Archive: July 2012

Doing the Right Things Right!

July 25th, 2012

Guest blog spot by Kelly Murray, CBI Group team member

So, I’m on a Jack White kick these days. Formerly part of the 2000s alternative rock duo, The White Stripes, he launched his solo music career earlier this year and his album Blunderbuss is being heralded as one of the best of 2012. I was lucky enough to see him perform over the weekend at the Firefly Music Festival held in Dover, Delaware.

While I can rave on and on about how incredible his live performance was (and it WAS incredible!), I actually want to talk about his creative process. Why? Well, I think it reflects an aspect of this week’s cultural tenet of Right Things Right which means making sure that we are doing the things needed to reach our goals – prioritizing time and adding value to our work.

In 2009, a documentary entitled Under the Great White Northern Lights was released which chronicled the White Stripes’ 2007 tour in Canada. In the film, White discusses how he maintains his work ethic to stay inspired:

“I mean, not every day you’re going to wake up and the clouds are going to part and the rays from heaven are going to come down and you’re going to write a song from it. I mean, sometimes you just get in there and force yourself to work and maybe something good will come out of it . . .You know, force yourself into it. Book only four or five days in the studio and force yourself to record an album in that time. Deadlines and things make you creative.”

I think he has a great point. Contemporary rock stars or not, we can all take into consideration how we prioritize our time and stay focused on our goals. Sure, we may not be spending our days writing songs or picking at the guitar but, no matter what our responsibilities involve, we have to make sure that the actions we are taking are bringing us closer to our goal.

For White, setting tight deadlines for himself leads to creative inspiration and ultimately, one step closer to completing his goal of making an album. What steps can you take to improve your productivity and add value to your work? How can you make sure that you’re doing the right things the right way?

Sometimes, all it takes is forcing ourselves to take a step back and rethink about what we’re doing and if its the right thing to do. Make sure that you’re doing things are getting you closer to your goal, not working around it!

2012 Q3 CBI Kick Off

July 24th, 2012

Today the CBI Group team got together for a quarterly meeting to discuss the companies top priorities for the 3rd quarter. We aim to make every quarter’s kick off different from past ones. With an Annual Theme of “Suspension of Disbelief,” illustrated through our interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, our Q3 Kick Off featured the CBI Haunted Forest, the Wicked Witch and her Broomstick, Hooting Owls & Flying Monkeys! The team enjoyed an omelet bar, thanks to Klondike Kate’s to start the day right – and so that we had the energy to discuss our team’s personality profiles AND compete in a team carving competition. Here are some photos!

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Being Responsibly Responsive!

July 18th, 2012

Being Responsive may seem so….well, obvious. Having a sense of urgency is important, but this is more than simply a matter of manners or etiquette. Although in this day and age, you might call it old-fashioned. For me that is why Being Responsive is such an important core value. When you are spoken to you need to respond. Don’t ever ignore your spouse or someone special to you unless you truly want what happens when we choose to ignore. You might get something along the lines of:“Hello? Are you listening? Are you going to say something…anything?”

Today communication is everywhere. It is constant, and never, ever, ever stops. IMs, texts, emails, voice mails, portals, social media. We all try to play catch-up. But being responsive is such a personal measure. And frankly, every person, work team, business unit, even company have their own unique pulse on just what it means to be responsive.

My family was recently vacationing at our favorite beach spot. We were excited to go to a restaurant that held special memories from our first visit many years ago. We were sat at our favorite spot with a terrific view of the water. No time pressures, and no places to be other than with each other. This was what we wanted to do!  Then, we sat….and we sat…and we sat some more. As we tried to make eye contact with the servers, they ignored us. We kept sitting. Then, we asked for a server to come over to the table at the hostess stand. “No worries,” we thought, “We are on vacation!” For a total of 25 minutes we sat at our table and were not acknowledged. Completely ignored. No response from the staff. So we left.

Try and sit in a restaurant for that long feeling as if you do not exist. This is much harder than it sounds. Imagine if this was during your busy week. A lunch meeting. A tightly scheduled day. We would not sit for two minutes without some acknowledgement!

Being responsive is a conscious decision. We need to customize it. We all need to ask questions and engage. Some tasks can wait. Some cannot. But we first need to recognize the opportunity to serve. This sounds so simple. But, we get busy. We know what we need or want to get done. We rationalize. We say, “If I just focus I will be able to get to it.” But we don’t! We are mostly well-intended.

We “think” we are responsive. Yet, there are opportunities for improvement all around us. Try for a few weeks to stop and be fully aware when someone asks something of you. Did you stop and engage? Did you let your customer (internal or external) know you heard them? Did you establish a mutual understanding of expectations? When is it due? On a broader scale what is your personal service level? How quickly will you get back to someone by email? By voice mail? When someone asks you for feedback?

Being Responsive is about working with others. It’s about being a great teammate. It’s is about serving your customer and customizing your responsiveness. No two situations are alike.

The next time you work with a teammate, ask yourself: Is this a business lunch or a vacation meal? Is this two minutes or ten? It is up to each of us to figure out the difference.

Talent Acquisition – What’s in a Name?

July 11th, 2012

Guest blog spot by Lisa Van Ess, CBI Group team member

Those of us in the recruiting and HR business have used a lot of terminology over the years to describe what can simply be defined as an employee service. Clear communication (even to the point of corporate jargon interpretation), match-making, coaching, and advisory business are all components of this service. The newest descriptive term happens to be Talent Acquisition. Perhaps it is my years in financial services, but this one has the same ring to it as Human Capital.

Both terms seem to monetize people; which, while I have built and sustained a career in the solid belief that people are any organization’s greatest asset, looking at them as purely dollars and cents feels like they are just numbers. Companies, leaders, and recruiters don’t really get and keep talented people through acquisition (unless your organization merges with or takes over another firm), or the occasional bidding war for talent that may feel like a hostile takeover, especially when you lose this compensation-based battle.

Recruiting is really all about identifying, attracting, and retaining the talented individuals that fit the culture and values of your organization and who can take your team to the next level. A really simple process for this is:

  1. Know your client, company, or team’s business and culture; and know the job you are seeking to fill really, REALLY well.
  2. Identify and reach out to networks of talent whose experiences and values are a fit for open opportunities and genuinely tell your client’s or company’s story with detailed information about the job.
  3. Those who respond to your story will be potential ‘fits’ for your opportunities, follow-up and don’t let a talented person slip into that legendary recruiting/HR Black Hole!
  4. Thoroughly screen and get to know your candidates – A very wise recruiter once told me that there are only two questions you need answered in determining if a candidate is a fit for a job: “Can this person do the job? Will this person do the job?” I focus on the ‘Will’. Will they do it? Will they be happy doing it in the long run? Will the team/organization be happy with them? I have learned along the way that someone who ‘Almost Can’ but ‘Definitely Will’ can be taught the necessary skills while a ‘borderline willing person’ may never fit.
  5. Set clear expectations about the job, culture, company, career and compensation advancement – the good , bad, and the ugly. Let people be fully knowledgeable about signing up for something, eliminate surprises!
  6. As a leader, HR, or recruitment practitioner deliver on the expectations you set and invest in your newly acquired, talented employee! Lead, coach, tour-guide and mentor – acclimating to a new job is never easy. Remember why you selected this talented person and support them, you won’t be sorry.

So, whatever we call it next year, the constant practice of finding, attracting, relating as a human and collaborating honestly through the recruiting and on-boarding process, investing in and supporting people will always result in the building and retention of talented teams!

The “Nature” of Change

July 5th, 2012

“Nothing endures but change.” – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher

The natural world is in a perpetual state of growth and flux. Just visit some of the areas impacted by our most recent storms. In some cases, those landscapes are forever altered. We have come to understand that change is constant. However, having a philosophy of change is not a modern concept. Change is a basic universal law.

In the working world, we have come to think of change in business terms. Change management is now a product when we buy new software and/or implement new technology. The ability to adapt to change is now a desirable skill that workers need and employers desire. What interests me of late is why some understand change and some do not. Most of us recognize the fundamental principles of change. When you boil it all down, we must accept that: 1. Change is forever, and 2. We are able to make choices with change.

So, what are our options? We can fight change. Although it is a tough way to live, many choose this path. People leave jobs, give up on relationships, or make life changes to avoid it. Still, change is always there. We can adapt to change. We live with it. We tolerate its very existence. We grit our teeth and bear it. We perhaps are unhappy, but we get by. -OR- We can exploit it. Change that is. We can roll around it, just as a dog rolls around in the grass on a sunny day. Note, that dog is happy. Simple? Yes. But happy. That dog has a great personal philosophy.

Now, my theory. Those without a personal philosophy have a weak way of life. And those with weak ways of life are victims to the change around them. At the end of the day, we control our reaction to the events that unfold around us. Those with a strong personal philosophy understand this concept. They recognize the opportunities that come with it. They see happiness. They are content. We all have times of hardship and despair, everyone has down days… we all have life events that don’t seem to go our way. Yet, those that exploit change have the personal philosophies that carry them through it.

We all have a choice.


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