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Archive for July, 2006

Gen Y Changes in the Workplace

I’m late in catching up to some articles, but I did read CareerJournal’s excellent Three Tips from Gen-Y About the New Workplace. There are some intriguing points here so let’s start with this gem:

Gen-Yers crave feedback from bosses, clients and co-workers about what they should be doing, how they should do it, and, afterward, how they can do it better next time, she says.

This approach is effective for more than just employee discussions, but also for customer interactions. We discussed some of these topics in one of our articles from earlier this year – Hiring Adjustments for Generations X and Y.

Lastly, an epiphany for a Baby Boomer after observing her daughter’s job hunt:

In 2005, feeling that she’d gone as far as she could in her job as the public-relations director for a technology company, Ms. Piercey began thinking about taking her skills in a new direction. She reconsidered her long-held belief that every new job had to be “a bigger title and more money,” she says.
“My last job was 24/7. I was interested in getting back some work-life balance,” Ms. Piercey says. Her new position, she explains, is “a lot more satisfying. You work hard, but you have a life, too.”

2 things to note: work-life balance and skill development. Those 2 items are hallmarks of Gen Y. Balance is important in their lives. They work hard, but they also value their time away from work. This approach is 180 degrees different than the Boomers. Skill development is an engaging topic for young workers. They are focused on their own personal development in a position and the skills they will develop. Hence, their desire to receive much feedback from their manager.

Cyber Sleuthing Candidates

Here is a good tip from Tory Johnson via the website. Is MySpace a Professional Liability? provides insight into her technique for researching a candidate. It is surprising how many employers do not take a minimal amount of time to search the web for a candidate’s information.

I must confess, I am a neophyte when it comes to the social networking boards. I have cruised around a couple of times looking at the business-related information. There wasn’t much that I found. However, the individual information is quite extensive. Yes, I have heard the punchlines on Leno about MySpace, but this article does lay out an excellent use of the site for background checking candidates.

Second excellent idea in this article can be found right here:

Like most employers, I want to hire people who aren’t easily flummoxed and can easily go with the flow, which certainly includes handling curveballs. Speaking of unanticipated interview questions, I asked a college senior how she enjoyed her Spring Break in the Caribbean. She panicked. “Oh. Wait. Um, uh&did I tell you I was going to the Islands or&wait&did you find my pictures on MySpace?” I said nothing, waiting for her to figure out the answer herself. While that may sound cruel on my part, I wanted her to regain her composure and think through the situation. Turns out, she was defensive for a reason.

Her silence was an effective interview move that is difficult to execute. It is our natural human tendency to want to help people who are struggling. Yet, when you ask a tough interview question that makes the candidate struggle, it is best to bite your tongue and observe how they handle the question. If you help them by restating your question, you forfeit the opportunity to see them under pressure.

We have written about our use of pressure on a phone screen in a previous newsletter. Sales, especially, is a pressure-filled occupation. We use pressure throughout the process to see the candidate in action. The points in the article are just as applicable to a face-to-face interview as they are to a phone screen.

Email Subject Lines That Hurt

I thought I would start your Monday with some levity. This is from the general resume pile and is serious, from what I can tell:

I am the GREATEST Tele Sales GURU on the planet.

Again, some times you do not need an assessment.

Most Prestigious Careers

How did salesperson not make this list?

Ok, maybe we are not completely objective about this topic.

Retaining Employees

Here is a follow up to the previous post. ‘Career Path’ Programs Help Retain Employees discusses efforts by companies to retain workers. Some strong points:

Most career-path programs outline promotion possibilities and offer training in required skills. Some employers also offer career-planning sessions. Leigh Branham, a human-resource consultant and author of “The Seven Hidden Reasons Employees Leave,” says training is particularly appealing to younger workers, who are more likely to jump ship.

A real-world application:

Each new hire requires 158 hours of training, at a cost of roughly $7,000, according to Purdue. So keeping workers even a little longer can mean big savings. At Huntington Bancshares, 75% of the call-center agents who leave their post stay with the company, up from 40% before the program started two years ago.

Often companies will go to great extremes to find the right employee for their company. Many are lost soon afterwards simply because there is no path to growth in their role of their skills. Don’t ignore this important aspect of employee management.

Employees Are Looking

The modern employee can easily track sales opportunities. Job board search agents, Google agents and RSS feeds do most of the work. With that in mind, read this article – Are You Underpaid?

Some highlights:

Keep One Foot in the Job Market
“The best way to know your value is to be on the market” — even if you aren’t looking for another job, says Lee E. Miller.

The best practice for this topic is to assume your employees are aware of other opportunities and may even be considering them as you read this post.

Good advice from the author:

Is Pay Really the Issue?
Finally, step back and examine why you feel you’re underpaid. Sometimes the issue goes beyond money. “One of the reasons some people feel like they’re underpaid is if there’s too much personal cost to what you’re doing,” says Karen Wright, president of Parachute Executive Coaching. “If you’re doing the completely wrong thing, no matter how much you’re being paid, it’s never truly going to be enough.”

This issue is what we call rewards. Employee retention is best supported by knowing their communication style and rewards. Managing without this information is difficult to the point where some managers simply ignore it. That approach leads to turnover.

Anecdote – Sales Training

Earlier this year I was conducting phone screens for a client whose service was always changing and evolving. Essentially, we knew a major key leading to success in the role was to find candidates with a Theoretical motivation. One of my screening questions was “What have you done in the last 3 years to further develop your sales skills?”

A response from one of the applicants:

“I have taken a bunch of Microsoft classes, from PowerPoint to Excel to Word to Access. If you name it, I’ve taken it.”

Sounds right. Shows a desire to learn. But notice my question – develop your sales skills. Did these courses afford them the opportunity to be in front of prospects and customers because of their proficiency on the computer? Or did they close more business because their presentations were now more animated? I doubt it. This applicant may have been a tremendous support person, but deeper into the phone screen it became quite apparent they lacked the needed business development skills.

Top 10 Sales Killers

CareerBuilder put out a well-written newsletter this week that I am still trying to find time to read. This article by Tom Hopkins provides 10 fundamental sales points that apply to all selling situations.

My favorite:

Sales Killer #5: Lack of a qualification system.
A certain percentage of the people you talk with won’t be good candidates for your product or service. If they don’t have the need or the money for your product or service, there’s no sale. Your challenge is to figure this out as early in your communication with them as possible. Come up with at least three or four questions, the answers to which will tell you if they’re qualified to own your offering.

Selling should really be called qualifying since that is the essence of success. If we could pick only 1 skill for a salesperson, it would be the ability to accurately and efficiently qualifying prospects.

On a side note, if you read the 10 points, you will notice that Hopkins is not describing a brash, outgoing salesperson. Our society’s stereotypical image for an effective salesperson is someone who can talk your ear off. Most of us have encountered these talkative types who people say would be great in sales. Not because they are good listeners. Not because they are subtle, but strong, in their influence. No, it is simply their gift to gab.

Think about that stereotype next time you are hiring. There is not one highly effective selling style that fits all sales positions. My recommendation is not to disqualify a sales candidate simply because they do not fit this talkative stereotype. Some of the most effective salespeople we assess are introverted listeners.

Benchmarking Workshop

We completed our first Benchmarking Key Performance Indicators Workshop yesterday and are working through the results and reports. We used this workshop as a market research project to test drive this new process and assessment.

There will be a need for us to run a second workshop some time in September to test our adjustments. Same workshop, slightly improved (hopefully). We won’t finalize the date until mid-August, but please click here for more preliminary information.

What Workers Want?

An envelope caught my eye this past week as I was rifling through my junk mail. Printed on the envelope was “Employee Recruitment & Retention.” Since that is my field, I decided to open it up. Inside, I found a complimentary copy of a monthly newsletter from Lawrence Ragan Communications dedicated to employee recruitment & retention.

I’ve never heard of this company, but I discovered a couple of interesting short articles on employee retention in their Quotes & Statistics section. First, What do workers want? You may be surprised. In it were the results of a survey of more than 1,000 US workers by the Sarratoga Institute (my emphasis).

When asked what factors would make them likely to remain with their current employers, here are their top 3 reasons:
1. Training and mentoring
2. Earnings potential
3. Positive work relations

The second article was titled Keep Workers in the Loop or They’ll Say Goodbye. In a survey conducted of 2,600 employees by Mercer Human Resources Consulting, they found that only 15% of those who enjoyed strong workplace communications were thinking of seeking new jobs. Now compare that to the 41% of the people in a tight-lipped organization thinking of seeking new employment.

Communication is crucial to management success and employee retention. Do not overlook its significance.

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