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Business Management organizational development

Entrepreneurs – Keep your eyes on the goal!

I’ve got a passion for small businesses and always have. When I look back over my life it’s obvious now that I was always meant to have my own business, and to help other like-minded people be successful. I come by it honestly, too. When I was eight years old, my parents (both pharmacists) took a huge risk and left their safe and secure jobs with big chain pharmacies to open a mom and pop (literally) store. My first job was dusting and facing shelves, and learning that you always put down whatever you’re doing to make sure the customer is treated like an honored guest. I didn’t know it then, but my parents went through the expected lean and scary years only to build a thriving business catering some unique niches, enabling them to sell and enjoy their retirement years exactly as they wanted to. Growing up, our livelihood was continuously being threatened by the ‘big guys’ – those large grocery store chains that tucked pharmacies inside as a loss leader, and we prevailed by offering something they didn’t – professional excellence, caring, and an unparalleled passion for service.

And on the other hand was my grandfather. He came to Canada from Russia as a young boy, and his farmer-parents contributed all their resources to send him to school to become an engineer. He spent his life working for a large company, and retired at age 60 with a full pension. Grandpa always wanted to start his own business, but as sole provider of a family of five, never felt confident enough to make the transition. He spent the last ten years at his job bored, unchallenged, and increasingly miserable. When he did retire, he sank into a depression that never lifted. One of his biggest regrets was settling for the sure thing instead of taking a chance on his dream.

So the entrepreneurial spirit runs deep in me, as does the fear of wasting my potential.

I personally never thought I’d end up in business. I was planning on being a writer – or maybe a psychologist or teacher. I wanted to write and I wanted to help people and I did NOT want to work a 9-5, with a boss, and somewhere someone said I had to be every day. Which naturally led me to managing HR (just kidding…there was nothing natural about it). But those desires did lend themselves very well to coaching, organizational behavior management, and eventually organizational development consulting. Throughout the course of a meandering, 20-year journey, I learned from experts in their field some tools, systems, and practices that help companies become as profitable as possible.

One thing I learned is that although there’s a lot of things large companies do that don’t apply to smaller businesses (nor would they probably want them to, to be honest), there are also things that can transform these smaller businesses in all the right ways! Streamlined hiring processes, managers who are able to bring out the best in people, the sky-high morale that comes from shared purpose, an understanding of metrics and how to use them to increase top and bottom line, HR best practices, and on and on. All these are incredible tools, that when placed in the hands of willing business owners change their business from a source of stress and burden to an exciting, profitable, thriving endeavor.

Of course, the problem is that even though the tools work just as well  (if not better) for smaller and medium sized businesses, they’re not as accessible. Full-scale, turnkey consulting implementations can be prohibitively expensive, and off the shelf solutions are often one-size-fits-all bandaids. Even if they do help, they’re a lot like a diet: Fast results that are never maintained. Because of my background, this has bugged me. Part of my DNA is championing the underdog and it just never seemed fair that the people who would most benefit from these solutions don’t have the access to them that their large competitors do.

Like any entrepreneur, I struggled for a while to figure out how to provide the solutions I wanted to, to the people I wanted to serve, and how to package them so that it was accessible and easy to implement. One thing life has taught me personally is how to get back up again after a right cross to the chin, so I was prepared to tough this one out. I kept looking at it from different angles, trying to figure out how to provide the best value to my clients without selling solutions they didn’t need, or adding in so many layers that either they couldn’t afford it, or I couldn’t afford to provide the service!

One phrase kept asserting itself into my mind, that I couldn’t shake. Some of you may recognize this, but it’s ‘and they shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free’. Another way you might have heard this concept presented is that ‘admitting there’s a problem is the first step’. Finally, it all crystallized for me, and it was so obvious, I couldn’t believe it.

You see, my smaller clients have always approached me asking for help solving the problems they know about! Usually it’s to help recruit for a tough to fill position, or audit their HR practices, or train their managers. Because of my customer service mentality, my response has been of course to solve the problem that my clients are asking me to solve. But what I learned in my epiphany is that what my clients REALLY need is to know how they’re REALLY doing. This is the information that they’re never going to get by diagnosing and treating their own problems!

This opened my eyes to a whole new way that I needed to be offering and delivering my service. As a highly educated and trained Business Coach, Organizational Development Consultant, and HR Practitioner, I am uniquely positioned to provide my clients with an overview of their organizational landscape, strengths, and vulnerabilities. This information is hardly ever made available to organizations of this size, and the benefit is that it puts the business owner in the driver’s seat. By seeing the whole picture, and understanding the steps required to align correctly, the business owner can then choose whether/how to address the issues. This has allowed me to develop solutions, and partnerships to provide solutions, on various levels to ensure they are flexible, scale-able and cost effective. If you want to learn more about how this works, check out my site www.todaysleadershipsolutions.com or email me at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com n

One thing my journey as an entrepreneur has taught me is that it’s not easy, and you rarely end up exactly where you thought you’d be, in the time frame you thought it would take. The ability to keep trying in the face of failure, think of different solutions to recurring problems, and a desire to provide value to a client base who you deeply respect and care about are critical if you want to keep at it and enjoy what you’re doing. Most important for me is to listen to my gut and focus on what I love AND am good at, not just what I’m good at. This can be an act of faith, as a lot of people will tell you that it’s not possible, but I think if you stay true to yourself and your dream, you’ll eventually see the results you want to see!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Some great Valentine’s Day ideas for the workplace this year

As it does every year, February 14th is upon us, inspiring millions of people in relationships to pay way (WAY) too much for flowers and candy, and reminding all the single people out there that a) they are lucky not to have to buy overpriced flowers or b) that they are so very, very alone. But what about work? We’ve all been hearing about how important workplace culture is, so what are some fun, work-appropriate Valentine’s Day celebration ideas? I’ve asked around and have come up with the following list.

NOTHING. There is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, to celebrate Valentine’s Day at the office. Only bad things can happen. Terrible things. It’s not a real holiday anyway.

I mean, think about it. There are a million arguments against workplace Valentine’s Day celebrations, and only two legitimate ones in its favor. Let’s talk about the biggest cons first:

a)    Your office is, presumably, populated with grown-ups. Grown-ups either have significant others to participate in or ignore Valentine’s day with or if they don’t they almost certainly don’t choose their co-workers as a substitute. It’s like taking your cousin to prom.

b)    You likely have at least one unrequited crush in your office and possibly a covert relationship going on. Let’s not make it more painful and awkward than it already is.

c)     Fake and forced ‘gatherings’, especially centered around a fake holiday, will do nothing to build the camaraderie you probably think it will and really just waste people’s time.

d)    Your HR people do their level best all year round to keep things professional so to purposefully bring a holiday that is centered around ROMANCE into the OFFICE makes no sense.

e)     It’s not a real holiday!!!

So, that being said, there are two legitimate reasons to want to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the office. This by no means makes it a good idea, but they are compelling.

The first is wanting to have a fun, relaxed culture where co-workers can spend some time getting to know each other to strengthen the team. In all seriousness, this is the driving force behind most of the work/social occasions. This is an excellent goal, and a collaborative and creative cultue centered around a strong team should be one of the main focuses of a leader. But Valentine’s Day celebrations, ice cream socials, or other ‘fun’ or fluffy events will not achieve this for you if you don’t have a strong and efficient team already. Think of all the events like the frosting, and a profitable company with effective systems is the cake. In order for people to even want to spend time together on the social activities, you need trust, respect, and the ability to execute well. Without the trust and respect that comes from knowing how everyone’s job fits together into the greater whole, your Valentine’s Day celebration will be met with rolled eyes at best.

The second legitimate reason? Free cupcakes, of course! Nothing bad will ever come from having free cupcakes, so feel free to distribute at will (although you should make sure to have sugar-free, gluten-free, nut-free alternatives available of course).

So happy…day…let’s just leave it that!

If you enjoyed this, please share the LOVE… (see what we did there?) and also come hang out with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm providing comprehensive organizational development solutions for companies who are growing and who truly value their people.  With certified Executive Coaches, Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) practitioners, SPHR-certified HR professionals, and Organizational Development Specialists, Carrie’s team brings a unique perspective and a cross-functional approach to providing workplace solutions that work.  Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Do you still love the business you started?

If you’re like many business owners I’ve encountered, you started your company because you are passionate about the service or product you provide and confident that you can do it better than anyone. It may be true for you that you know that your employees have a choice when it comes to where they work, and you appreciate that they’ve chosen you. You’ve most likely always succeeded as a result of your hard work and perseverance, and therefore you enjoy having employees and managers who have the same qualities. If you promote from within, it may be because of this, and you likely feel a lot of loyalty to the people who are passionate about your business. Many business owner start their company to give people a great place to work that will support them and their families, and they want to provide an above average lifestyle for themselves and their families as well.

As you’ve started to grow, if you’re like most business owners, you’ve noticed that things are falling through the cracks that never used to. Even though your managers were superstar employees, they might not always be able to get the performance out of their employees that you could in their role. Although you probably don’t feel like you’re asking for too much, maybe it seems like a struggle to get performance evaluations, productivity updates or labor hours managed to expectation.

Most business owners hate feeling like they’re coming down on people all the time, but they also hate never quite knowing how the company’s performing and if they’re going to meet budget. There’s usually so much more they want to do, but don’t feel like the team’s ready. You may have noticed an increase in turnover, with employees starting to complain that they’re not getting treated fairly, or trained enough. It costs far too much to replace employees to keep losing good people and you almost certainly didn’t get into business to train the competition. Sometimes you even ask yourself if it’s worth it. Any of this sound familiar?

Now imagine a different scene:

Your managers treat your company like it was their own, and are diligent about managing your resources so that waste is minimized and you are highly profitable and able to re-invest into your employees. You have systems that identify and reward the hardest working employees, who as a result love working at your company, and recommend it to others. You’re able to give back in multiple ways because there’s so little waste and dead weight. Everyone’s on the same page about the company goals and how to get there, and employees and managers love finding creative ways to make the company better. You truly feel like you’re a team, and the people in your company are all working together to succeed. You actually love coming to work and so do all your employees and managers.

This isn’t a dream. This is the company you deserve, and we can help you get there. Let’s talk.

www.todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Does your company have the 10 factors required for achieving record-breaking revenue and profitability?

I think I speak for most people when I say a grateful goodbye to 2016 – the year that defied expectations and consisted of things that even I, in all my fiction-writing glory, couldn’t have made up! I always look at any new year with a sense of hopeful expectancy but perhaps even more so to 2017. By all indications, this will be a year of growth and opportunity for small and medium sized businesses in the $2 million to $65 million range. This is very exciting…and yet growth brings its own unique set of happy challenges. Organizations can position themselves to achieve record-breaking revenue and profitability, while remaining in alignment with their vision and cultural goals, by reviewing the following 10-Factor checklist.

Weighted Success Factors

The ten areas of competency are:

1)      Identifying clear goals for the organization, for each department and for every individual.

2)     Developing accurate tracking and effective feedback mechanisms related to goal achievement.

3)     Creating appropriate testing and training materials for key staff and management functions.

4)     Ensuring alignment between sales teams, support staff and operations teams, and ensuring appropriate staffing levels for all.

5)     Articulating the role each position plays in achieving organizational goals and regularly communicating this to staff.

6)     Identifying the vision for the organizational culture and conducting assessments to determine the reality of the perceived culture.

7)     Reducing voluntary turnover by ensuring each employee has a career path, development plan, and a platform to contribute innovative ideas.

8)     Equipping leaders with training on the skills required of them and providing coaching to ensure appropriate work/life balance, conflict resolution, communication abilities.

9)     Ensuring an adequate Human Resources infrastructure is in place that is compliance with State and Federal requirements and efficient onboarding, offboarding and workforce management policies.

10) Providing accurate and legally compliant job descriptions and ensuring a consistent compensation structure that is aligned with the compensation strategy.    

When these are executed well, the benefits to companies include (but are not limited to):

·       The ability to hit revenue goals with greater profitability and less waste

·       A competitive advantage by attracting and retaining top performers and providing an environment where the emerging workforce can thrive.

·       A greater ability to achieve strategic goals with less time spent on conflict resolution.

·       Less vulnerability to fines and penalties for personnel compliance.

Each of the ten success factors is an article in and of itself, and not all carry the same weight. I have weighed them in the accompanying chart based on my research as well as my experience implementing these factors in various organizations, and am confident the weighting could vary depending on organizational need (however, I will always defend weighing goals, tracking, and feedback the highest based on the fact that these are foundational and provide a central point around which most other interventions rotate.) Depending on where you are starting, this may seem like simply stating the obvious, an overwhelming mission, or, more likely, somewhere in the middle. but the good news is it’s not new news. All of these are absolutely achievable. For anyone who is interested, please feel free to reach out to me directly and I will be happy to send you a more detailed score card to determine how you are positioned on each factor. Congratulations on surviving 2016 and here’s to a wonderful and successful 2017!

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Today’s Leadership Solutions, a Seattle-based consulting firm focused on helping organizations, leaders and job seekers to identify workplace solutions that work.  As a certified executive coach, organizational development expert and resume writer, Carrie consults with small to medium sized businesses on OD, human resources and recruiting solutions in addition to providing career coaching to managers and executives in transition. Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@todaysleadershipsolutions.com

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Minor and major HR lessons you don’t need to learn the hard way

As a veteran HR practitioner and consultant, I totally understand when people’s eyes glaze over at the very mention of the words “HR”. Mine do too, to be perfectly honest. I started my career doing Organizational Behavior Management, driving efficiencies and profitability and redesigning workflow processes and later added business and executive coaching to my toolbox and I bring great value when I get to work in that space (if I do say so myself). When it was first suggested to me that I manage an HR department as an extension of my responsibilities, my first response was not ‘no’ but ‘he&& NO’! Like most people, my mind was filled with visions of paperwork, and hard-to-understand laws, and inspections and audits and fines (oh my!). Why on earth would anyone want to touch that?

Well, fast forward many (many) years later and although compliance and labor laws and audits STILL don’t rank up there with whiskers on kittens on my list of favorite things, the fact is that unless all those compliance issues are buttoned down and functioning smoothly, they become at best distractions and at worst major time and money drains that can cripple a business – especially a small business. Based on my experience, and that of the clients I serve, here are some things you can do RIGHT NOW that will save you oh, so much pain and heartache in the event that you are audited and will just in general give you more time with less repetitive scrambling. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list in any way – just the major and minor stumbling blocks I see over and over again, and so what I recommend to each and every person with a business to get ahead of.

 

I9 Forms: This is one of the most common audits you can expect to face as an employer. The I-9 form is the form that establishes and employee’s legal right to work in the United States, and you have 72 hours from the time the employee starts working for you to complete this form. There are comprehensive resources available on all the rules of the I9 forms and record-keeping as well as the EVerify program, so I won’t review all of that here other than to strongly (strongly) encourage business owners to find out the status of their I9s and do what they need to do to make sure they are inspection-ready at all times.

Wage and Hour Classifications: Most people know that the salary threshold of overtime exemption has risen from 23K a year to 47K with further anticipated increases (and again, there are resources out there that explain all this very well) but have you audited your employee roster lately to make sure that you are paying people correctly? Misclassifying employees as independent contractors and non-exempt as exempt are also extremely common pitfalls for businesses and the sources of heavy duty fines, penalties and headaches if you are out of compliance.

Employee lists with pay: This is just one of those things that I have seen be a minor to major headache for companies and a fairly significant distraction and time-waster. Not everyone is going to want to or need to invest in a HRIS (Human Resources Information System) but I can guarantee you that you are going to want a list of all your employees, their title, hire date, current pay, last raise (amount and date), and term date. You’re going to need this for benefits census, for audits, and to reconcile your wage review process to name just a few things. And if you do use organizational charts, this information will always be required. If you can’t get a simple, excel-exportable report from your payroll then I would suggest maintaining an excel version to save yourself last-minute scrambles over and over and over again.

Onboarding Process: It’s a good idea to document all the steps that go into hiring a person; from placing an ad, to filling out the I9 (of course) to getting the first paycheck processed. Not only will it keep you out of trouble, it will also create a great first impression for your growing staff.

Termination Process: On the flip side, you should also know how to exit someone from your team effectively and legally. Are you sure you’re not committing constructive discharge (no, it’s not a medical condition) without knowing it? Are you positioning yourself as well as possible to reduce unemployment claims? Are you confident you can defend a wrongful termination claim? Having a consistent process and managers who are educated in the process will help you answer yes with confidence.

A solid understanding of your resources: Believe it or not, a large portion of what I do is help my clients figure out how not to pay me! You probably have more access than you know to handbooks, policies, and support from various vendors. If you outsource your payroll, L&I/Workman’s Comp and/or benefits administration you should always make sure you know what services and information you have access to. This is not to say you don’t need an HR consultant – after all, we can help you know how to utilize your resources, but don’t spend money on something you already have.

A list of trusted advisors before you need them: As I mentioned in a previous article, it’s important to be smart in what you do in-house and what you outsource and I highly recommend building your storm shelter before the storm hits. You don’t really want to start looking for an attorney the day you get that horrible letter in the mail informing you a claim has been filed against you or your business. Instead, gather your team of advisers so they’re ready to support you before you need it.

If you are a business owner or leader, you already know to expect curve balls from sunup to sundown, so why not do what you can to simplify life and reduce your anxiety where you can?

Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Limitless HR Solutions, a Seattle-based management consulting firm devoted to helping business owners fall back in love with their businesses. A certified executive coach, seasoned Organizational Behavior Management Practitioner and Senior HR professional, Carrie can be reached for consultation at carrie@limitlesshrsolutions.com

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How can you make everyone happy with your workplace culture? (Hint: you can’t)

Working with leaders to create high performing cultures of engagement while maintaining true to the owner’s vision for her company AND staying on the right side of ever-restrictive employment law is not without the occasional, small challenge.  If I wrote a book about my real life stories and experiences, no one would believe me. In one day alone, for example, I was coaching an HR Director about some challenges she’s having with her employer – a company owner who insists upon interjecting in every employee relations issues and in using workplace gossip as his primary source of information – and wanting to act on it (for example…John J, who I really like, told me that Edgar E is a bad employee. So let’s fire Edgar E!) That same day, I stepped into a mini-minefield after participating in an online discussion forum about bible study at work. It brought home for me just how very complex the ‘culture’ question is when it comes to employment. Besides just HR legalities, discrimination and all that there are also a host of factors inherent in a positive or less positive company culture that make it a very difficult field to navigate.

A lot of times, company owners feel frustrated and resentful that they can’t just run their company the way they want and the way that makes sense for them. Some comments I’ve heard along these lines are:

·       I’m a private company, why can’t I have bible study if I want to?

·       I need someone to work a very physical job. If they come in limping, or appear to be too old to do the job, why can’t I ask them about it?

·       I would much rather hire friends and family than strangers. I know I can trust them.

·       I don’t want to create job descriptions, because things change too fast and I don’t want people telling me that’s not their job description.

·       Why don’t my managers care about all the wasted time and money these mistakes are costing me?

·       I think a dog friendly environment is awesome and I want everyone to bring their pet to work.

These may seem like different concerns but at the heart of it is the same issue. The business owner has a vision and a dream for their company. Not everyone’s vision and dream is the same, but everyone who starts a business has a picture in their head of what it’s going to be like. I have never met a company owner or leader who consciously had malicious intent (well, maybe one but that’s another story). Everything they do is either for a good reason, or is the result of an oversight. Unfortunately, a lot of times what starts out as a great idea can go awry. Some organizations that had the very best of intentions have elicited employee comments like these:

·       After I told the COO that my religion was (insert different religion than COO’s) I noticed I stopped getting invited to events with all the other managers, and soon after that I was laid off.

·       I don’t go to the company bible study, and one time someone left a note on my desk telling me I should start attending. I feel like I’m getting singled out.

·       My supervisor is my boss’s cousin. He’s very rude to me, but there’s no point complaining because he’s already told everyone he’s got a ‘job for life’.

·       I have no idea what my job here is. My duties have nothing to do with my title, and I haven’t had a review in 2 years. I just do what I’m told every day and figure that no news is good news.

·       I’m allergic to dogs and I think it’s disgusting to go into the break room and find animal hair on the floor.

Hearing the disparate comments from managers and employees is far more the norm than the exception!  In response to what is sometimes horrific discrimination and unfair treatment, legislators have enacted workplace laws that sometimes feel chafing or even devoid of common sense at times. It sometimes seems impossible that workplaces can have personalities anymore. So what can be done?

Obviously, the fix is more complicated than a paragraph in an article. If you own a company, a great starting point is to make sure you are completed connected with your vision. Sometimes we can get hung up on the how’s and forget the why’s. Do you really want a dog-friendly environment to be the hill to die on, for example? Or is allowing pets at work HOW you get to something bigger? By thinking of the WHY, you are more likely to come up with a solution for the talented, creative, non-dog-lovers on your team. Remember that no matter how passionate they are about something, a good leader will take care not to create an environment that excludes people for anything other than lack of performance (because the management consultant in me is happy to inform you that as of today, you can still fire people for doing a terrible job). And not to enflame an already touchy situation, but if the result of your bible study is that people feel judged and hurt you just may be missing the why. Just maybe.

Company owners may argue that in this day and age, everyone is always getting their feelings hurt, and it’s impossible to please everyone. I suppose, but I have found that most people, on an individual basis, are pretty reasonable and just want to feel included, accepted and that they are able to contribute to the best of their ability and be recognized for that. Surely there is room in your vision for that! And, as an extra bonus, you will reap unbelievable benefits in performance and loyalty once you’ve made that intentional.

 

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Challenging the ‘net-casting’ theory of recruiting!

By this stage of my career, I have been on every side of the recruiting perspective (other than that of being a national head hunting firm, which I am not). I’ve been an HR Director in charge of recruiting, I’ve been a resume writer, I’ve been an actual recruiter, I’ve been a hiring manager and I’ve been a job searcher and I think I represent the majority of folks when I say that this process is NOT fun, enjoyable, cost effective or particularly efficient.  For the purposes of this article, I’ll be speaking primarily to hiring managers and I think most will agree that reviewing resumes and interviewing candidate after candidate rates right up there with budget cuts, inventory weekend or possibly documenting performance problems.

Usually, when company owners or managers need to hire someone, they pull out the job description and figure out if it’s reasonably accurate.  A good job description will contain the duties and responsibilities as well as the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to do the job. This is posted pretty much ‘as is’ on a job board, and then the hiring manager sits back and waits while sometimes HUNDREDS of people respond to the ad with equally bland resumes. They sift through who looks promising (and after about 20 resumes, it can be very difficult to stay focused and/or tell one from another), make some calls and begin the ‘weeding out’ process.

Now, my professional opinion is that going through this sucks. However, this does NOT mean that finding amazing people for your amazing business sucks. It’s just that it’s a sucky, broken system that we only keep using because we’ve always used it. We are ‘casting our nets’ wide. Now, I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have time to weed through thousands of sardines looking for the perfect kipper.

Consider instead approaching this process with professional confidence and pride in your company. No, you may not be BIGNAME CORPORATE GIANT, but not everyone wants to work for them. As I mentioned in another article, maybe you’re not paying off the charts in compensation but the reality is you DON’T want to attract 100 candidates for your job. You want to attract one (maybe two if you’re booming). Maybe, just maybe, you should change your hunting analogy to more of a snare trap than a net (and maybe not use a hunting or otherwise violent analogy for bringing aboard new employees, now that I think about it).

With just a little bit of effort on the front end, you can drastically reduce your recruiting time and probably actually enjoy the process. Instead of a typical, bland, corporate-y job description, approach this as a marketing campaign, only it’s a two way marketing campaign. Most job descriptions focus on the features you are looking for from the candidates and the features you are offering. “You will process payroll, unemployment claims, benefits….blah, blah, yawn, yawn…” “We are a great company….our people are our greatest resource…we have snacks…blah, blah, yawn, yawn…”

Any great marketing coach will tell you it’s the benefits that sell, not the features. Every company (with one big fat glaring exception that I can think of) says their people are their greatest resource. Every. One. Every Payroll Processing job is more or less similar. So what is the unique contribution you really want from your next hire? Will they love creating order and structure where there is none and not go completely bonkers when you re-invent their world every six months? Then SAY THAT!!  There is someone out there who is awesome at that and knows it, and you kind of want to warn off the ones who will run screaming into the night the third time you do that to them!

There are benefits to EVERY feature – especially your company and your target employee. Even features that aren’t conventionally sought-after are benefits to someone. The old ‘lid for every pot’ phenomenon. Employment is much more like a marriage than like a fishing expedition in that we are seeking quality and a symbiotic blending of uniqueness rather than 100 cut cookies falling into 100 perfect cookie shapes.

So…if you’re feeling frustrated with your current process consider the following.

  • Write a compelling, refreshing description of the benefits of the role and of the perfect person.
  • Describe the role and person so specifically that 98% of the wrong people will realize it’s not them, and the right person will recognize themselves immediately.
  • Don’t be afraid to use humor if that reflects your culture.
  • Don’t ask for more than you need in terms of experience or education. Talk instead about where the role is now, and where you want the person to take it, if different.
  • Don’t play the pay guessing game. You have a budget for the role. Unless it puts you at competitive risk, just tell the candidates what your range is. People will assume it’s somewhat negotiable (and it probably is) but if you’re in two different stratospheres it’s probably good to know right off the bat.
  • Let the candidate know the 30, 60 and 90 day deliverables in the role. If you don’t know this, figure it out. How else were you going to know if they were doing a good job? I am recruiting for a very savvy CFO who did most of the above for his positions and the comments from virtually every (very well-suited) candidate was that it was rare and attractive knowing the expectations and working for a company that a) had the expectations and b) communicated them.
  • Ask the candidate for a cover letter addressing how they fit in to all of the above. I personally wouldn’t consider a candidate who ignored this request, but you may feel differently.

Some food for thought that will hopefully make finding your next employee of the year a little easier. Happy hunting…or prospecting, if you will!