February 23rd, 2011
Recently a company invited me to give a talk on growth at their annual meeting. This is a request I took quite seriously. My quest to grow and learn to manage growth and grow again, is well, a continuous, circuitous pursuit. I live it, read about it and of course, write about it. The preparation for my talk forced me to think through my thoughts on the key drivers of growth for any business.
One funny thing about the answer to business growth? There isn’t one answer. The answer is dependent on who you ask and their “come from.” What part of the business do they “come from?” What experiences and skills do the “come from.” Sales is critical to any business success. Any business must also market its product or service. R&D will insist that new products are the life blood of a company. Or is strong customer service the answer to growth? They know everything that goes on in a company. But what if billing and accounting aren’t at the top of their game? What this all boils down to is that it takes all parts of the business working together to grow. Business growth takes the right people in the right system taking advantage of the right market opportunity.
I would like to address the “right people” notion. The right people is about culture. Culture is the personality of a company. It takes the right culture to drive growth. It is easy to have a culture that hurts growth. Remember the cult classic movie Office Space? The movie gently pokes fun at corporate stereotypes. In one favorite scene the main character is in cubicle land and his boss pays a visit to his cube to remind him that he should put a cover sheet on his TPS reports. “Did you get the memo?” He has the memo! And he shows it to his boss, who still insists on getting him another copy. A few minutes later, middle management shows up to repeat the same, worthless request. I hope you’ll watch the clip – a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
What is my point in all this? Do you work in an environment where TPS reports rule your life? Are there worthless, wasteful moments in your job that if someone would just listen to you – you could improve the company? Or better yet, would your boss just let you change it? What does the coversheet have to do with customer satisfaction anyway? The customer seems to lack a voice in all of this.
Imagine a company culture that takes into account customer point of view in every part of the business. I call that an Outside-In culture. Stakeholders can speak for themselves and do. Employees are there to represent themselves. It is the customer that often lacks an advocate. How absurd right? The very reason the business exists, customers, often gets lost in translation. Every company has a stated mission statement around the customer. It is the goal on the brochure. The customer is simply treated indirectly in an inside-out way. And in most cases it happens by accident or worse yet is a by-product of unfortunate circumstances. Good intentions gone wrong.
Growth comes when culture is right. Put the customer in the board room and ask the question, “Is this good for the customer?”
Outside-In culture is part of how I help my company and clients grow. It is our Outside-in perspective that prompts us to apply our recruitment expertise in a tailored way to our customers. I am sure we have TPS reports that need to be changed. But I am confident that my staff can change them without me. How about your company? Do you have TPS reports in the way of growth?
February 14th, 2011
Last week, I almost lost my business to a combination of fire and water. Who knew that water could cause so much damage? We are all OK. In fact, CBI Group is making progress on becoming fully operational. Within a few days or so, our virtual world will march forward without missing a beat. The office? Well, that is another story. Only time will allow for the necessary repairs for everything to be functioning again.
After spending the last week in crisis mode, I finally have a second to think. There are a lot of things one can learn from emergency situations. First, I am touched by the sense of caring and compassion that our community has shown. Folks I do not even know have offered their offices, their services, frankly anything to help us get back to business. I also learned a lot about my own people! Many thanks to each of them for helping out with anything and everything that has been asked of them. There is more to come I imagine.
My biggest learning was about leading while under duress. Do you really know what you will be like if your business is shut down? How would you react if you came in and your building was on fire or underwater? I am sure that as you get that mental picture, your heart will start to beat a little faster. Imagine for a moment that this vision is not a bad dream but is 100% real. That is how I have spent the last week.
When an event of this magnitude happens, leadership can become really challenging. I am known as a participative leader. I ask questions. Seek involvement. Delegate properly. I like to explain the value of the task assigned. In time of crisis? This is a pretty ineffective style of leadership. No, I did not bark out orders like a drill sergeant over the past week – at least not that I know of. But with Niagara Falls visiting the office, you never know.
Emergency situations aren’t all bad – in fact the crisis can be something for staff and your customers to rally around. A company can really come together and learn something terrific about itself. Sure, staff is inconvenienced. Having no phone or internet is tough. No coffee and bathroom? Well, as I have learned is much, much worse! But you do learn who can take direction well when things are imperfect. Who can’t operate with the stress? Who runs for cover? Who can problem solve and think ahead? Seeing people’s reactions truly shows who has real potential in your business.
After spending the week reacting and creating new means for getting things done, CBI Group has a new perspective on the way we operate. Things are getting back to normal, although I will call it a “new normal.” Having a disaster recovery plan is now the norm. Team members calling into conference calls from their living rooms is now normal. Sitting in an office where I can hold hands with staff while working… you guessed it – my new normal.
February 2nd, 2011
My blog really covers a multitude of topics… leadership, culture, sales & marketing and talent acquisition. But one area I do not often write about is the industry I work in. My company, CBI Group, is in the recruitment solutions business; the staffing industry. To most, this is the land of headhunters and images of the old Kelly Girl temporary. When I was starting out at Placers, a temporary agency, I was blessed to work for a pioneer in the industry, a staffing industry Hall of Famer. As I was cutting my teeth learning to sell, lead and build a culture, Placers was building a reputation for doing new things in the world of staffing. The company had a knack for doing two things well: establishing close relationships and building trust. These two things put us in the room with customers to hear and discuss their problems, opportunities and unique challenges.
After twenty years, first at Placers and now at CBI Group, we have solved enough recruitment problems to find that there tend to be core problems. As these problems change, we adapt our business units to solve those problems. Feedback from our customers put us in the recruitment outsourcing business. And as our products have evolved, an entire Recruitment Process Industry has emerged and flourished. Recruitment outsourcing is that misunderstood field full of acronyms and phrases like MSP, VOP, Managed Staffing, project staffing, BPO and RPO, just to name a few. This new industry is saturating the marketplace and people are asking, “What is RPO? And how do I know if my business could benefit from it?”
Here is the industry definition of Recruitment Process Outsourcing, or RPO:
“When a provider acts as a company’s internal recruitment function for a portion or all of its jobs. RPO providers manage the entire recruiting/hiring process from job profiling through the onboarding of the new hire, including staff, technology, method and reporting. A properly managed RPO will improve a company’s time to hire, increase the quality of the candidate pool, provide verifiable metrics, reduce cost and improve governmental compliance.”
This definition is good but I think it requires the addition of some fundamental thinking. Staffing services can truly augment your company efforts. They complement your recruiters or your managers with the effort of putting the right staff in place. Working with a temporary or search firm are exactly that. RPO, however, is a managed service. An RPO firm takes on the recruiting process, technology and owns the outcomes. The last part is crucial. Outcomes are the costs and time commitments that it takes to get the recruitment work accomplished as well as the ownership of making recruitment better in your business.
If you’re thinking, “should I be looking at a managed staffing solution?” – a good place to begin is to answer three “simple” questions:
1. Is your recruitment process working?
2. Are you maximizing the productivity gains of your or someone else’s technology for recruitment?
3. Are you getting recruitment results that fit your goals and strategy?
I am very curious about the outsourced recruitment trends that will unfold in 2011 and I’d love to hear what you think too. Send your links, articles and comments to me via the email on the CBI Group contact page.