Category Archives: Business Leaders

Bring on the Replacement Recruiters!

By Dan Ridge, Contributing Consultant, Q4B

Whether you are a diehard football fan, a casual observer or someone who still thinks that what we call soccer in the USA is the most popular sport in the world you are certainly aware of the turmoil that is being created in the NFL with the lockout of the professional referees and the use or misuse of what are called replacement refs. Games have been decided by missed calls, bad calls and no calls. The integrity of the game is at stake and players, coaches, general managers and fans have had enough. Even the Good Guys in Vegas are not too happy with the current state of affairs.

There is a sense that with all of the controversy surrounding the debacle that was witnessed on MNF (unless you are a Seahawks fan) the lockout will end with each side giving and getting some of what each was bargaining for. But what a cost! Not so much in overall dollars but in fan perception, appreciation and support to say the least.

While I was watching ESPN, ESPN2 the other night I started thinking about this lockout, how important it is to have true professionals in every position in order for an organization to be successful, to provide value and service to their customers and to insure that the product or service delivered is the best that it can be. If one part of an organization is performing at a lower level than the rest of the organization the whole organization suffers.

Isn’t this true in recruiting? If not then it should be. Think about the many times you have seen companies that are struggling with their quarterly profitability, their stock prices are less than the street expected, their forecasts are off and projections for next quarter are dismal decide to cut their internal recruiting department down to almost nothing.

How many times have you seen those same companies run job ads that suck (JATS) looking for replacement recruiters with I to 2 years of experience when their company’s fortunes begin to turn around? Do you think that there will be some bad calls, missed calls and no calls when it comes to sourcing, screening and hiring the best fit candidates for their open positions? Could there ever be a situation where hiring managers and candidates raise enough of a ruckus that company management agrees to hire or rehire only seasoned experienced professional recruiters?

Probably not. Unfortunately, unlike the NFL referee situation, company management rarely sees the difference between seasoned experienced professional recruiters and their 1 to 2 year replacements. They don’t immediately see the impact if any of a bad call, missed call or no call by a replacement recruiter. And they certainly don’t understand how impactful a great hire is to their overall success.

And that is the fault of the seasoned experienced professional recruiter. Most recruiters vary rarely demonstrate their value to their company’s success. Do recruiters track the impact on the company that their hires have made? Can recruiters point to specific instances where one of their hires saved, made money for the company; exceeded expectations sooner than expected; was promoted or had a significant impact on the bottom line, the stock price or other company successes?

It is not about quality of hire, time to fill or cost per hire metrics that seemingly all recruiters are so caught up with. The people running a company are more concerned and more interested in making money, showing a profit, increasing revenue.

Did your hire help with any of those things? If not where is your value?

There may never come a time in your company where there will occur a tipping point event like the MNF spectacle that will show case the difference between seasoned experienced professionals and rookie replacements.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be able to demonstrate that difference yourself. Otherwise your company will always be looking for a replacement recruiter.

One last thought. I think that it would help if companies hired a senior recruiter to review every controversial hire and insist on using instant replay when the offer is extended and accepted.

Now, I will wait for a call from the league office. I know that they can use my input in settling this matter.

“Please hold for Mr. Goodell.”

 

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Remoteness Makes the Worker More HEP!

By Dan Ridge, Contributing Consultant, Q4B

I was thinking about the whole idea of working remotely after reading Q4B’s Rookie Recruiter’s Blog of last week, A Remote Recruiter in a Virtual Company and how far this way of working has come.

Years ago I was asked to do some consulting for a local staffing firm whose founder I had hired years before at the search firm I was managing. He learned the business, had some success with us and then went out and formed his own search business. He was way ahead of his time, always looking to add more value to the relationships that he and his staff developed both on the client company side and the candidate side.

At the time, 20 years ago, he asked me to conduct a survey using his client database, to get a sense of how companies and specifically hiring managers felt about workers telecommuting, or working remotely.

His purpose in conducting this survey was two fold. One, he was gathering information that might become useful in presenting hiring options to his clients; and two, he was doing something very different than any of his competitors, he was acting more as a consultant than as a recruiter, exhibiting more interest in what the hiring managers opinions were regarding their work environment and types of workers hired, than in just asking for the job order.

As I said, he was way ahead of his time. And the results of the survey were interesting. Of the 250 some odd hiring managers that I surveyed, the vast majority (over 90%) felt that even though there was emerging technology that would allow remote workers to access and share company databases, files and programs, there was a matter of TRUST. Some of the comments and questions were: “How do I know that they are really working? If he is here in the office then I know that he is working. Sometime I call meetings during the day and I need her to be here. The job requires handling sensitive information; I don’t want it to go out of the office. I don’t know who she is talking to. At least when she is here I can pass by her desk and overhear her conversations.”

And there were so many more, but you get the picture, 20 years ago the concern was TRUST or lack thereof.

Now fast forward 20 years, and the perception of the hiring manager regarding remote workers has changed dramatically.

In a recent article by Scott Edinger, founder of Edinger Consulting Group, the following question was asked:

“Who is more engaged and more committed to their work and rates their leaders the highest?”
A. People who work in the office
B. People who work remotely

Edinger’s company used this question as part of a 360 degree survey for their client. If you answered “A” to the question you would be wrong. The vast majority answered “B” and here are some of the reasons that Edinger discovered.

• Proximity breeds complacency – Just because you work in the same space as your boss or your employees doesn’t mean that you are engaging with them on a regular basis – the possibility of communicating is so easy that it is often taken for granted.
• Absence makes people try harder to connect –As a leader managing remote employees you go out of your way to connect with them as often as the work or job requires. As a remote worker you go out of your way to make sure that you are heard even though you may not always be seen.
• Leaders of virtual teams make better use of tools – The use of video conferencing, IM, email, Google + Hangouts, SKYPE and other forms of communication are not just a requirement for staying connected but a requirement for becoming a true leader. Put it on your resume.
• Leaders of virtual teams maximize the time spent together – Maybe it is because some services like Webex or GoTo Meeting have set time requirements for meetings, leaders and remote employees are more conscious of time spent together and tend to accomplish more in the same amount of time than office counterparts. Time is valued, fewer if any distractions are tolerated, more is accomplished.

These are just some of the reasons why many companies are currently allowing for remote workers and why those not doing so should consider it.

Yes there are jobs that cannot be done by a remote worker; jobs that require face to face customer engagement, manufacturing jobs, transportation jobs, many healthcare jobs, the list goes on. But if the job does not require the physical presence of the worker day in and day out in an office setting then having remote workers makes a great deal of business sense.

So, as a business leader, hiring manager what would you prefer workers who are HEP or not HEP?

That is Happy, Engaged and Productive!

I know what we at Q4B would want, HEP! HEP! HEP!

 

On Partners, Partnerships and Possibilities

By Jennifer Brownell, Managing Director, Q4B

part·ner·ship –  A relationship between individuals, groups or organizations that is characterized by mutual cooperation and responsibility, as for the achievement of a specified goal.

Ever since I started in the recruiting business the terms partner and partnership have been part of my vocabulary. I am sure that any recruiter reading this would say the same. We all would like to be considered a partner with our clients. We probably have it written somewhere on our company web site and we certainly feel that being a partner or being part of a partnership sounds much better, more professional than being a vendor or a supplier or heaven forbid, just a recruiter.

Well it turns out that rather than wanting to be a partner with our clients, both company and candidate, we ARE partners with our clients every time we enter into an agreement to help source, screen and select the best talent available for their positions.

Consider the client company relationship. Once we have met with the client, gone through a needs analysis, agreed upon the various requirements and responsibilities for the position, agreed to a fee for services, established the process for submittals, interviewing, feedback, frequency of communication and reporting and offer extension we ARE in a partner relationship. And the specified goal is filling the client’s position with one of our great candidates.

The same partner relationship exists with our candidates as well. From the first contact to establish the candidate’s qualifications, interest and availability all the way through the interview process, the offer acceptance and the 90 day on-boarding period there is, or should be, mutual cooperation and a clear definition of responsibilities which will lead to the achievement of the specified goal, namely placing our great candidate with our client company.

There is however another type of partnership that is unique in our industry and that is the relationship between two recruiting firms, serving similar industries and markets who both agree to cooperate and share responsibilities in order to achieve the specified goal of providing excellent service to their respective clients and markets.

Last week, our company Q4B, agreed to just such a partnership arrangement with a very successful staffing firm, OnPoint Staffing. As you might expect the decision to partner and form this type of relationship was not made without a great deal of due diligence, research and planning. It was however made easier since there existed a history of mutual admiration and respect between two of the principals involved with the decision.

I have known the COO of OnPoint, Denise Surratt, for a number of years, both professionally and personally. We have worked together; have a similar approach to recruiting, client service and making and keeping our commitments. We are both passionate about our industry and have always looked forward to working together someday.

We now have that opportunity.

We both felt that when any business leader looks to smash the competition they often miss opportunities that could come from cooperation and that through cooperation there is a good chance to make a bigger pie and to get a bigger share of that pie.

Even though there are some overlaps in some of the markets that each company serves and some of the services that each offers, there are more opportunities to leverage the knowledge, experience and resources that each brings to the relationship in order to achieve the specified agreed upon goal, and that is providing the best possible service to our clients.

And the Possibilities? Well we both feel that they are endless.

 

Who’s Your Customer?

By Dan Ridge, Senior Contributing Consultant, Q4B

Ask any successful business leader who is their customer and you are likely to get a pretty detailed answer. Some could provide you with demographics and statistics on age, gender, education, income level and buying habits. Others might base their answer on type of product or service offered and their specific market’s competitive landscape. Still others could offer a price breakdown comparison within certain product or service segments and advertising dollars spent.

In other words, all successful business leaders know their customer. After all, businesses need customers who will buy, rent or use their products or services. Companies can spend huge amounts of money compiling up to date information, conducting point of sale surveys, and reacting to customer satisfaction surveys and complaints all in an effort to make sure that they are offering the right product or service that their customers would want or need.

So why then does the vast majority of companies treat some customers well and treat other customers as though they don’t exist. The customers who are treated well, the customers that companies spend vast amounts of money on, the buyers of product or service customers are treated well, are wooed are catered to.

The customers who are not treated well, who are by and large ignored are those customers who are applying for your open positions. They are your candidate customers.

Candidates are customers. They could also be buyers of your products and services. But first and foremost they are buyers of your brand, your company, your job opportunity. And they should be treated as such.

Imagine a company attempting to attract the buyer of product or service customer with advertising that did not excite, did not attract, did not create interest in their product or service but merely listed everything about a particular product or service including all disclaimers and legal formalities. Chances are that not many of the buyer customers would respond. Chances are that the company would not be in business for too much longer.

Now look at how most companies attempt to attract the best candidate customer for their job openings. Most job postings (company job sites, job boards, social media sites, newsprint) do not excite, do not attract and do not create any interest on the part of the candidate customer that the company is hoping to target.

The majority of job postings contain every bit of information about a job including disclaimers and legal formalities and they are an insult to the candidate customers who are being targeted.

Here is what should change with job postings.

  • The job posting should contain just enough information about the position, reflect the company’s brand, provide only absolute must-haves for the position, list any possible restrictions, and if required the mandatory legalese, that will grab the attention of the candidate customer and excite them, make them respond, and have a call to action.
  • The job posting should show respect for the type of candidate customer who is being targeted. In other words if the job requires a certain number of years of experience in a particular field, it should not be necessary to list every possible tool, application, instrument, program, etc. that may or may not be used in this particular job. If the candidate customer has the years of experience in a field and similar environment, chances are he/she could do the job.

Valeria Maltoni, who writes a very successful blog, Conversation Agent, suggests that “there is an opportunity for businesses to understand each customer as an individual — and they can do that through direct interaction”. Isn’t that what treating your job candidates as customers is all about?

As recruiters we certainly get to understand each candidate customer as an individual and we do so through direct interaction (sourcing, screening and selecting).

And it all could start with a well written, exciting, creative and respectful job posting.

Here at Q4B we are on a mission to rewrite the book on job postings and in the process help educate our client companies on a better way to attract, excite and create interest from the talent that they are looking to hire.

Check out our Talent Hub and see our progress as we start to rewrite our existing job postings and post new opportunities as we get them.

We look forward to any comments or suggestions that you may have.

So, Who’s your customer now?

On Leadership

By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

“We Need You to Lead Us”. – Seth Godin, Tribes

Until recently I was probably like most people when it came to talking about and considering the word leadership, and what it means to be a leader. To me a leader was someone running a country, at a high level in government, military or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. A leader was someone in front of a movement, the founder of an organization, a well known and recognized authority in the arts, science or business. In other words, someone who was famous for what they did or for what their company or organization did.

Turns out I was wrong. Turns out that all of us have the ability to be leaders and that the qualities of leadership can be learned.

Since 2003 I have participated in three intense and very rewarding training courses on leadership, offered by Rapport Leadership International. I am now a Master Graduate of Rapport’s Leadership training. I mention this to emphasize a point, and that is that if I can train others to become leaders; can consider myself to be a leader and posses leadership qualities; and if I can take what I have learned and effectively apply it to what I do, namely find great talent for companies and find great opportunities for top talent, then any one can do the same. Anyone can become a leader.

Here are the six Leadership competencies that I was taught and anyone wanting to be a leader should learn.

  • Creating Teams & Building Support
    Increased strengths to reach goals far beyond your own capabilities
  • Focus and Taking Action
    Focus that sharpens the ability to shut off distractions and laser in on what’s important and move forward.
  • Passion and Enthusiasm
    Passion and enthusiasm to live out loud—work is no longer work!
  • Feedback & Accountability
    Free flowing communication and accountability to align organizations for optimum results.
  • Self-Awareness & Values / Mission
    Clarity that brings incredible inspiration to people eager to work with leaders with focus.
  • Self-Confidence & Unleashing Potential
    Confidence to get outside one’s comfort zone, change your approach, create stability in the organization, innovate, share ideas for improvement, and take action.

Now, when I talk with business leaders, department heads, and decision makers at client companies, I can relate to their respective issues, their individual needs and can better understand how important my role as a recruiter is in helping identify great talent that will make their jobs as leaders much easier and enjoyable.

Additionally, when I talk with potential candidates for positions that require leadership qualities, I can more readily identify those who possess some of the above competencies and suggest areas that would require some training.

 

Learning more about what makes great leaders, learning to understand and implement leadership qualities has helped me become better at what I do and has allowed me to take on the role of Director of Recruiting and Operations at Q4B with a great deal of confidence.

What about you, do you consider yourself a leader. Do you think you could be a leader? Remember, leadership is a choice. What will it be, leader or follower?

 

We’re Back….and We Have Made Some Changes

By Jennifer Brownell, President, Q4B

“Your business, like your life, does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”  – Jim Rohn

I know that many of you have been waiting patiently for this blog, asking yourselves, ‘Where has Q4B gone? When are those great blogs going to be posted again? What is happening to their business?”

Well this blog is intended to answer those questions and even some more pressing ones.

First of all, Q4B never went anywhere. We did take a break from the social media world as was explained in the last Q4Blog. Since then we have gone through some major reorganization, restructuring and reinvention of the company. In other words, we made some changes.

Reorganization – I was asked to take over the day to day running of the company. Our former management team decided to move on to pursue other interests and it is my intent to build on and leverage the great contributions they made to Q4B. You will be hearing more about additions to the Q4B team over the next couple of months through the Q4Blog and our web site www.q4b.com.

Restructuring – We have opened an office in the Denver area primarily because that is where I live and have contacts with a number of business leaders in the markets that we plan to support.

These markets will include Oil and Gas, Energy and Utilities, Healthcare and Technology. None of these are new markets for Q4B. We have over the years been quite successful in each of these markets and have supported a number of successful clients in each. In the past few years we had become more focused on the Oil and Gas market to the exclusion of the other three. We are now moving back into these other markets to offer our expanded services to companies looking for great talent.

We have also broadened our service offerings to take advantage of our relationships with current and former clients and the experience of our recruiting support staff. These service offerings will include Staff Augmentation, Direct Hire as well as Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO).

Reinvention – We are implementing new technology that will allow for better candidate experience and management as well as better coordination between clients, candidates and our company.

We are also planning to beef up our presence on LinkedIn Groups, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and become more engaged and part of the dialogue and not just a casual contributor. We want to start the conversations not just listen to them.

All of this will take time. But we all have the same amount of time to work with. It is what we do with OUR time that can make a difference.

I hope that the time that you have spent reading this, my first Q4Blog has been worth it.

Change is Good!

 

Can Your Business Strategy Pass the Test?

“Your strategy should be reviewed and updated on a quarterly basis.  Of course, that assumes you went through a disciplined thought process and have a real strategy to start with!”  – Stephen Lynch, COO, Results.com

 

Does your company have a strategy? Do you know if the clients that you work with have a strategy for their business? If your company does not, then you may want to take Stephen Lynch’s advice and go “through a disciplined thought process and develop a real strategy” before you continue reading the rest of this blog.

As to whether your clients have a business strategy, I doubt that any of us in the talent acquisition and recruiting business could answer that. We may assume that most do have a strategy, since we only prospect for clients who have a need for our services, have the dollars to spend for our services, and have a demonstrated track record of success. Surely that would indicate that they have a strategy for their business. Maybe, but how good it is, is another issue.

In a recent blog post on Results.com, Stephen Lynch presented a 10 point pressure test for a company’s business strategy devised by McKinsey – who maintain that most companies can barely pass more than 3 of these tests. Hopefully your company and your client companies can score better?

Here is the test:

1. Will your strategy beat the market?
Perform a thorough industry analysis (at least once per year) to get a clear picture of how the competitive forces in your industry are likely to play out. To beat industry average growth rates you will need a meaningful point of difference that can’t be easily copied or nullified.  Mindlessly copying your competitor’s innovations is not a strategy – it is a recipe for mediocrity. Do you really have a winning strategy?

2. Do you have a sustainable competitive advantage?
How will you make money in the future?  Do you have a unique strategic position – a concept that you “own” in the minds of your target customers?  Do you have special capabilities that can’t be easily copied?  Remember that nothing lasts forever.

3. Are you focused on the bulls-eye?
Push for the narrowest possible segmentation of your target market. Clearly defining and understanding your ideal target market customer is one of the most powerful things a company can do to improve its strategy.

4. Does your strategy put you ahead of trends?
Many strategies place too much weight on current trends. But as Peter Drucker said, it is not the trends, but “the changes in the trends” that leaders must keep on top of. These changes creep up so slowly that most companies fail to respond until it is too late to mount an effective response to take advantage of it.  They delay taking action; held back by cost concerns, an unwillingness to cannibalize a legacy business, or an attachment to yesterday’s formula for success.
Always look to the edges. How are your early adopter customers acting?  What are the small, innovative new entrants doing?  What innovations could change the entire industry?

5. Does your data give you privileged insights?
It is easy to be overwhelmed with data – the key is to make sense of it all and obtain actionable insights.  Don’t rely on the same data your competitors use.  Do you really understand your customers? Companies who go out of their way to experience the world from their customer’s perspective will develop better strategies.

6. Does your strategy embrace uncertainty?
Prioritize all your current threats (things that could derail your strategy) as part of your SWOT analysis, and consider what action you would take if these worst case scenarios came to fruition.  Could you handle it?  Do you have a plan B ready to roll out?

7. Does your strategy require commitment and tradeoffs?
Hedging your bets is not a strategy.  A full commitment to defined course of action is the only path to sustainable competitive advantage. This requires tradeoffs – you can’t be all things to all people. What are you not going to do?

8. Is your strategy contaminated by bias?
Are there certain assumptions that your business leaders have made and are making regarding you products, services, customers, pricing, market share, customer experience, etc, that will keep you from fully implementing a successful strategy? If so, then get rid of them. Bias has no place in business or in your business strategy.

9. Is your leadership team fully committed?
Many good strategies fail to be executed because of a lack of commitment among the leadership team, where just one or two nonbelievers can strangle a strategic change at birth.

10. Have you translated your strategy into a strategic execution plan? Clearly define where you are going, and make sure everyone knows the specific actions they need to take to play their part.  Ensure your budget and resource allocation is aligned with your strategy. Strategy comes first!  Effort spent aligning the budget with the strategy will pay off many times over.

So how did your company do? Regardless of how well or poorly your company did, this exercise should provide successful business leaders with many unanswered questions and areas for improvement that will help their companies grow and be profitable.

For those of us in the talent acquisition business this exercise presents us with some unique opportunities.  Asking these 10 questions of our prospective clients, as part of our needs analysis process, can provide us with a great deal of information about the opportunity and positions us as a true valued partner in helping our clients grow and succeed. Helping our clients address some of these questions, will give us a much better feel for the type of talent required to implement and manage the business strategy.

Your business could have the best business strategy, one that passes the McKinsey pressure test with flying colors, but without the right people, in the right places, without top talent, without “A players” your strategy is not worth the paper that it is printed on.

And companies like ours can help find that talent.