News / Updates

New Year, New Development Goals

Traditionally the new year is a time for reflection and goal-setting for the future. You may have done this for yourself, it’s important to also plan for your company and your employees. A recent Gallup study showed that lack of career advancement opportunities was the most common reason for employee leaving organizations, being cited by 32 percent of respondents. So if you want to motivate engage and develop your top performers you must engage in good quality career development, the basis of which is a properly executed employee development plan.

Begin by considering your company’s goals for the new year. What training or skills would help you and your employees reach your business goals? To get started, design a development plan that outlines the goals you have in mind for your company and your employees—after all, goals clearly direct attention and effort toward action. Here are a few ways you can set development goals for yourself or your employees.

1.  Consider your business goals

Before you set objectives for employees, you should try to align their development plan with your company’s needs. Consider what your long and short-term business objectives are. Then identify the necessary skills, knowledge and competencies that support those objectives.

2. Talk to your employees

Don’t just presume you know your employees’ skill level and career aspirations. If possible, have a face-to-face discussion with each of your team members to get a better understanding of what their career goals are and how they think they can accomplish them. You should also talk about any challenges they’re having in their current position. Have your employees do a self-assessment of their work. In what areas do they struggle the most? Would they benefit from additional training or mentoring?

Some of your employees may already have a career path in mind. But many times, they don’t know how to get started. By talking to them, you can work together to figure out what role your business plays in this plan as well as what opportunities you can offer them.

3. Develop your training plan

Once you’ve looked at each of your employees’ abilities and experience, as well as your company’s needs, it’s time to decide exactly what skills each person needs to acquire. Be sure to your employees’ goals are specific and timely. It’s much more difficult to measure an employee’s progress when their objectives are vague or broad.

4. Create an action plan

Now that you know what the objectives are, it’s time to figure out how your employee will go about achieving them. Developmental programs can include a combination of activities such as formal training with an organization like NorthStar360, reading, working directly with subject matter experts, one-on-one coaching and mentoring. Once you’ve identified some specific learning opportunities, create a plan.

5. Apply the new skills in the workplace

You’re spending a considerable amount of time and possibly money on helping your employees improve their skills. To get your greatest possible return on investment, your employees need to be able to put those new skills to work in your company. Set up some opportunities where your employees can quickly apply the new skills to the job and get feedback. This will help them reinforce and refine their new skills. If you’re working directing with a training and development organization, focus on applying this new knowledge as a key part of the development plan. If they don’t use the new knowledge when it’s fresh, they’re likely to lose it.

Creating a development program not only helps you make your workforce more effective and knowledgeable, but it can also improve employee satisfaction. And when your employees are happy, they’re less likely to go looking for work elsewhere. Let’s keep that 32 percent engaged and high performing.


Dear Santa, What Our Business Really Needs This Year

If St. Nick Could Solve Your Business Dilemmas, What Would You Ask for this Year?

Children from around the world are putting the final touches on their letters to Santa Claus. What if Santa granted your business wishes this year? Instead of a new fire truck, he delivered an engaged workforce? And instead of a dolly that opens her eyes; a plan for improving quality?

NorthStar360 wants to know, what would be in your organization’s letter to Santa Claus? What are your top business challenges as we head into 2014? Let us know in this 1-question survey. We’ll share the results in the January newsletter.

Click Here for this 1-Question Survey

Reservations Open for Oct. 22 Emotional and Social Intelligence Workshop

FREE For Professionals Looking To Learn More About This Important Topic For Their Organizations Reserve Your Seat Now; Limited Space Available

Numerous studies confirm utilizing Emotional and Social Intelligence in the workplace results in an increase in productivity and efficiency, more engaged employees, more creative teams and more nimble management. But … what exactly is Emotional and Social Intelligence? Join us for a free Lunch and Learn Workshop on Tuesday, October 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Glenwoodie Golf Club in Glenwood, Ill. Expand your knowledge and pick up pointers for how to for how to incorporate them into your organization.

We hope that the time of this event is conducive to your workday, too.  However, presenters will be available at the end of the workshop for folks who are interested in speaking more specifically about challenges their organization may be facing with employee and organizational development.

Please keep in mind that seating is limited for this event so please R.S.V.P. now by clicking here.

Increasing Emotional Intelligence Just Makes “Cents”

Daniel Goleman first brought Emotional Intelligence from the academic ivory tower into the world of business with his 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. In a more recent book, he draws on over two hundred studies, done in various countries, and finds that emotional competence accounts for two-thirds to four-fifths of the difference between top performers and average employees. Screening prospective employees for certain positions makes good common sense. Sales people need to be optimistic. They must be able to delay gratification, control their emotions and have empathy with others. For example, when L’Oreal used emotional intelligence as a selection criterion for hiring sales representatives, they found that emotionally intelligent people outsold their colleagues by $91,370 a year, on the average. Emotional Intelligence is important in building teams and networks within a firm. It is vital for leaders at all levels, including executives. Retail store managers who were best able to manage stress had higher net profits and more sales per square foot, per employee and per inventory dollar.

A large beverage company screened executives for Emotional Intelligence. Before it began screening, half its executives left within two years, usually because they did not perform well. Executives selected for Emotional Intelligence stayed longer, earned higher performance bonuses and outperformed targets set for them by 15% to 20%.

Clearly, a business can improve its bottom line by screening appropriately for Emotional Intelligence. But that is only a fraction of what businesses need. When Emotional Intelligence makes such a difference, can an organization afford to stop with screening alone? Can businesses increase profits by offering training to increase the emotional competence of existing staff? Emotional competencies can be learned. With a good training program in Emotional Intelligence, an organization can maximize the potential of the employees it already has, from the top to the bottom of the organizational chart.

Like any type of intelligence, Emotional Intelligence includes both an inherent and a learned component. Pupils learn at school the skills they need to score well on traditional IQ tests. Training programs, such as our session Emotional Intelligence: The Pathway of Personal Success, teach adults the skills needed to become more emotionally competent. With the right training in emotional intelligence, businesses gain more emotionally competent staff members who function more efficiently, cooperate more productively and remain with the company longer.

A good training program in Emotional Intelligence includes work on integrity, awareness, responsibility, self-mastery, clarity, definition, action and self-valuing. Integrity is the ability to act on principle rather than on emotion. It includes the ability to delay gratification and to harness emotion in service of the principles that infuse our lives. Our principles determine how we perceive events and people; how we judge success or failure; whether we are optimistic and cheerful or pessimistic and joyless. At work and in life, we face key moments that are challenging, distressing, even painful. Good training in Emotional Intelligence helps your staff understand that the reality of the key moment cannot change, but that the interior response to it is a personal choice. They can focus on the task at hand, and make the choices that are most productive without wasting time blaming, resenting or complaining. Training can help your staff members take responsibility for their choices. They will know their life goals and have a clear vision of the path they will follow, making them more productive and capable of advancing. As your employees become aware of their own emotions and learn to control them in service of their life goals, your workplace will become not only more pleasant, but more productive. You will be able to promote from within more often, cutting training costs.

“Your teams will function more efficiently and productively when leaders choose to listen with empathy and team players take responsibility for their choices,” explains Susan Riddering, vice president of NorthStar360. “Training in Emotional Intelligence increases managerial skills, team building and employee competence at all levels – and that inevitably improves the bottom line.”

Learn more about Emotional and Social Intelligence at our Free workshop Oct. 22. Click here for details.

Manager/ Supervisor Training Nov. 13-14

Back by popular demand, NorthStar360 will be offering another two-day training program to help frontline managers and supervisors manage more effectively on Nov. 13 & 14 at the Hampton Inn in Munster, Ind. Managers and supervisors of frontline employees have a significant impact on performance, in fact a larger impact than managers at any other level. These managers have a direct influence on things like employee performance, engagement, and retention. We tend to look to the top of organizations for direction and leadership, although frontline managers have the most impact on our employees!

“We offered this same program this past summer and people asked us when we would be doing it again.  That told us that there’s a need for it,” said Rick Riddering, president of NorthStar360 Training & Development.

According to a recent Gallup poll, bad bosses are the number one reason why employees leave. Ineffective supervisors are costing organizations turnover and productivity. Gallup found that poorly managed workgroups are an average 50 percent less productive and 44 percent less profitable than well-managed groups. Is this a surprise?

“Often times, frontline managers have worked their way up the ranks because they were great employees. But, just because you’re really great at your job, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a great manager. Managing requires a much different skill set,” explains Riddering.

This two-day seminar will teach managers just that – the skills essential to a manager’s (and the organization’s) success; skills that will improve productivity, employee engagement, retention, and profitability.

The training runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 13 & 14. Registration for the two-day session is $675 per person and includes all materials, customized action plan, two breakfasts and one lunch. There is a $75 early bird discount for those who register by Nov. 1st. To register online, please click here. Payment is not required at the time of registration.

No Tricks, Just Treats! The Recognition Your Employees Value Most

Trick or Treat? Well, that’s a dumb question. Who wouldn’t want the treat? Your employees included. Everyone wants to feel appreciated and receive a simple thanks or a pat on the back. But how are we as organizations recognizing our employees’ efforts? Forbes just completed an extensive study to evaluate employee recognition, and this Halloween, we wanted to share a few “treats” that are especially effective in thanking and engaging employees.

Employee recognition is a $46 billion market, which focuses mainly on thank-you awards, pins, plaques, etc.  Of the programs evaluated, 87% focus on tenure … people get rewarded simply for sticking around. Forbes found that most of these tenure-based rewards systems have virtually no impact on organizational performance. They did however find programs that were able to impact business performance – namely 31% lower turnover rates! A well designed program can achieve great results – here are five best-practices Forbes’ identifies:

  1. Recognize people based on specific results and behaviors.
  2. Implement peer to peer recognition – not top down.
  3. Share recognition stories.
  4. Make recognition easy and frequent.
  5. Tie recognition to your own company values or goals.

When your company embraces a modern recognition program and people start thanking each other, trust and engagement go up – improving employee morale, quality, and customer service. It’s good management and good business.

For more information about the Forbes study and results, click here.

Thon Joins NorthStar360 Team


Long time NWI leader and educator Bill Thon and Dyer-based training and development company, NorthStar360, are proud to announce a strategic partnership.

Thon is no stranger to training and, in fact, spent more than eight years as the Executive Director of the Corporate College for Ivy Tech Community College/ Northwest. Additionally, he served 17 years in various Manufacturing, Human Resources and Training roles at Rieter Automotive. He’s eager to use this experience and know-how to help area businesses better their organization and achieve key business goals.

“I’m very proud of the work I’ve done throughout my career and I’m thrilled I can use my experience to help more businesses in Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland with developing their employees. Working more intimately with organizations and helping them achieve results is exactly where I want to be,” explains Thon.

NorthStar360 helps businesses maximize their success through comprehensive hiring practices and in-depth employee development programs. The company customizes its training and tailors its development programs to meet the specific business goals of its clients.

“NorthStar360 is thrilled for this new partnership with Bill Thon. His knowledge and areas of expertise will be invaluable for our clients and for new clients. His expertise really supplements what we’re already doing so I can’t wait to see some of the new, great things we’ll be working on as a result of our partnership,” said Rick Riddering, president of NorthStar360.

Emotional and Social Intelligence Event Oct 22

NorthStar360 to host complimentary workshop to discover the benefits of utilizing EI/ SI in the workplace

Emotional and Social Intelligence is “all the buzz” in employee development these days. But what exactly does it mean? How can it benefit my employees? What impact does it have on our business? For any business that would like to see increases in productivity and efficiency, more engaged employees, more creative teams and more nimble management—read on.

It’s proven that employees with high Emotional Intelligence have higher job satisfaction and will out-perform their peers. They’re better leaders, too. And, a workforce with high Social Intelligence will be more productive and engaged than a group of employees who are just “doing time.” Have we piqued your interest for expanding your understanding of these things or looking for pointers for how to incorporate them into your organization?

Then join us, Tuesday, October 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Glenwoodie Golf Club in Glenwood, Ill. for a FREE one-day Lunch and Learn Workshop about Emotional and Social Intelligence and how it plays an important role in every business. And, while there is no cost to attend the workshop, but plenty to gain from the instruction, discussion, and reflection that it’ll offer business executives looking to become more savvy about this very important topic.

We hope that the time of this event is conducive to your workday, too.  However, presenters will be available at the end of the workshop for folks who are interested in speaking more specifically about challenges their organization may be facing with employee and organizational development.

Please keep in mind that seating is limited for this event so please R.S.V.P. now by clicking here.


Renew Your Focus with Time Management Tips

Labor Day has come and gone; the symbolic “end of summer.”  Many of us will reluctantly turn our attention away from summer recreations and will approach our work with renewed focus. Autumn brings a relentless schedule of deadlines, meetings and other challenges. Preparing a time management strategy is one way to improve our overall personal effectiveness. Time is constant, we can’t beat it, but we can manage it. Below are five time management strategies to improve personal effectiveness and success within your organization.

  1. Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
  2. Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done.
  3. Block out other distractions like Facebook, Instant Messaging and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.
  4. Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to achieve. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, what was missing? How do you put what’s missing in your next call or activity?
  5. Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going. You’ll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.

Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results. We have to learn to let go of the “nitty gritty” and spend our time on the things that produce results.

Labor Day Pays Tribute to American Workers

This symbolic “End of Summer” is an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during a dismal time for American workers. As you reflect on your long weekend, barbecues, parties and parades; be thankful for the workers who organized to make working conditions safer and more comfortable.

  • In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living.
  • Children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.
  • Workers faced unsafe working conditions with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.
  • Until Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, laborers who chose to participate in parades had to forfeit a day’s wages.
  • Labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.
  • More than a century later, the true founder of Labor Day has yet to be identified. Many credit Peter McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, while others have suggested that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first proposed the holiday.