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Understanding Career Development Plan

How Good Career Development Plans Help Organizations Attract and Retain Top Talent

One of the most important qualities an employee looks for in an organization is how it approaches career development for employees at all levels.

According to LinkedIn, employees who change positions within their organization tend to stay longer regardless of whether it is a linear move or a formal promotion. An employee whose career remains stagnant for three years has only a 45% chance of staying with the company. On the other hand, an employee who changes position laterally in that time has a 65% likelihood of remaining in the organization. That likelihood increases to 70% if the person is promoted.

An organization needs development plans that are clearly defined and clearly articulated to help support its employees as they look to build their careers.

What Are Career Development Plans?

A functioning and reliable career development plan must do more than just outline an employee’s progression during their time with a company. It must also have clearly defined timeframes or milestones supported by actionable items the employee can work toward. While a career development plan may be subject to change over time, clear communication at every stage is essential.

Also essential: including the employee in the plan development! Employers need to ensure that they understand how their team members want to grow and where their interests lie in order to develop plans that not only meet the needs of the organization, but also the needs of the employee.

While the typical framework of a career development plan is based on the position, organizational structure, and opportunities within the company, each employee’s path for growth must align with their own personal short- and long-term goals and the company’s. It means that the milestones laid out in your employees’ career development plans, including training, new skill acquisition, and position changes, should reflect a parallel strategy to the milestones for the business as a whole.

What Do Career Development Plans Include?

Although career development plans can vary widely depending on the specifics of each industry, company, or even job level, it is important to look into the fundamental items included. This will help establish a wireframe that can be modified to fit any career path or corporate structure.

A career plan typically includes the following:

  • Current position – This will serve as the baseline for the development plan and provide insights into the individual’s skills at this level.
  • Current achievements – Apart from understanding the basics of the individual’s current position, looking into the existing achievements will help inform the plan’s direction and the employee’s readiness to take the next steps.
  • Development needs – These are the needs that the organization will help fill. This can be a list of training courses, skill acquisitions, or areas for improvement. As a general rule for these plans, the more specific the information, the more helpful it can be.
  • Professional goals – An employee’s goals within an organization can be based on several considerations, including their personal preferences, skill level, and achievements. Having a well-defined aim will be the basis of the plan’s general direction.
  • Actionable steps – Alongside professional goals, the plan must include concrete, actionable items, complete with timelines and milestone objectives. These will help guide the employee in their development path and serve as an assessment tool during the process.

What Are Career Development Plans For?

Well-defined career development plans offer employees and organizations several benefits, including:

  • Engagement – Employees who understand the progression of their careers within an organization tend to be more engaged with their work and workplace. They perform better and meet their targets. According to Indeed, employees who are invested in their roles feel happier when they make contributions to the organization.
  • Retention – According to the Society for Human Resource Management, when employee perceptions of career development opportunities are managed correctly, employees become more loyal to their organizations. Clear and identifiable career development plans are essential for any retention strategy, especially for key employees.
  • Recruitment – Organizations that include career development plans as a central part of their employee value proposition are more likely to attract top talent who are motivated by advancement. Remember, candidates consider organizations not just for their current role but also for the potential career growth and development in their field.

At the end of the day, a career development plan that caters to the needs of the individual will encourage them to move forward in their career and can be an effective tool to support your recruitment and retention strategies.

DRiWaterstone Human Capital is an industry leader in helping organizations recruit and retain top talent through our services rooted in culture-building and people-focused management. For more information on career development plans and other related subjects, contact our team.

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By Lyn Currie

Culture is at the centre of business strategy, helps drive growth and is the reason people join and stay with your organization. This fact has gained widespread acceptance throughout the pandemic. It has also made the role of Chief People and Culture Officer integral to executive decision making.

This was not the case 10 or even five years ago when the role was still primarily focused on performance reviews, compensation, and benefits (i.e., tactics). Today, organizations that have put culture at the centre of strategy have made the Chief People and Culture Officer the steward of culture. They are business partners to the CEO, advising and consulting as peers.

Now, instead of tactics, the role is helping set organizational business objectives through the lens of culture. It’s a natural and obvious progression. If people and culture are the foundation of a business and the fuel to propel growth, then the People and Culture leader is at the right hand of the CEO, at the same level of importance as the Chief Financial Officer.

At DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we know from experience that organizations that value culture are making this shift. We also know from experience that Chief People Officer candidates are as sophisticated in business strategy as they are in people strategy. Increasingly, they are coming from operations and finance backgrounds, and they are looking for a CEO who sees them as a business partner and an integral part of the growth strategy of the organization.

The reason they are at the table is because they can make the connection between culture and strategy, between culture and where the business needs to grow, between culture and how to leverage people to drive business performance.

Today’s Labor Market

Now that COVID-19 is shifting from a pandemic to endemic, it’s clear just how critical people management is and will continue to be, especially as research suggests a more fluid, work from anywhere model will persist. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2023, 40 per cent of organizations will move to blending virtual and physical experiences to increase productivity and expand customer reach. 

At the same time, newer entrants to the labor force want to work for organizations that foster a sense of belonging and that have a purpose that aligns to their own sense of meaning. The great resignation and tight labor market require organizations to step up in new ways to attract and keep talent and drive performance. It is falling to the Chief People and Culture Officer and their team to ensure organizations can attract and retain top talent while meeting (current and future) employee expectations.

Candidates today are recruiting future employers – not the other way around. This fundamental change is the result of a confluence of events: the shift to remote work, the great resignation movement, the tight labor market, record compensation levels and the new and different expectations of millennials and Gen Z, who want to ensure their own purpose and meaning is aligned with that of potential employers.

The result: most candidates are being pursued for multiple opportunities. This is all happening as organizations reimagine their workplaces. New entrants to the workforce as well as more senior employees want to return to an in-office scenario while mid-career employees want to continue to work from home. In all cases, the need to establish a sense of belonging and align people to purpose and meaning will be critical.

How Chief People and Culture Officers are driving performance

Today’s Chief People and Culture Officer is being tasked with a big job: helping their organization realize its potential through culture. Here are just three of the trends we’re seeing when it comes to operationalizing culture:

  1. Leading organizations are investing significantly more in learning and development programs. They must. Candidates are asking – often in the first interview – how an organization will invest in their training and career development. Best-in-class organizations are putting the employee in the driver’s seat when defining their career path. The Chief People Officer is charged with creating programs to inspire continual learning while empowering employees to chart their own course.
  2. Leading, high-performing organizations are also focused on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and Chief People Officers are leading the charge. They are putting programs in place to mitigate unconscious bias in the recruitment and career development processes. They are forming cross-functional DEI groups, listening and using that feedback to create positive change within their organizations.
  3. In today’s working environment, it is critical for organizations to have a value statement that clearly defines their culture. This value statement goes well beyond stating what you do. It should articulate who you are as an organization. It should be inspirational and emotionally connect to candidates, employees and all stakeholders. Chief People Officers are leading the efforts to define culture and purpose, articulate it and operationalize it throughout their organizations.


Why should the Chief People and Culture Officer have a seat at the table? The answer is simple: To ensure organizations are leveraging their greatest competitive advantages: people and culture.

At DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we’re experts in helping organizations recruit and retain top talent – including people and culture executives – with our services rooted in culture-building and people-focused management. For more information on career development plans and other related subjects, contact our team.

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By Nicole Bendaly and Lyn Currie

The COVID-19 pandemic and the world’s largest remote work experiment accelerated a new era of hybrid work, leaving leaders to figure out how to integrate in-office, at-home and mobile workers. Getting it right is the difference between being an employer of choice for top talent – or not.

This new reality is playing out in recruitment interviews across the country, and leading to new strategies to reduce employee turnover. Pre-COVID, candidates focused largely on a potential employer’s organizational purpose and societal impact, and opportunities for learning and development. Increasingly, conversations today are turning to culture, logistics, and the expectations for where and when work will happen. Existing employees are having these same discussions and leaving organizations that aren’t meeting their needs on this front.

Hybrid work is changing culture in the workplace

Through our work in retained executive search and corporate culture coaching, we are finding that there are generational differences when it comes to work environment expectations. Newer entrants to the workforce want to return to an in-office environment where there are opportunities for in-person social connection. More senior candidates and employees want the same. People in between these two groups, who are often raising young families, want flexibility, which can have different meanings depending on the organization.

For employers, talent acquisition and retention becomes that much more difficult as a result. Increasingly, they are leaning into culture to build a sense of connection, meet employee expectations, and become more resilient. Recent research from Gartner, Inc. reveals that when it comes to managing hybrid workforces, one-third of business leaders are most concerned with maintaining corporate culture[1].

Why culture is a difference maker in today’s hybrid working world

Regardless of where work happens, companies should think about the kind of culture they want to intentionally craft. Unless an organization has a clear vision for their culture, it’s very difficult to make decisions about the future of a workplace, workforce, and how people are going to best work together.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of a healthy culture is the sense of belonging team members have. This is what builds trust, engagement and helps drive performance. Even people who are comfortable working from home crave connection. It’s integral to a person’s individual sense of feeling valued and recognized at work.

The pandemic has taken away the organic acknowledgments (e.g., “Hey, great job on that presentation”) that regularly happened as people passed each other in the halls. In a remote or hybrid environment, it takes more effort to pick up a phone, send a text, email or chat request to build a sense of connection.  Intentionally building connection, camaraderie, respect, trust, and relationships in a hybrid or remote world has to be a top priority for leaders. While culture is not a leader’s responsibility alone, it does fall on leaders to connect more and in a different way – with more compassion and empathy – than they may have back when everyone worked together in the same physical location. Because of the virtual nature of work today, leaders need to check in more, ask more questions around how people are doing and intentionally recognize the value people bring.

Ways to improve workplace culture wherever people are

At the start of the pandemic in March 2020, many organizations instituted fun, regular virtual touch points such as optional cooking classes, after-work social gatherings, and more to help people feel connected and boost morale. Now that we’re entering the third year of the pandemic and hybrid work is increasingly becoming the norm, those types of touch points are falling away but the need to focus on connection remains critical.

Here are three best practices to help reinforce culture wherever people are:

1. Be intentional about building connection

In today’s environment, the time leaders have scheduled with their people is precious. How are you using team meetings and one-on-one time with team members? This is the time you have to connect, to show you care, to coach, to motivate, to engage, to learn from team members, to connect people to purpose, to recognize achievements. If leaders are using team meetings as an update or download of information, valuable time is being wasted that could be better used to build a sense of connection that is no longer happening organically.

2. Embed questions in one-on-one meetings to build trust

Carve out time during your one-on-one meetings to strengthen relationships and build trust with your team members. Ask questions that demonstrate you value them and want to support them, such as:

  • How are you? How is life outside of work?
  • How do you feel your work/life balance is right now?
  • What does your ‘best day at work’ look like for you?  How often are you experiencing them? How can I help you experience more of those days?
  • What do you look forward to the most at work?
  • What do you look forward to the least at work?
  • Is there anything that is keeping you up at night?
  • What’s most exciting to you about your role and the team you’re leading?
  • What would you like to know about me?
  • How can I better support you?

Don’t stop there. Solicit input on how you can better support growth and development. Ask about achievements and challenges, projects they’d like to work on and how you can improve feedback. 

3. Implement stay interviews

It’s common practice for organizations to conduct exit interviews with employees who are about to leave to find out how they felt about the company, their experience, and their reasons for leaving. While these interviews provide important information to help companies improve, they come too late to help top talent stay.

In today’s tight labor market, where people have more employment options than ever before, stay interviews are emerging as an important retention tool. Specifically, stay interviews help determine how people feel about the culture, the organization, and their role and whether or not they have what they need to stay. Perhaps more importantly, stay interviews demonstrate you recognize and appreciate a team member’s contributions.

As a best practice, we recommend leaders institute stay interviews once or twice a year to understand what’s meaningful to a team member, what they love about their job, what they hate about it, what’s keeping them up at night, and what would cause them to leave. Taking the time to conduct stay interviews tells your people you care about their experience, and you want to help them thrive.

To make sure you move forward in a way that is productive, honest and transparent, clarify the purpose of the conversation in advance. Explain why this feedback is important and how it will be used.

Here are DRiWaterstone Human Capital’s 10 stay interview questions:

  • What do you look forward to at work every day?
  • What makes you feel proud to work here?
  • What do you like least about working here?
  • What keeps you working here?
  • What skills and strengths do you have that are not being fully utilized here?
  • What do you think about how employees are recognized and valued here?
  • How do you like to be recognized?
  • If you could change one thing about your job, team, or company, what would it be?
  • What might tempt you to leave?
  • What can I/we do to make your experience here better?

What people need to thrive in a hybrid work environment will differ from person to person. The best way to support people is to ask them what they need, be honest about expectations and stay connected. In other words, put people – and culture – first.

Finding it difficult to recruit and retain top talent in today’s hybrid work world? DRiWaterstone Human Capital can help. Book a meeting with our team to talk about your needs.


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By Lyn Currie

We are in the midst of a talent redefinition with 40% of people saying that they plan on leaving their current employer. Furthermore, those who are looking for new opportunities, are looking for organizations that put culture at the center of their business strategy – organizations whose culture is fueled by purpose and by values.

As leaders, how do we address this shifting landscape? 

It starts by keeping the seismic shifts we have all experienced in the labor market over the past couple of years top of mind.

In our executive search business at DRiWaterstone Human Capital, we interview people every day about potential new executive opportunities and making a career change. What we’re seeing – what everyone is seeing – is that the labor market has changed. This change started before COVID, but the past two years have accelerated shifts to how and where we work, how we feel about work, how we get recruited, and how open we are to being recruited. Leaders looking to attract top talent today need to embrace these changes and lean into a redefined recruitment market.

How we work
With work from home, we’ve seeing an increased reliance on tools and technology, the blurring of work and home life and duties, and people working on more projects in solitude. People today are looking for the flexibility that work from home brings, but that needs to be balanced out with the right tools, and the right opportunities to build and maintain connections and to collaborate in meaningful ways with internal teams, clients, and customers.

How we feel about work
Many of us have experienced feelings of isolation and a yearning for connection. But what we’re also seeing is that many of us are questioning the “why” of work, and questioning what our organizations stand for and how we fit in. Purpose, and a connection to purpose, have become key factors for candidates from entry level positions right up to senior executives.  Knowing your organization’s purpose, building that purpose into a well-defined Employee Value Proposition, and then actively looking for ways to connect your team members to that purpose is key in today’s market.

How we get recruited – and how open we are to being recruited
Today’s tight labor market means that most candidates are being pursued for multiple opportunities. But we’re also seeing an increased number of candidates dipping their toe into the job market – often out of curiosity more than a desire to move, but that doesn’t mean the right offer won’t tempt them away.

We have all heard about the “Great Resignation” and we know that compensation has jumped to record levels. That has allowed candidates (many who are happy in their existing roles) to explore their options. They are curious as to what else is out there and how much they might be worth. It can be an exciting and informative journey for candidates; but, for employers the result is that they can go far down the hiring path with a candidate only to have that candidate decide to stay with their current employer. This leads to a lot of offers, counter offers, and time spent – but with poor results.

Leaders looking to hire top talent in today’s market need to take each of these elements into consideration. And don’t forget to factor demographics into the equation! Many mid- and later-career employees are yearning for work from home scenarios, but many newer entrants into the workforce are, perhaps counter to what we all may have predicted, yearning for an in-office culture (one that includes social activities and group projects) where they can connect and collaborate in-person.

The talent acquisition landscape has changed. Companies looking to recruit top talent today need to ensure that they have the programs and processes in place to address these shifts while putting their purpose and their culture front and center.

To find out more about talent acquisition, visit our website or contact us.

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By the year 2025, millennials are expected to account for 75% of the global workforce.

While Gen X (born 1961 to 1981) is known as the independent and entrepreneurial generation, millennials are a more collaborative group that thrives on mentorship, teamwork, and strong communication. This makes them a valuable asset to any business or organization.

The Pew Research Center defines millennials as individuals born between 1981 and 1996. As the first generation that grew up in the Internet age, they’re often known for being bold, tech-savvy, highly educated, and adaptive to change. Millennials are also risk-takers.

Unlike previous generations that often struggle with change, millennials are generally more able to accept novel things and ideas. They are also able to listen to diverse perspectives and work with other people easily.

Many millennial professionals report that they are thinking less about money, and more about jobs that closely align with their values, advocacies, and passions. They value company culture more than past generations.

study by Fidelity Investments shows that millennials would be willing to give up $7,600 in salary every year in exchange for a career that offers more meaningful work, better work-life balance, healthier company culture, and excellent career development opportunities. This is a marked shift from older generations who are generally believed to consider salary as a top factor in employment choices.

Purpose over paycheck

Millennials are not afraid to leave a job when an employer fails to meet their needs – a fact that organizations are seeing play out in a very real way two years into the global pandemic. Where many baby boomers were once happy with working any 9-5 job that provided security for them and their family, millennials are after something more than a paycheck. They are looking for job purpose and organizational values that align seamlessly with their personal beliefs and values.

One of the challenges for companies today is figuring out how to transform processes, cultures, and environments to meet the needs and demands of this generation. To help you get started, we pulled together three things today’s employee looks for in a job.

  1. Flexible arrangements and remote work opportunities

Research shows that 40% of job candidates around the world believe that flexibility in schedules and work models are guiding their career decisions.

Flexibility means different things for different people. Some prefer compressed hours while others choose flextime arrangements, where the employee chooses when to start and end work as long as they fall within specific core hours.

For others, flexibility might mean avoiding the rush-hour commute and working entirely from home. Flexible remote working also results in a better work-life balance and reduces the risk of burnout among employees.

A desire for flexible work models is common among millennial professionals. In fact, a Bentley University study indicated that 77% of millennial workers believe flexible work hours would increase their productivity.

  1. Fast adoption of collaborative technologies

Millennials are first-generation digital natives. They grew up in the era of computers, digital devices, and the world of social media. According to the Pew Research Center, 86% of millennials say they use social media and more than 9 in 10 millennials own smartphones, compared with 90% of Gen Xers.

As a tech-dependent generation, millennials expect virtual tools and smart technologies to be readily available in the workplace. If companies aim to attract millennials to their teams, they must prove that they are forward-thinking by adopting devices that allow employees to be more efficient and productive.

Poor or slow technology can drive away top talent. This is a group that wants collaborative technologies that are fast, intuitive, and easy to use. Examples are instant communication tools, video conferencing platforms, and screen-sharing tech that help simplify project management and facilitate group work, both remote and in-office.

Collaborative virtual tools also help employees feel connected with clients, managers, and colleagues at any time and from anywhere.

By embracing innovation in the workplace, companies will have an easier time attracting and retaining high-performing talent. Digital adoption provides employees with the necessary tools and resources to achieve their goals and perform better.

  1. Personalized learning strategies

According to a study conducted by the venture capital firm, Accel Partners, and software firm, Qualtrics, sufficient training is the leading factor millennials consider when starting a new job.

Because they grew up surrounded by evolving technology and connectivity, this group approaches workplace challenges differently and thus, requires a unique learning approach. The challenge for companies is to transform employee training in a way that satisfies this generation’s desire for innovation and self-development.

Some tools that organizations are using to successfully leverage with the leaning needs and styles of this group include:

  • E-learning tools like e-books, digital libraries, and online classrooms that allow employees to learn at their own pace and have quick access to the knowledge they need (some employers are even using  AI and virtual reality (VR) to upskill workers in a safe and affordable manner);
  • Gamification (using point systems, badges, avatars, and leaderboards) transforms training into more engaging, easier to understand, and more memorable experiences, and  mimics the ways in which this group of employees consume content outside of work (a 2019 report by Nielsen showed that two in three millennials play video games every month; they also spend roughly six hours per week watching gaming video content).
  • Microlearning – the exchange of knowledge in small, digestible components – is growing in popularity as employees look to take advantage of new learning in their increasingly busy lives. Courses are often broken down into sessions that last around 10 minutes long, on average.

Grow your millennial workforce

If you’re expanding your team, we can help you recruit top high performing talent. Contact us to discuss your recruitment needs.

Reprinted with permission from Waterstone Human Capital

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By Nicole Bendaly and Marty Parker

A robust body of research has clearly established that how you do things drives outcomes. The pandemic coupled with the transition to a younger workforce that is focused on connecting their personal meaning and purpose to their work has accelerated a realization that was already taking hold: Prioritizing culture is good business.

PwC’s 2021 Global Corporate Culture study reveals that 66% of C-suite executives and board members now believe that culture is more important to performance than an organization’s strategy and operating model. We know through our own experience with Waterstone Human Capital’s Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures awards program that organizations that put culture at the centre of their business strategy, measure corporate culture, and take the time to participate in organizational culture assessments benefit from improved employee engagement, increased retention, and better performance.

The reality is whether you are purposeful about it or not, you have an organizational culture. If you do not define and set the course for culture, it will define itself. The only way to ensure you are creating and living the culture you want to embody is to measure it.

What it takes to measure culture

While many organizations have tools (such as surveys) in place to measure employee engagement, they represent just one aspect of measuring culture. Through our own research of best-in-class organizations, Waterstone Human Capital has identified 10 drivers of winning cultures and we use these behaviors to measure organizational culture. These drivers are:

  • Ownership/Accountability
  • Collaboration/Teamwork
  • Customer Focus
  • Competitiveness
  • Innovation/ Agility
  • Growth
  • Work Environment
  • Clarity of Leadership Communication/Organizational Purpose
  • People Focus
  • CSR/Environmental Sustainability

Five reasons every organization needs to measure culture

1.   To establish a clear understanding of the current state of the culture

Culture is the way an organization does things. It’s how people show up; the behaviors they demonstrate.  Culture is going to be unique to each organization – that’s why it’s so powerful. It’s also why it’s critical to measure culture and understand the actual lived experience of the culture from everybody’s perspective. Unless and until you have an accurate, holistic understanding of the state of your culture, you won’t know what the strengths or the risks of your culture are, whether or not your culture will be able to get you to where you want to go, and what your people need to bring their best selves to work.

2.   To engage your people in culture

Measuring culture is an important opportunity to let your people know that it’s a priority, that you want their honest perspective on the state of the culture, that you are committed to building and strengthening culture, and that their voice matters. It is also a way to communicate to leaders and team members the specific behaviors and practices that drive performance in your organization.

3.   To align culture to strategy

Measuring culture ensures the business is moving in the right direction. It’s what will let you know whether or not your people have what they need to execute the strategy and how the culture needs to shift to meet strategic objectives. There is no such thing as the status quo. If growth isn’t happening, deterioration is. Regularly assessing culture both quantitatively and qualitatively will ensure culture and strategy are aligned and that you are shaping the path you want to be on – and staying the course.

4.   To attract and retain talent

The great resignation upped the competition for talent at a time when organizations were already struggling to adapt to a different set of expectations from younger workers. Millennials and Gen Z are used to being asked for their input and how they are feeling. It’s how they were raised. They are also acutely focused on purpose and meaning and how they personally and their organizations are impacting the world. Measuring culture is critical to providing the kind of work experience today’s workforce wants.

5.   To be able to adapt quickly

We are more connected than we’ve ever been, and the world is moving faster than it ever has. At the same time, culture is harder to see because of the hybrid work environment. Measuring culture is important to maintain the health of the organization so you can adjust to each new challenge and opportunity.

Taking the first step in measuring culture

Companies that are excited to take the first step and start measuring company culture don’t always know where to begin. For some, it involves adjusting existing employee surveys; for others it means starting from scratch. Either way, the Waterstone Culture Institute can help. Waterstone ENGAGE™ is an annual employee survey program that will equip you with actionable data about your corporate culture, employee engagement and the level of trust in your organization. For more information, contact our team.

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Do you want to be more effective as a leader? Preparing for the top spot in an organization—whether it’s CEO, CMO, CTO or whatever you “C” in your future—means cultivating these six critical qualities. Because these qualities will not only make you a better leader—they just might make you a better human being.

  1. Empathy — Annie was in her second month of nursing school when her professor gave her a test. After working through the science and anatomy, the final question was a bit of a show-stopper: What is the name of the woman who cleans the school? The nursing student realized that she had seen the woman many times, working after class was over. But her name was a mystery. She turned in her paper, with a blank on the final question. She asked the professor, “Will that final question count towards our grade?” The prof replied, “Paying attention to the people around you always matters to your grade. And your career.” If medical schools are testing for empathy, doesn’t there seem to be some science behind the approach? Every C-suite leader wants to decrease stress and increase morale. Start by recognizing those around you and taking in their situations, cultivating an understanding of their world—so that they can make a powerful contribution to yours.
  2. Listening — The exercise was uncomfortable and difficult for nearly everyone in the room. In my training, at a Fortune 500 finance company, I asked the C-suite executives to pair off and, after giving them a prompt, I asked one leader to talk about a challenging topic for two minutes. Easy, right? Well, the hard part came when I asked her partner to listen, without replying, arguing or challenging anything. Like a rock with ears, these leaders had to focus on the conversation—not their responses. Hearing words, emotions and viewpoints without interjecting is harder than it looks—because it is very rare, especially in the C-suite. My work on listening can transform cultures, if the organization is up for the challenge. Seems that most of the folks in my leadership training weren’t really able to listen – they were usually just waiting to talk. For them “active listening” meant actively formulating a rebuttal or action plan, working on a response instead of hearing what was being said. Do you know how to listen in a way that invites others to share—or are you just waiting to hear something you can challenge, conquer or fix?
  3. Integrity — The product failures were within acceptable limits, the CEO told me. But for the 3% of customers that were experiencing those failures, the results were far from acceptable. As a senior C-suite leader at the company, the decision came to me: do we keep producing products, realizing that a few of them are going to have defects, or do we halt production until the glitch is fixed? I didn’t want to stop revenues for the company for a small percentage of failures! But it was the right thing to do. Didn’t have to do it, and it wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did. I’m no saint and I’ve made my share of mistakes in business—but this call was the right one. Integrity means doing what’s right even when you don’t have to—even when nobody is watching. What forces motivate you to do the right thing, as a leader? Is it what the market will bear—or what your internal compass tells you you need to do?
  4. Strategic Generosity — The best c-suite leaders understand how giving back is a part of paying it forward. In my work with colleges and universities, I help the leaders of tomorrow to bring new businesses to life (so far, I’ve helped launch over 50 businesses and counting). As a speaker, I do what I can to provide insights into career leadership, communication and entrepreneurship. Giving back to communities of interest is part of the leadership journey. What can you do, today, to help others to see what you have discovered? Sharing is strategic when you have ideas worth spreading.
  5. Focus — My friend was the CEO of a publicly-traded company, with 6,000 employees. I asked him what life looked like from the captain’s chair. “Well,” he explained, “It’s not easy being responsible to 14,000 people.” Wait a minute…This guy was formerly the CFO of the company—he knew all the numbers—but all of a sudden his math was way off! How did he get to 14, 000? “I’m taking the average family size of 2.3 kids and multiplying it by all my employees,” he explained. “Some may not have children, some may have four or five. The point is: I consider the people that this company supports, because that’s who my employees are considering, right now.” That was the way he looked at his leadership responsibility. How do you see yours?
  6. Don’t Look Back — In my work with coaching clients, we are always looking in the direction of peak performance. I was listening to a seminar with Byron Katie, the author of Loving What Is, and she asked the audience to imagine that someone walked up to her and slapped her across the face. The room was stunned into silence. What she said next hit me like a slap in the face: “Well, I’m glad that’s over.” I don’t know about you, but I need to say that more often. Instead of dropping the bad stuff, I often punish myself with the past by bringing it into the present! How often do we get wrapped around the slap—instead of seeing that the thing that hurt us is done, gone and over? For me, a lot of the pain and ineffectiveness in my life hasn’t come from a slap. It’s come from my inability to stop thinking about how I shouldn’t have been slapped! That’s true for my clients as well—not because I know every person on planet Earth, but because being trapped in the past is a part of human nature. When I can say with a level of deep clarity and authenticity, “Well, I”m glad that’s over!” then it is. Leaders understand the power of moving on. “Let it go” sounds like a cliche, or a song from Frozen, but when that phrase is real, authentic and internalized it’s truly a place of peak performance. Just because life gave you something unpleasant, like a slap (or even a knockout punch—yep, I’ve been there!) remember this quote from Henry David Thoreau: “Don’t look back unless you’re planning to go that way.”

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Our office is currently closed between June 5-9, 2021 for a company-wide summer holiday. DRiWaterstone co-founders, Jennifer Dunlap and Nancy Racette, have encouraged all staff to take time away from emails, Zoom, and phone calls, so that when we return to the office, we will be ready to serve our clients with renewed energy and focus.

If there is an urgent matter that requires immediate attention, please contact Jennifer Dunlap ( or Nancy Racette ( We hope you enjoy the holiday and spend quality time with your loved ones. Thank you for entrusting DRiWaterstone as your non-profit leadership resource.

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On Thursday, President Biden signed into law a measure that makes June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers led by Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3, officially ending slavery in the state.

DRi’s offices will be closed on June 18th in observance of Juneteenth. Read here for resources on how to strengthen your company’s culture by recognizing Juneteenth.

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ARLINGTON, VA – Development Resources, inc. (now DRiWaterstone Human Capital) has been named to the Forbes list of America’s Best Recruiting Firms 2022. This prestigious award is presented by Forbes and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The awards list was announced on May 3, 2022, and can currently be viewed on the Forbes website here.

As a top-level Executive Recruiter, DRiWaterstone Human Capital places senior leaders across all types of non-profit and social enterprise organizations and position functions, including Board members, CEOs, C-Suite leaders, and fundraising positions. A partial list of DRiWaterstone’s clients is available here.

“We are honored to be named one of America’s best executive recruiting firms by Forbes for the sixth consecutive year. We are privileged to work with some of the sector’s finest organizations and institutions—enterprises that touch lives and strengthen communities across the nation and around the globe,” said Jennifer Dunlap, CEO and Nancy Racette, COO at DRiWaterstone. “DRiWaterstone is thrilled that our work helping non-profits and social enterprise organizations to grow, thrive, and excel has been successful. We appreciate this honor and are proud to be recognized on the Forbes list as one of America’s best Executive Search firms.”

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