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“You Get One Strike With Your Employees” Lying is Lying

“You Get One Strike With Your Employees” Lying is Lying

PAETEC, a Rochester based company recently was sold to Windstream and on the day of the shareholder’s vote, the CEO Arunas Chesonis was set to be the guest speaker at a leadership breakfast entitled “My Top 5 Biggest Blunders and Top 5 Genius Moves in Building a Fortune 1000 Company.” My very dear friend and reporter, Leah George, was there and captured this very intense and real quote:

You get one strike with your employees and once you break that trust, you never get it back,” said Chesonis.

How true this statement really is, yet I am curious as to how many managers, owners and executives really understand this to be fact? I am typically writing from the point of view of a manager/decision maker acting as their advocate, but with this, I have to fall to the other side (at least partially). Too many times in business I have witnessed business owners and executives who work so very hard to be transparent, yet when pushed into a corner, like many of us in our daily lives, falter. So when we falter as executives and managers how do we remain true and honest with our employees?

Here are three things I know to be true:

  1. Telling a half truth is just like telling a lie
  2. Keeping your mouth shut is just like telling a lie
  3. Lying is Lying
Ok, so we got that covered.  How do we protect the companies future, trade secrets, current happenings etc… while keeping the trust with the team?
  1. Rumors happen no matter what
  2. There is no reason to tell all of what is going on
  3. Share what you can and explain in plain English that changes are happening and you are working with your advisors to make the best possible decision for the entire team
  4. Remind them that the entire team includes you, your family and those who have been with you since the beginning
  5. Be comfortable with, “I know there is a feeling of uncertainty, know that I am making every effort … weigh all options… make this decision, etc…. but that is all I can say on the issue right now” when asked a direct question
Address the feelings both in private but then in public, especially if you or your office has received the same or similar question more than once. Ignore something does not make it go away. You are continuing to maintain the office or work place as a “safe” place and there aren’t many safe places left. See things from their side, so many companies are downsizing, off shoring, or closing that every closed door meeting means that someone is getting fired in the eyes of your employees.
There is no doubt that employees feel that they have more of a right to know about what is occurring behind closed doors than they may have 20 years ago, blame Enron (or try). The issue is so much of the personal and professional culture of a business is transparent at some level and finding that balance is extremely important. If there is something big brewing, people can tell so address what you can immediately. Once you break an employees trust, even through the treatment of a fellow employee, you have lost respect from that person and they will begin to second guess your decision making capabilities as an owner or executive.
Any award winning or successful owner/manager will tell you that the key to their success is their people. Even if you don’t see complete value in each of your employees every single day, that is ok. It is kind of like being in a marriage, as my soon to be mother in law says, one of you is always going to love the other more!
In the next few weeks I am really looking forward to writing about another great quote Chesonis had: He told group he has learned you can never fire people too fast and that decisions shouldn’t be dictated by arrogance or greed.
Image credit to Time Magazine 1994

Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Social Media and Your Company, WHAT PLAN? Don’t People Buy From Me Just b/c I am on Twitter?

Chris Brogan wrote a great article on Social Media, “After the Kumbaya” questioning business owners, markets, tweeters, etc… on what their real plan is and how they are measuring results as it relates to SM. I couldn’t agree more but the problem is, most companies have a difficult enough time defining target market segments let alone defining, designing and most important MEASURING their marketing plan. It is kind of like joining an association or business group but not being active, just because you are a member doesn’t mean people know you exist.

Many “experienced” SME’s believe that this is OLD news and that there are bigger things to take on, which may be the case with large companies but I still see Facebook company pages with no interaction with their fans or minimal activity at all and blogs that post once or twice a month, the list goes on and on. What are you trying to accomplish through SM?

  • Increase brand recognition
  • Define your brand
  • Introduce new changes
  • Reach a niche market
  • Launch a new product
  • Find and recruit talent
  • Have a presence just because your competitors do???? Ok this one doesn’t work

Some companies do an incredible job, Anvil Knitwear for instance has a great Facebook page and it is apparent that they are trying to showcase their sustainability/green efforts and work with US farmers. They also have a lot of posts targeting communities and college/university age students. Pictures galore and activity on a regular basis.

What are they measuring? I am not sure? How are the measuring? I didn’t ask… yes that is step 2, we have to measure how well things are working!

Just like the days of newspaper ads, coupons/coupon codes and referrals we need to know where our customers heard about us. Having someone dedicated to SM is costing you money, even if it is you so you have to be consistent and track the dollars spent, even if it is payroll dollars. There are companies you can hire or software you can use that will track these things for you. I have not researched enough in this area to make recommendations, but I am sure they are available.

In the field of recruiting and employment branding, you cannot use your twitter or FB page just to talk about the jobs you are recruiting for… BORING! You will only be reaching a small group (those connected with you). You have to be engaging, exciting, interesting, add value and be inviting. WOW, yes, you have to be all of those things and consistently.

In B2C environments the demand is the same as above or you just another mouth shouting out, buy from me because I am no twitter… It doesn’t work! Start my mimicking your advertising plan, even if it is one you used a year ago. This way you aren’t trying to do too much at once, and you will also see vast improvement on your new tactics which will motivate you for future marketing efforts.

B2B is still similar and in each environment let me add something more, you need to be the expert and you need to add VALUE… yes big boring overused word that is never really defined. What is value as an expert? Well it varies from market to market, but you need to provide something to your followers, customers, prospects that they would have to research to find on their own. It should be something of relevance to your audience and you should be solving a problem or at least acting as a resource.

In summary, SM is no quick fix! Chris Brogan said it best, “You Can’t Eat A Hug”

Best Kept Secret on Closing a Deal: Getting People to Like You

I was doing some of my daily reading and came across a great post by Guy Kawasaki on Increasing Your Likeability and I thought to myself, well, I like people to like me so how can I get them to like me more?

In his infograph there is a great tidbit on how Zappos has a turnover rate that is over 9% lower than the national average which I hope to get to addressing in a future post because what I really want to focus on is this, “the best negotiators spend 40% of their time finding shared interests with the other party.”


This is a very large number and to me makes perfect sense when I look at how I personally choose to build relationships and what my relationships look like with those I partner with whether as a vendor or customer. This is also the reason why so much business gets done on the golf course, well, maybe not but we now have data to take to our SVP or CFO as to why that expense really does have an ROI.

When you have shared interests with someone it is easier to relate to them, right? I don’t want you to run out and create a survey to send to your customers and prospects of their hobbies, I am sure they will see right through you.

How to create and understand shared interests? Much of this is sales 101:

  1. Ask open ended questions about events happening in your community such as a play, sports team or musical acts that are in town currently to see if there are shared interests.
  2. Are you involved in a Charity: Review their LinkedIn page for Board seats they hold especially involving charities is their an opportunity to share fundraising ideas?
  3. Open up and be personal: Talk about what you did over the weekend and open yourself up personally first but please use caution in the timing of this. You are not looking for a new best friend with someone you have just met, that makes everyone uncomfortable. “I was thinking of taking my family to the community theatre to see Peter Pan, have you been or heard any reviews” sounds much nicer than “I have 2 extra tickets to Peter Pan would you like to join my family and I.” Especially early on.
  4. Be sincere and genuine! No one wants to be sold to, ESPECIALLY when it comes to personal interests. If you see that they have a signed jersey from a team you despise, don’t fake it. If you find out that they love opera and you are clueless, don’t say that you love the opera, let them know that this is something you know nothing about and you are curious as to how they gained exposure to it.
  5. Write it down! The worst thing you could ever do is have a personal interchange with someone and then mix them up with someone else a few months down the road re: their favorite hobby or sports team.
  6. Know what you are good at but don’t flaunt it. If you are an expert on local restaurants, where the best deals are, specialty beers, etc… Share your knowledge but don’t be pushy. If you become a resource to your potential customer they will be reaching out to you sooner than you know, even if it is on the best red wine!
Here is the infograph from Guy Kawasaki’s post, isn’t it fabulous!

Enchantment - Increase Likability

Which is it: Feed Your Followers or They Will Die? OR Have Something Interesting to Say?

Which is it: Feed Your Followers or They Will Die? OR Have Something Interesting to Say?

I have to admit that my tweets are pretty boring. I do not do a great job of creating a buzz or even contributing to the buzz. Why? I forget, well that and I fell like the energy and work that I put in to my blogs are enough, or they should be. Jessica Merrell-Miller writes about creating the buzz as recruiters, employers, executives and sales people so that people are interested and engaged with you; one of my favs is why people follow and un-follow you. It sounds simple and common sense enough, that simply posting a job that you are looking to fill is not going to excite anyone.

Maybe I should look at myself as the Laziest Recruiter Ever (rather than job seeker) if I am not going to do all that it takes, I cannot be frustrated when I am not gaining results using certain tools like Twitter. Isn’t that the definition of insanity, doing the same thing in the same way expecting a different result? I would say it is also the definition of a know it all. I think I have all the answers and know what I am doing.

The problem with me is that I have a bit of recruiter ADD sometimes, I put my plan together and map it out, but then I get distracted. I move down a path and start seeing some momentum and keep going and then that takes me to a new path and I move down that and by the time I am ready to wrap up the day I have 4-8 windows open (none of them are shopping sites). I know that other professionals have this same issue; typically this is when there are 5 people in and out of your office door or you have sent a plan for review and it takes on another life.

With Twitter you have to remember that you have to start following and listening to what others are saying and share that with others who are following you. I know many of you are saying this is a lot of work and how can 140 characters be valuable or make an impact? Well, even if you are not a recruiter, it is important to understand what recruiters are saying about Twitter and how they use it.  Think about it, in business, you want to know what your competitors or the experts in your field are doing to stay on top, right? Then it is in your best interest whether you are corporate HR, business manager or job seeker to know what recruiters are doing to find the best talent.

The common thread and theme I have found that really resonates with me re: Twitter is to BE SOCIAL!

  • You have to work it in to your daily lives and and other tools make it easy to use your other social media content and incorporate them all together.
  • Follow people that you find interesting, you will be that much more likely to check in, interact and be inspired
  • Add the Twitter feed to your phone, when you are waiting in line at the grocery store check in and retweet
  • Know what your specialty is and find and follow others in the field
  • Believe that you are a person of interest and share your ideas
  • Question and poll your followers with something you need an answer to (be sure it is relevant to others)
Feed your followers or they will die? Maybe, but then I have to investigate why I follow people and really it is because they have something interesting to say not because they retweet my stuff.
Image borrowed from Carlos in a 2009 article re: Twitter and if it is stupid or not and that people can’t figure it out so he created some visualizations!

What if Recruiters Stopped Using Social Media?

What if Recruiters Stopped Using Social Media?

So I was just reading an article by Erica Swallow  about how recruiters use social media to screen candidates. The article is more of an infograph than an article and it is packed with incredible detail. One of the strongest findings, recruiters who participated in this confidential survey shared that 69% of recruiters had ruled out candidates based on what they viewed on their social media sites. Conversely 68% of recruiters hired a candidate based on the profile or pages of a candidates social media presence.

Obviously this type of information is going to send lawyers and candidates everywhere in to an uproar, but wait a minute I am confused! I personally don’t search out candidates to see their activity on Facebook however I have searched for candidates on Facebook and LinkedIn and I post jobs on both. I also use LinkedIn to review a candidate.

I have put together a hypothetical thought. Here are some potential ramifications if recruiters are not supposed to use social media to make hiring decisions and stop:

  1. No more posting jobs on twitter, google+, LinkedIn, LI Groups, Facebook, etc…
  2. No more asking for recommendations from colleagues, former bosses, customers, etc… on LinkedIn because we won’t be looking at those
  3. re: #2 it will be back to company policy of dates of employment and title only
  4. Passive job seekers will have to go back to putting their resumes on CareerBuilder and Monster for their current employers to see
  5. Most people learn about openings from referrals and people in their “network” that they trust without social media our networks shrink considerably and so do the candidates
Maybe I am in the minority, I believe that what people are doing is working if just as many recruiters have hired candidates based on their online presence as not, they are better odds than the traditional job boards. Honestly, we are looking for strong positive connections to make a good hire that we know will last and by seeing deeper connections through your online profile we feel that much more confident in the decisions we are making.
It is fairly simple what we are looking for:
  • We want to see that you have recommendations from former employers, colleagues, customers, etc…
  • We want to make sure your resume and profile match
  • We want to see that you have connections with a variety of professionals in your industry
  • We want to see that you have joined groups in your field
Does this mean that a recruiter should only be using social media to find the positives about a candidate?  Define what is positive? This DOES vary from employer to employer and job to job. It isn’t feasible.
RE: YOUR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT (this is the one people seem to really struggle with) Here is the biggest thing to understand, as a job seeker or potential candidate, even a current employee “we” see what you let “us” see! WOW, crazy isn’t it! I don’t want to see any interrogating or compromising pics or posts from any of my friends let alone someone I don’t know; it honestly makes me uncomfortable. If you have an issue with an employer, your grandmother or anyone else seeing you sloppy drunk then use your security settings to block us, we aren’t friends, so that should be easy, as far as grandma you will have a few extra steps to take.
Recruiters and Business owners please note that there are unwritten guidelines and ethics we use as guiding principles in all of our recruiting and sourcing efforts, this is no exception. The laws are detailed and vary based on the use of social media in recruiting be sure that you are staying on top of them or reaching out to a professional when you are unsure of proper protocol.
thank you Social Media Sean for the image

Leaves Change and So Can You

I am not an expert on change management but I do happen to believe people, teams and organizations can and do change (sometimes in directions we are not interested in). It could be the change of seasons, it could be the people who have been entering my life or where I am in my current state, I am sure it is a culmination of all 3, I have been writing of growth, change and expansion quite a bit lately.

There is a process to change and when you are in an organization where you are looking to create and motivate change that process should be more structured. Some initiatives you may be looking to change:

  • Mission changes
  • Strategic changes
  • Operational/Structural changes
  • Technological changes
  • Changing the attitudes and behaviors of personnel
Businesses, their plans and the people who support them and make them work are all living, breathing, moving parts therefore it could be assumed that as all living things change occurs. There are also times when we want to initiate change in order to move ourselves, our department, our business forward.
  • We first must review what is our current status and how has it changed and adapted to this point?
  • Why did “it” change in that particular way and what were the driving forces?
  • If we put a plan of action together to implement and manage change what are 1-2 core areas of focus?
  • Who are the leaders to promote this change?
  • What are the top 2-3 results we are looking for?
  • Create benchmarks to judge successes and stress points and be able to continue to ADAPT your plan to move towards desired results
Change is exciting and invigorating to some while for others it can literally freeze them or make them panic. Recognize that not all people react well to change if the plan is uncertain for them. You cannot always share the long term plan and each and every detail with your entire team or group but you can share the vision and direction and what or why you need this to be successful.

I relate it to when you go on a diet but you don’t tell anyone because you are the type of person who needs to  have success on your own and privately first. So you may share with your friends and your family over time that you are really just looking to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself rather than your goal of loosing 25 pounds.

Getting people on board and having support is important but who and how you incorporate different individuals will depend on what you are looking to change, your timeline and what the plan looks like. Like anything, it can be done, but the more invested you are in a plan or outline and setting goals and checking in with various benchmarks the more likely you will see your desired results and with less bumps in the road.

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

Poor HR, employee engagement is their responsibility, yet it is definitely one of those things that cannot be done alone. Employee Engagement is one of those things that companies really struggle with when it comes to prioritizing, surveying, implementing and monitoring effectiveness; why? Well it is overwhelming. When we think about engaging our employees and our teams we want to be sure that we have all of the pieces together, we want it to be successful and repeatable and there are a lot of employees.

Let’s start with the survey, you must have a benchmark to judge from right? There are incredible companies out there that manage this process so if you have a serious problem in service, attendance, sales, operations, etc… you may want to engage someone. If you are going to attempt to build this on your own reach out to your networks, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Your survey should ask questions like:

  • People in my work group/team work resolve conflict as soon as it arises
  • I feel that I am recognized for the work that I do
  • I feel personal satisfaction from the work that I do
  • Team meetings are informative and efficient
So you have this series of questions (and please ensure that your process allows for complete confidentiality) but what are you measuring for? Well before you implement anything let’s look at what you are trying to impact:
  • What is your current turnover rate? Can you break this out by sector?
  • What is your absenteeism? By sector?
  • What are your sales numbers? What is the % to sales goal?
  • What do your customer satisfaction surveys look like?
  • What is your quality error number?
Alright, we are starting to get some where. We need to really move towards what to do with the survey. Employee engagement is when an employee feels that they are valued and appreciated, believe in what they do/who they do it for, is intellectually committed to their work and has a sense of satisfaction from their work.
Do you, as an employer care if your employees are engaged (satisfied, feel valued, appreciated, etc…) Don’t answer that, let’s ask it another way:
Do you as an employer care if your employees close more deals, increase your customer satisfaction, grow the business, show up so you can run a line, decrease rework and quality errors?
Then the answer is plain and simple: YES, you as an employer feel that employee engagement is powerful, important and a priority in your organization. Why? Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it impacts your bottom line.
There are studies out there, DDI did a great one, that show that the difference in an employee engaged workforce vs unengaged had the following stats:
  • 14.5% vs 4.1% turnover (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)
  • 8% vs 4.8% absenteeism
  • 91% vs 99% of their sales goals
  • 5,678 vs 52 quality errors (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)

Employee engagement starts with hiring the right people

  • managers who are innovative, empowering and motivating
  • employees who have the innate characteristics you are looking for to be engaged in the work you do and the culture you offer
  • putting the right people in the right jobs
  • getting rid of dead weight
  • removing an unsuccessful manager to another position for the betterment of the entire team
Employee engagement is one of those banks that you have to make deposits in to in order to see the rewards being withdrawn. When you provide and create a high performing organization with supportive leadership that motivates you will reap the rewards of increased customer satisfaction, profitability and a decrease in turnover. It may sound like a great deal of work, but the more people that are on board and assisting with the process the more seamless the process will be and your return on investment will be that much greater.
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