Category Archives: Pipeline Development

We All Sell, We Are All In Sales

 

By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B

If anyone asks you “What do you do for a living?” how do you respond? Most people answer with their job title and their company, as in “I am the owner of VF Transport” or “I am the head of production with MQ Manufacturing” or in my case, see my info above. Nothing wrong with this type of response but on the other hand it isn’t really the answer to the question. Saying you’re the owner doesn’t mean that you “own” for a living, nor does saying you are head of production mean that you “produce “for a living.

The best answer to the question, believe it or not, is one that most people tend to avoid. We don’t want to admit that the answer is something that all of us do, day I and day out, regardless of job title and name or type of company that we work for. Even some people who do this for a living call it by some other name as though there is some stigma attached to it. And yet the answer when viewed as a career provides those who do it well the greatest opportunity to make more money than any other career choice.

So, what is this answer? The answer to the question “What do you do for a living” is “I sell, I am in sales”.

The owner of the transport company sells every hour of every day. He sells himself, his products/services, his company’s capabilities and solutions. If he doesn’t sell his company will die. The head of production at the manufacturing plant sells his ideas, his boss’s ideas, the opportunity for advancement for his team, his vision. If he doesn’t sell there will be little or no production and he will be out of a job. And, as Director of Recruiting and Operations, I sell everyday as well. I sell candidates on great career moves; I sell hiring managers on great candidates; I sell my boss and other stakeholders on new and better technology that has a better than expected ROI. I sell, I am in sales.

This is a concept that is not easy for everyone to accept. Even those who are in a sales position (recruiters included) have a difficult time saying “I sell, I am in sales.” And yes there are those who would argue that not everyone sells and use as an example those starving artists who create their art for its own sake and would never think of calling themselves salesmen. But isn’t that why they are called “starving artists”?

From my experience in the recruiting field, the one group that has the most difficult time accepting the concept that “we sell, we are all in sales” is job candidates, active or passive. Most have been told by recruiters and career coaches that as job candidates they need to be selling themselves, especially to the hiring managers; that they are the product and that their resume is their product literature; that job search is all about selling and marketing themselves. All true, but very difficult to accept.

I have a suggestion for those job seekers who struggle with the “I sell, I am in sales” concept. Instead of thinking of selling just yourself, as though you were a product, think of selling what the buyer (hiring manager) needs. Think of selling a solution to his/her problem since as we all know the only reason that a company is hiring is that they have a problem, sometimes good, sometimes bad, but a problem nonetheless. Think of selling an increase in revenue from a problem territory; an increase in collecting receivables; a better return on the investment made in a new ERP system; a quicker turnaround in invoicing; a better quality pipeline for new business; a better and more responsive customer focused web site with social media channels.

If you think of selling what the buyer needs, your chances of making the sale will be that much greater. Making the sale means that you will get the job offer. Now that is selling!

My hope is that someday, when any one is asked the question “What do you do for a living” everyone will answer “I sell, I am in sales.”

Now, are you buying any of this?

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Your People Are Not Your Most Important Asset!

Go to any company’s web site, pick up any company’s annual report, read any company’s marketing material and chances are good that you will come across the phrase, “our people are our most important asset”. In some cases in order to emphasize how important, the phrase is often in bold and italics.

Do the leaders of these companies actually believe that their people are assets? If they do then why aren’t they managed in Finance rather than HR and why not use an Asset Management System instead of an Applicant Tracking/Employee Management System?

In accounting, assets are economic resources. Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value is considered an asset. Simply stated, assets represent ownership of value that can be converted into cash (although cash itself is also considered an asset).Assets are tangible and include such things as inventory, buildings, equipment, or intangible, which are nonphysical resources and rights such as goodwill, copyright, trademarks, patents, computer programs, accounts receivable, bonds, stocks. But not People.

In his best selling book, Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, Inc writes about his company’s strategy for growth. “Many corporations like to say that their people are their most important asset. There are a few problems with that approach. First, if someone leaves, you have lost an asset. Second, if the company grows, there will come a time when the company outgrows an employee because the employee still has the same skill set that he had when he first joined.” Hsieh suggests that for most companies the solution is to let that employee go, and hire a more experienced outsider who may or may not be a good fit for the company.

Zappos’s solution was to not consider their employees(people) as assets, but rather create and build a pipeline of talent for each position in each department, from entry level to the most experienced consisting of current employees and outside candidates(qualified, interested, available). Once the pipeline is built and filled then anytime a single individual leaves the company, there will always be someone in the pipeline who can assume his/her duties and responsibilities. This pipeline is the asset and this pipeline of talent is the company’s most important asset.

This pipeline of talent as an asset concept seems to work for Zappos, just look at how successful they are. Could it work for your company?

Here is a checklist that will help you develop the pipeline as asset mentality.

  • Have a clear performance profile, job requirement written for every position in every department.
  • Look to both internal and external candidates to fill the pipeline.
  • Always have the pipeline filled.
  • Always reevaluate the business strategy of the company and department and realign the pipeline to match.
  • Provide training and opportunities for every employee to move up in their department and in the company. Provide the tools for them to help manage their careers.
  • Never be caught by surprise. Employees will leave your company, especially the good ones. Always have a replacement at the ready.
  • Keeping each and every pipeline filled and current should be the most important job for your internal recruiters. Reward those who do so.
  • Lastly, change the statement regarding employees as your most important asset to the following, “Our Talent Pipeline is our most important asset.”

One of the services that our company, Q4B, offers each and every client is talent pipeline management. It is a critical piece to how we engage with our customers and is one of the areas where we receive high praise from our customers. We do this well. However, after reading Tony Hsieh’s book I am even more convinced as to how important our pipeline management service is, or should be to our clients and prospects.

We are really managing their most important asset. And how cool is that!

 

Talent Acquisition, Talent Management – What Do You Do?

For as long as I have been in this business, the business of sourcing, screening and selecting great talent for client companies, I have felt that more could be done. I felt that those of us who do this type of work were only being allowed to do just so much in bringing great talent to an organization, and that once the offer to a candidate had been made and accepted, our role ended. This is especially true for 3rd party recruiters, but is also true for those of us who provide a managed recruiting solution, RPO service or some portion of the recruiting domain (sourcing, screening, selecting, Candidate Pipeline Management) for our client companies. We do Talent Acquisition and once a candidate becomes an employee, they (our clients) do Talent Management.

Turns out we, all of us in this business, have always been doing Talent Management. Talent Acquisition is not a separate function, but rather a critical part of the whole Talent Management Process.

In the book, Talent: Making People Your Competitive Advantage, Edward E. Lawler III, suggests that Talent Management doesn’t start the day the new hire shows up for work. He goes on to say that “companies that want to excel (and which company doesn’t) need outstanding talent. And to have outstanding talent, a process or talent management system, needs to be in place that will attract the right talent and help them understand exactly what to expect from their work experience with the company. This process or system needs to also provide employees with the developmental experiences that build the organization’s key capabilities and core competencies. And help them retain the right talent.”

Lawler continues to explain. “Put another way, effective talent management systems don’t just acquire and introduce highly qualified people to an organization – they ensure that the fit is right between employee and employer. They also monitor and manage an individual’s relationship with the organization effectively for as long as it is in the best interest of the organization to have the individual as an employee.”

Here are some of the key components of an excellent talent management system that will help you attract great talent.

  • Employer Brand – What does your company do? Are you a manufacturing, customer service, financial, technology driven company? Then whatever it is that you do, it needs to be reflected in everything that a potential candidate would see or want to see. This includes your web site, job postings, marketing material, advertising, what your current employees say about your company etc.
  • Actual Job Information – Not the canned boilerplate job descriptions that are all too commonly used, but actual job performance requirements; what is expected of the candidate, what it is like working for your company, what your own employees say about working for your company, and if possible a day in the life video of your company and  the particular job.
  • Perks – If your perks and benefits are better than most companies and especially your competitors, then flaunt them. Not every perk will appeal to every candidate but if they are that good then let your candidates know.
  • Employment Contract – This is not a legal document, but rather a statement of what your company promises the employee and what in turn is expected of the employee. Nothing like having something in writing when it comes time for employee review. Did your company keep its side of the agreement? Did the employee live up to his/her part as well?
  • Critical Skills Alignment – Can you identify the most important positions in your company? If the success of your company is dependent on great customer service, then your talent management system should reflect the importance of those positions. The same would apply if your company’s success hinged on developing cutting edge, innovative products.
  • Making a Deal – What is most important to your employees? Some would say salary, some would say benefits (health), some would say flexible working hours, some would say training, opportunity for promotion etc. But not all of your employees would say the same thing. And what would make them take a job with a competitor or go elsewhere? If you want to keep your talent, you need to know what is most important to them and what would keep them from leaving. Make a deal with each one.

Companies that want to excel need to have a talent management system that allows them to attract, hire and retain the very best talent. Take a look at your own company. Are you able to attract, hire and retain great talent consistently? Do you have a system in place that is always on, and not just on when you have an immediate need, or worse still when one of your key employees decides to leave?

Our company, Q4B – Quantum Solutions for Business, is in the Talent Management business with an emphasis on talent acquisition

I like the sound of that, don’t you?

 

Horton Hires a WHO!

The most important decisions that business leaders make are not what decisions, but who decisions.

–          Jim Collins, Author of Good To Great

“Who is your number one problem. Not what. What refers to the strategies you choose, the products and services you sell, and the processes you use. Who refers to the people you put in place to make the what decisions. Who is running your sales force? Who is assembling your products? Who is developing your service deliverables? Who is occupying your corner office?”

Thus begins one of the best books I have read dealing with hiring great talent, hiring “A – players”. The book is Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. It was a NY Times best seller back in 2008 and received numerous awards. Smart and Street are cofounders of a successful consultancy firm, ghSMART, that has helped many Fortune 500 companies develop and implement the “A Method for Hiring.”

The book suggests and I wholeheartedly concur, that although most companies would certainly want to hire “A – players” for all of their positions, very few have a methodology in place that would allow them to do so. Most companies and in turn, those within the companies charged with hiring, practice something similar to voodoo. And unfortunately, sometimes voodoo works. But at such a high cost!

The “A Method for Hiring” consists of four parts, Scorecard, Source, Select and Sell.

–         The Scorecard is a document that describes exactly what you want a person to accomplish in a role. It is NOT a job description, but rather a set of outcomes and competencies that define a job well done. By defining A-type performance you have a better chance of filling the position with “A-players”.

–         Sourcing needs to be systematic and ongoing, not just when you have a position to fill. Developing a pipeline of “A-players” ensures you have high-quality candidates waiting when you need them.

–         Selecting talent involves a series of structured interviews (Screening, Topgrading, Focused, and Reference) that allow for the gathering of all relevant facts about a candidate so that an informed hiring decision can be made.

–         Selling the right way ensures you avoid the biggest pitfalls that cause the very people you want the most to take their talents elsewhere.

All of this takes time, training and top-down commitment or your chances of consistently hiring “A-players” will be what it currently is, slim to none.  If your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position and you are still relying on Job Descriptions as your source of information, then you won’t be successful. If your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position and you don’t start sourcing until the opening exists, you won’t be successful. If your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position and you merely conduct one or two “voodoo” interviews, you won’t be successful. And if your company wants to hire only “A-players” for each position but you fail to sell the candidate, his/her family, extended family and other influencers on the decision to join your company and fail to continue selling as long as they are your employee, then you won’t be successful.

So, could Horton the elephant hire a WHO? Certainly if he follows the “A Method for Hiring” and if he HEARS the WHO.

Thanks Dr. Seuss.

Time, Money, Quality – Pick Two

 

No I am not suggesting a new Texas Lotto game, although the odds of winning with only two numbers would certainly be better than three or more. Nor I am I referring to some new age life-work balance seminar that promises something close to paradise on earth.

I am using these three terms as they relate to talent acquisition and how companies should consider which two of the three are most important to hiring for each requisition because you can’t have all three.

All those involved in the talent acquisition market, namely internal recruiters, 3rd party recruiters and recruitment consulting (RPO) firms like ours, deal with these three terms every time they engage with a client. Some deal with the terms well, some not so well or not at all.

Those who deal with the terms well, like our company, discuss, explain and get agreement from the client on the two most important to the engagement on the front end as part of the needs analysis and scoping of the project.

Those who deal with the terms poorly or not at all take the assignment (job requisition/job order) without ever discussing the three terms and thus indirectly promise all three to the client.

Now let me explain the three terms as they relate to sourcing, screening and selection of great talent.

Time – As you might guess, this is Time to Hire. How long will it take from opening the requisition to offer and/or start. This can not be determined without getting the following information from the hiring manager.

  • Realistic job requirements/performance expectations
  • Location of position
  • Realistic compensation relative to job requirements
  • Candidates exist
  • Sense of Urgency
  • Complete interviewing information
  • Opportunity and company information
  • Access to decision makers

Once this information is gathered, a realistic time period can be agreed upon, barring any unforeseen issues.

Money – This refers to Cost of Hire. To determine this many companies merely look at personnel cost, advertising cost, external recruiter fees (if any), job board subscription fees, testing fees, relocation expense (if any) without considering some of the hidden costs such as lost opportunities, overtime coverage, training, ramp up costs to productivity, just to name a few.

Whatever factors are used to determine Cost of Hire, and the more the better, then a true Cost of Hire can be agreed upon.

Quality – This refers to Quality of Hire, probably the least quantifiable of the three. Some would say that quality is in the eye of the beholder, or the hiring manager. What constitutes quality for one manager or company might not be considered quality for another manager or company. The best that can be offered is that the candidates for a position meet all or most of the requirements for that position and as a result of the interview process there is general agreement that the candidates are a good fit.

If you want Quality candidates it may cost more money and take more time. If you want to spend less, reduce Cost of Hire you may have to sacrifice quality, or if you want to fill positions quickly and reduce Time to fill, you may have to bend a little on Quality of Hire.

So, as a business leader what two of the three would you pick to fill a position? Not a question that is easy to answer. So many factors need to be considered before you pick two.

However, I can guarantee one thing, if you don’t consider Time, Money and Quality in filling positions, you will rarely be satisfied with the end product and will feel that the process took too long, cost too much and produced less quality hires. You might as well be playing the Lottery.

Pick Two!

Should We Change Our Name?

I was one of the 10 billion people who watched the Super Bowl this past Sunday. I had great seats, middle of the couch in front of a flat screen TV with plenty of good food, wine and beer and surrounded by good friends who were all Saints fans wearing the black and gold with Mardi Gras beads. I was happy the Saints won for their fans and the city of New Orleans.

It occurred to me while I was watching (maybe it was trying to understand why the WHO) that this game was perhaps the perfect example of why there are so many comparisons between football and business. We are all familiar with football and business using terms such as team work, game plan, win or lose, block and tackle, play book, blitz, huddle up, there is no “I” in Team, practice, X and O, role player, coach, trainer and so many more.

However, the terms that I am referring to, and that were so much in evidence by both teams in this game are sourcing, screening, selecting, recruiting, pipeline development,  talent management, succession planning, promotion and retention.

Consider this. These were the two best teams with the two best quarterbacks playing for the championship. Yes there were other good teams and players this year, but these two teams got to the Super Bowl based in part on how they were put together and some bad late play calling by the Vikings.

Both teams have a history, the Colts longer, the Saints more recent, of putting together and building a great team.

  • They both know where to look for talent, Sourcing.
  • They both have a history of identifying  the best talent and making sure that they get that talent, Recruiting, Screening and Selecting
  • They know how to plan for future needs, and in some cases immediate needs due to injuries, Pipeline Development, Talent Management, Succession Planning
  • They know who to keep and how to keep the best talent available, Succession Planning, Promotion and Retention

So here is the take away (another football term) from the Super Bowl. If you want your business to be successful, to be a winner, then take a look at what the two best teams in the NFL this year do on a consistent basis to ensure a level of success and ultimately play for the championship. Use the terms that they use, sourcing, screening selecting etc to build a championship team of your own.

If you need help with following the example set by the Colts or the Saints give us a call. Who are we? We are Q4Brees!