Posts Tagged: Delaware


What Do You Need for Christmas?

December 16th, 2013

Guest blog spot by Caitlin Olszewski, Communications & Design Coordinator

When you’re a kid, Christmas is about as magical as it gets. (I have yet to see a unicorn, okay?) The fact that you go to bed with a belly full of apple pie and ice cream to wake up to toys and treasure underneath your tree is the highlight of the year. And parents, those behavioral Jedi mind tricks you can use on your kids while “the elves are watching” are truly miracles in themselves.

“What do you want for Christmas?” The question all of us were asked year-after-year by the red-velvet-clad cookie connoisseur sparked elaborate answers of Transformers, high-tech gadgets, and cavity-inducing candy. However, the moment you opened a present to unveil a pair of socks or the dreaded pack of underwear you immediately came to the conclusion that you were on the naughty list. What if you actually wanted those things and worried more about your cold toes than the latest toys? What if all you wanted for Christmas were simply things that you absolutely needed?

Each year, we partner with Delaware Social Service’s Adopt-a-Family Holiday Gift Assistance program. The program provides the sponsor with a brief description of the circumstances that led each family to the need for assistance. We survey through the available families looking to make their holiday season extra merry and bright. This year, when I was reading each informational bio, one family stuck out in particular.

adoptafamA recently-singled father and his 7-year-old daughter were simply asking for a $200 gift card for groceries along with hats and scarves to brave the cold weather. So what did we do? We used our Service to the Nth Degree value to provide roughly $600 in gift cards to make their Christmas extraordinary. However, we all know that there’s nothing like the suspense and sound of ripping open wrapping paper on Christmas morning, so we set off to provide presents and various necessities for our family to make their holiday a little more Outside-In®.

Through working as a team and providing peace of mind for our adopted family this season, we helped keep the spirit of Christmas alive for them, as well as ourselves. No matter what you celebrate, I hope you can discover your own holiday magic this season and share it with those around you who truly need it.

Want to be a part of the Adopt-a-Family program next year? Click here for more information.

Inc. 5000 list includes 16 Delaware firms

September 17th, 2013

Written by: Cori Anne Natoli, The News Journal

This article appeared in The News Journal, Business Section 9/17/2013

It’s one thing to call yourself an entrepreneur, a risk-taker with enough moxie to take a business plan from concept to creation.

It’s quite another to cultivate a workplace where revenue grows rapidly amid a sluggish economy. Yet that’s exactly what the leadership at CBI Group, a privately held, Newark-based human resources firm with an office in Wilmington, is accomplishing.

Under the direction of founder and president Chris Burkhard, the firm that provides recruitment, staffing and outplacement services to companies nationwide and in Delaware has earned a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately held companies, for the third time in six years.

A total of 16 First State firms made it to this year’s list.

“Appearing on the Inc. 5000 list is not only an honor for CBI Group, but it reflects the current realities of an ever-changing workforce,” Burkhard said. “To see consistent growth within a recruiting and staffing company shows that organizations need to have recruitment and talent strategies that meet today’s fluctuating business climate.”

The firm has reported 128 percent growth from 2010 to 2012, according to Caitlin Olszewski, CBI officer manager, and has provided services for the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

The fairly young company has navigated an ever-evolving digital landscape and seen success using social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

CBI has implemented specialty software to enhance its recruitment process, communication and information gathering, Olszewski said.

For CBI, it comes down to how the team communicates and gathers information, spokeswoman Kelly Murray said Thursday.

“These two things have changed the most over the years, and we’ve been able to leverage the advances in digital technology to adapt and stay current for our customers,” Murray said. “In today’s market it is certainly a necessity. The best solutions and interaction with clients is a blend of face-to-face, phone, Internet, email and social media.”

CBI Group, Placers, and Barton Career Advisors Announce Partnership

August 5th, 2013

Talent leaders band together under shared, values-based culture

Delaware-based talent companies CBI Group, Placers and Barton Career Advisors announced today a new partnership under their shared values-based culture, Outside-In®. The companies will work together under the Outside-In® brand and continue to serve the national marketplace offering recruitment, staffing, and outplacement talent solutions.

This partnership unites three companies based on a shared culture called Outside-In®; a mindset that advocates putting the customer first in all scenarios, at all times. The companies’ consider their customers to include clients, internal employees, and even vendors.

“My personal goal is to have Outside-In® be as meaningful to a business and its customer base as the good housekeeping seal might be on a household product” says Outside-In® Companies President and Outside-In® founder Chris Burkhard. “We hope to have our family of companies stand for an incredible customer experience where innovation and employee satisfaction are evident to all.”

Headquartered in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware, the Outside-In® Companies intend to change the way the Human Resources industry provides talent solutions. Instead of operating from a pre-packaged services mindset, the companies provide solutions “from scratch” crafted  specifically to solve the challenges that led the customer to work with a third-party service provider.

“Our expanded partnership with CBI Group and Placers as part of the Outside-In® Companies brings heightened market awareness to the Barton Career Advisors Outplacement business,” said Chris Barton, Barton Career Advisors Founder & Sales Group Lead. “Values are the secret sauce in business performance and I know we are on the right track.”   

As companies whose purpose is to handle clients’ challenges of bringing people in and letting them go, this service-based, cultural mentality is a conscious – and innovative – approach to talent management. To learn more about the Outside-In® Companies and their new partnership visit www.outsideincompanies.com.

Yes, Your Company Is Outside-In, Sir

January 16th, 2013

Yes, Your Tide Is Cold and Dark, SirOutside-In® is our culture and our operating philosophy. Outside-In® is made up of our employees and a work environment that encourages individualism, innovation, and focus on creating a unique customer experience.  We want customers to be happy with great service.  We want employees to be happy with great culture.  And shareholders can be happy with the good profits that ultimately follow. These great employees are hired, recognized, and rewarded against our core values. Our core values guide us where others use policy manuals and mandates. The world is too complex and dynamic and the business world too fluid to not put the information, knowledge, authority and gumption in the hands of all employees equally.

With all this said, I’d like to take some credit for its creation, but I am not its “Founding Father”.  That credit goes to another Burkhard — Alan Burkhard. Over our lifetimes, we have worked together to refine the concept of Outside-In®. The focus of putting the customer first in business thinking. The notion of a culturally led business.  Alan did it first, and this Outside-In® brand, this Outside-In® philosophy can and is used in all kinds of businesses and industries.

Many years ago, I gave Alan the registered trademark as a gift that we share. We went first in using it in business, and the ™ symbol is our proof.  However, our goal was to encourage the world to use Outside-In® as a way of describing customer-oriented behavior and thinking.  This is my personal 10 year goal.  Make Outside-In® a household name.  Look it up.  It is more mainstream in business than you realize…

But this post is about how we think our Outside-In® philosophy gives us an edge in business. It helps us run better waste companies like Independent Disposal. We run better staffing, recruiting, and outplacement firms.  We run great restaurants.  And now we make Outside-In® movies.No one can say that we are not diverse right?  Find a market.  Look for a service gap.  Treat the customer better than they expected.  Create a customer-centered culture.  Focus on and make your company Outside-In®.

Do that enough, and opportunities present themselves.  Do that enough and you want to help people. Have enough success in life and there are opportunities to share what you know in new fields and you get quite a rush and ride along the way. That is where my Dad is in life.  He backed and helped make a independent movie, Yes, Your Tide Is Cold and Dark, Sir, written and directed by local filmmaker and friend, Chris Malinowski. My Dad makes a cameo as a bartender. He taught a group of talented actors, producers, directors, sound, key grips, and a whole lot more about Outside-In® and he got to help a friend fulfill a lifelong goal of getting a script to the big screen. When I spoke with Chris about his experience working with Alan on the project he said,

“Alan, empowered me to run the [film] company and believed in the exuberance of the project. He knew it was a challenging narrative. Producers tend to lean at times on the creative parties and stick their necks into the creative process. Alan didn’t do that. He empowered me completely.”

Empowerment and creative freedom on a movie set? That is the ultimate Outside-In® experience. I am proud.

Ultimately, what matters is that they took the risk. Through that risk, the Outside-In® brand and legend grows.  So, if you are in Delaware and are into independent films, watch the trailer, come to the premier, and most importantly help me celebrate the success of our Outside-In® brand and what can do for any business.  For Yes, Your Tide Is Cold and Dark, Sir trailer, click here. For showtimes and ticket information for this weekend’s premiere, you can visit the film’s Facebook page.

DelMarVa SHRM Presentation – March 16, 2010

March 17th, 2010

I was honored to be the speaker at last night’s DelMarVa SHRM event. View the presentation above or download using the link below.

“The Economic Tsunami: How Businesses Are Rethinking Recruitment & Retention.”
Delmarva SHRM – Economic Tsunami Presentation
 

What is Intrapreneurial Leadership?

December 14th, 2009

The worlds first management style was defined by the military institution.   Decisions were made at the top, information cascaded down throughout the ranks, and everyone is trained to know how to respond to those orders.  It was tough for information to flow back to the top however.  During times of crisis it is a good thing for all to know their role and to clearly know who will make the critical decisions for the organization right?  Well for business I am not so sure.  During difficult times we all appreciate a leader that will make the tough decisions.  That is when real leadership can be the most lonely right?  You are doing your job some days and your board, employees and other stake holders probably will not agree with some of the decision you must make. Everyone has their interest and their lens that gets applied to your decisions.
 
Business moves at a blistering pace. We know the story. The world is global and your customers and competition might not be across town anymore.  Technology has changed who has information and when and were they can access it. The decisions that must be made can be biased by an ever increasing flood of possible information. There is just so much today and it never stops. This knowledge-based economy requires different leadership. Why not Intrapreneurial leadership? How about giving staff the authority and the knowledge they need to help make the business better? Why not ask for help from those that are closer to the problem.
 
Intrapreneurial Leadership requires you to gave away authority. To push out decision making.  To give people access to the same information. Treat everyone as an equal and to have the fundamental belief that some employees want to feel like entrepreneurs. They may not want to risk their house like one; yet they understand and see how great it can be to work in an entrepreneurial environment.  Who would not want less red tape? More responsibility if they knew they could actually do something with it.  And great opportunities to make a difference? Over and over again in surveys to managers we think that staff wants money and benefits. Truth is even in this tough economy we all want a voice. We want to trust and know we make a difference. And that we will be listened to. And communicated with. We want to be treated as people. And we want the truth. Give someone more than they expect and they will do anything for the business. Give them less, well you end up without trust.
 
So this sounds hard? Not in small ways. Recently I was working with a customer on defining their organizational values. The management team was in on the project and they did their best to help the President complete the task. On a suggestion we asked a few front line staff to participate and we got a terrific result. The staff was honored to be apart of it. And ultimately their involvement contributed to completing the project!
 
We all know what is great about the small business experience. Employees are not a number. There is less bureaucracy. There are fewer rules and regulations. The business feels more pure. The goals of the company are very customer oriented. The business exists to serve the customer. There are less “artificial limits” created by the politics, internal agendas, and communication breakdowns to get in the way.
 
And as a leader it requires a special person to change. What got you here worked, right? Why change now?  Maybe your organization could be more productive?
 
Here are some suggestions on simple ways you can implement the basics of intra-preneurial leadership:

  1. Get your staff involved in a project that breaks down title barriers or department silos.
  2. Ask for help.
  3. As more questions than the answers you might provide.
  4. Get rid of titles and job descriptions for internal purposes.
  5. Meet with staff on a regular basis. Ask how you are doing and what can make their job better.
  6. Treat everyone equally.

It Is Time to Put the Focus on Service

December 1st, 2009

I think I know why they call it Black Friday. All of the surly clerks and frustrated shoppers. Even I spent a good part of Saturday out shopping for the Holidays with my wife. I have to admit, it was fun. There must be something to this gathering and hunting thing. But as I looked around questioning how we could actually be in a recession with all of this spending going on — it hit me. Service is a lost art. Many retail stores seem to try hard. Others don’t seem to care. Frankly, it is not a part of their business model. Cheap is good, yes. But a smile would be nice too.
 
This is a great time for me to dust off an important leadership notion and cultural value that I learned as a young leader, Take “service to the Nth degree!” What does it mean? Simple right. Put the focus on your customer, serve them with excellence. Raise the bar. But still it seems so absent in many businesses today.
 
Why? It is free. It is hard to copy by your competitors. It is intangible. It is a feeling. It is the gap between what you say and what you do. The most important reason to put the focus on service? It feels good. It is contagious. It is competitive. And customers will notice.
 
Here are a few simple ways to raise the bar on service to take it to the Nth degree:

  1. Call a meeting and focus on it. Ask people to think about how their job interacts with the customer.  Where can they bring something extra?
  2. Answer the phone. Turn off your voice mail. Insist the phone be answered in three rings. Or better yet two.
  3. Get back to me. Tell me by when and actually do it sooner.
  4. Change the way you answer the phone. CBI Group says ” I can help you.” This is our Purple Cow! Great book too!
  5. Reward customer service. As a leader catch me doing it!

The Recession was the Earthquake…

November 14th, 2009

The business marketplace is alive and interconnected like the ecosystem around us. When demand drops in business it has a ripple effect on all of us. Business is forced to become more efficient or do without. Same for the consumer. The recession is much more than a ripple, it is a large tremor. In fact, it is the earthquake deep below the sea. What comes next after a real earthquake in the ocean? A Tsunami is sure to follow.  As if the “earthquake” in business is not bad enough. I am certain there is little new to say beyond that it has had a profound impact on all of us. Living it means so much more than words. Not that it will be easy again.  Yet we have this belief that if we can just get through it- there will be less competition and more opportunity. And most of us would like to believe the the worst is behind us. Well perhaps. With every action there is a reaction! And with most underwater earthquakes there is a tsunami.
 
So what is the business Tsunami? Look around. Employees have changed. Those that took risks won’t anymore. Their spouse lost their job and its hard to speak up for fear that you might be next. Those that were loyal, can no longer afford to be. Business can’t be loyal to them right? Time for all to officially manager their own careers. Turnover is low for you right now? Not for long. Their are two years of employees that made the decision to stay because they felt lucky to still have a job! Yet they are starting to sense that they can look for greener grass. Not for money mind you. Rather to forget. It is easier to walk away from tough times when you can than it is stay and fight. Common sense and basic instincts of fight or flight. No ones fault. In fact, just understand it.
 
Employees stop wanting to make decisions? Looking to leadership to make the tough call? These are tough times, however, the front lines talk to your customer everyday and now they want to just do their jobs?  Now is the time to teach, to support, to remind all that is it is ok to risk. That not risking is a sure way to delay any hope of a turnaround.
 
The recession has changed the workforce in many indelible ways. Yes recessions end. Yes we will someday look back at this time as a distant memory. In the meantime we must live with the tidal wave of change that is just beginning. Are you feeling it? Do you see it? Do you disagree? I think I am looking for a fight on this topic. Be prepared. This is time to plan for the unexpected. And to expect surprises!
 

The Value of Being Authentic as a Leader!

November 12th, 2009

Authentic by definition is conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief. For a leader to be authentic they must understand the power and responsibility that comes with it. Business can get tough. Difficult decisions get made. Choices. Survival or not. Along the way authenticity gets challenged. What do you do about it. Live with it. Feedback will happen. We cannot satisfy everyone. It is not healthy nor desirable. Be direct, be honest. Share everything. Be authentic in as many interactions as possible. Why not every time? Because we are human and imperfect. However be the better person and learn to apologize. As my Father, a pretty famous leader himself would say, “Bless and release. Life is too short to hold a grudge.”
 
Leaders are flawed when at their best anyway. No one likes it perfect. It is too plastic. We don’t trust it. It appears to be something we can’t believe is real. I am not suggesting that we plan to make mistakes or show our vulnerability. Most of us just need to be ourselves and use the situations we create!  Again, mistakes and challenges abound. Just pay attention to your day or week. Plenty of fodder to pick from.
 
An associate Heather referred me to a great article article that discussed a talk George Washington gave in March of 1783 to the Continental Army, after his speech. Dozens of officers representing every company in the army met in a log hut to vote on overthrowing the Continental Congress. After his speech, it was reported that many officers were left unconvinced. Then, George Washington pulled out a letter from a member of the congress, and as he read, he began to lose his confidence. He looked at his troops and asked softly and apologetically if they would bear with him, as his eyesight was failing from the war. He put on his “spectacles”, and continued.
 
It reported that the officers were “electrified”. This was their commander and leader, who had kept the army going while others continually told him it was a losing battle, and he was asking them to bear with him with his failing eyesight. They saw him for the first time as a human being, and they voted to continue support to the Congress.
 
“Maj. Samuel Shaw, who was present, wrote in his journal, “There was something so natural, so unaffected in this appeal as rendered it superior to the most studied oratory. It forced its way to the heart, and you might see sensibility moisten every eye.”
 
Most employees start a job because they need one. Salary, benefits, even interesting work matter. Many “wake up” to the incredible possibilities that are possible for themselves and their organization. And it is usually a leader that shows them and brings to life the purpose. The future. The notion that anything is possible. However, we stay and fight when times are tough. We dig in and make it happen. We believe in the cause when the leaders are flawed, human and willing to put it out there.
 
Tough for all of us to be George. Have you been authentic and wonderfully flawed today?
 
Don’t believe me? Check out my story here.

The “New” New Reality of the Workplace

October 29th, 2009

Today we face unprecedented marketplace challenges for our business and our careers. The economy takes one step forward and one backward almost daily. How to deal with the uncertainty of this as leaders? Well for one, being a student of change is critical to all of us today. We have a choice every day. Are you the victim? I lost my job and it is their fault! Or my sales are down and there is nothing I can do about it! Or will you learn to embrace change; maybe even relish in exploiting it. Yes taking full advantage of it. There is on old proverb,” Now that the barn is down I can see the moon.” In action there is always something to take advantage of. To use to your advantage.
 
There is something to be said to being a student of change and knowing the phases of it:

  1. Blame. It is not your fault at all.
  2. Acceptance. It has happened and there is nothing I can do about it.
  3. Embrace it. I know it is a way of life and I am willing get on board.
  4. Exploit it. I intend to make the change itself. I am going to take advantage of change around me and use it for good. To make improvements.

As a leader this has a real impact on how we handle the day to day. We are in the era now of relatively limited growth markets and where demand is quite limited. This has a tremendous impact on our approach to business and the environment we create. What should we be thinking about? I may have more questions than answers.

  1. How do we rethink careers paths in an environment of limited growth?
  2. How do we make the right investments in our business that actually get a return?
  3. How does your business model transition to this new era and make money?
  4. Are you actively involving employees in your business?  Gathering their ideas as they talk to customers?
  5. Are you willing to reinvent your leadership persona?

As a leader in an entrepreneurial business over the last 20 or so years I have seen leadership success and setback. The common denominator is a willingness to embrace change that is rooted in good instincts and hard work to gather information as you make strategic directional changes to the business. Nothing stays the same. Leaders must be willing to shed legacy thinking and be willing to cannibalize their own success and know that destruction is part of the process of business success!

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