Improving Employee Engagement Often Starts With a Divorce

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Do you struggle with letting people go? You’re not alone. Many leaders have some level of discomfort when it comes to firing someone. Yet, this uncomfortable responsibility is frequently what’s needed to improve employee engagement. In this episode, I share with you how to make the decision of whether or not fire someone easier.

Scott WintripImproving Employee Engagement Often Starts With a Divorce
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Here’s When It’s Okay To Be Slow To Hire

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Being slow to hire often means a job goes unfilled for awhile. But it doesn’t have to. There’s a way to be slow to hire that’s fast and effective. It starts with understanding the real meaning of the idea.

The Unintended Consequences of Slow to Hire
The idea of slow to hire has been around for years. I noticed it gained traction as leaders became increasingly aware of the significant costs of a bad hire. The financial cost alone has been estimated as a five- to six-figure sum. Then there’s the lost time, missed opportunities, wasted effort, and added stress. Because of these costs, it made sense to make hiring decisions carefully.

That was the original intent of being slow to hire—taking the time necessary to make smart hiring decisions.

Unfortunately, the idea of careful hiring took on a life of its own. One or two rounds of interviews with prospective hires expanded to three, four, five, sometimes six separate rounds before making a hiring decision. Then there are additional steps including testing, reference checking, and background checks.

Finally, if all goes well, a job offer is made to the most qualified person. However, if that offer is declined and the second choice candidate has already taken another job (which often happens after a long, drawn-out hiring process) the whole process starts all over again. That adds more time, more effort, more expense, and more interviews, making slow to hire even slower.

Has this cautious approach to hiring worked? Not if you’re a leader with an unfilled job. Certainly not if you’re in HR and can’t find enough qualified people. Definitely not if you’re in staffing or talent acquisition and your best candidate was just hired by a faster competitor. The time it takes to fill just one job has reached an all-time high, and there’s been no improvement in employee turnover.

Because of this misunderstanding about slow to hire, the world has been operating on a faulty premise. People have mistakenly been equating time and effort spent on hiring with making a quality hire. The more take they take, the more energy they expend, the better the hire will be. It’s given them a false sense of control. Taking lots of time to hire doesn’t save companies from bad hires; it only saves people from making a decision they’re afraid may be wrong.

Slow to hire became something unintended. It turned into being slow to fill.

You can break your organization out of this cycle, while still taking a prudent approach to decision-making. You do that by being slow to hire and fast to fill. Here are 6 steps that will help.

Recruit ahead
Pick one role and start cultivating talent for it right now, even if there are no current openings. It’s not if that job will open, but when. You’re preparing for the when.

Build rapport
Let candidates know you hire differently, getting to know people before jobs open. You’ll typically find that talented people welcome this approach since this gives them an option for their future.

Interview actively
Just as you try on clothes before buying them, you can have people try-on opportunities. Invite people to experience your company and culture. Having them try out sample work lets you both determine if a role in your organization may be a future fit.

Maintain contact
Touch base with prospective hires at least monthly. Use the few minutes you spend to pass along valuable information, such as marketplace updates or news on a trend you’ve seen. This keeps your relationship top of mind while also making her better off just from having spoken with you.

Fill fast
When a job opens, offer it to the top person with whom you’ve stayed in touch. If she’s unable to say “yes,” offer it to the next best candidate on your list.

As you maintain contact with candidates who are ready-to-hire, you can repeat these steps with another role (if you like). And then another. And then another.

Smart decision-making and a speedy process can work hand in hand when you’re slow to hire and fast to fill. This balanced approach lets your organization make prudent hiring decisions while filling jobs the moment they become open.

Scott WintripHere’s When It’s Okay To Be Slow To Hire
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Improving Retention Requires Doing These 3 Things

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If you’re looking to improve retention, chances are that your company has been overlooking the simple and powerful actions I discuss in this episode of my podcast.

Scott WintripImproving Retention Requires Doing These 3 Things
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Why, Hire Slow, Fire Fast is Dead Wrong!

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How can you speed up the hiring process while making sure you hire the right person? Bestselling author and Top 30 Global Leadership Guru Dov Baron and I discuss concrete steps you can take in this segment of his award-winning podcast.


Scott WintripWhy, Hire Slow, Fire Fast is Dead Wrong!
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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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