Retention

Hiring With a Noble Purpose

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When you hire with a Noble Purpose, you gain power. The power to innovate, grow, succeed, and more. I had a recent dialogue with the creator of the “Noble Purpose” concept and strategy, author and consultant Lisa Earle McLeod. Here’s what she had to say on why it’s important to hire with a Noble Purpose.

Scott: First, let’s define Noble Purpose for those who’ve not yet read your two books on the topic. What is it? And why is it important for a leader to have a Noble Purpose for themselves and for their organization?

Lisa: A Noble Purpose is a clear and succinct statement about the impact your organization has on customers. It’s the jumping off point for a strategic initiative that includes every facet of your organization.

It’s not enough to say, “We want to be ethical, provide value and make money while we’re doing it.” That kind of milk toast messaging doesn’t provide direction for employees, nor does it create competitive differentiation. A Noble Purpose is specific and customer focused.

Some examples from our clients:

Flight Center – We care about delivering amazing travel experiences

Roche – We do now what patients need next

Hootsuite – WE empower our clients to turn messages into meaningful relationships.

Your Noble Purpose is the lynchpin for competitive differentiation and emotional engagement.  It defines who you are and what you stand for.  It’s a rallying cry for your team and the jumping off point for strategy, process improvement, and daily decision-making.

Scott: What’s the connection between leading with a Noble Purpose and effective hiring?

Lisa: When you have a Noble Purpose, you have a North Star for all of your decisions, and you have a common language you share inside your organization. Having clarity around this purpose, it becomes easier to see who and who is not a fit with your organization.

When you share your purpose with a prospective candidate, look closely at their reaction.  If they’re not excited about, or at least interested in, the impact you have on customers, they might not be a good fit.  You can teach skills, you can teach product knowledge, you can teach process.  You can’t teach motivation.  Sharing your noble purpose gives you a clear litmus test on cultural fit.  It puts a rationale behind  gut intuition of “something doesn’t fit.”

Scott: How can organizations be intentional with their Noble Purpose, leveraging it to elevate the caliber of talent they attract?

Lisa: If you have a Noble Purpose, you need to share widely. People who are emotionally engaged in their job will not look for another job.  People who are not engaged in their work and who are searching to be engaged are great potential candidates.  The clear thing purpose does for you is weed out people who are lethargic or who only want the paycheck. Your passion tells low performers, “this is not the place for you.”

The other piece of talent attraction is this: the people in your office. A recent study revealed that employees who derive meaning and significance from their work were more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations. They also encourage their friends and family to join the company as well. They become your ambassadors. Noble Purpose enables you to attract better people, and you’ll manage to keep the talented people you already have.

Scott: You know that I’m an advocate of fast and accurate hiring, which is the topic of my forthcoming book from McGraw-Hill. In the context of Noble Purpose, why is faster hiring important?

Lisa: The more you draw out the hiring process, the greater the cost to your organization, as you note in your book. Time spent with bad candidates is time not spent fulfilling an organization’s Noble Purpose. Noble Purpose provide a lens on hiring that makes the hiring process faster, and more accurate in the long term.

Scott: What’s one final piece of advice you’d like to share with our readers?

Lisa: You can’t spreadsheet your way to passion. If you want to accelerate revenue growth, enjoy your life more, and attract top talent, the secret is emotional engagement.

Financial incentives provide short-term results at best; long-term growth requires a motivated team who is excited about improving the lives of your customers. When I work with clients to define their Noble Purpose, we look at their value proposition, what makes them different, and basically, why anyone would care about their business.  People want to make money; they also want to make a difference.

Lisa Earle McLeod is a sales leadership expert and bestselling author. To learn more about her, her books, and her consultancy, visit her company’s website.

Scott WintripHiring With a Noble Purpose
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How to Avoid Being an Employment Commodity

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How to Avoid Being an Employment Commodity
Here’s a fact about the jobs at your company that you may not like: they’re a commodity. You might think that what you have to offer is unique and the position you’re filling is like no other. You may believe your work environment is novel and the culture you create in your workspace is special. While this is partially true, in that every company is slightly different, I propose a thought experiment.

For a moment, try seeing things from a different angle. Flip your perspective one-hundred eighty degrees and see things from the perspective of the job-seeker.

ChoicesJob-seekers—your candidates—typically pursue more than one job opportunity at a time. They have to, in order to increase their chances at being hired. They can’t put all their eggs in one basket. They send out multiple resumes and cover letters every week. Sometimes they’re looking at dozens of jobs with the exact same title, all at different companies. They scan employment sites and read scores of job postings with nearly identical language. Every company tries to add their own flair to their blurbs, but to the candidates, they all start to run together.

It doesn’t stop there.

The rest of the process follows a pattern. Email resume, receive response. Exchange emails and possibly phone calls. Then comes the interview: leaders ask a series of questions, which the candidate answers. The questions don’t vary much, and the people asking them tend to dress and act the same. The jobs even look alike, too. They involve similar tasks often done in standard cube farms. Employees use similar technology and software from one company to the next.

For the candidate, all the jobs become a blur. All the interviewers start to sound like the adults do to Charlie Brown and his friends: wah-wah-wah, wah-wah-wah-wah. Like it or not, that exceptional position at your extraordinary company is a commodity.

Now, let’s flip the perspective back to you, the employer.

You can avoid falling into the commodity trap by adopting sound strategies to separate yourself from the masses. A growing group of savvy business leaders are differentiating their organizations by combining shifts in business practices with better approaches to hiring and employee engagement. Two innovations gaining great traction are The Quid Pro Approach and Micro-Niching.

Quid Pro Quo: Value Where it Counts

Companies are learning to leverage their value by charging more and subsequently re-investing in their employees. Leslie, founder and managing partner of a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, cites this strategy as central to his company’s success. “Because our service offering is higher, the price point is as well, and honoring this assures a better match between a prospective client and our company.”

Leslie’s firm provides finance and accounting support services. Their quid pro quo approach to service value has led to dramatic and consistent growth and an impressive repeat business rate over the past five years. By reinvesting a significant portion of these gains back into the company-especially in enhancing best practices and improving technology-customers and employees benefit from the marriage of an on-demand, responsive service with a user-friendly approach to customer interactions. Their current paradigm includes client counseling, which leads clients to better returns in their business endeavors, and focuses on career development for staff, which, in turn, drives productivity and improves customer service.

Value offerings such as these, combined with a willingness to charge for this increased value, positions firms like Leslie’s to create custom service packages for potential clients, thereby expanding both what and how much they buy. The practice of escalating value for an escalating price not only creates more options, but also puts Leslie’s competitors on the back foot. They now struggle to compete with the new and interesting bundles her company offers. The end result is a firm that has the financial resources to hire great people, invest in their development, and cultivate a culture that retains top talent.

Micro-Niching: Niching the Niche

Working within a niche is a time-tested strategy that many business leaders believe has helped reduce commoditization. This is true to a certain extent, but there’s a catch: many know about it and many do it, which means its effect has become diluted. The ability to create a distinct option that buyers view as one-of-a-kind requires more than it used to. It requires a renewed focus, a sharpened vision, and a new approach.

Michael, the CEO of a UK-based human capital management organization, has successfully met the challenge of refining and deepening the niche-based approach of his company. Michael is a leader in what’s called Micro-Niching.

“We have reshaped our company to have clearly defined divisions of specialization that are led by industry experts,” Michael says. “They have been tasked with not just creating their own areas of expertise, but also in developing independent cultures representing the sectors they support.”

These Micro-Niching initiatives mean that the distinct brands are now situated to corner their respective markets with increasing efficiency and effectiveness. As their level of knowledge and engagement deepens, Michael’s team creates lasting client relationships and delivers targeted value unparalleled by traditional niche providers.

“In a relatively short period of time, we have increased margins and improved our productivity,” Michael reports. “The longer-term effects include a much better market presence as we have been able to position our brands more clearly in the market, becoming de facto thought leaders in the process. People are clamoring to work for us.”

In a short period of time, his company has grown substantially and he’s had to hire dozens of new people. The company’s prestige and unique position in the market makes it relatively easy to attract top-shelf candidates for all his new positions.

Creativity: The Anti-Commodity

What Quid Pro Quo and Micro-Niching have in common is creativity. To return to the thought experiment from earlier for a moment, creativity is what will make your company stand out from the dozens-scratch that-the hundreds of job postings a job seeker sorts through every day. For the employer, creativity separates a run-of-the-mill company from the pack when competing for customers and top talent. Creativity counts, now more than ever. An entrepreneurial spirit in companies both large and small fuels profitability and attracts top-talent. Add hefty doses of inspiration, and your organization and the jobs you offer become unique. People will want to work for you. Value them. Show them how you do it. In turn, they’ll value you. If you do, they’ll choose you over your competitors. Remember: no one wants to be a drone in a cubicle.

Scott WintripHow to Avoid Being an Employment Commodity
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50 Years and Counting

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50 years ago today, a young couple took their vows, pledging to see things through, for better or worse. As the son of these two quirky human beings, I look back at the decades of their marriage and marvel at all they have been through. In particular, while I was in high school, when Dad walked out the door telling Mom he was “done.” Half a century later, they have always found a way to work through their issues and build a stronger relationship. Just a few weeks ago, they bought each other anniversary rings to celebrate this milestone and their lives together (which is both sweet and cheesy, but hey, that’s my parents).

As a divorced man who is now remarried, I know that not all relationships were built to last, and that prolonging dysfunctional ones is harmful and counterproductive. This holds true in personal and professional life. Some relationships with employees and clients merely hit rough patches, while others should be brought to an end for the benefit of all parties involved.

Honest assessment of any “marriage,” including employment or partnership with a customer, starts with an appraisal of the state of the relationship. If it’s good, why is it good? If it’s not, what’s missing or not working. When a relationship is in trouble, an important question must also be explored: What’s more mutually beneficial—working through the issues or going separate ways. Rigorous honesty promotes the natural process of ebb and flow in relationships that is part of business and personal life.

And, by the way, Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Scott Wintrip50 Years and Counting
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What Are Organizational Core Beliefs and How Do We Best Develop Them?

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Scott suggests ways to align your organization with belief, choice, and action to make your organization a place where people want to stay and work.

Scott WintripWhat Are Organizational Core Beliefs and How Do We Best Develop Them?
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Guest Column: You Want to Look at What?

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Paula Roy is StaffingU’s VP of Learning and Development and is the principal consultant at PMRoy Consulting.

No matter what role an individual plays in the job market, he or she has probably heard at least one odd request from a prospective employer for deeply personal information, purportedly for use in evaluating fitness for a job. Before anyone signs a blanket authorization, he or she should be encouraged to think twice about the implications and impact of allowing a hiring manager access to every bit of information there is to know.

When the job market tightens, we know that the balance of power shifts from the employee to the employer. While the job market has begun a slow recovery, much of the power for control of the hiring process remains in the hands of employers, even when a candidate is searching for a role in a discipline in which he or she has broader choices and opportunities.

This power means that the choosy hiring manager who formerly relied on simple background and reference checks has expanded the selection process to include detailed, sometimes intrusive investigations, credit checks, and more. During the winter of 2011 and spring of 2012, numerous anecdotal stories emerged of employers not only requesting a viewing of a Facebook page or LinkedIn account, but also demanding personal passwords as a condition of either continuing the interview process or of extending a job offer.  Following an Associated Press report on the subject in March, 2012, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal issued a statement decrying the practice as an “unreasonable invasion of privacy for people seeking work.” He announced that he was crafting a bill prohibiting employers from requesting Facebook or other social media passwords as part of the application process.

While complaints had come directly from his own constituents, applicants across the country have been asked to voluntarily provide the information under pressure of being excluded from the selection process, which prompted Senator Blumenthal to call for a federal solution rather than a state-based approach. Quoted in an article by AP writers Manual Valdes and Don Thomson, Law professor Lori Andrews of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law said, “Volunteering is coercion if you need a job.” While the federal law is still pending, three states have enacted privacy rules banning employers and universities from requiring social media access or passwords from their application processes, with California joining Maryland and Illinois by implementing the measure on September 27th. Similar laws are in various stages of progress in more than a dozen other states.

It is important to remember what is at the core of a selection process: the desire to fit an applicant’s abilities against the requirements of the job. In short, an employer is buying – in fact, leasing – the candidate’s skill and knowledge, not his or her idea of weekend fun, and not access to the minutia and details of one’s personal life. For those of you in the staffing industry, it’s important to act as an advocate for your candidates so that they are evaluated fairly on the basis of the competencies, knowledge, and ideas they can bring to the job. For people in the job market, consider how an employer is likely to treat you on the job if they are so ready to unreasonably invade your privacy before you even receive an offer. Think about regaining some power in the selection process by demonstrating your principles along with your skills.

Scott WintripGuest Column: You Want to Look at What?
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