Company Culture: Superheroes on a Mission to Mars

January 21st, 2015

ca1227df115dbb88This is the Outside-In® companies’ theme for 2015. I am Green Arrow, billionaire crime fighter extraordinaire. (We all like to play make believe, right?) I admire how he fights for good and backs the underdog—all things I aspire to do on a daily basis. Being Tony Stark or Isis at work has its perks, too. Our theme is fun and unique. However, our message is important and we want all to remember our theme and relate it to our plans and priorities. On our mission, we are very focused on being sustainable and relevant both as individuals and as a company. We really have three parts to this mission.

The first part is sustainability for our business. We want our profit to grow, we want to invest, and we want to remain resilient to economic ups and downs. We are striving to do all of these things while continuing to run our business in an Outside-In®, customer centric way. This takes success and bottom line results to execute. And we know this creates great opportunities for our people, our partners, our customers, and our stakeholders.

Part two of this mission is about our role in the community and planet around us. We care about people and our causes and we long to make a difference. What Superhero doesn’t look to our web page to see our focus supporting a different charity each month. This month, our focus is with SPARC Delaware. Helping today’s youth in the marketplace we serve with workforce skills and coaching is a direct way to lend some knowledge to our future workforce!

Our final part to the mission is about each of us as employees and our growth plans at work and at home. I know life and work can be both challenging and exciting. We want to energize and focus on our well being in many ways. We know part of this is about being Superheroes in all of our many roles as Mom or Dad, Recruiter or Leader, Board Member, Soccer Coach, or Civic Member. All of this takes energy and a plan and we are excited to help all figure out the best plan for them! This will take focus on health, exercise/nutrition, development and training at work, and a supportive culture that embraces modern workforce ideas that give staff flexibility while ensuring that the company also remains sustainable!

Your company doesn’t have a theme? Then how do you create alignment across the company and keep everyone informed on where the business is going and how you’re going to get there? Themes are not for every business, however, knowing that having fun is a big part of our culture we make it a part of our everyday lives. Traditionally, goals and plans are presented with PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets. Don’t get me wrong, these things work. However, all of us remember and retain important company information in different ways. Some like to listen, others absorb handouts and presentations, while others remember it through experience. This is where the annual theme appeals to all different types of learners!

1 Out of Every 10 New Jobs is Temporary

January 14th, 2015

ID-100256543The number of US temporary help services jobs rose by 14,700, according to seasonally adjusted numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The temp penetration reached another new high of 2.13%. In the Fourth Quarter of 2014, 57,400 new temporary jobs were created. This number represents over 17% of the jobs that were created in December and pushes the current numbers of temporary workers to just ten thousand shy of three million workers!

Seventeen percent is actually very high. Although some months as much as 24% of new jobs created were temporary in nature. However, it is hard to ignore the trends. There is a much higher percentage of creation of temporary jobs than most others. In fact, over the three years, one in ten jobs is considered temporary!

Every single month of 2014 saw an increase in the number of temporary workers. If it keeps up at this pace, could 2.5, 3 or 3.5 % of all employees be temp workers? If the last few years are a predictor of the next few, the answer is most certainly yes.

The business reasons are many. Work is becoming temporary in nature. Scaling up typically follows a ramp down. Work is more about projects than ever before. We ramp up to get big shipments out the door or to implement big projects. Then we scale back.

A business that uses temps has a great advantage to work with talent before committing. In a tightening job market (Yes, we are almost at a natural employment state of 5.5%), this is an effective and productive means of viewing and observing talent while working. This is a great way to select the best performers over time for core roles and functions.

The numbers of roles that are temporary are increasing because every job and pay grade in the company is now a possibility. With specialization in staffing firms and shifting workforce views, being a temporary President, CFO, or scientist is more and more accepted—even coveted!

What if There Was a “Back to Business” Holiday?

January 7th, 2015

ID-100263930Now that the holidays are behind us, I find myself waking up with the Holiday Blues. The holidays are a constant buzz of exciting activity and stimulation. All of us get so busy preparing, traveling, eating, and then recovering, that the world slowly limps into that first week or two of January. Even if you’re a Scrooge and intend to plow right through the holidays, the world around you is going to slow down so much that there will be less you can do to feel active!

Although the holidays are much needed (and well deserved) for employees, they are not very beneficial for the shareholders and customers of the business. The holiday season causes delays in production and hinders decision making due to limited staff in the office for meetings. Getting back into work and beyond the blues is easier said than done. It will take a few days to dig out from all of those emails, for schedules to free up, and for important meetings to take place. Then maybe decisions will be made and maybe next week business will be normal again.

The frantic pace that built up to the holidays when everything was either done by December 19th or left to January 2nd to deal with has officially dwindled. My point is that it has been a while since we have had a normal business week. I’m not sure we can all survive a five day work week after the frenzied rush before holidays and the post-season blues!

All joking aside, I think we are longing for some normalcy. Forget all of the January stereotypes regarding goal setting, New Year’s resolutions, and new annual business budgets that go live this month. There is so much pressure on performance both personally and professionally; yet there’s only so much we can do about it. I would like to see a business holiday formed inspired by the idea of going back to work now that the holidays are over. Everyone go to work that day and know that the playing field is equal and all businesses will be getting back to the grindstone at the same time—Imagine that!

Now that we’re back in action, we want the phones to ring, the emails to start flying, and for business to get back to normal. We all need this fast because before you know it snow and MLK day will cause the next business delay!

Everyone is a Leader—How Do You Lead?

December 31st, 2014

Everyone is a Leader is the hardest Outside-In® value to live and the most important value for us to get right! Culture is our secret sauce and our choke point. Our culture is “free.” Anyone can see it, read about it, experience it, and copy it. Then why is it so hard to mimic? Ego, success, habits, what exists, to name just a few. Giving everyone a chance to be a leader when there are so few good ones? Well, that just might be the point after all. Would you rather have one, or two, or many? I think getting all to embrace and understand the essence of leadership gives us a real marketplace advantage.

ID-100260051Imagine an organization and the advantage it could possess if its workforce dedicated itself to learning about leadership? Would growth be more manageable as key openings were easier to fill? Especially if you can fill these roles from within?

Living a value and being a great leader are obviously different. For our companies we want and expect:

  • All to have a say, especially in customer matters
  • All to learn how to make effective decisions
  • All to learn how to develop leadership capabilities
  • All to practice leadership skills

Leadership Mastery is a 10,000 hour pursuit. Thats 3 hours a day for a really long time—over ten years! Living the value of Everyone is a Leader frankly takes just as much organizational energy. But like I said if we do it well it is a free advantage that is extremely difficult to copy!

CBI Way: Job Market Snapshot – Encouraging Employment in 2014

December 23rd, 2014

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

With only December’s employment summary yet to be released, it’s been quite a year for the employment situation in 2014. The highest establishment data in years, and unemployment rate lows, these recent employment statistics have been encouraging, and point to a promising year in 2015 for the labor market.  Let’s take a look at this year’s numbers, and where they stand historically.

ID-100256104New jobs added is always a scrutinized figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and in 2014, we hit some huge numbers. Through November, 2.65 Million jobs were added this year. In November, there were 321,000 nonfarm jobs added, again contributing to the longest streak of job growth on record, 57 consecutive months. The average jobs added per month this year has been 241,000, the highest average since the 1990’s, and by far the highest average since coming out of the recession in 2010. Job growth grew in a number of industries, but Temporary Help Services is a particularly interesting and promising set of data.

Temporary jobs have been steadily on the rise recently, and especially this year. This sector has grown 8.5% since last November, and currently stands at a total of 2.975 Million employees. That total number is a 2.12% penetration rate, or 2.12% of all jobs. Both of those temporary numbers are an all-time high, and can be expected to continually rise with the lowest unemployment rate (5.8%) since July 2008, and healthy, consistent job gains.

The December employment summary will be released January 9th  and it would seem safe to assume that momentum continues. A substantial number of jobs being, the unemployment rate staying consistent, and the possibility of the temporary workforce reaching 3 million cannot be overlooked. Stay tuned for more updates on the employment situation and which industries are hiring most in early 2015!

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.

Customer Service: Nth Degree Mindset

December 17th, 2014

There is so much talk about customer service yet so little of it sticks. Every business, every leader, every single one of us, has good intentions. None of us go to work saying, “Today I am going to plan to disappoint a customer when I interact with them. Let’s hang up on them. Avoid them. Get their order wrong. Misinterpret them. Let’s just be average and kind of ‘blah.’ That is where most of us end up really. In the Valley of Blah, we don’t quite fail or flob, however, we are far from memorable. Being memorable requires you to understand those critical “Moments of Truth.”

ServiceNMoments of Truth are those customer points of intersection. A great culture helps. At the Outside-In® Companies, we have a value “Service to the Nth Degree” and our goal is to go above and beyond expectations. We provide service without boundaries, limits, or governor. Just push service as far as you can. A good culture helps an employee trust that they can serve without barriers. The company system supports and rewards those customer service behaviors! Have you ever had an experience where a cashier or customer service representative indicates that they need manager approval and the manager never comes or arrives in what seems like an unacceptable time frame? All of this for a simple product return or change in your purchase! That’s a poor business system at it’s best.

We think empowering employees to think to the Nth Degree is just part of the answer to providing an Outside-In® experience. This enables us to create Nth Degree moments that are spontaneous and authentic.

However, the real magic in creating Moments of Truth is to think about those key moments of interaction with your customer. How can you save them time? Speed up the process? Enhance the experience? How can you make that moment memorable and ensure every customer experiences that Moment of Truth? Our goal is to make Outside-In® and Nth Degree a repeatable thing. Full of great in the moment Moments of Truth and planned Moments of Truth.

The sky’s the limit to Nth Degree service thinking. The key is to take each part of your business and brainstorm how to be more Nth Degree. One of the ways we practice our Nth Degree value as a team is to partake in charity work for our community. We have a charity of the month program where each month we fundraise and donate our time and services to a charity in need.

Try and pilot it. Measure it. Operationalize. Then repeat!

Here’s to Nth Degree moments!

Selling Yourself “Short” as a Sales Professional

December 10th, 2014

Being in Sales has an incredible upside. Unlimited earnings (or at least more variable pay opportunities than most of us!), flexibility in your schedule (try to find a sales person on Friday afternoons that is not with a “client”), and the opportunity to travel (living out of your car still counts as travel). However, all of these have a natural “dark side”. In fact, everything listed above is a sales stereotype. Some good in them as many folks romanticize the “idea of being in sales”  and some find it repulsive. Why?  Because the behaviors of sales people support the stereotypes—don’t be one of them! Sales is about targets and quotas of activities, contracts signed, and widgets sold. Have these things in abundance and you have freedom and control. Off plan? Well, plan to loose all of that freedom and the

One of the biggest areas of weakness in salespeople I observe is that they always and often seem to go for the immediate sale. Close the deal now. I know it is a small one, however, I have to book revenues and keep up with my targets right? However, I find that it takes just us much work, effort, time, and investment for just about any sales situation. And for some reason this is one the hardest things to change in salespeople. I personally think fear, trust, and the anxiety of waiting make it hard for some.

So why not sell larger deals if it takes the same amount of time and energy?

  1. ID-100261332Perception/Trust. We all perceive that larger customers take too long, even more time than our sales plan will tolerate.  What if I put all of that time in and the deal falls apart?
  2. Skill. Sometimes larger deals get missed. The salesperson does not know how to approach or engage the customer that requires more then booking the order. They don’t know their product or service once they get “off script” from their training.
  3. Earning the right to be disruptive and to challenge. Most sales people I know are afraid to challenge, ask questions, and make recommendations that are off the script or fall outside of the proposal.
  4. Fear of not meeting short term quotas.  If you take on too many long term meetings how will you ever meet this month or quarter?
  5. Believing that sales is “only” a numbers game. Sales requires numbers and effort. However there is something to be said for balance, efficiency, and getting better at sales.
  6. Big deals get others on the team involved. All of a sudden a salesperson needs to get a team together and possess skills in project management, resource allocation, problem solving, solution architecting, and much more than just relationship management.

Larger deals do take time. When they come they are game changers. Be patient and realize larger customers challenge what you know and make you better. So that the small ones seem easier.

Don’t believe me right? Most don’t. That is why sales is so hard. It is hard to believe and trust.

3rd Annual Holiday Infographic

December 9th, 2014

Happy Holidays from the Outside-In® Companies!

We looked back on our year through mint, gold & rose colored glasses. Take a look at our year in numbers through our 3rd Annual Holiday Infographic!

 

CBI Way: What’s Your Sourcing Strategy?

December 3rd, 2014

With a difficult requisition, sourcing usually requires a new strategy, unless its a position you or your team has worked previously. Sourcing is tactical. It takes critical thinking and an overall strategic focus to be efficient. But what goes into developing an effective sourcing strategy? Let’s discuss a few things to consider when tackling your next hard-to-fill requisition.

ID-10049952By this point in the process, you should have an excellent grasp on the position details, summary, requirements, and the ideal candidate. Additionally, knowing the focus of the client’s strategy is key, be it a long-term or short-term recruitment strategy. As discussed often, constant and open communication with the client is also essential.

Now it’s time to start asking yourself some questions about the ideal candidate you are searching for while executing your strategy. Where would this person be engaging with other industry professionals? Whether it be social media, networking events, associations, publications, etc. Where would you most likely find your candidate “hanging out”? Identifying these outlets is going to go a long way in determining what appeals to and gets the attention of passive candidates.

This part of developing the strategy can lead to approaches you may not have originally established. It is going to be much easier to productively promote and market the opening when all of the outlets most frequented by target candidates are identified and investigated. However, mapping out locations of ideal candidates is just one of the steps to developing an effective sourcing strategy. Check out the next CBI Way Blog where we’ll continue to discuss putting together your approach to sourcing for a hard-to-fill job.

Happy Thanksgiving from Outside-In® Companies!

November 26th, 2014

Each year, the Outside-In® team likes to express our gratitude in a fun and unique way. This year we asked our team members what they are most thankful for and had them write it all down on a piece of paper to create an appreciation wall. View our video below to see what we are most thankful for!

Wishing all of our customers a safe & happy holiday!

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