Category: Customer Stories


A “Healthy” Culture

November 19th, 2014

ID-100268432To be healthy and to have energy most of us know that we must “eat right” and exercise. Living a sedentary lifestyle is not good for the body. Getting up and moving is the key to building a strong, resilient, and flexible body. Most of us have a dozen excuses for not working out. We are busy, life gets in the way, kids, commitments in the community, yard work, organizing your sock drawer. Did I mention kids?

We find it hard to set a routine up and stick with it. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I have been exercising like clockwork for 6, 10, 14 months and it was the worst decision of my life. I have lost weight, have more energy, and have less stress in my life. Terrible decision.” Not likely.

I think culture is the same way. In order to have a healthy, energetic culture, an organization and its leaders must do the equivalent of exercising and eating right. The company must have a plan to work at its culture! Leaders don’t time to have a cultural plan, right? I think you don’t have time not too. Your culture, when alive, aligned, and clear, does a very nice job of creating meaning and a bigger purpose for your customers, employees, and key stakeholders. Quite frankly, your culture sends a clear message whether it’s alive and aligned or not.

The great thing about culture work is that I don’t think it matters where you start as long as you start somewhere. Starting will create action and ideas that will keep your culture work alive and vibrant.

Looking for some ideas on where to start?

  1. Define your organizational values with your team. Find ways to talk about them at staff meetings, training sessions, daily huddles, etc.
  2. Reward, recognize, and hold accountable employees to the values.
  3. Meet with employees. Ask them what the organization must stop, start, and continue doing.
  4. Create cultural priorities.

Outside-In® Chronicles: 10 Ways to Avoid Being an Average Salesperson

November 12th, 2014

Over and over again I meet average salespeople with average results that sell middle of the road products and services. Everyone from the company, including senior leaders/founders, sales leaders, and salespeople, all want and need more results. Salespeople want to hit the quota, make big commissions, and earn bonuses. The company typically has a strategy that involves growing—whether it be into new territories, industries, or segments. Lots and lots of work is done on setting goals and targets, and in fact, this work is continuous and never ending.

So why are so many salespeople off plan right now? I will tell you what I have learned. Most of this is not original, rather I am an “aggregator” sharing a combination of ideas and experiences to address this epidemic of sorts.

10. Don’t sit next to an average salesperson. Sales is lonely. Salespeople flock together for support and companionship. The problem is that they learn from each other—good and bad habits. When they are uncertain about something they ask one another instead of those that can actually help.

9. Avoid calling on the same people over and over again. Salespeople like to talk to people those who are nice to them, those who will take their call, and those who will meet with them. In a world of disruption this is comforting. However, they are not the real buyers. The person you might want to talk to is a change maker and they might not want to talk to you unless you can guide them through the change they want and need to make.

statcred8. You keep saying you’re there to serve at their beck and call. Sales today is about more than just problem identification and being there with your iPad ready to take the order. Today’s salesperson has to be able to add value in assisting the person in making decisions, not waiting for them to make it.

7. Confidence (or lack of it). The product is changing constantly. Your customers world is shifting and changing, too. If you stand still too long doing the same things you will have not changed enough and you will quickly become an average salesperson. It’ll happen so fast you won’t even know what hit you.

6. The accumulation effect. You simply do not put enough into your sales pipeline. You must collect leads to build prospects. Prospects must become conversations, bids, proposals, and solutions in draft. This takes a while. Average salespeople sit on what they have and pray that there is enough in their pipeline to meet their goals. However, really good salespeople put more in the pipeline all of the time, forever.

5. Time. It simply takes time. How many touches does it really take? Usually 6-10.

4. You don’t make enough happen. Send one more email. Go to one more networking event or trade show. Make one more call. You aren’t doing enough!

3. You dump the features and benefits of your product or service. In today’s world your buyer has never, ever been able to get more information on you, your business, your service, your competitors, and frankly, even your pricing. Everything is available in today’s connected world. Help your customer sort through it all!

2. Customers buy you first! How good have you been climbing the relational ladder from Ed Wallace’s Building Relationships That Last? Do you make commitments and keep them? Are you showing how you can be a trusted advisor and do you know how to do this?

1. In Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Are you willing to put that kind of time in? Are you good enough to make it that long? How do you get from where you are now to mastery? At eight hours a day this will take you a good five years of focus.

CBI Way: How RPO Affects Your Brand

November 5th, 2014

ID-100221395Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

The CBI Way series has been discussing the value and importance of strong candidate engagement, and just as important, customer engagement. We spoke to some of the problems that are created with a lack of engagement, such as poor time-to-fill and loss of qualified candidates. Also discussed were a couple tips for curving weak engagement between partners, a daily or weekly meeting, for example. But what about the customer’s brand and reputation when it is outsourcing talent acquisition?

Working in an RPO partnership, the provider is essentially an extension of the customer, which cannot be forgotten. Think about it, the designated recruiters are reaching out to candidates and other professionals on behalf of their customer, even when just networking. While actively recruiting, the brand the candidates hear isn’t the provider’s, but the client’s, the business with the open requisitions. If the candidate feels overlooked, awaiting feedback, not only might he or she lose interest, but the customer’s brand and reputation can be negatively impacted.

Constant communication and alignment is essential to prevent any negative impact that could occur. Commitment to asking questions about the requisitions, company culture, and an equally strong effort from the client can be the difference between success and failure. Gather as much information as possible that can be applied to the job, company, and hiring process during the recruitment efforts, ultimately creating a better candidate experience.

Again, RPO is a partnership, and a commitment to the process and its many layers can be the difference between a frustrating situation and an efficient, brand-building placement.

The CBI Way blog series explores the tools and practices used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

 

What I Do, Why I Do It, and How I Do It

October 29th, 2014

The Outside-In® Companies exist to optimize customer talent challenges. I believe this is best accomplished by making sure our culture acts as our internal compass. Everyone is in charge of their own career and our values exist to enable employees to maximize their performance in their work. This natural culture promotes quality customer work in the purest sense—if you’re empowered, have challenging work, good training, and a servant leader mentality, you will create a special work environment.

ID-100278237I listen. I listen to customers, prospects, employees, and applicants. Even partners and suppliers. Then I aggregate information to see patterns and trends. This is our R&D. This is how we will build new service lines and brands for the Outside-In® Companies. We all want to survey customers and have focus groups. Formality in market testing ideas is fine, but knowing what your market place needs is a risk I see us continuing to take.

We will continue to listen. We must continue to be workforce and workplace experts. Our customers need the consultation as being in business and its many changes really impact how work gets done today. The workforce knows it needs different skills and assistance today—we must be its agent to help navigate.

The economy seems to be in constant change and flux and we are in industry that celebrates and suffers along with it. We need to continue to look to reduce that volatilty with our plans. I imagine this will take on a combination of geographic expansions, customer penetration across our brands, and the inevitable expansion into new and different service lines.

I create the routine. My job is to create the pulse for the business and to drive its rhythm. How do we communicate to whom? How do we plan and share information? I keep this pulsing like clockwork.

I encourage the heart. We want to create an environment where hard work and living our values creates extrinsic/intrinsic rewards for employees. Anyone can solve a problem, tackle a project of their choosing, or speak to whomever they want in the business. The why may not be obvious here. Innovation, confidence, proactivity, and engagement all come from within when the right environment is nurtured.

I am a teacher and a coach first. I love to help others know more and believe that knowledge should not be used as a bargaining chip in business. The more my team knows, the more confidence and self esteem they have and I trust the correlation between the two. We must be a market leader with training—there is only a cost when you don’t train.

I help my team interact with prospects and customers differently. We are consultative in a world where this is typlically just considered words that mean nothing. I continue to show that when you’re able to translate your expertise to your customers’ challenges and opportunities, the rest comes easily. The very act of learning their business builds lasting relationships and a trust that fully takes you from being in sales to a trusted partner.

Outside-In® Chronicles: He Who Can Provide Outside-In® Leadership Has the Whole World with Him

October 15th, 2014

Each month our leaders focus on learning and development. Do you consistently allocate time for shared leadership experiences and discussion? This form of renewal really brings the team together and gives us time to think about how accurately each of us lead. Recently, we have been working from Dale Carnegie’s original self-help book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is one of the most important influences on the way we do things as a business—specifically how we deal with people!

images2We have been focused on Chapter 3, “He Who Can Do This Has the Whole World with Him. He Who Cannot Walks a Lonely Way.” My leaders discussed and discovered that we have a tremendous role in understanding our staff’s needs and wants. How many times do we present ideas or share our opinions in a way that is good for us? How often do we think, write, or present in a way that is of the other person’s interest? We all think about ourselves before others—this is simply human nature. However, to be truly Outside-In® leaders, we have to start with the other person’s interests first. As the book says, we must learn to “bait the hook to suit the fish.” Just because you like something doesn’t mean that others will and vice versa. Are we really ready to talk in terms of someone else’s interests? We better be.

We can use our title as ammo or yell as a leader to get things done for a moment. Cracking the proverbial whip works once or twice but only for a very short period of time. A sales person can be successful every now and again when they talk about what they want, their product and service, their quota, their tough day, etc. However, consumers want to feel like they are really being listened to. They want to buy, not be sold to. And they want to know that their needs are being met.

How can you take into account the other point of view? We made our list together as leaders.

  1. Listen. Talk less. Be clear that we understand what others want and need.images
  2. Be clear about what needs to be done, especially as we understand how staff wants to do their jobs.
  3. Create a reminder of the hook and the fish concept. What bait do you need to have an effective employee, customer, or family discussion?
  4. Be aware of wants and needs as we delegate. If done correctly, delegation is the key to knowing exactly what these wants and needs are.
  5. Be clear about expectations.
  6. Give staff the opportunities to explore.
  7. Remember that not everyone’s way works all of the time. Sometimes a good leadership push is in order.

CBI Way: What About Customer Engagement?

October 8th, 2014

Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Last month, CBI Way brought attention to the problems a lack of candidate engagement can create, especially with millions of job openings. Well, you guessed it, reported by this month’s BLS Job Opening and Labor Turnover report, there were even more (predicted) job openings on the last day of August. Up to 4.8 million, the number of open jobs has an effect on a candidate’s potential options, and reiterates the importance of steady candidate, and customer engagement.

ID-100264594Client engagement can sometimes be overlooked, but in a partnership, active communication can set you apart from other providers in satisfying critical metrics with the customer. Established guidelines in the Service Level Agreement for feedback, timelines, and continuous improvement can be negatively impacted without making sure the customer is fully engaged. A daily or weekly meeting between the two partners is a great way to keep the customer informed, and reiterate the need for quick and thorough feedback.

It’s not difficult for a candidate to become uninterested in an opportunity, or simply think he or she is out of the running, especially passive candidates. That candidate engagement is directly altered by the feedback and turnaround by the customer. As a candidate, would you feel confident after waiting twenty days for feedback following your initial conversation? All parties involved are hurt by poor engagement; with money, quality talent, and ultimately, success, among the casualties.

Diagnosing problem areas or identifying needs for change can also be supported by great communication and commitment. In the next CBI Way blog we’ll identify some of what could go wrong, how to prevent, and if needed, how to resolve problems in an RPO partnership.

The CBI Way blog series explores the tools and practices used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

 

The Entrepreneurial Life: That Impossible Priority

October 1st, 2014

ID-100100023Working with small business leaders for a living has both its perks and its perils. What are the toughest business learns for every small business owner or bootstrapped leader? We want to do everything. Fund it all. React to every new idea. Solve every single problem. Serve each and every client. Hire every good talent that comes in the door. Finish every project. Go to every networking meeting. You get the idea. We want to do it all. This is contagious. It builds and snowballs into a doing frenzy.

I was taught to focus on revenue generating activities from 8-5 and to run the company before 8 or after 5. I did that during the early years. Careful to mix the two. This did not prevent me from working until midnight or on Sunday mornings. In fact, in the I would have “meetings” with the foreman of the commercial cleaning crew that went through each night after 9 pm! That foreman would do odds jobs; hang white boards, move desks, and join me at my conference table when I wanted and needed to talk. Fascinating times with incredible experiences. I think you can really only bootstrap once—it takes much energy and stamina.

Over the years, books and consultants have changed my perspective on the do it all and fund everything mentality that came to me naturally.

I now preach limited priorities. Focus, execution, and getting things done is my new philosophy. The hardest things of all is deciding what 3-5 items should be yours to tackle! Every leader I have ever coached says the same thing: I have many more things to do than that! We all do. The point is to choose what part of your business to tackle and understanding how if you fix or adjust that part will impact other parts of the business. It’s like business centrifugal force. Fix one thing, it makes something else move along too. But too much and it will make other parts of the business need future fixing!

How do you chose the part of your business to tackle? Stay tuned for a future blog!

Are You a Sharing Leader?

September 24th, 2014

Being a leader in today’s work environment has it’s share of obstacles. The culture of your company directly impacts how you lead and what you do in your role in every circumstance. For example, let’s take the topic of communication and your responsibility relative to cascading messages. Often times leaders maintain the proverbial upper hand by distributing information (or frankly misinformation) to suit their personal goals and objectives. This does not have to be a nefarious or illegal thing by the way. Sometimes as leaders we are simply overly competitive or selfish. Being the leader that always has to win means you’re going to do anything you need to do to come out on top. That often means controlling what you know. Selfish leaders? Well, they are probably just protecting their job and paycheck. Everybody is doing it right? So what’s wrong with it? It’s like a teenager explaining staying out too late or a bad test grade, “…but Tommy is allowed to.”

Today’s world is about information. That’s why it’s called the Information Age. Why not empower today’s knowledge worker with as much as possible? Why not make it a point to share as much as you can? A group perspective is often more right and more powerful than the views of a handful or the privileged.

To be a sharing leader one must:

  1. ID-100161829Be clear on what their role is as a leader. Is it your job to share what you hear and learn in terms of strategy, vision, or simple business updates with your team? If you’re hearing these messages and you don’t see them in newsletter, town halls, or email updates then I bet it is part of your role. Be a messenger. There is good power in doing this well!
  2. Share it all. Don’t hold back an inch. Employees can sense when your holding back and not sharing. Trust them. They can handle the truth. Of course there is confidentiality. This is not what I am talking about. Stop protecting. Quit isolating staff from business news they can help with. They might even view the problems of the business as interesting new projects to tackle to grow their resumes!
  3. Use all means as possible. Some messages are tactical. Some are strategic. Some serious and some not so much. Pick your forum. Have huddles every day for daily sticks. Do a weekly discussion for businesses. Have a phone call or town hall meeting when you’re dealing with longer term updates or when you want to get some real engagement and feedback.

The key is to make communication a part of your daily leadership plan. It will always take a back seat to your inbox and to do’s if you let it!

Outside-In® Chronicles: Why Values and Culture Matter More than Rules and Handbooks

September 17th, 2014

DSC_0372-300x199As a leader of a successful recruiting company and the coach of a local high school soccer team, I’ve come to understand that too many organizations attempt to create order and discipline through handbooks and rule books.  Don’t get me wrong – they have a place. However, I believe that too many organizations make rules for the 1 in 100 that take advantage of the system, and then 99 have to suffer because of it. Yet, values are forever. They force a union and ownership amongst employees and leaders just as they do players and coaches. Values are enforceable by an entire organization, and there are a lot more players then coaches! This puts the emphasis on all having say and ownership!  Like the saying goes, “Treat people the way they wish they were treated and they just might live up to that standard!”

So if your not convinced, picture me coaching in a game. Imagine my superstar player who is losing his cool or maybe drawing attention to himself in away that puts him above the team. I can promise you that this happens. I might need to talk to him, but 18 other players will step in remind him of the value that  team comes first at all times! Or perhaps we get behind in the score and some players get down on themselves. I hear over and over again about the value that our soccer program never, ever, ever, ever gives up.

My personal favorite though is “Nothing negative said, nothing negative received”. I think every business, HR firm or not, needs this value. This one is about team or group trust. Too many times we assume that something said was negative, and too many time we hear it as such. We want a positive atmosphere, where we maintain a benefit-of-the-doubt team culture. We want to trust the gap between what we see and hear and what happened!

I hope you enjoy seeing how our values work for the team. By the way, this is my third year with the team and results come slowly (when they are going to stick)! This is the year we win some games! Our philosophy: Our goal is not to win alone, but to build and improve every day in order to play the game perfectly.

Below is a list of values that we hope all players at Elkton High School can embrace. If we can accept and practice these values, we can better our team and the soccer program, but more importantly we can better our lives and better serve others around us.

Elkton Soccer Program Values:

1. We never, ever, ever give up.

2. Nothing negative said, nothing negative received.

3. Our goal is not to win alone, but to play the game perfectly.

4. We will outwork our competition on and off the pitch.

5. We will follow our player agreements.

6. Everyone plays, that is how we get better as a program.

7. Team comes first at all times.

8. We will play with emotion, not show it.

9. We will do everything with intention (practice, training, pregame, off the field).

10. We must be willing to teach and learn.

11. Every player, regardless of their background, brings an important and necessary element to the team.

CBI Way: More Jobs, More Candidate Engagement

September 10th, 2014

Guest blog spot by Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Recently, the idea of an improving economy and job environment  has been mentioned often, with the support of statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Along with the aforementioned numbers, we’ve spoken to the challenges of sourcing and recruiting within a changing employer/employee market. To support strategic sourcing techniques, there are a few ways to keep potential candidates (and customers) engaged while there are 4.7 million open jobs.

That’s right. According to the BLS, there were 4.7 million open jobs on the last day of July, 2014. That is more than any time since February, 2001. The increasing number of open jobs has also led to the lengthiest time-to-fill average nationally in thirteen years at 24.9 days, according to Dice Holdings, Inc. recent survey.

ID-100249000We are all aware that time is money, and time-to-fill is a critical metric when recruiting. A great way to cut down on the time-to-fill a job, continuous engagement with the candidate and customer, should be a point of emphasis. Specifically, those passive candidates, who again, have other options with 4.7 million jobs currently open. Keep the candidate involved in the process, don’t let them slip away and let your job contribute to that lengthy average time-to-fill. Respond quickly, keep them informed, and help your candidate understand the process. Keeping a candidate guessing is a great way to lose interest, think, “more is always better” when considering engagement with passive candidates.

Candidate engagement isn’t alone when trying to cut down on a lengthy time-to-fill. The customer can also become “lost”, and keeping your customer completely engaged should not be overlooked. In the next CBI Way blog, we’ll explore how to keep the customer engaged, and the factors than can be influenced otherwise.

The CBI Way blog series explores the tools and practices used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

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