Employee Engagement: Martin George, CEO and Founder of the Language Training Center, and Sharlyn Lauby, President of ITM Group and author of the HR Bartender

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – Talent Talk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  Talent Talk connects professionals who are concerned with employee engagement and care about talent-related issues. 


Today’s guests are Martin George, CEO and Founder of the Language Training Center; and Sharlyn Lauby, President of ITM Group and author of the HR Bartender.

George and Lauby both have created successful businesses from the ground up, focusing on delivering key HR consulting solutions.  To hear the entire show, click here

MARTIN GEORGEemployee engagement

George is a former professor who directed the ESL program at a university, where he had a lot of companies contacting him with needs for language services including translation and language training. Thus the Language Training Center was born.

The company’s success centers around service, acting as more than a transactional translation or language learning platform, but advising clients on how different cultures may react to communications. They also have a dedicated focus on retaining clients, evaluating longevity on a monthly basis. Their longest-standing client has been with the Language Training Center for more than two decades

The biggest challenge for his company has been how their processes keep up with their growth. Every three to five years, George assesses, “Do I have the right people who can put the right processes in place for today’s business environment?”

The ARK of Culture

The Language Training Centers boils its culture down to “ARK”: Available, Reliable, Knowledgeable. “We want our staff to know they need to be available for our clients, be reliable and be knowledgeable in what we do.”

To bring this to life, George asserts that accountability and communication are key factors in employee engagement. The staff have daily stand-up sessions, weekly evaluations, monthly meetings and quarterly offsites.

The most ideal employee for the Language Training Center is one who is both hungry to do great work and humble about the work behind them, always evaluating opportunities to enhance and improve.

To that end, his interview process is a bit untraditional. In fact, he often plays a game of foosball with prospects to see how they compete and stand up to scrutiny, especially since the Language Training Center deals with major organizations from the government sector to Fortune 500 companies to major sports teams.  This type of employee engagement gives him the understanding of whether or not these candidates can handle working in this type of environment.

Driving Balance

His biggest need for development is that because George is highly driven, he expect everyone to be on the same wavelength. “I can have a propensity to burn people out and have seen that happen,” he acknowledges. “When you are growing fast and you’re on that merry-go-round, it’s hard to stop it.” For a small business owner who is trying to keep the lights on, telling key employees to slow down and take time for themselves is a big challenge for him but he sees this as a key part of his employee engagement.

What are You Reading?

George is currently reading five books and takes his team through a book once or twice a year. His latest reads include Patrick Lencioni’sThe Advantageand The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive as well as Zig Ziglar’s Secrets to Closing the Sale.”

How Can I Connect with You? Via www.languagetrainingcenter.com or on LinkedIn.

SHARLYN LAUBY employee engagement

Lauby is the president of the ITM Group, a company she formed a dozen years ago to focus on training and development solutions. “A majority of my clients aren’t necessarily hiring me because of a falter, but more as an extension of their HR department.” ITM Group delivers both custom training programs as well as developed leadership programs rooted in science. Of the latter, Lauby touts, “We are going to teach you the theory and we are going to teach you how to apply the theory, because once you know that piece of information, then you are equipped with the knowledge to use it forever.”

Lauby is also the author of the HR Bartender blog, where she shares insights and answers questions. “I wanted to call it HR Bartender because I always thought that as an HR pro, people wanted me to act like a bartender – that friendly face you see at the end of the day who laughs with you, offers up options and advice to you.”

Narrowing the Net

Lauby interviewed consultants for years and always sought out opportunities to pick their brain, accumulating their advice as she began to develop ITM Group. At first, Lauby recalls casting “a really wide net in terms of the kinds of work” she could do, drawing on her background as an HR generalist. What she came to find is that most of her work centered around training and organizational development, and so she made a conscious decision to focus there. Still, she admits, “It feels odd when somebody calls and you can do the work but it’s not the best use of your time.” She encourages other entrepreneurs to “understand the difference between what you can do and what you should be doing.”

Bringing Training Back

Lauby would like to see organizations move beyond treating employee engagement as a buzz word and implementing it in real ways. She cautions, “We cannot achieve employee engagement if we don’t allow employees to stay within the organization. You can’t engage somebody who has one foot out the door.” Training plays a key role in employee engagement, a truth she believes more companies are realizing despite navigating the economic downturn. “Being able to make an investment in your employee base shows employees that you…believe they have a future with the organization.”

Manager vs. Leader

“My feeling about leadership have changed over time,” says Lauby. She believes we have a tendency to compare leadership and management.

“I realized that leadership exists at every level of an organization. Leadership to me is about influence and having the ability to influence. If you think about it in that context, it has nothing to do with your title….so therefore everyone is a leader.”

What are You Reading?

Lauby just finished reading Julia Child’s biography.

How Can I Connect with You? Via www.itmgroupinc.com, www.HRbartender.com or on LinkedIn.

Remember to do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Air Date: May 13, 2014