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“Everybody’s talkin’ at me, I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’…”

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Kid listening on Can

The late, great Harry Nilsson wrote that line to open his Grammy Award-winning song, “Everybody’s Talkin’” popularized in the Oscar-winning movie, Midnight Cowboy. I’m a sucker for a great line AND the songs hauntingly plaintive aspiration to go where the “sun keeps shining through the pouring rain…where the weather suits my clothes” is at once charmingly naïve and downright sad.

I’ve been thinking about this beautiful song a lot recently in the wake of working with a couple of organizational leaders who want to better engage their teams but still struggle with shifting to facilitating that engagement from leadership by lecture.

Empathy is a tall order at times – especially when we’re running a company – including running OUR company. In any case, as leaders, we’re eager for our people to “get it” and (apologies to Nike) just do it.

But think about it: how much do you really hear past a certain point – even when you’re interested and open – when someone just hammers away at a topic without drawing you into the conversation? How helpful is what you hear in those circumstances, and how likely are you able to transfer into effective, sustainable action? My experience is we pretty quickly reach the point where – whether it’s one person’s voice or many – it feels like everyone is just talking at us and we’re not hearing them in a meaningful way.

While Nilsson might prescribe us to “put the lime in the coconut and mix it all up,” my recommendation is a little different: the antidote to the “Everybody’s Talkin’” syndrome is turning your words into questions. Here are a few that can help shape someone’s understanding, engagement, and ability to act effectively:

• Point of Entry – “We laid out a plan for business development moving forward that depends on each of us contributing in a variety of ways. How do you see yourself helping us be successful moving forward?”

• Building a Complete Approach – “I agree those things make sense. I’d add, it’s critical you also include X, Y, and/or Z. What would be most helpful to you/what resources do you need in order to handle those areas effectively?”

• Seeking Alignment – “I understand and appreciate your perspective; where I really need your help now is in these areas in which you can create value better than anyone else. What can I do to support your success in this effort?”

As always, find your own words to frame and phrase each aspect of engagement and add questions appropriately. It’s useful to approach these conversations as collaborative rather than as quizzes. Some word choices that suggest you might be more in the testing mindset than is preferred include “What is your understanding of…?” or “What did you learn from/about…?”

The Nilsson lyric Everybody’s talkin’ at me, I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’…” concludes with “Only the echoes of my mind.” As a leader, we want others to hear our voice and have that voice continue to resonate as they evolve into people who know, own, and drive the elements of what will make us into a high performing organizations and help keep us there. Ironically, to be heard more, we have to say less … and what we say should most often be phrased in the form of a question.

 

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 Alignment, Strategy, System of Management | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 steps to landing a job right out of college

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College Grad

Graduating from college comes with a whole range of emotions. But let’s be honest, the idea of joining the real world can be downright frightening. After-all, your entire life leads up to the moment when you finally get the opportunity to put on your big boy/girl pants and dive head first into a job where you can officially be referred to as a productive member of society – paycheck and all!

That being said, the entire process of landing your first job post-grad is a daunting process. Just over four years ago when I was preparing for college graduation myself, I was absolutely determined to walk across the stage knowing I had a job waiting for me at the other end. By no means was it a perfect process but after starting my recruiting career just a few weeks after graduation, here are a few tips I have learned along the way:

• Start to perfect your interview elevator pitch. An elevator pitch might sound a bit challenging if you don’t have a ton of work experience to speak of (with the exception of internships and part-time jobs). On top of that, you might not even know what kind of job you are looking for in the first place. No matter, a solid 30-second elevator pitch is so important. Proudly state your alma mater and your college major, share a high-level overview of the transferrable internships or work study experience you gained along the way, and finally what options you are considering for your first post-grad pathway. Starting any phone or in-person interview with a confident and thoughtful pitch is something many seasoned professionals haven’t perfected, so start off strong.

• Network, network, NETWORK. No matter the stage of your career, networking is single-handedly the most powerful job search tool. The statistics speak for themselves – the best sources of talent come from employee referrals. So seek out friends, family friends, professors, your alumni network, current/former internship mentors, and managers. Ask them to meet you for coffee and use that time to learn about their company and their career path. Your proactive step will speak volumes and will make your contacts all the more motivated to support you by pointing you in the right direction, whether that’s through their employer or their already-established network.

• Tone up (or tone down) your LinkedIn and other social media presence. LinkedIn is everything for job search. I repeat – EVERYTHING! Beef up your LinkedIn with the details of your internships, work-studies, part-time jobs (preferably if you have good tenure of one year or more), college (not high school) extracurricular activities, and community service involvement. In the Summary section of your LinkedIn profile, be sure to include a brief 2-3-sentence overview of your background and the type of job that you are specifically looking for. The more keywords the better, making your profile all the more searchable for recruiters like me. Also, check out your Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media accounts and remove those college party pictures – or make your accounts private at the very least. Act as if your next employer is your future mother- or father-in-law. If you even hesitate for a minute to think that it is MIL or FIL appropriate, bag it!

• Take advantage of your university’s FREE career center resources! From resume editing to mock interviewing, your university’s career center is chock full of professionals and tools that you can utilize in preparation for your interviews. The only way you improve your interview skills is, of course, by practicing as much as possible.

• Ditch your phone the second that you walk into the company that you’re interviewing with. This might be self-explanatory to most, but when I greet a candidate for an interview, I certainly don’t want to come in second place to an Instagram scrolling session. Use the time waiting for your interviewer to mentally focus on your interviewer. And this goes without saying, but your phone is 110% non-existent during an interview. End of story.

• Be consistent and thoughtful with your follow-up. If you’re contacted by phone or email by a recruiter or hiring manager, respond that same business day. Your job search is a full-time job, so treat it as such. On top of that, be ultra-professional with any written correspondence. Written communication speaks volumes to a prospective employer, so exclude typos, slang, and any kind of shorthand abbreviations.

• Be flexible with your job search. As a recruiter, I frequently come across recent college graduates with a distinct vision in their mind of their dream job, which is awesome, but that vision might exclude the job you land that sets you on the trajectory towards your dream job. Keep an open mind, and don’t come into an interview with a list of demands. The idea of getting your foot-in-the-door is very much a reality.

At the end of the day, job searching might be overwhelming, but it is super exciting at the same time. You’re planting the seeds for your career, which is AWESOME. So go through this process with your full self, make mistakes, learn from them, and keep of all your experiences in your back pocket as you start the journey to come. And who knows, maybe you’ll land your dream job just a handful of years post-graduation like me.

 

As a Talent Consultant, Susie Landgren 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, Talent Brand | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The only trick you’ll ever need to crush an interview

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Why

Recently I revisited Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” video. If you have not watched this video, do yourself a favor and watch it!

Watching the video made me realize I ask candidates the question “why?” … a lot! More importantly, the video made me ask myself, why do I ask why? During the talk, Sinek discusses the importance of, and the different layers of, “What, How, and Why.”

As a recruiter, many candidates know what type of job they do or do not want, how they are or are not a good fit for the role, but the best candidates tell you why. In the video Sinek says we need start with why, because, “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it.” When you start with why, people become immediately more interested in what you have to say.

Here a few tips to help candidates on starting with their “why”:

• Know the reason why you are looking for a new job. Typically, it takes a change in your current company, leadership, or the entire role, in order for you to want to switch jobs. Make sure there is another reason besides just salary and benefits for wanting to switch jobs.

• Be prepared to know why you want to work at a specific company. In many client/candidate interviews you will be asked, “Why do you want to work for our company?” While this seems like an easy question to answer, many candidates do not do the proper homework to understand exactly why they want to change jobs.

• Start to understand why you would be a good fit in a particular role. This is similar to the features and benefits of your skillset. Clients want to know the benefit of you being in a position with them; they’re looking to discover why they should hire you.

Reflecting on all of this, I realized all these questions help me understand if a candidate is the right fit for the role. These questions provide me with way more information than I can get from your skillset or years of experience. “Why” helps me put a quality candidate with a quality job, not just any candidate in any job.

I’ll leave you with one piece of advice, the next time you speak with a recruiter, know your “why” and be prepared to answer.

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 Interview, Talent, Talent Brand | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Can we do better, and should we?

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Can we do better

Years ago, I was asked point blank by my boss’ boss’ boss if I thought we should fire my boss and hire someone else in his place.

Awkward!

We needed to – my boss was hurting our business, inside and out. I knew this, the person asking me knew this, and there I was – the proverbial deer in the headlights – unable to answer. I was spinning through the various ways I might dodge the question when the question was rephrased this way: “Can we do better, and should we?”

When it comes to the critical decision to add or subtract a member to your team – and every such decision should be considered to be that important – those are incredibly illuminating questions.

The challenge people encounter in these moments of inviting someone into, or releasing someone from, a company is they too often don’t know if they can do better, even though they want to do well. The reason for this uncertainty stems from general or generic definitions of what good looks like. There is no scripting of a process to identify and evaluate a person’s fit for the organization or the role they fill (or may fill). This kind of uncertainty is bad for business, which makes your significant lessening of it non-optional.

The good news is there are many experts, tools, and other resources to help you do better – and you’re welcome and encouraged to contact us for more specific guidance about how to sharpen your assessment criteria, tools, and process. My focus here is on the final decision point for hiring someone or letting someone go.

Working not just with an array of talented business leaders but with many passionate business founders and owners, it’s surprising how low they seem to set the bar when it comes to allowing someone to stay. While oversimplified (this is a blog after all), here are the main contributors to poor hiring/firing decisions:

1. Hiring – we don’t require people to answer our questions

2. Firing – we make excuses for someone’s chronic underperformance

Both behaviors really annoy me, and both are simply if not easily addressed. Here are my quick tips on how to address them. Please give it your best … “don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!” (That’s a catch phrase from The Incredible Hulk for those playing our game at home)

Hiring:

• Get clear on critical skills for success … at least three items that define HOW someone needs to be and do their work at your company and two items that define WHAT they need to be able to do in the role.

• Develop open-ended job-related questions about each asking for specific examples of when the person demonstrated that skill. Avoid hypotheticals. People tend to know what they SHOULD do; we need to know what they’ve actually done. Remember: when you ask a hypothetical question, you get a hypothetical answer.

• Here’s the kicker – make sure they answer with a SPECIFIC example. Specific examples include names, dates, amounts, etc. General answers are: “sometimes,” “I usually,” “people say.” It may take an explanation of the process and then some guiding from a general answer to a specific one.

In the end, if they can’t, or won’t, provide the details, you have your answer. Each person is too valuable to gamble on what you don’t know when you should be able to know it. Don’t explain away their lack of specificity. If they had the skills, they’d have told you … in their words, not the words that are now in your head because you need someone and they seem like a nice person.

Firing

• Establish and share the measures of success. Hint: they’re the HOW and the WHAT items you assessed them on when you hired them.

• Have regular conversations with them about their performance, reinforcing successes, supporting development, and clearly communicating concerns and gaps.

• If – despite clarity, support, and time – the person’s performance doesn’t rise to the needed level, make plans for their release (cooperatively, if possible). Candor throughout this process is the most respectful way to be. Far too often it’s avoided out of “respect” for the person’s feelings you’re about to fire

The weird thing about firing is, often, it’s the decision maker who is the last person to realize it’s time. Peers know it, and the jobholder knows it (probably expecting it, and sometimes hoping for it). Even when the decision maker gets there, she may tie herself up in knots about if or when.

“Maybe there’s another role” … oh for goodness sake! There isn’t, but the fear of being the bad guy is getting in the way.

Can we do better? Should we do better? If we’re even asking ourselves these questions, we know we can. So do you. You can do better. You should do better.

It’s time to start doing better, today.

 

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 Culture, Trust | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 3 most important drivers of a successful business relationship

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Philly Love

“Til the wheels fall off,” is the cliché line that people in relationships quote to declare their dedication to the relationship. It’s one of hundreds of metaphors people use to describe their commitment to a relationship.

In business, it is all about building relationships. However, like romantic relationships, there is always a driver in business relationships. How do you become the driver and ensure that your relationships are quality?

Get social.
There are various ways people connect and meet each other. Globalization and mobilization are virtually obtainable anywhere in the world. Digging into how we connect with people not only enhances the quality of the people but also the quality of the relationship.

If you want a business relationship, you need to get active on social media. According to Pew Research Center, 71% of all adults over the age of 25 are on social media. These social tools include: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pintrest. For business sake we will stray away from the Match.com and eHarmony statistics.

People want to be social and feel like they are doing business without actually doing business. It all comes down to trust. What better way to learn if you can trust someone, than if you approach him or her from a social (business etiquette included) interaction? Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best, “Trust men and they will be true to you: treat them greatly and they will show themselves great.” The best way to initiate conversation is through a social non-committal virtual platform.

Be face to face.
Face to face networking is still crucial, even with the advent of social media platforms. According to Great Business Schools, 95% of people have more success in creating new long lasting relationships when they attend a networking event. Although “networking” has become an overused (and beaten-to-death) sales term, presenting yourself in a neutral social environment enhances the trust and the quality of the relationship. What better way to get to know someone than to be physically in front of them? Romantically, you could never be in a relationship with someone you have not met in person. You can’t date someone, at least not effectively, through email … so why do it in business?

Have accountability.
If you are demanding trust and loyalty in a quality long lasting business relationship then you need to exemplify these actions in return; if not first. Be thoughtful and genuine in your questions and responses. Have integrity and always be honest with everything. Even if the truth is harsh or something the prospect relationship may not want to hear, they will appreciate the honesty in the end. Moreover, your honesty will not only solidify the relationship, but also strengthen it. And stronger relationships means better business.

If you are looking for quality long lasting business relationships, get social, get out there, and hold accountability! There’s no better way to develop strong relationships.

 

Kelsey Trundle, eQ’s Business Development Manager, is our front-line influencer for attaining and growing business. As the voice and presence of eQ in and out of the business community, she can tell the eQ story with absolute authenticity and passion.

Posted in Culture, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What does your leadership legacy look like?

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You Are Here

Maybe you’re like me?

Whether I’m at 1407 Fleet Street, driving, running errands, or trying to fall asleep at night – ultimately my mind turns to work. While thinking about projects, I start to focus on deadlines, ways to alleviate the stress creep, and stay at the top of my game. There are a few helpful quick-hitting resources that I often turn to. HBR deserves a major shout out.

 

I realize I’m exposing my little secret, but why not? Their Management Tip of the Day is gold.

Better yet, the one to three paragraph advice column runs the gamut of how to engage your employees who work remotely (a real life routine event that adds a layer of complexity when working with colleagues) to how to leverage project management tools with links to resources like Basecamp (an eQ favorite). The best part of their newsletters is the affirmation I receive when I open the email. So often I remark that it’s as if the writer read my mind. The content is not only relevant – it’s useful. Not to mention, there’s a certain specialness that comes with receiving exclusive messages not found on the organization’s website.

 

So what exactly does this have to with management consulting and talent acquisition?

Well, eQ is a hub for ongoing learning. We don’t call one of our regular meetings an Incubator Session for nothing. To me, the learning journey materializes as drops of knowledge that dependably appear in my inbox, the online PM tools I use to support smooth operations and timeline adherence, and (my favorite) the conversations that evolve from colleagues sharing what we use, what we read, and how we learn best.

 

Your Leadership Legacy

There are numerous examples that indicate whether a place of work is performing at a high level. One indicator of high performance comes in the form of individuals making deliberate strides to collaborate cross-divisionally and within assigned teams. Recently, a friend recommended a stellar read- Your Leadership Legacy, which makes the argument that if you’re not sharing what you know with others and for the betterment of the organization, you’re missing the point. The point of legacy is to leave a lasting (positive) impression on the people you work with, and if you’re not sharing your wealth of knowledge and experience – your leadership legacy is poor.

The goal of a career is growth – yes? If you believe that statement then you’ll agree with the next one. Those who are committed to growing choose one of two directions: they either move up or out (of their organization) and very often it takes legacy vision. What do I mean by this? A knowledge transfer with sights set on establishing lasting impact, and a genuine interest in a person’s development to help them land the spot they are meant for next.

 

Make your legacy today

Your legacy is constantly evolving, so recognizing mobility and learning is part of who you are – even if it means giving nature a little push in the right direction. This won’t only help your company; it will help YOU. The fruits of this labor will land your talents where they are destined to go. Just ask yourself: what does your leadership legacy look like?

 

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

Posted in Talent, Talent Brand | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 easy ways to craft a more robust personal brand

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Woman in Meeting

This past week I was in the car on the way home from the gym when I realized I was following one of the gym’s personal trainers, who I have talked with a few different times. We were on a straight road with side streets, and it was a nice morning. There was a runner on the side of the road waiting to cross when the car in front of me (the trainer) slammed on her breaks letting the runner go. While it was a nice gesture, it was the wrong timing. I, in turn, had to slam on my breaks, since I wasn’t expecting this, hoping that the car behind me had the time to do the same.

In reaction to all of this, I honked my horn, which seemed like a perfectly normal response given the circumstance. However, immediately after this, the trainer throws her hand out the window and you guessed it – throws me the bird.

My jaw dropped.

Not only did this throw off my entire morning, but it got me thinking about personal brand. Let’s face it, your appearance matters, a lot. We all strive to be intelligent, professional, and polished. No matter your surroundings, you need to keep this in mind. We all have a place where we can let go and be whoever we want, but the trainer had no idea who I was, or weather I held any importance. I may not ever directly impact her, but if I have friends who are looking for a personal trainer I will forever remember her colorful gesture, and recommend a different trainer.

As a recruiter I help coach candidates all the time. One of the most frequent coaching tips I help with is personal brand. This can range from posting on social media, to communication style, to how to best dress for an interview. Unfortunately in life we may only have one shot at something, and if you do not put your best foot forward you may be significantly limiting yourself – even hurting yourself. To ensure you set yourself up for success, follow these incredibly simple rules:

1. Think before you speak – this is something we’re told when we’re children. And for good reason. It is extraordinarily important to be a measured communicator. A slip-up of speech can easily tarnish your personal brand. It’s best to err on the side of caution with this one. Often times the words not said, or in my case the gesture not given, are the most important words of all. I often think of a quote from Winston Churchill on this, where he said, “By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.” Taking the critical few seconds to think before you do, although small, is a big differentiator between a good personal brand and a bad one.

2. Always look the part – dress for the job you want, right? Your attire is a definite reflection of yourself and your attitude. A disheveled look does not send the positive personal brand message you want it too. Whether you like it or not we are all judged on our appearances. Understanding the importance of looking the part will go a long way to establishing a stronger, more resilient personal brand.

3. Be mindful of what you put on the Internet – as a recruiter you’d be surprised how careless I find people to be with their social media accounts. The advice I’d offer: leave the pictures from Friday night’s party off your Facebook. Your personal brand will thank me later. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are social sites where you can shed off the work persona and be yourself. But, you need to understand that in the modern work environment, your work persona never really comes off. What you do in your free time is your prerogative, but what you post on the Internet and social sites are a representative of the company you work for. Make sure you represent yourself and your company respectfully on social media.

Of course we will all slip up on this, but use every moment of failure to train for a moment of success. If you need help with your personal brand, and making sure you are putting your best foot forward – I can help with that!

Recruiters are experts at recognizing a strong personal brand, and are just as good as helping you craft an even stronger one.

Let eQ be your brand ambassador, send me an email anytime (jfaulise@entrequest.com), I am happy to help.

 

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 Talent, Talent Brand | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 success lessons you need to know from a failure like me

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Dare to Fail

 

No word captures the essence of defeat like failure.

No one ever wants to think of themself as a failure, let alone admit publicly they are one …

No one except me.

I am a failure. And I don’t know why we try to hide our failures like they’re skeletons in a closet. Failure doesn’t have to be viewed as a disaster; it is equal part opportunity.

As someone who operates in the business world, my failure (ironically) is: I am a failed business school student. Actually, since I’d like to think this blog has a lot to do about honesty, I didn’t fail out of business school … I failed to get in to business school.

I was a student at the University of Maryland where I attempted to enroll into the rather prestigious Smith School of Business (ranked 21st in the nation), and got rejected. Like just about everyone, I don’t take rejection all that well, and this was no exception. To make things worse … I didn’t have much of a plan B either.

Recently, in light of reading several books by Nassim Taleb, I’ve come to equate (probably incorrectly in terms of its true meaning) this failure in my life with a Black Swan Event. A Black Swan is something that is either hard-to-predict or completely out of the realm of possibility, and that’s exactly what not getting into the program was for me – totally out of the realm of possibility. I never accounted for the potential of failure, which in itself is another failure on my part.

Two failures for the price of one.

Failure can be a crushing experience, and I nearly let mine become exactly that. I became so wrapped up in “what wasn’t” when I should have been looking at my situation from the perspective of “what might be?” It took some time, but ultimately I resolved to keep pursuing success in business … by studying history.

It may sound crazy, but that was my area of study – history of the ancient Mediterranean. And, while I believe I learned more studying history than I would have studying business (perhaps a subject for a later discussion), I did windup learning many important lessons that I think all business leaders need to know about failure:

 

• Your failure doesn’t define you. Failure, as I said earlier, isn’t always so bad. You don’t have to carry around your failure like a scarlet letter. It should be a badge of honor; one that demonstrates you ventured a bold risk where others were too afraid or timid to take the chance. I didn’t pick up on this right away with my situation. After my rejection from business school I had legitimate thoughts about leaving school (I said this blog was about honesty right?), but I came to the realization that doing so would have defined me and who I was for sure. And I wasn’t about to let myself be known as the guy who threw in the towel because things didn’t go my way. Don’t be defined by your failure, rise above it and come back stronger.

• Failure changes the way you think. After my own failure I began to ask myself “now what?” Repeatedly asking myself this question made me alter my approach to my future, and ultimately alter the way I think. It’s very easy for us to become so absorbed in our own way of thinking. We rarely alter our mindset and can develop a bad case of tunnel vision. A failure can do wonders for you; it can remove you from the tunnel and provide you with a clear view of your options. Believe me, changing your approach to thinking about your strategy can result in gains you never thought possible.

• Failure is Antifragile. I said I had been reading a lot of Nassim Taleb. Reading Taleb’s book, Antifragile, I came to the understanding that the failure I was going through was Antifragile. My failure at getting into business school created quite a sense of resilience in me. Instead of being broken by my failure, I became stronger, more equipped, and certainly wiser. Failure, while a bit of a speed bump, ultimately helped my self-esteem and determination to succeed even more. I try my hardest to shy away from clichés, but in this case: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

 

Failure can throw quite a wrench into our strategic planning (for life and business); turning things upside down. But, there’s no reason we cannot become stronger, more resilient from these events in our lives. I know everyone has, at some point in his or her life, experienced failure. It’s a matter of how we get back up and dust ourselves off that determines how successful our next plan is going to be. When experiencing a difficult obstacle or failure, there is no shame in asking for help, support, or sound advice on what to do next.

It is important to understand for yourself: Are you going to let failure define who you are? Are there important lessons to be learned from a failure you experienced? Are you going to become weaker, or stronger the next time you fail at something? The choices are yours, and, as always, I hope you make the choice to Grow Regardless.

 

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!

 

Posted in Alignment, Awareness, Grow Regardless | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are we meeting just to meet?

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Meeting

One of our values at eQ is to help our clients share information to better engage and enable their people to drive the performance of their organization. We call the construction of regularly held, intentional conversations the System of Management (SOM).

There tend to be two primary areas of conversation: Planning at the leadership level and Engagement at the team level. These conversations generally are held in the form of a meeting between two or more colleagues.

I recently found myself in one of these conversations with a client. My role was to help construct their approach to sharing the “dots” of vision, strategy, organization goals, team goals, and individual goals. I worked to facilitate the connection of those dots through regularly held, intentional conversations. During our conversation, the client asked me why we didn’t just call the SOM a system of meetings. He wasn’t quite getting the point, so my answer was: because it’s about what the conversations produce not about having meetings.

His question is a valid one, and reminds us that it’s important to maintain the discipline of keeping the purpose of the organization in clear view at all times and continuously examining whether we’re aligning our decisions and actions with achieving that purpose. To do that well, here are some questions to ask yourself and those around you:

• What is the outcome we’ll create through having a conversation/meeting?

• Does that outcome support the pursuit of our purpose and the achievement of our goals?

• Are we making decisions and acting in a manner consistent with our values?

• How regularly do we need to meet?

• Who needs to be in the meeting?

• How do we connect what happens in this meeting to other conversations?

Meeting structures usually flow from larger to smaller, with the smallest being a 1:1 conversation usually between a team member and their direct supervisor. The 1:1’s are the most impactful, and information gathered in them must flow back up through meetings in order for organizations to perform at the highest level. With flatter organization structures becoming more common, it’s useful to consider whom an individual can meet with who can be most valuable to them in supporting their development and success.

If it looks like a meeting, and acts like a meeting … it’s probably a meeting. If it is an intentional conversation focused on engaging and enabling high performance, it’s probably part of a well-considered and even better executed System of Management. Perhaps we should call it a System of Success … but it’s definitely not (merely) a system of meetings.

 

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 Alignment, System of Management | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you suiting-up for success?

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Suit Up

Picture the ideal businessman/woman.

We ALL know what they look like. We’ve been told what a “real” businessperson looks like since we were children. It’s ingrained into our cultural DNA. When it comes to the stereotypical business leader we still envision people like Don Draper from Mad Men, or Pat Bateman from American Psycho. Even How I Met Your Mother parodied the executive look every episode of the show with Barney Stinson’s obsession with suits (who he had made by Tim Gunn from Project Runway).

Perfect tailored suits, soft imported leather shoes, sterling silver cuff links and tie clip to match were for 50 years the armor donned by the business knights of the conference room table. Their sword was the executive fountain pen with cerulean ink; their shield the thick embossed business card inlaid on eggshell colored paper.

It is an enviable style of sophistication.

 

But, the renaissance of the power suit is coming to an end.

This is in no means an attack on the fine suit. I, myself, am partial to the three-piece suit and my silver tie clip. But, like everything – there is a time and a place. And that time and place is rapidly leaving the workplace … in a hurry.

Yeoman executives like Mark Zuckerberg, and Nicholas Woodman of GoPro are supplanting the old knights of the conference table. They’re men of the people; Robin Hood personified in some ways.

Zuckerberg has become famous for his “lead from the front” style of management. He sits in the general office space among his employees, not tucked away in the corner office. However, he’s probably more famously known for his dress. He’s the definition of casual executive; he comes to work in jeans and a sweatshirt almost every day. And some of the most powerful business leaders are adopting this style; because they’re beginning to recognize the impact it can have on their people.

 

The suit is dead.

Or at least it will be soon. The suit is still a symbol of power and firm leadership, but it is also cold and uninviting. What the power suit really says is, “Don’t approach me. I’m too busy,” and in our day and age that kills business development.

Think about it, is that the kind of message you want to send to people? I’m guessing not. Zuckerberg and Woodman are successful inventors, but they’re also successful leaders. A large part of their success as leaders comes from their method of management. They toss on a hoodie and t-shirt and work in the trenches with their employees. This makes them approachable and accessible. People are more likely to feel comfortable talking with them and having open conversations. There’s no aspect of fear.

You’re likely familiar with the figure of speech: dress for the job you want.

But I’d have to disagree. I’m not suggesting you show up to work tomorrow in sweatpants and flip-flops (unless you want a lot of attention). I’m suggesting you dress for the relationship you want to have with the people you work around. Make yourself appear available and amicable. Building strong relationships is the most important method for you to actually get the job you want. Your dress has little to do with it.

 

Okay, what’s the point?

The point is, there is a monumental shift in the nature of business going on, and we all need to be aware of it. Antiquated styles of leadership are being left behind in the twentieth century. They’re not suited (literally) for our organizations anymore.

More importantly, I’m stressing this example to demonstrate the changing landscape of business in the Information Age. If we, as professionals, aren’t aware of some of the superficial and lesser changes occurring in the world, they will begin to add up and take a hefty toll on your organization. With rapid growth and innovation taking place at unprecedented speeds, these transformations, if not accounted for, will leave you lagging behind. It doesn’t take much in 2015 to find your organization left behind – don’t set yourself up for failure.

You need to take a deep look at your organization; what else might you be missing?

 

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!

Posted in Culture, Environment | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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