Posted: 04/17/2018 Category: RG White Paper
Some people just seem to have "it" - that mysterious, intangible characteristic that lets you know that they will be successful no matter what they decide to do.
From selling copiers fresh out of high school to investing in a health club as a young professional to being Chairman and CEO of the world's leading Executive Search Firm specializing in the chemical, consumer products, and technology industries today, I have met a lot of people in my life. Some, like myself, seemed to bleed success, while others were more apt to stagnate.
What differentiates the highly successful from the rest? Education? Networking skills? Luck? Magic? In my opinion, it is none of these.
In my experience, I have noticed there are three (and a half) kinds of people in this world:
All bark and no bite, about 80% of people fall into this category. They are eager to proclaim to everyone they know on Facebook that they are going to "do something" - start a business, write a book - but never manage to get their projects off the ground.
Ideas are not enough to make you successful. If you had a million unique, marketable ideas and one nickel... You'd have 5 cents. This brings us to our next group of people...
About 10% of people are Starters, who actually start what they say they are going to do (proving to their Facebook 'friends' that their word means something) but don't usually finish what they start. They tend to hit the ground running, but quickly lose momentum when they come face-to-face with the first hurdle. If you know where to look, you can usually find the neglected fruits of their labor; it may be a room in their house full of unsold product, or a folder on their computer with file upon file of opening chapters.
Nothing in life is a success-only journey. Accomplishing big things requires a lot of effort and perseverance. Don't believe me? We'll talk about some of the failures that great men have faced as we address the final group of people.
The final 10% of people have the perseverance to finish what they start. When they fall down, they don't let themselves get discouraged; they use the failure as fuel to push themselves further. History is full of Doers who never gave up on their dreams:
Richard Branson is dyslexic and struggled greatly in school, and dropped out at 16. His headmaster once told him that he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire; he strove for the latter. At 16 he began his own magazine, and at 20 he started a mail-order record business that would later become Virgin Records. Eventually he had to choose between supporting Virgin Airlines or Virgin Records, and wept when he had to sell the label that had started his empire. Although the overall Virgin brand has experienced significant success, it has also experienced a number of failures, into Cola, Cars, Publishing, Clothing, and even Bridal shops. He has attempted to break a number of world records, and while he has occasionally been successful, one attempt resulted in his boat capsizing and a rescue effort by the Royal Air Force
Thomas Edison went through some 10,000 iterations before inventing a workable prototype of the light bulb. He didn't view these "mistakes" as failures, however, but as learning opportunities: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work.”
Michael Jordan, one of the most celebrated professional basketball players of all times, cried when he didn't make his high school varsity basketball team. Then he used that rejection as the ultimate motivation; any time he thought about quitting, he remembered the sting of seeing that roster without his name on it. He later said, "I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
Elon Musk was severely bullied as a child, and was even hospitalized after one incident. He has been removed as CEO from not one but two companies he founded, was once spat on by a Russian chief designer, his first rockets for SpaceX crashed and burned, and he bankrupted himself to keep Tesla afloat after the 2008 economic downturn. Today, Musk is a serial entrepreneuer - with a market interest of changing the world - with previous and current ventures that include: Zip2, X.com (which became PayPal), SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, Hyperloop, OpenAI, Neuralink, The Boring Company, and Thud.
Colonel Sanders was 65 years old when Kentucky Fried Chicken began in earnest. Prior to that time, he endured a handful of failed restaurants, and over 1,000 rejections of his business model.
There is another secret I would like to share with you about being a Doer. It is not enough to simply forge ahead; you need to know where you're going. You have to do more than just dream - you must set concrete goals. In everything you do professionally, keep this ultimate goal in the back of your mind. If you find yourself in a situation that doesn't further that goal, you may need to reconsider the course you are on.
Even this is not enough, though. To achieve your goals, you need a step-by-step plan of attack. Just like with a road trip, you can't simply decide you want to travel from Pensacola, Florida, to Seattle, Washington, then just get in the car and drive. You need a map, and you need to plan for stops along the way. Prepare for the journey as in-depth as you can, but also be ready to adjust course when you run into roadblocks (or when you are tempted by the world's largest ball of twine, or some other quirky local attraction).
...Oh yeah, I almost forgot one final group!
Leaders comprise a (small) sub-section of Doers. They are the 1% of people who not only finish what they start, they then turn around and teach others how to do the same. Doers can accomplish many things on their own, but it is Leaders who have the power to truly change the world.
Great Leaders don't always need to have the spotlight shining on them; in fact, many Leaders prefer to let the spotlight shine on others.
One of the greatest leaders in history, George Washington, was also one of history's most reluctant figureheads. When the Revolutionary War began, he volunteered for service and instead found himself catapulted to General and Commander-in-Chief. (He claimed he was not equal to the position and steadfastly refused to take a salary.) Following the war, he wanted nothing more than to retire to his estate; and yet he took up the mantle of President when the electorate unanimously nominated him. While in the position, he took care in each decision he made, knowing it would set a strong precedence for the country's future. (Again, he tried to refuse a salary. He ultimately relented on this point for fear future presidents would not be paid, thus reserving the position only for the independently wealthy.)
Great Leaders pass it on! If you found this article valuable, then share it with your network.
Posted: 04/11/2018 Category: RG White Paper
The experts all agree: the job market has changed. The digital marketplace means that candidates have a wealth of information at their fingertips – from LinkedIn to Glassdoor to Indeed – and that information colors their employment decisions. Additionally, it used to be that workers outnumbered jobs; these days, candidates have a multitude of options. That means you need to impress them at least as much as they need to impress you.
In this day and age, employees aren’t afraid to assert themselves, both within the company and in online reviews. Potential applicants will happily leverage one job offer against another. The competition to land the most talented people is just that: a competition. In order to attract the best and brightest talent, you have to stand apart from the crowd and become an Employer of Choice – providing an engaging and fulfilling work environment so that people will strive to work for you.
This is easier said than done: today’s employees are asking a lot of their ideal employers. They want to work for companies with a sense of social responsibility, whose values align with their own. They look for community leadership, fair treatment, and a healthy working in environment in addition to ethical business practices and financial stability. Putting in the work to become an Employer of Choice, though, is worth it in the end. According to Roger E. Herman and Joyce Gioia, authors of How to Become an Employer of Choice, taking these steps will allow your company to “enjoy a higher level of performance, greater workforce stability, and the level of continuity that assures preservation of the knowledge base, customer loyalty, employee satisfaction, and stronger profits.”
Here are some of the techniques progressive companies use to make themselves Employers of Choice.
Offer Training Opportunities
You may have seen the following floating around on the internet: A CFO asks a CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?” The CEO responds, “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”
Providing training for existing workers is one of the most important commitments an employer can make. By taking an active part in employee development, you signify that you value your people. It’s not enough to pay lip service to training, or to merely supply the training tools. Employers of Choice make sure their training programs include guidance, time, financial assistance, and follow-up support.
Provide Competitive Benefits
Compensation is one piece of the puzzle in attracting and retaining top talent, but only one, small piece. Smart companies are implementing innovative pay practices and benefits programs. Gain sharing, profit sharing, cafeteria-style benefits options, and even team pay are just a few examples.
Additionally, there are many low or no-cost benefits that you can offer. “Casual Fridays” are a common example, but other unique, valuable perks include dry cleaning pick-up and delivery, flexible working hours, credit union membership, and flu shots. It’s a busy world, and the most cherished benefits are often those that help employees save time and make their lives easier.
Too many companies view benefits as an expense; you’ll do better to consider them like investments. What you can offer to employees that will offer you the greatest return on that investment?
Become a Community Leader
Possessing a good image in the community is critical, for it can be the strongest way of attracting talented people to your business. On the other hand, a poor reputation – whether deserved or misperceived – can seriously hinder your recruiting and retention efforts.
Don’t be afraid to showcase your company’s unique efforts to help make the world a better place. Community involvement – from donating to charity to participating as a team in community events – and the publicity that surrounds it can serve as an excellent marketing tool for recruitment. Ropella participates in the yearly YMCA Corporate Games in our town (pictured), and have also, as a company, participated in the Tough Mudder competition when it was in the area. Highly visible events like this help you stand apart from the competition. Press releases sent to local media outlets describing your community improvement efforts, such as sustainability initiatives or volunteering, provides the community with an unbiased report of your good deeds. Improving your company’s reputation strengthens relationships with shareholders, customers, and, more importantly, current and potential employees.
Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance
There was a time when many employees worked long hours as a means of establishing job security. Today, though, most people are looking for a more equitable balance between work and personal time. At Pepsi in Australia and New Zealand, the CEO has created a program he calls “Leaders Leaving Loudly”, in order to encourage company-wide acceptance of work-life balance. In his words, “if I occasionally go at 4pm to pick up my daughters, I will make sure to tell the people around me, ‘I’m going to pick up my children.’ Because if it’s okay for the boss, then it’s okay for middle management and new hires… I say to my team, ‘I’d like you to be a hero at work, but I want you to be a hero at home. If you’re only a hero at work, you’re only doing half the job.’”
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, encouraging employees not to overwork themselves benefits the company as much as it benefits the employee. It reduces sick days and turnover, and increases workflow, productivity, and morale.
Offer Meaningful Work
You may have heard the story of when President John F. Kennedy visited the NASA space center and asked a janitor what he was doing; the janitor’s response was “Well, Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon.”
All employees, from the receptionist to the CEO, should work in an environment where they feel their work is meaningful, where they feel as though they are contributing to the greater goals of the organization. This is easier said than done. It may require reengineering work processes, reconfiguring job descriptions, and looking for alternative solutions to get work done, including spreading engaging and mundane tasks equally amongst all employees. It may also require redefining candidate profiles so you have a better chance of hiring people who will find meaning in the specific work they are to perform. The position the employee is in is not ultimately important – what is critical is making certain they believe that their job function has value.
It is also important to foster a nurturing work environment where opinions are valued, creativity is fostered, and employees are able to form quality relationships with one another. Managers should challenge their employees to think, and to teach them to understand their role in the big picture. When workers are allowed to play a role in developing better ways to get the job done, it strengthens their commitment to the company.
Are You Ready to Compete?
However you decide to become an Employer of Choice, remember that word travels fast. Having happy employees is like having your own PR firm working for you around the clock. (And having unhappy employees is like a slow poison choking the life from the organization.) Whatever you do to benefit your employees’ work lives will come back to you many times over, in the form of better recruits, lower turnover, happier and more productive staff, and increased profitability. With those kinds of results, you’ll be well on your way to winning the War for Talent!
What are you doing to cement your position as an employer of choice? Let me know in the comments, then share this article with your network of culturally savvy (or not-so-savvy) executives.
Posted: 04/03/2018 Category: RG White Paper
From detail-oriented chemists to straight-to-the-point salespeople and highly sociable group leaders to passionate idea generators, workplaces are host to a vast array of personalities. With so many dynamics to consider, what is the best way to enable you to connect across a diverse array of employee personalities and build great relationships, thus ensuring your personal and corporate success?
In order to be a transformational leader, you need to be able to navigate the challenging emotional ecology of the workplace. You have to be aware of the types of environments you thrive in, as well as the work conditions others need in order to flourish. You must be able to read diverse and often subtle messages that can help you effectively communicate and collaborate with co-workers, customers, subordinates and bosses. In short, you must learn to recognize, understand, and respond to the different personality styles found in your organization.
We will get to common workplace personalities soon, but first we need a general overview of this basic – but very complex – concept.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.” Overall, our personalities are as unique as our fingerprints – no two are quite the same. Still, just as with fingerprints’ loops, whirls, and arches, there are some overarching characteristics that we can use to categorize people.
There are a large number of such categorization theories within personality psychology. One of the most prevalent personalities theories is that of the “Big Five” – that most personalities can be summarized by variations across five basic dimensions, known as OCEAN. These traits are Openness to new experiences, Concientiousness, Extroversion/introversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. A similar classification, HEXACO looks at the six factors of Honesty/Humility, Emotional control, eXtraversion, Agreeableness, Concientiousness, and Openness to new experiences.
Perhaps the most mainstream personality assessment is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which classifies personalities across dichotomies of four separate dimensions: favorite “world” (Extraversion/outer world versus Introversion/inner world); information processing (Sensing/focus on basic information taken in versus Intuition/interpretation of information and added meaning); decision-making (Thinking/consider logic or Feelings/consider people); and structure (Judging/preferring decisions versus Perceiving/staying open to new information). The DiSC profile is one of the most popular theories utilized in the business world, which divides people into four categories (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance) based on two dichotomies, outgoing/reserved and task-oriented/people-oriented.
All of these tools can reveal your own behavioral tendencies and preferences as well as provide useful insights into other people’s styles.
Be Your Own Personality Indicator - ACED
While officially administered personality assessments are unquestionably valuable, they can be costly and time-consuming. With a little practice and common sense, however, you can learn to quickly recognize other people’s personality types.
Want to become more attuned to behavioral styles at work? We suggest you make sure you have ACED these four main personality types: Analyzers, Conversationalists, Energizers, and Do-ers.
How They Interact with the World
Analyzers are motivated to make the right decision, no matter how long it takes. Rationality directs the decision-making process; they look for information, and lots of it. They want time to make comparisons and to review all of the relevant data before making recommendations. When they do finally act, it is with confidence that their actions are based upon hard facts. They work to avoid risk through careful consideration of all available information. Their work areas are typically neatly organized and highly functional.
How They Communicate with Others
Analyzers tend to be restrained in the ways they communicate. They typically use limited facial or physical gestures, instead preferring to rely on verbal or written communication filled with concrete, factual information. Analyzers don’t like to be rushed, lest they miss something important. They may not always be brief, but they are direct.
How to Effectively Communicate with and Lead Them
- Focus on the concrete, not the abstract
- Adhere to preapproved schedules and procedures
- Gather information and facts
- Prepare to answer detailed, analytical questions, and don’t be afraid to admit when you need time to find the answer
- Keep conversations on task, and generally avoid small talk
How They Interact with the World
Conversationalists are relationship-driven. They focus on feelings and emotions and, as such, their communication needs revolve around relationships. Conversationalists are always monitoring the feelings of those around them, and often subconsciously adjust their own emotions accordingly. They are highly effective collaborators and coaches. To them, everything is personal, and work is ultimately about people. Their work areas are usually comfortable and filled with photos of friends and family. A welcoming dish of candy may serve as an enticement for co-workers looking to talk about work…or just to talk.
How They Communicate with Others
Conversationalists are very expressive; they will never use only 5 words when 20 will do, and often accentuate their points with facial and hand gestures. You always know how conversationalists are feeling – they wear their heart on their sleeve both verbally and non-verbally. If you omit the personal, they are apt to assume you are being cold and distant because you are displeased.
How to Effectively Communicate with and Lead Them
- Be attuned to the human dimension – open with personal questions (such as “How are the kids?”) before diving in to work matters
- Allow them to speak (and be sure to listen)
- Make your praise personal (“Your proposal showed that you have real insight into the problem.”) and your constructive criticism impersonal (“There were a lot of grammatical mistakes in the first draft of the proposal.”)
- Don’t threaten (or appear to threaten)
- Provide opportunities for them to interact with others – from working collaboratively to ensuring their workspace is not isolated
How They Interact with the World
For Energizers, ideas are most important. Energizers are excited by the big picture and see everything as a creative opportunity. They enjoy being on the cutting edge and relish opportunities to try new approaches at work. Energizers are often enthusiastic supporters of new ventures, and they’re quick to offer novel or innovative ways to do things differently. Their style is enthusiastic and high energy. Their work areas are often chaotic-looking to the outsider. There may be a system of organization, but only the energizers themselves understand it. Colorful and unusual decorations abound.
How They Communicate with Others
Energizers use a wide range of facial and physical gestures to complement their verbal, visual, and written communications. They are sometimes put off by individuals who seemingly don’t share in their enthusiasm about a particular issue. Energizers enjoy collaboration but are comfortable working independently on passion projects.
How to Effectively Communicate with and Lead Them
- Focus on the big picture, rather than nitty-gritty details
- Be optimistic and enthusiastic
- Tolerate a certain degree of disorganization / “organized chaos”
- Allow conversational tangents
- Encourage creative expression, and allow for the opportunity to devote some time to “passion projects”
How They Interact with the World
Do-ers have a strong bias for getting things done. They don’t like to be bogged down in the details—they’re interested in the bottom line. Do-ers expect clear, direct information without needless clutter. They can be effective delegators when the trust others to get the job done, and they expect as much out of others as they expect of themselves. They are results-driven and competitive in all things. Personal accolades (awards, citations, trophies, certificates, etc.) are often prominently displayed in their workspaces, which are otherwise functionally organized with everything in its place.
How They Communicate with Others
Because Do-ers are acutely sensitive to time and speed, they are sometimes perceived as impatient and impulsive. They speak directly and to the point—and they expect others to do the same. They do not have much patience for tangents, detailed explanations, or idle chitchat. Do-ers are able to find competition in any activity they undertake, and they always expect and actively seek to win.
How to Effectively Communicate with and Lead Them
- Get to the point – give them the final destination, not the journey you took to arrive there
- Control your emotions and don’t take feedback personally
- Be prepared and know what your conversational goal is going in
- Find ways to motivate them through competition (at Ropella, we have monthly recruiting contests including Most Calls and Most Candidates Submitted, and the winners get to display trophies on their desks for the next month)
- When giving feedback, focus on facts and results
Work with Style
By being able to identify a co-worker’s or boss’s preferred way of interacting, you can effectively modify your own style to best match his or her needs. When you understand, for example, that your boss is an Do-er, you can simply cut to the chase. Such knowledge is extremely helpful, especially if you’re an Analyzer who may otherwise delve deep into background information that’s important to you (but will only irritate them). By identifying your own style, you can also be open with others in asking for the type of interaction you need. “Hey, Bob, I get that you’re a Do-er, but I’m more of an Analyzer. I know you’re busy, but do you have a few minutes to take me through your logic on this idea so I can understand it better?”
When you form better working relationships, it leads to positive outcomes including increased job satisfaction, more recognition, and an even greater chance of advancement. As such, when the outcome is important, focus on the best way to interact with each individual on your team. It will allow you to maximize your working relationships and ensure your career success.
Which ACED personality type do you most identify with? Let us know in the comments! (Ropella CEO Patrick Ropella is a Do-er.) Then share this article with your network of ACED executives.
Posted: 03/27/2018 Category: RG White Paper
How does a company recruit successful, well-educated, highly desirable executives? What can you do to make your company and leadership opportunity stand out in a hyper-competitive labor market? How do you stop losing your best candidates to competitors? The answers to these questions are found in the three rules of recruiting: Relationship, Relationship, Relationship!
You can take the sting out of recruiting in today’s hyper-competitive job market by focusing on building a strong relationship with prospective candidates right from the start. The stronger the relationship between you, your company and the candidate you want to bring onboard, the easier it is to recruit, interview, negotiate and successfully close an offer. A strong relationship built from the beginning of the recruiting process will greatly reduce the threat of counter offers and the odds of a rejection, and it will also ensure that those who ultimately join your leadership team will come into their first day full of confidence in their ability to make a significant impact at your organization.
1. Relationship Building Before the Interview
We’ve all heard the saying, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” By making the best possible first impression, you increase your chances of having a successful face-to-face interview while laying a good foundation for closing the deal at the end of the process. Whether it’s a search for a Chief Operations Officer, a Business Unit President, or a Vice President of Research & Development, put effort into the little details and make a favorable impact on every candidate. One way to build strong relationships with your candidates right from the start is to send the following information to candidates in advance of the interview process:
- Welcome Letter – Signed by the hiring authority, the president or the most senior level executive who’ll be involved in the interview process, this letter lets the candidate know that you are looking forward to meeting with them to discuss the possibility of them joining your team.
- Position Description – Polish it up & put it on company letterhead. Put as much emphasis on selling the job and company as on describing the position. Consider writing your position description in second person rather than third (“You will…” instead of “The ideal candidate will…”) as this personalizes the position and helps candidates see themselves in it.
- Organizational Charts – Show where the position fits within the overall organizational structure, especially those positions directly above and below the candidate is interviewing for.
- Annual Report – Include any financial documents you make available to the public.
- Company Information – You can send Corporate Brochures to share information that best describes the company as a whole, Division Brochures to showcase products and markets for the open position, or a custom marketing piece that includes all of this information.
- Business Cards – The hiring manager’s business card and any other key interview contacts, so the candidate can easily reach out at any point in the hiring process. You may even want to include short bios on the hiring team and/or immediate superiors/subordinates in order to give the candidate a stronger picture of how they would fit into your organization.
- Directions - To the site where the position is going to be based and where off-site interviews are going to take place; consider printing a color map. Depending on the size of your campus, in addition to driving directions, you may want to include information on where within your complex/building the candidate will need to go. If you do include a campus map, you should also highlight other areas of interest that the candidate will be able to consult in their first days on the job.
- Community Information – If the position would require the candidate to relocate, you will need to sell the location as well as the opportunity itself. You can get this information from your local Chamber of Commerce and/or a local Realtor.
- Realtor Contact – Get a business card and brochure of a realtor who understands your company and community and how to sell relocating candidates on the area.
- His and Hers Packets – Send two of the company, community and realtor information packets so both the candidate and spouse have materials they can review.
2. Relationship Building During the Interview
Once you’ve laid the proper groundwork prior to your face-to-face meeting, your next focus is to keep the momentum going with a great interview. It’s a chance for you to sell the candidate on the company, the position, and the community (if it’s a relocation). But beware – the psychology of interviewing can get very complicated. Keep it simple and remember that your most important task is to continue “courting” the candidate and sell him or her on the opportunity to work for your company.
“Sell” the Company
Candidates often make decisions based on emotions and then defend them with logic. Think back to the last time you interviewed for a position. What information was most important to you? During the meeting, be candid and offer information that will help the candidate feel good about the position. It is also vital to allow the candidate equal time to ask questions that are important to them and to address related issues that may affect their spouse and family.
Take the time to think through the questions you are most likely to be asked during the interview. Be prepared to answer these following 10 most commonly asked questions:
- Why is the position open, how long has it been open, and why haven’t you filled it until now?
- How would you describe the company’s stability; are you for sale or reorganizing?
- What is the hot news on the street about your company, both positive and negative?
- How would you describe the corporate culture and/or political landscape here?
- Why do you like working here and where do you see yourself in 3 to 5 years?
- Describe your background, interests and management style.
- What is the greatest challenge you expect the new candidate will face in this job?
- What are the growth options in this job? Can you share any past promotional success stories?
- How do you feel about the interviewee as a candidate based on their resume and this interview?
- Where do we go from here and how quickly do you expect to make a decision/offer?
Be honest and straightforward when responding to any of these questions. If there has been negative press surrounding your company, address it head-on instead of sweeping it under the rug. If you are not feeling as excited about the candidate as you thought you would be, don’t string them along and make them think they are currently your top choice. You should also have a strong timeline in place for the next steps – ideally you want to move quickly or candidates may accept other opportunities while you’re still dragging your feet, but they will be more likely to be patient if they know when to expect to hear from you.
Behavioral Interviewing Techniques
After you’ve done your best to “sell” the company to the candidate, now it’s their turn to “sell” themselves to you. This is beyond the scope of this article, but be sure to check out our article on Techniques for Behavior-Based Interviewing to determine which candidate is the best fit for the job.
3. Relationship Building After the Interview
Making a job change is a complex decision, made even more complicated when it affects a spouse, in- laws, children, grandparents and close friends. After the interview phase is complete, don’t forget to leave a lasting, positive impression on each candidate. The better they feel about the job, the company, the position and you, the easier the decision will be for them. Below is a post-interview relationship building checklist you can use to solidify your relationship with each candidate after the interview.
- If relocation is required, invite the spouse to visit the local area during the final interview, or immediately following, in order to get them excited about the move before asking a candidate to accept an offer. Offer two tickets to a sporting event, play or a musical so the trip has a break for fun, too.
- Take the candidate and spouse out for dinner with the hiring authority and spouse and another couple from the company.
- Are there any employees who grew up in the same area as this candidate, went to the same college, or previously worked for a same past company as this candidate? If so, try to work this employee into the interview process.
- Send a follow-up email or overnight express letter immediately after the interview (or after each interview, depending on the complexity of your hiring process). Thank them for their time, then outline how things went and your planned intentions and next steps. Make sure to personalize this, rather than having a stock letter into which you insert their name. (Most of the letter can be pre-drafted, so long as you make sure to include a personal touch.)
- If you can’t arrange to pay any interview expenses upfront, then reimburse candidates immediately! Unless, of course, you want to make your company look bad? Then make a candidate pay for his own interview expenses and make him wait for the reimbursement.
If you follow the principles of building the relationship with prospective employees before, during, and after the interview, you will be able to win over your Superstar Candidate!
What does your workplace DNA look like? Let us know in the comments, then share this article with your network of culturally-savvy (or not-so-savvy) executives.
Posted: 03/21/2018 Category: RG Company NewsRG Employee New
Today, our CEO, Patrick B. Ropella, and President, Robbie Ropella, departed on a journey to our nation’s capital for a very special Change of Command Ceremony. Tomorrow, Thursday, March 21, 2018, Patrick's nephew, Colonel Eric Ropella (of the U.S. Marine Corps) will receive a substantial promotion. Eric is taking over command of the Presidential Helicopters, including Marine One (the helicopters President Trump travels in). We are very honored to count Colonel Ropella as a member of the ROPELLA family and would like to express our deepest gratitude for his long and loyal service to our country.
Posted: 03/20/2018 Category: Industry New
Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t hate the phrase “Because that’s how we’ve always done it”? In today’s rapidly evolving marketplace, driven by hard data and analytics, “because that’s how we’ve always done it” is no longer a good enough rationale. Corporations the world over have applied this new logic to their fundamental business processes – or most of them, at least.
One of the last processes to receive such an overhaul is also perhaps the most influential process resulting in a high-performing team: Interviews.
The Problem with Traditional Interviews
According to a recent survey by LinkedIn Talent Solutions, nearly 75% of organizations continue to rely on traditional structured interviews as a primary candidate assessment tool. However, according to Richard Nisbett, Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Michigan, “When it comes to choosing a candidate, [traditional] interviews are as much use as flipping a coin.” The fallacy of traditional job interviews goes beyond “This is how we have always done it,” and instead becomes the even more toxic, “This is how everyone has always done it.”
Due to a shifting economy and overall job market, hiring in 2018 bears very little resemblance to hiring in 2008 – or, for that matter, to hiring in 2016. In order to succeed, hiring managers must put aside the way it has always been done in favor of the most effective and efficient methods as supported by metrics.
The Need for Improvement
The need to improve hiring is two-fold. First, approximately half of all new-hires – including executive hires – fail within 18 months. If a luxury car had such poor performance, executives would demand immediate improvement – so why are we accepting the same mediocrity in our hiring practices?
Second, we are currently in a candidate-favorable job market, with far more open positions than unemployed people to fill them. In order to attract and retain top talent, hiring practices need to be streamlined. Hiring managers need to hire faster to ensure they secure high-performing candidates before the competition swoops in. They also need to hire smarter to properly assess whether a candidate is going to be a strong cultural fit for the organization, making it more likely that they will excel as an employee and continue their career path with the company.
If, as we said, traditional interviews are no better than flipping a coin at informing smart hiring decisions, how can we improve them to be more effective? LinkedIn’s “Reinventing the Interview” has several excellent suggestions, including: soft skills assessments, job auditions, casual meetings, virtual reality assessments, and video interviews.
At Ropella, we are especially fond of casual meetings. Before most hiring decisions, we have a meal with each top candidate. Usually it is dinner with Robbie and myself, the candidate and their spouse, and one or two other Ropella employees who would work closely with the candidate and their respective spouses. When we can’t schedule a dinner for one reason or another, then we will take the candidate out to lunch instead – generally Robbie and myself, the candidate, and a handful of current employees who will work closely with the candidate. This allows us to get a feel for how they will fit in with our culture – and it gives candidates a strong impression of what it will feel like for them to interact with us day-in and day-out.
I cannot sufficiently emphasize the importance of a speedy hiring process. The longer they remain open, the more money vacant positions cost your company.
More importantly, if you take too long, superstar candidates willaccept offers elsewhere. An inefficient candidate experience sends a bad message about your overall brand – according to Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace “…the impression people get from interacting with your company as a candidate translates directly into their impression of your brand and how they interact with you as a consumer, as well.”
Because they give you a strong impression of candidates’ personalities and skill sets (especially the soft skills that ultimately determine success), unconventional assessments can help you to confidently make a decision more quickly.
Ropella Can Help
At Ropella, we have developed a proprietary SMART Search System, which functions like Six Sigma for Executive Search. When it comes to Hiring Smarter and Hiring Faster, our results speak for themselves.
Do you have personal experience with unconventional interview techniques, either as a hiring manager or candidate? Let us know in the comments, then share this article with your network of interview-savvy (or not-so-savvy) executives.
Posted: 03/16/2018 Category: RG Company New
Posted: 03/13/2018 Category: RG White Paper
In scientific circles, DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. It is the essential component of life, carrying the genetic information that dictates the organization and function of living cells. It is the blueprint that determines who we are. From physical and personality traits to criminal convictions, DNA is a powerful aspect of our lives.
Every company – whether great, mediocre, or lousy – has its own unique DNA, an overarching culture that dictates the organization and function of the workplace. Culture, when applied properly, can predispose your company to greatness, much as Michael Jordan was genetically predisposed to athleticism or Stephen Hawking was predisposed to genius intelligence. A toxic culture, on the other hand, will make every day an uphill climb, as with any number of inherited diseases.
How can you harness the power of culture to boost your competitive advantage, attract and retain the best talent, and increase productivity and morale? It’s as simple as D.N.A.
DEFINE What the Culture Should Look Like
As of yet, we don’t have the ability to select a person’s DNA profile. The workplace DNA, however, is very much in our control. Your company does have its own unique culture, whether you have defined one or not; it is to your advantage as a leader to guide its expression.
To define your company culture, you first need to define what is important to your organization. Those old standbys, mission and vision, are an important driver of culture. Google has a list of “Ten things we know to be true.” Their beliefs include “It’s best to do one thing really, really well,” “You can make money without doing evil,” and “You can be serious without a suit.” (More on Google later.) For Southwest Airlines – which consistently ranks among Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work – their defined Purpose is to “Connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, low-cost air travel.” Their Vision is “To become the World’s Most Loved, Most Flown, and Most Profitable Airline.”
Next, ask yourself what kind of employee will best drive your mission and vision. This doesn’t mean hard qualifications – advanced degrees and certifications don’t build culture. Rather, your team’s attitudes, traits, dispositions, motivations, interests, and commitments that contribute to success. Southwest has three general values that they admire in their employees, which they call “Living the Southwest Way”: Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitude. From striving for greatness to treating others with respect to not taking yourself too seriously, you can see exactly how Living the Southwest Way is connected to Southwest’s Purpose and Vision.
Former Senior Vice President of People and Leadership Development Dave Ridley describes Southwest’s culture in this way: “The only way to consistently deliver remarkable service on the front line is if your people are being treated in a manner that reflects how you want them to treat the external customer. Southwest considers its employees as internal customers – and their wellbeing is valued equally or even more than the external customer. We want to create an environment where our people enjoy where they work, who they work with, and who they work for… Their positive experience working for Southwest makes it much easier for them to want to give our passengers a positive experience.”
NURTURE Your Ideals within Your Employees
Once you have determined what you want your corporate culture to look like, it’s time to nurture it. Like any other living, breathing thing, culture will often develop a mind of its own – in its infancy it needs a lot of attention simply to survive, but that doesn’t mean you can step away once it’s developed a little self-sufficiency. Even as it begins to stand on its own, however, there are plenty of dangers that still lurk in the shadows.
One related misconception about company culture is that it is necessarily defined from the top down. Ideally, leaders define what they would like the culture to look like, but it is important to note, that leaders do not always have direct control over the ways in which culture is ultimately expressed. Returning to our DNA analogy, Michael Jordan and Stephen Hawking had to work hard to fully express the potential that lay in their genes. Similarly, it will ultimately be up to your employees to realize the full potential of your workplace DNA.
Our genes dictate what we can become, but it is ultimately our choices that determine what we do become. It comes down to the age-old Nature versus Nurture argument: you need both genetics and environment to get the whole picture. In the workplace, you need both the cultural ideals and the right people to carry out that vision if you want to achieve great success.
It is easy to say that you want your employees to Live the Southwest Way; it’s much harder to cultivate the type of talent that displays those characteristics on a daily basis.
The best way to ensure you are hiring talent that is going to be a good cultural fit is to hold behavior-based interviews. That doesn’t mean inane brain teasers designed to test creative thinking, like “You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?” (Note: Although Google used to ask questions like these, they have since abandoned the practice because it simply wasn’t effective.) Rather, behavior-based interviews focus on questions that elicit specific examples of past behavior. “In what ways have you demonstrated creativity in your current position?” “Tell me about a time when you had a miscommunication with a team member or client. How did you resolve this communication breakdown?” “What is the most difficult decision you have had to make? How did you arrive at that decision? What was the result of your decision?”
Google is a great example of a company that has really nurtured their cultural ideals. They have inadvertently defined what culture looks like not just at the Googleplex, but at companies all through Silicon Valley. Google has certainly had great success with their model; for six years and counting, they have topped Fortune’s list of Best Places to Work, and they receive millions of job applications every year. So many other tech companies have tried to mimic their success that the idea of an internet startup office filled with foosball tables and nap pods has become a cliche.
We’d like to let you in on a little secret: Google’s cultural success is not about any of those things. It’s not about the free meals prepared by world-class chefs or the afternoon volleyball games. Instead, it’s about a deep respect for their employees; the perks are simply Google’s way of showing that they value the hard work their employees put in, and of supporting a healthy work-life balance even when employees have to put in long hours. They nurture their ideals by seeing them through day-in and day-out.
Not all work environments are going to lend themselves to “fun-LUVing” attitudes and afternoon volleyball games, though, and work culture is not one-size-fits-all. In a pharmaceutical lab, for example, scientists must take their work seriously at all times. Frivolity and process experimentation must necessarily give way to keen attention-to-detail and professionalism. One is not better than the other; the key is simply in finding what works best for you and your organization.
At Pepsi in New Zealand and Australia, the CEO encourages employees to “leave loudly”. His reasoning is that when leadership makes a show of leaving early to pick their kids up for school, for example, it communicates to lower level employees that they are welcome to do the same. “I’d like you to be a hero at work, but I want you to be a hero at home. If you’re only a hero at work, you’re only doing half the job.” Given this philosophy, do you think Pepsi would benefit from offering employees three free gourmet meals a day? Probably not; inherent in the offer is the assumption that employees are (at least occasionally) likely to be in the office for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Google knows that its employees are going to be putting in long hours – the tech industry is filled with younger employees fresh out of college and ready to build a name for themselves who don’t yet have many family obligations, and, of course, the tech industry never sleeps. The environment at Pepsi is neither better nor worse, it’s just different.
ASSESS Your Progress and ADJUST Accordingly
Another thing that Google does right is assessing and adjusting their efforts. From Project Oxygen, which studied what makes a great leader, to Project Aristotle, which studied team dynamics, Google is always measuring what works best in the workplace – then they follow-through, doubling down on what works and changing what doesn’t.
At its heart, Google is a data company, so perhaps it comes as no surprise that they study the analytics behind every aspect of their culture, from the way people respond to the color painted on the walls (apparently purple got a negative response), to the ideal length of time to stand in a lunch line (three to four minutes allows the optimum opportunity to meet someone new, without wasting time just standing around). When they noticed through their analytics that their free food policy (unlimited snacks in addition to three gourmet meals a day) was causing employees to gain weight, they adjusted their practices to promote more healthy eating – color-coding foods by healthiness and reducing portion sizes. Even those infamous nap pods are backed by data: a short power nap is shown to add significant boosts to creativity and productiveness.
You certainly don’t need to go to those lengths, but you should be continually informally assessing your current culture. And sometimes, when things aren’t going the way you had hoped, you may need to do some adjusting. That could be a staff meeting, team building exercises, or fine-tuning your policies and hiring processes.
Do a DNA Test
Now, I suggest you conduct a “DNA test” on your workplace. What values does the company espouse? Do your current business and hiring practices support these values? Are your employees happy in the current work environment, and are they positively contributing to its continued development? What are your cultural strengths? And in what areas would most benefit from improvement?
What does your workplace DNA look like? Let us know in the comments, then share this article with your network of culturally-savvy (or not-so-savvy) executives.
Posted: 02/27/2018 Category: Industry New
A Candidate's Market
According to the article "Ready, Set, Jump!: How to Profit From the Ultra-Tight Job Market Right Now,” published in the most recent edition of Fortune magazine, “About 6 million jobs are open at U.S. companies, near an all-time high.” Meanwhile, unemployment is near a record low, with Management occupations at 2% and Business and Financial Management at 1.7%. (For perspective: The Fed currently considers 4.6% unemployment as representing “full employment”.) In other words, it’s a candidate’s market.
As the CEO of the world’s leading Executive Search Firm serving the Chemical, Consumer Products and Technology Industries, I can attest first-hand to the sweeping economic changes and increasingly competitive war for talent. A quick drive through any major metropolitan area will sufficiently demonstrate how vigorously the economy is heating up – even in Pensacola, Florida, with a population of less than 450,000, a short drive to the mall will include a multitude of scenes filled with cranes and construction sites.
What does that mean for employers and C-suite executives? How can you attract and retain the top talent that comprises your biggest competitive advantage?
One of my biggest takeaways from this article was the need to focus on the human aspects of leadership; corporations are learning that soft skills (like the abilities to overcome adversity and to make emotional connections with subordinates) are more important than hard skills (like a college degree or specific niche experience). “In 2018, you’ll hire people you never would have hired in 2008,” in part because “past performance is not the best indicator of future success.” This makes techniques such as behavior-based interviews far more important than the traditional screening of resumes for keywords.
More importantly, hiring teams need to recognize that they must impress candidates just as much – if not more so – than candidates must impress hiring teams. If your hiring processes are not up to par, top talent isn’t going to choose to join your organization. If you begin with a low-ball offer, candidates won’t stick around for negotiations. In the current economic market, your organization needs top talent more than top talent needs your position: make sure you are treating your candidates like the superstars they are!
What are you doing to attract and retain top talent in an economic environment that favors candidates? Let us know in the comments, then share this article with your network of hiring-savvy (or not-so-savvy) executives.
Posted: 07/14/2017 Category: Industry Trade Show
Ropella got into the spirit of Vegas during IFT17 and let visitors to our booth try their luck at winning some very nice swag. Among the prizes were a $250 gift card, travel mugs, and pens so nice that people in our office fight over them. All of our winners were notified this week and are looking forward to receiving their prizes.
Congratulations to our grand prize winner, Amber J. from Parker Products; hearing that she had won $250 made for a great kickoff to Amber’s week. Other prize winners include Hannah K. from Colony Brands, Inc., Michael R. from Alliance Corp., and Landon L. from Kerry Ingredients.