Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Listening. A new fad.

We live in a world where most everyone is nose down in a smart phone or tablet with Wi-Fi available everywhere, even in seemingly the most remote of locations. It’s unfathomable to be disconnected from the “world”, yet ironically, this practice actually disconnects us from the people who are actually present in our space. It’s not just individuals who are guilty of this. Individuals bring this personal practice into their business and it trickles down to customers. Concurrently, much emphasis is focused on growth and staying ahead of the curve that it has taken away from the principal that many businesses were founded for their customers. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if companies put down the proverbial smart phone and dedicated time to really listen? Universally, customers want to feel a sense of reliability, responsiveness, empathy, competency, and last but not least being valued. All of these are achieved through active listening. So many customers feel discouraged from dialogue on their service experience because the service agents they interact with are not present.

Stella Service, Elite rated companies like Apple & Zappos are hitting the mark. Zappos recorded an epic 10 hour phone call with one customer! While that’s a bit extreme, it speaks volumes about their approach to service. These companies are successful largely because they understand that a customer centric outlook is paramount. They understand that one of the simplest (as well as incredibly cost efficient…) ways to achieve this is active listening and follow through. They take the time to liaise with customers to understand how they really feel.

TARP, research firm concluded that every 1 customer who has a complaint will share it with 10 others. These 10 will go on to further share with 5 others. A single complaint quickly impacts up to 50 people! The good news is, it’s entirely possible to avoid this by active listening. It may even be possible to detect concerns even if customers aren’t actively voicing them. TARP also concluded that for every customer who verbalizes a complaint, a whopping 26 more remain silent.

Getting back to basics – listening 101:

Ø  Be ready! How can you actively listen if you are searching for a notebook & pen, or texting?
Ø  Take notes. Details, details, details.
Ø  Be responsive. Let them know you are still present without taking over.
Ø  Match their emotion. If they are in a panic, show a sense of urgency.
Ø  Be positive or factual. Don’t color the dialogue with negative feelings. If you are negative, they will surely be too.
Ø  Be respectful. Don’t interrupt or assume you know what they are about to say.
Ø  Ask questions. Ensure you understand their needs.
Ø  Paraphrase. Demonstrating not just paying attention, but active thinking & reasoning.
Ø  Take action! The best way to show listening is to follow through on the customer’s needs. Actions always speak louder than words.

Active listening supports solid communication which leaves customers feeling appreciated and overall strengthens your long term relationship. It can often help resolve or avoid conflicts and misunderstandings entirely. The information we harvest by listening can even allow us to take a step further and not only resolve conflicts, but ensure that we are applying the right solution. Equally important to making the problem go away, is ensuring that we’ve solved it correctly. This might be an opportunity to think creatively about what the customer is saying to find a solution that works best for them and is also cost efficient for your business. 

“Listen. You don't learn anything by talking. Listening makes for good business and it makes for good friends.” — Liz Robbins

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Are we talking about a job, or about a person?

A job description or a person?

Most people would think that these are two totally separate entities.  How could a job be a person?  I know I got confused at first with that statement.  The reality is, when a company is looking to hire, this is the first trap they fall into. 

When thinking about hiring a new person, the first thing a company does is write down the descriptors that seem to fit the position.  These can be the degree required, the number of years of experience, leadership skills, selling skills, and geographical location.  These are all great things to have in mind, but in truth, they are describing a person, not a job. 
If a hiring manager was asked, “In the next six months, what is the largest goal for this position to achieve?”  This will lead into the discussion about what the job will actually do on a day to day basis, not just what the person in the job needs to qualify for the position.  The hiring manager may answer that the position needs to develop a new three year plan for a particular product, so the talent acquisition team can now go forth and find candidates that have planning and product development skills along with their four year degree. 

A generic job description is the downfall of both recruiters and companies alike.  This leads to hiring challenges, such as diversity hiring trials, an artificial skills gap, and the reason why companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find talented people.  However, companies around the world are using generic job responsibilities to attract and screen new employees. 

If you are struggling finding the perfect candidate or the perfect job, contact Connor|Caitlin Talent Solutions. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The 6 Not So Technical Needs, of Technical People

Leading people is a challenge in itself.  The needs and motivators vary from group to group; marketing people are motivated by a completely different set of values than accounting personnel. 

Trying to understand the motivators or needs of the various groups can be overwhelming at times, categorizing into one big pot is not anymore the solution than throwing your hands up. 

While much of what motivates an individual is within the individual, as leaders its important to understand the needs of technical professionals as you map your people strategy to get the most out of your people.

Autonomy:  To work without being micromanaged is part of the reason that technical professionals choose there given field.  The more you can offer them the freedom to accomplish the task with autonomy the more satisfaction they will find.  Of course, this is often easier said than done but even in small doses the positive mojo the technical professional will get from autonomy will pay off in spades.

Achievement:  While everyone wants to feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, the techie is even more motived by a sense of ‘done’ at some point.  An on-going project with no real end point will drive these folks crazy and serve as a major de-motivator at some point.  A great way to overcome this is setting milestone achievements that can be measured and tracked; this allows achievement to be real and validated for these folks.

Keeping Current:  Techies take great pride in their ability to stay on top of the latest whiz-bang process or advancement in their field.  Allowing them to keep current on their trade will not only add to their happiness at work but more times than not will help the organization get better. 

Professional Identification: While technical people enjoy their credentials more than most, they find meaning in their professional identification and association with the industry. This can be capitalized upon greatly by allowing them to actively participate within the industry events, conferences or learning and networking opportunities.

Participation in Mission and Goals:  This is great because while some folks like to hide in the weeds of the company mission, techies love to have a line of sight form their role and responsibilities to the company mission.  It is important to see their impact on the company mission. 

Collegial Support and Sharing:  Beyond water-cooler chat and company softball teams these individuals like to feel part of a bigger community.   Again, this is a great opportunity for companies and leaders to bring out the best in their people by developing and recruiting focus groups, crowdsourcing and group think.

In the end, technical professionals want to be included and actively participate in the company mission.  Developing an organization that meet these needs will fast track your group into bringing out the best in your technical workforce.

If you are building a world-class technical team, and need some help.  Contact one of the practice leaders at Connor|Caitlin.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is a job just a job? Not anymore.

A recent issue of the Wall Street Journal highlighted a paradigm shift in how folks find meaning.
 With the dramatic influx of young workers, the millennials, there has been a change in ideals from ‘just a job’, to a job that changes the world. Employers are now trying to insert meaning into the daily grind.  This includes connecting profit-driven efforts to grand consequences for humankind. 

Work takes up more time than before, thanks to longer hours, competitive pressures and technological tethers of modern business.  Mission statements have long stated lofty goals beyond the financial bottom line, however in recent times, tech firms like Google have attracted top talent by inviting recruits to change the world by writing code or managing projects.  To that note, the words “mission”, “higher purpose”, or “change the world” have been used with more frequency in investor meetings, earnings calls and industry conferences.

“I am not a brain surgeon or a scientist.  I help some of those people do their taxes.”  Siobhan Kiernan, a manager at KPMG, a global consulting firm, stated; “I can take the worry of doing their tax returns off their mind, therefore I support advancements in medicine.” (The Wall Street Journal)  If a person can connect their work to a cause higher than themselves, they are more likely to be more satisfied with their jobs, therefore putting in more time and having fewer absences.  

Juniper Networks Inc. CEO Rami Rahim stated “Certainly, we build awesome routers and switches.  But what we are doing really is enabling researchers to find cures for deadly diseases.  We are enabling scientists to bring clean tech energies that make this planet a better place.  We are bringing education to Third World countries.” (The Wall Street Journal)

It is this thought process, of always keeping a larger goal and purpose in mind, which will get the most out of employees, and also will continue be the idea of the future.

With the competition for talent on the rise, great employers are including this as their criteria for developing roles and value. If you want to learn more about Connor|Caitlin and how we can help reach out to us at www.connorcaitlin.com.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Do I care how you feel?...I BETTER!!!

As our economy rebounds and we move forward with the recession further and further in the rear view, great companies are looking to gain a competitive edge in talent and some are winning. In fact, top companies are understanding through analytics what HR professionals have known for years... leaders that know themselves and others is one of the only true competitive distinctions left.

A key element to this paradigm shift is wrapped up in the Social and Emotional Intelligence Quotient (SEIQ) scores of these leaders. In other words, knowing how we communicate with others, what messages we send beyond words, and what is heard by others gives the great ones (leaders that is) the mojo to deliver great results through their people.  This is not a check the box skill, such as once you understand how to raise capital you can move on to doing it. SEIQ is an on-going growth process that takes time and effort to develop and sharpen.  Companies are depending more and more on data to score and rate these skills before they hire.  They are spending the time and energy to make sure that candidates 'walk the walk' and its not all lip service.

The SEIQ looks at four major categories:

  • Self Awareness  
  • Self Management
  • Other Awareness
  • Relationship Management

What is great about the SEIQ, unlike your traditional IQ, is that you can fine tune these skills but you must have the self awareness and discipline to do it.  Companies -excuse me- great companies are building behavioral based interviews around these items and selecting folks that manage accordingly. How you get the results is just as important as what those results are.  More and more, a good Social and Emotional Intelligence score is becoming the table stakes for great companies... How we manage matters! 

To learn more about SEIQ as a difference maker whether for yourself, your team or your company, contact Connor|Caitlin Talent Solutions.