Stewart Liff

President and CEO of Stewart Liff & Associates, Inc.
Stewart Liff
  • Recognized as a leading expert on (visual) performance management, human resources management (HRM), and team development
  • Has received numerous awards, including three Hammer Awards from Vice President Gore for outstanding achievement in reinventing government
  • Drawing on his 40 years of experience working as an HR expert, he offers practical tools and simple visual solutions for managers to transform culture, improve employee effectiveness, and establish accountability within organizations

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Stewart Liff is an internationally-recognized expert on performance management, visual performance management, human resources management (HRM), and team development, and is the president and CEO of Stewart Liff & Associates, Inc., a California-based human resources consulting company specializing in management training, consulting, and motivational speaking.

He is recognized as one of the world’s foremost proponents of using visual displays to connect employees to the mission and for sharing performance information with the workforce. He shares his expertise as a successful executive coach and teacher, sought-after advisor and consultant, renowned keynote speaker, and as an accomplished author of seven award-winning books.

Stewart has held many high-level and senior executive positions throughout his 32-year career with the Federal government. He has taken on some of the toughest organization transformations in the federal government and delivered results. He started Stewart Liff & Associates, Inc., to pursue his passion to share his unique approach to performance management, which combines the visual arts with performance management called visual performance management, to help organizations design and implement extraordinary human resource management (HRM) programs, and to develop high-performing, self-managed teams.

In addition to serving as a senior executive for 12 years, he managed a national HRM program representing 13,000 employees and successfully represented the government in approximately 30 hearings before third parties. During his tenure with the government, he led several impressive transformation efforts and his innovative approach to management has produced extraordinary outcomes and multiple awards, for his organization and other organizations he worked with, including the first “Hammer Award” from Vice President Gore for reinventing government, “The President’s Council on Management Improvement Award, “The Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service,” and OPM’s prestigious “Performance Incentives Leadership Linked to Achieving Results (PILLAR) Award”. His work has also been featured in several other highly-regarded books and publications, including Teams Work: Lessons from Successful Organizations, written by Will Friedman and Jill Casner-Lotto, Millennial Momentum: How a New Generation Is Remaking America, written by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, as well as ASTD’s the Public Manager, Government Executive Magazine, and VA’s Vanguard Magazine.

Stewart has written or co-written seven acclaimed books on HRM, including Managing Government Employees: How to Motivate Them, Deal with Difficult Issues and Achieve Tangible Results, which is widely considered to be the best book ever written on managing in government, Managing Your Government Career: How to Arrive, Survive and Thrive, The Complete Guide to Hiring and Firing a Government Employee, and Improving the Performance of Government Employees. Stewart’s latest book, A Team of Leaders: Empowering Every Member to Take Ownership, Demonstrate Initiative, and Deliver Results, co-authored with Paul Gustavson, describes how to build high performing, self-managed teams. It was named one of the “30 Best Business Books of 2014” by Soundview Executive Book Summaries and was named the “Leadership Book of the Week” by The Washington Post. He has published many articles in the United States and in several other countries. He writes a column for entitled, “Stewart Liff on Government,” he is a columnist for Government Executive, and he’s a member of the Mentors Guild.

A highly sought-after keynote speaker, Stewart Liff has given many speeches about visual performance management, human resources management (HRM), how to build a team of leaders, and how to rebound from multiple tragedies and health-related issues at a variety of different meetings, conferences, and events, including The US Office of Personnel Management’s Strategic Compensation Conference, the American Society of Public Administrators Convention, The Honolulu Federal Executive Board’s Legacy of Leadership Conference, The Advanced Learning Institute’s Performance Measurement for Government Conference, The Work in America Institute’s Annual Conference, The University of North Texas’ Organizational Effectiveness through Collaborative Excellence Conference, The Excellence in Government Conference, The Greg Mantell Show, The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council’s (CJCC) Annual Victim Assistance Training Conference, and The Governor of Georgia’s Conference on Customer Satisfaction. Most recently, he has given keynote speeches at the Government HR Conference in Abu Dhabi, the BYU Marriott School of Business Conference in Provo, and at the College of the Canyons. In addition, Liff recently gave a motivational speech at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine on his experiences as a cancer caregiver and survivor. That speech was so well received that he was invited back next year to speak at their prestigious Choi Family Gala. He is also working on writing a new book about those experiences.

Stewart has taught many classes on HRM, and his expertise includes performance management, employee relations, labor relations, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), staffing, training, rewards and recognition, metrics, systems design, strategic planning, and succession planning.

A talented artist, he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Queens College and a master's degree in fine arts from Hunter College. He currently resides in Santa Clarita, California with his wife Lisa.

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Speaker Video

Stewart Liff: How I Learned to Share and Play Well With Others

Stewart Liff On Your Mindset

Stewart Liff On Dealing With Problem People

Stewart Liff On Addition By Subtraction

Stewart Liff On Dealing With Problem People

Seeing Is Believing: The Fine Art Of Communicating Change & Performance.

Every organization at some point must chart a new course, such as with a merger, downturn in economy, explosive growth, or even global expansion. For executive leaders, communicating visually is key to success in making transformative changes and being able to communicate organization wide the new mission, vision, values and performance targets.

In this highly interactive and experiential learning session, Stewart Liff provides an in-depth overview of how to successfully implement an organizational transformation on using the revolutionary concept known as Visual Performance Management.

This concept involves combining generally accepted management principles along with the fine arts to:

  • Improve customer satisfaction by connecting employees to the mission
  • Improve employee satisfaction by celebrating employees
  • Improve cycle time performance, productivity, and quality by strategically tracking and sharing information
  • Hold employees accountable in an honest and open way
  • Shape the outside world’s view of an organization by designing it in a manner that greatly impresses the stakeholder, with the overall goal being improved performance

As a result of the session, participants will learn what forces are causing organizations to become more visual, how to think more visually, and the overall models and tools behind visual performance management (particularly organizational design, human resources management, and fine arts). Participants will leave with a six-step process for implementing visual performance management in their own organization.

Team Of Leaders: Empowering Every Member To Take Ownership, Demonstrate Initiative, & Deliver Results. 

Workplace teams are supposed to harness employees’ talents to tackle challenges—But the reality often falls short.

Now imagine having a team where everyone steps up and provides leadership and performs all the leadership tasks. Imagine a team where many can lead multiple activities. A team that is constantly sharing knowledge and pushing the envelope. That does long-term planning and produces outstanding performance.

Through a mixture of presentation, videos, discussions, and group exercises, teams will learn leadership does not need to reside in a formal role like a supervisor, and it can rotate amongst its members. Instead of being merely employees, they learn a system to become leaders, which takes advantage of the capabilities of its members.

As a result, teams will leave this session knowing how their responsibilities are shared with each other, allowing the supervisor to concentrate on the big picture. Team members, who traditionally are asked to do what they are told and not much more, are now elevated, energized, think, and act like organizational leaders. 

Transforming Government Agencies: How To Motivate, Deal With Difficult Issues, & Achieve Tangible Results.

Whether in the corporate world or government, human resources management (HRH) is about accountability and results. Managing government employees presents unique challenges. Government managers may feel that stringent and convoluted regulations mean, “they can’t do that.” Some others may use that perception as a crutch. But the truth for all of them is, yes, they can “do that”—and they’d better. “That” means managing employees as proactively and decisively as their corporate counterparts, and holding their staffs, teams, and departments accountable for productivity and results. Managing US government employees offers dozens of techniques for meeting the challenges and stressful situations governmental supervisors face on a daily basis.

Through a mixture of lively discussions and presentation, Stewart Liff teaches leaders, managers, and supervisors how to apply sound human resources management principles in order to build a high-performing work force. Attendees will learn techniques that will help them develop an energized workforce committed to the organization’s values, dedicated to its mission, and one that holds its employees accountable for their actions. The initial section of the training focuses primarily on the overwhelming majority of the employees that want to do a good job. Stewart teaches how to manage a workforce based on core values, with an emphasis on communication to motivate, develop, and retain a high performing workforce.

Stewart shares his personal experience and tips gathered as a senior executive for 12 years, a manager of a national HRM program representing 13,000 people and successfully representing the government in 30 hearings before third parties. Managers frustrated by government bureaucracy will leave knowing they possess more power than they originally thought, with techniques to:

  • Get maximum dedication and productivity from employees
  • Improve results of poor performers and how to discipline, document, or terminate when necessary
  • Deal with union and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) issues
  • Cut through the red tape of government employment systems

Motivational Speaking.

Stewart Liff will discuss some of the challenges and tragedies he has experienced in his life, including the death of his first wife due to brain cancer, the sudden death of his youngest brother two weeks later, the deaths of his parents within two months of each other (both due to lung cancer), and his being stricken with Stage Three Colon Cancer, along with liver, heart, and other health-related challenges. In a very engaging, upbeat, and at times humorous fashion, he will integrate his many beautiful paintings and some hysterical impressions into his presentation and explain the importance of having a great attitude, which is a conscious choice. He first gave this presentation at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and they were so impressed that they immediately invited him back to speak at next year’s prestigious Choi Family Gala.

Stewart’s speaking topics can be customized for an internal training, conference breakout session, or extended full-day program based on the goals and objectives you set for your event.

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