David Manchee

Clever Wordsmithing or Just Cause?

 

Read a headline that said something like brands need to worry about culture share suggesting market share was old school. A second headline stating results from the World Value Index asks consumers how aware they were of a brand’s purpose, whether they cared about and supported that purpose, and whether or not purpose motivated them to support the brand. Enso, began the survey in 2016 and only one brand (Amazon) enjoyed a top 10 rank sharing the other 9 spots with non-profits. No surprise there.

As an independent recruiter my firm begins the process learning as much as we can about the client, her/his company, and what makes its products/services valuable to consumers/buyers. Purpose and culture share have been subsets of that initial needs analysis.

It’s clear the time has come to modify the analysis digging deeper to understand the client’s purpose and, importantly, management’s commitment to that purpose. When the going gets tough – like a sharp economic downturn will management hold purpose or make sacrifices to “protect” the bottom-line?

As you read this how much value do you put on your current employer’s purpose and will purpose be a criterion for selecting your next gig?

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Unfilled Employment 2018

 

According to Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work for 2018 these 100 companies have 160,000 unfilled jobs.

As you know when the Bureau of Labor Statistics announces unemployment approaching 4 percent most economists believe the actual number currently looking for work is closer to zero. So, what happens? Bloomberg News reporters discovered that employers found ways to cope with tight labor markets and still make money. Businesses have pulled in workers from the sidelines – including retirees, immigrants, and the homeless – and retooled processes to use less labor.

I’m guessing, after a quick look around your company, there’s still some empty chairs and maybe a few folks have chucked retirement returning as contract workers but, nothing as radical as the Bloomberg folks discovered, right?

We all know what happens with chairs remain empty for too long. Missed deadlines. Sloppy customer service. Extra hours. Maybe that end of week-tired feeling creeping into Wednesday?

I’m a recruiter so my next statement will sound a bit self-serving. (I’m also someone who spent over three decades in management and filling empty chairs was a priority because empty chairs equal loss in revenue.) If you’re dealing with any of the above-mentioned malaise your management is letting you and your organization down. Get up from your chair, march into the top-dog’s office and ask/demand to know what’s being done to fill the open positions.

If using external recruiters isn’t part of the conversation mention PointClear Search. See, I told you, self-serving and in this instance you’re the “self”.

Manchee@PointClearSearch.com or Roger@PointClearSearch.com

Is Communication Killing Productivity?

 

Before the days of internet driven non-stop, instant communications my employer, WSJ, engaged with Xerox to improve listening skills believing if we became proficient in actually hearing what was being said productivity would increase. And, it did. For some more than others but that’s another story.

I read today around 1/3 of the workforce is so overwhelmed by their company’s communication’s tools they’re thinking of quitting their jobs. Management acknowledges significant loss in revenue to due to missed or poor internal communications – over three billion dollars in annual profits from wasted time alone!

The Dynamic Signal study found that most workers (51 percent) do not feel properly informed by their company, ultimately feeling disconnected (57 percent), unhappy (33 percent) and not valued (76 percent) for their work, resulting in workplace departures.
Being able to listen to others is imperative in the communication process. This means not only listening with your ears, but also being able to comprehend what the person is saying. And receiving confirming feedback.

I’m a recruiter so helping companies find talent is my job but none of us in this profession want to deal with a workforce incapable of managing communications. To management I’d suggest immediately setting basic communications guidelines holding department heads accountable. To HR leadership I suggest all exit interviews probe for this issue reporting progress to senior management. To those faced with a wide array of tools, time demands and that awful feeling of having missed something really important don’t quit but do demand management deliver a workable fix.

A workable fix could be as easy as (a) severely limiting using the annoying, “reply all” response, (a) taking a few minutes each morning before opening one’s computer to make a prioritize TO DO list and, the really tough one, ignoring the internal chatter.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Working for Fun

Let’s say you’re earning over $300k. Again, in the New Year, your quota was raised so to make the same this year you need to sell $360k. Company offers competitive benefits like unlimited paid vacation (on a modest base) and open-bar Fridays. Account Services is on top of their game but are increasingly spread thin putting more pressure on keeping promises and delivering on time.

So, you looked at your 2017 calendar and tax return only to discover some enlightening facts. Like, after taxes, your earnings were $160k. Over the course of this job you’ve had 3 managers and the company has had two senior level house cleanings. Across 52 work weeks you managed 12 days’ vacation and 12 holidays including Cinco de Mayo.

Here’s where the data tells the real story. You average 12.5 hours working each day not counting commuting: 236 days X 12.5 hours = 2950 hours/year roughly equal to $55 per hour after taxes. Now, go find the last plumber or electrician’s bill and take a look at their hourly fee.

Since educator’s salaries are a hot news topic did you know a secondary school administrator in Silver Springs, MD hourly mean average pay is $53.41 according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017)? If you’ve read this far and your head is exploding consider having that intro chat with the next recruiter who reaches out and take the conversation beyond money. You might discover there’s some exciting aspects to living with a company you’ve never considered.

Next Generation of Thinkers and Leaders

I read a short piece on finding talent in tight markets (read: low unemployment) written by a CEO of a full service ad agency whose early career was working with a major consulting group.
She asked the question, “So what’s a small business to do when competing for talent with companies that might have bigger purse strings and a sexier name?”
To address the issue most companies, large and small, should either fire their HR department or, in a kinder gesture, isolate the educable from the “sheep” and teach them look for problem solvers. You know the type – it’s the person who leans away from consensus, the person who tends to break process and the person who has a record of delivering when others are still doing what they’ve always done regardless of results.
If you want your company to do great work – you know, the stuff that’s positive-disruptive employing the game-changing strategy that has clients and the competition saying, “wish I’d thought of that” remove your industry-only blinders, look across the entire business horizon and dig-deep for the next generation of leaders and thinkers.
That’s what we do for our clients.

Be Curious

Read a piece earlier today about Amazon’s hiring process. You know Amazon – that, “Work hard. Have fun. Make history.” first company (beating Apple!) to reach a $1 trillion market cap. What struck me was the company’s attraction to candidates who are “scrappy in how they solve problems”. Good advice for any company hoping to survive the next market disruption.

Beyond being scrappy Amazon also recommends that the candidate stays open-minded and curious about opportunities at Amazon. For me that’s the “bingo” moment for any candidate hoping to stand out from the crowd of other candidates. Ask great questions. As my business partner says, “Great questions trump poor answers”. And, honest curiosity may open new doors that lead to an even better career move.

A Routine of Good Habits

One of my favorite people, even though we’ve never met, is Doris Kearns Goodwin. She’s a history wiz, a brilliant writer and, in this fake news galaxy, knows how to give a fair and honest interview by sticking to the facts and alerting her audience when expressing an opinion. I read a short piece in Fast Company about how she manages her day and the good habits that contribute to her success and happiness. So I thought I share because who wouldn’t like a better day of good habits built on a simple routine?
Ms. Goodwin rises early – around 5:00 AM – just like most Navy Seals, and uses the time to write and take notes. No TV, no email, and no distractions. Around 9:00 AM she takes a simple breakfast with her husband before checking email and making for a productive day. In the evening she follows FDR’s WWII, “no talk of war cocktail hour” infused with trivia, or live music – anything to refresh and recharge. Before bed she spends a few minutes reading mysteries which help clear her mind and relax.
If she’s on a plane or train it’s, in her thinking, a wonderful, uninterrupted time to “get things done”. And she does. For her, as it was for Teddy Roosevelt, procrastination is a mortal sin. If she starts to put things off she simply thinks of Teddy. I’m adopting this!
I’ll end with her note taking routine – she states Abraham Lincoln was a tireless note-taker who attributed much of his Gettysburg Address to a collection of notes gathered from his roll-top desk.
So, what’s my point? I’m not suggesting everyone should follow Ms. Goodwin’s routine. Perhaps adopting note taking, or early morning uninterrupted creative time might work for you? The point is if you feel a little out of kilter perhaps a simple routine adjustment will make things right. Let me know how it works.

Money Well Spent?

When I got into the media business (sales) ad agencies were known for hiring youth, paying meager wages, providing minimal training and offering limited advancement. Long hours were common and I’m pretty sure late night pizza delivery was common several times a week.

That was 45 years ago! Over the last couple of decades agencies have pivoted, reimagined, reinvented and hacked themselves promising to be the agency of the future.

But wait, there’s more. Back then it was common for an agency to have 10 employees grinding on just 1 Million dollars in billings. Over time technologies introduced some new efficiencies and, of course, salaries exploded with inflation and the ratio declined to one person working on $1 Million. Today, I’m told, a single agency employee works on several million dollars’ worth of billings.

So, have those millions of dollars clients spent supporting the agency of the future built a place of well-trained, highly experienced, highly compensated individuals with multiple choices for early and frequent advancement?

I’m guilty of generalizing because there are some great shops, foundries, farms, or whatever that are doing their clients proud. For the rest keep disrupting until you get it right!

Are You Catering Your Hiring Process to the Talent Pool?

I read a terrific piece by Mike Daly – The Knights Ghost (see below) on LinkedIn today that calls for two additional observations.
First, empty desks represent a loss of revenue not savings due to an unattached salary. Second, in addition to revenue loss the company also suffers a reputation blow not just from the candidate but, as an influencer, among her/his circle of friends and associates. Some lost revenue is recoverable. Reputation dings add up quickly potentially destroying years of reputation building.
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Offer declined – Candidate accepted another offer.
Manager – Why? How did that happen?
Me- We took too long.
Manager – It’s been only 3 weeks since I talked to her.
Me- 2 weeks too long, she was on the market for 3 weeks when you talked to her.
Manager – Did you know about the offer?
Me- Yes and no. She did not tell me she has an offer pending but it’s a fact, any talented person will have multiple offers within a period of time, I would say 2 to 4 weeks they are off the market.
Manager – So how do we overcome this challenge?
Me- The issue starts with the hiring process. If it’s a lengthy and boring process that does not cater to the talent pool. We will lose every time.
Manager- How do we refine the process to retain top talent?
Me- Treat talent the way they want to be treated. Do not set high walls for them to climb, shorten the hiring process with prompt feedback and collaboration between departments, create job descriptions that make sense, promote your environment and the product or project they will be a part of.
Finally, ask for feedback on the hiring process from new hires and tend to their feedback.
The hiring process has to be exciting and innovative to attract and cater to top talent. “Birds of the same feather flock together”
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What are you doing to avoid losing a star to the competition?

DIGITAL TRADITIONAL FORK IN THE ROAD

Seems like every other day I receive a referral for a solid seller who successfully transitioned from traditional media to digital. They self-educated themselves, earned digital certifications and, when asked, conveyed relevant insights from decades of sales and people experience with colleagues. They practiced consultative selling before the phrase was coined, bring well-tune listening skills to the table and succinctly communicate internally building solutions that answer client needs.
They consistently win contests, receive awards and earn the respect of former managers. Exceeding goals, conducting themselves professionally and earning respect by giving respect is their mantra.
When we speak they are anxious to contribute, to be part of successful team, to again pay income taxes and to contribute to a culture that values fun alongside of working hard (and smart) while recognizing the organization’s success is a function of maintaining work – life equilibrium. They’ll assume a leadership role and it isn’t necessary to include a management title.
Of late I’ve been wondering if these fine folks shouldn’t return to their traditional roots armed with the skills to sell cross-platform and the knowledge of where traditional media fits within the broader media landscape. Or, should they continue pushing forward for a place in the digital ecosystem?
Help me out. And help those at the digital/traditional fork-in-the-road.
What are your thoughts?