Bot Syndrome

The Bot Syndrome: 5 Symptoms Which Indicate Your Employee Feels Like a Bot

“The other day, a customer tweeted at me, ‘Are you a bot?’ At first I was really offended and wanted to tweet back ‘I AM NOT A BOT!’ But when I thought about it some more, I got kind-of sad. I realized that by following the scripts and all the rules, I sounded very robotic. That’s not what our customers want or need. They come to social media because they want some upbeat and friendly interaction. I could provide better service if they gave us a bit more freedom to do what we know is right.’”

– Customer Service Social Media Rep

It’s not just social media reps who feel that way. It happens across industries at all levels. I’ve met VPs whose fear has caused a dangerous bot-like trance. Bots leading bots is no way to change the game.

Sadly, it starts with good intentions: an effort to get everyone on the same page; a PR team who wants to ensure all employees share the same story; or efficiency studies that show the “right way” to do things saves much more time. I once had a boss tell me, “Karin, the truth is in that role, I want to take all the thinking out of it, make it as simple as possible so they can just execute efficiently.”

Sometimes your employees will tell you. But often, they just subtly lose their passion for your work and find meaning elsewhere.

5 Signs Your Employee Feels Like a Bot

1. They stop asking important questions.

The “Why?” “What’s next?” and “What if?” questions disappear.

2. But… they don’t make a move without asking obvious questions.

They need approval for everything, even if it means keeping a customer waiting. Most of your answers are “of course.”

3. They “follow the rules” even when they don’t make sense.

Of course they should have made an exception for the customer whose son just died. But the guidebook didn’t say, so they stuck by the rules. It’s impossible to predict and script every scenario. If an employee can’t function outside the playbook, check for bot-building policies.

4. Meetings are lifeless.

Your meetings look like a scene from an old zombie movie. It’s like pulling teeth to get everyone to talk. You feel like a cheerleader in an empty stadium.

5. Even well-thought out recognition, compensation, and employee engagement programs don’t make a dent.

If employees could double their hourly wage if they just “embraced the program” you first need a shift from bot gear, before any incentive overlay will work.

The guy I worked for was wrong. Because I’m not a bot, I ignored that advice, and results improved. You can’t grow a bot. You can’t motivate a bot. Bots will never deliver a best in class customer experience.

Bonus

After publishing this article, I was asked to share it in Malaysia for Leaderonomics. The fun part about that is they created an amazing PDF with other great thoughts on building your social media strategy.

 

 

Why NPS (Net Promoter Score) is Never Enough

The call center had ventured into this unknown territory organically. Their leadership knew their processes needed rigor, so they called me in to take a look and help them create a scalable model.

My basic question, “How do you measure performance?” was met with an embarrassed silence followed by the awkward answer, “Attendance and adherence to schedule.”

Now you don’t need to be a customer service genius to know that measuring whether reps show up to work is not enough to guarantee a best-in-class customer experience. Most centers at least use NPS (Net Promoter Score), which measures whether the customer would recommend the company to a friend. But this project was different, and that wasn’t so easy.

My expectations lowered, I asked, “Would it be okay for me to sit with some reps?” And that’s when the real surprise began.

I watched as each rep passionately explained their processes.

“Oh my gosh, I love my job, I just can’t wait to help customers. You see this guy here? He thinks everything is fixed, but I dug a bit deeper and I know we can help him more. It takes a few extra clicks to get what I need, but it’s worth it.”

“Well, each morning before I get to work, I go onto our–and our competitor’s–Facebook page to see if anything hot might have surfaced since my last shift. Stuff changes fast, and it’s important to come into work fully prepared.”

“The best part of our work is that no one gives us a script, we are each able to use our own unique style as long as we follow the basic guidelines. Customers love that. We also share what works best with one another.”

I reviewed customer conversation after conversation. I surely would recommend these reps to a friend. They were scoring “10s” on an invisible scoreboard.

My mind raced to the week before when I had met with the builder for our new home.

“Okay, here’s a survey you need to fill out.  I only get my bonus if you give me a 10. It’s really important that you answer 10 to these three questions. I don’t care what you put for the rest of the survey, you can be as honest as you want on those. In fact, that’s how we know what to improve. But whatever you do, please give me a 10. In fact, let me just circle that in for you.”

If he worked for me, I would have fired him.

But, here’s where it gets trickier. This guy’s going to be our project manager for the next year. He’ll have discretion about whether he fixes our borderline problems on our new home. The wackiest part is until that conversation it had been a 10 experience.

My gut says, report this stupidity his boss, but then what? And of course, I have no way of knowing if his boss isn’t playing the same game. I wonder how many other new home owners leave their final walk-through feeling similarly gamed?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for NPS and other CSAT (customer satisfaction) measures. I will help that call center build a meaningful balanced scorecard, and recommend they include NPS, but not without telling this cautionary tale.

The spirit of NPS is easily destroyed when mathematical gymnastics trump a sincere desire to improve.

If you’re using NPS, be sure you dig deeper. Follow-up with your promoters. “Why would you recommend us?” Give them a chance to say, “Because I didn’t want your rep to get fired.”

Want to give your customer service a competitive edge? I’d love to help you dig deeper. Please give me a call at 443/750-1249 for a free consultation. 

5 Ways to Help a Decision Maker Decide

My client, Laura, had invited me in to observe the spectacle. I watched as she carefully articulated her research findings and presented her “no brainer” suggestions to Mark. Each time Laura’s ideas were met with a similar response, “Thanks so much,” followed by a bogus reason of why the idea wouldn’t work.

The conversation was the equivalent of Laura saying, “I’d like to give you 100 bucks. No strings attached. I just found a way to save the money and I’d like to give it to you.”

And Mark saying, “Well, thanks for making the effort, but I’ll have to think about that for a while, talk to some other folks and see what they think, and then get back to you.”

Mark was clearly afraid to make a decision, even if it was obviously a good one.

Perhaps you’re dealing with Mark or his doppelgänger. If so, here are a few ideas that can help

5 Ways to Help a Decision Maker Decide

1. Ask More Questions

If you’re met with resistance, stop selling and start asking questions to understand why.

  • How do you think this change would impact the customer experience?
  • Have you ever tried anything like this before? How did it go?
  • What’s driving your hesitation?
  • Who else needs to be involved in such decisions?
  • What do you think would happen if we implemented this approach?
2. Provide a Clear Path Forward

When presenting an idea to a guy like Mark, don’t just talk conceptually. Be crystal clear on what your idea would take to implement: specifically who would need to do what by when.

Folks like Mark are often afraid of change because it just sounds like too much work. Show how moving forward with your plan is easier than sticking with the status quo.

3. Make it Reversible

One of the biggest reasons for decision paralysis is that it feels so permanent. Find a way to let them taste the impact of the decision in a way that can be easily reversed. Got a new process? Try it with one team. Worried about the customer experience? Try your idea out with a small subset of customers and carefully monitor the experience. It’s a lot easier to sell-in a pilot, than to convince a risk-adverse decision maker to make a “permanent” change.

4. Include Others

If Mark suggests a need to socialize the idea with others, offer to tag along. Chances are if he’s afraid to make a decision, he’s equally afraid of expressing his opinion to his boss or other stakeholders.

Offer to support him with an enthusiastic, “Awesome, I’d love to join a quick call to help you socialize the idea.”

5. Don’t Give Up

It’s true that it’s hard helping some people. But stay humble. This isn’t about you or your Mark, it’s about doing the right thing. There’s nothing more convincing than someone passionate about doing the right things for the right reasons.

Give Mark a chance to sleep on it, and give it another go.

Road trip

The Power of a Road Trip

I spent many years in a “trust but verify” culture. What this meant was that I, and every executive above me, was expected to constantly show up in the retail stores to experience what was happening as the customers would.

Is there a bird’s nest over the front entrance risking bird poop falling on a customer’s head? Are customers being serviced in a timely way? Does the store look inviting with all light bulbs on and phones charged? Are the employees up to speed on the latest products and services? Can the store managers articulate their key initiatives and what they could do to improve?

There’s no question that knowing an exec could stop in at any time, kept everyone on their toes. The stores undoubtedly were cleaner and the customer service better as a result.

Of course these visits were always stressful. The general sentiment was that there was “No such thing as a good visit, only not a bad one.”

Which is what made the technique I learned from my predecessor so brilliant.

Every summer, instead of the usual pop-in store visits, Chris and his right hand guy, Jimmy, would pack up a van, wrap it in some marketing bling, and hit the road for a month visiting over a hundred stores across a nine-hour radius.

The schedule was pre-announced and there was one big rule: only positive feedback, celebration and fun.

If something was wrong, he or Jimmy would just quietly fix it, and make a note to circle back at some later point to see if there was a chronic problem.

This tour was all about noticing what was right.

He would do his homework and came prepared with all kinds of recognition, along with a token of appreciation for every employee.

The store managers came up with all kinds of creative ways to add to the fun.  Jimmy took tons of pictures of every visit. Every evening, they would Photoshop them into creative collage, including names of those recognized and why, along with descriptions of best practices. This “postcard” was emailed to the entire region every evening.

The other store directors jokingly referred to the month as “Chris’ love tour,” but Chris didn’t care, he knew what worked.

The truth is, the employees loved the love.

Of course, results skyrocketed during that time. Everyone wanted to be on top of their game when the tour stopped by their store.

And as you can imagine, there was not a bird’s nest in sight. The phones all had charge, and the employees knew all about the latest products and services.

Trust your employees to rise to the occasion, and they will.

Sounds easy, right? But I know a lot of managers who fumble their managing by walking around (MBWA).

There’s real power in getting out with your people with a single intention– to uplift, recognize and celebrate.

stage fright

How to Overcome Stage Fright

I was deeply worried that my Dad was right, there would be no way I could hold it together to sing at my Mom’s funeral. I envisioned myself as a weepy mess at the front of the church. But for me, singing is a prayer, and after the hundreds of concerts my parents attended to support me over the years, not singing felt wrong. I’m normally not a stage fright kind of girl. I always love a good microphone. But fear was showing up in all its glory, and I almost gave in.

Then I realized that this fear was a gift. I needed to be humbled by stage fright, to better serve my clients and students who ask me for advice on how to overcome theirs.

4 Ways to Overcome Stage Fright

Here’s what worked for me. I hope it can help you.

1.Remember WHY you have the mic

If you’ve got a mic in your hand, I’m going to assume you’ve got something important to offer. Remember that stage fright is about you, not your message. Fear is not humility. Connecting with your message and remembering your purpose takes your ego (and the fear that’s trying to protect it) out of the equation.

2. Find some scaffolding

My scaffoldiing came in the form of people. My first text was to my cousin Katie, a professional folk singer and one of the happiest people I know.  Now we had a duet. Mary is a rock star on piano, so I knew if we got into trouble she’d just keep playing.  When Al, who I hadn’t sung with since my wedding, showed up at the funeral home, we added one final touch to the scaffolding for the next morning–guitar.

For you the scaffolding may be a clever prop, slides that prompt you through the tough parts, or a podium to put a barrier between you and the audience. Find what will make you feel more secure.

3. Practice until it “gets into your body.”

Award winning speaker and coach, Patricia Fripp, advises speakers to practice a speech until it “gets into your body.” She rehearses on a treadmill, so I decided to take my song for a walk in the woods. I got a few strange looks when I stumbled upon a fellow hiker, but what the heck.

4. Visualize success

As corny as it sounds, that morning I spent some quiet time picturing myself in front of the familiar terrain of the church I grew up in. The stained glass, green carpet, and the harmony that needed to surface.

Here’s a 30 second glimpse of the outcome.

Need help with communication, leadership development, or a funeral singer (just kidding), give me a call 443-750-1249.

Energize your leadership

Experts Chime in on "Energizing Leadership:" A Frontline Festival

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. Our May Festival is all about energizing leadership. Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors, ! Next month’s Festival is all about beginnings, fresh starts, and launching well. New contributors welcome.

Energizing Ourselves

We often plough so much energy into the big picture, we forget the pixels. – Silvia Cartwright

Wally Bock of Three-Star Leadership tells us time off is good for you and your team. Set the example, by taking breaks, building downtime into your schedule, and taking time off regularly. Follow Wally.

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC  asks “Who motivates the motivator?” Leadership is like that. Who does the leader follow to evolve into the optimum model to follow? Leadership must be renewed from within. Follow Michelle.

Every time Bruce Harpham of Project Management Hacks  reads Getting Things Done, he grows. In this post, he explains four ways GTD enhance’s a leader’s skills and capability. After all, who wants to follow a confused and disorganized leader? Follow Bruce.

Chery Gegelman of Simply Understanding posits that leadership is all about connections, and connections create energy–and that those connections are especially meaningful when they happen in unlikely places and with complete strangers…   Follow Chery.

Terri Klass of Terri Klass Consulting points out that sometimes leaders spend more time focusing on their weaknesses and blind spots, rather than on their strengths. We often compare ourselves to others instead of seeing our unique gifts and abilities. When we do recognize our talents, we can shine as leaders.  Follow Terri.

Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders Blog presents Have you had your sabbatical yet? where she shares that taking “mini-sabbaticals” weekly, or even daily, helps to cleanse your mind, refresh your spirit, and focus on things other than your work – so that you can bring your best to your work, your leadership, and your life overall. Follow Lisa.

Hoda Maalouf of International Leadership Blogathon describes how leading with heart energizes leaders as much as it does the led, mainly because heart-based leaders enjoy what they do and follow an inner call.  Follow Hoda.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership advises that the ability to generate energy consistently over time has the power to elevate you to your potential as a leader. If you need a boost, looking to your core values is a great place to start. Follow Susan.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference reminds us that energizing others begins with energizing the self. When you deeply know your values and gifts, the next step is bringing that true self outward – with authenticity and honesty. Follow Jon.

Jennifer Miller of The People Equation Jennifer V. Miller read the book “Energize Your Leadership!” and was given a boost by the personal leadership stories from 16 different authors. Read her take-aways at 16 Stories to Energize Your LeadershipFollow Jennifer.

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com shares that “Trust is how I feel in my gut about what you will do with my gift (ideas, knowledge, feelings) when I share a piece of myself.” Follow Michelle.

Ever had a physical or emotional crash? Leadership Coach Julie Pierce of Empowered by Pierce talks about how to prevent and recover from this common leadership experience. Follow Julie.

Alli Polin of Break the Frame  offers, “Just like you edit your writing, you can edit your personal leadership to re-energize and create stronger results.”   Follow Alli.

For Lalita Raman of LalitaRaman.com, identifying and connecting to her vision, helped her energize her brand and what she does. Follow Lalita.

LaRae Quy of Mental Toughness Center tells us that successful people are those who are good at Plan B. Why? Because by trying and failing, we learn what doesn’t work—and with that comes the knowledge we need to understand what will. Follow LaRae.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context reminds us that our future success is in the hands of our leaders. They will be the ones to tackle the seemingly unsolvable problems of the future. Are they ready? Follow Linda.

Energizing Others

We have no hope of solving our problems without harnessing the diversity, the energy and the creativity of all our people. – Roger Wilkins

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited suggests that play and fun are necessary to energize ourselves and our staff and provides an engaging and simple team building activityFollow Beth.

Dr. Crystal Davis of Lead. From. Within.  shares that servant-Leaders who focus on serving rather than being served energize and renew people’s loyalty and commitment to an organization. Energizing leaders listen authentically and are concerned with the others through the full range of knowledge, skills, emotional, and behavioral dynamics. Follow Crystal.

Susan Fowler  of SusanFowler.com gives us tips on how to energize employees to preform at their highest level because they themselves want to genuinely thrive, not because there might be “something in it” for them to do well right now. Follow Susan.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement encourages us to build a culture with respect for people that encourages joy in work and builds intrinsic motivation.  Don’t try to motivate with extrinsic motivation gimmicks.  Follow John.

Dan McCarthy of About.com Management & Leadership  asks “What’s the single most important measure of an effective one-on-one? Make sure they leaved more energized than when they came in!” Follow Dan.

Matt McWilliams of Matt McWilliams Consulting asks, “What is encouragement and what is it not?” and provides six ways build others up and grow your influence as a leaderFollow Matt.

Tony Vengrove of Miles Finch Innovation says, “There’s no silver bullet for making innovation “happen” or leading any other worthy endeavor. Leading innovation and change is a circuitous journey filled with hard work, patience, and persistence–it requires a spirit of whatever it takes.” Follow Tony.

Call for Submissions. The June Frontline Festival is about beginnings, fresh starts, and launching well. Please send your submissions no later than June 20th. New participants welcome. Click here to join in!

In other news:

energizing leadersI’m excited to share that April 20th marked the release of a collaborative book, Energize Your Leadership, written by 16 thought leaders (many of whom are active contributors to this Festival.) Read the story of our collaboration here AND View the trailer.

rocket light bulb

7 Questions You Should Ask When You Launch a New Project

I’m launching a new project that will significantly propel the LGL mission of growing leaders with the confidence and humility to make a deeper impact on the world. It’s a strong team, and I found us organically asking one another questions to frame our mission and set us up for success. There was no checklist, but I thought, “Wow, wouldn’t it be helpful for others in such scenes if there were?”

And so today, I offer 7 questions to ask before you launch any significant project.

7 Questions You Should Ask Before You Launch a New Project

1. Why is this project vital?

Why are we doing this?  Why now? Who will benefit and what do they most need? How much will it cost and why is it worth the investment?

2. What does success look like?

How will we measure our success? What are the process measures that will let us know we are on track?

3. Who else must we include?

Who do we need to be successful? Who are key stakeholders who should be brought in early?

4. How will we communicate?

We’re actually using some cool collaboration systems, including Hall, Gather Content and Cage.

5. How does this project integrate with other work underway?

In my work at Verizon this was always one we had to consider well. It’s worth going slow to go fast in this phase to ensure there’s no redundancy or worse, competing efforts.

6. What can we learn from others who’ve done similar work?

Again, it’s worth taking the time to benefit from other people’s key learnings. Breakthroughs are almost always improvements of work that has come before. Be sure you know what that is.

7. Who will do what by when?

Too many project teams jump right into the action planning. Asking the first six questions first will help to ensure you plan is effective.

So, Karin, what’s the project? Ahh, that leads to the bonus question, “When do you announce your plans?” Stay tuned.

Gather while ye may

On the Meaning of Life

This week has been hard here. We’ve lost my Mom who was vibrant to the end, at a slower pace than predicted–with a painful ending no one should have to endure. Some of my Mom’s last words to me were “I just wish all this pain and suffering could help you write a really good blog post.” She was kidding of course, but what the heck.

And because life rhymes, while all this was going on, I was invited to participate in a project gathering points of view on the meaning of life. It’s an amazing line-up of powerful perspectives.

It’s quite an undertaking, and I’m still working on my contribution. 

I also know that our true testament of what we value is how we choose to live. Our daily actions prove what matters to us.

Reflecting on what matters–matters–because it provides us with a daily gut check as to whether we’re living that way.

What I saw as my Mom got sicker, was that what she valued and believed became crystal clear. With a morphine bag and from a hospice bed, I watched her repeatedly worry about the welfare of other people and improving the situations in their lives. Coaching the kid visiting from her church to pursue his musical talents, instead of hanging out with that crowd; wondering if all the flowers folks had sent could be re-used for the mother daughter luncheon she was still planning although she could not attend; apologizing because she wouldn’t be able to help watch Sebastian when I travelled.

And so as a tribute to my mom, Jean Kohlenstein, this Mother’s day, I share at least part of what I know gave her life meaning.

moms adviceShowing up strong and doing something every day to add value (and doing it with class).

Other things that gave her life meaning: her 50 year marriage, her children and grandchildren, friends, church, art, poetry, knitting, humor, cookies, baseball…

Who else wants to play? How would you sum up your perspective on the meaning of life?

5 Big Mistakes Managers Make When Developing Their People

Let’s be real. The biggest mistake managers make when developing their people is that they don’t spend enough time doing it. Or, even worse, aren’t spending any time at all. The fact that you’re reading this indicates that you care, and are trying.

Even imperfect development beats what many employees telling me they’re getting–nada.

The only way to achieve exponentially greater results is to get every member of your team functioning on more cylinders, as individuals and as a team.

Good managers spend at least 10-20% of their time developing their people.

Be sure you’re investing your time well by avoiding these common traps.

5 Mistakes Managers Make When Developing Their People

1. Forget they’re still learning too

There’s a weird imaginary threshold I see too many managers cross. They creep into “I’ve got this, and now my job is to teach it to you” land.  Almost every manager goes there at some point in their career, and many get stuck in it’s delusional abyss. The only way to be an effective leader is to scurry back to reality as fast as you can. Leadership is never handled. See also, 60 Reasons Leaders Stop Learning.

I’ve learned the hard way that our teams see our flaws and mistakes better than we do. Even if they love you, there are at least 17 reasons they don’t want to lead like you.

Be sure the learning and listening is a two-way street.

2. Invest only in the “high potentials”

“I don’t have time to develop everyone, so I’ll really invest in the top 5%, maybe even 10%,” is the cry I’ve heard many times. I’m all for giving extra effort the box 9s, goodness knows I’m grateful for every ounce of extra effort folks poured into me as I climbed the ladder. BUT, imagine the possibilities when you tap into the majority of your team, building on everyone’s strengths, and helping them to see themselves as more than “also-rans”?

3. Focus on individual development but don’t develop the team

A team of super stars who don’t know how to work as a team, can’t win. The egos get in the way, and conflict sucks the life out of all productivity, and prohibits real creative breakthroughs that involve integrated thinking.

I once worked for an executive who painstaking recruited the very best players in every discipline, and then got us in a room and announced his plan. Our bonuses (a large percentage of our salary, usually stack ranked) would all be exactly the same, based on our performance in his experimental organization. He’d received permission from HR to try it. If we blew it out of the park, he’d get money added to the pool. If we sucked, he’d give it back. Either way, we’d all be paid the same percentage.

We fought like brothers and sisters, but we figured it out. We nailed it. In fact, 20 years later, we’re still amazing friends (I even dated one of the guys a decade later, see also: Never Date the Guy Who Hates HR — just kidding, haven’t written that post… yet;-)

4. Ignore their unique gifts and strengths

It’s easy to develop leaders in our own image, but what if they see the world in an entirely different way? What if they never say a word? Go deeper. Get to know them. In every MBA class I teach, I’m blown away by the men and women who I worried about at the beginning. Go there.

5. Underestimate their capability to grow horizontally as well as vertically.

Everyone wants to move up, and it’s easy to focus on promoting your best and the brightest in your discipline. The truth is, people choose a path early on and it’s often a crap shoot, or overly influenced someone else’s advice. Give people opportunities to draw on new skills, test them in wacky environments, and see how they grow. My career was built on doing things I knew nothing about, and so was my Dad’s. I bet there could be more of us out there if only given the chance.

Developing your people is so important, be sure your work gets the return on investment you deserve.

See Also: A Brilliant Mentoring Match Takes Hearts and Smarts. 

tract small companies

4 Ways Smaller Companies Can Attract Great Talent

There are four main reasons my MBA students give me for wanting to work for the big guys versus a smaller company: prestige, salary/benefits, room for upward mobility, and security. Tough factors for the small guys to compete with for sure. Interesting, those conversations have been juxtaposed with interviews I’ve been doing this week for a mid-sized client, as we’re looking to take their social media strategy to the next level.

Guess who’s applying? Rock stars from the big guys, yup, even MBAs.

When I ask these candidates, “Why would you consider leaving ______ (insert prestigious, high-paying, great benefits, relatively secure company name here)?” the answer is they want a place where they can move faster (less bureaucracy) and be more creative. They want to work for folks who have a strong vision, but are wide open to new ideas (ahh, the sweet smell of confident humility as a competitive weapon).

Of course smaller doesn’t always equate to faster, more creative, or a culture of confident humility, but in this case that’s the value proposition. And it’s working. Score one for the underdogs. 

4 Ways Smaller Companies Can Attract Great Talent

1. Create a Clear Value Proposition

Most smaller companies work this backward, reactively trying to piece together a competitive offer, or packaging their recruiting story so it looks good on paper. To truly attract and retain the best talent in your industry, you’ll need a deliberate plan.

Start with your vision: What’s most important to your ideal candidates? What do you want to be known for as an employer? Then do realistic assessment of your current state. Nothing’s worse than telling candidates you’re fast and creative, if you’re slow and stodgy. The only way to develop a genuine and lasting value proposition is to have a realistic understanding of your gaps.

2. Sell Your Why

Simon Sinek’s golden circle isn’t just about leadership and marketing, it’s vital in the talent wars. The best and brightest are looking for a “why” that matters. Be sure you can articulate yours.

3. Engage Your Team

The 360 interview process is working great for my client because the candidates get to talk to a lot of fired up people. If your team’s fired up, get them involved to help interview. If they’re remote, video interviews are a great option. Plus, your team will bring different perspectives and be a good gauge of cultural fit. Of course, if your team’s not fired up, you’ve got bigger issues. Call me, I can help.

4. Rock Social Media

Go hang out where the talent is. Most of the folks you really want are not looking on job boards. Showing up strong is an easy way to attract the attention of great people who might not otherwise be looking.

Does your human capital strategy need a tune-up? Give me a call for a free consultation, 443-750-1249.

When fear leads to deception

When Fear Leads to Self Deception

On the grand scheme of deception I suppose this ranks low on the Richter scale. But early tremors are deceiving, and reveal important indicators of our fault lines.

The Backstory

Sebastian (for those just tuning in, my youngest son, age 9) came out of the womb running. The son of two marathon runners and triathletes, he was tousled in the womb and spent hours sleeping and giggling in the baby jogger, so much so that we needed a new set of tires.

So when he came in second as a kindergartener on the “most laps around the school in an hour walk-a-thon,” we thought of the small pond and kept encouraging humility. The next few years he continued to improve his lap count and eventually won.

Which brings us to this morning (3rd grade), the dawn of the annual event, when Sebastian announced, “I’m not going to run this year, it’s important that I just walk with my friend Sammy, we have a lot to talk about.”

Now, it’s ABSOLUTELY true that Seb and Sam, best friends like brothers, have lots to talk about.

Both of their grandmothers are dying and they have both been actively involved in one another’s scenes. Their grown-up conversations in the back seat of my car trump the sincerity of most grown-ups I know.

They have also lived like brothers in one another’s homes, accelerated by our need for collaborative child-care during both our scenes. They talk day and late into the night.

So yes, I buy it. And I don’t.

Glad To Have a Why-er in the House

As luck would have it Uncle Luke was spending the night, visiting from Seattle on a business trip. I quickly called in the breakfast-time reinforcements.

He asked a few “Why” questions, and before we knew it, we heard of the new contender, ironically also called Luke, who was the sure bet to win.

The Bigger Conversation

When Sebastian admitted his Luke-fear, the real conversation began.

He didn’t want to risk his legacy of the kindergarten wonder… easier to be the cool guy who no longer cares.

He was getting ready to be a one-hit wonder.

At 9.

The Race

He ran the race. Luke came in first. Both won.

For You and Me

It’s so easy to revel in our wins and declare victory.

Are you stuck at your best year?

What’s possible next if you don’t care if that reputation is destroyed?

Why not blow it up for something bigger that will really change the game?