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“That’s not in my job description” – a global epidemic of disengagement

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VirusThe business world’s single greatest cop out.

If you’ve ever said this before, it’s not your fault you’re skirting additional responsibilities. Our job descriptions and titles have programed us to be single-minded myopic beings that don’t allow us to see outside HR’s definition of our role. Like I said, it’s not your fault…it’s your company’s fault. It’s their fault because they gave you a well constructed, well thought out, and detailed job description of what your responsibilities are day-to-day. And how dare they do that to you.

Little did you know, this is the source of a global epidemic of disengagement.

Formal job descriptions are a hindrance to efficiency – they’re a disease. They stem fluidity and spurn creativity in professional roles, and it’s taking a massive toll on how we do business. It’s the business equivalent of the Nuremburg Defense – “I was only following orders” – and it’s dangerous. It allows us to fall into a vicious cyclical pattern in which we take no risks, view thinking outside the box as radical, and do the very minimum to achieve goals.

I was involved in a conversation the other week in which the topic of discussion was dangerous workplace behaviors and patterns, and although the phrase, “That’s not in my job description,” was not uttered, it was at the heart of the discussion, even if it was veiled at the time. This discussion had me equate the disengagement epidemic with a particular scene from Office Space, the philosophical masterpiece of reflection on a bad work environment, where Peter Gibbons has his meeting with “the Bob’s” (the consultants). In Peter’s meeting he tells “the Bob’s” that he has no motivation, and tells them, “That’ll only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.” It was prevalent in 1999 when the film was released, and it’s still prevalent today. Disengagement is engrained into our very culture.

This is the product of the attitude of “that’s not in my job description.” With this mindset we scrape by only completing the requirements of our job description to the point where we believe we’re doing well enough not to get fired.

Our issue is one of engagement. After only a few weeks on the job, there’s nothing inherently fulfilling about a job with a clearly defined job description. The employee falls into a circadian rhythm of “do my job, don’t get fired.” This is fine – if you’re okay with mediocre results. But if you’re not, you should recognize disengagement as the catalyst of meager efficiency.

I might be stepping on the toes of some people who need to be told what to do; but realistically, we should dispense with the 19th Century Industrial Revolution conception of formal job descriptions. At this point in time they are analogous to the steam engine – antiquated. They continue to anchor us within the 19th Century, and restrict us from having a modern business. It’s not that dissimilar to the idiom “sink or swim.”

 

“I’m on break.”

I was recently told a story from a family member about an experience they had shopping in Wal-Mart. Walking through the store they attempted to stop an employee and asked them where they might find a particular item. Without even breaking their stride the employee loudly explained, “I’m on break. Ask someone else.” Fair to say you’d be annoyed to receive such a blunt response? Yeah, we’d all be a little POed by that response. But even this is part of the global epidemic of disengagement. This should not be a negative reflection of the Wal-Mart employee, rather a poor reflection of Wal-Mart and their use of rigid employee roles and regulations.

Wal-Mart, in terms of customer support, experience, and image, has rapidly gone down hill since Sam Walton stepped away from the company in 1988. The only support you need for this claim is to view the negative media attention the organization has gotten over the past decade or more. I want to be clear, this is not an attack on Wal-Mart. They’re one of thousands of companies that have fallen victim to this behavior. I actually applaud their recent efforts to fix the issue of disengagement, even if they aren’t doing enough just yet. But, it still must be said, the rigidity of formal job descriptions (i.e. Not being able to help a customer while off the clock) is severely damaging the levels of engagement of employees in organizations.

Over the years I have worked in numerous retail positions (like many teenagers and young adults before me), so I am able to confirm that this behavior is the norm; it is not an isolated event experienced by my family member. I spent some time working in the electronics department of a Sears a number of years ago, and I was instructed to do the same as the Wal-Mart employee. I was unable to assist any customers while I was off the clock. For us rational human beings this ideology gets under our skin, but, ironically, what we find unacceptable at the places we shop is perfectly acceptable in the places we work. We continue to fall prey to the restrictions of our job description.

In office settings people continue to only work within the parameters of their job description. Perhaps it’s as Office Space suggests, it’s out of fear of losing one’s job. I think this is part of the equation, but not the chief variable. That, if you ask me, would be engagement. Most of us in the know of cultural business trends have likely heard the statistic that 70% of the workforce is disengaged, and I believe our culprit here is the job description HR handed you on your first day on the job. With this you’re told to subdue your creativity and cram it away in your filing cabinet, only to work within the confines of what your job description tells you to. And you better subjugate that outside of the box thinking until you’re off the clock.

 

The vaccine.

So, how does one stop this epidemic? If it were a real medical emergency there’d be work done on a cure – a vaccine. There must be a way to prevent the spread of the great epidemic. And a vaccine, so to speak, is exactly what we need to end this epidemic.

The word vaccine comes from the Latin, vacca, for cow. This is because of the use of the cowpox virus in combatting smallpox in the late 18th Century. The full etymological description of the word vaccine translates directly to vaccinus, literally meaning: of, or defined by the cow. What I suggest has nothing to do with vaccinus, or cows. In fact, what I believe we need is a contemporary perception of the vaccine, something of, or defined by: the worker.

We don’t need a vaccinus (pertaining to the cow); we need an opinus* (pertaining to the work) as a solution, or cure, to our epidemic of disengagement. But, how do we create our opinus? We restructure our conception of the organization and the carrier of this disease – the job description.

In Fredric Laloux’s innovative work in Reinventing Organizations, he discusses the exponentially evolutionary stages of an organization, and the stage at which we are on the precipice of operating in within our 21st Century environment. Laloux calls these “Teal Organizations.” One aspect of these revolutionary organizations is the deconstruction of the formal job description.

Laloux believes that, “Titles and job descriptions come with an implicit expectation: people must adapt to the box (emphasis mine) they have been recruited or promoted into. Teal Organizations reverse the premise: people are not made to fit pre-defined jobs; their jobs emerge from a multitude of role and responsibilities they pick up based on their interests, talents, and the needs of the organization.”

Our opinus is the removal of the cubical (perhaps literal and figurative) mindset when we approach the method of defining our roles within an organization. In this lies the potential for a tremendous benefit. Think about the increase in levels of engagement if people were able to evolve in their roles, and not be confined by the metaphorical bars caging them in. Creativity shouldn’t be spurned; it should be nurtured and encouraged.

My ardent plea to the business world, and I’m speaking to everyone in it, is to remove this vernacular from not just the workplace, but from our lives. Think of the work we could get done and the relationships we could cultivate if we strike, “That’s not in my job description,” from daily use. The epidemic is very real, but thankfully we have the cure to our disengagement crisis. We have the opinus.

 

 

*Opinus is my created and poor attempt at the Latin language to combine opus (work) with the suffix inus (of: or pertaining to). Scholars of Latin, which I am not, will probably find my use of the language to be poor, but it serves my purpose within the discussion.

 

 

 

As eQ’s Writing Specialist, Eric Stewart works his creative magic to tell eQ’s story by putting our Team’s concepts, ideas, and methodologies into words!

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Making the choice to be MUCH more than “one level above crap”

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Strawberry PickingThe choices we make

I never cared for the band Rush. Maybe it was because they were the preferred band of a racist moron I had to work with at my first Radio Shack, but I think it was their music. Still, one of their most popular songs, “Freewill,” contains one of the best lyrical lines ever: “When you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” There’s an even better choice-related quote from Jerry Garcia, the iconic leader of The Grateful Dead, who said, “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.”

Every day, many times each day, we all make choices. In the context of work, these choices include where to work and – once in the workplace – how to do our work. Despite lots of information and what I hope is generally a well-intentioned mindset, the choices we make often, well, suck.

I’ll start with myself. About three and a half years ago, I made the choice to join a large consultancy after years of working for smaller companies, including two of my own. I rationalized the heck out of it, but it was a bad choice.

A couple of weeks into my tenure at this large consultancy, I shared some positive feedback with a new colleague – I really liked the way he’d led a team call that I was sitting in on in preparation for taking over that client’s account management. This was unequivocally a complimentary communication. He offered no initial reaction. A few days later, he invited me to walk across the street for “coffee.” The quotation marks should be your clue here, because – while he did buy me a beverage – it was all a ploy to get me out of the office to ream me out for having the temerity to offer ANY feedback to him at all. We weren’t peers in his eyes. I’d say he made a bad choice. Then, soon after our “coffee,” he learned that the client in question was likely to do some more work with our firm – work he’d not foreseen, and I had uncovered. Suddenly, I was told that we weren’t going to transition that account to me. Another bad choice, this time with the sanction of the head of our office.

Two and a half years after joining this well-respected organization, I left. I’d made the decision to leave after about four months. Good choice. I’m an experienced professional who’s provided high level human capital counsel to some of the world’s largest companies, and I’m a certified “master” coach…and I made the choice to move in the exact opposite career direction of what I knew to be right for me. With apologies to my wife who endured a lesser me for over two years, I made choices that impacted me. What I find disturbing in what should be a significantly more enlightened work world are the choices made by senior leaders of organizations of all kinds that impact their people negatively…when they should know better or at least do something about it.

 

Learning from my choices

In the work that I do every day and as the parent of a newly minted professional, I see and learn about all sorts of organizational behavior that simply should not exist. When it does exist it’s because of the choices being made to hire people who don’t fit with an organization’s values. There is an outstanding behavior to promote people into positions requiring skills they’ve yet to acquire or demonstrate, and even to tolerate and excuse inappropriate, counter-productive, and in some case outright illegal behavior. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not the PC police; I’m just an informed businessperson. To riff on something the author of the book Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans, Peter Shankman, says the standard of service we can employ to favorably distinguish ourselves: just do things “one level above crap” and you’re business will be great. By separating your business in terms of the employee experience you create through raising your game just a bit is low-effort and high-reward. I offer you a couple of examples of the level of current employee experience “crappitude” in the hope that you’ll better recognize your opportunities to do better and be motivated to do better.

• Big 4 audit firm – A managing partner learns that someone who’s been on the job for a few months and received no direction from at least two layers of management has performed part of the work that is needed well and has failed to perform part of the work needed to complete a major client project. The managing partner’s choice, at this point, is to publicly shame the most junior employee, including raising his voice and using insulting language. There’s so much wrong with this scenario it’s hard to know where to start. The main thing here would have been to use this opportunity as a teaching moment – mostly for the two levels of management that failed to do their part…and likely as something the entire office could benefit from. Instead, the choice he made most likely already has created a lack of engagement in several people, damaged the likelihood of people working even harder (beyond the 12-18 hour days), and increased the likelihood that people will leave and accelerated their timeline for doing so. Bad choice.

• Family-owned search firm – A small company hires a young, proven search professional with promises of benefits and professional growth. The benefits don’t materialize in the allotted time, at which point, excuses are made and the timeline is adjusted. Every day, family drama ensues with various actors bad-mouthing one another directly to or within earshot of their new colleague. Accounts are horded and the environment is toxic. Amazingly, the young professional sticks it out for months, outperforming her goals, and – eventually – getting some benefits. Then she leaves. In fact, she’d decided she’d leave after just a short time there. Imagine what she could have done if the company merely a) had delivered on it promise of benefits initially, and b) its owners required their people (aka their family members) treat each other with respect directly and when spoken about to others. Bad choices.

• Not-for-profit organization – A global organization committed to and doing great work to promote better health and healthcare desires to be an employer of choice but has a number of hiring practice issues that include making candidates wait for long periods of time without hearing anything. Though some progress is being made, there’s a lack of standard selection criteria and no uniform process to structure and conduct interviews or manage recruitment. Some of the awareness about the lag time issue comes from the few people who’ve chosen to, in fact, wait it out. There’s less certainty about the number of candidates lost in the process who may have been great additions to the team. For those who do stick around and eventually join the organization, they maintain a slightly jaundiced view – understandably forming an expectation that matters well beyond recruitment and selection will be handled at a similarly sloth-like pace. The result is that, rather than bringing in new people with fresh perspectives to be agents of change for the better, the organization’s process creates agents of same. The bad choice to allow the hiring process to drag on for too long feeds to bad choices that sustain the status quo.

We each possess the power of choice. What we choose has impact. If we choose not to decide or choose the lesser of two evils, those are bad choices. When we select options that align with who we are, who we want to be and – through those choices – we take responsibility for contributing to better work places and better worlds. Those are good choices. Make them!

 

Jeff Lesher, Principal at entreQuest, blends his deep knowledge of organization design, human capital, and leadership with a pragmatic approach drawn from his own business experience and eQ’s philosophy to help eQ’s clients focus on their core purpose and move people effectively to action.

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The “Rules” to Working with Recruiters: Part 2

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Reading a BookWelcome back everyone. If you were a reader earlier this week, you’ll remember the topic of discussion is on the rules for working with recruiters written in the article 10 Rules For Working With Recruiters And Search Firms. If you missed out on the first part of the discussion you can find it here: The “Rules” to Working with Recruiters: Part 1

Let’s pick up where we left off…

Rule 6: Play the field. Sure, I agree that the more people you are networking with you may have a higher chance of landing your next gig. My advice to you if you want to “play the field,” you should know how to play each position if you want to win the game. Meaning if you don’t commit yourself to every relationship or “position,” you may be sacrificing quality for quantity. This isn’t something you want to shoot yourself in the foot over; your career is in the balance.

**In regards to the comment in the article about not signing exclusivity agreements, the author may not realize the process some hiring companies require. When I worked with T-Mobile and Verizon, they required that if a recruiting company submitted a candidate, they must obtain an exclusivity agreement between the candidate and the firm. The point of this was so that T-Mobile or Verizon would not receive the same candidate submitted multiple times by different agencies. I see nothing wrong with candidates agreeing to this. Perhaps the author of this article was referring to non-competes. I have seen many agreements that prohibit someone from leaving one staffing company to work for another agency in the same role with the same client. I can see why this would be unfair to a job seeker and I also see why this is frustrating to a recruiting company but we will save this discussion for a separate blog.

 

Rule 7: Maintain control. Control is important in this kind of relationship. I think you should always give your approval before a recruiter sends your information/resume out to anyone. We have a few competitors who won’t tell candidates where they are sending your resume until an interview is requested. Talk about bizarre. As a job seeker, how are you supposed to know if an organization is aligned with your values if you don’t even know who they are? Maybe this is a company you interviewed with two years ago and you decided it wasn’t a fit. The concept of sending a resume to a client without consulting a candidate is a practice we would not recommend.

Rule 8: Retain editorial control. You should always know what your resume says before it goes out to a potential employer, so I’d agree (for the most part) with this rule. The only comment I would add is that you should consult with a recruiter to get advice on any modifications for your resume. Often times, recruiters will help tailor your resume to that particular position. It’s not unheard of that some HR teams or hiring managers want to see specific key words, quotas, or specific project examples. It’s part of a recruiters offerings to help you make these adjustments but

Rule 9: Handle salary negotiations yourself. If you are working with a recruiter there is a good chance you won’t be handling the negotiations alone, and this should be seen as a positive. With permanent placements, it’s in the best interest of the recruiting company to get you a competitive offer. Prior to getting to the offer stage the recruiter should have a detailed understanding of your earnings over the last 5-10 years, and should know what you are looking for to make a move. Your initial salary requests may change after an interview, and may also depend on other factors such as benefits, paid time off, flexibility, or bonuses. It’s your responsibility to communicate your questions to the recruiter and it’s the recruiter’s job to make sure these are answered and addressed with hiring managers. Many companies prefer that recruiters have these conversations to eliminate back and forth negotiations and make the process go faster. Companies trust that we have built a relationship with the candidate and therefore there may be more trust. There are times when companies will want to do the negotiations 1-1, which is totally fine too, it just depends on the organization. Regardless, as a job seeker, I wouldn’t take the approach that you always have to do the negotiations without the help of a recruiter. Trust your recruiter’s recommendations since they know the client best. In contract positions you would not be negotiating directly with the client because they are paying the recruiting company an hourly rate for your services, and the recruiting company is then paying you a different rate. You will most likely put both parties in an uncomfortable situation, including yourself.

Rule 10: Don’t rely entirely on recruiters. I can’t disagree here. It’s absolutely up to the individual to put time and effort into their job search. In this section of the article, there is a quote that says, “95 percent of their search time and effort should be in networking, and the other 5 percent should be in everything else, into which recruiters fall.” It would be interesting to hear how they break this down, but somehow I think their process wouldn’t be the best option for a candidate.

It’s important to note that these aren’t the only 10 rules to working with recruiters, nor does it mean you should follow these 10 as if they’re the gospel truth. Remember, recruiters are here to help you – not the other way around. At eQ we’re passionate about doing what’s right for the candidate. I promise you’re not a resume on a desk, and you’re not a means to a sales goal. We’re not your average recruiters.

 

As Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica Drew focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

Posted in Hiring Best Practices, Recruiting, Talent, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The “Rules” to Working with Recruiters: Part 1

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Thick Book on Coffee TableI recently came across an article on cio.com called 10 Rules For Working With Recruiters And Search Firms. The general tone of the article makes me believe that the author had a negative experience working with a recruiter or is only looking through the lenses of a job seeker. I don’t disagree with everything in the article but for those of us in the industry who really believe we do things differently, we would like our voices to be heard in response to these “rules.”

The opening paragraph the article states, “Firms work for employers, not for you – and they are merely channels through which you may secure an employment opportunity.” Well, that’s not what we do. At entreQuest, we don’t work for anyone other than our team and the people we are impacting. This includes both job seekers and clients. We value our partnerships with clients and candidates because without one or the other we wouldn’t be able to help anyone grow, and helping you Grow Regardless is our mission. Yes, we are a channel for helping you in your search, and trust me that is not the only value we serve up. We aim to do more than help people “secure employment.” The goal is to put someone in a role where they can grow personally and professionally. Today I’ll cover the first five rules discussed in the article, and will finish up the last five rules on Thursday. Hopefully throughout this 2-part blog series, you will see the value companies like ours can bring to the process.

But first, let’s look at the rules outlined in the article:

1. Be selective
2. Be honest
3. Never pay for anything
4. Confirm the job is right for you
5. Demand respect and communication
6. Play the field
7. Maintain control
8. Retain editorial control
9. Handle salary negotiations yourself
10. Don’t rely entirely on recruiters

 

Rule 1: Be selective. I totally agree with this. Job seekers need to do their homework on companies before they trust them with their resume and personal information. There are some organizations that may send your information to companies without you knowing. Assuming your search is confidential could be a mistake. As a job seeker you may be wondering how you can do some research before working with a Recruiter. Here are a few pieces of advice:

• Does the recruiter have recommendations on their LinkedIn profile and from whom? Are they clients, candidates, peers, managers or a combination of both?

• Does Glassdoor have any reviews on the interview process with that company?

• Look for mutual connections on LinkedIn and ask your connections for their input or experience working with that person.

• Send them a message on LinkedIn or by email and see how quick they are to respond.

Rule 2: Be honest. Of course I’m not going to disagree about being honest. Where I disagree is the comment about holding back some of the details with internal/corporate recruiters. Why waste everyone’s time? If you aren’t disclosing everything that’s important to you in regards to compensation and geographical preferences, aren’t you setting yourself up for possible disappointment at the offer stage? Why not tell the HR team what salary you need to make a move and what your expectations are for year two and so forth? Maybe what the author meant was that HR is often given strict guidelines on salaries and the concern is if you overprice yourself, you are automatically taken out of the process. Yes, I’ve seen this happen, but if a hiring manager really likes someone, they can fight to have the salary adjusted. I’ve seen this happen too. So, I can understand why the advice may be to hold back. My suggestion is to let HR know where you are financially and where you need and want to be, but before committing to a salary you would like to learn more about the role. You probably don’t want to work for a company who is going to take you out of the running if you are one of the best candidates they have spoken to simply because of a $10k discrepancy. That’s not a place you want to be.

Rule 3: Never pay for anything. I wouldn’t advise someone to pay a fee to a recruiter for helping them find a job either, but there are certain services that might merit a fee. Most recruiters are happy to help make changes to a resume, but if you are expecting a recruiter to write this from scratch, depending on your level of experience, this could take hours. Web portfolios that require a developer are starting to trend, especially for positions in the c-suite. This may be an investment well spent if you are standing out in a crowd of hundreds of applicants.

Rule 4: Confirm the job is right for you. If you get blindsided on your first day with unexpected job responsibilities, I’d say the recruiter is likely the last person you should blame. The recruiter should prepare you for the interview and coach you on what to ask to understand expectations, but ultimately it is your responsibility to uncover the depth of your role during the interview. If you leave an interview unclear, ask for a follow-up conversation. Even if you took all of these steps and you still get blindsided, the recruiter has no control over this. It’s up to you to have a conversation with the leadership to get clear on uncertainties.

Rule 5: Demand respect and communication. Demanding rarely gets you what you want; so right form the beginning, I didn’t love this rule. Respect, communication and trust should be expected of any professional. If you have to demand communication from anyone, my guess is that it isn’t a healthy or equal relationship. If a recruiter isn’t getting back to you, I say cut ties and I’d say the same to a recruiter who doesn’t receive communication from a potential candidate.

 

That covers the first five rules listed in 10 Rules For Working With Recruiters And Search Firms. As promised, the second part of this series will cover the last five rules of working with a recruiter. I look forward to having you come back on Thursday.

 

 

As Talent Acquisition Manager, Jessica Drew focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

Posted in Hiring Best Practices, Recruiting, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Culture, Growth, and Talent: Eight Ways to Find Healthy Growth – Part 2

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New-Life“If you don’t take action now, you are in serious jeopardy of having a major health issue.”

I remember speaking those words to Mike, a prospective health club member, in July of 1994. At the time, I was running an athletic club in New Jersey, and Mike visited the club with his wife and two children. Mike was considering whether he/they should become members. Mike lived a very sedentary lifestyle, and followed a nutritional program (if you can call it that) filled with processed foods. I failed Mike and his family on that day, because they left without ownership of a club membership. The next time I saw Mike was in March of the following year, after he had a heart attack, surgery, and was directed by his physician to join a club. To this day, I still carry some guilt with me that I was not able to bring Mike to the point of enrollment in our first encounter.

The results of a lifestyle marked by high levels of inactivity and processed foods shouldn’t surprise us. There is more data available than ever. There are more television shows documenting the lives of individuals who are morbidly obese (see “My 600 pound life” or “Biggest Loser” as examples), and yet, we are a more out of shape, more medicated, and unhealthy country than ever. Clearly, lack of evidence or knowledge are not the culprits here. So, what gives?

We could ask the same question about business health.

Today, there is more research and data that show the irrefutable links among winning culture, developing talent in an organization, and healthy business growth. Intuitively, it just makes sense, as well: Focus on building a winning culture, make the people in the organization a top priority (in actions, not just in words), and the results should include a thriving enterprise. Why, then, do so many companies fail to get it right?

Well, lots of reasons, actually. In today’s post, which is the second in a series on culture, growth, and talent, we are going to focus more on how to get it RIGHT, than the mistakes others make. This will put you on a faster path to healthy growth.
GET PAST organizational inertia (which is, in my opinion, one of the major killers of growth and impact) by following these very straightforward steps (these are entreQuest infused and adapted from John Kotter’s change methodology). But beware, just because they are straightforward doesn’t make them easy. You’ve got to muster courage, discipline, and resolve to work through all of what comes with moving an organization forward.

Create Urgency – What are the significant upsides, as well as the risks of taking action or not taking action? There are so many things that can distract executives, managers, and front line employees. Why should this “thing” get top billing?
Form a governance effort – How will decisions get made? How will the team or organization avoid analysis paralysis? How will risks be surfaced and escalated?

Develop a vision and strategy – This is really the first step. What does winning look like with regards to this effort? How will the organization know what “done” looks like, and what are the corresponding steps to successfully execute towards the vision?
Communicating the vision – This is not about sending an all-staff email or having one state-of-the-union presentation. Communication is an ongoing effort, and needs to include things like sharing information outwards, but also actively listening – especially to those on the front lines who will likely hold responsibility for a large part of the execution.

Enabling action and removal of obstacles – Responsibility without authority and vice versa will doom any change effort, especially when working to build a winning culture and fueling growth. With strong executive sponsorship and engagement, there needs to be a clear path to putting people in a position to execute the plan to remove their own barriers, and to get help when it is needed.

Generating short-term wins – Momentum is key. Establishing early wins will fuel engagement, spur creativity, and pull more people into driving successful change. For example, as opposed to only working towards a goal that is 18-24 months on the horizon, what is a win that can be claimed within 90 days?

Hold the gains and build on change – Early in my career, I had a boss who used to say that the best time to make a sale is right after you’ve made one. I still believe that. When making progress, learn from what is working, and build upon that success to gain even more traction.

Anchor changes in the culture – An interesting phenomenon occurs when it comes to change. In surveys and interviews, many people say they like change; that it is good and healthy for individuals and organization. With further investigation, people then go on to point out all of the places in the organization (other than their own) that could positively benefit from change. See, people dig it, as long as it doesn’t impact the way they are accustomed to operate. So, when it comes to driving culture change, know that people want to know why this time will be different, and why they should care. Although they may not verbalize it, many people are just waiting out this new initiative, so they can go back to their old way of operating. Not on your watch. Embed the changes in the fabric of the culture, including processes, systems, rituals, and artifacts of the organization.

Culture, growth, and talent. These are the key ingredients that will propel your organization towards living into your vision. Follow the change blueprint above, and you will see your teams flourish. These three elements of a healthy and successful business aren’t going anywhere – it’s time to start paying attention to them.

 

Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

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My Interview with Jack & Suzy Welch

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Culture, Growth, and Talent: Three Elements of a Good Business – Part 1

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CGT Graphic“It doesn’t matter if people agree with you or not; have a definite perspective, as it will be a starting place for an educated and informed conversation.”

What seems like many moons ago, I had a mentor who gave me this advice. At the time, I was young(er), inexperienced in dealing directly with executives, and was having trouble being influential without authority in my organization. The counsel I received helped to ground me, give me confidence, and put me on a path towards where I am today.

As an organization, eQ also has certain perspectives. A foundational one for us is that we believe building a healthy, profitable company with massive impact starts with a focus on culture, growth, and talent.

This may seem intuitive, but look around. I can tell you from talking to hundreds of executives and thousands of employees that many companies are not actually bringing this focus to life. It is one thing to say an organization values people, wants a winning culture, and wants to grow, but do the actions support the claims? Really – how many companies are going to post on their website that they aspire to have a crappy culture and that they don’t value people? Zero. Zippy. Zilch.

Here is a quick way for you to do an organizational health check to see if you are on the path to following the recipe that we’ve used to help hundreds of companies GROW REGARDLESS. In the following categories, and with each element contained within the categories, think about whether your entire organization KNOWS, OWNS, and DRIVES these. Wherever you see gaps is an opportunity to operate with a higher level of precise execution towards healthy growth.

Every organization is on a specific journey. An opportunity that presents itself for you, as a leader, is how you want to chart the path, how you want to shape and frame the script, and how you really want to build your brand. For example, if you say you believe the people in the organization are your most valuable asset, yet you’ve not deliberately and specifically designed (with an eye on execution) a talent manifesto that maps the ideal candidate and employee experience (which also links to the broader organizational goals), then you are putting your brand and business health in jeopardy.

It is that simple and it is that serious.

Culture, growth, and talent. In our research and our practical experience in helping companies GROW REGARDLESS (and also creating an environment where we’ve been recognized as a Baltimore Best Place to Work for 3 years in a row), we know these elements to serve as a critical and non-negotiable recipe for success.

Get on the path, or you risk becoming irrelevant.

Looking to avoid this pitfall? Return to our blog on Thursday for the second part of our discussion on culture, growth, and talent.

 

Andrew Freedman, Principal at entreQuest, specializes in helping eQ’s clients grow by creating well aligned company cultures and strategies that result in remarkable client and employee experiences.

Posted in Business Strategy, Coaching, Consulting, Culture, Grow Regardless, growth, Success, Talent | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 important tips to landing your dream job

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SONY DSCWhether you find yourself annoyed with your job, bored with your work, or you just got laid off or fired, follow these five tips on what to do now to help you land your dream job! Do not dwell on the negatives, instead focus on where you want to go from here. It’s important to remember you cannot get to where you want to be unless you know where you are now.

1.Reflect
You can always learn something from your last job. Maybe you gained a new skillset, or you like (or dislike) something you never thought you would, or maybe you simply need a total overhaul in your career. Regardless of what it is, use your last job to make yourself a better candidate going into your next interview.

2.Buff up the old resume
Make sure that your resume is clean and easy to read. Add your current/most recent job and make sure you highlight what your role was. Also include any accomplishments or goals that you met while in that position. Remember this is one of the few times where you are supposed to boast about yourself.

3.Keep track of job applications
Recruiters understand that when you are looking for a new job you might apply to a few different types of positions. However, what we don’t understand is why you don’t always know what jobs you applied to. Don’t be a chronic applicant. You will never get your dream job if you don’t know what company or position you applied to.

4.Interview with confidence
Just because you haven’t interviewed in a while, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be confident. This is one of the most exciting parts of looking for a new job. You get to meet a lot of great new people and learn about different companies. Make sure you know what the company you are interviewing with does, and why you want to work there. Also, be prepared with questions to ask. Even the most prepared candidates will have questions about something.

5.Always follow up
At this point you have interviewed and are playing the waiting game. Make sure you leave a good impression by following up with the hiring manager or recruiter by email, or even a hand written note. Following up is important, but not as important as knowing your boundaries. Respect the process, and understand that most companies who are looking for a great hire, will take a few days before getting back to you.

While the last step would be enjoy your dream job, maybe you haven’t found it yet. Don’t worry though, I am a Talent Consultant who can help make all these tips feel effortless. Email me if you are looking for a new adventure that will make you excited to go to work every day.

 

As a Talent Consultant, Jonna Faulise focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

Posted in Best Practices, Hiring Best Practices, Recruiting, Talent, Talent Acquisition | Leave a comment

The Secret to Getting Hired – A Celebrity Recommendation Letter

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Top SecretI’m a big fan of Conan O’Brien. I’m not sure if it’s the hair, or if it’s that I can easily relate to someone abnormally tall, but like many late night hosts he’s a genius at getting attention. And he recently got my attention.

I stumbled across an article he posted on LinkedIn of all places, called Hire Power, about the secret to getting hired. Although the article is a bit dated in terms of the fast paced world of social media (2013 – practically ancient at this point), the message itself is timeless and hilarious. According to Conan, “All you need to succeed in today’s competitive job market is a letter of recommendation from a politician or celebrity. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.” He even goes as far as posting a free-to-use letter of recommendation. All you have to do is circle the word that best applies to you.

Even though it was an effort by Conan to troll LinkedIn, there’s a not so subtle truth behind his message. The most commonly accepted practice to land a job today is in the oft repeated phrase – it’s all about who you know. Yes, leveraging your network and your social media base is the best place to start when you’re looking for a job, BUT you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one LinkedIn basket.

So, in the event you don’t have a celebrity BFF to write you a letter of recommendation, what do you do next? I sat down with a few members of eQ’s Talent Group to get their thoughts.

• Community Connection: Just because you’re not friends with the CEO of a non-profit who saves orphans or three legged puppies doesn’t mean you can’t have a community connection. Jess Drew believes this shouldn’t stop you from actually getting out there and doing real community work. By doing this you may actually bump into someone who will be willing to give you that brilliant letter of recommendation Conan says you need.

• Know Before You Go: According to Susie Landgren, knowing the person you’re interviewing with, and actually doing your homework can pay dividends. Being able to prove you read more than just the job requirements can establish a positive rapport with your interviewer and shows your genuine interest in the position. You also need to stay authentic when you interview. If the person interviewing you has interviewed more than one other person, chances are they can smell any BS from a mile away. Try not to lie your way through the process.

• It’s Kind of a Big Deal: You may be a seasoned veteran of interviewing and the job application process, but you still need to take every one seriously. Jonna Faulise said you really have to put thought into the application and interview. When you take it seriously, and put genuine effort into the hiring process, it really shows. Be a stand out candidate. This stuff really isn’t something you can coast through…this isn’t high school.

• Keep it Simple Stupid: Not an original thought, but still a true one. You may feel like you’re doing your chances a favor by fluffing your resume with cool sounding action verbs and technical terminology, but you’re not. Jonna Faulise said it’s not uncommon for her to read someone’s resume and have no idea what they do in their job. Don’t over complicate your resume. Keep it simple stupid.

You don’t really need a celebrity recommendation letter. Although, who knows, it might not hurt. But if you’re not a famous celebrity yourself, there are ways to navigate the tricky job market without being an A-lister. A little bit of authenticity will never hurt your chances. If you still don’t believe me…you can always use Conan’s letter of recommendation on LinkedIn. The choice is yours.

 

As eQ’s Writing Specialist, Eric Stewart works his creative magic by putting our Team’s concepts, ideas, and methodologies into words!

Posted in LinkedIn, Talent, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Plain Sight: Entrepreneurial lessons hidden in music videos

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OK GoHave you ever heard of the band OK Go? More importantly, have you ever watched an OK Go music video? If you have, chances are you’ve seen the band’s “treadmill video.” In this now world-famous video, the four band members do an incredible choreographed dance on eight treadmills – and they record it all in one take! It’s wild!

The band has since become even more famous for their highly creative one-shot music videos that delight, awe, and inspire millions of people all over the world.

Below are the song names for some of OK Go’s best music videos. Check them out online to see why the band has become a worldwide sensation through their videos alone. There is no doubt that your spirits will be lifted after seeing the simplicity, originality, and off-the-charts creativity of OK Go.

Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself:

2006: A Million Ways

• Dance choreographed by the lead singer’s sister and performed in a backyard in one take

• Became the most downloaded music video in history with 9 million downloads in 2006

2006: Here it Goes Again

• Dance choreographed by the lead singer’s sister and performed in a spare room in her house on eight treadmills in one take

•  2007 Grammy Award for “Best Music Video”

•  2011 Time Magazine named it one of “The 30 All-Time Best Music Videos”

2010: This Too Shall Pass (Marching Band version)

• Performed with the University of Notre Dame Marching Band in one take

2010: This Too Shall Pass (Rube Goldberg Machine version)

• Half-mile-long Rube Goldberg machine engineered to operate with the song in one take

• 2010 UK Music Video Awards for “Video of the Year” and “Best Rock Video”

• 2010 LA Film Fest’s Audience Award for “Best Music Video”

2014: I Won’t Let You Down

• Motorized unicycles and 2,300 volunteer dancers with umbrellas are filmed in Japan using a drone in one take

From the amateur backyard dance, to the innovative treadmill routine, to an aerial shot of 1,500 colorful umbrellas…over 200 million people have viewed OK Go’s unique music videos. Because they have so many followers anxiously awaiting each video release, the band’s videos go viral within a matter of hours after release. Each video is extremely different from the last, and surprises viewers with each debut.

The band does not have the budget to produce monumental music videos like Michael Jackson’s Thriller or Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, but OK Go can still create videos that appeal to humans all over the world. They don’t need flashy cars and fancy animation but instead, they win their fans over by amusing them through simplistic elements like: color, marching bands, dominoes, dogs, etc. OK Go has been able to connect with viewers through these lower-budget videos at a more human level than many of the big pop stars of the world.

When CNN asked why their music videos have been so successful, OK Go’s lead singer, Damian Kulash, said, “Content succeeds online, because it brings people joy, it makes them smile — it’s interesting enough to be passed along to friends and family members. That’s no stunt — it’s just a matter of making something that’s genuine and interesting…What do you wanna pass to your best friend or your mother or your co-worker? It’s joy or wonder or excitement or something that will actually make their day better.”

If you look up “Internet phenomena” on Wikipedia, OK Go videos are listed along with “Gangnam Style” and “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” The band filmed an awkward dance routine in a backyard in 2005, uploaded the video on the internet, and watched their first breakthrough song “A Million Ways” explode, all thanks to the pure and simple joy the video brought to millions.

So, why all this talk about a band and their music videos? Where’s the connection?

Like OK Go in a backyard, start-ups and small businesses have the opportunity to create world-famous products and services without big budgets, expensive websites, and flashy marketing materials. People often let fear override their ambitions and dreams. For every one fantastic product or service out there, there’s likely 10 that never see the light of day because they’re broken down in people’s minds out of fear of failure.

But, the catch is OK Go didn’t give in and fail because they didn’t let barriers of success get in the way. There is quite a parallel with Franklin Roosevelt’s famous quote, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

Challenge yourself to create. Remove fear and just innovate. Do you think people like Jobs, Gates, or Page let the established status quo win? Absolutely not.

So ask yourself, what can you create in your backyard that will make someone smile or make someone’s day a little better…and perhaps grow a business empire at the same time?

 

As a Talent Consultant, Daley Navalkowsky focuses on finding the right candidates to fit our clients’ needs. She works with our clients to understand the exact skills and attributes that would fit with the cultural climate and their environment.

Posted in Coaching, Grow Regardless | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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