Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Step #1 in Your Job Transition

It seems of late that I've been really busy working with executives who are in transition from one job and in search of another. Scary times. Even scarier as these brilliant people are competing with some other really brilliant people for the same opportunities.

What to do?

The first bit of advice and where I typically jump in is right up front. My experience from Fortune and start-ups gave me the opportunity to scour through way-too-many resumes. My work now with executives brings back those same memories. Typically everything looks very vanilla - everyone is an expert in operations, finance, marketing, improving sales, reducing debt, leading teams, etc, etc, etc..... I often think "wouldn't this stuff be a given if I'm looking for say a C-Level/VP of X?" But, then I think "OK, so what makes this person better than someone else?" We are a comparison people, aren't we? We do this when we buy anything, don't we?

So it starts with YOUR unique value...what makes YOU the best? .....where do you EXCEL beyond others? I focus on helping people look at their unique DNA as well as their background and successes to build a composite of where they are amazingly unique and how they differenciate themselves when its time to interview. As an example, I worked with a super CEO in the healthcare delivery market. We looked at his DNA and found a guy who is really good working in large companies and creating really strong growth. HOW he achieved this growth was from his repeatitive way of getting people motivated in each part of his businesses. His uniqueness was in achieving unparalleled results through engaging people as part of the solution. He got another CEO position with a great organization because they needed exactly what he offered.

Did my friend really sound so different from anyone else? Reality - no. But it was in how he crafted this uniqueness into his pitch, conversation, way of describing ANYTHING he did...this was his manifesto!! He is brilliant at this and believes his next role NEEDS him!

This process of really understanding yourself and then finding your uniqueness is really hard. Take the time to do this right up front or even make notes along the way of what gives you passion. If you're in transition, its a matter of sharpening twice....cutting once.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The 7 Biggest People Mistakes - #7: Wasting Training Dollars

How much of a fan of training are you? How about your people? Why is this? Isn't it kind of fun to learn cool new ideas or techniques and be the best you can possibly be in your job? I've spent gillion's (the amount after losing track, I believe) of dollars on training for myself, my companies and my teams. Everything from 7 different sales training systems, CRM systems, expert consultants, motivational speakers (fun stories there for sure!), internal HR driven training & courses, online courses, webinar's...they all disappointed in more ways than they helped.

Now, I'm not down on training...don't get me wrong. I do believe its fundamental to achieving success. Major league baseball players wouldn't jump into playing 162 games without working through spring training. Our beloved armed forces have 'boot camp' for a specific reason. I totally get this. I train to run too, and you can't cram for a marathon, as they say, very true. My focus is to stop WASTING training dollars, not stop SPENDING training dollars!

How. Yes, that is the question. I propose you start by knowing exactly where your people are strong and weak in their professional lives. Why aren't they all 'A-Players'? Where are the gaps? You see this coming don't you? Train to the gaps. Really obvious? Maybe, but here's a cool way to save some $$$ next time you're inclined to hire that consultant or spend on that training program. I'm working with a great client where we are actually starting with looking at their people's DNA for a particular task. Who has what types of traits, behaviors and competencies? Once we know where the people are really strong and really weak, we'll simply decide which training vendor can customize the best plan for them. My part is quick, simple and cheap compared to what the training company will come back with, but the cool part is the training company can customize a plan to fit where the client's people need the most help! Saving a ton of $$$.

...and remember the fun of sitting in a training class? Well, these people will actually be challenged because they won't be bored with learning things they're already great at. A very nice way to win all the way around.....!! Try this next time and see if it will help.

The 7 Biggest People Mistakes - #6: Connecting The Dot's of Your People's Performance

By now you might know we're fans of using a bunch of ideas and tools to verify the 'best' attributes found in people; either a candidate for a position or possibly a person you're looking to promote. But after you've used these tools or ideas, do you stop? I mean do you use any other tools or metrics to assess or ensure your maximizing your people and their performance?

This is a great opportunity to 'connect the dots' of your people's performance and truly understand what makes success happen. It takes a little bit of calculating, but this is the stuff of legends when it comes to making you look great to your boss. Its an analytical world. ROI is king.

Ok, specifics. First, if you have used a good profile assessment tool, you have specific scores in specific traits and competencies. I hope this is what you use to hire or promote your people. If not, this might be tough from here on out. Next you have to look at and capture the specific metrics of what defines success in that role.... For a sales person, how many appointments/meetings, presentations and closes do the 'A-Players' make on your team? How many does the 'C-Player' make? For another position, it might be customer satisfaction scores. Find a metric. Be very specific. If your not doing THIS part, then we REALLY need to talk. You need to have metrics and keep score. Once you have all this data, you start to look for trends in this information. What behaviors drive higher scores? What behaviors drive more sales?

This suggestion may seem pretty simple on the surface but is tough to execute. You can however do this in Microsoft Excel of all things. It helps to have a great knowledge of this program or access to someone who does, but you can connect the dots of what makes your best people different from everyone else by correlating behaviors to performance. You can also look at why certain people leave the company or why your workers compensation claims are high. Any metric you might have will probably be found in the DNA of your people. Connecting the dots of information is essential to making your people and company great!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The 7 Biggest People Mistakes - #5: Betting People Will Change

Research tells us 60% of who we are we're born with - the other 40% is what we have control of to manifest our destiny. Don't know if you thought these percentages were higher or lower, but interesting. To clarify, the stuff we're born with are things such as addictions, physical attributes, pychological idioms, etc. Suffice to say, we can change much and none of this should dimish our chance of living a successful life!

So what then do we do when it comes to hiring or dealing with people in the workplace? In my humble opinion, three things. But first, let's be clear. We're talking about changing a person's behaviors right? ...something in the 40%, correct? Let's also be clear we've identified the traits and attributes of the person we'll assume we're talking about, right?

1. Don't hire the person to begin with: Passion, ambition, intelligence, creativity, tenacity are things which are so difficult to change if they are not there to begin with, major doubtful it will ever change. Do you have enough hours in the day to fix this? Nope. Don't even start.

2. Implement compensating strategies around them. Maybe the person is already employed, or some other situation where you need to deal with them. Try to surround this person with others who can deal with the issues the 1st person can't. Not exactly rocket-science, but you'd be surprised how often this ISN'T done.

3. Use training or coaching ONLY in certain situations where you feel it is absolutely essential or as a last resort. What you're after is isolating the areas of non-performance and trying to get the person to both realize then act to change the situation. Some people can learn to change or adapt themselves in the face of being fired. This process is the most expensive and most time consuming - choose and spend wisely.

My wish is for people to find the absolute best fit for themselves and for companies to appreciate their best asset shouldn't be shoved into a role not suited for their overall success. Win-win, as the saying goes...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The 7 Biggest People Mistakes - #4: Not Using a Topgrading Interview Format

You might be thinking when you read this one - "What does he mean by a 'topgrading' interview format?" Perfect place to start!

When we talk about 'Topgrading', the goal is to hire people in the top 25% of ALL employees in the given role. That means using tools and resources to find out if you're talking to a 25%'er.
When it comes to interviewing questions, we're not talking about the age-old questions - "Give me an example of how you overcame a large obstacle in your job?" Or the reverse: "What was a time when you couldn't overcome a large obstacle in your job?" These questions are major softballs, right?

We're talking about taking a candidate through every one of their jobs and detailing their titles, salaries, job expectations, major responsibilities, major challenges, failures/mistakes, reasons for leaving, who their boss was (by name and contact information & permission to contact) and what they would say about you. Also if they lead people - what talent they inherited and how they coached or increased the talent on the team. By going in chronological order through each job and both documenting and possibly verifying any detail that seems inconsistent, you easily double your chances of success in hiring a world-class person.

Don't think you have time to take say, 3 hours in an interview? Suppose mis-hires cost you $300,000 per person, which isn't too uncommon given the time and opportunity costs spent. Let's also say you had 3 sales reps to keep it simple. That's $900k lost and probably over 300 hours spent if you took the time of 100hrs per person. So....we're talking about 3 hours in an interview? A 1% investment to get a major league caliber hire?

There are many resources to get templates which are already built. A great Topgrading interview guide can be found in the book - 'Topgrading', by Brad Smart. If you've not read this book or popped on his website, I urge you to use this one, its excellent!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The 7 Biggest People Mistakes - #3: Using Job Descriptions That Don't Match What You Really Need

Seen this before? 5-7 years of direct experience in 'x' position. Positive team player. Ability to grow team (dept) profitably with demonstratable track record. Developed budgets or managed a P/L, etc... You get the picture. Add some more that I may have missed too.

Here's the deal. Job descriptions are the most well intentioned documents in the world but the worst documents to use in hiring. Why, you say? We've spent a lot of time developing these and they show what we want. I'd say they miss in some very critical ways.

First, they miss because you might not be tying your company's situation, either present or future, to the role you're hiring for. For example, is your company a start-up with chaos galore or are you a well established company who's greatest fault is you have a bunch of dead-wood or huge complacency internally to take it to the next level. Maybe its a company that is broke or broken and needs a complete turn around. Get the picture? All very different situations. Hiring a turn around person is different from hiring someone who will just maintain the existing status quo.

Let's do another. JD's don't scale into interviewing or decision hiring tools. You've built the JD out, so now define the top 'must haves' in the role and then weight each of them with the goal of your total number adding up to 100%. Next, slide in a column to score the candidates on a 1-10 scale on how well they fulfill each 'must have'. What you should end up with is a very objective way to score everyone in an unbiased way v. liking someone because they come from your hometown or alma mater.

One more. Use a hiring profile tool. Does the person really have the attributes you want? You want a self-starter? You want a bull-dog prospecting machine? You can find this out and never even have to speak to a candidate. Yep, true. You can also use this and your weighting tool to drill into the candidate to demonstrate proven examples of where they demonstrated success in your specific needs.

The classic saying goes: 'measure twice; cut once'. Don't be too quick to hire without a couple simple tools in place first.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The 7 Biggest People Mistakes - #2: Failing to Replace Low Performers

Ok, the gloves need to come off. This is a tough subject and needs tough talk. You know there are '3' types of performers in your company - A's, B's, and C's. The A's are your brightest and best. You'd love to have ALL A's in your organization, but you think you can't. If you really think you can't have a team of ALL A-players then your doomed to the same results that you have now. ...You can stop reading too.

Ok, we're still standing. Good. Welcome to those who brave to make a difference in their teams and people!

For the B's on your team, these are the people who perform up and down, with mixed results. They are steady, but rarely light things up in their performance. A .220 hitter if you will who bats .275 for a month. Lastly, you have C's. Described as those who require much of your time, worry and source of greatest discontent. Pictures of faces of your C-players are flashing in your mind as you read this.

Here are (2) fun and simple things you can do to change you IMMEDIATELY into replacing your low performers.

First, calculate a team of A-players. Take your own metrics of success; how many deals they do, monthly revenues, margin, # of calls, etc. If you aren't in a sales-type environment find specific performance metrics which apply to your group. Next, take your existing team and divide them into A's, B's, C's. Run the numbers of where everyone is at present and calculate your current productivity. Lastly, take all the C-players and B's and toss them into the A-player bucket with the higher productivity. Run the numbers again. Yep, this is what you're missing out on. Even scarier is to take that number and divide by 365 - this is the amount your missing out on EVERY DAY you don't do something.

...so you don't have time to go through so much hassle to replace people and hire A's, your thinking. Seriously?

Take this topgrading 'Mind Teaser':
Q: If you inherit 10 low performers and want to replaceall 10 with high performers, how many people do you have to hire if your hiring success is 25%?
A: 40… You hire 40 people.

Q: How many do you have to fire?
A: 40… the 10 you inherited plus the 30 you mishired. Any manager would be nuts to fire 40 people whenthe team is only 10 people. The revolving door would be chaos!

Q: How many would a topgrader have to hire, with a 90% success rate?
A: 11

Q: How many would the topgrader have to fire?
A: One… which gives the topgrader a 30:1 advantage in hiring and time savings!

Tough stuff. People deserve to be successful. If you can't make them an A-player, let them move on to become an A-player in a different role or company. I've seen it happen many times. Make it happen. Today.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The 7 Biggest People Mistakes - #1: Not Defining What Makes Your 'A' Players Different From Everyone Else

Can you list your 'best' people's:
  • behaviors & traits
  • competencies for their role
  • educational level
  • skill sets or rankings
  • work history or common background indicators
  • regional variances or differences
  • hobbies & outside activities
  • particular majors or trade colleges
  • pre-employment checks
  • scores from reference checks
  • for employees - pay range, years in the company, performance appraisal scores, perceptions and attitudes of the company or management
Are we being too picky? If you spent between $150,000 to $500,000 dollars or more on a car - wouldn't you want to know you've got the best wheels on the road? If turnover is 3x salary, without other factors, each person in your company is that valuable to you.

Make your investment the absolute 'Best' it can be - you and your people will be better for it!