CBI Way: Getting Your Pipeline Started

May 20th, 2015

By Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

Having the ability to tap your own pipeline of talent when trying to fill open positions can be a game-changer. As discussed in the last CBI Way Blog, talent pipelining is about preparing for future openings, and easily identifying quality candidates quickly, reducing critical metrics such as time to fill. As you can probably predict, creating your pipeline starts with a familiar topic: engaging passive candidates.

CBIWayEngaging passive talent can be an incredibly effective way to encourage your pipeline’s success. First, identifying the profile and skillsets needed for future openings is going to help point you in the right direction for engaging those ideal candidates. For example, perhaps you want to build a pipeline of electrical engineers, knowing of a large project kicking off next year. You might be able to get a decent amount of names from LinkedIn, FaceBook, or old resumes on job boards. But more likely, the most effective source for building your pool of electrical engineers is going to be associations, niche groups, and seminars or events where candidates with the skillset you seek meet, interact, and engage one another. Gathering as much information possible about your pipelined candidates will take in-depth research and cross-referencing, but will pay dividends for the long term approach. Emails, telephone numbers, and social media profiles can all help bridge the gap to engagement.

Identifying the sources to generate passive candidates is an important step. But perhaps just as important is engaging that talent, and building relationships to foster interest and help drive referrals. In the next CBI Way blog, we’ll discuss some common strategies to produce success when attempting to engage your newly built talent pipeline.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Do You Choose to Act Like a Temporary Employee or an Entrepreneur?

May 14th, 2015

temporentreWhat would you do with yourself if you realized that the world of work has changed dramatically and that we have a choice to make? We are basically temps OR we are entrepreneurs that must choose ourselves. That is my interpretation of a wonderfully honest book by James Altucher called Choose Yourself!

We are temps in the sense that we go to work, do our jobs, and collect our paychecks. We don’t love what we do, however, we don’t even really know that there is another option. We don’t put a whole lot into our career when we act like a temporary employee. The career is simply a means to an end. I get paid and I am waiting for someone to tell me what to do and how to do it—that is the extent of the contract.

However, we are all, in essence, rented for a period of time (even though the job is not a true temporary position). Time is relative. If the average tenure of a public CEO is thirteen months, I could make the argument that it is a temporary assignment. It is our attitude, level of engagement, lack of drive to learn, and inability to grow or find ways to become more of an asset that often catch up with us. You act temporary and you don’t know any better!

Or maybe it’s not your fault at all and it’s simply the realities of today’s workplace that did it to you. No company or job is forever, right? The economy, markets, your company, and its industry, all play a key role. I think that is the point of the title of choosing yourself! You are responsible for you. No one else, let alone your current employer. You must own your skills and development and how you monetize what you are capable of! A job simply might not cut it anymore! Or perhaps it just part of you how monetize your time and capabilities?

Being an entrepreneur? Well, I think this is both literal and figurative. All of us must be resourceful, creative, hard working, productive, a risk taker, and a learner. We must find ways to create revenues for our employers and for ourselves on the side. This could be cottage industries, extra jobs, writing blogs or books. We are responsible for our own careers and for inventing ourselves!

The key to NOT being a temp? Act like an entrepreneur. Frankly, the book itself is full of implementable ways of choosing yourself and finding a way to own your income and your career. The magic is in being and thinking differently while you’re employed. Most businesses crave entrepreneurial thinking. Culture and external environment may dictate terms, but it starts within! I, for one, have supported many employees to become entrepreneurs. I have supported side projects and reviewed their cottage industry ideas. Quite frankly, I buy from them, too! This is how you choose yourself.

If cold calls don’t work, change your plans. If the product doesn’t sell, sell something else. If the meeting did not go well, then try again. This is what entrepreneurs do—and it is what great entrepreneurial employees do, too!

Want to meet great entrepreneurial employees? I have a few that get what it takes to chose for themselves! Mary Schaefer (left) is one of our Career Coaches at Barton Career Advisors, and Kelly Hocutt (right) is our Marketing Team Leader for the Outside-In® Companies.

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Outside-In® Chronicles: Three Things Grandmom Rose Taught Me About Leadership

May 6th, 2015

photo-2-223x300With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to revisit this blog about my Grandmom Rose and her significant influence on my leadership style.

My Grandmom Rose was an amazing person. When she was young, she absolutely loved to dance. When she was older, during a time when marrying those of another religion was uncommon, she left her Jewish faith to marry a man of a different one. And for decades, she fought for the underdog through volunteering for the rights and privileges of the blind here in Delaware. She lived to be well over 102—but her wisdom remains infinite. Although Rose died a few years ago, I think of her often. How could I not? Whenever I was sick as a child, Rose played 97 straight games of Candy Land with me. Imagine that. I think she let me win every time, too.

Today, I thought I would share a few thoughts on Rose’s lifestyle that I think translates pretty darn well into reminders for all of us in leadership positions.

1. Have a sense of mindfulness. This is a hard one. Are you centered and focused on the moment or the task at hand? Are you in the meeting you’re in? Or are you messaging others on your cell phone and trying to keep up with the rest of your day? Rose never knew technology and its advantages, but you always knew she was focused on you when you were sitting in front of her. As a leader, are you giving 100% to the team or person in front of you? Or do your distractions show? Does your lack of attention send the message that your time there is not important? Value the face time.

2. Ask valuable questions. If you’re in a sales, leadership, consulting, or frankly any role in life, there is nothing better than the ability to invest in others through asking questions. If you knew Rose she could ask some humdingers. They would just keep coming, too. They were good and stimulating questions. She genuinely cared about you and life—this showed through her investment in you. As a leader, how many times do you catch yourself talking, maybe dulling out general advice because it’s easier and feels good. Certainly easier than asking the style of questions that help people work through their own challenges and opportunities. Staff members want more than answers. They want skills they can use again and again. Does your leadership style involve a healthy sense of curiosity and frequently asking questions? Or are you too busy to lead and simply give out answers just to keep the day moving along?

3. Do one thing at a time. This sounds so…well, impossible in today’s world. Rose was really great about doing one thing at a time. I think she just wouldn’t understand why we think it is a good idea to multi-task to the point of exhaustion. Leaders get that adrenaline rush. Fight that fire. Answer that email. Text that message. All of these are signs of a normal, hectic day. However, before we know it the day is done. Did you accomplish your most important task? Did you finish what you started? It may seem old fashioned, but there is something to working on the hardest thing first and working on it until it is completed. It’s even more impressive if you do so without succumbing to the constant distractions of smart phones, tablets, and laptops!

When I was young, Rose took me to Gino’s for lunch every week for almost a year to collect that week’s plastic NFL football helmet. Each time she would laugh as I would eat one giant burger and then ask for a second one! Rose knew what was important in relationships. She knew what to bother with. If you see me turn off my phone, close my laptop, or shut the door to focus, know that in some small way, it’s my ode to Rose!

What Would Happen if We Stopped Taking Risks?

April 29th, 2015

Lets start with the obvious, avoiding taking any risk is actually a pretty serious risk all by itself! This requires us to avoid phone calls and interactions with customers and associates. We need to skip team meetings and duck out of the break room, too. The longer we stand still and stay status quo the more likely we are to fall a step behind or even lose altogether—all while our competitors and peers march forward.

The Outside-In® Companies believe in our value of taking risks. We definitely don’t steer around or away from it, but why does it matter for our employees to live this value? Who really cares anyway? In fact, why should any service company encourage risk taking?

ID-100309958First off, risk taking is really about decision making, the lack of perceived authority, task discretion, and reward for doing so. Employees that do not make decisions often do so because their company’s culture discourages it. This is cultivated through the management team and their practices. This is quite often an unexpected negative outcome of a company that lacks a cultural plan to encourage customer centric actions with those that have direct customer contact.

Employees that don’t make decisions have little or no choice but to get the answer for a customer from those that have the power or information. Usually, the power lies in controlling that information and it is intended to be a business control that simply hedges risk. However, in this case, it kills the customer! This can be because of a lack of training and knowledge or a matter of policy and the preferred hierarchical nature of the company.

Close your eyes and remember when this happened to you, a roommate, someone from your household, etc. Is there anything more frustrating than when you’re on the phone with that utility, or in line at the retail store, or airport and the service associate needs a manager? All you needed was to make a return, change a seat, or get your bill in the correct name. The worst part is that the supervisor does not do anything fancy—they just need a stupid code or a key to take care of your return or to move your flight.

A culture that values its customers empowers and encourages risks that take place in the act of serving a customer!

Employees that are not encouraged to notice what their customers are actually saying and then do something about it are not serving the strategic purposes of the business. The front lines see and hear it all. How many times have you heard a clerk or phone representative say that they have told management about a customer opinion so many times but no one listens. Then their voice trails off and their interest and engagement level wanes day by day! If we listen to customers as employees they will tell you why they are angry about a program or policy change, what is never in the store, when service is slow, or when a product has been replaced that should not have been. We can always hear it as employees.

A culture that values risk taking creates an environment where employees have tools and formats to share what they hear and take action! This is customer centric and systematic cultural risk taking. What did you learn from our marketplace today? What did our customers challenge us with? What do they need and want from us? Ask employees for feedback often, give all employees a format to share, reward this flow of insights, then categorize it and teach what to do with it. Most likely your plan of improvement needs tweaking. Employees just need permission to open their eyes and be empowered to see what needs fixing. Empowerment and the confidence to stand up and share what might be the next product or service that enhances your company’s top line strategy are the keys to grow your business.

Risk taking is a cultural tool to encourage customer centric and entrepreneurial behaviors for all of your employees. You have a choice in your organization; you can either treat employees like leased resources, or you can act and create an environment that encourages entrepreneurial behaviors that enhance your customer’s experience with you.

Go sit and listen to your employees, have Outside-In® eyes and ears, and gather the information you need in order to decide how to encourage risk taking that improves the experience for your customer base. Or come visit our office and see it in action!

CBI Way: The Talent Pipeline Situation

April 22nd, 2015

By Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

ID-100248873When planning the direction of your company, one of the most important aspects must be the talent supporting the business. Proactively thinking about the talent that will help drive your business can be a difference-making strategy to be a step ahead of the competition. In turn, building long-term relationships with quality candidates for future hiring, or talent pipelining, can be a critical investment as the job market continues to improve, with another 126,000 new jobs added in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Previously, we’ve talked about the challenge with the growing number of passive candidates – 75% of all candidates, according to LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruitment Trends survey, which increases the difficulty of quickly identifying and hiring top talent. Constructing a strong pipeline of candidates in specific industries is a great way to be ahead of the game while also increasing the potential for quality referrals, by spreading the word of hiring inside your business. Instead of reacting to a new requisition by sourcing, screening, and interviewing; having a pipeline of talent knocks out at least the first step of the process, also reducing the time-to-fill.

Additionally, maintaining the passive pipeline by keeping the talent engaged and aware of company openings and happenings can help build your brand, keeping your business on the top of candidate’s minds if their situation should change. While it may be time consuming initially, building your pipelines will become a regular strategy to meet your talent acquisition needs and pay dividends as a long-term strategy.

Stay tuned for the next CBI Way Blog to learn ways to best build your talent pipeline in the new age of social recruiting.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

 

Blank Sheet of Paper: Customers Do Not Want a Sales Pitch!

April 15th, 2015

Blank Sheet of Paper is the attitude we take towards how we interact with customers. Are we open or close minded in our thinking and in our words with customers? Do we think constantly about how to do more for our customer? What would make their experience Nth Degree? Blank Sheet of Paper is also about how we organize the way we chose to conduct our business! For example, are you easy to do business with? Are you and your team accessible? What does that look like? For us, it’s about answering the phone in three rings and limiting voice mail. Or allowing service folks to spend as much time as needed with customers and with no maximum time goal on the phones.

BlankSheetofPaperNow, go ahead and take out of a piece of paper from a notebook or copy paper. There is nothing on it, right? It is a blank sheet of paper! Having a Blank Sheet of Paper value is a really important element to how the Outside-In® Companies go to the marketplace. Blank does not mean we lack ideas and creativity, it simply means that our process of selling and serving our customer starts without jumping to quick assumptions or borrowed ideas from our past experiences. We try hard to listen and acknowledge each new prospect by answering questions and addressing specific needs.

There are stories of legend from service companies where the “solution” presentation to Nabisco happened to have the Kraft logo on one of the slides. Imagine saying you listen well, have a great consulting or selling process, bragging about your custom work and having a multimillion dollar customer see a competitor’s name on their slide deck! Was it copy and pasted? Was it a joke or bad editing? Regardless, legend has it that this happened to a global consulting company on pitch day. And yes, they lost the deal! That won’t happen here. There is nothing wrong with leveraging your expertise and experiences—it’s simply how you chose to do it! Don’t get me wrong, we have many different talent services. Some have a relatively short buying cycle, while others take hundreds of hours to build them out properly. The key? Demonstrate authenticity and build relationships. Have a clear system to get the answers and information you need to solve customer problems. This is our OI-Q. Battle and time tested, this is our method of effectively and efficiently learning what we need to in order to do our best work!

We know that to truly solve a customer’s problems, we need to demonstrate that we have earned the right, invested the time, followed the right approach and process and then brought our talents, experiences, and expertise to bear on the problems!

Customers want to buy, not be sold to. Think about when you walk into a retail establishment. When someone asks you if you need help do you ever say yes? Even when you are there to buy? Most of us say no. None of us like to be followed around and asked stupid questions.  Even when we are there to make a purchase. Approaching a customer is everything!

So how do you help a customer buy? Build relationships not just on the golf course or at business lunches. The world has little time for lunch for the sake of lunch. Relationship building takes place when you’re asking questions about the customer and their talent challenges and opportunities. Listen, ask questions, do the work, observe, volunteer. All of these ways demonstrate that what you know will make more sense. Yes, what your expertise is all about will be more believable because you invested the times in your customers business. That is the key to Blank Sheet of Paper—showing what you know comes out through your ability to deftly and skillfully take your customer through the buying process. A process that helps you earn the right, establish credibility, demonstrate knowledge, and ultimately identify the issues and challenges that you identify to your way to solve the problem!

Outside-In® Chronicles: Game of Jobs – Talent is Coming

April 8th, 2015

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently posted that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 126,000 in March, and the unemployment rate remained at 5.5 percent. With Game of Thrones Season 5 premiering this coming Sunday, and the staffing numbers on a continuous rise, we decided to bring this blog back from the vault to illustrate that the War on Talent is still alive and well and the battle for quality talent is increasing every day!

Game of Jobs – Talent is Coming

Originally published on April 23rd, 2014

If you look at the numbers in TV and talent of late, it’s clear to see that a lot more people are watching Game of Thrones (#1 download this week of all TV!) Who can blame them? It’s like General Hospital in the middle ages with enough family, fighting, war, and drunkenness to satisfy everyone.

GoT-LogoAnother key insight is that there is a new, more modern war for King’s Landing brewing. This is apparent in the US talent numbers, too. It’s just going to take a little longer for all of us to really notice. Job creation is way up for four straight months, bubbling up in the 40,000 range consistently. The 121,000 announced large reductions in force for the first quarter of 2014 are a 19-year low! And private employment is up, up, and up.Temporary staffing, services, hospitality, technical roles, IT, you name it.

However, no one is talking about it. Unemployment has remained flat. There is an interesting thing about public perception. All perceptions take time to change. I propose that it takes a good six months for the general public to change a perspective. Perhaps you’re always late for work. Everyone in the office knows it. Now suppose you work to change that perspective. And you come in diligently on time or even early! But I bet few will notice. You will still be known as the character that arrives late—for a long, long time. Over time perceptions change. People take notice. Others comment. Someone might even make a joke or compliment you for your efforts. Eventually being late is nothing more than a memory.

In the war for talent our economy has putted along for so long, far from roaring and not quite stopped cold like a Stark at a Red Wedding. Our common understanding is of recession and slower business times. Businesses are doing just OK. Big Companies are hoarding cash for the next growth opportunity. Yes, the stock market is doing well but that is for rich people, right? Or that is my retirement. That does not make my day-to-day life easier or put more money in my pocket. This common view has impacted careers and work systems. Today’s hiring managers have had so many choices from which to hire people, that they still believe it. That perhaps they can always hire slowly. They can always hire who they want. Even offer them salaries or whatever they might want.

Todays Game of Jobs is shifting right before our eyes. Fifteen years ago pundits predicted a talent war around right now. This was a long-term view based on the supply and demand of talent. That there simply were not enough or the right kind of workers available. That this would be a great time to be employed and that this is going to happen. Every day we talk to employers who have an aging workforce; a workforce of allied health workers or of pipefitters and tradespeople that simply cannot be replaced fast enough.

So if you think power changes hands fast with recent Game of Thrones episodes. Well, some day soon the workers will have control and families like the Lannisters will no longer have the advantage as the employer!

Image courtesy of hbo.com.

Job Opening for a Risk Taking Specialist

April 1st, 2015

At Outside-In® Companies we know that taking risks is a cultural privilege that we cherish. However, we don’t always live this value perfectly. In fact, we are working hard as a company to live this value more fully. The only way to do that? Do some culture work and get clear on what we want to see more of around here. Risk taking not only enables our productivity, but it also helps us provide our customers with the best experience possible.

Here is where you come in. The Outside-In® Companies are growing and we need talent. However, we need the right talent that fits our core values.

We are Risk Takers. We are willing to step out of our comfort zone. We use our collective intelligence to solve problems, weigh outcomes, and take calculated risks.

Here are a few examples of what we mean by daily risk taking:

  • RiskTakersThe office is out of paperclips, hand soap, or coffee and you’re not willing to do something about it. “Getting office supplies is not in my job description.” At Outside-In® Companies, we don’t shove that stuff off to someone else either. We make a quick decision and move on to the important stuff!
  • “I need to talk to my supervisor.” First off, we don’t use that title in a flat environment. More importantly, by waiting to speak to your leader you’re simply giving away your equality and authority. Figure out how to own a project! Taking risks also means owning your work and assuming responsibility.
  • “This sounds like I can do anything I want around there—sign me up!” Well, that is not true either. Making an uninformed decision is not how we roll. Gathering information, working with the team, and moving quickly is how we make bigger business decisions. We need people that know how to be on teams, are willing to work out disagreements, and are willing to respect different points of view.

Our business is the balance between innovation and creativity with our ability to organize in order to get work done. In order to do that we count on each associate to utilize their first-hand experiences and observations to see the business as it really is: something that needs daily attention and improvement. That is what Outside-In® is all about.

You should apply for a job with Outside-In® Companies if you:

  • Like to innovate and make daily improvements within your job, department, or company.
  • Are willing to problem solve.
  • Honestly believe in an environment that rewards and does not punish small risks.
  • Can gather the right teammates together to tackle large problems. Big problems and opportunities bog down fast moving Gazelle companies when not addressed in the right way.

*This is all true by the way! If you like our culture and are a risk taker, we have great positions and careers to explore with you. Check out our openings here.

If you’d like to learn more about the influence of company culture on business and talent acquisition, please join us at our next Outside-In® Talent Seminar on May 21st. Brad McCarty, Head Coach of the Men’s Soccer Team at Messiah College, will be presenting Creating a Culture of Excellence. Learn more about the seminar & register here.

CBI Way: Tackling a Talent Community

March 25th, 2015

By Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

ID-100248481Identifying talent has become more of a prolonged process recently as candidates continue to have more options and opportunities. As of January, the national time to fill averaged just over 25 days, according to the DICE Vacancy Duration Measure. The CBI Way blog has been examining trends in sourcing with over 5 million job openings nationally. And, creating a talent community can be a great way to make identifying candidates more efficient and cut down on time to fill for future openings.

A talent community relies on engagement and inclusion of professionals, usually in a specific industry. Another method of social recruiting, talent communities can create a collection of candidates with a common interest to tap for future opportunities and help drive referrals. Two keys to building a great community are communication and great content to keep the community active and engaged.

Developing a personalized place where professionals can interact with different types of individuals, all holding the same interest is where the “community” aspect comes into play. Active talent, passive talent, hiring managers, and industry experts have a place to share content, discuss new trends, or even offer advice on best practices to land a new job. At first, you’ll be driving the content, but eventually, others will be asking questions, sharing trends, and helping to grow the community. Although you may not seek candidates currently, having that pool of engaged and interacting professionals can help reduce your time to fill.

Growing and promoting the talent community efficiently is imperative. The more the merrier. While it won’t happen quickly, as the community grows, so does the capability to identify the talent that is knowledgeable and most desirable.

What is a Pre-Mortem Exercise?

March 18th, 2015

Have you ever worked in an organization that pulls the whole team together to review how to launch a new product or open a new office? The idea here is to create a “no fear zone” where teams can discuss and share what went well, what did not go well, and what lessons can be applied to future projects. When completed properly, “pre-mortems” can be a great way to promote learning, improve team behaviors, and create greater efficiency.

Imagine this scenario, a CEO calls a meeting with key staff to discuss a failed product launch or a quarter that is 20% off plan. Why would this meeting be called today when the product launch is next week and the quarter doesn’t start for another three weeks? While reading The Obstacle is The Way by Ryan Holiday, I became very overwhelmed by the concept of reviewing what could go wrong before it can go wrong.

ID-100185794A pre-mortem exercise is when you openly talk about every single thing that could go wrong with a project before the process implementation and execution begins. The goal is not be dark or negative, but rather to create an environment that encourages learning and proactive discussion about the downsides of efforts and actions before minor stucks turn into problems. This is exactly why athletes workout and why actors have rehearsal—practice makes perfect! We can never have too many business dress rehearsals or scrimmages.

Each and every business can greatly benefit from understanding contingency planning. When this type of thinking becomes natural and organic, it preconditions your team’s actions to fix what breaks. In other words, if you discussed what could go wrong and one of those potential snags begins to unravel, it might get addressed before it becomes an issue simply because the team anticipated this minor crisis and is fully prepared to handle it with ease.

Try a pre-mortem exercise today—what do you have to lose? Only learning, team building, and efficiency.

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