Category Archives: Leadership
Many of us understand that the job market is a tough, competitive one. In the pursuit for good talent, it’s necessary to stand out in order to attract solid candidates.
However, if you look closely at your hiring criteria, you may find that you’ve set too stringent a criteria for your search and restricting or excluding the people who may be the best match for your organization.
Look at your hiring and job descriptions then see if any of these key phrases appear:
- XX years of YY industry experience
- XX years of <specific> regional management preferred
- Knowledge of Excel, Powerpoint, Word
- Experience using ZZ system (usually a CRM, SaaS, other technical interfaces)
- XX years working for AA or BB company/or in AA or BB operations/systems
- Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s preferred
- Extensive contacts and network in the industry
Now at first glance these seem like necessary skills that a candidate needs to possess. But dive a little deeper and ask a few questions respectively:
- Industry experience – Can someone from an ancillary industry serve in the same capacity with the same impact?
- Regional management – Does someone who is highly effective managing a team of 5 qualify them for managing a team of 50?
- Excel, PPT, Word – Do these still matter today? Do these need to be mentioned?
- Using a system – can someone who is competent learn your system?
- Working for a specific company – Does this shows preference and bias to an internal candidate? Or, can someone learn internal operations quickly and still effect needed change?
- Degree required, preferred – If the right candidate emerges without this, will you disqualify them?
- Contacts in the industry – Does this “rainmaker” bring the right customers into the pipeline? Do you show a red flag for not generating leads or other internal warning signs?
The core question at the root of all of these is this:
Are you being too stringent in your own prejudices and hiring biases that you’re neglecting great talent?
I’ve worked with many companies and managers who let sharp talent slip past them because they carved out and restricted otherwise matching talent because they didn’t fit a certain pre-conceived mold.
In fact, I had one manager say she wasn’t going to hire a customer service person because there was a spelling error on her application!!
Yes, certain non-negotiable traits must be met. But how many do we place in our hiring process, and particular our ATS, that are kicked out because they aren’t – in what we and/or the ATS deem – the “right fit”.
Most hiring is like an iceberg. That top 10% is skill and the below the surface is the 90% behaviors that you can’t see at first. You only see the top 10% of what the person shows and neglect the 90% of who they are. And our hiring processes only are targeted for that 10% and leave the other 90% untouched. It’s that 90% that can tell you more accurately what a candidate brings to the table.
A former colleague of mine was refused an interview as he was told he didn’t have the needed experience. When they called him on the phone to inform him, he went down the job description and asked them line by line what the’re looking for, then matched it up with what his style and behaviors have accomplished. After each line, they admitted that he did have the relevant talent they were looking for. They scheduled an interview and he got the position after all.
Whether you’re looking at internal or external candidates, don’t restrict your chances to finding the right fit by narrowing your search. Have high standards, but open up the parameters to capture as many people as you can in the queue. Then you can use your standards to select the best from among them.
Companies have a funny way of justifying that they are better than what their customers say they are.
If you think that’s off the mark, check out the online reviews of companies and see their responses back to the customers. Or any public statement when it comes to an incident such as a recall, injury, or other negative issue the company is involved in.
These answers vary but all have the same root political spin to them. At the core of their responses, the infamous line usually appears:
We pride ourselves in delivering the best experience to our customers.
And that is also coupled with another phrase touting the company’s (relative) success up until that point:
We have had thousands of satisfied customers…; We have succeeded in the indsutry by…:
And quite frankly, responses like these are lame, pathetic, and serve no good to that customer or any other customer.
All a customer simply wants is their needs and expectations met or exceeded.
Your success does nothing for the customer with a complaint.
I have seen many companies and individuals offer excuses for delivering on poor service. The following are some actual responses from these organizations and professionals:
- Away taking awards trips (and focusing on self rather than making sure customers are tended to)
- Busy in meetings all day (customer feels they are not the prioirty)
- We’ve made xxx amount of money in the last year (that is not helping the cusotmer today)
- We just landed a major account (and ignoring the smaller accounts)
- We’re crazy busy around here (showing you’re disorganized and can’t control your business)
- We’ve never had a problem before (totally irrelevant to the situation)
If the customer cannot feel connected to you, then you are not a success in their eyes. They are the only ones that truly matter and failure to take action to meet their expectations or to take accountability for dropping the ball will have a negative impact on your business. Sustained excuses and touting your ability to deliver when it’s really not there will have far-reaching damage on your credibility as a leader and an organization.
It’s said in the restaurant industry, “You’re only as good as your last meal served.” A better phrase would be “You’re only as good as the customer you just served”. Nothing you’ve done in the past, even the prior minute, matters.
The only thing that matters to the customer is what you do for them while they’re standing in front of you.
Today’s post is offered by Shelly L. Francis, her latest book The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity identifies key ingredients needed to cultivate courage in personal and professional aspects of life. The common thread throughout her career has been bringing to light best-kept secrets — technology, services, resources, ideas — while bringing people together to facilitate collective impact and good work.
The following is an excerpt from “The Courage Way”:
Greg, whom we met in chapter 8, faced a difficult time as a business owner in the years following the 2008 recession. “I was constantly stretched by the reality of living through ’08, ’09, ’10, when the economy was so tough. Wanting to keep the company healthy and profitable and also care for the workforce I care so deeply about, as so many things are shifting . . . Talk about tension.”
In his business organizing corporate meetings and incentive trips, Greg wanted his employees to be as productive as possible and to enjoy what they did—because when they did, it showed. “We clearly are in business to assist clients at a high level of excellence. But what do we do internally for the people here who give the best hours of their day, year after year, to this work so that they feel engaged and know that they’re cared about? That’s what kept me awake during those lean years.”
Of course his employees knew the economy was in a rough spot, but they didn’t know the extent of Greg’s concern. “I was torn between not wanting, but wanting to share a little bit of that tension. And I wanted to demonstrate that I believed in them, as individuals, and that I had confidence that we would get through it.”
Greg was faced with many difficult decisions affecting the bottom line, including rapidly escalating health insurance costs. Although the company covered the employee portion, Greg was aware that the big increase in premium costs meant that many employees were not purchasing additional coverage for their spouses and children. With significant price differences among plan options, he could have made a swift unilateral decision to select the least expensive plan. But Greg chose a different path that aligned with his and the company’s stated values to always relate in an open, honest, direct, and caring manner.
He wanted to bring people from different departments together and have a conversation about choosing a health insurance plan, so he sent out materials for his staff to read in advance, with questions to reflect on as well. Greg explained in advance that when they all came together to talk, they would listen to each other share about how plan options might impact families or spouses. He told them, “We’re not just going to dive in to which plan do we want, but we are going to spend some time looking at the whole person you bring to the room and the other whole people in the room. We’re not always aware of what’s going on for one another. I might make difference choices if I know more.”
On the day of the meeting, people had individual time to reflect and write down their thoughts. Next, they sat together in smaller groups where they could safely share a little bit aloud and hear the questions that others were asking. “By the time the discussion moved back to the larger group, the rough edges of thought were gone, and the collective truth was more well defined,” Greg said.
Greg noted how helpful it was for everyone to prepare for speaking honestly to each other. He watched as people stepped out of their own context and saw a bigger picture. He could see them realizing the ways that different health plans would affect others. As they shared their stories, they began to see that maybe another option would be better for all of them as a whole.
In the end, the decision was Greg’s, but the staff supported his choice because they had heard one another’s concerns and understood Greg’s convictions. e process increased their personal regard and respect for each other as human beings, which is essential to building more relational trust (as we discussed in chapter 4).
Greg recognizes that people become more invested and engaged as employees when they reflect on their own choices and attitudes. By offering a reflective process to his staff that honored their wholeness and trusted their capacity for empathy and dialogue, Greg increased the chances that their own internal plumb lines would guide them, which enhanced their sense of commitment to and fulfillment in their work. But it all started with Greg’s internal choice to lead with integrity.
A man or woman becomes fully human only by his or her choices. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day. These decisions require courage.
Shelly L. Francis has been the marketing and communications director at the Center for Courage & Renewal since mid-2012. Before coming to the Center, Shelly directed trade marketing and publicity for multi-media publisher Sounds True, Inc. Her career has spanned international program management, web design, corporate communications, trade journals, and software manuals.