Author: Maggie Frye


New Year, New Leaders

Core Consulting spent the large majority of 2016 helping organizations build strong leaders. We do this through client-specific partnerships and an open enrollment leadership program. And 2017 will be no different! With a regional utility leadership program kicking off in Chicago, continued client-specific curriculum underway, and another installment of our open-enrollment emerging leader class, we continue to help build the people potential of our valued clients. Thus leading to greater business success.

Hats off to our most recent graduates!











We ended 2016 with the graduation of our most recent Core Growth Emerging Leaders class. Core Growth is a 9-month public/open-enrollment leadership program for Greater Cincinnati high potentials whose span of influence and impact are growing in a meaningful way. Using Wiley’s Work of Leaders model as a framework, the program boasts:

  • Small class size
  • Hands-on, engaging and blended learning environment
  • Outdoor learning opportunities
  • Individualized development plans
  • Community service
  • Ongoing touch points with senior-level sponsors at participants’ organizations
  • Professional development at just the right point in an emerging leader’s career where they are proactively building positive leadership behaviors.

Culminating last November at the Art of Entertaining in O’Bryonville, Core Growth graduates enjoyed a recognition lunch with their Company Sponsors. We are grateful for the commitment of these individuals and are excited about the positive impact they will continue to make at their workplaces. Please join us in congratulating our most recent Core Growth graduates!

  • Angela Cook, Sanitation District No. 1
  • Angela Ozar, Bad Girl Ventures
  • Erin Grone, Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing
  • John Lipps, Ohio National Financial Services
  • Margo Hess, Centennial Inc.

What’s next for Core Growth?

The current Core Growth emerging leader class is in the fifth month of their program and will be graduating in May 2017. This will be the third graduating class since its inception in 2015.

Registration for the 2017 class is now open! Program kick-off is scheduled for September. For more information, visit our website at or contact Amy Clark at

We also work one-on-one with organizations to build emerging and executive leadership programs to meet their unique needs. From leadership strategy, to competency modeling, to program facilitation, Core Consulting’s team of senior consultants will work with you to design a meaningful and impactful leadership development program that will advance your business strategy forward. Reach out today to get started!

Camargo Pharmaceutical Services: Valuing Employees from the Get-Go

At Camargo Pharmaceutical Services, Erica Forrest and Stacy Schnieber have carefully cultivated a workplace culture in which a positive employee experience drives subsequent HR goals. In this edition of Core Shines a Light, we’re sharing a rundown of Camargo’s best practices.

Nurturing relationships with new hires: “We’re here and we care”

Camargo implements a 90-day onboarding strategy to engage new employees as they transition into the company. They’ve designed this strategy with a keen focus on the following attributes:

  • Relationship-building, identifying sources of motivation and expressing appreciation
  • Optimizing their HRIS system to streamline the employee experience and avoid disjointed and confusing paperwork
  • Creating checkpoints at two-week, sixty day and ninety day intervals to gauge progress, address concerns and give feedback

Camargo team members Andrea and Erica

The first two weeks at Camargo begin with honing in on customizing the employee experience with ‘get to know’ meetings/coffee breaks and networking opportunities with members from Senior Leadership (lunches and informal chat sessions.)

At sixty days, goals are set for the following quarter, to-date challenges are discussed and competency assessments are employed in order to identify ways to leverage employee strengths and areas of opportunity. Camargo has found that this gives direction and builds personalized strategies for achieving objectives.

At ninety days new employees benefit from an extended meeting with their manager, complete an employee onboarding experience survey with suggestions strongly encouraged.

Camargo knows that the path to success doesn’t end with recruitment and onboarding. Their continued efforts to fuel an engaged and productive workforce is evident in their strategies for nurturing ongoing relationships, such as:

Fostering positivity and productivity by understanding the importance of employee satisfaction through:

  • Wellness initiatives: fresh fruit provided, lunch & learns, flu shot clinic, mini-massages
  • Employee celebration for birthdays and achievements
  • Opportunities for ongoing feedback on a quarterly basis
  • Ongoing professional training and development

Finally, Camargo follows the onboarding process with a continual commitment to engage employees via:

  • Weekly all-employee, company-provided lunches
  • Philanthropic events (community 5K, Adopt-A-Family)
  • Regular team-building events and activities at local venues (the Camargo team strives to support small businesses in their local community. They support Pipkins for weekly fruit, holiday gifts from Benchmark and facilitate team building at Houdini’s Escape Room in Montgomery

We hope you’ve been inspired with the openness and commitment to team from our friends at Camargo! Their ongoing efforts to exercise effective HR practices while reflecting company values illustrate that their team really does walk the talk by recognizing that “your people are your core.”

Keep up the great work, Camargo!

Core Shines a Light is a periodic spotlight on Human Resources best practices in the Greater Cincinnati area. Interested in sharing your workplace’s best practices? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Amy Clark at

Core Shines a Light: Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs


isit-1First Impressions Count! Employee engagement starts BEFORE day one.

We recently dropped in on the folks at Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs to learn more about what they’re doing to support employee onboarding. New employee Kate Caldwell sat down with us to share what Donna Salyers’ is doing right.

Soon after accepting the position as Director of Operations-Wholesale, Kate received a welcome package, which included:

  • A personal letter
  • Her daily agenda for Week 1 on the job (including lunch plans!)
  • Detailed standard operating procedures
  • The company’s history
  • Luxe product fabric swatch samples

“When I came in the very first day, I had an idea of both what I’d be doing and expectations, and where I was going to fit into the Donna Salyers’ organization. There was a shared expression of excitement at my choice to join the organization. The investment in onboarding made a difference; I felt engaged before day one.”

What’s the best way to develop loyalty, excitement and organizational knowledge for new employees? Extending a warm welcome and investing in effective onboarding practices serve to ease the transition. At-ease, well-prepared, appreciated employees are positioned to do their best work for the company. Remember, your people are your core!

Thanks for sharing and keep up the great work, Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs!

Below: Kate, Amanda and Donna Salyers’ Fabulous-Furs product samples.


Core Shines a Light is a periodic spotlight on Human Resources best practices in the Greater Cincinnati area. Interested in sharing your workplace’s best practices? We’d love to hear from you! Contact Amy Clark at

6 New Leaders Emerge in Greater Cincinnati Region

Six emerging leaders from companies in the Greater Cincinnati/NKY region have graduated from the 9-month Core Growth leadership development program. A graduation luncheon was held last week at The Art of Entertaining in O’Bryonville, where both class participants and their company sponsors came together to celebrate the commencement.

The first six emerging leaders to graduate from this inaugural Core Growth class include:

  • Dan Battistone, Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing
  • Jason Duggan, Hobsons
  • April Gillespie-Hurst, LegalShield
  • Laurie Link, FTJ FundChoice
  • Ryan Rieckhoff, Ohio National Financial Services
  • Rachel Wells, Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1)

Core Growth Graduating Class (Front row L to R): Ryan Rieckhoff, Dan Battistone, Laurie Link (Back row L to R): Rachel Wells, April Gillespie-Hurst, Jason Duggan

Developed and run by Core Consulting Group, Core Growth is a 9-month leadership development program targeted specifically at emerging leaders. Using Wiley’s Work of Leaders model as a framework for the curriculum, participants form a close learning community who explore the following four modules together through a variety of interactions, speakers and experiences:

  • Self: Planting the Seed
  • Vision: Calling the Sun
  • Alignment: Involving the Ecosystem
  • Execution: Bringing to Life

An intentionally small class size and blended learning approach over an extended period of time is at the heart of what makes this unique program so impactful. Graduate Rachel Wells (SD1) shares a reflection about her experience in the program:

Core Growth was a transformative experience for me. I learned about the different ways others approach their work and the world, and it taught me how to navigate different personalities and problems to accomplish important goals. Most importantly, Core Growth taught me about myself – how to focus my goals for greater success and how to turn my talents into true strengths. Through Core Growth, I’ve learned to take the long view, to align my actions with my goals and to recognize opportunity in the challenges before me.

Another unique aspect of this program is the Company Sponsor competent. Class participants are paired with senior-level sponsors at their companies. They meet with the sponsor each month to review class learnings and work through a company-applied project that gives them hands-on application of the Vision-Alignment-Execution curriculum.


Core Growth Graduating Class & Company Sponsors (Front row L to R): Maggie Frye, Trisha Weiner, Ryan Rieckhoff, Dan Battistone, Rob James, Kathy Ovens, Laurie Link, Cathy Koop (Back row L to R): Jamie Holtzapfel, Rachel Wells, April Gillespie-Hurst, Jason Duggan, Julie Doyle

Trisha Weiner, VP of Internal Marketing at Ohio National Financial Services and Core Growth Sponsor, saw tremendous value in her learner’s participation:

Our participant is extremely enthusiastic when he returns from a Core Growth session and is anxious to review with me what took place. He is a big proponent of the program and is recommending others take it. I believe that the program has helped him understand his challenges, and thus gives him the opportunity to work on them, which he is doing.

This is the inaugural class, which kicked-off in September 2015. Since then, another class began in March 2016 and is slated to graduate in November. Additionally, registration just opened for a third class kicking off this Fall. The program offers a new class in the Fall and Spring each year.

Maggie Frye, Founder & Principal Consultant of Core Consulting Group, is passionate about building strong leadership at all levels at local companies, one leader at a time

We define emerging leaders as those whose span of influence and impact is growing in a meaningful way. This is not limited to a specific age or manager vs. non-manager role. It could span both early and mid-career employees. An emerging leader is beginning to take on heightened responsibilities and accountability for customers, products and services, and/or team members – resulting in a greater direct impact on your organization’s success.

Core Growth catches emerging leaders at just the right point in their career that it proactively builds behavior versus reacts to and/or fixes behaviors later down the road.

I’m excited to see what this is doing for our great city. We are making workplaces better, stronger – one leader at a time. I believe very deeply in this mission and could not be more thrilled watching it come to fruition. I am so proud of the commitment and dedication these six class members have demonstrated and am excited for them to continue to effectively lead and positively impact those around them. Maggie Frye, Core Consulting founder and primary facilitator of the Core Growth program.

To register your emerging leaders for the Fall class, click here: (Early Bird pricing ends July 29th!)

About Core Consulting Group

Core Consulting is an organizational development/HR consulting practice based in Cincinnati, OH helping organizations achieve their strategic business goals through the alignment, development and engagement of their workforce. Core partners with its clients to build effective people practices through the following key services: leadership development, talent management, strategic planning, team effectiveness and employee engagement.  To learn more, visit Core’s website at

The Critical Role of a Manager in the Evolution of Performance Management

Performance management. Evaluations. Ratings. Individual development plans. Career paths. Total rewards. These are more than just buzzwords in the lives of HR professionals. They are an integral part of our day and of the value we create for the business units we serve.

We often discuss the key role managers play in the current evolution of performance management practices we’re seeing in today’s workplaces. However, this one aspect of performance management too often gets overlooked as we move quickly toward execution mode. The role of a manager deserves a pause before we continue to move forward with the performance management conversation. Such a critical pause, in fact, that it is the sole focus of this blog post.

swimmingLet’s say I’m a competitive swimmer. I’ve always excelled at backstroke, but now my coach needs me to compete in butterfly. It’s not completely out of my wheelhouse (I am a swimmer after all), but it’s a learning curve for sure. It’s also a new expectation for my role on the team, and one that I’d want to learn more about and consider if I want to pursue or not. I might rather find another team where I can continue to swim backstroke.

The recent lives of managers in today’s workplaces have been no different. Although always embedded in the role of a leader, the evolution of performance management is intensifying the responsibilities of managers to:

  • Coach
  • Give continuous (and valuable) feedback
  • Motivate and engage
  • Develop individualized learning plans and career paths
  • Communicate more with their ears and less with their mouths (easier said than done)
  • Personalize their approach for each team member

And let’s not forget about documentation and managing risk for the organization. Oh yeah, and knocking their day-to-day operational duties out of the park on top of all that!

The list above has become common language for HR practitioners – we’re staying on top of trends, educating ourselves and building competency in these areas, etc. We “live” in this field. But what about our managers? They come in every day thinking about the deadline for product launch, quarter-end financial processing, client demands, sales quotas, and hopefully (if we’re lucky) how to recruit, develop, engage and retain nothing but the best.

Hence, the pause. We can’t just keep skimming over the importance the role a manager plays in the evolution of performance management. We can’t continue to further this conversation until we get this part of it right. In our experience working with clients on performance management re-designs over the past year, it’s at this point in the game where you’ll either sail successfully through a new strategy or hit a major roadblock.

So what can you do to make sure you thrive and not dive?

  1. Clearly define and communicate expectations.

Whose role will it be to execute the people-centric responsibilities listed above? Most likely, it’s your managers. However, maybe you decide to parse it out to lighten the load. For example, maybe everyday feedback is expected from managers, but more structured coaching comes from another source…possibly a mentoring program. You could even consider offering in-house Career Planning services housed within the HR team (similar to those on a College Campus). Defining who will be responsible for what is your starting point.

You now have to communicate to managers what their role is going to look like under a new performance management strategy. As Simon Sinek says, “start with the why.” What value will this bring to their lives and to the performance outcomes of their teams? How will they be held accountable and what is the incentive? Also make sure you’re sharing that this is only a shift from backstroke to butterfly – not from swimming to soccer. Build their confidence to excel in the newly defined role. They should already have a really good foundation.

  1. Ask if they want it.

This is a step we often leave out. After expectations are set, ask if they’re on board. Share how you will support their development and a realistic timeline for professional growth. Be prepared if someone opts out. How will the organization respond to that? What are their options? I had an acquaintance complain to me the other day that his company is making him “communicate better with his Millennial employees and motivate them to succeed.” He said it in such a snarky way that it was evident he wasn’t up for the job. Are these the folks we want our performance management strategy resting on?

  1. Provide support.

Back to the swimming analogy – I can go from backstroke to butterfly, but it’s going to take some work. Design a learning plan that extends over time and that has the flexibility to be personalized based on the development needs of each individual. Consider using pre-assessments to identify gaps, and then build development plans from there. Be patient. Learning new behaviors and developing new habits take time. Break up your learning strategy into quarters and don’t have them focusing on too much all at once.

Begin with the end in mind. Create your measurement framework up front. What will you need to know in the end to determine if those in these newly defined roles are performing successfully? Design pre, mid and post assessments and touch points to get you there. Include a blend of qualitative and quantitative data collection – both extensive and pulse.

  1. Adjust as needed.

Look at your metrics and be open to continuous improvements and modifications. This could be adjustments to the expectations/role, the learning plan, or even to the people themselves. Be prepared to “clip” what’s not working.

Put the time and investment into this part of your refreshed performance management strategy, and you’ll already be 75% of the way there!

Stop to smell the roses (literally)

We all get caught up in today’s pace. It’s a constant hustle and bustle. In many ways, this pace has brought about advantages for our companies. We’re pushing boundaries, innovating new and better ways of doing things, producing to higher standards. However, there are also clearly some drawbacks. Unfortunately many of these drawbacks are people-oriented: burn out and inattention to personal wellness, toxic relationships, and decisions often made without regard to the employees who execute your strategy.

RecognitionI’m writing this post as a reminder to myself and others to stop and smell the roses. We had a client last week do just that. After a multi-month project to digitize files, this rockstar team completed the final one. Was this the “sexiest,” most meaningful, or greatest thrill of a project? No, but it had to get done for the efficiency of their operations and the ultimate value they provide their clients.

It would have been so easy for them to check it off the list and move on (our lists are long, and there are always more deadlines looming!). Lucky for them, their CEO knew the importance of pausing for recognition and celebration. He surprised them with flowers and chocolates, and they recognized the achievement as a team during their morning huddle. Spirits were full and positive that day in the office (and I don’t think you have to be an I/O Psychologist to understand what that does to engagement and performance).

Moral of the story: I err on the side of idealism and tend to believe that we have the best of intentions, but unfortunately those intentions are often negated with the pace of our day. So let’s slow down when needed. Take a pause. Our workplaces are full of human beings – human beings with the need for connectedness, for appreciation, and for fulfillment with the hours they put in at work. And in fact, our business results are nothing (NOTHING!) without the hard work of the human beings who achieve them for us. So let’s not forget this.

Need to grow future leaders? Mentor AND Advocate!


There’s a lot of talk these days about mentoring, and for good reason. Ask yourself this question, “How have I developed my leadership skills and/or gotten to the point I’m at in my career?” I venture to bet at least one primary factor has been either a formal or informal mentor in your life. Someone who has believed in you; recognized your potential; provided you with constructive feedback; opened doors to new opportunities.

When I reflect on this for myself, many great mentors in my life and a few defining moments come to mind. As you read over these, I want you to think about how you can play a similar role in someone’s career at your company.

As a graduate student living in Los Angeles, one of my professors connected me to someone who ended up being my very first client as an independent consultant. She believed in my abilities (enough to attach her name to it), provided the introduction, and spent time and energy checking in and coaching me throughout the project.
I was very young (about 26 or 27), yet involved in senior management team meetings. I would often head into our Executive Director’s office after the meeting and share a few thoughts. I clearly remember him saying to me one morning, “Your input and ideas are fantastic, Maggie. I just need to you to start saying them in the meetings. Don’t come to me afterward. Start speaking up.” It was then I learned two critical lessons – 1.) You don’t always have the luxury of time to think about things thoroughly before formulating a response, and 2.) Having confidence in your thoughts and ideas is sometimes more important than the ideas themselves.
Again, still at a young age, I found myself involved in very high-level meetings to discuss organizational design. I was one of only 5 people in the meetings, and the others were the four men who ran the company. Someone had to invite me to those meetings. And I was grateful he did. I learned a great deal.
A few years later in my career, I had a valued and respected manager tell me during a performance evaluation that I could stand to show a bit more emotion; get jazzed up every now and then. I’m very patient and even-tempered, which are great strengths, but every now and then people need to see what makes me tick – both good and bad. That statement has stuck with me ever since, and in a good way.
Same situation – another performance evaluation. I was told that sometimes we need to “roll with it.” We have to remain flexible in our approach and not get too nailed down to a pre-meditated and potentially overly structured outline or project map. Leave room for agility. You have no idea how much this changed how I approach my work, and most definitely for the better.
I am blessed to have several people in my life who believe in me and let that be known. In fact, I just read a note from someone last week that said, “You will be successful.” When people believe in us like this, it’s amazing what we can accomplish.


It is so important to have strong mentors in our lives. Thinking back to the very first question I asked, my answer is most definitely through mentors. I would add, however, that it’s been a mix of both mentoring and advocacy. We need both if we want our careers to progress. Hopefully you saw examples of Mentors and Advocates in the above scenarios.

Sometimes these roles are filled by the same people, and sometimes they’re not. Either way doesn’t really matter, it’s just important that both are present. If you are truly committed to building your next generation of leaders, you must ensure that both mentoring and advocacy are happening inside your organization. Below is a brief description about the roles of each.

The role of a Mentor (To educate and grow)

  • Share your experiences and lessons learned
  • Build desired skill sets through ongoing coaching
  • Raise awareness of both strengths and limitations your mentee might not be privy to (tell them what is often left unsaid – you might be the only one willing to say it)
  • Help the mentee discover her or his passion and strengths

The role of an Advocate (To champion)

  • Provide access to opportunities, experiences, relationships, and resources that the other person might not otherwise have access to
  • Speak out for the continued advancement of the individual
  • Let the individual know you believe in her/his skills and abilities and the impact they can have on the organization’s success
  • Influence the decisions of others in ways that will positively support the individual’s continued growth and visibility

Who can you mentor and/or advocate for inside your organization? Your future success depends on it.