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Nick Kobayashi
Open Door Consulting
Can Employers Get Career Development & Mentoring Right?
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ODC is a career coaching company helping professional achieve career objectives through professional mentorship.

Nick has 15 years of experience in corporate Human Resources, an MBA in Executive Leadership, and a BS in Human Resources Management.

In this episode

Nick Kobayashi of Open Door Consulting laments that employers don’t understand that a big reason why employees are quitting is because they don't see a path for growth. Since the 1980's, employer's have looked at employees as commodities. The employer/employee relationship changed and the responsibility of training and continuing education fell to employees. Now, employers are starting to pay the cost in terms of losing valuable talent, institutional knowledge, and increasing recruiting costs.

Nick suggests that every business needs to establish some kind of talent development program for their employees. Structured mentorship and career development programs are proven to improve engagement, reduce turnover, and increase revenue. Nick lays out the 3 steps a business owner should take to attract and retain staff using career development. Listen to the end for a valuable gift that Nick is offering our listeners.

Can Employers Get Career Development & Mentoring Right?Nick Kobayashi
00:00 / 29:14

A glimpse of what you'll hear

02:46 Employees are leaving their jobs because they don’t see a path for growth.

03:20 The employer - employee relationship has changed for the worse in the last 40 years.

07:33 Employers need to combat lack of employee loyalty by offering talent development programs.

09:13 Why train staff if they are just going to leave?

13:24 The benefits to employers from investing in the development of their staff.

16:07 A 3 step approach to implementing a career development program.

21:21 Learn about Nick. Email Nick at

Episode Transcript
(Note: this was transcribed using transcription software and may not reflect the exact words used in the podcast.)

00:00:04:13 - 00:00:22:18


Welcome to the Best Kept Secret video cast and podcast from Centricity. If you are a B2B service professional, use our five step process to go from the grind of chasing every sale to keeping your pipeline full with prospects knocking on your door to buy from you. We give you the freedom of time and a life outside of your business.

Each episode features an executive from a B2B services company sharing their provocative perspective on an opportunity that many of their clients are missing out on. It's how we teach our clients to get executive decision makers to buy without being salesy or spammy. Here's our host, the co-founder and CEO of Centricity. Jokingly.

00:00:43:01 - 00:01:10:13

Jay Kingley

I'm Jay Kingley co-founder and CEO of Centricity. Welcome to our show where our guests share their provocative perspective on what their target market is missing out on. I'm happy to welcome to the show Nick Kobayashi of Opendoor Consulting. Opendoor Consulting is a career coaching company helping employees achieve career objectives through professional mentorship. Nick is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Welcome to the show.

00:01:11:16 - 00:01:14:06

Nick Kobayashi

Thanks, Jay. It's a pleasure to be here today.

00:01:14:18 - 00:01:39:05

Jay Kingley

Nick I have had the pleasure in my career of being both an employee and an employer. And one of the things I learned that's the hardest thing to be an employer is having employees. I mean, if you step back and you think about it, the challenge with employees is we're dealing with human beings. Just like snowflakes. No two of us are alike.

We have different goals. We have different motivations, different aspirations, different personalities. And trying to manage that as an employer is very, very challenging indeed as an employer. One of the challenges is, if you get it wrong, people get upset, people get disgruntled and people leave. Turnover is very disruptive financially. It's disruptive organizationally. And it's disruptive when it comes to delivering your service to your clients.

So every employer shares the goal of having very low turnover of keeping staff who are critical and essential to your operations. But we often struck goal to figure out how best to do that. So we're in a situation where we read a lot about this environment called the great resignation. There is we're in a very tight labor market, so there's lots of demand for staff.

Employers are struggling to hold onto key staff. Nick, as one of the best career mentors out there, what is going on?

00:02:58:07 - 00:03:24:04

Nick Kobayashi

Yeah. Thanks, Jay. You know, I think with all of the statistics and surveys that are out there right now, what I'm seeing, in addition to all of the feedback that's out there, a lot of employees are leaving just because they don't see a path for growth. And individuals just are really unsatisfied with their their path for career growth.

00:03:24:05 - 00:03:32:13

Jay Kingley

Nick, what's causing this feeling among employees who aren't seeing a bright future for themselves?

00:03:32:18 - 00:04:07:20

Nick Kobayashi

Well, you know, honestly, it goes back it goes back a couple of decades. If we go all the way back to the early eighties, the shift in the employer employee relationship really changed. You know, before the eighties, really even before the seventies, the employer employer relationship was one where the employer took the stance that it was their responsibility to give the employee the information, the education, the training that they needed.

Along with that came this responsibility and kind of this burden and this relationship to develop employees. And that relationship also kind of bonded this long term and lasting relationship so that the employee was engaged and stayed longer, you know, in lasting into the 20 and 30 year mark. But in the eighties, politically and socioeconomically, that that shift happened in the eighties, where now all of a sudden employees or employers started treating employees as commodities.

And then when economic times started to decrease, employers could start laying off employees. And, you know, if the economy tanked and you could lay off an entire division of employees to save the company, they would do so. And now as we get into the nineties and 2000 and we start talking about employees as a players, you know, we start using this analogy of sports employees or even looked at as sports players on teams where they're kind of treated and given away as commodities to other teams and competitors.

So that relationship really changed. And along with that relationship, that mindset changed even when it comes to training and development, where that developed meant and responsibility has now moved to employees instead of employers.

00:05:42:20 - 00:06:13:19

Jay Kingley

I had my first full time job as a chemical engineer for DuPont back in 1983. So I was sort of at the back end of that time when the employer employees said, We're going to be in this for the long run together. And I can remember within, I would say, the first month I realized that working as an engineer was not for me and that I was much more interested in business and marketing.

But here I was deep in the technical part of the organization, and I said to myself, I have to get out of here. So in two years I will make my move, because back then two years was the minimum time you had to stay on the job so that you weren't viewed as a job hopper which would hurt your abilities down the road.

And I ended up staying for three. But then as the decade wore on and as we got into the nineties, as you said, I started to have a lot of friends from my time at DuPont, and they started moving sometimes in voluntarily, sometimes voluntary. And when I would speak to them, I really got a sense of how the relationship was changing and from what they felt and from what I have understood, it really was initiated by the employers.

And you can call this karma because what goes around comes around and if you retreat your employees like commodities, then they are going to treat the employers like you're all equivalent dime a dozen in your a commodity. And now we have this much more of a, if you will, free agency system where there is no such thing as a loyalty.

And if one side believes the other side has breached their promise, they're going to act immediately. Unlike myself who felt like, well, I had a minimum of a two year unwritten commitment, given what's really at the root cause of this issue of employees leaving. What do you do about it?

00:07:56:10 - 00:08:24:06

Nick Kobayashi

You know, every business, I think, and especially small businesses, really need to establish some sort of talent development program for their employees. If they're not doing it, if your business isn't doing it, then you're really behind the times. It's something. It's a responsibility that employers need to start picking up. And it's something that businesses, especially large and successful businesses that are at the forefront are already recognizing that they need to do.

And it's something that's kind of being signaled with benefit packages in terms of paying for tuition reimbursement and things like that that we're seeing on the forefront. But it goes even deeper where you have some large employers that are creating kind of their own internal university programs and training and development programs and things like that. And even those key corporate buzzwords that we hear about, like succession plans and things like that that, you know, we've been hearing for years.

But if you're not doing it or haven't been doing it for years, you really need to implement some sort of conversation or program already to get on board with it.

00:09:09:09 - 00:09:38:18

Jay Kingley

What do you think about these talent development programs? The pushback that you'll sometimes get is Why should I invest in employees when they're not going to stick around? So if my employee tenure is too short and I invest in training them, aren't I incurring the cost for some future employer to get all the benefits? How do you respond to that pushback?

00:09:38:21 - 00:10:06:05

Nick Kobayashi

It's a bit of a chicken or the egg dilemma. But, you know, in all of the training and data that's out there, the statistics that I found out of 40% of the employees that leave in their first year, 40% of them leave and cite poor training. When I hear that argument saying, you know, we invest all of this time and money into employees and then they just leave.

I start to ask questions about what training programs look like, how effective they are, and start asking the questions around what material is being trained, whether it's on the job, whether it's all digital, whether there's any kind of relationship, whether it's culture based. The other part of it also ties into whether that training is focused on career growth, you know, tied to that 40% of employees who leave in the first year.

And they cite that it's poor training out of those employees, only 26% of all currently employed employees actually believe that they're reaching their full potential. And I think that that's really interesting. Tied to that first year, you know, data and then Clear Company also did a recent study as well citing that 76% of employees that were currently searching for jobs said that they're looking to advance their careers.

So, you know, with this whole great resignation, we have employees that are in the market that are either employed or unemployed, and they're looking for jobs, not because they're looking for lateral movements, but they're all looking to make moves vertically. You know, nobody is looking to just stay where they are. Everybody's feeling some sort of stagnation in their current role and they're looking to move up.

And then the other interesting statistic kind of tied to that 76% is that companies who invest in training and development see average 24% higher profit margin than companies that don't invest in training and development. So you're kind of seeing that trade off between, you know, those employees that are looking and the companies that are seeing higher profits. So, you know, when you're looking at that chicken or egg scenario of we invest in, you know, whether we want to invest and then see employees leave, you have to start looking at whether you are investing the training in the right areas or whether you're just giving them the bare minimum to do the job.

And that's really the questions that would need to be asked about the training programs.

00:12:25:01 - 00:12:58:07

Jay Kingley

So this is what my takeaway is from from what you've said so far is back in the seventies and eighties and accelerating in the nineties and continuing was this idea of employers treating employees as commodities and then being shocked when the employees have no loyalty back to the employer. Well, let's not make that mistake again when it comes to career development and it isn't chicken and the egg, it's what you're saying.

It sounds compelling to me, is as an employer. Part of the cost of employment is developing your staff and trusting in them, giving them the tools, continuing to allow them to be relevant, continuing to give them opportunities that align with their passion in what it is that they want to achieve. And that's got to start with the employer.

So get it right this time, guys, and maybe we can create an employer employee relationship that is a whole lot more functional than I think what we have been delivering. So, Nick, let me ask you this. If you look at the person, the executive who's going to be making the decision on investing in career development and career mentorship, what's in it for them?

By embracing what you're talking about.

00:13:57:17 - 00:14:25:13

Nick Kobayashi

If it's somebody that is overly concerned with losing their staff, the real investment there is making sure that they're getting that good night's sleep, making sure that they're not going to have to wake up and replace that staff, making sure that they are investing that time, that money, that effort into the staff, and that that staff is still going to be there tomorrow and making sure that that staff and that time wasn't wasted.

Recruiting is an expensive game, especially right now. And the longer they're recruiting time is, the longer and more expensive that recruiting cost is and making sure that that training and development isn't wasted and making sure that the institutional knowledge that that employee walks away with, if they decide to leave, making sure that that knowledge still stays within the organization.

It causes a lot of anxiety for managers, especially right now, knowing that turnover is very high. Having a an implemented training program that you know, increases engagement and increases retention would definitely help a manager sleep better at night. Definitely increases that engagement, increases the trust in their team.

00:15:16:10 - 00:15:43:16

Jay Kingley

Let me throw another thought at you, which which I think is as important, maybe even more important when I think any leader who has spent time mentoring a more junior person, giving guidance and direction, helping train them, helping to make that person a better professional, feel such a sense of pride in being able to impact other people's lives.

And what you often get back is gratitude. And there's nothing more wonderful than someone coming up to you, even if it's years after the fact in saying, Nick, I just want to thank you. You gave me such great advice, mentorship, training that you've really allowed me to become a better professional and make a better impact. Doing something that I'm passionate about and I just want to thank you.

And only when you're on the receiving end of that, it's just magic to hear that. So there's absolutely all the bottom line. Let's get our green eyeshade on and do the numbers. And it's a compelling case, but I also think there's a tremendous emotional reward. And as people, we are emotional being. So I think it's it's fairly overwhelming.

Let's go on to how do I make this happen. Is strong. What are the key steps that I need to do to implement this kind of a program?

00:16:48:05 - 00:17:20:04

Nick Kobayashi

Yeah, there's two, two quick assessments that I would do to implement something like this. The first assessment is make sure that or assess the qualitative objectives of the of implementing this type of program. And when I say qualitative, I really mean something that's above have smart goals. I think that everybody that has been a part of performance approval processes kind of aware of what smart goals are.

But I think you need to take a training and development program kind of the next step above that. And so, you know, you don't want to be in the realm of quantitative where you're saying, you know, we just want to we want to implement this to reduce turnover. You want to really take this to an objective level, not a goal level.

So you want to take this to a quantitative level where you're saying we want to prepare this employee to be the next supervisor by including them in crucial conversations or disciplinary conversations or developmental conversations with line level staff. And that can be very challenging because of all the implications that it implies. They may be sitting in on very difficult conversations with peers, etc., but that's the type of assessment that needs to happen.

The second assessment is challenging in its own right as well, because you have to honestly assess if the right knowledge, experience and tools exist within the company to actually achieve those objectives. And what I mean by that is really take a look at whether you have the current managers and supervisors in the organization in the company to actually achieve that level of coaching, mentoring and leadership, to prepare that next level of, you know, management, leadership and mentoring.

And it's very similar to succession planning where you have to sit down and say, all right, do we have somebody to replace our CFO, not just from a finance and skills perspective, but do we have somebody that can really lead the organization from a financial management perspective? And that can be difficult because sometimes the answer is no, and you have to go and either develop those skills or you have to look outside the organization.

And that's very difficult. The third thing is you have to commit to the investment of time and this is almost the most crucial step, because I believe that any dog of any age can learn a new trick. But it takes time, patience and a willingness to teach and to learn. But if Malcolm Gladwell's 10000 hours is true, then it takes nine years to master a professional craft.

And if you adjust that curve for employees, you're looking at, you know, a minimum of six months to a year to master just the proficiency of things. So you have to also adjust that curve for employees and make sure that you're looking at that curve for new employees. And a lot of employers want to make that curve maybe a month or 90 days, and they may not want to commit to a for six months or a year.

Somebody is really struggling to pick up skills.

00:20:29:10 - 00:20:56:16

Jay Kingley

It's don't often you get a second chance to do something right. Employers blew it in the late eighties and nineties into the aughts. Now there's a chance to reestablish a very constructive, mutually beneficial relationship with their staff along the lines that you're talking about doing what it is that you suggest. So we're going to take a quick break.

And when we come back, we're going to learn a bit more about Nick.

00:21:02:00 - 00:21:24:18


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It's not cold calling, cold email, cold outreach on LinkedIn or any other social media platform or spending money on ads. But it has a 35 times higher ROI than any of those things. Leveraging your expertize and insights that your prospects and network value. The best part, even though you'll see results in 90 days, you get to work with the centricity team for an entire year to make sure you have all the pieces in place in working so you can start having freedom of time and a life outside of your business.

So email time at centricity be two weeks on the schedule, an 18 minute call to learn more.

00:22:00:10 - 00:22:17:11

Jay Kingley

Welcome back. We're talking to Nick Kobayashi of Opendoor Consulting. Let's find out a bit about Nick. Nick, let's start with what are the pain points that you solve for the clients that you work with and why do they need you to get rid of the pain?

00:22:17:13 - 00:22:46:07

Nick Kobayashi

I work with professionals who are looking to fix that little, little something missing in their professional lives and really just to help equip them to take the next step. I provide that little inside perspective on how to negotiate job offers, prepare for interviews, even if it's changing careers entirely. Just, you know, if they want to want to pull the brake and make that 90 degree turn and even if it's just preparing for retirement.

I've also had a lot of conversations with executives about what that shift looks like. A lot of executives that have been working those 70, 80 hours a week and are not really sure what they're going to do when their calendar isn't full and managed by their assistants. It's been it's been a really fun challenge moving into that new space.

00:23:08:02 - 00:23:31:05

Jay Kingley

Your service is really critical to anybody who is going to work with you. They're going to want to have that confidence that your top of the game. I don't think they're out there for an issue like this. Saying average or mediocre will do just fine. So, Nick, perhaps you could share. What is it that makes you great at what you do?

00:23:31:07 - 00:24:05:03

Nick Kobayashi

I've been in corporate h.r. For 15 years and i i know all of the all of the inside and outside of what employers expect of employees. I know all of the ins and outs of applicant tracking systems, all of the questions that interviewers will ask, all of the negotiation and tricks that h.r. And employers will ask. I know all of the ins and outs of benefits and everything else.

So i know kind of the other side of the table, which helps me get that inside track on, on helping my, my clients to, to then negotiate their way and ask the right questions. And so I give that kind of empathetic response to all of those questions. And I've also been an employee, too, so I know all of those hesitations and fears that people feel when they don't know what to ask or if they should ask in those spaces.

So I can give a lot of those a lot of those answers to say, yes, you can ask for this, or here's how I would ask for this so that you're not putting off somebody and asking for a salary that they don't feel like they deserve, that they do deserve, but they're just not sure how to ask for it.

So it's a it's a really neat way for me to use my expertize in, incorporate H.R. and also help out the employees that that I've been helping out for 15 years.

00:25:08:10 - 00:25:34:09

Jay Kingley

Well, I encourage our audience to go to your LinkedIn profile, Nick, take a look at the experience and your background. And I think it will be very, very supportive, as you've suggested, as to why you're very good at what it is you do. But I've got a little bit of a different question for you, which is what's happened in your life that would most explain why you do what you do?

00:25:34:10 - 00:26:14:12

Nick Kobayashi

In the course of my career in representing employers, I've been laid off several times from those same early cultures. And and it always hurts, you know, being that H.R. representative and being that kind of part of the organization and then having to kind of betray that trust for employers, it's it's hurt, right. And there's a little bit of almost post-traumatic stress of having to build up that trust with employees and then having to turn around and let employees go.

And then also, after having to do that, being let go myself, there's a lot of trauma involved with that. And so, you know, psychologically, I can tell myself that that's just kind of part of the job and that's the result of it. But, you know, turning that into a business of my own that then turns around and wants to help people is really what explains what I do today, because I want to continue to help people and relying on my experience and everything else is what I want to do and why I want to do it.

00:26:51:19 - 00:27:08:21

Jay Kingley

This is such a critical topic to most everybody who is working for a living, and I have no doubt that we've got people in our audience that would love to reach out to you and continue that conversation. What's the best way for people to get in touch?

00:27:09:04 - 00:27:18:15

Nick Kobayashi

Yeah, best way to get in touch. Email me Nick at Opendoor consulting or reach out to me by visiting my LinkedIn profile and get in touch with me there.

00:27:18:23 - 00:27:43:06

Jay Kingley

Well, I learned a lot today and it's really given me, I think, a much more balanced perspective from the employer versus the employee and not looking at it as a zero sum game, but really looking at how do you create a win win? How do you do the right thing for your staff and develop them and mentor them professionally and career wise?

And as you talked about, the returns are going to be off the charts both quantitatively and emotionally. So thank you, Nick, for sharing your insight with us. And I know that you're not an easy guest to get on a show like this. You know, you made me get down and beg and plead for for you to to come on and really make us look so much better.

And I know that others who also do B2B shows are looking at our show right now with a little bit of envy, a little bit of jealousy. So, Nick, you'd think I would be happy. You think I would just say, how awesome is this? But I'm not wired. Like most people, I view myself as the advocate for our audience, and I'm always thinking, how can I get even more value that we can pass on to our audience?

And I'm not about to change now. Nick So here's my challenge to you. I want you to up the ante. How about a little gift for the great people that are listening and.

00:28:59:18 - 00:29:40:06

Nick Kobayashi

All right, well, I'll do Jay is I'll give a first the first coaching session for your listeners. So when our coaching session for free or I also do a digital coaching membership, so I'll do the first month of that for free. Your listeners just have to send me an email either through my website or directly through my contact info, and then they just have to tell me that they heard me on the Best Kept Secret podcast, and then I have their first coaching session or their first month of digital coaching.

We'll be free.

00:29:41:06 - 00:30:04:15

Jay Kingley

Audience What's the lesson here? If you don't ask, you'll never get. Thank you, Nick, for both sharing your insight, your wisdom, your perspective, and for the great gifts to our audience. So thank you to our audience. Let's continue to crush it until next time and.

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