Archive: January 2012


The Year of the Leader

January 25th, 2012

If you ask me, this is the year of the leader. My goal for 2012 is to be a better one and I plan to focus more on the teaching and coaching aspects of leadership. But I also think this should be the year of the leader for a host of practical reasons. To start, some think it is CEO’s, pop stars and sports figures that should get all of the attention for the money they make and the value they create. Sometimes that value is entertainment value but all types of leaders create business value for the business that they represent.

I propose that anyone with leadership skills and credentials are creating real value in today’s market. In my years of experience, true leaders are hard to find and worth every penny they earn. As businesses large and small emerge from the tough times of the economy, there are less leaders to go around for all of us. Business stopped “producing” them formally as less dollars and time went to formal training and coaching programs. Fewer entrepreneurs started businesses and had the experience of learning as they started their company.

Don’t believe me and think my logic is faulty? My business solves recruiting problems and we see many organizations dealing with their leadership gap by hoping to hire the talent from the marketplace and away from others in their industry.

So with such a shortage I would like to proclaim 2012, the year of the leader. We need to recognize and reward the good ones and start to identify people with future leadership potential.

I would consider myself a leader. I am confident enough to say I am good one; and humble enough to say I got here by making mistakes and learning from them. I am dedicated to being the best leader I can be. But ask me and others how to make one? Well, that is not an easy discussion.

So this blog starts a research project for me. I would love to hear your thoughts on two simple questions.

  1. What traits make up leadership to you?
  2. And how do you develop and cultivate leaders in your company?

Simple questions, tough answers. Would love to hear from you and I will share what I learn through this blog in a few weeks.

Let the Village Help You Hire

January 18th, 2012

Get involvement when you hire. Make everyone in the office aware and give them a role. We recently had candidates in our office to observe the role they were going to interview for. You do have observation as as a part of your hiring, right? Most don’t. Time is too precious; speed is too important. I am here to tell you that hiring slow is the smartest thing you can ever do.

When candidates observe different roles in the business, they are able to get comfortable with my team. This is great stuff. They can ask informal questions. They can build rapport and relax. Some people learn by seeing… sometimes more action and less talk is good. This simple practice can make or break a hire. The candidate will open up! They’ll confide in my team that she was unemployed and lied on her resume, that he was going to ask for more money than he made in his last job, that she was just biding her time until a real job that she wants opens up, that they were curious if they could work from home right away and get an advance on their first paycheck too. And oh yeah, is the boss for real around here?

So I kid. But there is truth in there too. I have exaggerated the many things that have come out of observations. Yes, I know the negative ones are just so much more fun to talk about, but great things come out of it too. Good, honest candidates realize they are not ready for the role and they tell you so! Great candidates share that they thought the job was, well, different than they saw and they let you know! And they are often a fit for other roles with different needs.

My belief is that you choose candidates by letting them have some say in choosing you. Most of us can tell a technical skill fit; however, after 40 years of Placers experiences behind a Burkhard staffing leader the rest is very, very tough to do really well.

Let your village help you hire. Let the evaluation of candidates start with by integrating with your team. When applicants call, when they sit in your lobby, when they observe your working environment, they are evaluating you and your team. When you make your staff hiring decisions, be sure to bring the village members together for a full evaluation from many different perspectives!

What’s in a rule?

January 13th, 2012

Maybe you have begun to take some notice of the changes in the economy of late? Unemployment is going down as the job creation machine that is small business is starting to crank back up, AGAIN. In fact, article after article says it the same way… this is no big deal, just small business adding a job or two (just check USA Today article from last Friday). What the heck? It’s time to take the risk and go for it! This is a huge deal… Business just lived through THREE years where each and every hire was scrutinized. Every dollar of payroll challenged. Let’s not forget where we have been, people. This is great news… Risk!? Frankly, this is not something that anyone has had any appetite for.

What do rules have to do with hiring? It has to do with culture. Sometimes a business has people priorities. Companies now are focusing on attracting and hiring employees. This is hard enough for companies that may have never done it very well to begin with. One or two hires? Not really a core process and talent of most small business. Big business and hiring? This is my business. And business strategy and leadership drive how recruitment is done in the business.

However, I take issue with what happens as business grows. Staff numbers swell, the old patterns of doing things are challenged and people issues creep back into the business. Business adds growing and keeping employees to the arduous task of hiring them. But how you deal with your company and its rules, says a lot about you as a leader and the culture of your business.

Most create a rule or policy every single time something goes wrong. I have a theory I was taught eons ago. It is the 99 and 1 theory, for every 99 people that will do things right, one probably will not. How much energy does your company spend on the one that does wrong? This is where your rules, policies, and compliance standards creep in.

In my company, with an Outside-In culture, we want to have cultural values that are our set of simple guidelines to live by. Not too many rules. I expect my employees to use them to make decisions without me. Leaders must catch folks doing the right things. That is our real purpose as leaders. Outside-In companies “self-patrol” themselves. Employees that are outliers are surrounded by the right behaviors from the cultural majority. They learn and norm or leave. Just as it should be.

A set of rule books don’t survive. But don’t misunderstand me, having clarity in your company is important. Employees gain in spades with clarity. You just can’t create a piece of legislation every time something happens. It doesn’t work when our politicians do it. Legislation does not have anything to do with enforcement or execution. How many pieces of legislation are misunderstood as government began to roll it out?

Let your employees think. Have basic values. Let them drive the business. And for goodness sake, don’t let one ruin it for 99!

New Year, New Look

January 12th, 2012

Thousands of people hours later, we are proud to show off our new e-home at an old address. We’ll keep this brief because our site mostly speaks for itself, but we hope you enjoy the new design of the site, a look and feel that better represents who we are. Our aim was to build the site from your perspective – to help you, our visitor, have easier travels through our site so you can find what you want and learn about us along the way.

Please send any comments, both good and bad! While this is site is a vast improvement from our last…

2011 Website Snapshot

…we are still open to changes and improvements.

Thank you for visiting!

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