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Keep up with the latest developments in coaching, team development, and onboarding. Our News and Updates include News, Newsletters, Press Releases, Blogs, and More. Filter by our three areas of expertise. 

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Brenda Hampel & Erika Lamont, co-founders of Connect the Dots Consulting, were recently featured on the podcast series: Innovating Leadership: Co-Creating Our Future as onboarding experts.

More than 40% of new leaders fail within 18 months. Why?

Don’t blame the leader; look at the organization instead! Most organizations don’t onboard a new leader well, if at all. They assume a person’s success at one company will automatically transfer to theirs – but there are far too many variables at play to bank on that. Instead, an onboarding plan that goes beyond HR protocols and benefits sign-up is necessary: a plan that considers company culture, history, team dynamics…even quality of life differences if the new leader is coming from out of town!

Brenda Hampel and Erika Lamont of Connect the Dots share tips, tricks, and outright wisdom from years of experience helping organizations maximize the success of their new leaders.

Here’s what Brenda, Erika, and host Maureen Metcalf cover:

  1. The three main components of a good onboarding plan;
  2. Why overlooking help with personal transitions – including spouse and children – is a key reason for new leaders leaving your organization; and
  3. Why how you handled your workforce during the COVID pandemic is the ultimate litmus test for a leader considering your job offer.



We are pleased to partner with Val Ries, author of Chief Inspiration Officer, to offer a Management Mastery Class for developing your leaders.  We hosted a webinar to review the details of the program and offer pilot pricing.  We are looking for a few qualified organizations to launch a pilot in early 2023.

Please check out the recording for more information and feel free to reach out with any questions.



Based on feedback Brenda Hampel, Managing Director, Connect the Dots received in her presentation at a recent conference, many organizations continue to look for effective ways to ensure their onboarding practices meet the expectations and needs of new employees.

Over 75 HR professionals attended her session “Disrupt Your Onboarding Experience,” designed to help participants:

  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of their onboarding processes and
  • Integrate the newest onboarding technology practices and tools

The presentation included several real-time feedback polls to assess the current state of onboarding at participants’ organizations and help CTD tailor its content delivery.  The following charts outline the feedback we received during the session.

Why “disrupt” your onboarding experience?

HR professionals in attendance were most motivated to improve their onboarding systems to increase retention of new hires and engage employees, and get employees up to speed faster (38% and 33%, respectively).  Getting new hires up to speed and improving ease of manager participation were much less likely to be the drivers of participant’s onboarding focus.  No participants indicated a specific need to address the multi-generational workforce with onboarding.

What is the current state of onboarding in your organization?

All session participants reported that they conduct some onboarding activities in their organizations; however, about half focused mainly on orientation activities.  Nearly 20% also included training activities, and an additional 24% also include some socialization.  Only 10% of respondents reported having a formal, structured process with an onboarding plan, defined roles, and feedback.

What type of technology are you currently using for your onboarding experience?

Over half of participants were not using any technology to support their onboarding processes.  The remaining participants implemented a branded onboarding website (24%) or email and calendar planning only (24%). No participants reported using social media to connect with new hires or linking their systems to existing HRIS systems. 


Your Onboarding Experience

Where is your onboarding program hitting and missing the mark? What best-practice updates can you make to better meet your organization’s needs?

Take a look at our onboarding solutions for the new hire as well as for new leader transition to see how we help dynamic companies effectively onboard their team members




Onboarding expert Jennifer Foster and CVS’s Learning and Talent Professional, Lois O’Brien were featured as presenters at the recent ATD Techknowledge virtual conference where they co-presented: Reimaging the Onboarding Experience: Using Technology for a Hybrid Workforce. Here is an overview of the topic:

The world has changed. Remote work, hybrid workforce, “new normal”—whatever you are calling it, it’s is here to stay. During this session, you will hear how CVS Health is using Connect the Dots’ onboarding technology to meet and exceed the needs of its new hires, regardless of geographic location or where work gets done. You will learn about the current state of onboarding, what new hires are asking for, and how to blend technology with key human interactions to create the engaging and consistent onboarding experience your organization needs to recruit and retain great talent.

Application on the Job:

  • Learn current trends to build the business case for introducing new technological components.
  • Understand how to build an onboarding experience that blends technology and high-touch delivery methods.
  • Create a digital experience that supports a hybrid workforce.


You can watch and listen to their presentation by clicking on this link:


We are excited to show our newly developed Real Leadership Solutions Video!

Connect the Dots Managing Director Erika Lamont says: “We developed this short video to provide our clients and prospects with a quick overview of what we do and how we do it. We think it will serve as a great conversation starter.”

Coaching, Teams


As leaders continue to navigate an organizational landscape of virtual, hybrid, and in-person work, they need new competencies to foster connection of their teams and employees.

Employees who feel undervalued or disconnected have been leaving organizations far more frequently in the past two years, and it is up to leaders to reverse this trend. In April 2022, we sat down with CHROs to discuss these ongoing challenges and best practices to address them. Following is a summary of our discussion.

Discussion Points

What conversations have you had with your leadership teams?

  • Leaders are focused on how to protect their culture when everyone is working in different places, as well as how to evolve their culture to meet the current state.
  • The philosophy of the leadership team is a key driver of the decision to use a virtual, hybrid, or all-in approach. Participant CHRO organizations were in very different places with regard to “return to office” following the pandemic.
  • Leaders may be in denial that employees are feeling disconnected. If productivity remains high despite higher-than-average turnover, leaders may not see the link between connectivity and turnover.

What are you hearing from employees?

  • Some employees are very interested in in-person work, while others expressed dissatisfaction about returning to the office.
  • Employees want more empathy from their managers—not just asking about their weekends, but truly showing they care for employees at a deeper level. In particular, Gen Z employees’ workplace satisfaction depends on feeling valued and heard.
  • Many leaders need additional development in their situational leadership ability.

What tactics are your organizations using?

  • Regular listening groups or informal Q&A sessions make a big difference in employee engagement.
  • Feedback surveys are especially fruitful when they are followed-up by discussing the results with employees, identifying action items, and the leaders being transparent about the changes made.
  • Work teams also benefit from weekly wrap-up meetings to share accomplishments, feedback, recognition, etc. in a more casual and informal format

Need additional support?

As your leaders continue to stretch themselves to navigate new and challenging dynamics, coaching support can help them do so more effectively. CTD’s on-target® and quickconnect® coaching models give you the flexibility to invest in targeted coaching at any level.  Effective onboarding is another tool for organizations who want to differentiate themselves as an employer. Check out our solutions for leadership and all-employee onboarding that provide a branded, customized experience for your new hires. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your specific leadership development needs and a custom solution. 

Coaching, Teams, Onboarding


It can be a challenge to come up with the right words at the right time to demonstrate that you support team members and meet them where they are.

Leaders mean well when they try to be positive. But they often simply don’t have the vocabulary
to say the right thing at the right time, and resort to feel good aphorisms that prevent them from
truly comforting those who need it. Whitney Goodman, a licensed therapist and author of Toxic
Positivity, offers some suggestions to help understand the difference between toxic positivity and
offering validation and support.

Toxic Positivity Validation and Support
“You’ll get over it!” “This is hard. We’ll get through it
“Just be positive!” “Do you want to talk about it?”
“Good vibes only!” “It’s pretty normal to have some negative
thoughts in this situation.”
“Stop being so negative!” “It’s probably hard to be positive right
“Think happy thoughts!” “Do you want to talk about your
“Never give up!” “It sucks to feel like this. Do you want to
do something together today?”
“Just be happy!” “It’s probably really hard to see any good
in this situation.”
“It could be worse!” “I know this doesn’t make a lot of sense
right now.”
“Everything happens for a reason!” “I’m here for you.”
“Be grateful it isn’t worse!” “I’m not going anywhere.”
“This isn’t easy, and you don’t have to
pretend like it is.”

If you’re serious about retaining the people on your team (as you should be), consider conducting
“stay” interviews. These are discussions where you ask loyal employees key questions to
understand how engaged they are. The information you gather can help you tackle common
retention issues. Here are four questions to try:

What is your frame of mind today?

No matter what the response is — positive or negative — don’t negate their
experience or move too quickly to solving a problem. Just listen, thank them for
being honest, and ask for more information before moving toward a solution.


Who do you feel connected to at work?

Based on their response, explore what you can do to help them deepen those
connections. Perhaps people from different departments can work on a
company-wide event, a cross-division initiative, or take part in virtual discussion


What do you want to learn that will excite you and help you grow?

This question signals that you care about their development and want to help
them achieve their aspirations.


What barriers can I remove for you to help you do a better job?

Then brainstorm with your colleague how you can be most helpful. Ensuring
people can do their jobs well is just as important as praise and rewards.


This resource is adapted from “What Stops People on Your Team from Leaving?,” by Sabina Nawaz



George Bernard Shaw said it best in his quotation about communication: “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

The numbers are sobering:

  • 86% of senior executives, managers and junior staff at U.S. companies who report experiencing communication breakdowns that lead to reduced productivity, missed deadlines, and sales deals that don’t close, according to research from The Economist Intelligence Unit.
  • 63% of U.S. employees in 2019 who have wanted to quit their jobs because ineffective communication has gotten in the way of doing their work, almost double from 2018 (33 percent), according to a Dynamic Signal study.

So, what can organization and individual leaders do to address these significant gaps?

Communicate clearly and often to reduce the opportunities for frustration, disengagement, and performance challenges.

As we continue to adjust to our new work environments, employees are looking to their leaders for clarity even more than usual.  Although leaders do not have all of the answers and are dealing with their own questions, establishing a regular cadence for communicating priorities and expectations and providing feedback is important.  And, because most of our communication will be done virtually, by phone and email, taking the time to be deliberately clear is critical.

Establish (or re-establish) a regular meeting cadence with your team and each individual

  • Continue staff and one-on-one meetings.
  • Send meeting agendas, keeping the scope tight and relevant.
  • Establish expectations for participation.
  • Include time to recognize team members’ well-being
  • Ask your team for feedback on the cadence – what’s working? What could be better?

Make yourself available to your team

  • Let your team know the best ways to communicate with you during this time.
  • Reinforce and “apply” organizational communication and policies to increase understanding and compliance.
  • Appropriately share how you are feeling about and managing the situation.

Be aware of assumptions: They will throw you off track every time!

  • Be specific about your expectations: “As soon as possible” may mean tomorrow to you, and next week to your team member.
  • Keep the basic communication model in mind: As information is exchanged between the sender and receiver, there may be a disconnect between what is intended and what is understood—particularly when you are using a different medium than usual (e.g., email vs. face-to-face).

By not underestimating the power and impact of simple, clear and consistent communication, leaders and organizations will see the payback both immediately and over time.  Regardless of the economic picture, market landscape or political environment, effective communication is a foundational component of a healthy and thriving organization.



As organizations begin to plan for what’s next in this uncertain post-pandemic time, they may want to look to their successful teams in creating that playbook.  What we have learned from this crisis, is that it has either strengthened and galvanized some organizations or crippled and/or shut-down others.  One contributing factor to successful companies, is creating and cultivating high-performing teams. In our experience with clients, we find that the “secret sauce” in creating a high performing team includes, strong talent, high employee engagement, clear strategy, and productive team dynamics.

Of the four, team dynamics is the one that organizations seem to most often overlook and neglect. Business author Patrick Lencioni has called teamwork “the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.”

What’s more: team dynamics may actually be the easiest driver of team performance for organizations to improve. Our team-connect process, for example, has helped dozens of organizations strengthen the dynamics—and performance—of their key teams.

What is team dynamics? defines it as “the behavioral relationships between members of a group that are assigned connected tasks within a company.”

Teams with strong and productive dynamics share many qualities, including:

  • Cohesiveness
  • Effective communication
  • Defined and shared purpose
  • Clarity of roles
  • Diversity of thought
  • Effective leadership

To show why team dynamics are so important, let’s take a look at four benefits of having productive team dynamics.

  1. Fewer Mistakes

On teams with strong dynamics, team members have clarity regarding their roles, the scope of their responsibilities and how they interact with and hand-off work to others. This reduces mistakes, rework and frustration.  When mistakes are made, these teams will also appropriately communicate and hold one and other accountable to quickly debrief and learn from those mistakes.

  1. Meeting Deadlines

Clarity of responsibilities, expectations and goals—all hallmarks of teams with strong dynamics—helps teams be effective and efficient.

It’s why we make communication a core part of our team-connect approach. We give team leaders a platform for clearly communicating project and initiative expectations and deadlines, as well as provide team members the opportunity to ensure that they have the resources and support to meet and manage deadlines.

  1. More Confidence in Leadership

Team success and confidence in leadership are connected. Teams that make fewer mistakes and meet more deadlines than average are going to feel more organized and well-run—with which members are likely to connect effective leadership.

That said, effective leadership is important for strong team dynamics and team success to occur in the first place. Clarity of responsibilities, expectations and goals occur because of effective management and communication from leaders.

As a result, approaches for improving team dynamics help leaders clarify their vision and expectations, be transparent with information, and effectively motivate and manage individual team members.

  1. Improved Retention

Employees on teams aligned behind a common goal; who have clear roles, responsibilities and expectations; and feel a strong connection to their team leader and members; will be motivated to stay on the team and to deliver strong performance.

This benefit is of especially high importance in the current talent climate, where many employers struggle to find the talent they need. Employee retention and turnover has ranked as the top workforce management challenge for three years running, according to a SHRM/Globoforce annual survey.

High performing teams will set the standard for moving forward into the unknowns of our economic future.  Their ability to set the tone for organizations can literally mean the difference between surviving and thriving versus not being relevant and even existing as we enter this new chapter.

Contact us at to see how our consultants can help you improve the dynamics of key teams at your organization.

Our team-connect Survey Process


We start with thoughtfully diagnosing the team’s current culture by using available data, assessments and interviews.

This provides the team leader with a clear view of what is getting in the way of the team’s success.

We design a series of structured team sessions that:

  • Share the team culture analysis
  • Give team members the opportunity to talk through both processes and behaviors that need to be addressed
  • Productively provide feedback to one another
  • Develop both team and individual commitments that will lead to the team’s desired state


Measure progress by leveraging CTD’s team-connect Survey to:

  • Drive accountability and measure progress by collecting team feedback specific to one another’s engagement and behavioral change
  • Provide the team’s leader with a clear understanding of what he/she and the team need from each other to enable and support the team’s success
  • Share team and individual survey result reports