The Hire Sense » 2008 » August

Archive for August, 2008

Get ‘Er Done

You have probably read many “how to” articles that provide tips for jobseekers.  One tip that almost always makes the list is to have a professional email address.  Unfortunately, I was looking through resumes today and found one person who may not have read any of those articles.

His email address:


IM Efficiency

How about this from the Herman Trend Alert – Use IM to Reduce Interruption (sorry, no link).

Most people believe using “instant messaging” (IM) software to chat at work leads to an increase in disruption. In fact, a study published recently by researchers at Ohio State University and University of California, Irvine found that workers who used IM on the job reported fewer interruptions than their colleagues who did not.

The research showed that IM is often used as a substitute for other, more disruptive forms of communication such as the telephone, email, and face-to-face conversations and thus it actually leads to an increase in productivity. Dr. R. Kelly Garrett of Ohio State and James N. Danziger of UCLA, Irvine co-authored the study.

Those results just seem like a stretch to me, but I am not an IM guy.  When I do use it, I feel more obligated to respond quickly – even more so than with email.

Just 5 Minutes

Something to make you think, from today’s enewsletter (sorry, no link):

Just five minutes a day…

What if you came to work five minutes early and left five minutes late every day for a year?

(5) x (twice a day) x (roughly 250 sales days in the year) = 41.6 hours a year.
That’s a whole extra work week. And possibly…

  • Another project successfully completed
  • Another deal closed

Another prospect turned into a customer.

Liability Waivers And References

I have been used as a reference and I have called to talk to references – at times it can be awkward.  I am extremely careful with what I say when I am the reference as I sense legal danger everywhere.  When I am calling a reference, I truly enjoy the people who just roll and I only have to direct them a bit.

Now our local paper runs this short Q&A article about a liability waiver.  I have never encountered such a document:

Q: One company I interviewed with asked me to sign a waiver saying my former supervisor would not be liable for anything he said about me. Is that legal?

A: Yes, the waiver is legal. But with or without the waiver, your former supervisor is free to talk about you and your performance. “Legally, an ex-employer or representative of an ex-employer can say anything about the employee as long as it’s truthful and isn’t confidential, like medication information,” said Bill Egan, an employment attorney at Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly in Minneapolis who advises companies. “Nothing prohibits them from providing truthful information about a former employee.”

Despite this fact, many references are still reluctant to speak openly about a former employee.  Over time, you learn to hear the things they don’t say.  In the end, that becomes the basis for learning the most information on the call.  Perhaps it doesn’t have to be that way?

Public Sector Efficiency

This article will tweak every Utilitarian out there (my editing):

The federal government has 2.6 million civilian workers, making it the nation’s largest employer. But, it turns out a growing number of these workers are not working.

Coburn commissioned the report “Missing in Action: AWOL in the Federal Government,” which tracked the number of absent workers without leave, AWOL workers, across 18 government agencies from 2001 to 2007.

It found that federal workers missed nearly 20 million hours of work in the last six years, not including vacation time or sick leave. On average, 2.8 million hours of work are lost per year because of AWOL absences.

Can you imagine this trend in a private-sector business?  Me either.  Then comes this howler:

The union that represents many federal employees doesn’t blame its workers, but rather the Bush administration.

“To me it’s a scathing indictment of the Bush administration, their total incompetence and mismanagement and disdain for government and running government,” said Mark Roth, general counsel of the American Federation of Government Employees/AFL-CIO. “Apparently, they are so asleep at the wheel that they’re letting people go for months without any consequences.”


Workplace Murders On The Rise


During 2007, 5,488 people died from job-related injuries, a 6 percent decrease from 2006. However, workplace murders increased 13 percent to 610 homicides.

I find that stat a bit remarkable.  I’m not sure what would drive the workplace murder rate up, but that is a disturbing trend.

Talkin’ Gen X, Gen Y provides a good article for adjusting your communication for Gen X and Gen Y employees.  I can’t speak to the Gen Y suggestions, but I find the Gen X piece to be spot on.

A sample:


Generation X: Keep it up-to-date and motivating. Music at work, BlackBerrys, IM, and fast computers will help Gen X stay productive.

Generation Y: Encourage suggestions and don’t fear change. Gen Y is more comfortable with technology than any other group. Learn from them and stay on the cutting edge.


Generation X: Limit in-person meetings. Offer alternatives like conference calls, video, and Web conferencing when collaboration is truly needed. For face-to-face meetings, stick to small productive groups and skip long planning sessions.

Generation Y: Gen Y started online social networks. Think about how you can leverage them in the workplace to encourage team collaboration and knowledge sharing.


Generation X: Give them a heads-up if they should dress nicer for specific meetings or when customers are visiting the office. They’re aware it’s important to look professional, so telling them to “step it up” should not cause too much tension.

Generation Y: They’re new to the job market and might be oblivious to your company’s culture. Let them know dressing better will help defeat “slacker” misconceptions, build credibility with execs, and help their career over the long haul—especially in a weak economy.

As they say, read the whole thing.

“Technology has destroyed time and space boundaries.”

The Wall Street Journal offers up an interesting read about work/life balance from Dr. Henry Cloud.  Every time I receive a call from one of our customers at 8:30pm I think of this topic.  Here is the full text of the quote referenced in the title:

I think the first thing is to be aware that you basically have two things available to you to create your vision — in work and in life. First, you’ve got your time. Second, your energy. The second thing, energy, you might not be aware of because of people and activities getting the best of your energy, or the wrong people and wrong activities taking more of your energy than you might be aware of. There are interpersonal issues that cause this. You have to become aware of those and work through those and regain some structure. Technology has destroyed time and space boundaries. We’ve got to put some practice into place to regain them. The way to address it is to clarify goals. My contention is there are a lot of people running around with time-management software and planners and all that stuff, but they are so fragmented and out of control that they don’t understand that they have issues that make them unable to do what their planners tell them to do.

I love the last sentence in that graph.  The vast majority of highly successful salespeople we encounter have specific, written goals.  These salespeople tend to have laser-like focus on these goals and they stay committed to achieving them.  In a sense, they have a defined purpose.

The other group, so to speak, tends to get bogged down in meetings, mind-numbing research, personal tasks or other such “distractions.”  At the end of the day, top salespeople view goal time (approximately 8am to 5pm) as their most precious allotment of time.  They guard it diligently and use it efficiently.

Sales Managers In Over Their Head

Dave Stein has a provocative post regarding some recent poll data about sales executives.  This is excellent:

Top Five Reasons Executives Are Unhappy At Work

  1. Limited advancement opportunities (12.8%)
  2. Lack of challenge/personal growth (12.3%)
  3. Compensation (11.7%)
  4. Stress Level (7.7%)
  5. Job Security (7.7%)

For sales executives, I believe there is another reason for unhappiness in their jobs: many don’t have the capabilities to perform successfully.  It’s too much of a challenge rather than lack of a challenge (indicated in number 2 above).

Here are two indicators that this is true:  First, tenure of sales executives is getting shorter year after year.   These sales executives aren’t leaving their jobs in less than two years because they’ve been wildly successful.  Second is the overall lack of performance of the sales people that work for these sales executives.

I couldn’t agree more with his analysis.  We see this fact everyday in our business as we encounter sales managers who are ill-prepared for hiring and onramping new salespeople.

Sales management is one of the most difficult positions in any company.  Salespeople, in very general terms, tend to be independent and noncompliant.  They also carry the future of the company which makes their success mission critical.  Talk about pressure on the manager.

Telecommuter-Friendly Companies

A few months ago I posted on the rising trend of telecommuting.  The percent of companies that allow working from home has gone up dramatically over the past few years.  From our experience, that trend has been accelerating in just the past few months.  More companies are offering salespeople the option to work form home a few days a month once they are through their on-ramping process.  We are also being asked by sales candidates early in the process if telecommuting is an option.

Not all companies and positions have that flexibility, but that shouldn’t preclude you from looking for alternatives.  A recent article from the Workforce Management newsletter lists 7 companies that have done something about the concern of rising costs of transportation by offering help to their employees.  From giving them bus passes to cash rebates for buying hybrid vehicles to running shuttle services, these are just a few of the examples of what some companies are doing.  Some of the companies are large, like Microsoft, but here is what one small, 75 employee company is doing:

STS Telecom: The Cooper City, Florida-based provider of conventional and hosted Voice over Internet Protocol phone service reimburses employees for a portion of their daily commute—about $2 for each gallon of gas they use. In addition, the 75-employee company offers $250 toward the lease or purchase of a gas-electric hybrid car.

Let me give another example of a local, mid-sized company located here in Minnesota.  My sons bought a Mazda RX7 earlier this summer from a friend that lives in Southern Minnesota.  The previous owner decided to get rid of the car for several reasons.  First he & his wife were expecting their first child and a 2-seat sports car is not ideal for a family of 3.  The second reason was that the car only gets around 20 to 25 miles per gallon which isn’t bad, but there are a lot of cars available with better gas mileage.  But the final reason that motivated him to sell the car was the fact that his company was giving rebates to employees that bought hybrid or high miles per gallon vehicles.

You probably know that we are big proponents of telecommuting options for salespeople.  We speak to companies regularly that have not made any changes to help out with this hot topic.  Some of the questions to consider:

What jobs can you have telecommute on a full or part-time basis?
What is keeping you from allowing employees to telecommute?
What can you do to help out those that cannot telecommute?

This topic is going to become more prevalent, not less, in the near future.  If you plan to hire any salespeople in the near future, be prepared to discuss this topic.

Next Page »