Posted by: Joe Hoffman | May 6, 2010

Getting recognized as an expert in your field


The solid basis for half of the learning curve.  People have to know that you exist.  That is the first part.  The second and more important part, someone has to make positive referrals on your behalf.  It is really all about the bass diffusion curve.  (The market penetration curve)

Be right and be complete.

Getting noticed is easy but you better be right.  Better still, extend the usual knowledge and answers to places your contacts and clients have not been before.  Be very complete, take no half steps.  Make sure that your advice can actually be used by the person or organization on the receiving end of your pearls of wisdom.

Give it away.  No hooks.

Share freely.  The biblical “cast your bread upon the waters” or the recent “Pay it foreword!” are truism embedded in our culture.  The recipient knows their role in the process.  They will spread the word for you.

Be a hero!

Every field of endeavor has a mythology that describes the good and ideal behaviors as well as the bad behaviors,  It also has a pantheon of heroes that embody that mythology.  If you are not sure of what that means for your business simply pay attention to the characters on TV shows , movies, books and plays.  Authors use this all the time to speed up character development since the audience typically already has the outline of the character built in.  Know who the heroes are and what they did because they represent the platonic ideal.  With the myths and heroes in hand go out there and be one.  Recognition will follow.

Posted by: Joe Hoffman | March 10, 2010

Enterprise Values

Every enterprise, of whatever scale, knows that it needs a “Mission Statement” so they go off and create something, sometime from a group consensus effort sometimes it is just the senior exec.   Invariably they are then told that they need a Vision statement.  All well and good, so off they go and create a “Vision Statement” to articulate internally and externally.    I have expressed my opinions on these in an earlier post so today I want to deal with the next batter up, the Enterprise Values.    Taken together, mission, vision and values should be answering the questions, what do we do, where are we going and how do we get there?  The first two are generally understood by founders, senior execs and hopefully, the employees.  Getting them well articulated and memorable is harder but doable.  Values are a whole other bag of snakes.

When working with small businesses, start-up organizations or turn around plays, I stress repeatedly that understanding the core values of the organization and the key players is absolutely critical to success.  The values of an enterprise, as expressed in real behaviors toward customers, employees and other stakeholders, will always be the core values of the senior executive.  Engaging the larger employee force in an effort to define the enterprise value set is a complete waste of effort and will likely result in dis-engagement over a relatively short-term.

If the key executive has done a good job of  understanding themselves and hired the senior team to compliment their short comings, there is a chance that having them involved in defining and articulating a value set  may be worthwhile. That statement comes with the caveat that the articulated values can not be too far from the Exec’s  because no one can truly hide who they are for very long.   Our behaviors, particularly under stress, bring our core to the surface.

Generally speaking, our individual values and ethics are based on, first and foremost, our belief systems, typically learned in our formative years and then from experience and observation.  Without delving into the psychological underpinnings the point I make is that by the time we are a fully functional adult, these beliefs, values and the ethical behaviors are so ingrained that it simply is who we are.  No one can be on stage acting out a script all day.  We will revert to our basic values and if they are in conflict with the script, our customers, employees and partners will react strongly.

That old adage, “To thyself be true.” is worth thinking about again.  If you are still not sure of what your true values are and you play golf, ask your playing partners.  They know!

Posted by: Joe Hoffman | October 7, 2009

The Art of the Hire Part VI Chemistry Test

The last stage of the candidate process is the most critical and typically the least effective for both the hiring company and the candidate.  Generally and traditionally,  a series of interviews are scheduled and each interviewer is going to try to assess:

  • The candidate’s knowledge, skills and special attributes
  • Their likely behavior on the job
  • Determine if they can work well with others at this company
  • Do they fit into the culture.

You have got be kidding me!  Who works at this firm?  Behavioral psychologists?  More likely, you have a popularity contest at work here.

The final 2 or 3 interviews should take place solely between the candidate, the hiring manager, a peer of the hiring manager and finally, the next level up in the organization with the sole purpose of determining if they like each other and that their personal hot buttons are covered.  That’s it!  A simple chemistry test.

Use the tools outlined earlier in this series, throw in a couple of brief phone interviews to confirm the KSAs, one or two pure technical interviews if needed and then the critical decision makers. No guesses or hopes at this point.  You know they can do the job, they behave the way you want, they fit the culture and as their boss, you can work comfortably with them.  Make an offer.  Now!

This is a quote from a Silicon Valley colleague:

“Now I’ve had an experience with a large (computer) storage company where I interviewed 5 times with at least 17 people, talk with the VP of the organization and have the hiring manager tell me I would get an offer by Weds(it was Monday). “

A pretty rough calculation would suggest the hiring firm involved spent at least $5,100 with this process.  (17 interviewers, one hour each at about $50 X 6*, the business impact for their time) On top of all  this,  he didn’t get the job.   That means they probably spent another $5,100 on the person they did hire plus some additional money for others in the process.

What is the point of all of this?  Businesses spend a lot of money on the hiring process.  If you are not a trained behavioral psychologist you are not trained to rely on a complex interview process.

Simplify it.  Identify the problem areas in your hire process, use the right tool  and bypass the beauty pageant.  You are only interested in the talent competition anyway.

* I use a multiplier of 6 to 10 to gauge the expected value or return on the annual loaded wage.  For example, a manager should have at least a six times improvement in the unit performance, either revenue generation, cost reduction or a combination.  If not, you have the wrong person or the you don’t need that position.

Posted by: Joe Hoffman | September 27, 2009

The Art of the Hire Part V – Interests or Culture Match

So far in this series, The Art of the Hire, I have briefly discussed four of the six critical aspects of the prospective employee that you, the hiring manager, need to learn early in the process:

Art I   – Matching the applicant to the Knowledge, Skills and Attributes required.

Art II  – Matching their personal sense of Integrity and Work Ethic to your company.

Art III – Determining if the applicants “Thinking Style” meets the job requirements.

Art IV  – Answering the question, how will this person “Behave” on the job?

Art V  – Matching their “Interests” and Motivational drivers to your job, your company and to you.  The remainder of this post will address this.

Art VI – Personal Chemistry Test  About 30% of the final decision and a make or break issue for you.  My next post in a few days.


Interests and Motivational Drivers otherwise known as “Culture Match”

If you can honestly answer or determine the answer to the question, ”Why am I in this business?” and answer it across a couple different dimensions, then isn’t it prudent to hire people that share those interests and drivers.  The process of personally getting the answer is a lot tougher than you think but the results for your business can be breathtaking.  Jennifer Walzer has a great article in the her blog, posted in the New York Times Small Business section that explores this issue.  Read it here.

Her revelation came as a result of a consultant’s question,“Why do you do this, Jen?” he asked. Easy. “I want to eliminate business owners’ headaches and make their lives easier.” But this wasn’t quite right. After much discussion, soul-searching and questioning, the result of our session with Simon was this: I had started my company because I absolutely loved taking care of people. That was my “why.”

Once again, there are assessment tools available that will help identify both your own drivers across dimensions such as People Service, Creativity, Financial, Administration, Technical, Mechanical or Enterprising as well as assessing an applicant’s degree of match.  Doesn’t it just make plain sense that you would want your staff, even if it is only a staff of one, part time at that, to be on the same page.  To use Ms. Welzer’s case again, she found out that a number of her employees were in it for themselves, not because they loved “taking care of people”.  I am not suggesting that these two interests are necessarily incompatible merely that they are part of her business drivers.

Why is this important to you?  Unless you really want to micro manage everything, you must let your staff go to make decisions for themselves with the expectation that they will make the choices that you yourself would make.  If they have the same drivers and the same focus, the odds are, they will.

If you are in hiring mode or are thinking about a turn around in the recession being on the horizon, contact me at Quade Consulting.   With our support, you will hire great people and improve your business performance.  We guarantee it!

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