Your Entry Strategy

Posted on: December 17th, 2014 by

Whenever your changing jobs, you’ll need to put together an entry strategy. The job change could be with your current company, another company in the same industry, or a different position in another industry.

Whatever the case, one of the smartest things you can do when entering a new job is to audit or assess the base-line measurements of the current position. Why? Unless you know what the results are now, you can’t compare it to the results of your future performance. You can also use the information for your performance reviews: Defining the value-added from your direct contribution.

Did you increase revenue or profit by 1% or 18.7%. Did you reverse turnover from 32% to 8%? Did you reduce cost by 10% or did you add to cost? If you don’t understand your contributions to the organization others won’t be able to either. If you have no measurable results, future bosses will say, “The resume looks OK, but we don’t know how effective this candidate will be on the job”. If you don’t know your value, you can’t communicate it to your current or potential new bosses.

How do you design an entry strategy? You want to accomplish 4 outcomes at the same time:
• Identify the Issues: issues you will need to solve short and long term
Do a “Needs Analysis”. Interview your internal and external customers to find out their views of issues needing attention. Compare their issues with those of your staff and boss. Are they comparable or different?
• Develop a 90-day strategy for immediate results
Prioritize the issues between short term, intermediate and longer term. Lay out a working plan to attack each issue: Objective, strategy, timing, and staffing. Develop the plan using two-week blocks of time. Share your plan with your supervisor to make sure it’s compatible with their views and plans. Attack the low hanging fruit first.
• Integrate into the culture: Connect with peers and client organizations in a positive way
Use the time during the Needs Analysis to develop a working relationship with clients, staff and peers. This may be the only opportunity to influence their view of you and your value to them. Make the time count. Show you’re interested to learn what they do, how they do it and develop an understanding of what you require from each other. Define your mutual expectations so you can eliminate misunderstandings, gaps in communications and their affects on performance.
• Bond with your supervisor
This is an excellent time to probe the expectations, plans and strategies of your boss. By laying out the results of your needs analysis, you are providing new information for your boss. By integrating your plans and strategies with your boss’s, you’ll get insights into the issues of the organization and reduce the number of errors along the way.

An effective entry strategy provides you with an accelerated springboard to demonstrate your value, but also provides for results quickly while developing a strong working relationship with clients, peers, staff and boss. It’s a winner.

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Onboarding Excellence!

Posted on: December 10th, 2014 by
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Would you have guessed that:
• The first 30 to 90 days of a new hire may determine their initial success on the job?
• Up to 50% of new hires rate the onboarding process as “poor?”
What are the key elements of an excellent onboarding process? To learn and understand…
• The corporate values- how they operate and are managed; expectations and your role
• The key elements of your job- success criteria and tips to achieve high performance
• The socialization process- the people with whom you work, support and add value
• Integration into the culture of the organization- What’s important

One of the best onboarding processes I’ve experienced is designed by Pillar Technology in Columbus, Ohio ( ). Their model is tailor-designed for each individual.
Pillar Technology approaches it’s 90-day orientation process three ways:
Assimilating (What); Demonstrating (How); and Leading (Why)

ASSIMILATING – STARTING STRONG: New employees are connected to an on-line learning system, called “Step It Up”, even before their start date. The standard formal one-day orientation class is replaced with a “just-in-time” self-driven program that can be accessed later if memory needs a boost. This process enables new employees to contribute results very quickly.

DEMONSTRATING – 30-60-90 DAYS TO SUCCESS: After passing all assimilating steps and tests, employee’s demonstrate what they have learned.
• They record ‘one-minute’ video answers to questions on topics relevant to their new role.
• Each new employee completes 30, 60 and 90-day checklists. Each checklist demonstrates a knowledge that is necessary to understand Pillar’s infrastructure.
• Peers and direct managers observe new employees and discuss with them the “fine-tuning” of their work, team contribution, progress and any other helpful support needed.

LEADING – CREATING THE FUTURE: Employees lead others through the process.
• Mentor new employees through the knowledge and integration transformation.
• Contribute their own thoughts to the on-line learning site for their work area.

• “Notable increase in employee retention and success with zero defects in our client delivery”
• “100% assurance that our employees can successfully represent Pillar to our clients”
• “Over 38% revenue growth annually”

Orientation of new employees is critical to the success of both the organization and the individual. Follow Pillar’s lead and do the following:
• Create a learning environment on-line, even before starting the new job.
• Design a self-learning process that is employee-driven with organizational support provided.
• Relate all learning not only to the work team, but also to the customer/client relationship.

Even if your organization doesn’t have an effective onboarding process, you can develop your own entry strategy. See next week’s article about an effective Entry Strategy.

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Good Ol’ Harry

Posted on: November 26th, 2014 by

In most organizations there are at least two performance models. One model is the best performer that management hopes everyone looks up to for outstanding performance. Some employees do use this model for themselves. Some don’t. Management is kidding themselves if they think it’s the only model. The second model is, of course, the worst performer. Let’s call him Good Ol’ Harry.

Who is Harry? Harry is a made up name, but he’s in every organization I’ve ever seen, read about or experienced. He’s probably in your organization. Harry is the worst performing employee in your department or organization, whether you are in the for-profit, non-profit or governmental sector. Harry represents the marginal employee who never seems to be terminated, even though everyone knows he can’t do the job. He always seems to make it to the next year of his tenure. He is the person that continually drags the department or company down. He misses goal, affects overall performance and ultimately impacts your career and compensation.

Why is that important to you? Simple. Let’s look at a fictitious organization where one-third of the workforce are high performers, one-third are average performers and one-third are the lowest level performers. When there is a visible employee like Harry, employees can say to themselves and co-workers, “As long as I’m a better performer than Harry, I’m safe. I don’t have to work any harder as long as Harry’s around”. Translated into action, that means that one-third of your employees use Harry as their model. Just think of the untapped potential that is being wasted.

Jack Welch was the Chairman and CEO of GE and a revered manager. He had a 20-70-10 rule that said 20% of your people are top performers, 70% are average and 10% are your bottom performers. Each year find a way to get rid of the bottom 10%. Jack says, “You want to tell them ‘This is not the place for you. Take some time, take several months, we’re not firing you today.” His philosophy and results were driven by a simple concept: THE TEAM WITH THE BEST PLAYERS WIN.

The question to be asked is… Do you sacrifice the future of your organization for the bottom 10% performers? If the answer to the question is “yes”, I’d seek another company, one that wants to be the best. If the answer is “no”, then what’s the plan for the Good Ol’ Harry’s that are all over the company?

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So… Tell Me About Yourself

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by

One of the most dreaded questions for a candidate: So, tell me about yourself! How do you best answer that question when asked at the beginning of an interview?

There’s never a perfect answer, but there are some helpful guidelines: Always try to be positive and crisp with your answers. Focus on your work experiences, with special emphasis on your measureable results with past jobs. Focus on recent accomplishments, especially those that parallel the position description for which you’re interviewing.

Usually an interviewer will not ask personal questions, but if they do, you have a choice to make: Answer the question as it relates to the open position or ask the interviewer how the question relates to the position, as personal questions are, in fact, personal.

If you assume the question is going to be asked, you can practice your answer beforehand until you have a mental script of the best response. Don’t lose yourself in the answer by focusing on your life’s story or babble on about items of little consequence, like when you were a lifeguard at a country club. Here are some ways to give the best response to the question:

FIGURE OUT HOW YOU ARE UNIQUELY QUALIFIED – Usually the first 3 to 5 items on the position description are the most important and the hiring organization identifies as critical. Focus on your results in those areas. If you can show you can solve their issues, you’ll be higher on their list. If you don’t know your unique capabilities it will show.

DEMONSTRATE YOUR ABILITY TO DO THE JOB – Demonstrate your result in the key areas, but also show confidence in your knowledge, skills and abilities. Discuss potential solutions to short-term issues, but also highlight your longer-term potential strategies. Don’t be boastful, but identify the actions you took to get the high performance results. It will speak for itself.

GIVE EXAMPLES OF ACHIEVEMENTS FROM THE PAST, PARALLELING THE JOB – Nothing can “sell” your candidacy better than giving them examples of your results in similar situations that parallel the job for which they are interviewing. If you’ve successfully done it before, the chances are you can do it again at the highest performance level.

STAY FOCUSED AND CRISP LIKE A LASER BEAM – It’s easy to get sidetracked when story-telling. Don’t forget that the interviewer is not only listening to what you say, but how you say it. A rambling story demonstrates an inability to organize your thoughts into a coherent sequence. Think in bullet point terms while communicating in a logical step-by-step way.

Open-ended questions are a trap for the unprepared. Yes or no questions are easier, but you can’t market yourself with one-word answers.

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Compelling Reasons to Hire You!

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by
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A record 92,269,000 Americans 16 and older did not participate in the labor force in August, 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What does that number mean for you? It means there are a heck of a lot of people looking for work, some of them looking for the same career-advancing job that you are.

So how do you distinguish yourself? There are 5 basic points that make you one of the top candidates for the job you want next. Each of these points need to be compelling, so if you can’t quantify them, neither can a hiring organization and you’ll come in second best.

What are hiring organizations looking for in a compelling candidate? Here are the 5 reasons that hiring organizations chose one candidate over all others:

1. PAST TRACK: Your function, organizational level, responsibilities, skills, industry, and experiences must all come close to paralleling what the hiring manager is looking for. Those who come the closest will have the best chance of being considered. Conversely, the further from the “perfect model”, the lesser the chance of consideration.

2. RESULTS: You can have all of the elements of past performance, but if you can’t demonstrate that you achieve results, you won’t get very far. The best results are quantifiable with numbers, i.e., 10% increase in productivity in 12 months. The least impactful are descriptive words that are generic, i.e., reduced cost of goods over time.

3. DIFFERENTIATION: Your competition for the same job will all have a similar background. Usually 5 to 10 finalists will be screened. The top 2 or 3 will have something special that the others don’t have and will be interviewed. The critical expertise that the hiring manager needs will most likely win out, if the fit and longer term potential is apparent.

4. VALUE: The questions from the hiring manager looking for value will be: Who can solve the immediate issues that are causing me pain? Who is going to create the greatest value for me short and long term? Who can potentially take my place as I move up the ladder? Who can provide the leadership I need to strategically move the organization forward?

5. FIT: Only someone who can more smoothly fit into the organization and contribute to its success will be the finalist candidate. A problem child will not make it. There is a big difference between a “team player” and an “individual contributor”. Which one are you and what does the hiring organization need?

As a potential candidate, you’ll need to pass through at least 3 hurdles in a compelling way: Your resume, the initial phone screening interview, the face-to-face interviews with the key decision makers. Do you present yourself in a persuasive way? You need to be able to articulate your strengths and value to the organization that positions you as the top candidate.

If you’re not compelling in presenting yourself to a hiring organization, someone else will.

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