Q&A

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lohoff-pdp-logoHow businesses use PDP:

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Lohoff-Gaida Consulting uses PDP to help companies produce measurable results and a high return on their human resources. PDP’s integrated management system addresses:

  • Increased productivity
  • Greater retention
  • Reduced turnover
  • Increased sales Decreased costs
  • Clear, effective interpersonal communication
  • High-performance teams
  • Loyal customers
  • A vibrant workplace where the business of your business gets accomplished

 

Q & A with Burt Lohoff-Gaida, Founder and Owner, Lohoff-Gaida Consulting

What is unique about your services?

I understand what it means to be a family business owner. My brother and I own a small firm in Germany. My grandfather owned and ran a large steel company in Germany called Seibert Stahlbau. He died in 1953 so I never met him, but I do remember visiting the company in the mid 1960s.  They built steel bridges in all parts of the world.  The heir apparent, my uncle, died when he was 20 years old in WWII. The second son was very ill and not able to join the family business. That left my mother, who at a very young age fell in love and immigrated to the USA with my father, much to my grandfather’s disapproval. The family firm was run by non-family professionals until the late 60’s and then went under.

I started my professional career in Human Resources with a German company called BASF AG. I worked at their HQ in Ludwigshafen, Germany.  Over the next 20 years I gathered international HR experience in Germany, Switzerland and the United States.  I have worked for 4 multi-national companies.

I am a certified executive coach and trained to use different behavioral assessment tools. My objective is to help family firms address the family and business issues that are holding them back and having a negative impact on relationships and results. I work with family businesses to increase their:

  • Human Capital
  • Family Capital
  • Structural Capital
  • Social Capital
  • Legacy Capital

When do family businesses contact you for help?

I usually get calls when there is some family crisis or when the family is experiencing a high level of pain. They want me to help them “put out the fire” and I am happy to work with them to achieve this objective. But just as in the case with our own child who is failing in one of their subjects, you want them to come to you before they are in a state of panic.

The most fruitful work is achieved with clients who want to create a family business legacy and know that this cannot happen overnight but needs to be planned for.  Procrastination is not good especially if other family members and employees are depending on the family business for their livelihood.

When I start working with a family business my first objective is to establish trust. When trust between the owner and the consultant has been established it is much easier to discuss the difficult issues and give critical feedback. Often behavioral changes need to be made and this is never easy, especially with people who have been successful. But these changes are necessary for the individual, family and the business. I work with the client to discover these issues, put an action plan together and then hold them accountable to implementing the change(s).

Which organizations have you advised previously?

I have over 20 years of corporate experience in the chemical, consumer goods, and healthcare industries. I have also spent several years working for a global non-profit organization. Today I advise both large mulitinational  organizations and small and mid-size family owned businesses. I use my skills and expericnce to support both publically traded companies and family firms.  In the end its about people, making sure the right people are in the right jobs, that they are contributing to the firm’s success and that they are growing personally. Everyone wants to contribute and feel valued.

You use behavioral assessments in your consulting business. How can companies and individuals benefit from these assessments?

The old saying goes: you can’t put a round peg in a square hole.  In the book “Good to Great” we learned from Jim Collins that it was important to get the right people onto the bus. So, behavioral assessments can help us to find the right people and put them in jobs that play to their strengths and passion. This is especially important for smaller family businesses where a wrong hire has terrible consequences.

I use behavioral assessments to create job models against which companies screen for candidates. The closer an indiviual’s behavioral profile is to the job model, the better fit they are for the job, and the company. Getting the right people in the right jobs will lead to personal and company success.

I also use behavioral assessments for on-boarding new employees, succession planning and conflict managment. If you have a team or department that is not working well together, the behavioral assessment tool I use can figure out what’s going on and issue the issue.

I use PDP to help companies increase profits and accelerate growth by capitalizing on their most important asset: their people. I help companies select the right people, motivate employees, retain their top performers, increase management and leadership competencies and improve team communication. When I coach an executive, the first thing I do is have them take a PDP survey. It takes only 7 minutes, is on-line and delivers great feedback.

You also have a lot of international experience. How can you advise foreign companies in the United States or U.S. companies with operations overseas?

Yes, I’ve lived 20 years in Europe and have worked in international resources for four large multinational companies. I have transferred many people to foreign companies and dealt with all aspects that impact an employee’s move: selection of the employee, compensation and benefits, cultural issues and succession planning. I have coached hundreds of employees, families and their managers how to make these international moves successful for both the employee/family and also the company.

I have also been involved in many international acquisitions and integrations, the largest being a $7 billion German pharmaceutical company by Abbott Laboratories.

If you have an international HR issue, I’m sure I have a lot of experience that I could bring to the table.

What should companies know if they want to become global an move employees across international borders?

Transferring people – individuals or families – is very complicated and risky. It is complicated because – from and administrative point of view – there are one hundred different issues that need to be addressed before the person or the family get’s on the plane for their new destination. The list is too long to provide here but some of the things that need to be addressed are visa, residency and work permit, housing, education, health care, compensation, benefits and of course, taxes.

And sending someone on an overseas assignment can be risky. First there are the health and safety concerns of your expats, and then there is the risk of financial or PR damage if the assignment doesn’t go as planned.

If companies are planning on going global they need to obtain help from an expert who has transferred hundreds of individuals overseas. Give me a call!

I have a group of high-potential employees I would like to put on an overseas assignment. What is the first step you would take in advising me how to manage this assignment?

First, I would meet with the employee’s manager to understand the role that the individual is to fill and what the expectations are for the assignment. I would also ask questions regarding the employee’s future potential in the company and his or her development plan. It’s very important to gain an understanding of the next steps in the individual’s career progression, provided he or she is successful overseas.

I would then meet with the employee and conduct an assessment of his or her emotional and cultural intelligence to see if the individual can make a seamless transition to a new role in a foreign environment. I would want to know more about the employee’s values, ambitions, leadership, and interpersonal skills. I also would look for red flags: personal issues or barriers that could derail the international assignment. If the employee were married, I would also meet with the spouse to assess his or her perspective on the international assignment. This is often neglected by large companies but is crucial to the success of an expatriate assignment! After completion of the assessment, I would provide my feedback and recommendations to the employee’s manager and HR.

If the employee is selected for the international assignment, I would provide pre-assignment coaching to the employee and spouse. And while he or she is on assignment, I would provide monthly coaching calls to continue to support the employee in taking action to ensure personal and corporate success. Toward the end of the assignment, the coaching would shift focus to the relocation to the home country or next foreign assignment and next career steps. During this phase it is vital to support not only the employee, but also the employee’s future manager and HR.