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Hiring the Right Person SAVES Money…What Do Your Future Employees Really Want?

We often hear today, that our current workforce “doesn’t have the work ethic” of prior generations.  I’d like to challenge that sentiment.  Here’s why.  If you look back in history, you will see that our country has been transformed to what it is today through the Industrial Revolution and then the Information Age.  Prior to the Industrial Revolution, workers were skilled tradesmen who worked independently.  As we moved through the Industrial Revolution, we had the rise and fall of the “blue collar” worker who was considered semi-skilled and a cog in a bigger production wheel.  As we have moved into the Information Age, we have moved to an educated work force and have seen the rise of predominately white collar, service based jobs focused.  So as our economy has morphed into something new, why aren’t we surprised that worker expectations would change also?

I’d like to go back to work ethic.  I’m not sure that we are comparing apples to apples.  Let’s look at this.  In previous generations, there was often a direct correlation of work effort to a promise of future benefit.  Families were often supported by a single income and employees would work at a company for 25 years for the retirement benefits.  Those days are long gone.  They have been replaced by dual income families who are trying to juggle it all and navigate the path to retirement.

Our current workforce is not lazy, they are educated and informed.  They are well aware that there are no guarantees as there were in the years before and that the safety nets are disappearing beneath them.  For every IT employee who made it big on stock options, there are thousands who did not.  Employees are often bumping into an invisible income barrier that is only overcome by changing jobs.  Employees today have no choice but to make changes that balance both personal and professional lives to the best of their ability.

So what are employees really looking for? 

FLEXIBILITY

At Agile, we haven’t had any candidates turning down a job because they couldn’t telecommute 100% of the time.  Whatthey do want is enough flexibility in their schedule to balance their work life and personal life and the unexpected surprises that often come with that juggling act.

TRUST & AUTONOMY. 

Employees want you to trust them to do the job they were hired to do.  Whether it is when you extend flexibility or assign a new project, you have to extend trust to reap the reward of increased productivity.  Set clear expectations and boundaries and then let them use the skills and education that you are paying for.

TO BE VALUED

Employees want to be valued for their contribution.  In a service focused economy, they want to feel part of the team and feel pride in both the Company that they work for and the product or service that they provide.  With IT unemployment well below the national average, if you can’t provide it that feeling of value, another company probably can.

JobScience.com just recently posted a survey showing 66% of companies surveyed report the cost of a bad hire is between $25,000 and $50,000.  Ouch!  Employers should be having open discussions with candidates on the topics above to ascertain whether they are a good cultural fit for the organization. Determine what flexibility and trust look like in your organization and your management style; be prepared to give examples.  Hiring the right person up front is worth every minute invested.  The cost of a bad hire is always more than expected!

Don’t Fear Failure, Embrace It!

Repost from 3.16.12 from guest blogger Beth A. Miller

We all fear failing. I know I do. Yet, I also know that without failure I remain stagnant and soon become irrelevant to myself and others. In this fast-paced world, business demands that you make adjustments and changes. And making change requires you to take risks and fail from time to time.

So how do I embrace failure and make it my friend?

When I make a mistake or fail at something I have done, I evaluate what I could have done differently. Sometimes I didn’t have the right resources such as knowledge, skills, finances or time. Or it could have been a derailing behavior that leads to the negative outcome.

If others are aware of my failure, I ask for their feedback with the following type questions so I can move forward: “What behaviors did I display that may have impacted the negative outcome and what recommendations do you have for improving my behavior?”

If it is a resources issue that requires knowledge or skills, I then ask myself “who do I know who can work with me to fill these gaps?” If the resource issue is time, I ask myself “do I need to start delegating some tasks to free up more time?”

This questioning process is an active learning technique I use during my coaching sessions with other coaches. I also teach coaches this questioning process and ask them to practice it on themselves and others.

The more you practice these techniques, the easier it will be to take on projects that will allow you to stretch and grow as a professional as well as a person. With practice, fear will then evolve into a sense of tension and anxiety which are more positive and motivating states to be in. They can lead to movement, while fear tends to keep people in one place like a very strong magnet!

As a leader, how do you encourage others to take risks?

To be a leader you need to take risks and get others to follow you as you take these risks. Often just the mere act of following is viewed as a risk by those who choose to follow you.

For employees to willingly follow a leader into unchartered waters, they must have a high level of trust and respect for their leader. Trust is earned by leaders protecting their team when a failure is experienced. If the team is successful, a true leader recognizes her team members for their efforts leading to success. Trust in your team can easily be demonstrated by showing you care about your team members.

For a leader to gain the respect of her followers, she must consistently demonstrate the ability to make sound decisions and treat employees fairly.

Both trust and respect are not earned overnight. Leaders earn trust and respect through their actions and decisions, which model values that are aligned with the people around them.

Once trust and respect are earned, then it is time to coach your employees to not fear failure by taking the steps you personally have taken to embrace failure as a pathway to growth and a higher level of performance.

Image by phil.chillsofa.de.

Will Your Personal Brand Get You Hired?

Personal branding has been a hot topic since the economic downturn forced huge numbers of employees into the job market. Even though things are getting better, candidates still look for way to set themselves apart from the crowd.

If you’re looking for a new position, especially one in technology, a personal brand may not even be on your radar screen. You’ve got the skills and the talent, and your qualifications should speak for themselves, right?

In the ideal word, that would be true. But candidates aren’t evaluated like metrics on a spreadsheet. Hiring managers look for soft skills and attributes like fit, attitude and creativity that are hard to measure. When a decision between two candidates for a position is close, the position goes to the one with the most appealing personal brand.

What does that mean for you as a candidate? You need to know how you’re seen by hiring managers, colleagues, past employers and your peers. If you have a reputation for being brilliant but ornery or timid, yet talented, it’s time to brush up your brand.

The Truth About Personal Branding

Have you ever met someone who just did not match up to their reputation? Someone who was not at all like you expected them to be? Most of us have. Usually that experience leaves us feeling a little jaded; unfortunately, the interaction is more likely to be an unexpected disappointment rather than a pleasant surprise.

This becomes a real problem when you’re job hunting. The expectation needs to match reality, while putting your best foot forward. The beauty in cultivating a personal brand is that it provides an opportunity to highlight what’s best about you while emphasizing your potential as well as your history.

What’s Your Unique Brand?

Before you can enhance your personal brand, you need to understand what it is. Talking to people you know can be enlightening when you ask them how they would describe you or what words they’d use when referring you. Take time to reach out and gather this info, and block some time for introspection as well.

Take stock of these six essential ingredients of a personal brand, and you’ll get a good feel for yours:

  • Who you are: the real you
  • Who you want to be, your hopes, dreams and goals
  • How you see yourself, both good and bad
  • What you want people to see (your best self)
  • What others perceive about you –  how they receive your message
  • What they believe (what resonates, sticks from your message)

Polishing Your Brand

Once you have a feel for your real, authentic brand, look for ways to infuse this into your job search. Does your resume and your LinkedIn profile reflect what’s unique about you? If these profiles are all about the right keywords with no personality, do some editing to capture both.

Come up with phrases or language you’d like others to use when describing you, and see those into conversations and requests for referrals. When you meet someone who asks “What to you do?” share this personal value proposition with consistent language to reinforce your personal brand message.

When practicing for interviews, writing covers letters and drafting thank you notes, be sure to use wording that highlights the brand attributes that make you a good fit for the position. If you can create short catch-phases that are unique to you, use them whenever you can. This will help you stand out as a memorable candidate instead of sounding like everyone else.

Check your social media profiles and online bios to be sure they’re consistent with your brand. If not, make some updates. This should include using the same, professional headshot image everywhere you can. Also, think about how you communicate. Is what you post online in keeping with the image you want to cultivate?

While building a personal brand takes time, these quick fixes will do a lot to enhance perceptions about you. Remember to be authentic and honest about who you are and how you want to be seen, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a picture-perfect candidate.

Preparing for a Phone Interview

More and more, with work forces being virtual and managers being responsible for teams comprised of members spread across the country (if not the globe), it is common practice for a first interview to be conducted over the phone. This will likely not be the “just getting to know you” interview that used to happen over the phone. Often the phone interview is a qualifying interview or even a technical interview that may or may not take you to the next step. If you don’t do a good job on the phone interview, you’ll never make it to the face-to-face interview.

There are several things you can do to increase your chances of nailing your phone interview. Below are 7 things I highly recommend for phone interviews:

  1. Prepare like it is an in-person interview. Research the company, research your interviewer on LinkedIn and the Internet, and follow him/her on Twitter.
  2. Do the interview from a quiet spot. Don’t take the call while you’re in line at the Piggly Wiggly, driving, or sitting at your kid’s baseball game. You need to be focused!
  3. Be sitting at your desk and organized with your notes at least 10 minutes before the scheduled call time. You don’t want to sound like you were running for the phone when the interviewer calls.
  4. Prepare yourself just like you were going to meet the interviewer in person. Shower, shave, do your hair, and put on business attire. If you are in your bathrobe and fuzzy slippers you are not going to feel very professional and it will come across in your interview.
  5. Make yourself comfortable so the call is as conversational as possible. Telephone interviews can be tough because it is hard to regulate your own voice inflection and it is hard to gauge the response/interest of the interviewer since you can’t see him/her. So do whatever helps you to feel more comfortable and to make the call conversational. I like to use my headset and walk around while talking. This helps me be more animated and I think I come across as more conversational. But do what works for you.
  6. Have questions prepared ahead of time. Make sure your last question is “What is the next step in the process?” or “What can I do to advance my candidacy?” In other words, make sure the interviewer knows you want the job.
  7. Send a “Thank You” note after completing the interview. Email is fine. In addition to thanking the interviewer for their time, you can also use it to briefly restate your case and interest for the job.

The old adage is, “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. And while the phone interview may not land you the job, it can certainly get you weeded out. Make sure that your first impression with a perspective new employer is positive, assertive and professional!

Did You Hear That Rumble? The Employer’s Side of the Telecommuting Debate.

Surely you have heard it. It’s the rumble from the aftershock that occurred when Yahoo announced that the company was ending their work from home policy. Then within days, Best Buy announced they too were calling the workforce back to the office. Both companies are struggling with meeting performance goals and need to turn the ship around ASAP. So if you think about it, the decision to have “all hands on deck” is not totally surprising but the conversations it sparked are widespread. Everyone has an opinion and the viewpoints vary significantly based on each person’s job description and their life outside the office.

So what are the major challenges that employers face with telecommuting?

CHALLENGE #1:  LACK OF COLLABORATION  

While telecommuting is increasing, one of the biggest concerns that we hear when we ask our customers about their telecommuting policy is the effect on team collaboration. There is significant concern about the impact to team performance when employees aren’t interacting face to face. What is gained or lost in the casual water cooler conversation and how do we replace that in a remote setting? Collaboration in a telecommuting environment requires a new structure to business and a commitment by all of the team members to be truly successful.

CHALLENGE #2:  LACK OF STANDARD CORPORATE POLICIES

The second big issue for our hiring managers is the lack of standard corporate HR policies to lean on. Where telecommuting is available, it is very much on a case by case basis. This creates headaches for managers who question how to implement a policy fairly to keep the team harmony in check. All jobs are not created equal and therefore not all jobs have the ability to work remotely. Also, once telecommuting is established, how do you reel it in if you have a business need that must be addressed? For these reasons and concerns, customers who offer telecommuting offer it on a limited, as needed basis rather than a formalized policy.

CHALLENGE (or BENEFIT) #3 – OPPORTUNITY & OVERHEAD COSTS

The final consideration for companies is financial. Assuming that you get the collaboration, get the HR piece worked out and your team is meeting their performance objectives, there is a financial impact to telecommuting that may not be realized until companies truly embrace the practice. First, you significantly open up your talent pool to top talent that might not live in your zip code when you embrace telecommuting. That top developer might live in another state due to family reasons but could be a superstar on your team. Second, there is a real estate and infrastructure cost associated with setting up an office. If you embrace a telecommuting strategy, could you save money on rent and infrastructure?

It only takes one episode of Mad Men to really visualize how the corporate office environment has changed. Even if you take the behavior differences out of it, it is astounding to recognize that in just the past 25 years, we have seen the internet, corporate email, and mobile phones transform the way we do business. After a period of transition, many companies now embrace flex-time scheduling which is just a baby step to a more remote workforce. Changing how employees report to work is just another one of these major evolutions in the corporate work place. It will take time to work out the kinks! It also may take a changing of the guard as Gen Y steps up to take their place as leaders of the new corporate world.