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Talent Management

Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Employer Brand and More

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Employer Brand and More

Here’s a mix of the latest news on employer brand, culture, employee referrals and more. Enjoy! 

1) Employer Branding Best Practices for Small Businesses and Startups from 42Hire

“One of the most overlooked challenges that small businesses and startups face as they experience growth is their ability to become competitive when looking for high quality employees. Many of these small businesses and startups are competing for the same talent as much larger, more established organizations, ranging from Enterprise level companies to established mid-sized businesses and other small businesses. While it’s hard enough to find the right person to fill a role, it becomes an even more daunting task when you are a relative unknown commodity in a hyper competitive market…”

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Employees Are Human Beings (and so are you)

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Employees Are Human Beings (and so are you)

When you left for work this morning, you probably grabbed a computer bag, a coffee, maybe even a lunch sack. Even if you work down the hall, you likely have a routine to start your work day. But whether you're walking in to your home office or one at company headquarters, there's one thing you can't forget. Yourself.

Whether we like or not, employees bring their whole selves to work. 

We bring our hobbies (my sweet potato casserole won first place in The Ritz-Carlton Thanksgiving cook-off one year), our relationships (ever had a co-worker go through a messy divorce?) and our values. I once had a friend who received a job offer from a company with strong religious ties and she debated heavily whether to take the job. There's a reason we call it human resources.

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Motivating Employees with Time Off + Incentives

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Talent and HR News Weekly Roundup: Motivating Employees with Time Off + Incentives

At exaqueo, we strongly value the need to fully disconnect from work and recharge, so we provide a shared week off in both the Summer and Winter as a benefit for our team to enjoy. In the spirit of exaqueo’s upcoming Summer break, we’re sharing the latest news on motivating employees with time off and incentives. Enjoy!

1) We Gave Our Employees Fridays Off Paid and Now We Have an Amazing Team from Entrepreneur

“Taking Fridays off isn’t an extraordinarily new idea. Billionaires Carlos Slim and Larry Page have spoken publicly in support of shorter work weeks since 2014, but the idea has yet to catch on.

At many companies, in the San Francisco Bay area particularly, work perks are very entitlement-focused and thrown at employees like Frisbees -- team happy hours, free gym memberships, a fully stocked kitchen, logo-emblazed hoodies, an in-office ping-pong table. These perks were essentially non-existent a decade ago, but have now become so common that employees actually expect them, lessening their appreciation for them. We often hear company leaders soapbox about employee wellness and providing a work-life balance, but does throwing employees a free gym membership truly promote that?

A recent EY survey revealed that one-third of employees report that managing a work-life balance has become harder than ever. This leaves me to believe that today’s run-of-the-mill incentives do nothing to motivate employees. They simply create expectations (for what?) and waste company money. While several hyper-funded, successful companies go above and beyond to offer something unique -- vacation allowances, college tuition reimbursements and long-term paid parental leave -- only a select few actually give employees a true work-life balance; one that includes more time off.”

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Five Ways to Make Performance Reviews Bearable and Valuable

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Five Ways to Make Performance Reviews Bearable and Valuable

As we near the end of the year, forget the turkeys and trees. It's performance evaluation time. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, we all crave feedback. It's the rare (and unfortunate) professional who doesn't care how s/he performs. For the most part, we all want to know: "what can we do better?"

Yet, we dread this time of year. Evaluations take time, energy and always seem to sink to the bottom of the to do list until we get those threatening "now or never" emails from HR. So here are five ways to make it worth your while (and theirs!).

1) Start with a S/O matrix
For each employee you have to review, start with a simple strengths and opportunities matrix. Create a four block and with stream of consciousness writing, quickly bullet point that employee's strengths and opportunities with specific examples of each. And if you can't come up with a specific example, don't include the strength or opportunity!  This helps jumpstart start the process and ensures you're evaluating that employee on actual work rather than just past predjudice.

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When Experience Is No Longer Relevant

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When Experience Is No Longer Relevant

I was listening to a radio show on NPR the other morning, and the debate was around the “Sharing Economy,” which is disrupting the way consumers purchase certain services. Uber and Airbnb are two major players in this new way of selling to consumers.

The debate around these companies right now is that they are circumventing the highly regulated industries they are touching. City taxi cabs are under strict state and local regulations. Cities are trying to find how Uber fits into the rules. Some people argue Airbnb should be taxed the same way hotels are taxed.

On this radio show, they spoke about how cities are approaching these new entrants. They spoke of panels made up of people who had decades of experience in each respective industry. It got me thinking about the value of all that experience in an era where the old rules don’t apply anymore. That “experience” comes from a time that is completely irrelevant to the current situation.

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Culture + Talent: Q&A with Cathy Atkins from Metis Communications

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Culture + Talent: Q&A with Cathy Atkins from Metis Communications

We often sit down with leaders of growing businesses to get their take on culture and talent. I recently spoke with Cathy Atkins, co-founder of Metis Communications, a public relations and marketing firm. Cathy has more than 17 years of experience helping companies get in front of the right audiences at the right time. With a mission of “doing our best work ever,” Metis works closely with high-growth, emerging companies that need a true business partner to help them build influence and create measurable results. The “Metis way” is something the company’s team embodies daily, which Cathy hopes will have a long-lasting effect in redrawing the boundaries for PR and marketing.  Here’s what Cathy has to say about culture and talent at Metis.

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Be A Balanced Giver: The Better Way to Network

Businesses are built on relationships. We hire, expand and grow by finding, meeting and engaging with new people. Then why is networking such a burden? Time.

As an entrepreneur, I often struggle with how to make it work. I hate saying “no” to any networking request on the premise I can either help someone or they can help me. And often you don’t know if it’s valuable until you’re well into the call or meeting.

But I still try to be a giver. I respond to every networking request on the “you never know” premise. Until I realized it was getting in the way of growing my business.

Help them or help me? The eternal business struggle. Adam Grant illuminates that struggle in his book Give and Take.  Seems I’m not the only one trying to balance altruism and capitalism. I want to help everyone. But if I don’t continue to grow my business, I can’t help anyone.

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The Gap: Increasing Employee Retention through Increasing Its Minimmum Wage

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The Gap: Increasing Employee Retention through Increasing Its Minimmum Wage

As part of my morning routine, I was sifting through emails on my iPhone today when I came across an email from Gap Inc. with the subject line, “Gap is doing more…” I normally delete these sorts of promotional emails, but this subject line was catchy enough to get me to click through. I assumed it was some sort of corporate social responsibility effort, like reusing waste products from the supply chain or partnering with a non-profit. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it had to do with increasing the minimum hourly rate of their employees to $9 in 2014 and to $10 in 2015. As a customer and former employee of the Gap, I applaud the company, and it’s not necessarily because I feel strongly one way or the other about the minimum wage debate. To catch you up to speed on the minimum wage debate, here are a few quick facts:

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The Value of Culture and Employer Brand in High Turnover Industries

Over the weekend, I was explaining what I do to a few friends. In describing what we do, I emphasized the need for strong company culture, employer brand, and talent strategy because these elements of a business affect the bottom line in the long run. By not caring about these things, companies risk high turnover, among other consequences. Costing between 25% and 250% of a single employee’s annual salary, high turnover has a profound effect on the bottom line.  While explaining this to my friend, he asked, “is there ever a time when turnover is good?” I had to think about this one for a bit. According to Software Advice, new employees who replace those who left can bring new ideas; however, high turnover is traditionally thought of as a negative indicator. That said, there are some industries where turnover inevitably is, and likely always will be, high. For example, retail, food service, or customer service are all industries with high turnover. These jobs consist of a workforce that is typically compensated on an hourly basis. 

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Employment Law Q&A with Rebecca Signer Roche

Startups and small companies don’t always have dedicated HR resources who can stay on top of employment law or enroll a lawyer to help with HR matters. To help understand common hurdles and trends for startups and small businesses related to employment law, we recently touched base with Rebecca Signer Roche, Senior Counsel on all labor and employment matters for DynCorp International. Previously, Rebecca was a labor and employment attorney at Littler Mendelson, P.C., and at McGuireWoods, LLP.

Lexi Gordon, exaqueo (LG): Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. I think many small and growing companies aren't aware of just how important HR law is when it comes to building a business and managing risk. First things first, when it comes to employment law, what are the most common issues/concerns you see with newer and/or small companies?

Rebecca Signer Roche (RSR): Here’s a list of the most common issues and concerns I’ve seen with those types of companies:

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Forget Super Bowl Sunday: Five Reasons Competition Is Good For Workplace Culture

While this year's Super Bowl ads are leaning toward thecuteness factor, the game is all about the competition. Fromsports talk radio to trash talking reporters, winning predictions, potential stars and placing betsdrive our obsession with the game. Scores, statistics, pre-game tape reviews: teams strategize how to win and rally the fans behind them. And it works. One Seahawks fan is so confident in his team, he already has a tattoo declaring Seattle as Super Bowl champions. But come Monday morning, we're back to work. Which makes me wonder: where's this kind of loyalty in the workplace? Across 2012, much of exaqueo's workforce research showed a preference for paychecks over promotions. Has the fire in the belly gone out for most workers? Have we lost the passion that drives us to do the best we can in our jobs, rally behind our company missions and strive towards greater success? Maybe tattoos aren't the answer to employee engagement, but somewhere along the climb out of the recession, employees have become complacent--perhaps understandably so. 

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Cultivating a Culture of Feedback

  It’s that time of year where you reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the previous year, and you begin to think about what’s ahead of you in this next year. This is the perfect time for feedback, formally or informally.

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Or is it? Is there a reason we look at a new year as a clean slate? I do it too. I indulge from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day and then decide January 1 will be the day I start fresh.

There are plenty of articles out there advising on the delivery of feedback and its art form. These are extremely helpful because giving feedback, especially constructive, is a difficult conversation. What I’m imparting here is making feedback a mindset. If you want to cultivate a culture of feedback to engage employees and enhance productivity, there are 3 overarching elements to incorporating it, and it doesn’t mean just at performance review time.

Frequent

Feedback should not be reserved for the performance review. Managers should be offering it, and employees should be seeking it…often. High performing teams conduct a feedback routine called a Hot Wash after every major event to evaluate performance. Derived from the U.S. Army, "the term Hot Wash comes from the practice used by some soldiers of dousing their weapons in extremely hot water as a means of removing grit and residue after firing…One infantry soldier described it as ‘the quick and dirty cleaning that can save a lot of time later.’” (Source: US Department of Defense Education Activity).

Instead of waiting until the end of year, feedback should be provided frequently as a way to constantly adjust and save time in the long run. Startups use this concept with their products – obtaining constant feedback and tweaking as the market responds. Why not use this with your people?

Honest

Over the holidays, a friend shared that he was frustrated with his company’s review process. Throughout the year, he received very positive feedback and then at the end of the year - the time where it counts the most for bonus distribution – he received some negative feedback that impacted his bonus. He was actively seeking it out, and willing to work on his shortcomings, but he had no awareness. His managers were not doing him any favors by sugarcoating their feedback throughout the year.

Understood

Oftentimes feedback can be misconstrued. It’s not fun to be told you aren’t doing something well. You feel judged, scolded, and wrong. But if someone knew where the feedback was coming from, it may change how she receives it. I worked at a company where feedback was ingrained in the culture. During my interview, an employee explained that “feedback is love.” How refreshing! I knew that when someone offered me feedback, it was because they cared about me and wanted me to improve. And when I was on the delivery end of constructive feedback, the person receiving it would understand that I was genuinely looking out for her. You wouldn’t hesitate to tell your friend that she has ketchup on her chin so that she doesn’t embarrass herself, so why wouldn’t you tell a colleague that she takes on too much to please everyone. It’s not passing judgment, it’s making someone aware of areas that can vastly improve her life. Working in a company that had this openness was freeing. I never felt judged or wrong. I felt cared for and free to take risks.

Regardless of the type of culture you have, formal or informal, feedback is something that everyone deserves, and it should be frequent, honest, and understood.

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Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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Should I Leave My Job?

A few weeks ago, we talked about a better way to quit your job when you just can’t handle it, rather than making a scene or spectacle. Spectacles aside, what if the reason you leave isn’t necessarily because you can’t stand your current job? As I dig into my first few weeks at exaqueo, I can’t help but reflect on how I arrived here and share the knowledge I gained through my most recent job switch, and the question I asked myself: "Should I leave my job?"

I left my last few jobs for amazing opportunities, all in line with my personal goals. It was heart wrenching to go into the offices of those who mentored me…gave me every opportunity to learn and grow…and explain to them that I was leaving. I’ll never forget what the President of one of my former companies asked me after I shared with him that I was leaving to pursue a new opportunity – “is this something you are walking towards or walking away from?”

What an interesting question. I hadn’t thought about it that way. Of course, from his perspective, if this was a job I was walking away from, he wanted to know why, and if there was anything he could have done better to keep me there. I was lucky to have an employer who cared enough to ask. It takes a strong leader to put himself in this vulnerable position and be open to criticism of a company he built.

This question has a lot of power.

Marketers constantly try to get into the heads of their customers. Employers should be doing the same, and get into the heads of their employees. With employee engagement at an all time low (according to Gallup), this question should be something leaders and managers ask themselves from the perspective of their employees, well before they are faced with someone leaving. Is there anything about my company - or the way that I manage - that may cause a high performer to walk away and is within my control? Are there consistencies among staff sentiment around our culture that may have a negative impact that I can get ahead of?

Anticipating these needs is important since we all know it’s extremely expensive to ignore them (according to Fast Company, roughly $370 Billion to be exact). This is especially important in startup and high-growth companies where the business is always evolving.

Sometimes people leave because it’s just not a good fit, and that’s valuable information to know from an employer perspective, so the next new hire IS a good fit. And sometimes, an employee leaves because of an amazing opportunity, and there’s nothing you could have done. If you have to lose employees, those are the kinds you want to lose.

As for me, joining exaqueo was something I walked (leaped!) towards. I’m very excited to join the team and contribute to this growing, inspiring company.

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Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

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Startup Employees Rocking the Holiday Season

There’s nothing worse than a busy season to test the mettle of a startup. Excessive orders, customer service wrinkles, products out of stock, you name it. And when something goes wrong the problem usually lies with…you guessed it, the people. When we help clients build cultures, we talk about the importance of hiring to culture–especially for startups where employees are often the face of the company. Hiring to culture is not “can I have a beer with this guy?” It’s a defined selection process that tests whether a candidate will deliver in a way congruent to your company values. It’s employees that live the brand every day and act as an extension of the business no matter where they are.

Since I’m in the business of startups, it’s only fitting I patronize them too. And in checking off my own gift list this year, I decided to put a few service startups to the test. How would they fare when I ordered their goods, asked questions, and responded to problems that arose? And what startup employees are really singing their brand’s tune?

Best Practice #1: Sharing the Brand

Fornash is a startup that pivoted multiple times in the design industry from hand-painted glasses to design-your-own purses to their current successful jewelry and accessories line. Stephanie Fornash Kennedy, founder of the brand, has bootstrapped her way to Oprah’s Favorite Things List. Not only is Stephanie always decked out in her own line, her social media team is constantly sharing ways to wear her items on Instagram.

e88eb1ea5ee411e3977412e829fefa95_8I had the chance to join Stephanie and a group of women last week for dinner, and she came with free baubles for all of us: she gave the Cosmopolitan Bracelet to each of us. We promptly adorned them, took a photo and shared it across numerous social media channels. Brand goodwill starts with friends and family. Putting the product in the hands of friends and sharing the brand you’re proud of makes those who know you, proud of it too. You don’t need Kickstarter to remind you that startup success often begins with the people who have faith in you and are proud to share the story of someone they know. Now I’m off to fill stockings with more Fornash bangles.

  • Shop Fornash this holiday season: use code COSMO for 20% off of the Small Cosmopolitan Bracelets you see above.

Best Practice #2: Informed employees are the best employees.

I inherited a love for giving gifts from my mom. For me, it’s not about extravagance but about the unique finds that are perfect for one specific person on your gift list. As a citizen, I’ve always admired the Back to the Roots story to make food personal. As an entrepreneur, I appreciate their carefully curated product line. And as a consumer, I looked at the Amazon reviews before purchasing one of their Aqua Farms as a gift.

Unsure if some of the problems the reviews cited had been addressed, I conveniently asked Emily, a Back to the Roots employee who popped up in the live chat function on their site as I was shopping. What changes had they made to address the problems? She responded immediately in the chat window with the specific changes that had been made to the product pump, tray and construction using the exact terms I’d seen in the reviews. I was impressed and convinced. She topped it off with a coupon code and I was off to the checkout, one more gift uniquely checked off my list....

...continue reading the rest of this post over on Tech Cocktail where it was originally posted.

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce strategy that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

 

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An Attitude of Gratitude: Thanking Your Employees

This week is all about gratitude for sure. Thanksgiving isn’t just a food-coma-inducing holiday. It’s a chance to think carefully about what you’re thankful for and to share that thanks. Being grateful isn’t as easy as sounds. Especially when it comes to thanking employees. Team members receive and appreciate gratitude in different ways and it’s important to learn how they liked to be thanked and what they appreciate most.

This week we’ve found some great insights on how to do just that. It’s important to realize everyone appreciates gratitude differently. And the more attention you pay, the more they’ll see the how genuine your gratitude really is. Who will you thank this week? And how will you do it?

1) Top 10 Easy, No or Low Cost Ways to Tell Employees “Thank You” from Leading With Trust

"Telling an employee “thank you” is one of the most simple and powerful ways to build trust, yet it doesn’t happen near enough in the workplace.  Whenever I conduct trust workshops with clients and discuss the role that rewards and recognition play in building trust, I will ask participants to raise their hands if they feel like they receive too much praise or recognition on the job. No one has ever raised a hand!"

2) Speak Up, Say “Thank You”: The Art of Employee Feedback from Abacus NYC

“It’s only fitting during Thanksgiving, then, to emphasize the significance of saying “thank you” by delivering valuable feedback to employees. Many managerial professionals are at times guilty of providing inadequate feedback or none at all.  Such essential communication may be absent for any number of reasons. Perhaps some managers initially offered ample praise, but subsequently grew all too accustomed to employees’ strong performance, and began keeping quiet.”

3) 10 Creative Ways to Thank Employees from The Palm Beach Post

"This is a week for giving thanks, something we usually think of in the context of our home and a gathering of family and friends around a traditional meal. But before you go off for that extra-long weekend, have you thought about how you might thank your employees this holiday season? Without them, you literally wouldn't have a company.  Holiday bonuses are nice, and depending on your company's practices may be expected. But here are 10 non-cash perks that will let employees know you're thinking of them in a way a check can't."

4) Austal hits new milestone from Fox10 Mobile

"Austal USA managers are already getting employees in the mood for Thanksgiving. They handed out free turkeys this week. With hundreds of  employees, that's a lot of turkeys.  Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said, "Total employment is at just over 4000, 4019, so, we're going to continue to grow a little bit through the end of the year, maybe around 4100 or so."

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

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Giving Feedback to Startup Employees

During my first human resources job for Arthur Andersen, I was introduced to the beauty of self-awareness. Even in the early 1990s the firm was HR-progressive, introducing a mandatory 360-degree feedback program. Back then, upward feedback was thrilling.  A chance to honestly share what my boss could do better? I had been raised to respect my elders so there was little opportunity to openly correct my elders. And back then the workplace was about respect too.  You followed the boss’ orders and only provided your opinion when asked. But the 90s brought an HR revolution. And workers everywhere started hearing the phrase that still echoes in my mind today.

Feedback is a gift.

But just like Black Friday has overshadowed Thanksgiving, in the workplace we’ve moved from giving thanks to getting things done. We want products launched quicker, apps built sooner, and people to work faster. The assembly line isn’t swift enough. Connections must be instantaneous.

And nowhere do we move faster than in startup and high-growth companies.  For the most part that’s expected. And it works just fine. Unless we’re talking about feedback. The latest trend? Real-time feedback. Startup leaders and founders love to espouse how performance reviews are worthless. “We give real-time feedback,” they say.  But they’re wrong.  Here’s why:

Fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants feedback is risky. 

Sure, the chance you might be sued for wrongful termination is slim. But it only takes one expensive lawsuit for a company to realize the importance of documentation. Large companies can usually absorb the excessive costs but small, growing companies don’t have the time or the money to handle these distractions.

You can’t learn without reflection.

The best learning doesn’t happen in the moment. It happens when you’ve had time to think about your behaviors and ask questions and advice. There’s no time for that when you’re getting performance feedback during a stressful program launch or while trying to meet a deadline. You correct and move on. But what did you actually learn?

Patterns are indiscernible.

Unless you’re documenting feedback on a regular basis, there’s no way to account for patterns. As human beings we’re swayed by the “recency effect.” Someone screws up and it will always overshadow his or her earlier successes.  There’s no real way to look at someone’s performance in totality if you’re only dropping “do this better” here and there.

You lose the 360-degree perspective.

As a boss, your perception of an employee’s performance will always be somewhat different than the employee’s peers, customers or clients. Measuring them based only on your perception is misleading and unfair. It also means you might miss key behavioral strengths or weaknesses that only come out when the boss isn’t around.

I’m not advocating complicated performance management processes or constricting review forms no one reads. Meaningful feedback is about time: taking the time to write down your thoughts, compare them to a previous period of time, share them with the employee and allow for an actual dialogue.

It’s the time of year when we give gifts. And honest, fair, focused feedback is the career gift your team deserves. Take a breath. Take a seat. And take the time to give the gift of feedback.

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Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

 

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Job Hopping: Why A Million Jobs Is a Good Thing

photo Let's face it, no one sails through their work life with grace and ease. We stumble, we fail, we struggle and we learn some pretty great lessons along the way.  For me, those lessons have come from 32 different, paying jobs in 21 years. You heard that right. 32. From orientation leader to cold caller, I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't written them all down.* Am I flighty? Do I lack work ethic? Am I a poor performer? Not a bit.

We've been chastising millenials for job hopping and holding too many jobs. We assume the worst--lack of promotions, laziness, perspective--but maybe there's more to it, especially early in your career. What if having a million jobs was a good thing?

For me it was. It deepened my skill sets and ability to understand how diverse groups of people work. I figured out what interested me and what didn't. I didn't understand it then but as an orientation leader at Virginia Tech, I first learned the art of HR and onboarding. I fell in love with the opportunity to welcome people to a new community and help them fit it in.

There were more practical lessons too. I quickly learned the very-valuable lesson of how much money mattered to me. I started working at 13 in hourly jobs. The more I worked, the more I made. But I had to balance the tradeoffs--did I want more cash or more time with my friends? Annoying decisions to make back then. Transformative lessons when I look back now.

But if I thought I worked many jobs, I don't hold a candle to Scott Crawford, the now Director of Career Services at Wabash College in Indiana. Scott's had double the amount of jobs I've had. 64 jobs to be exact from cloth cutter to human trash compactor. And he's nowhere near the end of his career.

You might think Scott the definition of job-hopper, but truth be told, he's been in the same field for over 20 years. And in his current job for eight. However, he's not shy about his job-hopping past. In fact, it might be the reason he's been successful in his field and happy in his job now.

"I think the main thing is that every [workplace] thinks they’re somehow unique or special but they’re usually more similar than they think. After awhile I could tell immediately if (a) I was going to like it/fit in, and (b) if the place was run well or not," says Scott. "I quit one place after 3 days.  I could tell it was going nowhere (really poor training/orientation), and it closed shortly thereafter."

The more experiences you have, the more sure you might be when you finally land. And the more obvious it will be when you don't. I wrote about the job hopping people do in The Right Job, Right Now (St. Martin's Press), and the idea that we overcompensate. We hate our boss in one job, so we look for a better boss. We find that better boss in our new job, but the growth potential we took for granted at the old job is now missing. Not the best strategy in our professional careers. But it is early on.

Having a million jobs early on helps you make key decisions. After working retail, I knew I didn't want a job in fashion. The perks of hospitality are great but the pay isn't. And multiple internships in public relations helped me codify specific skills and understand the reality of the corporate world before I fully committed.

As for Scott, he looked for leadership inspiration:

"One of the best run [places I have worked] was Wichita State University. The President there at the time really created a ‘we’re all in this together’ kind of atmosphere, and communication flowed freely. He moved his office to the bottom floor of the Admin Building from the previous President's suite at the top) right at the front door, with his doors open.  One thing the President said that made a big impression on me 'if you see a piece of trash on the sidewalk, pick it up and throw it away.  Don’t assume someone else will, or that it’s the groundskeeper’s job to do that.  We’re all responsible for how this school is perceived.'  I think about that a lot," he says.

The way we work, our successes now and our engagement in work are a result of where we've been. Forget conference best practices and what's worked for everyone else. Look back to your own experiences to remember what influenced you. What did you like the most and how can you find that and emulate that moving forward? A million jobs means a million lessons, leaders and projects to take the best from.

Just ask Scott: from a broom factory to wrapping gifts to stocking fine china, he's got a lesson from every single, solitary experience.

"My shortest job was one day. They'd fired the guy that hired me, and forgot he'd [just hired me]. Then, they had no position for me, so they gave me three months severance pay," says Scott.  "Management styles and bosses, however, varied wildly, and I most definitely enjoyed working in more collaborative and participatory atmospheres, with bosses who actually cared about the organization or product/service, not just their own careers."

As for me, I'm still learning, and still counting:

  1. Snack Bar Attendant (1988)
  2. Camp Counselor
  3. Customer Service Associate
  4. Cashier
  5. Head Cashier
  6. Customer Service Manager
  7. Lifeguard
  8. After School Program Leader
  9. Call Center Associate
  10. Public Relations Intern
  11. Public Relations Assistant
  12. Waitress
  13. Retail Salesperson
  14. College Orientation Leader
  15. College Orientation Assistant
  16. Graduate Student Affairs Assistant
  17. Training Coordinator
  18. HR Generalist
  19. Recruiter
  20. Recruiting Manager
  21. Sr. Manager, Member Services
  22. Program Director
  23. Career Coach
  24. Assistant Director, Career Services
  25. Author
  26. MBA Intern
  27. Director, Talent Management
  28. Director, Talent Acquisition
  29. Senior Director, Employer Brand
  30. Consultant
  31. Speaker
  32. Founder (2013)

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Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce strategy that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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There's a Better Way to Quit Your Job

Another day, another viral video of a frustrated, tired employee quitting a job in a dramatic fashion.  First there was the chute-sliding JetBlue flight attendant and then the brash marching band incident followed by the forthright op-ed from the ex-Goldman Sachs employee. And now there’s the dancing video producer who’s simply had enough.

In her case she claimed the work environment in Taiwan wasn’t bearable. So why not just move on? Or better yet, look for work opportunities in countries where employment laws and work environments generally tend to be a bit more supportive of work-life balance?

If only we could all vent this way. About everything. 

Public displays of resignation are entertaining and attention-getting. But they won’t take you anywhere except on the 15-minutes-of-fame-train. Look, we’ve all been there. I’ve had bosses throw things at me, yell, and storm out in temper tantrums. But employment is free will. And if you’re quitting anyway (meaning you’re not stuck in the job to feed your family), why behave like a toddler just looking for attention? I’m all for creative and sticking-it-to-the-man when deserved, but no one looks back on a tantrum with pride.

There’s a better way to quit your job if you just can’t take it anymore.

First, assess the situation.

Is your misery project or person related, but you love much about your company and co-workers? See if there’s an opportunity to move departments. It could be that management is well aware of your difficult boss (but she brings in too much business or is too tenured to fire). Not that it makes it right to keep the boss in seat, but without sharing confidential information, management could reward you for just asking for another opportunity internally.

If it’s systematic, then you may want to leave. When the entire founding team is behaving badly, or emulating a model of work-life balance you find deplorable, that’s a sign. And if your health or family life is being affected? That’s a sure sign. But only you can decide–and define–what behavior and cultural attributes are enough to make you quit.

Second, devise a plan and a timeline.

Consider current work you don’t want to leave unfinished and aim to help provide a smooth transition.  For example, you may despise your boss, but you don’t want to leave your reliable co-workers with a difficult situation. Then start laying the ground work (confidentially) with your network to get a sense of how hard it will be to find a new job so you’re financially prepared to be unemployed for a specific period of time. It’s important to know that even if you give two weeks notice, a company could ask you to leave on the spot–always be prepared for this...

Read the rest of this post over on Tech Cocktail.

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This post originally appeared on TechCocktail written by Susan LaMotte, the founder of exaqueo. A workforce consultancy, exaqueo helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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Caring About Employees Isn't a Talent Strategy

Almost every founder has the same mentality: talent can make or break your business. From finding the best talent to maintaining a strong culture, founders regularly wax poetic about how much they care about their people and their culture. We all know that people and culture matter. The real question is what are you doing about it? 

Founders and leadership teams talk culture and people but rarely have an actual strategy in place.  They’ve got values, cool perks, and equity packages to offer.  But ask what the strategy is, and they fall silent.

Let me be clear: caring about employees isn’t a talent strategy. Imagine if you rolled out new product features just because you thought they’d make your users happy. Engineers everywhere know there has to be a roadmap.  You don’t add new features to make users happy if they’re not part of a plan to grow your user base or you know they’ll be outdated in six months.  Product development conversations are tied to revenue, growth and vision.

So why don’t startup leaders think about talent in the same way? Founders and investors don’t know how. But when they do, it changes everything.

Enter Dan Berger, CEO of Social Tables. Unlike most founders, Dan has both work experience in HR and has sought out mentors with HR experience. He uses terms like “hiring yield” and “employer of choice” regularly in conversation. More importantly, he doesn’t just care about his employees and culture. He can answer the question, “What are you doing about it?”

Social Tables is putting rigor into their hiring process. They’re starting to track employee satisfaction and aligning business goals directly with individual employee performance. They’re building out a competency model for their sales team so they can hire, coach and develop around specific success drivers.

Sound too corporate? Too formal? Too focused for a startup that should be spending time on product and growth. Try again and ...

Read the rest of this post over on Tech Cocktail.

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This post originally appeared on TechCocktail written by Susan LaMotte, the founder of exaqueo. A workforce consultancy, exaqueo helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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Dealing With Difficult Employees When You Don't Have Time

There's a great scene in Shrek when Lord Farquaad breaks off the legs of the Gingerbread Man, basically torturing him for information. Gingy refuses to divulge anything until Lord Farquaad goes for the jugular reaching for his candy buttons. "NO! Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!," Gingy cries and gives in. This is how leaders of growing companies deal with talent problems. You wait until it's going to cause you real pain. Fundraising or new hire? Client problem or co-worker disagreement? Valuation or toxic employee? When you're focusing on getting investment, customers, attention and Board approval, there's no time for talent. Until there has to be.

But you don't have to wait until it's gumdrop buttons serious. You can manage talent while you're running a business.  And you can handle difficult employees before you get to the point where you're ready to break their legs off. Or where your other employees just want to run.

Deal With It Now

If there's a problem, deal with it in 24 hours. Don't cancel an investment pitch for a difficult employee, but don't ignore the problem for days or weeks either. That demonstrates to other employees that the behavior is tolerated. It also means you forget what exactly happened and move on to putting out other fires. No matter how busy you are, ask the employee for time to talk in the next 24 hours and make it happen.

Give Regular Feedback From Day One

If you bring employees on board, focus on execution and never give them feedback on what's working and what's not, the first time you tell them there's a problem, it's defensive city. They're surprised, you're annoyed and the chasm of communication breakdown gets wider and wider.

From day one, tell new employees when they'll get feedback and how it will be delivered. Share things they are doing well and things they need to improve on. And then actually do it. Regularly. It makes it easier when things get tough, for the tough messages to be delivered. Employees will be used to the conversations -- even if they're on the fly -- and be prepared to ask questions and won't be caught off guard.

Use Your Culture to Make Your Case

Without values modeled by the leadership team, culture is just a collection of silly perks and CEO sound bytes. If you have a set of values and what exaqueo calls work rules, you can always point back to them as a guidepost of how business gets done in your organization.

For example, let's say transparency is one of your core values and you have an associated work rule that describes how and when employees need to be transparent. Then, when an employee hides something or doesn't want to admit there's a problem, you point back to the work rule. If they can't adapt, they're out. Otherwise your trading commitment to culture for one person.

Don't Hide Behind Technology

As founders or leaders, we're always on the fly. I'm writing this blog post from an airport lounge! But that doesn't mean I should text an employee if there's a problem, or shoot off an email, hit send, and shut down the computer. Feedback has to be a two-way street real-time. A ten-minute phone call now will save you five emails later and an employee so frustrated, stewing about the feedback that he doesn't focus for the rest of the day. Always direct, always in-person (or on the phone)--the only way to give feedback.

Give Employees a Chance, But Not More Than One

An employee who makes a mistake can learn and change. A toxic employee can't. That's why multiple chances don't work. Don't count to three or give start-up employees long leashes. You don't have time for that. Instead, be clear about the problem, connect it back to your culture and be honest that you don't have time for it to happen again. Encourage communication--if they aren't sure what to do, ask! But don't give out chances like candy.

You may be able to ignore or de-prioritize difficult employees until they cause a major problem. But waiting means the problem is now big enough to really impact your business.  Do you have time for that? Don't cut off your legs to spite your face. And by all means, don't wait until it gets this serious.

http://youtu.be/FpBJih02aYU

 

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exaqueo is a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

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