately want. Even if you’re still several levels away from your dream promotion, there are numerous ways you can get on the path of your dreams, claims Amy Gallo.

In her Harvard Business Review article, she provides tips for doing just that. Read more…

Culture, Talent Management

5 Ways to Help Get Employees to Think More Strategically

© iQoncept - Fotolia.com

When asked to select the leadership behavior most critical to their organizations’ future success, executives chose strategic thinking 97 percent of the time, according to a large scale global research study by the Management Research Group, and strategic thinkers have been found to be among the most highly effective leaders.

Executives rated a strategic approach to leadership as ten times more important to the perception of effectiveness over other attributes including innovation, persuasion, communication or results orientation. Read more…

HR News & Trends, Talent Management

Want to Excel? It’s About Whether You Pick For Potential or Achievement


If you’re promoting employees, advocating for them, or hiring them, your natural instinct is to choose someone with a solid track record of accomplishment.

However, despite the logic of this strategy, new research from Stanford University demonstrates people often prefer potential (over achievement) when evaluating others.

In a series of experiments set in different contexts, Stanford researchers found that high potential can be more appealing than equally high achievement. In general, potential seems to engender greater interest than achievement, which can translate into more favorable reactions.

The explanation lies in the power of potential and the allure of uncertainty: we are often more intrigued by unknown outcomes or mysteries. Read more…

HR Insights, Talent Management

Who’s Got Your Back? 4 Keys to Building Trusting Work Relationships

123RF Stock Photo

If you’ve ever had a boss, colleague, or group of people in your life who’ve offered exceptional advice or shepherded you in the right direction, you inherently understand the enormous power and potential of those relationships.

Unfortunately, many of us think serendipity, chemistry, or just plain luck is responsible for bringing deep, trusting business relationships into our lives. In fact, these relationships are best built by design.

Behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you’ll find an indispensable circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues. Read more…

HR Insights, Talent Management

Do Old School Workplace Rules and Hierarchies Still Matter?

social-media-policy rules list do's and don'ts

In a world where any employee can tweet their CEO, the lines that traditionally delineated power and influence have been blurred.

So much so in fact, when Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer teaches about corporate hierarchical power structure, his students often push back. That model of power isn’t relevant anymore, they insist – it’s such 20th-century thinking!

Pfeffer’s students are largely Millennials, the youngest generation now in the workforce. They think the traditional power structure in business is changing, and companies are becoming more dynamic and less hierarchical.

They’re wrong. Read more…

HR Management, Talent Management

Why Your HiPo Program May Be a Waste of Time and Money


It’s well known that organizations with strong leaders can double their revenue and profit growth. But if you don’t initially select the right people for your high-potential (HiPo) employee program, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

With competition for the hottest talent getting stronger every day, make sure you’re doing everything possible to develop your best and brightest.

New research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) revealed that more than two-thirds of companies are misidentifying their HiPo employees, jeopardizing their long-term corporate performance. This failure drives true HiPos — those who demonstrate the attributes to be successful future leaders — to pursue positions with potentially competitive organizations willing to invest in their development. Read more…

Classic TLNT

Managerial Malpractice, or Why You Just Can’t Ignore Employees

Illustration by istockphoto.com

Editor’s Note: Sometimes readers ask about past TLNT articles. That’s why we republish a Classic TLNT post every Friday.

We’re all leaders in the workplace.

Whether you manage a small, medium, or large staff, or are solely responsible for your own conduct during the work day, you are a leader. Others are watching, learning, and evaluating everything you do and say, whether they report to you or not.

Leadership boils down to the choices you make about treating others and leading by example through your behavior. Read more…