Executive Leadership

The world of Community Management is changing.....at least ours is.

The title Community Manager didn't even exist 5 years ago, well it did but in a totally different industry.  Anyway, the world of online, digital, or "inbound" marketing is evolving everyday, every hour, and even sometimes within minutes.  One of the ways we try to keep up with the trends is by having the best people working on the things they enjoy the most.  In this case we're speaking of Community Managers.  Not just social media managers, but true authentic "Community" Managers.  It's a true DNA match for a PeopleOps Community Manager to be architecting and maintaining talent communities.  Here's a graphic describing the difference. 
 

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Its even worse then we thought!

  For almost a year, PeopleOps has been talking about the need for more authenticity and a 'high touch' within recruiting.  We firmly believe that the candidates NOT HIRED by a leading brand, if not treated with a basic mutual respect, could become a PR nightmare for the entire company.    

What happens when that trend starts is a continuum among everything else. The drive for authenticity that is seeing entire countries being turned upside down from within, is now effecting major corporations as well.    Brands, Employers, Startups, pay attention!  If you do not have an authentic culture, that is REAL, what is happening to Goldman Sachs will happen to you.  

Brands in the next couple of years will have to be honest and do right for the customer, or they will be out of business; either from consumers shunning them or from their very own executives blowing the whistle.  We are not implicating that this executive was on point with Goldman rather we are simply saying this should be the warning shot to all brands.  

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You have to do right for PEOPLE; employees, customers, vendors, etc, and if you don't...its going to be a really tough decade for you.
 
 Exec's Scathing Letter: Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs
 
 

To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money. Goldman Sachs is one of the world’s largest and most...

 

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Your Customer Service and Public Relations Department’s ‘Trojan Horse’

 Prasanth is an out of work Product Manager.  He has a Computer Science degree from a state school that is not a top 20.  Even though he got a 4.0 GPA while working full time at a local tech company, he is still discounted among the elite companies in the space.  He has tried his hand at startups and found that he is more of a big company guy. The only problem is big companies don’t want to hire him. It’s a combination of being out of work for such a long time, his degree not high leveled enough, and found to be a little bit OCD.  
 

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       He finally scores an interview with a top 10 tech company.  He arrives for his three part interview, only to be asked to leave after the first part.  Feeling jaded, he stops by his local Starbucks and starts tweeting while sipping his coffee to hopefully cheer himself up. Who is he tweeting to?  He is tweeting to his friends inside the company that just booted him out. He is tweeting to other colleagues holding an offer letter between that company and a hot new startup.  He is tweeting to his professors, who take it personally that the company does not think his curriculum is up to speed, resulting in educating his students to not waste their time interning at this company.  He is also tweeting to his blogger friends, involved in writing an interesting section on how companies treat  employees, future candidates, and people in general.  

     It sounds like he tweeted hundreds, and in effect, tens of thousands of people.  While this is true, the main concept to recognize is that it took only one single tweet to reach this audience.  When we live in a society where the most obscure dude living in his mom’s basement can create a social media nightmare for a company, imagine what an educated and networked candidate can do!

     Recruiting departments are the un-checked customer service juggernaut.  Too often they are guilty of dismissing candidates with poorly written and non-human form letters during the interview process, or even 10 minutes after the first initiated call.  Staffing firms are not resourced enough to handle that kind of scale; in 2012 and beyond they will have to be for greater success.

    Let’s make a test case for one single search.  Your company hiring manager needs a new Software Engineer.  So you post online, internally, and have your internal recruiting team start working on it.  After a few weeks, the hiring manager is still not finding that perfect candidate.  So the recruiting team sends it out to a couple of search firms.  Within a couple days, solid candidates are put into process, and the interview process begins.  About a dozen candidates are phone screened, and as the process shrinks to the field, to three candidates that are brought onsite.  One candidate is made an offer while the other two are kept in the dark until the recruiter knows the choice candidate accepts for sure, then the other 2 are released by getting sent a form letter.

   To hire one new candidate, your company had to tell approximately 100 candidates ‘No’.  Considering we are living in the first wave of gold spray painted plastic trophy toasting, super hero, rock star generation, my educated guess is you now have 100 customers that will likely not shop with you again.

    Luckily, most people will not accept this denial and keep trying two or three other attempts, in vain, to get hired at your company.

   I am not suggesting you hire them all.  I am suggesting you treat them throughout the process like a real human that you will have to speak to the next day ,or better yet, want to sell something too the next day.  Treat them as if it was your mother being referred to the company.  Coddle?  Yes man, I am saying to coddle! 

Leveraging Time for Talent Acquisition from a Leadership Perspective

Too often as hiring managers, we are constantly conflicted between what kinds of candidates we want to hire and what we can afford to hire in our budgets. Many times we try to make staffing or our agencies force candidates into this role that really should be paid more.
 

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   The backlash from this is we set up our new hires to be short term from the beginning. If you undervalue a candidate in the hire, they will promptly begin their search for their next gig.  

     This section however is not about hiring candidates for the long term, although perhaps it should be.  Rather, it's about how to leverage your time to get the best candidates available for your role in the least amount of time. 

     One thing you should consider is to employ the 20:5:2:1 ratio.  First carefully identify your five “Musts” for you role.  What do you REALLY need this role to do for you?  What background should the candidate come from?  Which group of competitors?  Is education important? Etc.  

     Once your role is clearly defined into 5-10 “Musts”, then hand this search to three people and only three people.  Your best performing team member that reports to you, your recruiter or sourcer, and to your assistant (who will help you reach out to your own network).  Between the three parties a total of 20 candidates should enter the process within 10 business days.  

      Interview all 20. Why? Well, as leadership, we have to understand that every candidate is a customer first.  If someone who was not looking for a new job was approached by your staff or by your recruiter to end up not even getting a call back, there will be a mental tarnish for your company, for at least the rest of that candidates career.  Now, if that candidate tweets or Facebooks about their experience then your in real trouble.  When we live in a society where the most obscure guy living in his mom’s basement in Iowa can cause complete brand disruption for any given company image, think of what a candidate with a legitimate and on context social graph could do.  Truth is, it's the right thing to do. Also, consider this: Most people are really bad at writing resumes. Getting to know someone face to face, even for a 15 minute coffee chat will give you far better context then a resume or a Linkedin profile.

   Select the top 5.  Interview them a second time and have your key team member interview them as well for cultural fit.  This is when you should start getting into the nuts and bolts of the project, gaging genuine personalities, aptitude, and overall potential continuity.  

    Cut it down to top 2.  Now it's time for dinner, golf, sporting event, something.  Depending on the level of the search you may want to opt for something higher end but at the very least, buy the candidate a coffee outside of the office.  Here you should pre-close, make sure compensation is in line and get your pre-on boarding questions out of the way so there are no surprises.  Now pull the trigger!  The greatest risk is doing nothing.  

This entire process should take less then 30 days and require a total of 10.5 hours of your attention.  Consider the impact of this hire or even better, the impact of what another search a few months from now would take... 

 

Understanding the Context of the Candidate

   Why there is such a disconnect in understanding that the consumers ARE the candidates.  If you want to know the best way to reach candidates, look at what the best consumer companies are doing.  

   Take for instance, Apple.  They are among the top brands in cult-like following and Apple is the king of subtle disruptions.  This past March (2011), I was at South By Southwest (SXSW) when Apple was launching the iPad2.  SXSW brings together some of the most forward thinking social media and tech companies. They discuss cutting edge and even sometimes barely existing technologies.  Apple did not have a booth or a logo at SXSW.  What they DID have is a pop up store in downtown Austin ,about 4 blocks away from SXSW.  So, the day the iPad2 launched, guess where a ton of people were? You got it! They were not in breakout sessions that they or their companies paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for them to be at.  Rather, they were standing in line, a hundred people deep, tweeting away about the iPad2.  Apple won SXSW without even being there.  
 

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  Alright, so what is the connection to this anecdote and the consumer and candidate?  Priority.  Keep in mind, the people waiting in line at the pop up mac store were not just run of the mill consumers. These were the normally passive candidates within the social media space that recruiters fight over on Linkedin and other online platforms.  So why were they in line?  Because they wanted an iPad2.  Apple knew there ultra-targeted customers would likely be at SXSW so they made it easy for them to get there hands on one.  Consumers crave authenticity, relevance, solid actual results, and low barrier’s of entry.  That same consumer is also your next great hire.  

How do you create a recruiting context that matches this culture? 

  1. Be Authentic:  Kill the corporate vomit that is on the job requirements.  Write what you would want to read.  Why your company is cool, why you have good people, what you are really looking for, and why YOU think they should be interested.  Couple that with a quick YouTube interview with the hiring manager talking about the requirement... unedited.  
  2. Is it a Good Job:  If you are trying to pitch a mediocre job then go back and make it not mediocre.  You do not have to pay top of market to win the day but if you want the guy at your competitors, you need to ask yourself why would someone leave to come to you.  If your answer is, because my company is better, then you have lost.  It HAS to be because my job is better, and if it's not, you need to make it better.
  3. Lower the Barriers of Entry: Does your Applicant Tracking System suck?  The answer is most likely yes.  I understand that due to compliance laws, we have to have some forms of applications.  However, you should make the application process, at least on the front end, something they can do with a simple email or maybe logging in to use their Linkedin resume-like profile.  Oh and while I am at it, please start taking LI profiles as resumes, its good enough! 

5 Must-Have Characteristics of a Recruiting/Sourcing Vendor

Sourcing and recruiting for businesses are critical, hard to find skill sets that takes time. It also takes a lot of domain knowledge. It can be hard for businesses to find the necessary time or internal resources to learn and/or implement winning passive sourcing efforts and authentic social media messaging (to name a couple) for themselves. In these cases, businesses can reach out to a third-party agency to manage their candidate development efforts. Consider these 5 must-have characteristics when evaluating an agency partnership.

1. The Right Services

Saying "agency" is really a disservice to the Talent Acquisition industry.  The question is what is your need?  Do you need to hire lots and lots of standard qualification employees? Then a U.S. based RPO might be right for you.  Do you have one critical hire you need to make but have a super strict budget? Then a contingency agency could be the right call.  Maybe you have a fairly consistent need for a tier 1 candidate pipeline for a specific business group that complains a lot? That could be when you tap the services of a tactical sourcing team like PeopleOps.

2. A Clear Process

Project results on whitepapers and company case studies are great, but the real value of an agency's involvement will be in how they put, not only how they fill the business critical roles, but the additional added value of how they work with the hiring authorities.  Recruiting or Sourcing agencies should be able to clearly lay out and explain the candidate development methodology for prospective clients. Being able to clearly show you the order in which things need to happen and the amount of time and resources required at each step. This will indicate that the agency has delivered ROI to clients before. Thus, you will also be able to infer that it has the game plan to do it again for your company.

3. An Emphasis on Measurement

Words like "metrics", "benchmarks" and "analytics" should be peppered throughout your prospective agency's pitch. Progress made toward your goals should to be measured at every step of the way, and a recruiting agency worth its weight will be able to track all campaigns, direct sourcing efforts, candidate flow and report on performance regularly. You have goals. You are trying to meet those goals by hiring the agency. Therefore, it should be as focused as you are, charting success in an undeniable, data-driven way. 

4. Strong Project Management Skills

Recruiting is fueled by the creation of remarkable content aimed at your ideal candidates, compelling direct sourcing initiatives, and authentic messaging. In order to be successful, good recruiting/sourcing agencies will need to get inside your hiring managers head to build that content and learn about that dream candidate. Do the agencies you're considering have the process and communication skills to make you think they will make reasonable and realistic requests of your hiring authorities? Also, have they set clear expectations around what each step in the candidate development and attraction process will require in terms of time and resources? Do you get the impression that they can manage campaigns with lots of moving parts? A good agency will make your life easier; not the opposite.

5. An Online Presence Optimized for Top Talent

Does the agency you're considering blog regularly? What is its own internal recruiting initiatives like? Are there optimized landing pages and premium content offers throughout its site? An effective recruiting or sourcing agency should be its own best case study. Think twice about engaging with a recruiting firm that doesn't make the services it sells a priority for its own business.

 

The Method Manifesto | The Candidate is Changing

The hiring company has always pretty much had the upper hand in the candidate experience.  Sure competitive organizations use elaborate resources to locate and persuade the candidate to be interested in working with your organization, however we all know that only one is hired.  That means that by default, the number of rejects a company goes through for one single search is heavily lop sided compared to whom they will eventually hire.

Insert candidate horror story here.  Many organizations have relatively brutal interview tactics.  While this is within reason...as many Talent Attraction practitioners would say...”we are looking for people to fill jobs, not looking for jobs for people.”  A companies priority is to find the best person to fill an open role.  I get that. However, here is what is going to become the second priority..candidate experience.

Why?  The days of asking a candidate that is tanking an interview to leave are over.  The days of not giving any feedback until they completete a form letter...yep those are over too.  While companies are scrambling from a marketing and customer service perspective to become more human...what virtually all do not realize, is their staffing departments are the Trojan horse in terms of liability.

Why?  In a current climate where the most obscure customer in his Mom’s basement in Iowa can create an absolute customer service nightmare by way of social media for a major company...imagine what a business professional whose social graph is not only as extensive but by the vary nature of the credibility of the person far more potent.  So the business personal is being interviewed for a Project Manager role.  He is reached out to on Linkedin by a recruiter.  He replies with his resume saying he is currently employed but is an admirer of the recruiters corporation and would like to know more.  The recruiter, due to OFCCP requirement, sends the candidate a link and says he needs to apply online.

The candidate, although passive, obliges and takes the 30 minutes (was supposed to be 15, but he had to reset his password twice because your companies applicant tracking system is a joke) to answer the canned questions and apply himself to the role. 

Then, the hiring manager has interest and wants you to do a phone screen.  The recruiter calls the candidates and do the first interview.  The second interview also happens by phone with someone else on the hiring manager’s team.  They like him and ask for him to come in and interview face to face with the hiring manager.  This interview gets rescheduled three times due to your hiring manager’s travel requirements.  The interview finally takes place (keep in mind this is now week 3).  The candidate makes up some excuse, uses a sick day, etc to be able to come in.  The 1 hour interview drags onto 2 hrs.  The candidate calls the recruiter and says it went well.  The hiring manager, still not persuaded says lets talk to one more person.  In the mean time, the hiring manager for a myriad of reasons decides on someone internal.  The recruiter (typically) drops the ball and ignores the candidates follow up emails for at least 2 more weeks and then sends an automated response from within the Applicant Tracking System.  

The candidate opens his email after a 6 weeks of interviewing to get an auto-generated email.  The candidate says to himself  ‘they didn’t even tell me ANYTHING.’  So he shoots a tweet out @yourcompany’sname thanks for the waist of time...I would rather spend the day at a DMV then sit down with one of your managers again.  Even with the smell! 

Then...something imaginable happens:  @candidate..I had the same experience.   @candidate me too.  @ candidate  what happened? @ candidate those jerks.

Then it goes viral. 

 

Method Manifesto is for Staffing Leadership


 
Staffing Leadership is extremely parallel to that of a Professional Sports franchise.  Just like in sports, the pool for head coaches especially is relatively small.  The best ones are near impossible or too expensive to get and the ones readily available have seen to many failures, layoff’s, and other depressing things that often occur in the “corporate” arena.

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When selected, also like a head coach, the staffing leadership inherits a team.  Most of that team are the remnants of the previous staffing leader.  Why remnants?  There is little doubt that the previous staffing leaders landed somewhere...most likely recruited by that somewhere to begin with.  As he or she landed, just like a head coach, they begin pulling in the support cast or assistant coaches that they have worked with before.

The new Staffing leader must try to make this third string team play...or at least look..like first string.  So they too start bringing in their supporting cast from outside organizations.  What this creates is a Gipsy like culture where the same dotted line talent acquisition team float from company to company.  

The problem with this is the Staffing Leader often has to set aside their true asset they bring to the organization and toil in mediocrity with tactical issues such as headcount issues, inadequate tools, underperforming legacy staff, etc , etc.  By the time they get the team where they want it ( a feat few achieve) it will be just long enough to let them go before the next RPO take over happens that will reset the entire organization within 18 months after the RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) fails. 

How is this fixed?  If the CXO leadership does not understand The Method it will not work.  Buy in has to happen from the highest level possible.  However, its very possible for a staffing leader with courage to be able to make these moves within their department and then take their show on the road as they become the rock star of their company. 

This can be achieved by reorganizing a simple structure within your talent attraction team.  By partnering one true sourcer/recruiter with one full time coordinator with a hiring manager or team.  This is not reinventing the wheel, however, the magic is in the details.  The sourcer will purely pipeline live talent based on the hiring manager’s “hot points.”  The coordinators will handle ALL admin related tasks.  In addition, if budget allows, a dedicated 1:1 social media branding professional dedicated to that specific hiring team.  No postings, no paid advertising of any kind.  Pure 1:1 ‘high touch’ recruiting.  

If you as a staffing leader can cut EVERYTHING else, your budget will be very lean and you will be able to capitalize on building assets for your organization with your budget not just paid invoices. 

After you implement the bullshit free staffing plan (more on that later) that is when Staffing Leadership can have an impact in areas of their expertise.  This could be partnering with C level to create the human capital plan for a new division, assisting M&A with ear to the ground data gathering, creating a state of the art technology process. 

Earlier in this chapter I talked about building assets.  When you spend 14 months building an authentic online audience of engineers that are “really” engaged with your brand...that is an asset.  When you create recruiting based technologies that allow the right types of candidates to find you organically WITHOUT advertising, that is an asset.  When you help develop hiring managers to be better leaders and become APART of the top performers list...that is an asset. 

 

State of the Union: Executive Leadership | Human Capital

I like to call the role most Executive Leadership find themselves in ‘the squeeze.’  I concede that while there is multiple reasons why that could apply...however in this context from a war for talent standpoint. 

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The problem most Executive Leadership faces is multifaceted.  Typically they have dotted line or in some cases direct reporting to the CEO, Board, etc.  Their major role is to make sure their department meets the objectives so their companies earning reports and guidance to analyst hopefully exceed expectations.  If they oversee engineering but their R&D is lacking proper leadership they may not release a product in time to meet their goals.  If they are SVP of Global Sales and their sales managers do not have their headcount full or just as bad have under performing Account Executives...that is direct front line revenue lost.  If the head of manufacturing has poorly performing facilities or mismanaged supply chain and they cannot physically ship the orders in time for it to count toward their revenue goals then that could be detriment.  

The point that I am exhausting is every function must run properly in order for a company to meet their objectives.  I understand there is a certain amount of assumption on that statement, however, it takes the proper human capital to achieve this.  

Take into account that the theory of a top performer is their output exceeds their counterparts by up to 10X’s.  Lets extrapolate that.  If you do not have a top performing sales team, then your competitor ...regardless of product quality, could out perform your team 10:1 ... even weighting that with embedded obstacles like scale, existing contracts, etc ... that number is still easily 7:1.... A devastating number.  

The same ideas can be weighted again in every aspect of the business.  The problem for Leadership is their recruiting departments are typically more concerned with a multicolor metrics report on why they are failing rather then making not only their numbers...but quality hires.  

Here is how the Method can help Sr. Leadership from the top down:

1) Get involved personally with staffing the best talent.  I am aware that as a Sr. Leader you have no time...but isn’t that always the case.  However, what if your division was performing 5-6X better then anyone in your industry while at the same time performing 10X better then any other division in your company?   You do not need to overwhelm yourself.  You need 1 TRUE executive recruiting partner.  This could be internal (I recommend hiring outside the organization) or a trusted third party...although you will get overall more value in the long term by having a dedicated internal partner...even if he or she is a contractor.  Expect to pay 100-150hr for this level of recruiter/sourcer.  Then you (the senior leadership) partnered directly and ONLY with the recruiter and the reporting hiring manager to take on 1 key hire a month.  Just one.  Now, frankly, this may require starting with upgrading your own managers...none the less just one per month.  Allow the rest of staffing and your organization to function as it has...or better yet implement the method (explained later) while you work the leadership method from the top.  Within 18 months you will probably be CEO of your company...or at very least its own resident Rock Star. 

2) So how do you actually find the best?  Simple really...who is kicking your ass?  Its the easiest to find these people in sales...but what about other verticals?  Great way to find these folks is via industry conferences, blogs, and publications.  Yes they will come with a premium...but even if they cost twice as much as the normal salary but produce 8 times the production, you still have heck of an ROI.  

3) How do you keep you top producers?  Its true...you build it and they will come.  Unfortunately so will the wolves.  So how do you protect your top talent?  You must build a personal 1:1 relationship with your top talent...pay them so well that they will simply not talk to another recruiter...make it personal.  Authentic relationships are still the trump card!