As human beings, we are naturally programmed with an existing set of emotions, habits, perspectives and opinions. We are sometimes drawn to making decisions for reasons we do not fully understand; we might hire a new employee because it feels right, or we promote those on our team because they deserve it.
Decision making lies at the very core of our personal and professional lives. Understanding the psychology of good decisions on an individual level can make a tremendous impact on an organization as a whole. Psychologists and behavioral economists have studied this issue, and understanding their discoveries can help avoid the traps that get in the way of wise, calculated professional business decisions.
A recent article in Forbes posed this scenario: a bored rich woman sits between two strangers (we’ll name them Robert and Juliette) on a plane. For entertainment, she offers to give Robert $10,000, with the proviso that he must make a one-time binding offer to give some of it to Juliette. If Juliette accepts Robert’s proposed split, they divide the money accordingly. If she rejects it, the rich woman keeps her money, and Robert and Juliette get nothing. In theory, Robert could offer Juliette only $10. A rational person would accept that: It’s free money. In practice, and the experiment has been conducted repeatedly, people in the Juliette role regularly reject offers they deem unfair. A powerful moral principle – fairness – plays a big role in decision making, often stronger even than self-interest.
Keep fairness in mind when evaluating decisions – both how fairness plays a role in the verdict, as well as how the decision will be perceived by others. In a professional setting, any decision deemed unfair (such as giving raises and bonuses to senior level management while laying off junior staff) can be met with resistance solely due to the principle of injustice.
In their book, Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions, Sydney Finkelstein, Jo Whitehead, and Andrew Campbell explore the concept of pattern recognition – a complex process that integrates information from as many as thirty different parts of the brain. They share that when faced with a new situation, we make assumptions based on prior experiences and judgments. This pattern recognition is exactly why a chess master can assess a chess game and choose a high-quality move in as little as six seconds; he or she draws on patterns seen before and determines the most appropriate course of action. However, pattern recognition can also hinder us; when we’re dealing with seemingly familiar situations, our brains can cause us to think we understand them when we don’t.
This pattern recognition can also explain part of why leaders can have a difficult time transferring prior success to a new company. Just because you have a track record of achievement doesn’t mean that it will apply within your current organization. As such, leaders need to be mindful of the workplace conditions, co-workers, resources and how to create momentum in a new environment.
The Ladder of Inference
The Ladder of Inference can be climbed in milliseconds. You observe objectively, as an observation by itself is not a biased activity. Next, you select data from what you observed – which is where the filtering begins. Assumptions are created about which parts of the observation are important, and this assessment is based on how the things that have been observed affect you, or fit into your cultural experience. You then add meaning and make assumptions because when something is unknown, it is natural to assume that the motivations, behaviors, wants, desires, likes and dislikes will match your own. Now that you’ve convinced yourself you understand the situation, you draw conclusions and have feelings about these conclusions. You then take action based on those feelings, and usually exhibit an emotional, rather than a rational, response. These assumptions take the guesswork out of understanding the situation.
The Psychology of Good Decisions
What can you do? Begin by identifying the true decision to be made, and reasons behind the need for the solution. Get all of the facts, and understand their causes. Make your thinking process visible to others by explaining your assumptions, interpretations, and conclusions. Invite others to test your assumptions, push back on your conclusions, respectfully confront your reasoning, or give you an alternative perspective.
After all information has been considered, a decision based on that information should be made and implemented. While this might seem obvious, a decision only counts when it is executed. Former CEO of IBM Lou Gerstner said, “There are no more prizes for predicting rain. There are only prizes for building arks.” The final examination of any decision is whether or not the problem was solved. Did it go away? Did it evolve? Is it better now, or worse, or the same? What new problems did the solution create?
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Whether you are leading a team and responsible for making decisions, or coaching those on your team to do the same, we are experts in strategically coaching your most valued asset – your people. For more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about how we can assist your organization’s long-term success, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
“Tell me about a time when you failed, and what you learned from that experience.”
Think of the most successful employees you’ve ever worked with, or the individuals you’ve mentored who excelled the most, or the leaders you’ve studied who seem to achieve every goal they set for themselves. Undoubtedly, a common thread between all will be that those individuals have the strength to learn why they failed, what to do in the future to succeed, and the willpower to get back on the horse and try again.
But exactly what is it that leads one person to try again when others just give up?
Industrial and organizational psychologists have spent decades researching this very subject. Angela Duckworth, assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and her research focuses on a personality trait she calls “grit.” She defines grit as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” She writes that,“the gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina.”
Success and Talent
What causes an individual to experience significant success? The obvious answer: success is about talent. Successful people can do something – hit a golf ball, dance, trade stocks, write a blog – better than most anyone else. This answer begets another question: What is talent? How did that person get so good at hitting a golf ball or trading stocks? Although talent can appear to be based on inheritance, it turns out that the intrinsic nature of talent may be overrated.
The problem is that a major contradiction exists between how we measure talent and the causes of talent. In general, we measure talent using tests of maximum performance. Imagine tryouts for most any sports team; players perform in short bursts under conditions of high intensity and motivation. The purpose of the drills is to see what players are capable of and determine their potential. The problem with these drills is that the real world is not set up for short bursts of work ethic under conditions of high motivation. Instead, professional success requires sustained performance, spending hours upon hours perfecting your craft, deliberately and methodically staying the course during times of frustration or exhaustion.
In his book, Self-Made in America, John McCormack references a trait studied by Kathy Kolbe: conation. Conation is “the will to succeed, the quest for success, the attitude that ‘to stop me you’ll have to kill me,’ that elusive ‘fire in the belly’ that manifests itself in drive, enthusiasm, excitement, and single-mindedness in pursuit of a goal – any goal. All consistently successful people have it. Many well-educated, intelligent, enduring, and presentable people don’t have it.”
Interviewing for Grit
A segment of the workforce is made up of smart people who aren’t high achievers, and others who achieve a lot without having the highest test scores. In one study, Duckworth found that smarter students actually had less grit than their peers who scored lower on an intelligence test. This finding suggests that people who are not as bright as their peers “compensate by working harder and with more determination.” And their effort pays off: The grittiest students, not the smartest ones, had the highest GPAs.
So how can we start to understand an applicant’s or an employee’s grit? Try some or all of these questions to identify the trait:
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
As a leader, your most important talent is having the ability to be able to identify, attract and secure the best players for your team. People are our most valued asset, and for more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about how we can assist your organization find contributors with grit and conation please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
Over a career spanning nearly half a century, Harvard University psychology professor J. Richard Hackman garnered widespread esteem and accolades for pioneering the study of team dynamics. Following the events of 9/11, Hackman led a team designed to evaluate what makes intelligence units effective by surveying, interviewing, and observing hundreds of analysts across 64 different intelligence groups.
What they discovered was that the critical factor wasn’t having a tenured team with the right number of people. It wasn’t having a vision that is clear, challenging, and meaningful. Nor was it well-defined roles and responsibilities, or appropriate rewards and recognition, or strong leadership.
Rather, the single strongest predictor of group effectiveness was the amount of help that the analysts gave each other. In the highest-performing teams, analysts invested extensive time and energy in coaching, teaching, and consulting with their colleagues. These interactions helped analysts question their own assumptions, fill gaps in their knowledge, and understand new perspectives. In the lowest-performing units, analysts had little interaction or were relied upon to come up with most of their own answers and solutions in service of a seemingly ‘autonomous’ environment. Simply knowing the amount of help-giving that occurred allowed the Harvard researchers to predict the effectiveness of nearly every unit accurately.
Givers and Takers
How do we create an environment of giving, when many people are naturally reluctant to seek help? They may fear burdening their colleagues, lack knowledge about who is willing and able to help, or be concerned about appearing vulnerable, incompetent, and dependent.
How do make sure, in turn, to set boundaries and protect against employees becoming so consumed with responding to each other’s requests that they lack the time and energy to complete their own responsibilities?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a corporate culture of collaboration. Remember, what makes a painting a masterpiece is not any one brush stroke but rather many different and complimentary ones. The retention “canvas” is never a complete work of art and needs continuous attention. The following are a few strokes that just might make a difference!
Corporate Surveys: Whether you have 1 associate or 100, a survey can provide you with great insight. Ask questions related to every dimension of your business, including technology, training, tools, culture, leadership, operations, marketing/branding, hiring, and compensation. By giving people a chance to weigh in, you get an opportunity to see potential problems and solutions. Too many leaders subscribe to the Ostrich Theory of “if I don’t ask, I won’t have to fix anything”. Giving the people the chance to feel heard, or to brainstorm solutions to a problem (that then spawns a host of additional problems), can sometimes be the solution itself!
“If I were a CEO” Sessions: Dedicate a morning meeting or lunch with your team, division or company, ask what changes they would make if they were CEO. The answers to this question will give great insight into what they think needs to be changed as well as what opportunities they think are being missed. It is important to listen to their feedback without judgment and share your opinions later.
Retention Interviews: Conduct an annual meeting with each team member and ask why they like being there and what could cause them to leave. This is a tough question to ask, but it is imperative to uncovering someone’s unhappiness before it is too late.
Corporate Charity: Adopt a local charity. Host a casino night, golf tournament, bake sale or perhaps a “blue jeans day” each week (if you don’t already have one every day!) that requires a small donation. By getting people involved in a common cause, you not only give back to the community but also create or enhance a sense of community within your office or team.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
The key question to ask is “what do I want to create for my organization”; you are writing a chapter as you read this and what you choose to do when you turn the page is up to you! There are no magic potions or quick fixes; some changes can be easily implemented and others will require great study and careful design and implementation. To learn more about how to deliberately design your organization’s corporate culture, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
As we approach the mid-year point, hours of daylight increase, outdoor activities and vacations are abundant, yet the demands at the office do not wane. The subject of providing an environment for work-life balance often resurfaces during the summer, but the topic is one that should be addressed on an ongoing basis within an organization.
Numerous management consulting companies have performed exhaustive research in this area and have found that over 40% of employees claim they do not have suitable work/life balance, and more than one in four dissatisfied employees plans to leave their employer within the next two years.
The Definition of Balance
There are many articles and books written about finding balance in life, but while many talk about the need to find balance, most do not define exactly what this means or how each of us can find the right combination. In order to figure out our perfect balance, we must start with the definition of what areas make up the various facets of life. Possible domains include:
Having a balanced life means ensuring that life itself is multi-faceted and those facets are defined. We need to then apportion the correct amount of attention to each area. Prioritization is then determined by attention allocation rather than intention of attention allocation. In each area there are activities with varying degrees of urgency and importance; if urgency always rules decisions, one will easily feel out of balance. Important activities, while not immediately urgent, are frequently better uses of time than urgent ones. These eight areas compete for the one commodity we can offer, which is time.
Analyzing the Allocation of Time
There are 168 hours in a week. Removing the amount of time an average person sleeps leaves roughly 120 hours per week to allocate attention and focus. Think about your last week and ask yourself, ”Where did the time go?” Did it go there because you planned it that way, or was it simply the result of going through the motions? If we can learn to plan the allocation of our most precious resource (our time), then we may value it more. Therefore, we must learn to become focused and productive while in one dimension, and still allow for enough time in other dimensions.
The following is an eight step formula for implementing this process:
1) Determine if and why you care about each of the eight domains. What does it mean to you and how important is it? What are the consequences of the lack of quality time and what are the benefits of proper attention allocation?
2) Determine and quantify the gap between desire and achievement.
3) Create a specific action plan to close the gap.
4) Determine the amount of time needed in each area to achieve YOUR desired balance.
5) Create an “attention plan” that details this time.
6) Identify potential hijackers and distractions of the plan and create solutions to minimize them.
7) Track and review periodically (once per week, perhaps).
8) Periodically re-assess, re-prioritize, and repeat.
Time and attention allocation is not the sole determinant, though, of balance. Focus in that time is equally important. Multi-tasking is the curse of focus; we are most productive and fulfilled when we give our undivided attention to the domain we are in.
With 120 hours each week, plenty of time exists for quality in each domain. Life may go through periods where a short-term imbalance serves a long-term balance, but this is called sacrifice! Some individuals consciously choose to dedicate all their life to one or two domains, while others do not want to be the world’s best sprinter or hurdler but want to be a decathlete. Start first with what you want, which is based on your “why”. When you know your “why”, you can begin building the bridges to close the gaps between desire and achievement.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Assembling a strong team of professionals who can drive bottom-line results and long-term company success is essential to the health of any organization. For more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about how we can assist your organization’s long-term success, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
On the surface, conducting an interview can seem like a simple enough task, yet it is one that few are formally trained to do – even when promoted into a role that involves the evaluation and acquisition of talent. Shake hands, make the prospect feel welcome, ask questions, answer questions, and evaluate the candidates. How do you make sure your questions lead you to the best possible individual for your role, as opposed to simply the one who presents the best in an interview?
Answer: you have to know what you are looking for before you ever have the opportunity to evaluate if you’ve found it.
Analysis of Past Success
Before you start searching for the perfect candidate, invest the time to evaluate individuals who previously held the position and were successful. What knowledge, skills, experience, and personal characteristics made them a success? Once you create a short list, make sure every individual involved in the hiring process agrees that these are the primary factors that need to be evaluated during the interviewing process. Think beyond the obvious descriptors of “hard working” and “leadership skills”. Examples include:
• Attentiveness: Demonstrates an ability to focus and avoid distractions.
• Emotional Intelligence: Able to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.
• Innovative: Envisions new ideas either in reality or conceptual.
• Learner: Inherently seeks advanced skills, knowledge, or abilities.
• Initiative: Is resourceful and work well without micro-management.
• Pressure: Responds positively to deadlines, responsibility, and accountability.
• Sales Ability: Demonstrates a track record of influencing clients or buyers to a positive decision.
With multiple interviewers, there is tremendous value in creating a list of questions all geared towards understanding the same skill set. If each interviewer asks the candidate to describe their sales abilities, the candidate will feel as though they are simply experiencing the same interview multiple times. Instead, if each interviewer knows which questions to ask that approach the issue from slightly different perspectives, it can create diversity with the interviews but uniformity with the information gathered.
Once agreed upon by all individuals involved with the hiring decision, take the list of primary factors and create a selection of purposeful questions. Instead of letting natural conversation or generic questioning guide the dialogue, create specific questions geared towards an objective or objectives. As an example, if a primary factor of success in this role is a constant seeking of knowledge and learning, questions could include:
• How have you kept up with changing technology, ideas and products in your industry? How do you get your ideas?
• Describe a role where you were challenged to learn many new things at once. How did you accomplish this?
• What approach do you use to build new knowledge and skills?
• What were the limits of your authority in your role as (title/organization)? Can you share an example of what you did when you encountered a situation that fell outside these limits?
Immediately starting an interview with an interrogation of screening questions is not advised; instead, conceptually picture the interview consisting of three segments. First, understand what is important to this individual and what is motivating them to consider your organization. Practice the 50/50 balance: talking versus listening; whoever talks the most feels the conversation has gone the best, so make sure it’s the interviewee. The second segment is the screen – ask questions designed to understand concrete information around those areas that are most essential to the hiring decision. Conclude with the third segment – the close – determine mutual interest and desired next steps.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Throughout our proprietary 32-Step Dimensional Search® process, Sanford Rose Associates® arms you with significant information designed to positively impact the selection process. Our search consultants provide you with insight into why the candidate is considering your organization, what initially sparked interest, and how you can capitalize on that interest during the interview process. For more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about strategies for effective interviewing techniques, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
As one responsible for a business’ profitability, I never seem to have the time to coach my people consistently. They have such a limited attention span that I get the feeling, especially with my veterans, that they aren’t really into learning anyway. How do I find the balance and provide them what they need in a format that is of interest and relevant?”
This question ranks as number one among company owners, managers, and even trainers trying to find the balance between their own work load and providing their employees with essential skills and knowledge. We are all experiencing work environments that are intensely more competitive and constantly changing with business goals and objectives that continue to escalate. While there are still only 7 days in a week and 24 hours in a day, our challenge is to do more with those same 7 days and 24 hours than we did just a year ago.
So how do we begin to find the gift of time to coach our people and who is to say they are open to receiving it? It is one of the classic organizational dilemmas.
Sink or Swim
For most of us, historically, the concept of coaching and learning comes from the perspective of “throwing them into the water to see if they can swim.” So, naturally, the coaching sounds something like “I just noticed your quarterly numbers are down; you need to get them up! You’ve got to have a high volume of activity to make it at our company.”
This is certainly an understandable paradigm as most of us were raised in results-oriented, bottom line environments. Although these coaching statements are true, the problem is that these comments boil down to “work harder” which only helps if “work harder” is the right answer. The “work harder” response is about as effective as a football coach standing under the goal post and yelling out the score to his team.
The Coaching Connection
Key point: If I’m going to position myself as your coach, I’ve got to watch you play the game. This means I have to coach to more than just results or the attempt at results.
One of the best resources for learning to lead and mentor in a meaningful and high impact manner was created by Randall Murphy, founder of the Acclivus Corporation. Their white paper, The Coaching Connection, explores how in order for coaching and learning to be truly effective, it must be around more than just the results. Coaching must encompass the skills, knowledge, effort and attitude of the work being done.
Key Point: Most people are willing to learn if you know how to tap into their learning style. Your challenge is to develop your unique coaching style and your training curriculum so that it engages all four learning styles effectively.
Kinesthetic learners need to understand the application of real-life experiences and tend respond best to role-play exercises. Auditory learners work best when they can speak, discuss, and think out loud; repition is key for auditory learners. Visual learners need to be able to read and write notes and literature, and struggle in lectures lacking in visual aids or graphics. Tactual learners work best in cooperative learning activities and group discussions and interactions.
For the time-conscious manager, the best way to ensure the incorporation of all four learning styles into the training curriculum is through the process known as blended learning. Unlike traditional education, corporate training exists primarily to improve business performance. Blended learning allows for the consideration of each individual (the human factor). A study by Harvard Business School faculty Drs. DeLacey and Leonard Peter found that providing several linked options for learners, in addition to classroom training, significantly increased what they learned.
What’s in a blend? Blended learning includes face to face classroom training, videos, on-line training workshops, one-on-one coaching, as well as webinar guest speakers and literature. Often, for the time-weary manager, utilizing outside resources helps to reinforce a message in a multitude of ways. It is typically the type of message that the manager “harps on” on a daily basis, but when the same message is delivered a different way, or by a different person, it is often at that point the learner suddenly “gets it” – to the obvious frustration of many managers who wondered why their people did not “listen” to them in the first place!
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
Inspired employees can play a tremendous part in the growth and success of a company, and for more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about strategies for effective coaching and professional development for your organization, please reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
In the manufacturing economy, time was the currency. Systems were designed for maximum efficiency, and effectiveness was simply how much time could be dedicated to the process. The assembly line is a perfect example! In today’s information environment, directing our attention in the right places for the right amount of time and focus is the key to effectiveness.
Curious if you suffer from Professional ADD? If you have already been distracted at some point during the first paragraph, no assessment necessary!
If you checked the box to most of these then you may be suffering from Corporate Attention Deficit Disorder. The good news is that it is curable and you can fill your own prescription!
Create Golden Hours
Establish certain times each day that no one can distract you or each other. The only distractions or interruptions should be emergencies; educate your environment when it is best to get with you by phone or in person for activities that are not both urgent and critical.
Loosen your Electronic Leash
At least four times per day, set 45-minute time blocks where email, instant messages, and any other electronic distractions are turned off. Each time block is dedicated to fully focusing on a specific activity that you have predetermined for that time. Very rarely is anything so urgent and critical that it cannot wait for a reply within an hour; you may even find that issues solve themselves without you having to!
Prioritize Long-Term Projects
Make a list of all your current important projects that are not urgent. Now, assign at least two one-hour slots a week to do them. Keep these appointments with yourself the same way that you would with a client; do not allow yourself to book anything during those times unless it is a true emergency. If you don’t begin to do some of the strategic work now, when will you? An attic is easier cleaned a few boxes a week rather than the entire attic in a weekend.
There are some times when multi-tasking and bouncing from one activity to the next is both unavoidable and necessary. However, the majority of times you find yourself busy, multi-tasking, and rushed are self-created and counter-productive in the long run. Practice being fully present and engage in one activity at a time. If someone stops by your office while you are typing an email, ask them to send you an email to schedule some time so that you can truly focus on their needs at a time that is mutually convenient.
Create Blocks of Similar Activities
A doctor does not check emails in the middle of surgery, and a lawyer is not accepting incoming calls while the opposing counsel is grilling his client. What makes the critical responsibilities of your role less deserving of your own concentration? We all like diversity and variety, but do your best to plan activities in such a way that complementary activities can be done in groups.
Find the Right Work/Life Balance
Just as your time at work should have focus and intensity in each activity; so should your time away from work. Being fully present in all your interactions includes those outside of work. When you find your mind drifting to work related activities while with friends or family, remind yourself to focus back on the people or activity at hand.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
The solutions provided in our SRA Update are simply a half dozen best practices to help you and your team alleviate Professional ADD. Fully engaged employees can play a tremendous part in the growth and success of a company, and for more than 50 years, Sanford Rose Associates® has been committed to “Finding people who make a difference®” for its clients. To learn more about successful strategies for combating Professional ADD, reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant today.
An effective search process consists of four steps – identification, attraction, evaluation, and successful acceptance of an offer. Whether your most recent hire came from an internal referral, an in-house recruitment team, or an executive search firm, knowing that a key role is filled can feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. Your work here is done!
Or is it just getting started?
A study by The Wynhurst Group found that over 20% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment, and that new employees who went through a structured on-boarding program were almost 60% more likely to be with the organization after three years.
Transition breakdowns occur when new employees either misunderstand the essential demands of the situation, or they lack the skill and flexibility to adapt to them. In either situation, a responsibility exists during the first three months on the behalf of a hiring manager to help new hires build significant momentum during that transition. If the goal is to decrease the amount of time it takes for an employee to become a net contributor of value, what steps can be taken to achieve this goal?
Diagnosis Before Prescription
Often, challenges of transition acceleration vary depending upon situational factors, and so it is essential to match the strategy to the situation. The key is to engage in careful diagnosis and then adapt some general principles to the demands of the situation.
Don’t be afraid to ask past hires for feedback on the onboarding process! Solicit feedback when the experience is fresh enough to garner recent perspectives, and be open to continuous improvement. Most organizations conduct exit interviews, but very few proactively interview employees to gauge their satisfaction while they still are happily employed with the company.
Throughout the entirety of the interviewing process, conversations revolved around the prospective hire’s existing skills and experiences. If those skills and experiences are what landed this individual in the new role, it will come as a surprise to most of them that a common mistake is to believe they will be successful in the new role by simply continuing to do what they did in their previous role.
Yes, common responsibilities will exist from organization to organization, but in the face of so much change it is necessary to carefully examine and align daily expectations with existing skill-sets.
Instead, help a new associate embrace the feeling, and fear, of a steep learning curve. Help avoid a vicious cycle of frustration and defensiveness by figuring out what it is they need to learn, by when, and with whose help.
Be aware of the other end of this spectrum – the compulsive need to take immediate action on everything and anything possible! Put a specific, paced learning program in place and evaluate progress consistently.
Secure Early Victories
An initial transition period lasts only a few months, but the goal of those few months should be to secure early wins. The challenge is that the term “win” can be a relative term! There must be mutual understanding of measurable objectives in the first few months; this will not only ensure accountability, but build faith from both sides that this is a successful and long-term fit. Eventually, strategic issues and redefined systems and restructuring of organizational goals can all be conquered, but first it is necessary to build credibility in the short term to lay a foundation for long term goals.
No matter how strong a connection a new hire has made during the interviewing process, it is critical to create cultural connections with employees outside of the direct reporting structure. It can be difficult for existing and tenured staff to adjust to outsiders, and transitionary mentor partners can make a tremendous difference for a new employee. This mentor can be responsible for setting up a group lunch, a welcome happy hour, and a dinner with spouses over the course of the first two months. Keep the new hire’s family in mind; a new job means adjustment for the entire family, especially with relocation. Include spouses and children when possible to ease the transition and help them feel comfortable within the organization and community.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
The genesis of a successful match begins far before the onboarding process is initiated; our proprietary Dimensional Search Process® matches technical fit, chemistry, culture, expectations and experiential translation to help ensure the foundation for a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership between employee and employer. To learn more about successful strategies for transitioning talent, reach out to your Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultant
Despite Economic Uncertainty, There are Opportunities Out There
As 2011 draws to a close, there is a lot of angst, uncertainty, frustration, and negativity regarding the economy. With so many negative headlines dominating the media lately, it is easy to become pessimistic. However, it is important not to lose sight of some of the positive events of 2011, such as strong corporate earnings, increased M & A activity, emerging global markets, and an increase in hiring both in the United States and abroad.
Profits are a Good Thing
This is not meant to be an opinion piece, but in light of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, there are a few basic conceptual points that deserve mentioning. The basic purpose of corporations and other businesses is to provide goods and services to consumers. Seeking to maximize profits should not be viewed as an inherently bad thing. Profits can be invested back into the business to spur innovation, to expand operations, to pay back shareholders and investors, and also to reward the hard work of officers and employees. While it is true that a corporation is not really a “person”, people – the employees, managers, executives, and board members – ultimately determine the path that the business takes. Businesses need people to produce and deliver their products and services. There will always be a need for talented individuals to fill open positions.
Companies are Hiring in the United States . . .
Although there has not been a “V-shaped” recovery, through the end of the third quarter of 2011, the U.S. economy has grown (in terms of GDP) for nine consecutive quarters. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), since February 2010, private sector employment has increased by 2.6 million in the aggregate or at an average rate of 136,000 jobs per month. Also, those figures are net and do not reflect the actual number of new hires. In the most recent “Job Openings and Labor Turnover” report from the BLS, there were almost 2.8 million job openings in the private sector in August 2011 and close to 3.8 million hires. The BLS also noted that since the end of the “Great Recession” in June 2009, the total number of job openings (public and private) has increased by 26% and the total number of hires has increased by 11%. Employees have also shown a willingness to seek other options. There were 2 million “quits” in August 2011 according to the BLS. While the unemployment rate has not decreased significantly, companies are hiring, and there are opportunities available.
. . . and Abroad
Although increased globalization contributes somewhat to economic uncertainty, there are still opportunities in other parts of the world. Companies will continue to tap into demand for their products abroad and also look for opportunities to cut costs, particularly if there is another economic downturn. Many companies are looking to raise capital and invest in other markets. For example, Coca-Cola recently announced that the company and its bottler partners planned to invest up to $3 billion in Russia over the next four years and up to $4 billion in China over the next three years. Also, although recent events have caused some companies to delay or withdraw plans for IPOs, the stock exchanges in Hong Kong and Singapore have seen record numbers of IPO applications.
Also, compared to Europe and North America, there is more optimism in other parts of the world regarding the economy. According to a global survey conducted by McKinsey & Company entitled Economic Conditions Snapshot, September 2011, more than one-third of the executives polled in the developed markets of Asia (defined as Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand) and in India, China, Latin America, and other developing markets believed that economic conditions in their countries would improve over the next six months.
Expansion efforts by companies in other parts of the world should create opportunities for U.S. employees who have the desire and ability to work abroad. In addition, the continued economic growth in China, India, Brazil, and other emerging markets may lead to more foreign investment in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, “foreign direct investment” in the United States increased by 11% during 2010 (after only 3% growth in 2009). Recently, the Obama administration has announced that it is exploring ways to encourage even more foreign investment in the United States as a way to create more job opportunities.
Strong Demand for Executive Talent
There is a particularly strong demand for managerial, director level, and executive level talent. CareerBuilder recently surveyed more than 2,600 hiring managers and HR professionals and found that nearly one quarter of employers expect to fill executive level positions in the next six months. The data from the BLS noted strong increases in employment for the professional and business services industry. This is not surprising given the economic uncertainty. Navigating through difficult times requires effective management and leadership teams. Those companies who are able to “trade up” by adding high-level executive talent will be poised for success.
Many companies are looking for individuals who can fill multiple roles within the organization. This is true even at the C-level. CFOs are often asked to also take on the responsibilities of a COO and vice versa. Also, COOs must become more knowledgeable regarding available technology and oftentimes are tasked with the responsibilities typically given to a CIO. With increased regulatory requirements and smaller budgets, General Counsel or Chief Legal Officers are more actively involved in decisions made at the executive level and are expected to rely less upon outside law firms. CEOs are expected to have knowledge across all functions in order to effectively lead the organization. The increased responsibilities and expectations placed upon executives have made filling openings at the highest levels within an organization more difficult and more critical to the overall success of the company.
Finding People Who Make a Difference®
There is also a supply of talent available to meet the demand of employers. As noted in prior issues of the SRA Update, the recession led to pent up demand among employees to seek other opportunities. In its publication entitled Talent Edge 2020: Building the recovery together, Deloitte reported that 65% of employees were either actively or passively looking to leave their current employer. “Generation X” (ages 32 – 47) employees, many of whom hold managerial or executive level positions, are the most restless. The Deloitte report noted that only 28% of Generation X employees expected to remain with their current employers. Therefore, there are substantial opportunities for companies to improve the talent of their management and leadership teams. Hiring managers will be under increased pressure to find executive level talent who can lead their organizations through uncertain times. Due to the increased responsibilities and expectations placed on executives, making a bad hire can be a very significant setback for a company.
“Finding people who make a difference®” is the goal of every search assignment conducted by Sanford Rose Associates®. Sanford Rose Associates® executive search consultants have in-depth industry specific knowledge and take the time to understand their clients’ needs and unique culture. Finding the candidate who not only possesses the requisite skills for a position, but is also a “cultural fit”, is crucial. The proprietary Sanford Rose Associates® Dimensional Search® process allows our search consultants to drill deeper and match (1) the client’s expectations for the position with those of the candidate, (2) the technical requirements for the position with the candidate’s education and background, (3) the candidate’s experience and personality with the company’s culture, (4) the chemistry between the hiring manager and the candidate, and (5) the candidate’s experience and prior results with the client’s expectations for the major, measurable initiatives of the position.
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