Infusion Group Announces Retirement of Ellen Charlebois, Senior Partner!

In a momentous announcement, Infusion Group congratulates Ellen Charlebois, Senior Partner on her retirement.

Charlebois, a founding member of the firm has been an important part of Infusion Group’s long-term plan, vision, and success. The firm has grown every year since its inception, and currently helps clients throughout the entire U.S.

Jessica Richardson-Isenegger, Senior Partner and a founding member of the firm, commented, “Ellen has been a wonderful leader and partner. We will all miss Ellen’s daily presence, but her legacy endures in the mission and values of the firm she has helped to build. We wish her only the best as she starts this new chapter in her life.”

Ellen looks forward to continued community service work. She has been involved in many projects and activities and feels strongly that giving back to others is essential to her wellbeing. She is the current chair of the Bay Area Community Foundation Board of Trustees and serves as chair of the Northern Bay County Fund committee. She is also active as president of the Pinconning Arts Council, board secretary of the Friends of the Pinconning Community Center and is the past president on the Pinconning and Linwood Area Chamber of Commerce board. She and her husband are avid kayakers, so more time on the water is planned.

“It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of this growing company,” said Charlebois. “I have worked with so many great people and good organizations over the years. I am grateful for the opportunities they have given us, as their success has also been ours. I can confidently retire knowing that In-Fusion Group is in capable hands. Jessica is backed by some exceptional talent, and I know that she is looking forward to continuing to serve existing and new clients.”

Leadership Development: Women in Finance. Register Today!

Time spent in the program includes content sessions, interactive sessions, individual personal and professional reflection time, group discussion and interactive time, as well as networking time. The program covers all three aspects of leading (listed below with subtopics).

I. Leading Self
Personality Profile
Emotional Resilience
Managing Stress
Life Maps
Executive Credibility
Courageous Vulnerability
The Creative Mind of Leadership Building a Legacy
Presentation Design/Presentation Skills

II. Leading Others
The Heart of Teamwork
Accelerating Excellence in Others Leveraging Differences
From Hire to Fire
Optimized Coaching
The Art of Delegation

III.  Leading the Organization
Dealing with Crisis
Creating Highly Engaged Cultures
Strategic Savvy
Reviving a Vision
Gender Harmony


The 2019 program will be held over two sessions: August 27, 28, 29 and October 22, 23, 24. Sessions start on Tuesday afternoon and end on Thursday. Attendance at both sessions is required for graduation.

The program will be held at Tamarack Retreat Center in Ortonville, MI (about 65 miles north of Detroit Metropolitan Airport DTW). The fee for the 2019 Women in Leadership program is $2,500 payable prior to the first session. The fee covers all instruction and all meals. Accommodation will be invoiced separately at $150 per night. Travel costs are not included.

To register, click here.

Want More Information About Strategic Planning? Contact Us Today!

Infusion Group has been providing organizations with strategic planning services since its inception in 2009. We take a personalized approach and work with organizations to develop sessions based on individual desired outcomes and to create plans that can be executed on and measured. To find out more, request pricing or to schedule strategic planning with Infusion Group complete and submit this form and we will contact you within 1-2 business days.

CEO Evaluations!

Who’s coaching the head coach?
Most organizations take great care in defining the characteristics they value in their new hires and emerging leaders. Performance evaluations and leadership development programs focus on soft skills that create an organization’s desired culture and brand experience. As new leaders are groomed, they are challenged to define and hone their style, placing emphasis on not just their business results, but how they achieved them. Through this process, emerging leaders are given open and honest feedback from their mentors and bosses, and when done well, this process creates strong leaders – our next CEOs.

But what then? A five-year old once asked me what a CEO is. I responded, “it stands for Chief Executive Officer, but you can think of it as the boss of all the bosses.” This was fascinating to a kindergartener, who beamed, “Awesome…that means she can do whatever she wants?”

After a brief chuckle, let’s pause. Assuredly a leader entrusted with this coveted role isn’t simply doing whatever they want, but, yes, they’ve earned the autonomy to run their organization. They passed the tests, reflected, adjusted and grew… all the way to the top. But does that mean they no longer need feedback?

CEO Evaluation
Chief executive officers sit in the one seat on the organizational chart that isn’t below another box. Rather than having a direct leader, in most organizations, they are governed by a board of directors. Consistent coaching and dialogue are replaced by monthly status meetings where financials take center stage. Annual performance evaluations are generally replaced by annual compensation reviews that too often are entirely metric based.

While achieving the desired financial results of the business can be an outcome of strong leadership, CEOs committed to continuously improving themselves and the business want more. Stephen P. Kaufman, 14-year CEO of Arrow Electronics wrote for the Harvard Business Review:

Limiting performance management to only financial measures makes little sense. All the incentives in the world won’t transform CEOs into better decision makers. And when CEOs stumble or fall, they pull their companies down with them. Boards have an obligation to shareholders to ensure that companies are led well.

HR Directors and boards can collaborate to create a stronger CEO evaluation process, including these three essentials:

 1.Leadership Style

Before any organization created financial goals, they had a vision. The organization’s purpose and core values should be upheld and enhanced by its Chief Executive Officer. Boards should reinforce and strengthen as necessary the alignment between the CEO’s priorities and performance, and the mission, vision, and goals of the organization.

 2.Leadership Relationships

Guiding an entire organization doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of the CEO, they are surrounded by a management team and advised by a board of directors. Well-lead organizations have a unified team of leaders. This means not that healthy debate isn’t fostered or that differing views aren’t valued, it means that the CEO isn’t a lone ranger. Boards should see and hear from other key leaders and have a sense for how a CEO is regarded by his or her team.

3.Objective Measures

Financial performance is just one set of measures a board should use to evaluate a CEO. Think back to the mission and vision of the organization and define other tangible goals that are markers of success. For example, if you are running a cooperative or membership organization, you may consider not just the number of members you have, but how they score the service they receive. If you are a family-founded company that prides itself on being a great place to work, you may consider measuring employee retention and satisfaction. Think not just of the financial outcomes you want your business to achieve but identify measures that are earlier indicators of success or barometers of sustainability.

 Get in-FUSED

We created in-FUSION Group 10 years ago with the vision to be more than a consultancy. We dig in and work with our partners, becoming a part of your team and your organization. The senior team at in-FUSION Group has more than 70 years of leadership experience and has worked with numerous organizations to improve their CEO and Board evaluation processes.

We quoted Harvard Business Review to bring you this paper. Read their great article on CEO evaluations here:

Communication – The Secret Ingredient!

Communication: The secret ingredient 

We are occasionally approached by clients to help them define their company culture, refine their organization’s core values, or develop a set of service expectations. It’s some of our favorite work but we’re going to give away one of the biggest secrets. Each and every one of these exercises begins and ends with communication. Yes, communication, it’s the secret ingredient – but it’s not as simple as it sounds. Perhaps that is why the business lexicon has so much jargon that attempts to work around it.  We have a theory that sometimes the “culture conversation” might just be disguising our real challenge as leaders: talking to our teams. 

Before we lose you – we aren’t suggesting that a well-defined organizational culture isn’t a good thing – but we are telling you it isn’t going to work if communication doesn’t.   

After all, a company’s culture, brand, and values are largely created by the words and subsequent actions of its leaders. And, your employees’ ability to facilitate your desired experience, and share a consistent message with customers, is also predicated on communication. Clever catchphrases and culture materials like books, notecards and screensavers are great, but the spoken and written words of senior leaders will ultimately shape the definition of your culture in the minds of your team. 

Perusing Glassdoor you may be surprised at the employer reviews for well-regarded, even Fortune 100, companies. You feel like you know their brand and their culture – you can see it on the “Who We Are” page of their website or on clever displays in their storefronts. Their employees; however, may not feel the magic.  Poor reviews often feature common challenges like communication in silos, mixed messages, lack of contact with senior level leaders and other concerns that all come back to communication.

Ready for another secret? You may know this one already. Communication is hard. 

…and so is golf, but we think communication just may become the new official sport of executive leadership. If we were running a practice session, here are the drills we would run:

1. Start with who
We checked, Simon Sinek hasn’t yet used that line. We aren’t denying the importance of setting a vision or explaining why, but when crafting those critical messages, it is equally important to consider your who.  

  • Be relevant: Consider the size and demographics of your team, just as your marketers consider their prospects. What channels of communication work best to share information with them? What motivates them to listen, learn or modify behavior? How does your message impact their day, their week, or their role?
  • Be timely: Consider the cadence of your team’s work and how frequently they use shared communication channels and be timely with your delivery. This is easier to do when you establish consistent opportunities to talk to your whole team. 
  • Be real: Use an authentic voice. Even when using a more formal communication channel, approach it conversationally. An email from the CEO is not likely to get lost in the inbox and feels more personal and genuine than a memo from their assistant.  

2. Speak, write, repeat

Our most powerful tool doesn’t always work on the first try. Communications must be delivered consistently, repetitively and deliberately to maximize effectiveness. 

  • Rule of 7: The average person must hear a message 7 times before committing it to memory. If you are using communication to change behavior, create significant meaning, or reinforce your culture, a one and done communication plan will not serve you well.  If the Rule of 7 is overwhelming, start with the power of 3. For example, a senior leader communicates to the whole staff, the supervisor reinforces with individual conversations, a written note comes shortly after to reinforce the message.  
  • It’s called a “brief”: The number of times a person needs to hear a message shouldn’t be confused for the need of an abundance of detail. In fact, the more you can simplify your message, the more likely it is to resonate and be memorable. Consider this, if a person were only going to read the first 3 sentences of your email or memo, would they get the essential message? If a person only tuned in for your introductory slide or closing remarks, would they understand the essence of your communication? 
  • Get your FAQs straight:  Communication is not a one-way process, it requires a loop of feedback and questions. To prepare for feedback on your coming communication, brainstorm a list of questions you anticipate your staff will have and prepare your answers. Depending on the scale of your communication and the size of your audience, you could even publish a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers following your formal communication. 

3. Special sauce

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it 

  • Be humbly incorrect: Committing to communication makes us vulnerable as leaders – especially when we commit our words to writing or answer challenging questions in a live meeting. Don’t stifle the conversation out of a fear of not having all the answers. It is okay to say you don’t know or to follow up and correct a misstep. See exercise 1 – be real.
  • Explain a change in heart: Leaders often make the mistake of holding on to a communication too long for fear something may change after they share it. While we don’t suggest making and breaking promises, we encourage timely communication coupled with a willingness to explain when you had to pivot.
  • Do as you said: We saved one of the most important points for last. We are talking about talk here, but with talking the talk should always come walking the walk. Follow up and follow through will establish trust and ensure your audience wants to hear what you have to say the next time around. 

2019 Executive Leadership Academy Pre-Application!

inFUSION Group is excited to bring its Executive Leadership Academy back for a second year in 2019! Due to class size being limited, we’ve created a pre-application for interested applicants to complete. Please note, a full application will be available the first week of September. If you’ve completed the pre-application, we will send you the full application at that time.

Click this link: INF_ELApreapp_fillable to access the pre-application.

2019 dates are as follow:

April 9-11
June 18-20
August 27-29
October 22-24

If you have questions, please feel free to call us, or send an e-mail to


inFUSION Group Brings Executive Leadership Academy to Michigan!

inFUSION Group, a full-service business consulting firm based in Michigan is pleased to announce details of its 2018 Executive Leadership Academy.

The Executive Leadership Academy will be comprised of four sessions, spaced over seven months in 2018. Attendees of the program will work with all three aspects of leadership: leading self, leading others, and leading the organization. The program is designed for credit union leaders who are motivated, focused and ready to reach their full potential. Interested applicants must possess an ambition to excel. Graduates of the program will learn: core concepts of leadership and management, relationship-building through interpersonal communication, how to make courageous decisions and take action critical to success, how to address and manage change with confidence and action-oriented outcomes, and how to think, plan and effectively execute credit union initiatives.

Jessica Richardson-Isenegger, Senior Partner, Infusion Group states, “We’re looking forward to launching our Executive Leadership Academy in 2018. It’s taken a lot of planning and preparation to bring this to fruition, but we are thrilled to be offering this program to the credit union industry.” Richardson-Isenegger goes on to say, “we are bringing in top-notch faculty, and have an academy that isn’t going to just inspire, it’s going to give our graduates tools they need to be even more successful in both their organization and their professional careers.”

Faculty includes:

Steve Ahlberg, MBA
Jackson Hataway, PH.D.
Juli Lynch, PH.D.

Sessions for 2018 are scheduled as follows:

Session #1: April 10, 11, 12
Session #2: July 10, 11, 12
Session #3: October 16, 17, 18
Session #4: December 4, 5, 6

Interested attendees should contact Infusion Group at or 735.552.5192 for more information. Note, class size is limited and the application deadline is November 1, 2017.

To read and download the Executive Leadership Academy brochure click here.

Politics in the Workplace! Yes or No?

In times past it was generally accepted that, in polite company, you didn’t discuss three distinct topics:  religion, politics and…well…you can guess the other one.  Times have changed and with the advent of social media, many of these traditional ideas seem very quaint!  In the area of elections and the workplace, we have seen big changes over the years that have led to companies thinking about politics in the workplace, how involved a company can be and even if a company wants to be active at all.

Politics and elections can be a challenge in the office environment, especially with the intense interest in years when it is a Presidential election, like 2016.  This environment can be confusing, both for employees and employers.  This brings forth the question of how active should an employer be during an election, and in what way that does not create potential problems.

Like individuals, every employer in every industry in this country has a vested interest in the outcome of an election because lawmakers and Presidents have the ability to create public policy that can have a tremendous impact on any industry, either positively or negatively.

However, there are areas where employers can be involved on varying levels in the election process.  Data developed by the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) has shown that employees actually look favorably on information provided from an employer on issues, candidates and elections.  Employers should take the opportunity to provide that information so that employees understand how policy positions of different candidates would impact their industry and the voting process.  This allows employees to make an informed choice when they enter the voting booth and also allows them to consider the impact a particular vote could have on their industry; in some cases a voter will discover that the candidate that is closest to their personal views may not be the best candidate for their industry and that may be something they want to add into the equation when making a voting decision.

All of this might be new for your company, and you might still have concerns about getting involved in deeper activities surrounding an election.  However, one area where you can be involved and have a positive impact is making sure your employees are registered to vote and that they understand the voting process.  Here are some ways to start that process:

  • Consider sponsoring a nonpartisan voter registration drive as part of company events: the company picnic, in-house seminars, brown bag lunches and other similar events at your company.  Encourage your employees to register to vote.
  • Include voter registration material in employee information packets and in welcome kits for new employees.
  • Alert employees as critical dates near including registering to vote for an upcoming election, deadlines to apply for an absentee ballot and the opening of early voting.  Do this for both primaries and general elections.
  • Some states require that employers provide paid time off to vote.  If your state does not have laws requiring this, consider instituting paid time off for people to have time to vote and to remind employees before the election when polls open and close in your state – different states have different times so it is important to know the poll times in your locality.

These are just a few examples where employers can be active in helping their employees participate in citizen democracy.  While an employer never wants to be viewed as trying to force employees to vote a certain way, providing tools to register to vote can go a long way in helping individuals be informed and navigate on Election Day.

Are you interested in knowing what more you can do to educate your employees on the issues?  inFUSION Group can help!

Written By: Christopher R. Brown, CAE
Senior Consultant, inFUSION Group

Popping the Question: Are your Employees Engaged?

It’s no secret that employee engagement and strong organizational culture have been linked to higher customer satisfaction, business profitability and, of course, employee productivity. Companies like Google, Zappos and Zingerman’s have made a name for being great places to work and the rest of the businesses in the alphabet have been scrambling to replicate their successes. But pool tables, free dry cleaning and espresso machines do not a culture make.

So how can you really know if your employees are engaged? How do you find out what makes your people tick and tock around the time clock? Just ask!

Employee engagement surveys may seem passé. You may have even eliminated your old survey for lack of participation or actionable data. But truthfully, asking for open and honest feedback is cooler than ever. Just ask a millennial – they are a third of your workforce!

Speaking of data, here are three stats that should make you reconsider the need to measure engagement:

  • Organizations spend an average of $720 million annually on improving engagement (Bersin, 2012)


  • 70% of employees are not engaged in their work (Gallup, 2015)
  • 87% of organizations see employee engagement as one of their biggest challenges (Deloitte, 2015)

When you want to know how your customers feel about your service, you survey them. You host focus groups. You put instant polls on your website and comment cards in your lobby. Those strategies can be equally as effective for your internal customers (noun. Fancy term for employees. See also team members, associates and client success managers).

Renowned firm, Deloitte, says “an organization’s culture can become a key competitive advantage – or it’s Achies’ heel. Culture and engagement are now business issues, not just topics for HR to debate.” They agree that the risks of not knowing extend beyond poor culture and low output, but onto your reputation as sites like Linkedin, Glassdoor and tell the world “how things work around here.”

Let’s be clear. Just creating a survey isn’t enough. Your old survey may have been ineffective, and if you’ve never had a survey you may feel like you are steering in the dark – but we can help you right that ship.

Ask not what your employee survey can do for you, but what you can do for your employee survey:

  • Conduct short, meaningful surveys at least annually.
  • Use an external source to create the right questions and design a survey that will get responses.
  • Communicate the results of the survey to all employees.
  • Develop and execute action plans to address common themes in feedback and underlying issues.

Those last two bullet points are critical. In fact, we won’t even accept a handshake – you have to pinky promise that if you ask your employees for feedback, you will respond. An engagement survey can only positively influence your corporate culture if it is followed by a strong communication plan and noticeable change. Think taglines like “We’ve heard you!” or “Your feedback matters!” and be sure to follow them up with substance like “We’re changing our policy…” or “We’re upgrading your…”

We know what you’re thinking – what if you don’t get any good feedback? What if people make impossible demands? Thing is, this isn’t a hostage negotiation. It’s simply listening to people whom you entrust with significant responsibility day in and day out. No matter your brand or your ultimate vision for your corporate culture, you must first establish trust and prove that you’re all playing for the same team. You are united in a common purpose and whether that is solving a social problem or manufacturing goods, listening to one another will improve your chances of shared success.

It’s Not Over till It’s Over: Five Strategies to Improve Your Meetings!

The end of your meeting may be the most important part of all.

Written By: Erika Oliver, PMP

We tend to put great thought into meetings before they happen but less so while they’re winding up. If you want to reap true benefits from your meetings, though, don’t adjourn too quickly. Do these five things at the end of every meeting to give the team the energy to move forward and set the tone for what happens next.

  1. Ask participants to share one thing they’ll do before the next meeting. The most high energy meeting is doomed if people leave without knowing precisely what’s expected of them. Eliminate the “what now?” problem by assuring that each person chooses a task to move the project forward.
  2. Ask each person what tools are needed for next steps. This question helps people think more deeply about what they plan to do before the next meeting. If they’re stalled by missing information or needed support, they’ll stop before they even begin. It’s also important to share how and when the tools and information will be available. Tools aren’t any good if they don’t get in the hands of workers.
  3. Revisit the vision with a question. Show the completed building, the project timeline, the face of the client who will be served. Team members are more likely to follow through on tasks and stay the course if they clearly understand the “why” of a project and, most important, their specific role. Not only is a picture worth a thousand words but it also motivates people and connects them to the larger goal.
  4. Have people share what they consider the most meaningful part of the meeting. This strategy accomplishes four important things: (1) It gives the facilitator feedback about what resonated with the group. (2) It summarizes meeting content for greater information retention. (3) It ends the meeting on a positive note. (4) When people communicate a valuable learning experience, they become more bonded to the group.
  5. Invoke a team cheer or ceremony. Fun is often a missing component in meetings and projects. Providing opportunities to let off steam, celebrate small successes, and just play will go further in motivating people than you might think. Put your hands together and shout, “Go Team!” or share a round of applause for each other. Don’t worry if someone holds back and acts as if it’s “silly” to celebrate. Once they feel the group’s energy, they’ll be first in line for the next team cheer. If nobody’s enjoying the process, what’s the point?