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You call THAT a retention strategy!?

There are no right or wrong retention strategies. Everything depends on so much on company size, industry, budget, location, customer/product base, whether or not the company is in high growth mode or hanging on for survival, etc. Having said that, I can tell that you that there are most definitely wrong ways to execute on retention strategies.

Let me be clear, I am not commenting on any genuine, well-intended attempt that a company puts forth to try and retain its people. It’s a competitive landscape out there and all is fair in talent acquisition and talent management. I applaud companies for trying innovative ways to keep people, especially when it simply isn’t possible to keep doling out chunks of cash year over year.

Businessman in chainsHowever, as an organization and as a (HR) leader, you have to stay true to the intent of the retention strategy. I believe that retention initiatives are first and foremost intended to keep your good people (duh!) but just as important they formulate part of your employment brand. You become known to current and potential candidates for the types of things you do to keep people. When done right, these can serve as great differentiators or enhancers to your brand and when applied the wrong way, they can severely damage it.

Let me give you an example. I recently came across an organization which invests heavily in the professional development of its technical staff. For anything beyond a conference or seminar, they would pay for the employee to take the course (typically post-secondary or certification based) with a 2-3 year payback period. Meaning, if they paid $3000 for you to become certified in something, if you left before the three mark, you would owe back $1000 for every year of service not completed after that. I.e. you take the course, 1 year later you leave; you owe $2000 – pretty straight forward and pretty fair.

Recently, the company started losing a lot of good talent to a competitor for a multitude of reasons. Some were based on pay, some were based on work culture and some were based on leadership. So what did the company do in response to this? Well, first off, they changed their professional development policy. If you left within 3 years you now owed 100% of the money back…no sliding scale! (Way to address the cultural issue you have!) Talk about using a good retention program for evil…or at the very least, with the wrong application!

A more specific example that occurred with this company is when one of their rising stars accepted a role with a competing company. She went to her manager to give him her two weeks’ notice. This employee had been there approx. 7 years and was a solid performer. So, what was the manager’s response when she resigned you ask? First thing he did was check to see if she “owed” the company anything. Sure enough, 3 years ago they had paid a few thousand bucks for her to take a certification. They told her she would owe the full amount back as she was a week short of the three year commitment. What made this truly slimy was that that this course was taken before their most recent policy change! (i.e. she was still on the sliding scale plan.)

So what did this employee do? She changed her notice period to three week’s (because the company she was going to was more than happy to wait one more week for her) and then she didn’t owe them anything. This was an employee who previously didn’t have anything bad to say about her current employer and was leaving on good terms, albeit for a new opportunity she couldn’t get there. However, this completely soured her on her previous company. She felt like her time there didn’t mean anything and that all they cared about was getting the last nickel out of her.

Now, instead of leaving and speaking highly of her time there, and possibly returning in the future, she left angry, upset and would not refer anyone there. Talk about using your retention program for the wrong reasons! The amount of damage done to this company’s brand in a short period of time is immeasurable. Word quickly got around (the industry and skill set this person works in is very niche) about how her previous company used their retention program as a hammer. Now there are even more employees there looking to move on!

The bottom line is this – HR Professionals, you have to be the stewards of your organizations and make sure this type of crap doesn’t happen. If you have retention issues, the answer isn’t to make your retention program(s) punitive and restricting and create an environment of indentured servitude. You need to dig deeper and get to some root cause analysis about why people are leaving your company. For the company referred to in this post, my guess, based on how this employee was treated, was that they may some short sighted leadership. But that’s just a guess. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Photo courtesy of patrisyu/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

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Me, Myself and I Inc.

One of the smartest things that professionals can do is to make sure that they are always managing their personal brand. Essentially, your personal brand is the bits and pieces that make up who you are as a working professional. This covers a range of things like your reputation at/for work (i.e. quality, dependability, performance, on time delivery, etc.) as well as the more subjective pieces that make up your brand DNA like your personal ethics and values, what you stand for and other criteria on which you base your decision-making.

There are other elements of your personal brand that important to maintain such as how you network, how you market yourself and how you represent yourself in social media. All of these elements must be skillfully maintained, cultivated and managed by you on a regular basis. If ever a piece of your personal brand falls out of alignment with the rest of your brand composition, than your overall personal brand suffers.

BrandThe importance of maintaining your personal brand cannot be overstated. It plays such a huge part in your career trajectory and personal job satisfaction, whether you realize it or not! I often get asked by folks for career advice, and while I don’t consider myself some sort of uber-career advice guru, my years of experience in HR qualify me (I think) to dole out the occasional nugget of wisdom. The best advice I give people (IMHO) is when I advise people to always be managing their personal brand (hence the reason for this blog post!) That is, always make sure you are managing YOUR NAME Inc., or as I like to call it, “think of yourself as an employee/owner of Me, Myself and I Incorporated. That way, when you make (career) decisions you are making them in the best interest of this ‘company’ called YOUR NAME Inc. (a.k.a. Me, Myself and I Inc.)

Essentially, this line of thinking keeps everything in alignment for you from a personal branding perspective. If you think of your personal brand the same way you think of a product/business brand, it makes total sense why you would make career decisions in the best interests of Me, Myself and I Inc. If you think of yourself as a company, your own individual entity, than your brand IS your company and your company is your brand.

Now I know what you are thinking, but Scott, you are advising that people don’t consider their current employer in this equation? Absolutely not! Who you currently work for plays a big role in the decisions you make and how they align with your personal brand. A lot of times (many times) what is best for Me, Myself and I Inc. is what is best for who YOU work for. That is, decisions that cause you to apply for internal promotions, volunteer for project teams or support your colleagues are what are best for you and your company. Better yet, the day to day decision you make to show up to work and do a good job is most certainly in the best interest of My, Myself and I Inc. as that is what your employer expects from you AND it is what they pay you for! I would assume that earning money, being able to pay your rent/mortgage and put food on the table is what is best for Me, Myself and I Inc.? The tricky part comes when those two things (what is best for you vs your company) are at odds.

When conflicted with career choices and decisions, I always advise people to make a decision in the best interest of Me, Myself and I Inc. Sometimes this may involve someone moving on to (perceived) greener pastures. Sometimes this change is good for you and for your company. Perhaps you have grown stale in your role and with your company and you both need a change. Sometimes a change of scenery is good for both parties. In other situations, you may find yourself at moral or ethical odds with the company you work for. Perhaps the new line of business they opened up conflicts with your morals or beliefs? Sometimes how they treat employees (in general) during difficult time gives you pause for thought. Either way, you own your career and you own your brand, so you need to make a decision that is in alignment with this brand and that is best for Me, Myself and I Inc.

My intent here is not to put you at odds with your current employer, but to give you cause to pause and reflect on your personal brand, how you currently have it defined and what it means to you in your current role and for your career overall. The bottom line is that you need to make sure you are making decisions in the best interests of Me, Myself and I Inc., that is, those that reflective of your personal brand, because at the end of the day, that is what you are marketing to your current and future employers. Think of your brand and what drives you to make the career decisions that you have made so far. What has led you down this path? What has caused you to be successful? Then, stick to this personal brand charter and act accordingly. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What separates good from great in the recruiting world

Back in January of 2013, I wrote about the top 5 attributes of exceptional recruiters.  I cited things like working with a sense of urgency, ability to downstream candidates and being reachable as key attributes that recruiters need to possess.  In hind sight, I probably shouldn’t have shot for such a superlative (exceptional) but my thinking was this, I have seen such a gap in skill sets among recruiters that those who had those attributes stood out in my mind as being “exceptional.”  Maybe I should have simply described those recruiters that work with a sense of urgency, downstream their candidates and communicate well as being “good.”  I mean, at the end of day, if you can’t do those things well, than you probably shouldn’t be in the business!  So what truly makes a GREAT recruiter, or better yet, what do the very best, the “expert” or “exceptional” recruiters do?

RecruiterThe very best recruiters use the telephone – yes, I know that everyone knows how to “use” the phone, what I am getting at is that they use it as the #1 tool in their toolbox.  They are skilled and adept at picking up that phone and sourcing and closing candidates.  They don’t rely on email as their main communication tool.  The very best recruiters also have that uncanny ability to know when to pick up the phone and touch base with a candidate that is going through the recruitment funnel – whether it is to provide reassurance that they are still moving through the process or perhaps to keep them on the “hook” after having accepted an offer so that they are not influenced by a counter offer.  Either way, it is almost like a 6th sense or super power that they possess!

The best leverage social media – of course in today’s social media driven world, great recruiters need to be skilled at utilizing social media to enhance their digital footprint and enhance their professional “brand.”  No, you don’t have to be an expert on every platform; however great recruiters are skilled at utilizing LinkedIn to find great candidates.  (It doesn’t even have to be the Recruiter platform).  They know how to leverage the power of joining and participating in Linkedin groups, they are adept at providing content to these groups and balancing this vs. just putting up job postings. They also know how to run a company page, take advantage of Linkedin’s search functionality and provide their own relevant updates that will drive traffic to their profile.  The very best also have a Twitter presence – they are adept at creating and sharing relevant content so as to enhance their overall SoMe (social media) presence.  Lastly, the very best typically augment all their recruiting efforts through some sort of writing/blogging effort.  They may write content for a Linkedin page, a company/corporate website or perhaps their own blog.  One of the very best at doing this is Tim Sackett – he runs his own blog, The Tim Sackett Project – in addition to running his own recruiting company.  His witty, cutting writing style drives a lot of  interested readers to his blog and overall it enhances his SoMe presence and his “position” as a subject matter expert in the recruiting and HR fields.

Know how to conduct a Boolean search – at the risk of making this blog post a lesson in Boolean searching, all I will say about this topic is that if you are a recruiter and DON’T know what a Boolean search is or don’t know how to run one, then you need to find out how.  Check out Glen Cathey’s blog, Boolean Black Belt, to find out more – you will be glad you did!  This ability truly separates good from great in the recruiting world.

Act as a consultant – whether you work for a 3rd party search firm or a corporate recruiting team, the great recruiters act as recruiting consultants.  They aren’t simply order takers that then march out into the field of battle to find the latest purple squirrel.  Recruiting consultants engage in dialogue with their clients to ensure proper expectations are set and that the recruiting campaign maintains ongoing alignment with these expectations.  Roadblocks, obstacles and delays need to be discussed in a consulting (solutions focused) manner.  Recruiting consultants also coach and guide their clients through the process at all times so that they keep campaigns on track and obtain repeat business.

Finally, the great recruiters are salespeople at heart.  Let’s not try and fool anyone here and call recruiting an HR role.  It may report into HR, which is fine, but it isn’t an HR role.  Great recruiters are great sales people.  They know how to open dialogue, identify a problem and apply a solution, overcome objections, negotiate and finally, CLOSE.  Recruiting is sales through and through – in this case, it is the selling of talent that solves an organizational problem.  The great recruiters know this – which is why/how they seperate themselves from good recruiters.  Their talent lies in the ability to overcome objections, negotiate and close.

So, there you have five key differentiators they separate good from great recruiters.  Feel free to use it as an acid test to compare where you or your team are/is in this spectrum.  The good news for the good recruiters is that all of these areas can be learned/coached and you can become great yourself – as long as you are a recruiter at heart and not an HR Pro in disguise!

What do you think?  In your experience, do these five areas capture recruiting greatness?  Do you have anything to add?  Any disagreements?  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback

Image courtesy of SOMMAI/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Make the Leap with your Linkedin Company page

Understatement alert: Linkedin has a lot of great features. The really amazing thing is that a lot of them are free and job seekers, employers and recruiters really need to make sure they are taking advantage of these offerings. For recruiters, the Linkedin company page is a great way to brand and promote your company. Your company page truly is a fantastic opportunity to promote your organization to active and passive candidates alike. You can showcase your product and service offerings, promote your culture, and showcase your current/potential career opportunities. The key is to drive traffic to your company page and ultimately enhance your Talent Brand Index.

LeapSo how does one go about making the most of their company page? Well, as with all things, you need a plan. You need to identify what it is you want to communicate and who is responsible for executing on this, then you work your plan. There are several key things that you can do that will allow you to launch and manage a successful Linkedin company page while increasing the amount of followers you have. Remember, followers are a big part of what increases your Talent Brand Index. Followers can also be prospective employees and customers so keep this in mind when launching your company page.

When you first get going, it is important to identify your (the right) team as the management of the company page can’t be done alone. Someone needs to take ownership of the page from an administration and content ownership perspective. Once this person has been identified, you then need to pull together your “editorial” team. Look across your organization to identify key individuals that could provide relevant content to your company page. I recommend getting people involved that are in charge of, or involved with, key projects, or are in charge of departments that you regularly hire for, or even those that are technical experts or sales managers. All of these people can provide relevant content to your company page. Of course, it helps if they have an interest or passion in writing, but if you as the HR person/recruiter are able to effectively write, than you can massage whatever content they provide into effective messaging on your company page.

Once you have the team in place, you need to work out a content delivery plan. The team should commit to a schedule, whereby team members are responsible for meeting “editorial” dates. Set a goal that team members must of meet, such as providing a relevant update every other day, week, etc. Each team member has to provide an update on their scheduled day – whether they provide it themselves or find someone else outside of the team that does so. It is important that the editorial team members do in fact reach out to various folks across your company for input into the content. This is a great way to identify and involve your company brand ambassadors as well as recognize key individuals for their contributions by showcasing their knowledge.

In terms of the type of content that can be provided, I recommended that you consider the following:

1) Current company projects: success stories, new technologies being utilized by your company, breakthroughs, etc.
2) Industry news: provide and share content from other sources that reference key things going on in your industry – whether locally, domestically or even internationally.
3) General company success stories: This can involve things like company project/bid wins, expansion/growth that has taken place, new product/service lines being launched and offered, etc.
4) Anecdotal stores: this can cover anything from “A day in the life of…” to company social celebrations. You can use this content section to give prospective employees a taste of your culture and what it would be like to work for your company.
5) Anything else you can think of: There really is no wrong answer here as long as the content is relative, relevant and recent. Any other type of interesting facts, weird and wacky info about your company and its people or unique things about your culture can all be gold!

When providing content though, it is important that you and your editorial team follow the 30/30/30 rule. Best practices for company websites and Linkedin pages show that the most effective sites follow the 30/30/30 rule. That is, 30% of your company updates should be focused on promoting jobs/career opportunities at your company. 30% of the content should be focused on providing company information and updates and 30% of the content should be focused on general industry news, updates, etc. This 30/30/30 rule will help drive traffic to your page and increase followers. It also provides a nice mix for people visiting your site to that they aren’t always getting blasted with jobs, jobs, jobs!

By utilizing some of the suggestions provided here, you will be well on your way to establishing an effective Linkedin company page. Remember, content is key, so focus on the previously mentioned 3R’s: relative, relevant and recent. Get your content team together; come up with your plan and then go for it! There really is no wrong answer here. The only failure is to not take advantage of the opportunity to promote yourself on your company page!

What about you? Do you have any other suggestions on what type of content to provide on your company page? If so, I would love to hear from you. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of arztsamui/freedigitalphotos.net

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