The Talent Function

Integrity
I really like this quote from Warren Buffet. 



Three traits to look for in recruiting the best people:

  1. Intelligence
  2. Energy
  3. Integrity

But what good are the first two without the third one?



So Integrity first (or squared for emphasis)…then intelligence plus the energy to use it plentifully and you have yourself an organizational winner!



Related to this, I saw someone on the train today with a tee shirt (from Sweet Green…not sure why this is their slogan) that said:



Passion 



   X



Purpose



This seemed like a good motto to me define the energy (#2) in Buffet’s top 3 items for recruiting. 



With a clear intent plus the compelling feeling to achieve it, you got energy to apply.



The resulting function: 



Talent = f {Intelligence, Energy (or Passion x Purpose), Integrity Squared}



Now that’s a recruiting formula we can all follow–thank you Mr. Buffet. 😉



(Source Photo: LinkedIn)

How NOT To Interview For A Job

How NOT To Interview For A Job

So I am at this place of business this evening, and I overhear someone trying to apply for a job.

Note, I feel bad for the guy who is looking for extra work, but the interview just is going all wrong.

– Easy-Smeasy – He asks “What is the easiest part of the job?” Ugh, didn’t sound exactly like he was looking for a challenge.

– Keep your head down – He exclaims, “And never do someone’s else’s job!” What about helping where the help is needed?

– Great facilities you got here – He ends with, “And when I work here, my kids are really going to love coming to use the facilities here all the time!” Not exactly, a what will I do for you strong ending.

I didn’t get to hear the whole interview dialogue, but this was enough to get the idea about some things not to do in an interview.

The funny/sad thing was, I think this gentleman really thought that he was going to get the job after all. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

Archaic Federal Hiring Practices

So the Federal government has some archaic hiring practices.

Some common critiques of the system:

– While gone are the dreaded KSAs (knowledge, Skills, and ability essays), in it’s place are what many could consider meaningless multiple choice questions that enable applicants to game the system and answer what they think or know is the right answer just to get the highest points.

– Also, there is always the potential (however infrequently) that there is a favorite candidate of someone or someone who knows someone, but knowing doesn’t necessarily mean best qualified, but rather well-networked or connected.

To be fair, there are protections in the hiring system to include an oath of truthfulness on the application as well as security clearances which are used to help ensure accuracy. Additionally, there are the Merit System Principles that prohibit favoritism and nepotism of any sort.

However, when it comes to hiring, what you can’t really do in the government is just plain and simple see and recognize talent and bring someone on board.

Anyway, this came to mind today, when we ran again into this amazing lady at Starbucks. She works there right out of college.

She’s a barista and has the most amazing customer service skills I’ve seen in 25 years of professional experience.

She remembers us every time we come in and recalls what we talked about on our last visit. She regularly asks about things like my kids talking their SATs, visiting colleges, and more.

But she doesn’t just do this with me, but with all her customers.

She has a big welcoming hello, and smile for all of them, and doesn’t just take their orders, but engages them as human beings.

I tell you this young lady would be terrific as a customer service representative in my IT shop or any other…and if I were in the private sector or had my own company, yes, I’d conduct a more thorough interview and background on her, but then I’d probably shake hands on the spot and offer her a job.

I can see her interacting with my customers, capturing their requirements, problem-solving, as well as routine troubleshooting through engagement with the customer and the subject matter experts.

Why?

Because she is a natural with people and intuitively understands how to work with them, engage, and establish trust and good service ethos.

However, if she applied on USAJOBS in the current system of hiring, I think she’d never make “the cert” (the list of qualified applicants that gets referred to the hiring manager), because she’s currently working in a coffee shop.

Something is wrong that we can’t easily bring in young or old, talented people from the private sector or out of school, and grow them into federal service, even if they don’t have the perfect checklist answers.

Unfortunately, this is a problem in many bureaucratic-driven organizations, where if it’s not checklist-driven, then it’s usually not at all. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

So It Really Is A Popularity Contest

So It Really Is A Popularity Contest

Good, Sue Shellenbarger in the Wall Street Journal finally said it…”likability matters more than ever at work.”

Yes, you also need to know your subject matter and be able to perform like a pro, but just that alone is not enough.

If your a card or a jerk, no one wants to know you.

The old Jewish thinking about being a mensch, first and foremost, still holds true.

“Likable people are more apt to be hired, get help at work, get useful information from others, and have mistakes forgiven.”

Employees also track employees likability on social networks and recruit those who can well represent them and make transformative changes.

What contributes to likability:

1. Be Authentic – an ounce of sincerity is worth more than a boatload of of b.s. — people see right through it.

2. Use Positive Cues – eye contact, smiling naturally, and a warm, varying, and enthusiastic tone make you approachable and believable.

3. Show interest in others – selfishness, narcissism, and I, I, I will get you no friends; show genuine interest in the other person–be cognizant of what’s in it for them–give a damn!

4. Listen – 2 ears, 1 mouth; close the mouth and listen to the other person–don’t just hear them, understand them, empathize, feel something!

5. Find common ground – look for shared interests or commonalities; we can all relate to others with whom we can identify.

Short and sweet, treat others as you would want to be treated (Golden Rule) and it doesn’t pay to be a ass! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Amazing Amazon

Amazing Amazon

So Amazon should be renamed Amazing, because they are.

They are the best online retailer–love ’em!

SELECTION: Amazon has everything.

PRICE: Amazon is reasonably priced.

SPEED: Amazon Prime gets you your goodies delivered in under 48 hours.

RETURNS: Amazon takes returns easily; virtually no questions asked.

Amazon is so customer focused that you can even email Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO himself, at Jeff@Amazon.com.

Aside from their highly successful retail operation, they have the Kindle tablets, Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing, Kiva Robots for warehouse operations, and more.

So what’s the secret of their success?

One thing, according to the Wall Street Journal, is their tough hiring practices.

Amazon has “several hundred” interviewers called “Bar Raisers” that give candidates extremely thorough interviews.

Bar Raisers typically have conducted “dozens or hundreds of interviews and gained a reputation for asking tough questions and identifying candidates who go on to become stars.”

Typically, it “takes five or six employees at least two hours each” to evaluate and vet an applicant.

Amazon makes all this effort in recruiting to weed out people who are the wrong fit for the company.

They believe that it’s better to invest in a sophisticated recruiting process than to make costly hiring mistakes.

While this certainly sounds like a well thought out and vigorous hiring process, the article makes little to no mention of performance measures showing that their hires really are better matches, have superior performance, or stay with the company longer.

The one anecdote given was of a Bar Raiser who found a candidate for a programming job that “didn’t know much about the specific programming language.”

Barring some real statistics though, either you could conclude that Amazon’s hiring process is truly superior or perhaps question why it takes them 5 to 6 interviews to do what other successful companies do in 1 or 2.

Either way though, Amazon is a amazingly great company. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Typo, Right?

A Typo, Right?

Looking for a job…

Check out the title for this position (advertised in the Washington Post).

Just imagine you can be a Virtual Executive A*s–and not even get paid.

What’s particularly funny is that people often complain that executives (the bad ones) are indeed the “A” word.

Some typo in the ad that is–it is a typo, right? 😉

Communicating 360

Communicating 360

My daughter, Michelle, is taking a university class in public relations and as part of the class she was asked to interview 3 people about their perceptions of this field.

So she posed some questions to me and here is how the interview went:

1. In your own opinion, what is public relations? Why do you think of public relations this way?

Public relations is simple, it’s about relations with the public–communicating and connecting with people about what you do, why you do it, how you do it, for whom you do it, when you do it, and where you do it. It is includes marketing and sales, customer relations, investor relations, government relations, relations with partners, as well as crisis communications, and maybe even recruiting talent to the organization.

2. What do you think of when you think of public relations? Why do you think of this/these?

When I think of public relations, I tend to think of many of the big, well-known brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, Allstate, and so on–they do a lot of advertising and communicating with the public. They invest in this and it has a pay-off in terms of organization, product, and brand recognition.

3. What do you think the skills are that are needed to work in public relations?

Creativity, visual thinking, messaging, branding, marketing, sales, and psychology.

4. Would you distinguish public relations from marketing? If so, how?

Public relations, to me, is broader than marketing. Marketing has to do with getting product awareness out there and selling, but public relations involves not only connecting with customers, but also investors, suppliers, partners, even the government, and international players.

5. Can you give examples of what you think public relations is today?

Public relations is how an organization interfaces and communicates with all its stakeholders. It is mainly external or outward facing and differs from internal communications which is inward facing, like talking with employees. Public relations uses advertising, media, commercials, messaging, branding, logos, newsletters, mailings, to get the word out from the organization’s perspective–good news and also countering bad news.

So how did this “IT guy” do with answering questions about public relations?

Not my field, but maybe the MBA and private-sector experience helped, a little. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)