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Archive for December, 2006

Time-Wasting Miscommunication

The information topic seems to be appearing everywhere we look this week. Now this article from Selling Power – The Cost of Poor Communications – attempts to put some metrics to inapt communication between managers and employees.

While managers are off worrying about sales trends and marketing plans, they often overlook a primary drain on productivity: poor communication.

  • 55 percent say their employees are not easily able to find information they need.
  • 44 percent say the information they use lacks appropriate detail.

What amount of money could this miscommunication be causing your company? There is a way to neutralize this problem – assess your team and provide your sales manager with an effective development plan for each salesperson.

Extended Sourcing Times has a 3 paragraph article titled Job Seekers Expect Long Search. The article briefly reports on a “call-in survey.” I’m not sure how reliable that approach is, but the results are consistent with our present-day realities.

Job seekers expect to spend seven to 14 months searching for work, according to a call-in survey conducted by outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Anyone who has been sourcing of late knows that it is a tight market.

A Line for Sales Managers

I got this military quote from my brother-in-law:

Good luck is often with the man who doesn’t include it in his plans.

That sounds like a great line for a sales manager when reviewing his or her team’s forecast this new year.

Workplace Fibs (in Britain)

From Yahoo News – Gadgets seen as best way to tell white lies:

More than four out of five people admit to telling little white lies at least once a day and the preferred way of being “economical with the truth” is to use technology such as cell phones, texts and e-mails, a survey on Thursday said.

I’ve never seen the phrase “economical with the truth.” What a pathetic turn of phrase. This survey was conducted in the UK, for what that is worth. No surprises here:

The workplace was a favorite location for fibbing with 67 percent of the 1,487 respondents admitting they had lied at work.The top lie was pretending to be ill (43 percent) followed by saying work had been completed when it hadn’t (23 percent). Worryingly for bosses 18 percent said they lied to hide a big mistake.

I’ve seen some big mistakes in the office and I have seen some even bigger lies about them. I say that because I have told lies at the office and been busted on almost all of them.

I once worked for a guy who told a lie to a huge, new customer in my presence. I didn’t say anything at the time, but he ended up losing the customer almost immediately. The service he promised to deliver to them was not what they expected and after they received it, they would have nothing to do with him again. If he had just been honest with them, I am convinced they would have grown into the largest customer for that company.

Information Motivation

Yesterday I posted on an interesting article involving the importance of providing information to your employees. Now I as I catch up on my RSS reading for this week, I have kicked up a complementary Selling Power article with a quick reference to the same topic – Low-Budget Motivation.

From the article:

4. Keep them in the loop
Your people often depend on you to be the intermediary to the corporate powers that be, and the information that may affect them and their jobs. You need to honor that role by keeping them abreast of whats going on as much as possible. In the midst of bad times, your candor can often mean the difference between an office where everyone is upbeat and hopeful, and a team of employees always on edge about whether they’re still going to have a job tomorrow.

Granted, the focus is on internal information, but the principle is the same. Motivation is a common topic with our customers and one we discuss frequently. Salespeople who are Utilitarians is the backbone of our topics. Yet, information, or should I say a lack of information, supplied to the employee can quickly derail their motivation. Most of us have experienced an office where information was withheld and the uncertainty is created in the employees.

Upward Mobility

Thomas Register has a blog. If you have worked in the industrial market, you probably are familiar with their encyclopedia-like register. I used to be a sales manager for a high precision sheet metal fabricator and was quite familiar with researching the Thomas Register. The fact that they have a blog today speaks volumes. (online name) has a post that plays off of the 2007 Job Forecast that was released earlier this week. Their 7 tips are all excellent including number 7:

7) Better training
In light of a seeming shortage of skilled workers within their own industries, employers are looking for transferable skills from other industries. Seventy-eight percent report they are willing to recruit workers who don’t have experience in their particular industry or field and provide training/certifications needed.

Hallelujah. This issue is one of the most assiduous obstacles we face in teaching our customers to look at transferrable skills and talent. Many hiring managers feel safer hiring a retread from their industry than a neophyte with clearly transferrable skills.

Point number 5 warrants close attention when dealing with Generations X and Y:

5) More promotions
As the perceived lack of upper mobility within an organization is a major driver for employee turnover, 35 percent of employers plan to provide more promotions and career advancement opportunities to their existing staff in 2007.

We’ve touched on this topic numerous times including this excerpt from our article Hiring Adjustments for Generations X and Y:

Gen X and Y candidates are looking for a skills path. They desire to understand what skills are needed to be successful in the position today. The long-term incentive is to understand what skills they will personally develop or acquire within the company. They prefer a horizontal management structure and respond to personal skill development. Titles are out. Responsibilities are in. It is imperative to share with the candidates the responsibilities they will inherit as their skills become more advanced over their tenure with the company.

Larger companies tend to have a path for employees to grow in responsibilities. Smaller companies face a bit of a challenge in that area if they are not conscious of it.

I worked as a regional sales manager for a 200 employee company when I was in my late 20’s. I enjoyed my job immensely but my boss at the time was in his early 30’s and I was aware of the fact that I did not have any upward mobility within that company. I could have switched departments, but that would have led to a step backwards initially – a step I was unwilling to take. Financially I was doing quite well but the days started to all look the same. I wasn’t growing at the level I wanted to so I left the company for another opportunity with more responsibility.

As a manager, it is important to keep expanding your employees’ responsibilities. Expect them to do more, learn new skills and move into a larger position within the company. This doesn’t mean titles necessarily. Keep them growing in their skills and prevent their positions from becoming routine. This approach is one of the best methods for stemming the tide of turnover amongst younger workers.

How To Motivate Employees

I’ve been reading Hidden Business Treasures blog of late and have found some…well, treasures. Their post today – Stupid Motivational Tricks – provides an excellent suggestion to managers in regards to motivating their employees. We measure motivators using our assessments, but I think they hit on a more fundamental, over-arching principle that applies to all employees.

Employees have been cross-trained, sensitivity trained, multi-tasked and quality circled.
They’ve been enhanced, advanced, mission driven and value positioned.
They’ve even been downsized, right-sized, smart-sized and out-placed.
Don’t you think its time for just plain informed?

What motivates employees? The same thing that motivates you. Trusted members of any team must have access to the information that will help them do a better job. This is a no-brainer when it comes to your senior staff. You would never think of keeping critical resources and information from them. But far too many companies continue to think that marching orders or stupid motivational tricks will somehow substitute for “information literacy” skill-building.

Read the whole thing.

Ethics Beatdown

BusinessWeek offers this article – Should I ‘fess Up to Lying on My Résumé? This one is going to leave a mark and I couldn’t agree more with the author. Some excerpts:

From your point of view, stating that you majored in philosophy when you didn’t wasn’t a “big lie,” but your employer almost certainly won’t share your view. Why should they? Your résumé reflects who you are, what you value, and how much you have achieved. If you lie about something as important as your résumé, what will come next? Lying to a potential client to get his or her business? Lying to your boss about how things are going? Telling a lie to make it easier on ourselves only damages our credibility in the long run.

And he is just warming up:

To be the best candidate for a job doesn’t mean just being the most skillful or knowledgeable but also being dependable, honest, and trustworthy. In other words, a smart employer values character as well as competence.

And towards the end, he closes with the point that always stands out in my mind:

You mention the irony of having taken an ethics course in college. What may be even more ironic is that you probably would have gotten the job without the lie in the first place.

That one hits close to home. One year ago we had a strong manager candidate for one of our customers. He was a great fit for the role and was offered the job contingent upon his background check. Turns out he did not have a Bachelor’s degree as he stated on his resume. The killer part of the equation is that a degree was not required. To make it worse, our customer said they still would have hired him had he just confessed. Instead, he rode it to the bottom of the sea and he was not hired.

Another Cover Letter

Destined for the circular file:

I am currently seeking full time employment with a company that I have the possibility to expand my resume.

The statement seems innocuous enough, but reread the last part. “Expand my resume” speaks volumes to their self-focus and little to what contribution they will make to the company.

New Job Resolutions

The recently sold StarTribune offers this article that states the top 3 resolutions are “losing weight, saving money and getting a new job.” Seems logical to me in talking with others. I have to admit, I am not a fan of resolutions, but a few paragraphs from the article caught my eye.

Research by Dr. Robert Maurer, based on the principles of kaizen (the industrial science of continuous improvement), can help you take the right small steps toward you next job.Example: By asking yourself one small question every day, such as, “If finding a new job were my top priority, what would I be thinking and doing now?” you can train your subconscious mind to deliver useful answers, because the brain loves questions.

According to Dr. Maurer, small incremental steps work because our brain is hard-wired to resist change. Even thinking about a major life change, such as finding a new job, can trigger the brain’s fight-or-flight response, which in turn shuts down creativity and thinking — and you get stuck. Small changes, however, can bypass that automatic defense.

The article continues later:

For your job search, try taking one small action every day, such as calling one relative or old friend for a networking conversation. At the end of 30 days, you’ll have made about 25 more call than most other job seekers, and you’ll be that much closer to your dream job.

I like this advice since it seems to me that many of my acquaintances either attempt to do too much, too soon in their job search or they do not make a change at all (even though they should). A steady, consistent, focused search is typically leads to the most successful outcome.

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