Thursday, June 5, 2014

Three Things an Explorer* Can Teach Us About the Modern Job Hunt

Explorers find and bring back treasures. They are an important Role for the workplace because of their many discoveries, which often lead to great new ideas. So what can we learn from them in the world of work? What do they do that helps them succeed when searching for a job? In the following blog, Jeff Beaudin shares what he has learned after working with an Explorer.

When I say “Explorer” who comes to mind? Christopher Columbus is the first name I think of, then the Vikings. These explorers ventured into the unknown, crossing seas without benefit of satellite navigation, engines, refrigerated food storage, or radio communication. While many of the crew might have signed on for reasons other than the thrill of exploring, I think it’s a safe bet that Columbus was in his element and would tell us he had a perfect job fit!

Explorers exist all around us and watching them can be very instructive to those of us who prefer the known over the unknown. Explorers in the workplace are often restless in the office, preferring positions that put them “out there”. Explorers love to “bungee” out from home base and return with something new—like people, resources, and ideas. They operate the same way in the job search. I’m working with a new graduate starting his first job search who happens to be an Explorer. Here’s what we can learn by watching an Explorer work:

1.      Hiring Managers have a digital footprint too.  If you’re interested in a potential employer and call to inquire about opportunities or visit their careers webpage you will be herded into the same funnel a hundred other candidates just entered. And you have to do this because it’s part of the company’s process and necessary so they can focus on their core business. However, the real name of the game is developing contacts. Can’t get the contact name you want? Do a people search by company on LinkedIn. Let’s say it gives you a first name and last initial? How about a Google search that includes the partial name/industry/town? Suddenly you get an article that mentions the full contact name which matches a Facebook profile. Explorers take one more step.
2.      Your first target list is anemic. When I ask someone to list 30-40 companies they might be interested in working for I get 30 or less. Our intrepid Explorer came back with 60, and that was only round 1. He had other categories of firms where his expertise and skills would be valuable. His challenge wasn’t finding potential matches, it was prioritizing them! Get your head outside the box. Look at your target list, for example, then look at your targets’ customers!
3.      Avoid the “Shiny Bauble” syndrome.  Explorers so love discovering new treasure that it’s important to check to make sure they don’t forget to do something with the treasure they find. There are countless ideas, strategies, books, and blogs that can help you along but don’t get lost in paralysis by analysis. Pick a few and execute, evaluate your results, and adapt.

*Explorer is a description of a scientifically valid measurement called ROLE which identifies an individual’s attraction to serving a specific need of an organization. If you’re interested in learning your ROLE and how you team, you can do that here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As founder of LaunchPOINT, Jeff Beaudin has a primarily strong background in sales and sales leadership roles in companies of all sizes in the telecommunications and technology industries. He has built sales teams, led and improved existing teams, and assessed executive, sales, and service teams of potential distribution partners. Since 2010, Jeff has been coaching, consulting, teaching, and training  people how to team well and prosper in business and career. He is one of few people worldwide to hold a certification in Teamability® technology and methodologies from The Gabriel Institute, and he is a certified facilitator and endorsed career coach through Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love program. He received a BSBA from Southern Wesleyan University and currently resides in Franklin, TN.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Is "Fit" Relative?

'Fit' is a crucial component to understanding human behavior because the connection people have to a purpose or mission is the primary motivator for why people do the things that they do. Because people constantly influence one another in how they think and act, understanding how individuals ‘fit’ within the context of a team, organization, or culture is key to understanding and predicting how those individuals will behave.  In the following blog, David Sorin discusses various relationships in the business world, and why ‘fit’ is essential to achieving and maintaining the benefits of those relationships.

When we think about the word “fit”  with regard to business, it could be used in several ways. The simplest could refer to actual dimension – fitting physical resources into a given space. The more complex definitions address whether a given business fits into its marketing or brand niche or even in the community in which it resides.  These and other measures in between are all important ways “fit” is critical in the business. A previous blog post discussed the need for employees to fit in their roles within a company. This is crucial to productivity and team effectiveness. And employees must align with the company as a whole on vision, values, behaviors, attitude and ethics for the relationship to work.

CUSTOMERS

Typical entrepreneurs starting a business and then gaining traction are not overly concerned with whether each customer or client they are working hard to acquire actually fits the narrow profile of “ideal customer.” The idea is to grab customers whenever and however possible and not look too closely at each one at the time. Twenty first century companies are capturing as much data as they can about each customer, which they will, at some point, examine to discover macro-trends. They may use that data over time to hone their marketing pitches but they are not normally using it to decide whether they should or should not do business with a given customer.

Let’s face it. Not all customers fit. How come? What makes them not fit? They may have:
  • different priorities
  • different ideas when it comes to the relative value of the quality, service or price the company offers
  • different expectations
  • different views of what a successful engagement between them and the company looks like.

An online retailer may not have any way of knowing if a first time shopper is a good fit.  But what about the return shopper who has a track record of buying and returning multiple items and never keeping anything? Or the one who returns items after wearing them saying they don’t fit or are poor quality? Or the one that always takes advantage of the lifetime guarantee?

A service business should know after a single engagement whether a client is one they want to do business with again. A client changing his mind all of the time, or asking for “do overs” can be costly and frustrating.

An established business may choose to jettison clients that don’t fit because they recognize that they are literally not worth their time. Younger, hungry businesses may not be able to look through that lens. Their definition of “fit” may need to mature based on experience.

VENDORS

What about vendors? Does a business need to find a fit with its vendors? To answer that, one has to consider what “fit” looks like. The best vendors meet the company’s needs – timely delivery of goods and services, good quality work, fair payment terms, flexibility when needed. Some even find ways to partner with their customers in win-win programs, some may finance inventory during holiday or other seasons and some may offer support via sales and marketing dollars or resources. 

In a start-up or early business stage, a business owner may be willing to use any vendor that provides credit or decent payment terms. This may not be enough to sustain a relationship as a business becomes more successful. If a vendor, even a valued one, is discovered to have very different values or ethics it can cause a problem. Having biased views or treating employees poorly can be another reason to end a relationship. If there is not a values fit, there is at the very least dissonance in the relationship.  Business practices, even legitimate ones, can sometimes be difficult to accept. Sudden changes in payment terms or delivery times or supply chain logistics can turn a vendor relationship sour.  A business owner needs to define what a good vendor is and then be willing to eliminate those that do not fit the definition.

COMMUNITY

A company needs to fit into its community. A strip club in a residential neighborhood will not cut it. Nor will a junkyard in the wrong location.  Business owners need to be aware of where they can fit in as good corporate citizens and fill a positive role in the community. Fit in this arena is usually based on the use of the property, the community’s regard for the activities of the business and how noticeable those activities are, the amount of tax revenue a business may bring to the locality, the number of jobs the business provides and perhaps most importantly, the image of the business and how that impacts the adjoining residents and businesses. If the activities of a business bring down the value of surrounding real estate, there is not a fit. If the activities of a business subject nearby residents to any safety or health concerns, there is not a fit.

If the community grows up around a business and its composition changes, a given business may no longer fit. The leaders have to recognize that and consider the newer needs of that community.

So, in answer to the question asked in the title of this post, “fit” can be relative. A business may find a fit when common sense is buried or desperation is close to the surface. Humans can convince themselves of anything.  Look at the number of football teams that will take a chance on a player that blew up his two previous teams. Somehow, they believe they can make him fit in with them.  If owners pause long enough to catalogue what is important to them in their relationships and then weigh every candidate against that list, they can have a relatively clear picture of whether the relationship will work. If they choose to ignore the list for other reasons, it may work for a while, but not long-term.  

Fit is important. Ignore it at your risk. If you stretch your values and beliefs to create a fit, it will often come back to bite you. If a business owner is in a mindset of abundance rather than one of scarcity, there will always be more customers, vendors, potential employees and even places to house the business. Find a fit.

This post originally appeared on 720Thinking.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Sorin is an attorney of 38 years and the entrepreneur behind seven startups. He is also the co-founder of the Management Partner Development Institute, an organization aimed at educating law firms, and the co-creator of 720thinking, an organization that uses a holistic model supportive of individuals and organizations. David has been a speaker at a variety of national conferences and conventions over the last fifteen years and has been a guest lecturer at several colleges and universities, including the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. David is deeply involved in the entrepreneurial community in the Philadelphia region, and his strengths and expertise include strategic planning, innovation, conflict resolution, leadership development, decision making, ethics and culture, and executive coaching.

Monday, April 21, 2014

How To Design Extraordinary Team Performance


Resumes and personality tests are helpful tools in revealing an individual’s skill-set or personality traits; however, such tools cannot predict how individuals will apply those skills and traits in a real-world/real-work environment. So how do we make up for this lack of information? In the following guest post, Mickey Parsons, The Workplace Coach Founder, describes his experience using 'gut feel' and personality testing to predict an individual's behavior, and how Teamability® emerged to provide the missing link.

In his 2005 book entitled Winning, Jack Welch says that even at his best, he only hired right about 80% of the time. Personally, I think for most of us it is more like 50/50: a simple toss of the coin, despite our best efforts. As a student of human behavior and someone who has been managing people for almost 25 years, I consider myself a good judge of people. And yet, like most, I’ve hired people because I immediately felt a connection or ‘liked’ them or because they reminded me of myself in some way, thinking they could ‘grow into’ the job even if it wasn’t a good match at the moment. About half the time I got lucky, the rest resulted in struggle, high costs and ultimately termination.

Enter Dr. Janice Presser and Teamability®. When I discovered Teamability® through recruiter friends of mine a few years ago I thought, ‘what a terrific way to help people minimize the cost and frustration of putting people in the wrong job.’ I wanted to help my client companies (and myself) build stronger, high performing teams that are more agile, personally rewarding and corporately profitable. So, I went through the initial training and started spreading the word about this exciting new technology.

Then I gave it to someone on my team. And the report came back.

It’s one thing to read a report about someone you don’t know. When it’s someone you think you know, it’s an entirely different matter. Especially when right there, in front of your eyes, it gives you some cautionary statements about how that person will interact with others.

Besides, I’d already read the reports from typical personality tests and they seemed fine, even complimentary. And of course there was that magnificent resume.

Teamability® answers the question, “What really happens when people ‘team’ together?” Twenty-five years of research and testing, including nine years of software development, produced a technology engineered to identify and organize the ways in which people interact in teams. This completely new ‘technology of teaming’ is not derived from personality or IQ testing, from EQ, strengths, or engagement surveys, or from any other familiar tools or methods. During the course of its development, Dr. Presser and her colleague Dr. Gerber discovered some very useful – and practical – metrics of ‘teaming.’ They include:
  • Role: a person's affinity for specific modes of service to the needs of a team
  • Coherence: expressed as positive, flexible, constructive teaming behaviors
  • Teaming Characteristics: individual styles of responding and relating to others, subject to situational context
  • Role-respect: the unique manner in which people of different Roles experience appreciation and respect
  • Role-pairing: known, replicable synergies between specific Roles

So when I read the report, I wasn’t thinking about what the job actually required in terms of interaction. Pretty good for a professional coach, right? Hold on to your hat…it got worse.

At the time, there were things in the report that I did not want to hear about one of my team members. Therefore, I chose to ignore them and even questioned the validity. But hindsight being 20/20, I should have paid attention. And I found that I wasn’t alone.

With time and opportunity, I continued to discuss the technology with my corporate clients as a possible option for designing new teams and bolstering existing ones. I also encouraged HR departments to consider it for employment screening. What I found was resistance. Just like me, these smart, hardworking business owners, leaders and executives were afraid of what they might find; if, after all, some of their suspicions were validated, what would they do about it? Ignore the results as I had or face the potential daunting task of reorganization to get the ‘right people in the right seats on the bus’? As we know, troubles ignored always lead to more distress and demand more resources than they would if we had taken more immediate action.

What are your ineffective leaders, managers and employees costing you? Ultimately, I was fortunate that my employee only cost me the temporary loss of one major account. How tremendous would it be to know in advance how our partners and employees would naturally team at work and avoid such costly mistakes? As leaders, we must be proactive and use what we have at our disposal to build coherent teams…the infrastructure of successful businesses, because at the end of the day, business is all about people. The alternative is too costly in both fiscal and non-monetary terms.

I have come to believe that Teamability® gives us the power to build a more innovative, collaborative (and even happier) workforce. Yes, you might want to move a few people into positions that better match their Roles; you may even want to escort some to new organizations. But the eventual result will be the gift of greater productivity and success for everyone.

I just wish I’d followed my own advice!

This post originally appeared on The Workplace Coach Blog.

About the Author
As Founder of The Workplace Coach, Mickey has coached thousands of executives, business leaders and professionals from local businesses, Fortune 500 companies, to nonprofit organizations and several International clients. Mickey holds a masters degree in educational psychology along with numerous professional credentials, and serves as Assistant Professor of Coaching Psychology for Life University’s School of Psychology in Marietta, GA. Mickey has been a contributor to Men’s Health, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Forbes.com, among others, and is currently completing a doctorate in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.