Executive Profile: John Parke
John S. Parke, President and CEO of Leadership Synergies, LLC
John Parke, an HX Advisory Board member, is President and CEO of Leadership Synergies. LLC providing leadership training, strategic consulting and organizational assessments to hospitality industry clients worldwide.
Prior to establishing his company in 2001, Parke worked 18 years for Marriott International, most recently as Vice President of Global Account Sales overseeing more than 200 senior sales executives generating $1.3 billion in annual revenue. He is a public speaker and author. Parke has been a visiting lecturer at Cornell University and an instructor for American Society of Association Executives’ Center for Association Leadership. He has served on the Board of Directors for Certified Meeting Professionals, Meeting Professionals International, and E-Philanthropy.
We interviewed John Parke, CMP, to learn what he recommends leaders focus on:
Own the company’s culture. Caretaking company culture is not just the Human Resources Department’s job. Senior executives shape company culture by finding ways to increase employee productivity and retention, such as establishing mentoring programs. Mentoring positions people with different skill sets and business wisdom to share their knowledge by working together to achieve customer service and financial goals. Parke says, “A leader’s job is to set up the expectation that people will collaborate. Therefore, leaders are ingrained in the hiring process to ensure team members are complementary and positioned for growth across divisions within the organization.”
Be a brand that top talent want to align themselves with and support. Employees, especially rising stars, want to work for brands they identify with-- brands that reflect their personal interests, accommodate their lifestyle and give them a sense of purpose. “Leaders are more intentional about their hiring decisions. They are choosing who they want to be surrounded by, how they dedicate their talents and how they spend their time with a team that will impact business and evoke positive change,” says Parke.
Install a rigorous onboarding process. A thoughtful, structured onboarding process helps dissolve potential supervisor-employee issues that lead to employee departure. Also called “organizational socialization,” onboarding should clearly state new employee performance expectations; describe how they acquire knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to do their jobs; and outline growth opportunities. Progress is measured, documented and signed off on at designated dates within an employee’s first year.
Be direct and honest in employee engagement. Through a balance of praise and correction, leaders coach employees to achieve their best performances. Leaders earn employees’ respect by delivering both good and bad news in a clear, concise, organized and non-emotive manner. When leaders communicate otherwise, they appear weak and false while establishing a pervasive culture of avoidance.
Practice solutions-based, employee-supervisor discourse. Leaders encourage employees to formulate corrective measures without expressing their own opinions first. “This frees leaders to be strategists focused on customer recruitment and retention, and it trains staff to think independently, consider all implications and become problem-solvers,” says Parke.
Learn to be a skilled listener. Collaborative leaders practice a 70 percent listening to 30 percent talking ratio with their staff. This isn’t holding back information, but welcoming employees to share their thoughts. Parke says, “Modern leaders talk less. They gather intelligence from employees and use it, along with fact-based research, to shape business strategy and make decisions.”
Parke’s insights dovetail with emerging talent trends cited in the Mercer Global Talent Trends 2018 Study called “Unlocking Growth in The Human Age.” Trends included rethinking what work is accomplished, how it is done and by whom. Organizations are matching employees’ skills with work demands while harnessing their creativity and ambition. The ability to change and change at speed and using digital technologies to augment the work experience are important. Companies are embedding a higher sense of purpose into the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to motivate them to be “change agents.”
These are the responsibilities of leaders.