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

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…


Building Lifeline Relationships, and Why It’s Critical to Leadership Success

Photo by istockphoto.com

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.

These groups come in all forms and sizes and can be found at every level and in nearly all spheres of professional life, and what they all have in common is a unique connection with each other defined as lifeline relationships.

These relationships are, quite literally, why some people succeed far more than others, says Keith Ferrazzi, the author of Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success — And Won’t Let You Fail. Read more…

Culture, Talent Management

The 5 Keys to Creating a Meaningful, Productive Work Experience


Does work need to be meaningful?

Many of us have resigned ourselves to the notion that work is something we do primarily to earn income. Those earnings then allow us to purchase goods and services we can use to improve our lives and the lives of those we love and want to help.

Increasingly, however, both employees and employers are being encouraged to see work in a whole new light — as something we do to gain productive experiences that become the basis of our happiness.

In her book The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here, Lynda Gratton, a professor at the London Business School, suggests we should be seeking work opportunities that help us grow, keep our knowledge fresh, and push the boundaries of what we can become. Read more…

HR Insights, Talent Management

Just Doing What You Do Is the Real Path to Personal Development

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Whether you label it professional development, personal growth, self-actualization, or transcendence, many of us fiercely pursue “development” in order to improve our job options, get ahead in life, and achieve our own definition of success.

We assume focusing on developing ourselves is something we must do in order to become more accomplished and build a successful career.

And we would be so wrong. Read more…

Leadership, Rewards & Recognition

Increasing Motivation: It’s Determining Just What Is the Right Approach


Second of two parts

We all strive for a harmonious workplace that offers us the opportunity to bring out the best in ourselves and others and to do meaningful work we believe is important.

However, many of us find something much different — strained interactions with leaders and colleagues that sap our motivation rather than helping us to excel.

Talented leaders know the strategies that help them thrive may not help their colleagues or direct reports, and may even prove counterproductive for others. In part one of this article Motivating Employees Can Simply Be a Choice of Promotion or Prevention, we learned about two powerful — but very different — personality attributes that define employees’ preferred working style and performance. Read more…