Retaining talented staff members is more than difficult in a competitive job market. This is where Kim Keating, CEO and founder of Keating Advisors, steps in. She specializes in working with business leaders to coordinate their strategy, organization design, and compensation practices. A strategic human resource consulting firm, Keating Advisors develops develops forward-thinking talent management strategies as well as reward systems for their clients, among other services.
Keating tells TNJ.com how she started and built her successful firm.
TNJ.com: You have been in business since 2003, what has been your biggest business lesson?
Kim Keating: The biggest lesson I have learned is that relationships and reputation are the most important factors in success. My business has grown entirely through word-of-mouth. Cultivating relationships and establishing long-term partnerships is something I constantly focus on. It is easy to put networking on the back burner, especially when you get busy. But continually expanding your network is mission critical.
TNJ.com: What have been some challenges in growing your brand and how did you overcome them?
KK: My consulting practice experienced a significant drop in revenue in 2007-2008, when the economy took a hit. I took this time to strengthen our brand by focusing on creating intellectual property for the firm. We revamped our website, developed white papers, and launched a new labor market email campaign.
TNJ.com: You were a contributing author to the book, “Lean In for Graduates.” Why do you feel “Lean In” is a good move for executive women?
KK: “Lean In” offers a blueprint for change for women to learn to lean into their ambitions. For a host of reasons, women often hold themselves back by literally not sitting at the table where decisions are made. Instead, they choose to watch from the sidelines. “Lean In” urges institutions and individuals to encourage and promote women. And it encourages women to sit at the table and raise their hands.
TNJ.com: What are the top obstacles women still face in the corporate world?
KK: “Lean In” and McKinsey & Co. just published a study that addresses this very issue. Key obstacles women face, according to the study include:
1) Women experience an uneven playing ground. Women are almost four times more likely than men to think they have fewer opportunities to advance because of their gender‹and they are twice as likely to think their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future.
2) Gender diversity is not a priority. Seventy-four percent of companies report that their CEOs are highly committed to gender diversity. However, less than half of employees believe that gender diversity is a top priority for their CEO, and only a third view it as a top priority for their direct manager.
3)There is still inequality at home. Even in households where both partners work full-time, 41 percent of women report doing more child care and 30 percent report doing more chores. Women continue to do a disproportionate share of childcare and housework, so they are more likely to be affected by the challenges of juggling home and work responsibilities.
TNJ.com: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
KK: I love the intellectual stimulation and creative aspect of consulting. Every client is a little different and requires me to think of creative solutions. No day is the same. It is tremendously gratifying to speak with audiences on negotiation and empower people, especially people of color, on how to negotiate their worth.
TNJ.com: What are the top three mistakes people make in salary negotiation?
KK: Overwhelmingly, the top three mistakes made in negotiations are:
1) Showing up unprepared. Always gather up-to-date comparable salary data before entering into a salary negotiation.
2) Accepting the first offer. Never accept the first offer, even if it is more than what you had hoped for. Negotiating shows the employer that you are willing to advocate for yourself and will be willing to advocate for them, too.
3) Focusing on only salary. Sometimes there is more flexibility in negotiating benefits. Be aware of the total compensation package and identify benefits that would be of value to you (e.g., telecommuting, tuition reimbursement, additional vacations).