Our nation’s Declaration of Independence was framed and signed many years ago. A unanimous decision by fifty-six men taking the risk of being punished as traitors made it happen.


What powerful reminder is revealed yet today in that enduring language?


As you may enjoy a periodic reading of this document, pay attention to the closing (my italics):


“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”


A mutual pledge is powerful. Consider how a mutual pledge might raise the impact – and likelihood of change:


From This…. To This….
Heads nod at the close of a meeting in which a supervisor asks employees to work better together to reduce errors and improve customer service. At the close of a meeting, each employee faces colleagues and says, “In the future to avoid data errors and assumptions that may delay customer service, I will talk with you   when I need to clarify information in an order.”


How can you use the power of mutual pledges to change and improve your organization’s culture?

Think about the last time a bad work situation captured your attention: made you wish for ‘something different.’ What did you do?


According to research recently described on several radio programs, many of us likely did nothing. We did nothing different.


Instead, we likely let the many distractions we face every day and the power of inertia (i.e., “lack of movement or activity especially when movement or activity is wanted or needed” –Merriam Webster) keep us in that same bad situation.


It’s called “status quo bias.” Knowing the name of a phenomenon may make it easier for many people to plan and achieve a change that needs to be made.


Now think about that proverbial “elephant eating” technique: one small bite at a time.


In the context of working with your colleagues and team members, what one small thing could you do differently to create a habit out of your better action to overcome status quo bias?


Would engagement be improved if you

  • Focused your calendar and attention 3 times per week to seek out team members in their work spaces to offer encouragement and positive feedback about the progress they’re making on a project?
  • Took the advice of another researcher to “walk aimlessly” – perhaps in the company of a colleague – for 10 minutes one or two days per week to stimulate creativity?



Recently in a thought-provoking article, Daniel Burrus describes techniques for growing from competence to excellence in one’s career (“Mastering the Art of Your Career,” Burrus Blog).

At a key point in the article Burrus affirms, “The nonstandard educational method of developing intuitive insights coupled with creativity involves gleaning the best-kept secrets and most well honed, time honored methods, the knowledge and wisdom of your profession from other professionals.”


Of course, upon re-reading, it makes sense. How then to make it real and accessible?

While peeling fresh peaches the other day, it hit me. Paths to excellence are all around us. For excellence in peach peeling, it was my grandmother who showed me, watched me, coached me and gave me lots of opportunities to practice.

For excellence in working, paths have been friends willing to listen, to be candid, to offer ideas (not answers) and to ask questions that made me think: try new things: keep practicing. The best of these teachers have not been in my field or working in my organization.

As Burrus challenges: “You can learn the science of your job from books, manuals, and classroom lessons … you need to learn the art from the artists of your field if you’re going to become exceptional. … It’s what pushes us to compete with others by bettering ourselves and in doing so, to push our very professions forward.”

  • Who are your excellence coaches?
  • How do you share what you know and learn with colleagues and new employees to help them grow toward excellence?
  • Will you be a path to excellence for others?



“Online life is so delicious because it is socializing with almost no friction.” So remarks David Brooks in a recent op-ed column in The New York Times. Mr. Brooks goes on to discuss differences between the online “cocktail party” environment and the “book club” environment of offline learning: the search for meaning, context, understanding and wisdom.

What thoughts does the above information trigger? Does it lead you to wonder whether a no friction environment is really good for your organization even if it were possible? If you decide that no friction is neither achievable nor a worthwhile objective, what alternatives might have a better impact on business and people?

How about intentional conflict? …neither knock-down negative confrontations nor quiet acquiescence but direct confrontations among respectful and respected colleagues.

To build constructive conflict:

  • Coach and train your team to manage conflicts they encounter.
  • Expect others to work things out.
  • Encourage dissent.
    • Create teams with diverse expertise, approaches and background.
    • Schedule and plan for discussions of tasks, behaviors and issues of concern.
  • Follow up to assure the immediate concern – and the underlying cause – have been addressed.




“Independent contractor” is more narrowly defined according to a lengthy July 15, 2015, Department of Labor (DOL) interpretive memorandum. The narrower definition might change the previous classification of many workers from independent contractors to employees.


The DOL deemphasizes the degree to which a business controls an individual’s work and focuses instead on a six-factor economic realities test. Factors to be applied in a qualitative analysis of each situation include:

  • The extent to which the work performed is an integral part of the employer’s business.
  • The worker’s opportunity for profit or loss depending on his or her managerial skill.
  • The extent of the relative investments of the employer and the worker.
  • Whether the work performed requires special skills and initiative.
  • The permanency of the relationship.
  • The degree of control exercised or retained by the employer.


Business advisors caution:

  • The economic realities test may appear understandable at first blush, but a careful reading of the guidance reveals there are no bright-line rules.
  • The same person could be considered an independent contractor or an employee simply based on the business. The DOL guidance highlights a comparison:
    • A highly skilled carpenter provides carpentry services for a construction firm, but the carpenter does not determine the sequence of work, order additional materials or think about bidding for the next job. Instead, he is told what work to perform where. This carpenter, although highly skilled technically, is not an independent contractor.
    • By contrast, a highly skilled carpenter who provides a specialized service for a variety of area construction companies may be an independent contractor if the carpenter markets his services, determines when to order materials and the quantity of materials to order and determines which orders to fill.
  • The subjective nature of such a test is a slippery slope and provides no practical, objective criteria on which businesses can rely.
  • Contractors should not have internal e-mail accounts, should not be given server access and should not be invited to employee functions.


The key recommendation is for business owners to review the guidance and confirm that individuals they plan to pay on a 1099 basis in fact meet the new criteria. Maintain basic records: independent contractor determination process and facts used to make that determination; business licenses; business cards; project work plans showing limited engagements; correspondence; etc.


Anderson Consulting is a strategic, results-driven human resources consulting firm providing services to a multitude of organizations including:

  • Private and public employers both for-profit and not-for-profit
  • Start-up organizations
  • Organizations needing to downsize business structure
  • Organizations capturing new business opportunities


As both an internal HR executive and external HR consultant, Raylana has worked alongside business leaders to efficiently develop, implement and maintain impactful HR practices that align with their unique business goals. Implementations include:


  • Leading and managing large-scale change initiatives including acquisitions and IPO introductions
  • Aligning practices for transitioning organizations
  • Setting and linking HR strategy to business strategy
  • Selecting and retaining the right employees
  • Employee relations issues including performance management/coaching and confidential investigations
  • High potential (HiPo) identification
  • Benefits & Compensation (i.e., total rewards) strategy, program design and implementation – including planning for health care reform
  • Employee/Supervisory coaching, development, mentoring and training
  • Compliance [including policies, wage & hour (FLSA) review]


Public Seminars & Workshops

Raylana offers targeted seminars and workshops for national, regional and local audiences.
Topics Include:

  • Risk Management Through Talent Management
  • New Frontiers in Employee Performance Management / Creating an Earning Environment
  • Compensation & Benefits Strategy
  • HR’s Role in Mergers & Acquisitions