“Googley”-The Google X-Factor

googley-art-wall[1]“Googley”. Doesn’t sound like a real word, but it defines the number one trait that Google executives look for when they are hiring candidates. Stacy Sullivan, Chief of Culture for Google, says it’s not a definable term but “means someone that is not too traditional or stuck in their ways”. This flexibility and mental agility is core to Google’s culture and helps drive its success.

Google has created an addictive culture that job seekers flock to. The campus exudes energy and creativity offering open office space concepts with hangout areas and corporate sponsored cafeterias. The firm has succeeded in creating a community rather than just an employee base.

At Google, hiring is a team sport! It takes the hiring process seriously and requires company executives to spend at least one full day a week recruiting. During the hiring process, recruiters and executives market the Google culture and look for those “googley” candidates that will be the best fit for the company.

The company’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, tells candidates how Google wants to create technology to dramatically improve the world. “We are in unchartered waters, but that’s why we do what we do,” he says. According to Ray, the world is the test lab for Google which drives their need for people who are intellectually curious enough to push the limits.

Ray gives perspective employees a view of the culture within Google which makes them one of the most sought after companies in the world. Ray’s hiring pitch helps candidates understand what is vitally important to the company in a well-defined culture statement.

Hiring for a cultural fit is as important as hiring based on the requirements of the job. Someone can meet all of aspects of the job description but be the worst employee for your firm if they are not a cultural match. You want someone who will not only be able to do the job but be completely invested in the vision and direction of your company.

Perhaps you need to create your own word to describe that x-factor that determines success within your company. Make it a team effort! Involve employees from varying levels of the organization in the creative process. Once your team has helped to define the culture factor needed to succeed within your organization, incorporate it in your hiring process.

Google’s hiring methodology has narrowed their x-factor down to being “googley”. Even the word says something about Google’s culture. Its ability to involve culture throughout the hiring process has helped sort through numerous candidates to find the not just any candidate, but the right candidate.cropped-fb.jpg

The Delicate Nature of Customer Retention

comcast

Client retention is a vital portion of any successful business, but how far is too far?  Comcast Inc has suffered a barrage of negative publicity lately after one of its customer service representatives kept a customer on the phone for eight minutes while trying to (unprofessionally) salvage a relationship.  This blunder has resulted in an affirmation of what many cable users commonly feel: cable contract=chained to awful service.  (Click on the pic above to hear the call.)

While I can appreciate the rep’s attempt to retain a client, there does come a time when you simply cut ties.  Unfortunately, this employee would not let go of the topic and continued to press, almost badger the client, reaffirming why the client wanted to leave the cable giant.  Companies are struggling to retain valued clients as the costs to attract clients continue to rise, but what’s the best way to do this without becoming the highlight on blogs and news shows?  

1. Listen to your client.  There are times when a client might desire to drop you for the wrong or even uneducated reason.  The message will always be in their story.  Client facing employees are too quick to diagnose a problem when the real problem could surface by simply allowing the client to fully express their discontent.  Sometimes, there are ways to enhance the client experience by changing the product or service, but you will not know this by simply listening to the first couple of sentences and shooting from the hip.  You need to be genuine in your quest to retain them and the first step is to listen actively. 

2. Know when to hold ’em and when to walk away.  As much disdain as I have for Kenny Rogers’ music, the lyrics do apply here.  In my experience, there is often a gut knowledge in client situations that tells me whether the relationship is salvageable or if the right thing to do is to let them walk.  If the situation is handled properly, the chances for a return client increases.  Don’t affirm their thoughts or your “poor service” or “poor product” by allowing their last visit with you be a disaster that they tell to their 800 closest friends on Facebook. 

3. Empower your team. Allow your team members that deal with clients own the experience.  Companies like Zappos have encouraged their customer service representatives to own the experience and have enjoyed the fruits of significant growth and wonderful reputation gains.  If you train your team and allow them to become engaged in the company’s vision of a great client experience, you’ll be amazed at the creative tactics they can bring to retain those valuable relationships.  On the flip-side, if one of your team members continues to bomb in this area, let that employee walk away.  (Sorry, now I can’t get the song out of my head!)

Customer retention is a valuable strategy if handled correctly.  These are just three quick tips to enhance the “break up” experience to either retain the client, or keep the door open for their return! 

About the Writer:

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I have a passion for driving results and have since I started my career in banking.  This blog is about that passion as well as the frustration I endures from those who do not seek results or slow down the process.

I have a degree in Marketing and a Masters in Management with an emphasis in Project Consulting.  Over my career, I’ve worked in numerous positions including sales, sales management, consulting, HR and recruiting.  I currently work as a head-hunter and project consultant, while trying to stay abreast of all of the changes in today’s workforce.

For a professional resume, click here.

VA Scandal-When Policy trumps People

Boehner-White-House-agree-Shinseki-should-stay-on-at-VA[1]The recent scandal involving the Department of Veterans’ Affairs speaks to an issue that is not only prevalent in government-run organizations but many organizations regardless of size.  The allegations include deadly wait times and manipulation of client records according to recent reports.  In any organization, policies are needed to help provide a structure or operating procedure for basic tasks and processes associated with producing a product or service.  Unfortunately, if not properly managed, these policies can be come the golden calf of the organization resulting in such erroneous decisions as those associated with this scandal.

As a leader, we are tasked with managing not only policies but people.  I think there is a pandemic of management strategies that worship the policy with little or no regard to the people executing it or those affected by it.  Typically, organizations have managers in place to help ensure the efficient deliver of a product or service but the issue is not the policy that is implemented but those in charge of executing it.  When such constrictions are placed on an employee or group of employees, the consequences can be the death of an organization.  These policies that are the cancerous death of organizations could include those associated with production times or quality, incentive plans, processes or even human resources policies.

While there exists a need for policies and procedures, there also exists a need for team members to be able to make good judgement on the impact of those affected by the policies.  Teams should be engaged and empowered by senior executives to make such judgement calls when employees deem the impact to negatively affect a service, delivery, or end-client.  I have had experience working for organizations that valued policies over people and can attest to the miserable existence that results in such mantra.  While working in a leadership within those confines, I dreaded going to work, disdained any type of meeting, and lacked brand engagement.  After all, my views or opinions were not valued because at the end of the day because the policy is the golden rule and the most important aspect of the ethos of the company.

Evaluating your company’s priorities can be a daunting task but well worth the amount of time spent.  Ask yourself these questions to determine if you have a “Policy over People” policy:

  1. Do my team members feel empowered to make decisions that will result in the best interest of our client when needed?
  2. During meetings, does my team or I feel as though policy dictates strategy?
  3. If I were to do an audit of client complaints, what would be the percentage of complaints associated with policies being enforced where a simple work-around could have created a more pleasant client experience?

We could go even further to evaluate the use of incentive plans or bonus compensation plans being used to validate the use of policy over people, but that would open Pandora’s box.  Start with these three questions and if you find you have a problem, address it quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, NOW!

About the Writer:

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I have a passion for driving results and have since I started my career in banking.  This blog is about that passion as well as the frustration I endures from those who do not seek results or slow down the process.

I have a degree in Marketing and a Masters in Management with an emphasis in Project Consulting.  Over his career, Trent has worked in numerous positions including sales, sales management, consulting, HR and recruiting.  I currently work as a head-hunter and project consultant, while trying to stay abreast of all of the changes in today’s workforce.

For a professional resume, click here.

Top Talent Acquisition: Stop Fishing in the Wrong Lake

You have to admit, this would suck.  Thinking you’re about to catch a fish only to find out you’re the prey.  Believe it or not, this happens a lot in talent acquisition.  Your goal is to find the right people to augment your group, only to find that you have just brought on board the one person in the zip code that makes everyone want to slit their own throat.  What happened?

A lot of times, I find managers will look for talent in the same ole places.  They’ll have a position and the first place they want to post it is Monster or CareerBuilder.  Don’t get me wrong, these types of sites should be part of your talent strategy, but they should not be the only lake you fish in.  Although there are a lot of great people who have their resumes out there on one of the job sites, most are out there for a reason.  My suggestion, use these two sites to help source candidates you will actually want.  How?  Ok, let’s use an example.

Let’s say you are looking for an Sales Manager for a new team you are putting together.  It’s natural to have the position posted on all of the latest career sites, but here’s a change in your strategy.  When you start getting resumes, start doing some flip research.  By that, I mean take John Doe’s resume, look at his last company and position held.  Is this the person doing some of the activities you are desiring?  Have they worked for a competitor or a similar company to yours that sells a different product?  If so, cross reference this person with others who might still be at the company they just left.  Use other means like LinkedIn to look up their network to see if they have people in their network who are currently employed and might be a better fit for your job.

In my experience, the first mistake any manager will make is to simply settle.  The second mistake they make is they don’t act quickly enough thinking someone else who’s better is out there.  Yes, I just painted you a green stop sign, but let me explain.

Never settle and I mean never.  It’s better for you not to fill the position than to simply put someone in there because they have a pulse and “some” of the qualities you desire.  You cannot build a fantastic organization or brand with mediocre people who suck.  There’s absolutely no way to do it.  Avoid making your talent acquisition strategy the “Cheeks in the Seat” mentality.  Instead, be willing to wait for the right person.  Always follow your gut.

On the flipside, there does come a point where you have great candidates, but you just want to be greedy and see if there’s more out there.  Stop it.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had to serve the cup of “I told you so” to a manager who wanted to continue looking for a little bit when they had the ideal candidate ready to go.  It’s a balancing act.  Sometimes, if wait too long, candidates will consider that to be an act of disinterest and move on.  Furthermore, it may show a lack of clarity in the organization and scare them off.  If you have someone who more than fits the bill, pull the trigger or the trigger will be pulled on you.

Finally, the last thing to avoid is not interviewing correctly.  We’ll discuss how to avoid this in the next post.

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.

“Buzz Kill” Team Members

Everyone hates a buzz kill.  You know who I’m talking about, that person in the office that smiles during a meeting but then starts a behind the scenes revolt with their negativity.  I hate those types of people.  In fact, there is nothing that will kill my creativity, energy, and focus quicker than a buzz kill.  Most of the time, I, like you, will just deal with the negativity until hopefully they go away.

Well, this used to be my strategy.  I found that confrontation made others uncomfortable, even though I always felt better afterward.  I also found that after confronting such people, you usually become the target of their next campaign.  I know this because I have been one of the casualties of their bitter rage against anything that has life.  So what do you do?

Although the easiest solution would be to show them the hiding place of Hoffa and encourage them to get in, it isn’t practical or realistic.  Here are some tips that may help you with such people.

  • Call them out on it– So many times; these types get away with their behavior because everyone is so afraid to confront them.  Don’t be one of those.  If you are the leader of the group, for everyone’s sake, LEAD!  Sometimes confrontation can make someone aware of the behavior and allow them the opportunity to change it.  Other times, confrontation let’s them know they can practice their witchcraft, just not to involve you.
  •  Are they in the right job?  Another fault often accentuated by someone’s constant bitterness is a misfit.  Engineers do not belong in the sales “ra-ra” meeting.  They’re engineers, they’re going to find ways to be a buzz kill because they’re factual in nature.  There’s nothing wrong with them except they’re in the wrong role.  Help them make the transition and watch their attitude change.  If it doesn’t, help them find the right job or help them find the door.
  • Get them out! Let’s face it, there are those people who just enjoy being negative because that’s all they know.  They refuse to change because change scares them.  If you are trying to institute some radical change, they will do everything they can to keep status quo.  Don’t allow it.  Do everyone a favor and get rid of the complaining deadweight.

Dealing with buzz kills on your team can be draining.  With that said, you need to be sure you spend the necessary time to truly determine what is the root.

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help organizations incorporate best practices into their business to help them succeed. In his free time, he also writes a lot on his other blog, Christian Men, Christian Warrior.