Category Archives: Talent Management

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?

 

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Talent Management – Is That What You Do?

In his groundbreaking book, Intellectual Capital, author Thomas Stewart writes “The management of talent, your human capital is part of an uncertain and complex endeavor that must deal with technology and competitors that won’t stand still, must formulate strategy and place multi-million dollar bets on the basis of highly imperfect information, and that adds to the mix the most intangible and least describable asset of all, plain old good business judgment.”

And we thought your job was easy! And maybe your boss did as well. Managing talent may be the most important and yet underappreciated job in any company. Rarely does a Talent Manager, HR leader or what ever title you use, have a seat at the table; rarely are they consulted on business strategy or rewarded proportionally for the success of the company. And yet most CEOs would say that “our people are our most important asset.”

The true leaders in Talent Management are all involved with establishing policy and implementing procedures for everything from sourcing, screening, selecting, on boarding, succession planning, retention, career advancement, training and when the occasion arises firing, downsizing and outplacement of the workforce. They are also directly involved in many cases in delivering the expected results of these processes, namely, top talent or A-Players.

So why the disconnect? Why is this critical role so underappreciated? The answers could be many depending on your point of view and your familiarity with the job requirement. Remember the old adage that in order to fully appreciate what a person does you need first to walk a mile or two in his/her shoes. Even if the shoes are bright red pumps in size eight and a half double D.

In my role as CEO of Q4B, I have had the pleasure of working with Talent Managers many of whom I would consider leaders in their field. I am also involved in growing and managing our company and managing our talent as well. I think this give me a unique perspective. My response to the question, why so underappreciated is that it is all about time, bandwidth and prioritizing.

If you are in a talent management position ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is your talent acquisition and retention process more reactive than proactive?
  2. Can your internal recruiting engine source and screen high quality candidates consistently?
  3. Is your internal process capable of reacting to a spike in hiring demand?
  4. Do your customers (hiring managers) work with you as an equal partner to help the company succeed?
  5. Do your bosses (C-level) consider what you do as strategic and critical to the company’s success and profitability?
  6. Are your processes aligned with the goals of the company?
  7. How much time do you and your recruiters spend on activity that is of low value to your customers (hiring managers and candidates)?
  8. Do you agree that “our people are our most important asset” or would you say that your talent pipeline is your most important asset?
  9. Do you wish you had more time to plan, analyze and improve your processes and deliverables?

Good talent management leaders, those who do have a seat at the table and who are appreciated by their company’s leadership team (C-level and board) have a keen understanding of their own capabilities, the capacity and bandwidth of their internal staff and are willing to bring in external resources in order to hire, promote and retain the best talent for their company. This willingness to utilize outside resources gives them the time they need to plan, analyze and improve those processes, thus making their contribution more valuable to the success of the company.

Good talent management leaders also have one other trait in common. It is that intangible and hard to describe asset that Stewart talks about, “plain old good business judgment.”

Do you have it?

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?

 

Rule Number 6

This is a story that Ben Zander tells in his book The Art of Possibility.

“Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing the affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fists on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon, Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again, twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: “My friend, I have seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secrets of Rule Number 6?” “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister, “Rule Number 6 is Don’t Take Yourself so damn seriously.”

In our company, I do much of the business development activity and in that capacity I very clearly see the opportunities that exist in the market place for our type of managed recruiting service. As I do research on potential clients I can identify where in their talent acquisition and retention process our company’s services could add tremendous value and contribute to that company’s profits and success. I know that our company has done great work for our clients, and will continue to bring value to future clients. So when I make my well crafted pitch to potential clients and don’t get the positive response I know should be there, I have moments where I could exhibit the outbursts of Peter and Marie, and then I remember Rule Number 6.

Our company’s service, as good as it is, may not be the most important thing on the minds of the hiring managers, the talent managers, the HR Directors, the CFOs, CEOs with whom I speak. Believe it or not, in most companies, talent acquisition and retention only become important when there is a need to fill a position because some one left, new business demands more people or someone in a position is not working out and needs to be replaced. The moment that I feel that my call, my proposal, my company’s solution is the only thing that matters, then I have taken myself too seriously and need to be reminded of Rule Number 6.

The fact is, Rule Number 6 applies to everyone, and especially those involved in the business of finding and hiring great talent. And this applies to candidates as well.

  • Recruiters need to understand that not all great candidates will accept your offer when you would like, and not all hiring managers will provide prompt feedback on your candidates.
  • Hiring Managers need to understand that just because you have a need doesn’t mean that that talent exists on every street corner. Great talent is hard to find.
  • HR Directors need to understand that your opening and your company are not the only game in town and that the way to attract great talent starts with a well crafted, meaningful job/position profile.
  • Candidates need to understand that just because you responded to a job posting, doesn’t make you the center of attention and the only one qualified for that position.

All need to remember Rule Number 6. It is not about me or you it is about them, and “them” is the client, the company, the decision maker and what their needs are. So keep in mind Rule Number 6.

If you are wondering about the other rules, the story continues.

“”Ah”, says the visiting prime minister, “Rule Number 6 is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask, are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

Love Change, Learn to Dance and Leave J. Edgar Hoover Behind!

When I travel I like to bring a few books along to read on the plane, in airports, on trains and just have with me as I sit in some beautiful piazza on the Italian coast not wanting to look like a typical tourist.

One of the books that I brought along on this recent trip to Italy was Visionary Business by Marc Allen or Visionari Affari in Italian. The book in both languages is a fictional guide to success for entrepreneurs. Sound advice in an easy to read story. However it is not just for those looking to start a new business. The advice can be easily applied to any one, business leaders, employers, employees, candidates, consultants and yes, even recruiters.

One of the chapters is titled the same as this blog. The story comes from a very successful CEO of a fortune 50 company who attributed the success and profitability of his company to his company following three simple rules: (1) Love change; (2) Learn to dance; and (3) leave J. Edgar Hoover behind.

Allen’s main character goes on to explain the three rules this way. “The first rule is obvious: Learn to accept change, even to love change. The nature of life is change, and we either learn to love it, or resist the inevitable. Every company, like every person, is changing all the time. Technologies change, people’s tastes change, their desires and needs change. Some companies and some people have the vision to use that to their advantage, some don’t. Those that don’t, don’t survive very long.”

As a business leader you can easily see how this rule applies to what you want for your company. Adapt, change or stand still and be run over by the competition. As a recruiter, the same rule could be applied. Social media, cloud sourcing, talent hubs, candidate communities, transparency in the hiring process, behavior based interviewing, talent pipelines, performance profiles, these are all relatively new concepts and terms that have changed the recruiting landscape. If you are not aware of all of them and how they might impact your business and career, then you are not following Rule #1. Love Change.

The second rule is learn to dance. Allen’s character explains it this way. “This means dancing with all your customers, all your distributers, all your suppliers, everyone you work with. The more we learn to dance with people, smoothly and skillfully, and give them what they want with the best possible service and quality of product, the easier it is to achieve our goals. Our working relationship with others should be a dance, not a struggle. Creatively working with people so that everyone’s happy. Finding win-win solutions – dancing together!”

Again, for a business leader you can see how applying this rule can dramatically impact your business. Happy, engaged customers, suppliers, distributors, employees, vendors are the key to success and profitability. Not to mention the key to a much more enjoyable and less stressful work life.

For recruiters this rule applies just as well.  Giving your candidates, hiring managers, partners, co-workers, talent managers, HR Directors what they want with the best possible service you can provide is the surest way to both your success and that of your company. Learn to Dance and not just the old Texas Two-step!

The third rule was Leave J. Edgar Hoover Behind. When I first read this I thought it had something to do with Hoover’s rumored cross-dressing habit. But Allen’s character explains it this way. “J. Edgar Hoover was famous – or infamous rather- for his complete control of his employees’ actions. His management style was completely dictatorial. Everything came from the top down; management told everyone exactly what to do. At least that was the reputation he had. Leaving him behind means giving each employee responsibility to do their job in their own way. Hire good people, clearly define their responsibilities, and let them do it their own way. They’re the ones in the trenches, doing their job all day. Get responsible people, treat them like adults. J. Edgar Hoover would hate this approach.”

Successful business leaders can easily see the importance of following this rule. The key to making sure that this rule is followed in your company is to have a company culture that allows for and encourages bottom up decision making, strong mentoring programs and the hiring of nothing but “A – players” for all positions.

Following this rule as a recruiter is a little more difficult. Recruiters don’t necessarily make business decisions, however, when it comes to hiring Great talent, recruiters can apply this rule by insisting on developing and implementing a hiring process that attracts the right talent, that supports a more complete understanding of what each job requires, what outcomes should be expected, what competencies are desired, and that all sourcing, screening and selecting of new employees is aligned with the business goals for the company. If this is done then as a recruiter you will never have to think about J. Edgar Hoover again. Elliot Ness maybe.

I am now off to read another chapter of Allen’s book “Give abundantly and reap the rewards”. I sure hope that it is true because I think I left an enormous tip at that last little trattoria.

 

Ciao again!

 

 

 

 

Bob Dylan – On Recruiting, Hiring and the Candidate Experience

“The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind”.

–          Bob Dylan

 In case you missed it, or were just too busy waiting for the rapture, Bob Dylan turned 70 this past Tuesday, May 24th. In honor of that milestone, I decided to go back and listen again to my extensive collection of Dylan albums and CDs. Every time I listen to Dylan I hear something that I didn’t hear before, a subtle phrase, the idiomatic word usage, and the rhythmic undertones that all conjure up a slightly different take on a song that was once familiar but is now new again.  Dylan has that effect on the listener.

This time I decided to listen with an ear more attuned to what I do, what our company does, what my business is. I was hoping to hear Dylan speak about recruiting, hiring and the Talent Acquisition process. Below is a partial list of Dylan songs, the albums and some idea of what Dylan had to say about our business or at least what I heard him say to me.

4th Time Around – Blonde On Blond –  A candidate’s thoughts and frustrations with having to go through another round of interviewing where the same questions will be asked again, but by different people

Ain’t Talkin’ – Modern Times – What every recruiter should hear to prepare for the candidate reference check

All I Really Want To Do – Another Side of Bob Dylan – The candidate’s lament. Forget sending the resume, waiting for the phone call, filling out the application, just “let me go to work for you”.

Are You Ready? – Saved – Probably the best example of how to send out and extend the offer. No candidate will ever turn the offer down or take a counter offer if you use this approach.

Beyond The Horizon – Modern Times – Employees considering leaving your company are well advised to listen to this piece.

Can’t Wait – Time Out of Mind – The whole candidate experience is summed up in this song and you feel the frustration and the helplessness –

Dignity – Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, Vol 3 – How we should approach every engagement, and how we should treat every candidate

Everything Is Broken – Oh Mercy – No ATS, no process, no talent strategy, what is a good talent manager to do?

Going, Going, Gone – Planet Waves – How to turn in a very professional resignation letter – no burning of bridges

Hard Times in New York Town – The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3 – What it really feels like to be conducting a job search in a big city without a good recruiter

Honest with Me – Love and Theft – Do I have the job, can I get the interview, is the position filled? The candidate wants the answers.

I Feel a Change Comin’ On – Together Through Life – What every recruiter needs to make his candidate say about that great opportunity.

I Threw It All Away – Nashville Skyline – Had a great job, just didn’t get the proper on boarding from the company. Whose fault was that?

If Not For You – New Morning – The recruiter’s classic line to get referrals for a position. Similar to that other classic “Who else do you know”

Nothing Was Delivered – The Basement Tapes – What you never want to say about a new hire after the first 90 days – so what was the cost of a bad hire?

One Too Many Mornings – The Times They Are a’Changin – No job, no prospects, no idea of how to conduct a successful job search. Just send out some more resumes to some of the openings on Monster.

What Can I Do For You? – Saved – The best question we can ask our candidates, our hiring managers, our clients and each other.

This is just a sampling of the many Dylan songs that could deal with recruiting, hiring and the candidate experience. You probably have many of your own favorites that could be added to the list. If you do, just send them along or include them in your comments to the blog.

So, could Dylan have been saying all of this about recruiting, hiring and how candidates are treated? You know the answer my friend, and you know where it is.

Happy 70th Bob Dylan!