Wednesday, October 31, 2012

4 Ways to Attract Outstanding Talent

Having just made a well-educated and difficult career transition, I had a chance to experience the job seekers world in 2012. I met corporate recruiters who asked qualifying questions irrelevant to my skill set, was thrown large cash bonus offers, and received the "why our company is the best" speech from CEOs. None of it mattered!

In the HR blogosphere, job seekers are advised how to market themselves. Companies are aflood with resumes. The inundation of potential hires has created space for under-qualified gatekeepers to ask stupid questions that scare away talent. The strategy for attracting talent is a major focus for every company, many of them are doing it wrong, and that is why their turnover is higher than their hire rate.

The best talent are those who have options, may be satisfied with their current employment, and have a history of business results that speak volumes.

Advice: if you are hiring someone for a six figure salary don't make the first point of contact a college intern. Hiring is a two way street and first impressions are important on both sides of the street.

There are 4 things that attract outstanding talent:
1. Leadership
2. Company Culture
3. Go-to-Market Strategy
4. Products and Services

This is Not a Test
I sat down with a CEO who rushed into a high rise building, drilled me with challenging questions, and proceeded to tell me that I was too tame. Leaders at the highest level should not assume that they have the right to dictate what job seekers want. Arrogance is the least form of leadership.

People want leaders who are accessible. We want to see an uncompromising vision, a passion for their company, and the consistent adaptation to change (which means you may have to admit your company is not perfect).

Leaders have to walk the walk! The vision laid out from the stage at the international company meeting will be exposed as executive bravado if you are faking it. If you exist in an ivory tower the folks in the trenches will know it. Don't ask for bottoms up feedback if you are not planning to take action on employee feedback.

How Does It Feel
I remember sitting in an orientation at a company I had joined when one employee told another that their idea for program improvement was stupid. I knew at that moment that I was in a bad environment. Great companies will expose you to a variety of employees in the hiring process. Of course, no company is perfect and some employees are more candid than others. Wouldn't you rather know in advance how people treat one another than to sign a contract and then find out the real story.

Progress is made through collaborative, progressive thought leadership. Titles are not protected in great companies. Internal competition is merely a way for individuals to get over on one another. It serves no relevance to organizational progress.

Newsflash: it is OK to be nice!

Sales People Must Be Lead By Sales People
If I am working as a sales executive leading a team in a 7 figure deal, I need to be assured that the leadership in my organization understands every element of getting that done. This means the VP of Sales better have carried a bag longer than I have been alive. You cannot pretend to know the roller coaster of sales if you have never sold. Operational and Administrative mind frames are budget aware, Sales is a strategic revenue producing game! You cannot be a dog if you are a cat - stop pretending!

"You can fool some people, some time, but you can't fool all the people all the time" - Bob Marley

Bottom Line Capabilities
I hearken back to Simon Sinek and the golden circle: people don't buy what you do they buy why you do it. With this in mind, products cannot be the driving force in your go-to-market strategy. There are, however, minimum qualifications. If your product doesn't work, I cannot sell it. If you tell me your product can do something it cannot, I will not buy it.

Innovate or Perish!
The adaptation to change speaks to all of the aforementioned characteristics of what makes a company great! Every day is a new opportunity to experience something new, there is no finish line, and highly engaged people appreciate a challenge. Those who wish to stand still will be run over.

If you are an outstanding company you live every day with the motivation of what can be done not what has been done.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting to Know You

I remember a VP once told me not to get too close to my team. This way, it would be easier to discipline those who were not achieving. Just yesterday, my son asked me if I ever had to fire anyone. I told him I do not believe in firing people. As he persisted, I told him that when people seek direction it is the leaders job to help them. If you give up on those who most desire your expertise, you are not a leader.

So the story goes...great leaders are willing to dispel formality in the interest of genuinely engaging their employees. Performance reviews may be a legal necessity, but no one ever gained a thing from discussing their inabilities. You can heap gift cards on any employee but it will not effect their ability to achieve. Days off are nice for some, but if you love your work, time off can actually be a motivational detractor. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to wake up every day and dive into something that they believe in. Employees want to be assured that their ideas matter and that their effort is making a difference. People want to work in a place where they feel comfortable expressing themselves. Money is less important to people who are genuinely fulfilled on the job.

If we allow access to the control room, we build trust. With trust in place employees realize their worth instead of asking for validation. If you are an accessible leader unforeseen problems do not exist and everything is fixable. If your organization is transparent people are not forced to guess their value.

It takes courage to get to know your employees. Managing by the numbers is an act of cowardice.

Empower Change
We are in an interesting time of organizational development. The ivory tower is being replaced by bottoms up collaboration. People are the differentiator of any great organization: give them enough freedom to produce, show you care about their intentions, and your organizational will flourish.

Ask & Listen
How do you check the pulse of your organization? Survey, focus group, enterprise application suggestion box...?

There are 3 simple ways to understand what is going on in the trenches:
1. Ask Often
2. Make the results metric
3. Take action

The easiest way to discourage engagement in your organizational culture is to ask for input but take no action.

Encourage the Bold
In some organizations participation is suggested but not encouraged. A forum for idea sharing is set up but those who speak up are put on the "people to fire" list.

The door to the board room must be open: transparency builds trust.

The cause that you represent as an organization is far more important than numbers or graphs. The people who perform the work are not assets or capital...they are human beings who choose to make your company better. Respect for sweat equity should be a pillar of any leadership style!

The formula is simple:
- Listen and take action!
- Let culture lead!   
- Show you care by empowering those willing to help!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, October 15, 2012

The Less Simple Path

The legend of Zappos continues. Barbara Walters recently did a 20/20 piece on Tony Hsieh and his roving band of costume wearing customer service advocates. Astonishment crosses the face of the corporate accountant who tours the Zappos facility to find young people doing aerobics to start their work day. While Tony Hsieh seems to have mastered the ability to build culture, his real strength lies in his ability to convince us that the job is all fun....

Zappos (like every other company) has inter-personal disputes and customer service issues. The difference is that problems are much easier to dispel when collaborative culture leads. By Tony's own admission, if you are passionate about your purpose; the profits come naturally. Which leads us to Simon Sinek....

In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek mirrors Tony Hsieh's sentiment by letting culture lead. His contention is that "people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it".

Both leaders have allowed transparency as a guiding light in their organizational strategy:
- People have been conditioned to believe that their "work self" is not their true self.
- The things we hide are easy to discover.
- Open and Honest are cross streets on the road to progress.

You are the only YOU...
I am convinced that self-empowerment is the single most important element of success. Unfortunately, most people would rather listen to others than to trust themselves.

- There is too much information to disprove any motivation you may have to try something new!
- There are too many people who will tell you that you cannot do that thing you may wish to!
- Facts and figures couldn't be wrong, could they?

There is a jumbled grab bag of excuses at your disposal. It is extraordinarily easy to not do something, no one will fault you for playing it safe, and when you don't try you can always pretend to possess a certain ability.

You CAN pretend to be who you are not!
I would agree that one should concentrate on what they are good at and let it drive. But, I would not rule out someone who wanted to step out of their comfort zone. Too often, I hear leaders tell employees that they are not a fit for a certain role. This is a simple way for a person to manage talent instead of challenging people to expand their skill set.

Make it harder!
Don't play it safe. Don't accept the norm. Don't pretend you are happy if you are not. Don't listen to people that wish not to inspire you. Don't allow people to tell you that you are not talented.

Set your own rules. Push yourself. Create opportunity. Stop listening to criticism and put on your i-pod.

There are no set rules. There are no limits. Only you can determine how this story will end.

Don't Forget to Remember!


Monday, October 8, 2012

A Call to Action

I am a person who has never been afraid to put myself out there. When it came time to volunteer, I was there! Volunteering takes courage, a willingness to fail, and the ability to laugh at yourself. Today, we are talking about volunteering to support a cause - the cause of YOU!

"If not me, then who?" - Jesse Ventura

I am a sales professional, a keynote speaker, and a youth soccer coach. The similarity in these occupations is the subjection to criticism. Sales people are forced live a life of aggressive uncertainty. The highs are joyous and short-lived, the lows are lonely and seemingly eternal. There is nothing glamorous about being in sales.

Such is our plight......

You will discover that only those who walk the tight rope know the joy of reaching the platform. There are those who are content to sit arms folded while the world takes shape around them...I am not one of those people.

Be Bold!

It is difficult to get in front of a group of people to present an unproven idea. To stand up for that which you believe in seems simple; it is not! In retrospect, there are billions of people who dare not try and are the first to judge.....this is why there are 100,000 people in the stands and 22 on the field.

Fear Nothing.....
In his book, "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living", the great Dale Carnegie urges us to start with the end in mind. The aforementioned practice depletes worry by dispelling consequences. Think about it...of everything you have stressed over, what evil undoing actually resulted? None to the extent your worry might intend....!

Some of us got tired of waiting for things to happen and took action. We couldn't sit around and watch the conclusion unfold without having a say in it. We got up, fell down, and put effort into that thing in which we believed in....because we didn't believe the assumptions. We saw that which had been achieved and honored our obligation to make it better. 'Tis better to give than to take!

Numbers lie, people protect what they cannot replicate, and the easiest thing in life is to proclaim how would things would be if you were in charge. If you wanted to be in charge, you would be!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Friday, October 5, 2012

The Unbreakable Spirit

I had heard an educator say that discipline was necessary, but that she did not want to break her pupils spirit. As is often the case, the things we teach our children are directly applicable to those who dare to teach.

Our economic climate has been 'questionable at best' for the past several years. The uncertainty of business challenges can often evoke reactionary tones. In reality there is no challenge too great and only greater opportunity. Those bold enough to fight back almost always find a way to win.

You can walk out of your door today and find a thousand people that will give you a thousand excuses for what cannot be done. This is why we are so surprised when someone actually empowers us to do things assumed out of our reach.

This is the part of the movie, where I look you in the eye and tell you that you can do anything...because you can.

Your spirit is's why:

The future is not determined!
Possibility bases assumptions in the past. Those who have "been there and done that" believe that they hold the flame. It has been proven, however, that those who tout former achievements only do so because they cannot repeat them. Progress cannot be protected.

Negativity is a virus..positivity is infectious!
In the world of Employee Engagement we talk about the ripple effect. How the spirit of recognizing achievement is contagious. When we allow one another to celebrate, we focus on winning

To the contrary, if you let little things derail you they seem to ruin your entire day. Bad days are often an affect of a few annoying incidents that snowball. If you think today will suck, it will!

Dare them to knock you down..and watch them run when you get up!
No matter what you do there are 2 traits that will guarantee success: hard work & perseverance.

If you don't have enough time in your day, wake up earlier and/or stay up later. If you lose a deal and you have 20 others pending, the loss hurts less. Accountability is only a bad word if you did not recognize your commitment. Hindsight is a mofo!

Losing is difficult to accept. No matter what you do in life, losing is inevitable. To learn from one's mistakes and grow is the only option.

Be Humble is Victory and Accountability in Defeat!

Don't Forget to Remember,


Monday, October 1, 2012

Positive Change

For a the last few years we have been inundated with information about the changing generations in the workplace. Countless technologies are emerging. With every day, new techniques for engaging the workforce are being presented as "game changers". Change is inevitable, but there will always be those apprehensive to strap on the jet pack and fly into the future.

Throughout this year, I have had conversations with HR Professionals in an effort to empower strategic relevance within their organizations. Often, I hear that the Executives in many companies are those most reluctant to change...?

We fear change because we feel threatened. With the right strategy in place, a threat becomes an opportunity!

Open Spaces
The process of change is less about organizational overhaul and more often a call to influence behavior. Employee Engagement is the process of transparent culture creating avenues for mutually beneficial goal setting. The process of opening doors once closed leaves nothing to hide. Middle managers can no longer minimize the motivation of their more ambitious talent, nor can employees highlight only their wins. Everyone sees everything....and that's a good thing.

Risk management is an unavoidable HR characteristic. But, covering up mistakes is a reaction not a strategy. We cannot pretend to be good at what we are not. We cannot be afraid to share our secrets of success.

We should applaud our willingness to expose our weaknesses in an effort to fix them. We should encourage the employee who is willing to take risks to evolve the company. Innovation is the result of challenging one another...but you have to be willing to ask for help once in a while.

Performance Without a Minimum
I remember the first day of wrestling practice in high school. I was in the weight room working my tail off. An upperclassman told me to slow down....I knew instantly that I would be taking his position on the starting squad. The practice of minimizing talent to harmonize culture happens everywhere. We don't want to rock the boat so we step back and blend into the wall paper. That is nonsense!

We should meet the new guy/girl with open arms; ready to accept the new ideas that they bring into our organization. We should not protect the company shield by accepting mediocrity as a guiding principle. When someone tells you "how things are done around here", that person should be the last person who you turn to for advice.

Everyone is a change agent. Anyone who seeks to corral talent is holding back the entire organization.

Hope as a Strategy
Change is not about minimizing budget it is about improving revenue. Numbers are driven by people and people need a reason to change. Improving production in a struggling economy is not an effect of reducing spend or headcount...production is guided by a series of business critical behaviors. You must discover the path to the basket before you can score. The numbers do not tell the whole story...perfecting small strides along the way is what makes up long term success.

That which we fear is what will make us better. We cannot pretend to be good at everything. We cannot hide our recipe for success. We must improve and evolve....every single day!

It (is not) what it is: If you have come to accept mediocrity, you have given up! Our time here is far too precious to pretend our human existence is a commodity!

Don't Forget to Remember!