Do the Opposite – Employees Will Love You

When I finished my active duty service with the Navy I took a job as a sales representative.  The company sent me to a training session with a world renowned sales trainer.  During one session he asked us to list the first word that came to mind when we heard the term “salesperson”.  We all listed words like “pushy”, “obnoxious”, and “slick”.  He told us that if those are the words 95% of the pubic used to describe salespeople we should become the exact opposite and we’d be successful.  For me that strategy worked very well.

Employers can apply this lesson after they read the article linked below.  Not only does the article list the most hated jobs, it also provides great insight as to what employees hate most about a job.  It’s not what you might think!

Today it is the company with the best talent that beats the competition and increases profits.  Employers don’t want their top talent hating their jobs.  Read the article then be sure your company is doing the opposite!

10 Most Hated Jobs

Step 4 or 4: High Performance Teams

Give employees a career instead of a job

“That’s just not fair!”

Whether it is true or not, this is not something you want employees to say.  Often is beyond a company’s power to control how employees feel.  However, company’s can avoid creating situations that might cause an employee to think or say this.  Companies DO have a great deal of control in which they hire and promote.

In my executive search business we often hear from executives who feel this way.  Either they have been passed over for a promotion or they have seen others passed over multiple times.  Sometimes their company never considered an insider for an open position. Whatever the reason, these people feel like a commodity instead of a valued contributor.  If this kind of perception starts to permeate the workforce the company is doomed – especially now that top talent is harder to find.

There are many reasons why a company would go outside to hire top talent; they don’t have a qualified person internally, they want fresh perspectives, they want competitor intelligence, etc…  Hiring outside is expensive, time intensive, and dangerous (see steps 1 & 2)! Often it can be avoided if companies have a career development culture instead of an open seat culture.

Hiring from your current employees only works if you diligently practice Step 3.  It also means a huge ROI on your labor expense.  When employees believe they have the opportunity to grow and advance they don’t spend time looking elsewhere.  When they enjoy a company development program they have greater confidence to take on more responsibility.  Employees will take their performance more seriously and pursue self-development agendas.  Giving an employee a career is a long-term investment strategy, one that every company must follow.

This is the final installment of the four steps to building a high performance team.  Putting these steps into practice will have tremendous impact on company profitability and competitive edge.  Don’t wait until your competition has all the top talent, beat them to the best people now!

Step 3 of 4: High Performance Teams

Training

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Align training with business priorities and coming trends.

Why do high performance sports teams film their games and practices?  Why do they scout their opponents at other games?  Why do they watch film of their opponents?   It’s because they want to be prepared for the future.  They want to know what to expect in an upcoming game.  Team practice is not about coaching the fundamentals; it is about adjusting their game plan. Teams use the visual feedback from film to spot weaknesses of their opponents to exploit.  All of the practice and film work is so they can do the right things, make adjustments, and win the game.

Employee training should serve the same purpose.  Building a high performance corporate team requires ongoing improvement because business is a world of ongoing change.  Companies must articulate and value a culture of continuous employee development.  Employees should be encouraged through programs like tuition assistance and in-house training to take charge of their own professional development.

Training, however, just for the sake of training, is wrong!  Employee training must support the core business mission and strategy.  The training companies develop, offer, and support must also prepare employees for the future.  Few corporate leaders believe that today’s talent needs will be the same in the future.  Therefore companies must create a culture and partnership with employees to prepare for what it ahead.  Just as high performance sports team practice and develop to win the next game, corporate teams train and develop to accomplish their mission and beat tomorrow’s competition.

Hot in the Shade

Have you ever experienced a day of 115 degree temperatures?  That’s how I spend the past weekend while at a national lacrosse tournament in Towson, MD.  The combined heat and humidity created a heat index in excess of 115 degrees!  To say it was miserable would be an understatement.  It’s a wonder more players didn’t collapse on the field.

The experience taught me two things; 1) the human body’s ability to produce perspiration is endless and, 2) no matter how many tents, shade trees, umbrellas, misters, etc…. you can’t escape that kind of heat!  As the day wore on the heat began to impact the quality of play on the field.  Players started to make decisions out of expedience and fatigue rather than skill and experience.

This is also how a lot of hiring managers approach their open positions.  The heat of the open seat becomes so hot that they make poor decisions.  If their bench strength is shallow or if they don’t practice the habit of always looking for top talent, the heat will beat them down.  The hotter it gets the more likely they will compromise their judgment and instinct.   This is exactly how “miss-hires” happen.  The overheated urgency to find a body, anybody, causes short circuits in the hiring process.

Managers can provide some always present shade when they approach recruiting as a process and not as an event.  This is especially important today as the search, and need, for top talent is getting hotter.  Managers who have a system to constantly identify and attract top talent will avoid the oppressive heat caused by open seats.

Three Important Steps for Corporate Recruiting

In the article linked below, the writer discusses investments corporate recruiting should make today.  Investment #2, Invest time in thinking through how you recruit people today is the most significant on his list. The other two are dependent upon the conclusions reached after this time is spent.

Here’s some ideas to consider if a company invests this time:

  • If your interview questions are based on the candidate’s resume, you are missing the real questions.
  • If you are still using a “job description” to attract and then validate candidates, you are making the wrong decisions about people.
  • If your jobs have not been benchmarked, you don’t really know what the expectations should be.
  • If your interviewing team is still asking different questions from each other, you are missing great people.

Rethinking these issues, and coming to the right conclusions,  will guide corporate recruiting to create an effective attraction, selection, and retention strategy.

http://www.ere.net/2010/03/10/why-corporate-recruiting-may-be-doomed/#more-12040

How You Can Raise Employee Engagement

In the article link below, you learn that Canadian employees’ level of engagement has actually risen during the recession. In surveys these employees attribute “positive management, good company morale, and pay levels that have improved or remained steady” as the primary reason.

Sounds simple, yet so many employers miss this. In the U.S. surveys suggest as much a 51% of the workforce suffers from “warm-chair” attrition. This is when the body keeps showing up for work, but the mind is completely disengaged. Companies who have this epidemic need to change at least three areas of their talent management strategy:

1) The selection and hiring process: Mis-hires are too costly to not have a structured, objective process. Stop validating resumes in interviews and figure out what the job really requires.

2) On boarding that works: On boarding is not HR’s orientation meeting about the benefits paperwork! On boarding starts before the person’s first day on the job and continues during their first year. If you have a structured hiring process you can develop an “owners manual” for the new employee. This ensures quick and lasting employee engagement and productivity.

3) Multi-generational retention strategies: You don’t retain a Millennial like you retain a Veteran. Your managers have to understand what each of the four generations value at work and retention needs to me a serious management metric.

Here’s the article link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/canadian-employee-loyalty-heightens-during-economic-recession-kelly-workforce-survey-reveals-2010-03-08?reflink=MW_news_stmp

Can you really Motivate employees?

“Employee Engagement” gets a lot of lip service, but very little action. This is the key to motivating and retaining a productive workforce.   More simply stated employees have a WIIFM attitude.  People are not going to work for the company’s reasons; they are going to work for their own reasons.  Unless company leaders can tap into those reasons they risk spreading the disease of “warm-chair attrition”.  This is the state of having an employed body in a chair, but the mind has long since quit the job.   It is the responsibility of corporate leaders to eradicate this disease from their organization.

This is easier said than done.  It is virtually impossible if managers and leaders don’t know who works for them.  Today four generations are working together, each valuing work very differently from the other.  Few companies have trained their managers on how to relate to a multi-generational workforce.  In the absence of any guidance, managers will motivate employees from their own perspective and needs, not from the employee’s.   We all laugh at the “Beatings will continue until morale improves” signs, but many employees perceive corporate retention strategies and performance management programs as just that!

The best solution is for companies to teach their managers about who works for them.  Teach them how each generation and individual employee values their work life.  When armed with this knowledge, companies can create an effective and profitable talent management strategy.  This would include everything from recruitment, HR management, to the on boarding process and employee retention.  If done correctly then employee morale won’t be a problem.  Once word gets around people will be clamoring to work for the company.

It’s not about where they’ve been; it’s about where they can take you!

The resume looked great!  They’d had all the right titles.  Their responsibilities were in line with your job description.  Education (Masters “preferred”) – CHECK.  Correct number of years of experience – CHECK.  Willing to relocate – CHECK.  The resume was even printed on fine, light beige, linen paper.  Obviously a seasoned professional who had all the qualities you were looking for.  The phone screen went well, they met some of your colleagues, HR did the background check (no problems), and you liked the person.  Amazingly, six months into the job things weren’t going well.  They just didn’t click with your style or the company culture.  Their performance was not measuring up to your expectations.  You tried all the performance improvement tricks you knew.  This was starting to cost you time, money, and reputation.  After all, you made the decision to hire them.

As time wore on you realized they had to go.  Alas, more job requisition paperwork from HR and time to give it another try.

Unfortunately this scenario plays itself out over and over at almost every company.  Millions of hard and soft dollars are lost on these kinds of mis-hires.  And don’t forget the lost productivity of the hiring team, lost revenue opportunities, lost operating efficiencies, lower morale, and decreased creative energy.  These dollars have a direct impact on the bottom line. They also have a huge impact on competitive edge.  Plus, it will get harder and harder to find replacement employees as the pool of qualified professional talent continues to shrink.  Guess what – it doesn’t have to be this way!

Resume hiring and traditional interviewing only tells you where a person has been.  You want to know where they are going to take you.  Here are five simple steps you can implement today.  Following these steps will tell you if the next person will move your company forward;

  • First, profile the key positions that will drive your profits and competitive edge.
  • Second, benchmark the top performers in these key positions.  This tells you exactly what the next hire has to look like.
  • Third, STOP interviewing from the resume and start asking questions developed in the profiling and benchmarking process.  Demand that everyone in the interviewing team use this consistent set of questions.
  • Fourth, have a third party independently assess anyone you are considering for a key position.
  • Fifth, interview for the behaviors the person needs to be successful in the job.

In a hyper-competitive market with a diminishing talent pool, companies can’t afford traditional, job description hiring.  When you implement these five steps you’ll find the right top talent to take your company to the next level.

Motivating Employees in a Down Economy

There are several principles that managers can employ to keep employees motivated during a downturn.

First, communicate twice as much as you normally would.  There is a lot of anxiety, rumor, gossip, and stress among employees.  They need to be kept informed about company performance, progress toward goals, and about their own performance.  Keep the dialog open, informal, and frequent.

Second, make sure each employee knows how their contribution impacts the bottom line.  Help them understand that what they do matters.  Show them that doing better benefits the entire organization and  makes the entire company successful.

Third, be sure managers understand the ‘WIIFM’ principle.  Employees will only be motivated for their reasons, not management’s.  Corporate leaders must know what their employees work for, what inspires them, and why they come back everyday.  It will be different for each of the four generations working in your company, but it must appeal to them individually.

If you start with just an informal, conversational survey of your employee’s motivations, you’ll be off to a good start.

Read The Best Answer…

An appreciative “Thank you” to Vincent Vanderbent for recognizing my answer as being  the best in response to his LinkedIn question

“Employee retention: why do you keep inefficient managers and staff?”

It is a great question and the answer has eluded countless organizations.  You can read the full question and my answer at the following link:

http://www.linkedin.com/answers/management/labor-relations/MGM_LBR/625840-23470066