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Would You Like Artisan Garlic Fries With That?

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Over EatingHow many are too many when it comes to choices? If you’re running one of the world’s most successful businesses—McDonald’s—apparently it’s 145. That’s the number of options now on their menu and a fact singled out recently as the root cause of their record drop in revenue and alarming declines in market share and stock price. I used to rail on people who “read” the menu at Mickey D’s…it’s hamburger, cheeseburger, Big Mac and the occasional McRib (the thought of which still makes me feel a little ill). But these days, you really do need to read the menu; and, even when you do, the ordering process is more complicated than it should be. Ever order the #5 and then get peppered with questions about what you want on the #5? What’s the point of having a #5 if you then have to define what that is? For McDonald’s and many other businesses, trying to appeal to too many customers has impacted their ability to appeal to any customers.

American businesses are addicted to growth, and as a consequence, sometimes forget about profitability and sustainability. Belief in the adage, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward” can lead some businesses to lose sight of the opportunity to “move forward” by being the absolute best at what they do. My advice to McDonald’s is as simple as encouraging somebody at Hamburger U. to take a plane to southern California and check out an In-N-Out Burger to see how focus brings ‘em in and keeps ‘em coming back for more. For other businesses tempted to grow their offerings in order to have more to offer, I’d serve up another adage of merit: “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

One of the best pieces of research on this issue is discussed in the Harvard Business Review article “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers” (Dixon, Freeman, and Toman, 2010) that concluded, “All customers really want is a simple, quick solution to their problem.” So, how can you determine how best to focus your business effort to ensure that your brand is viewed as the go-to resource for something that matters to a large enough audience with the willingness and ability to spend to get it from you?

•  Listen to your best customers—Seriously, when I tell you something you don’t already know, check the weather report in Hell (because it’s probably freezing over). But knowing it and doing it are two very different things. The first question we often ask our clients after an assertion about a belief they have is whether they’ve validated it. The answer in the vast majority of cases is “no.” It’s helpful to have a 3rd party do your survey research for you to promote the appearance and reality of objectivity. It should be a person/organization that is expert in getting people to share and that knows how to look behind the curtains and under the couch to really understand their preferences and beliefs.

•  Listen to your people—The people interacting with your customers know SO much and are listened to so little. My Mom was a deli manager for a national grocery chain for over two decades and knew her customers down to what brand of Havarti they liked and when they’d buy more potato salad. But every two years, there was a new district and/or regional manager, and he’d know best. So in came the hot bar and out went sandwiches…and then back again. They had data on all this but created the narrative to fit their solution. Trust your data and what your people tell you it means…at least to the point that you test it and validate it. If you emphasize making what you do great and as easy as possible for your customers, the chances are much better that you’ll succeed.

•  Promote a genuine environment innovation and service—When you’ve determined/refined your focus and emphasis as a business, you then need your people to do what they can to create remarkable experiences. This requires that they are confident that you’ll support them. Your support doesn’t mean that they’ll be empowered to do the same thing again if there’s a reason, upon reflection, not to; but it does mean that you’ll stand behind your encouragement to them to own their client relationships within the context of your culture and business model.

I’ve worked with any number of organizations and leaders who say this is what they want, but they don’t act like it. They either serve as bottleneck on the front end, telling everyone what to do; or they serve as the judge and jury on the back end, publicly undermining what someone has done with the best intent. I had a client, who’s business is in the technology sector, say the other day that he needed his people to figure out not just if they should update there software or networks, but whether they should “sell burritos.” I’m pretty sure he meant this figuratively, but the challenge they’re facing is a culture in which too many of their people perceive that it’s too risky to chance moving well beyond incremental change…so that’s all they’re getting at the moment which puts the future of this very successful business in some jeopardy. Bear in mind that the innovation can and should include HOW business is done, not just WHAT business is done.

The opportunity to excel in a clearly defined space where you’re simply better, nicer, faster, more responsive, and/or easier is enormous. To leverage this opportunity, listen, learn, try, trust, and repeat. You’ll benefit and so will we.

 

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.

Posted in Employee Experience, Success | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Skip the Vinegar, Go for Honey

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honeyYou’re tired, stressed, and under pressure to meet a deadline. Things seem on track then, BAM! you hit a bump in the road. Now you go from the comfort of your office, to outsourcing some of the work…which also means outsourcing some of the control. The. Worst. But, at one point or another, we’ve all been here and know that you have to do whatever it takes to get the job done, and done right. So off you go to the nearest [insert your office assistance place of choice] to work toward a finished product!

You’re not thrilled that you have to work late, and you’re definitely in no mood to explain your needs to another person, but you’re left with no alternatives. If there’s one thing to bear in mind, it’s to avoid being frustrated or short with the person who assists you, because, in the words of my father, “you get more with honey than you do with vinegar.” Instead, wear a smile, maintain your usual, friendly disposition (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt), and consider these 3 tips:

Turn on the charm
This is the last thing you’re going to feel like doing, but it’s going to be worth it. Attitudes are contagious, so if you come off as pleasant and appreciative right off the bat, the individual you’re working with will likely mirror your demeanor. Not always, because not everyone has it in them, but most of the time people will brighten when you brighten. It’s worth a try…it takes more energy to frown than it does to smile (so the saying goes).

Hide your desperation
You already feel pressured, don’t make someone else feel it, too. Not everyone responds well to urgency or time constraints, so avoid placing them under your thumb. It’s okay to ask for an estimated time (i.e., do you think this is a job that we can finished tonight; in the next hour or two; ever?), but it’s important to, at the very least, avoid giving that person a deadline (i.e., I need this in 30 minutes). You You’re likely to get a big, fat ‘no’ or an ‘it can’t be done,’ before that person even tries…even if it could be done. Or, possibly worse, they say ‘yes,’ half-a$& the job, then you’re left with a product you not only can’t deliver but that you had to pay for!

Know their name
Find out who’s helping you, and use their name. Everyone likes feeling like a person, not just a service provider. Say ‘thank you,’ often, and use their name before or after that ‘thank you.’ Don’t do it profusely (again, the goal is not to come off as desperate), but offer it as a subtle reminder that you appreciate that persons help because it’s also helping you. People generally feel good when they think/know they’re helping others.

You can do this. Not only will you be pleased (or at the least content) with the finished product, but you may even form a relationship that will come in handy, again, in the future. I know that it’s sometimes easier to get irritated or snippy, I’ve been there; but, I always do my best to remain cool, calm and collected. Give it a try, friendly people are always well-received.

Tara Fox is a Project Support Specialist at entreQuest and works closely with all eQ team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.

Posted in Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

You’ve Been Red Flagged

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Red flagRecruiters and hiring managers are on a constant watch for red flags during the hiring process with candidates. They are fiercely protecting the clients and companies they represent and act as gatekeepers to the best of their abilities. Meanwhile, there are a lot of steps throughout the process where candidates can ‘drop the ball,’ so to speak. Considering how competitive the job market is out there, you can’t afford any missteps.

FOR RECRUITERS/HIRING MANAGERS:

When interviewing candidates, the best rule of thumb is to go with your gut. If you feel that there is a red flag with a candidate, then there is a 99% chance you are right. Decide if the red flag is a deal-breaker, or if it is something that can be overlooked or improved upon through open lines of communication.

Whatever you decide, make sure that the stance you take is consistent for every candidate interviewed. For example, a candidate is 15 minutes late to an interview and does not call to give you the heads up. If you decide to disqualify this candidate, then you need to be consistent across the board for any candidate who does the same going forward. Put your red flag standards in place!

FOR CANDIDATES:

If you realize that you are a candidate displaying any of the below signs or behavior, it’s imperative that you make adjustments immediately in order to win over any interviewer that comes your way. You don’t want these red flags to hold you back in finding your ideal career!

•  Multiple grammatical, spelling, or formatting errors on resume

•  Primary objective on resume is geared toward another position

•  History of job-hopping

•  Delayed completion of application

•  Employment or education history on resume that does not match up with what is entered on your  application

•  Omission of details requested in application

•  Delay of more than 24 hours in response to questions or action items

•  Lack of true interest or commitment during the interview process

•  Wearing unprofessional attire to an interview

•  Arriving late to an interview

•  Negative comments about current or past employer(s) or co-worker(s)

•  History of leaving employers for concerning reasons

•  Inappropriate questions asked throughout the process

•  Neediness to check in too often on status

•  Rudeness of any kind

•  Unrealistic salary expectations or requirements

•  Unfavorable reference checks

•  Delayed offer letter response beyond 24 hours

So—are you a ‘red flag’ candidate? If yes, you might as well wave the ‘white flag’ of surrender…that job is probably going to someone else.  It only takes one error, one negative comment, one delayed action, etc. to potentially knock yourself out of the running.

Employers overall are looking for who is most qualified, who is the strongest team/cultural fit, who is most enthusiastic about the job, and who will add the most value to their organizations. We want to be pleased, impressed, and even better, blown away by interviewees…we want to have five candidates we cannot decide between for every job offer. Red flags can unfortunately count for a lot when deciding between candidates. Good news is that your actions and attitude are in your control. Make sure to consciously avoid these red flags when interviewing, and go get that job of your dreams!

 

As Talent Acquisition Manager, Daley 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 Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The ‘Eye’ Test Really is the ‘I’ Test

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Vision Of Eyechart With GlassesBeing a big sports fan, I’m enjoying this year’s march toward college football’s inaugural playoff. Through a not entirely transparent panel-led process, the top four teams are selected to play in an elimination format to better determine college football’s national champion. The obvious mix of objective and subjective analysis has created interest, controversy, and the use of a tie-breaker of sorts called the ‘eye test.’ What seems to be meant by this is that—at the end of the day – an argument may hinge on what analyst thinks he or she is seeing in addition to, or in spite of, the agreed to metrics and other, more defined criteria. In other words, the person is ‘right’ because they said so. This converts—probably subverts—the ‘Eye Test’ to the ‘I Test’ because the basis of separation and reward is not something all can see and agree on, it’s what you or I may see singularly. We’re fond of saying about sports that “it’s just a game,” but we know full well that this ‘game’ is a multi-billion dollar business.

This tangle of ‘eye’ versus ‘I’ got me to thinking about how this translates into any of our businesses, billion dollar, million dollar, or thousand dollar; and the impact that our ‘I Test’ may be having on our people, and our clients, and subsequently on the level of success we can achieve. Too often, when evaluating talent and performance, we give into the halo or horns effect—believing that someone we like or like something about can do nothing wrong or someone who rubs us the wrong way can’t do anything right or well. David Simon—the creator of incredible television like HBO’s The Wire brilliantly observes that no bad guy is all bad and no good guy is all good. If that’s true in fiction, we should acknowledge it’s very likely truer in real life. Intellectually, we know this is true; emotionally—admit it, we prefer to preserve ample gray areas to help us avoid having the facts get in the way of a good story. The problem is—among other things—that when we allow for too much gray, it’s awfully hard to share with people what ‘good’ looks like and even harder to motivate and engage them if we’re not seeing as having a fair and consistent criteria for determining appropriate rewards and recognition. This hurts our ability to build, grow, and sustain successful organizations…and it’s exhausting.

So, how do we neutralize the ‘I Test’ and emphasize the creation and leverage of the brilliantly colored vision Cameron Herold champions as the beacon of organizational success in Double Double? Here are some primary tools and guidelines—not surprising but too seldom developed and adhered to:

•  Create, Publish, and Actively Share and Apply Your Vision and Values I’ve lost count of the number of times really smart business people have insisted to me that their people get it, know it, live it when it comes to what they’re about. If it’s not written down, spoken often, and applied through everything from games to performance management systems, it’s only what you get, know, and live…everybody’s version is a little to somewhat different.

•  Select and Develop to Your Values Many of us have gotten beyond the belief that if we can just find people with the right technical skills, the rest will take care of itself. There is greater appreciation for the fact that how people do their jobs based on a lifetime of learning and habit typically makes or breaks one’s ability to succeed with your company. Yet, we still fail to actively and consistently select our teams based on these factor—values, competencies, performance skills, success behaviors…whatever we label them. Employing tailored assessment instruments and applying their data to the interview process that is scripted to dig into specific examples of how people have done their work is essential and accessible…so stop stalling and make yourself as accountable to these criteria as you want your people to be.

•  Recognize, Reward, and Reinforce When you invest in your success through the clarity of vision and values in what ultimately is a huge time-saver and growth enhancer, take the fullest advantage of this by letting the stories of your successes fuel the next wave of achievement and contribution by individuals, teams, and the organization overall. Highlight how the vision was pursued by people living the values…and, as much as possible, let the people living the values and being impacted by them speak on your behalf. Actions speak louder than words, but the stories about them ensure that all of us are able to see and learn from those actions and the results they create.

Here’s the really cool part, by working to institutionalize the characteristics we value and believe lead to the results we intend, we actually enable an ‘I Test’ that we all can agree on because each of us is able to look for, identify, and articulate what good looks like, what success looks like, and talk about it with a common vocabulary. Now, that’s a test any of us can ace.

 

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.

Posted in Success | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Everything you need to know you can learn from….your Uber driver

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UberRecently, my wife, JoAnn, and I went to New Orleans for the Ravens/Saints game. We had a fantastic time with friends, the Ravens won, we ate great food, and soaked up many of the charms of the Big Easy (New Orleans is one of my favorite cities). I’ve got to say, though, one of my favorite parts of the trip was our Uber ride home from BWI. The ride home from the airport—my favorite part? You read it right. Here’s why:

Whenever I get in an Uber or a cab (I don’t take cabs since Uber’s launch. Uber is by far a better experience), I make a point to ask the driver how her/his business is going, how life is progressing, and a bit about the driver’s view on the world. This will likely not surprise you: I love engaging with all people, and appreciate learning about their world, their perspective and how they think about the impact they have on those with whom they come in contact.

This driver, Hassan, started our ride home by answering my question about how his business is doing by sharing this sentiment with us: he believes that he has an amazing responsibility and opportunity—his passengers are so important to him, he said, because they all have somewhere important to go, people they love and who love them, who are counting on them. Hassan’s belief is that it is his charge to get these important people to their destination—safely, comfortably, with peace, and without stress. He had a strong sense of gratitude about the opportunity he has to have the clients he does, to have the experiences this job brings, and to provide for his family in the fashion he can. To me, this is the ultimate in mindset and perspective—you may have heard the tale of the brick layer or cathedral builder. Hassan is definitely building cathedrals!

With you, we talk often of gratitude, and you know how passionate the eQ team is about what we do. We find fuel for our passions in many ways. This interaction with Hassan provides an example of what drives me: that in common and uncommon places, there are so many versions of Hassan—people who strive to give, share, provide, serve, and, through their positive contributions, to make our communities a better place to live. These are some of the attributes of clients with whom we aspire to work. As you pave your path forward, we encourage you to nurture this part of your spirit and that of each of your team members. This sense of gratitude binds team members tighter, creates deep connections with clients, and will support the vision that you have for your self—both personally and professionally.

Bonus tip! 3 ways you can practice gratitude every day:

•  Start your day by writing down 3 things in your life for which you are grateful

•  Start your day by writing down 3 things that will make today an amazing day

•  Make it a point to tell 3 people something you appreciate about them and how they contribute to your life

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 Client Experiences, Motivation, Success | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Find Your Passion!

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Do what you love50, 60, 65+ hour weeks, are no joke—especially if you’re on the far end of that spectrum. Burning the candle on both ends comes to mind, and speaking of ‘burning,’ long hours, little sleep, and excessive work only fuels the likely hood of feeling burnt out. BUT, can the burn out phase be prolonged or avoided altogether? You bet. It takes passion. If you’re passionate about what you do, and I mean truly passionate, you may never reach a point where exhaustion overcomes the joy (that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sleep to test out the theory).

Recently, I had someone ask me if I feel burnt out given the hours that I work. Without skipping a beat, I answered with an emphatic, “No.” I truly enjoy what I do…and not just in a ‘big picture’ kind of way, but in the details of the job—small tasks included. How many people can say, every day, these things:

  • I feel challenged
  • I learn something new
  • I share great dialogue with my colleagues
  • I laugh, a lot!
  • I build meaningful relationships
  • I look forward to walking through the front door

I can. Without hesitation or exaggeration. And that’s just naming a few. I’m passionate about what I do, and it’s taken me a while to find this nice, special niche. Best of all, my passion for my work and all that it entails, continues to grow each day.

If none of those things resonate with you, then you’re likely not passionate about whatever it is that you’re doing. Shame on you! Life is too short for you to feel unhappy and unfulfilled. Get out there! Take risks, take chances, step out of your comfort zone, and find what it is that gets you excited for every day. Find your passion!

So, what exactly is passion? What does it look like, feel like? T.S. Eliot said, “It is obvious that we can no more explain a passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.” This holds truth—explaining the associated feelings or reasoning the behaviors to others is tricky. But the passion part, the defining it, that’s easier. It’s doing what you love, and loving what you do, without falter or fail. It brings joy and meaning to your life and to who you are. You feel like you’re part of something bigger, and as if there are no limits to what you can achieve.

If you haven’t found your passion yet, I hope you’re in search of it because once you find it, what you can do with it will surprise even you.

 

Tara Fox is a Project Support Specialist at entreQuest and works closely with all eQ team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.

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

Surviving the Interview Gauntlet

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Interview dayEveryone can agree that interviewing these days is stressful! You have to have a resume that gets you a call, you have to survive a phone interview or two…then comes the in-person interviews. You’ll be lucky if you only have to take off of work twice to come in for those interviews. Then you’re up against who knows how many other applicants!

It’s a competitive world out there, but if you can follow these steps below…we believe you can make it through the interview gauntlet with an offer in hand!

1.  Resume

a.  Make sure you have a well-formatted resume with no spelling or grammatical errors—have at least two    people proofread your resume before you submit it anywhere!

b.  Gear your objective or summary toward the job you are interviewing for—make sure to change it before applying to another job though**

c.  Add a sentence under each company name to explain what each company does that you have worked for—recruiters will appreciate the time this saves them from having to research each company!

2.  Application

a.  Make sure you complete and return anything asked of you throughout the interview process within 24 hours: application, writing sample, work samples/portfolio, references, etc.

b.  Be 100% honest in your application (whether you did or did not graduate, convictions, etc.)—if you falsify any part of your application, you are immediately disqualified by most companies

c.  Be realistic in your salary requirements: What do you really need in pay to take this job, and what value do you believe you can command? Make sure not to price yourself out of the running—asking to jump up $5k-$10k annually is typically reasonable

3.  Attire

a.  Men: full suit and tie

b.  Women: full suit, closed toed shoes, and minimal jewelry

c.  Keep tattoos covered please!

4.  Prep Work

a.  Make sure to fully review the job description and company website

b.  Write down any relevant questions to bring to the interview

c.  Review the company’s Glassdoor.com reviews with caution—don’t always believe everything you read, but it could be good info to know!

5.  First In-Person Interview

a.  Bring multiple hard copies of your resume unstapled

b.  Carry everything in a portfolio in which you can take notes. Bring your questions and don’t forget a pen!

c.  Arrive 15 minutes early

d.  Call if you are going to be even five minutes late!

e.  Make sure to turn off your cell phone

f.  Pass resume copies to interviewers

g.  Answer questions clearly and concisely. Try to avoid rambling, going off on tangents, or dodging questions

6.  Make sure to be positive throughout the interview.

a.  Avoid speaking negatively about your current or former employer or co-workers—no one wants to hire a Negative Nelly!

b.  Hold off on asking compensation or benefit questions, but if salary history is asked of you, state where you would like to be in pay and what you have been paid in previous positions

c.  Ask any other relevant questions you have pertaining to the job, the company, and the culture

7.  Follow up

a.  Option #1: Send a hand-written thank you note within 1-2 days by mail to your interviewers—this will stand out!

b.  Option #2: Send an email thank you note—it is not as memorable as a handwritten thank you note, but it is still much appreciated by the interviewers!

8.  Second/Third In-Person Interviews

a.  Repeat everything from the first interview, including wearing a suit!

b.  In these interviews, it is generally more appropriate to ask about compensation and benefits

c.  Talk out any last questions or concerns you may have with the interviewers

9.  Follow up (again)

a.  Send hand-written or email notes to the newest interviewers

b.  Email a note of continued interest to your main recruiting contact

10.  References

a.  Be sure to give your references a heads up that they might be getting calls and ask that they return calls quickly

11.  Offer

a.  Ask any final questions of the person extending the offer, including questions regarding any vacation time needed, when bonuses are paid, when benefits kick in, etc.

b.  Let the recruiting contact know that you are grateful and appreciate the opportunity

c.  If you want to negotiate any part of the offer, make sure to speak with the recruiting contact within 24 hours of receipt of the offer. Be sure to kindly ask for adjustments to be made. If you are overly demanding in negotiations or delay your response, you may risk the company pulling the offer

d.  If you want to accept the offer, send the signed offer letter back to the recruiting contact within 24 hours

Congratulations! You’ve officially and successfully survived the interview gauntlet!

 

As Talent Acquisition Manager, Daley 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 Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tell Them a Story

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story word in metal typeWant to connect with someone – really connect?

The terrific thinker and writer, Dan Pink, has said that, “If a picture is worth a thousand words; a metaphor is worth a thousand pictures.”  I’d say the same is at least as true of a relevant, well-told story.  Growing up, my Mom always discouraged stories—but I think she meant a different kind…the not exactly true kind.  In my life and work, I’ve discovered that using words to create connections—especially words that evoke emotion and enable people to create a picture of something in their minds – is incredibly effective at motivating others to “own” the actions they say they want to take and the outcomes they intend to achieve as a result of those actions.

Last week, I had the great fortune to sit next to our CEO, Joe Mechlinski—who is an outstanding storyteller—while he shared a true story with our team that blew me away.  The purpose of his story was to remind each of us of the importance of every decision we make and the proximity to life’s edge that we walk at all times.  The story involves a young man who made a poor decision and now is paying a heavy price…as are others.  It was stirring, it made me think; and—now—it’s made me act.  In one sense, the message was one we’ve heard many times – seize the day, life can change in an instant, etc.  All true. But, if Joe had just reminded us of those possibilities generically, I’m pretty sure I would have forgotten the mere mention of them by now.  Because he chose to remind us through a story, through a relevant, well-told story, I remain consciously affected by it a week later…and I’m not close to letting go of what I feel.  More importantly, I’ve made a handful of intentional choices to do what is needed to have the impact I want or need to have.  I’ve not perfected cold fusion, but I’ve made more of a difference by being more active than I would have been had Joe not stoked the fire of intent and impact and what we do matters.

Among the actions I am taking is my active encouragement to you to invoke the power of storytelling for good with someone you know.  The story you tell needs only to be relevant and told with sincerity and the appropriate feeling.  Everyone has this capacity as each of us tells a story of some sort every day about something that matters to us.  I know you can do it, but—just in case—here are a few things to help you along:

•  Tell your own story—this is helpful on two levels:

•  Pick something that has happened to you/you’ve experienced as these are the stories we tell best and resonate most

•  Actually tell your story—people love to know more about you and appreciate and respond to leaders being vulnerable

•  Be relevant—This is the most important component of story choice…it’s got to apply to how you want people to feel and react.  If you’re not sure, find a friendly audience and test it out—in fact, do that anyway.  It also never hurts to tell people why you’re telling them a story as that establishes context and directs their association.

•  Be concise—You’ve seen me make this point in before…and it never gets old.  There’s little that’s more figuratively painful than being on the listening end of a long and winding tale.  We need some context and facts, but no we don’t need every fact.  Good story selection, testing and practice allows us to hone our story down to just the right degree of detail so that we a) get to the point, and b) others are still engaged enough to absorb it.

I’m sure that you’ve got an issue right now you’d love to create or renew energy around.  Think about the connection you want people to have to this issue and a story you’ve experienced that helps promote that connection.  Test it, practice it, and tell it.  It will make a difference in how people feel and what they choose to do. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

 

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.

Posted in Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nail or the Money?

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nail money

It’s not about the nail…or the money…

During breakfast the other day, a former colleague was bringing me up to date on how he was progressing in his current role. I should offer that when we worked together, we spent a good amount of time on his personal and professional development (this shouldn’t surprise you, as you know I believe this is a critical component for high performing individuals and organizations).

He mentioned that he was feeling a bit lost. The organization had many changes happening—strategy, structure, roles, not of which are unusual for this company. While he loves his work, and the expressed mission of the firm, he feels:

  • Uninformed; he is a key manager in his department, and is often not included in strategic conversations about the department’s direction or how the department fits into the bigger organizational picture
  • Without mentorship; the folks leading the department are not taking an active interest in his development and career path, and, from his perspective, when he asks about his personal path, he is viewed as being self-serving and not about the team
  • Uninspired; because he is disconnected from the bigger picture, his perspective is that his worth in the firm is his ability to have his team hit their KPIs. Period.

Does he have some responsibility to make himself heard and to pave his own path? You bet; and that was the first thing I told him. As good as some leaders may or may not be, no one owns an individual’s development more than that person. End of story.

That said, without active engagement in team member development—at all levels, and without clarity and transparency, a high level of employee/associate disengagement should be expected—and this is at every level in an organization. Don’t kid yourself. It likely exists in YOUR firm, in places you wouldn’t expect.

My conversation reminded me of two things:

1.  This video:

It really isn’t about the nail—we need to actively ENGAGE and LISTEN to our people. If you’ve read our blogs on having a robust System of Management, you have access to a framework to make this happen. If you haven’t read those blogs, get to it.

2.  A sports radio talk show where the host, Colin Cowherd, was talking about the current state of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Cowherd’s story was this – Kobe probably has a couple more years to play before retiring. The Lakers are an AWFUL team right now. Kobe has a few massive individual records within his sight, and he is making a BOATLOAD of money. Kobe is so competitive, that Cowherd feels that at some point, the individual pursuits won’t be enough for Kobe and that he will want to win more team championships – he might even leave the Lakers. What resonated with me most about this was that it is the same in our organizations. Do our people need to have a certain income to live the lifestyle they need? You bet. That said – it isn’t about the money. People want to achieve, progress, learn, grow, contribute, give – to WIN! It comes back to the money, most of the time, when these other areas of their lives are left unfulfilled. If your people are saying it is about the money, examine the rest of the ‘system’ and see if the right components are in place. I’d bet they aren’t.

So, back to my breakfast conversation. Yes, he came back to money and wanting to earn more—and only because he doesn’t feel he is growing, and only because his confidence is very low right now that his leadership will provide him what he needs to develop to his full potential. I sense another free agent coming on the market.

How many future free agents are getting ready to leave YOUR team, and what can you do to prevent that from occurring?

 

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 Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Really Best?

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Soccer field grassMore on Talent and Who’s Really Best for Your Team

Because I loved the football analogy my colleague, Andrew Freedman, used in his recent post about the best talent for your team and because he asked, here’s a bit more about how to pick the best team for your organization as seen through the prism of “Johnny Football.”

You’ll recall that Johnny Manziel, the first round draft choice of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, has yet to play in a meaningful way this season.  The team is doing surprisingly well led by its more experienced quarterback, and Andrew chronicled behavior and statements that suggest a lack of maturity and a current lack of fit with the team’s culture being instituted under their new head coach. Andrew generously allowed for the possibility that the player’s mindset may evolve and allow him to become the leader the team – any team – needs at the quarterback position.  This is where the sports/business parallel gets a bit murky.  It’s rare that we bring in a recent college graduate or inexperienced hire and expect them to run the company right away.  Instead, successful companies have a structured onboarding process and are open to investing years in the development of their people to support the development of their ability to ascend to more significant levels of responsibility and contribution in the organization.  What if Manziel had been actively onboarded by the team, with team officials explaining what they were looking for from him and even assigning a veteran player as a mentor? Some of the challenges he’s created for himself may have been avoided or muted; and his emphasis on learning and growing quickly may have been greater.

Thoughtful and active induction into a new team increases the likelihood of a better case scenario than what we’ve seen in Cleveland.  My sense is we’re likely to see even worse because Manziel was drafted by the owner without the support of the coach…and thus he never should have been drafted by the team at all.  Not only do the owner and coach not appear to be on the same page in terms of the priorities of their talent acquisition, but the owner has exacerbated the situation by verbally turning on the player (Manziel) he brought in.  I’m working with a client organization right now where a leader is proposing to hire a critical team member on behalf of one of his managers with the idea that the manager then can grow to like the hire.  This is a highly risky, if not fatally flawed, approach.  The manager is going to have to coach this person and therefore needs to be involved in the process to select the person if only to enhance the manager’s buy in.  Hall of Fame football coach, Bill Parcells, is famous for having said that, if he’s got to cook the dinner (coach a team successfully), he should be allowed to shop for the groceries. More precisely, the players we bring on to our team need to have the individual talents we need, they need to complement other team members’ skills, and they all need to share the values that, as an organization we have identified and defined as way in which we bring our talents to bear to be highly and consistently successful.  You don’t have to fall into Bob Sutton’s realm of undesirable colleagues to be a bad fit (the Stanford professor authored a book called “The No Asshole Rule”); but his admonishment to avoid be suckered by what appears to be success elsewhere as a guarantee of success with us is good advice for all of us to heed.

Here’s some additional – if less colorful – advice for selecting your team:

•  Define your labels—too often we think and speak in code.  Whatever you’ve adopted as your shorthand for “good” needs to be spelled out.  Hiring someone just like Emily doesn’t tell us what we need to know; identifying the key things that make Emily extraordinarily valued gets us closer.  Then, we need to define what those things look like in terms of behavior.  If you’re hiring based on “what” someone can do and not attending to “how” they do it, you’re asking for trouble.

•  Share the load—a good selection process benefits from the involvement of a variety of people filling a number of roles – from technical experts, to managers, to colleagues who can offer insight into exactly what it’s like to work here…and offer their assessments of candidates to the hiring team in the context of your hiring criteria.  Managers and leaders must agree on their decisions to ensure that everyone has skin the game when it comes to the hard work of supporting the success of new colleagues.

•  Don’t stop at the offer—a good hire is born of everything that happens after you extend and offer and they accept as it is from your sourcing and interviewing process.  If we think about hiring as an ongoing process informed by seemingly unrelated reminders like the ones you hear when you fly (“we know you have a lot of choices, but thanks for choosing us”).  We work hard to find the right people for our team; we need to remember to keep working hard to ensure their engagement, their loyalty, and their tenure…and the great news is that, when we do that, they’re working in a way that makes them even more valued than they may have been when we started making this effort.

Talent, team building, performance, success.  There’s no magic bullet to ensure success, but there is magic in you and it’s unleashed simply through the act.

 

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.

Posted in Employee Experience, Success, Talent, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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