As we turn the calendar on the New Year, I had some brief and random thoughts and opinions that I’d like to share. Here they are in no particular order.
Hire slow and fire fast
When you hire slow, you get to have multiple “dates” with your new team member. You get to know them both professionally and personally and you get a better sense of their values and whether they’d meld well with your company. Getting other appropriate internal staff members to meet with this potential new hire will help layer your understanding of this person.
By firing fast you need to accept that situations are most likely NOT going to change with this bad hire. It is close to impossible to correct a hire that is heading south. You need to recognize and accept your mistake, eliminate a bad environment (which is worse than one bad hire) and move on.
Sometimes you just have to get on the phone
Have you ever written an email that is misinterpreted by your tonality? Have you ever had an email peppered with many questions? Did you ever have a question where you really need an immediate answer? Time to get on the phone. We tend to hide behind our email, scheduling phone calls as we structure our days and weeks.
When you do make that phone call (it is surprising how fewer unscheduled external phone calls people now get), make sure your number and name can be seen by the recipient and start with this question (in these exact words): “Did I catch you at a bad time?” It’s amazing how disarming and genuine that sounds—and with proven results–since you most likely have caught them at a bad time—you are just recognizing it and being respectful.
Be a mentor
The Millennials will rule the world within the next 15 years. They are smarter about technology than Baby Boomers will ever be, yet fundamentally they can gain value from a Baby Boomer’s or a Gen Y’s business wisdom and experiences.
Whether you are a mentor in a structured group (like I am with 212NYC) or happen to work with colleagues with less business experience, find the time to ask them questions, understand what they are working on, what sort of business successes they’ve encountered and what sort of challenges or disappointments they’ve experienced. You can also learn what sort of pop culture they appreciate. Share your stories, anecdotes and learnings about your own career. Without being preachy, recognize and respect your point of view and leverage it.
Meet at least one new business contact a month
When seasoned executives reach out to me to understand what assignments I may be working on that could be relevant to their career, I frequently cannot help them (at that exact moment) as our retained search assignments are granular and specific. I remind them that their best possible chances of new employment could be from their own internal network. I encourage the process of identifying ten of their closest work colleagues (mentors, peers or clients) and schedule in person meetings with them and politely asking them for names/emails and phone numbers of two NEW people. Voila! 20 new connections.
Yet why wait until you need a job? This year, make an effort to meet with one new person a month to build your network.
When given an answer from a colleague, don’t stop with the answer; rather deepen your understanding by questioning further
Frequently we are so busy and/or wanting to move on with our next project or work load that we settle for the surface answers. Let’s not. When you ask a question, listen to that answer and then strengthen your understanding of that answer by deepening your questions. Such questions fall in the line of: “What does that mean to the end result?” “How will that affect other people within the organization?” “Is this the best we can do?” “What will it cost?” “Take me through the steps on how you got to this conclusion.”
One can never know and learn too much, so take advantage of the questioning concept.
Memorize your two sentence elevator pitch and value proposition for both you and your company
We have been trained to have our elevator pitch perfected when we are job seeking. Yet what about your own professional elevator pitch. You’re at a party or you run into your neighbor at the grocery store and they ask you about what’s going on in your career. Have that answer ready (given in thirty seconds) and memorized. Make sure you not only can explain what you do, but what results you achieve and why people work with you and your company and/or use your product.
Be as concise and as quantitative as possible.
Don’t underestimate E.Q. when hiring
In his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ and Working with Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman presents five categories of emotional intelligence. To hire candidates who will thrive in your workplace, look for those who have a handle on these five guidelines:
- People skills
Research this further—there are countless tests and books on this topic. So when you are interviewing please focus not just on skills and experience yet their E.Q. as well.
A good salesperson knows how to sell you a pen from across your desk
When hiring sales people you certainly need to get down to basics such as: “Who do you know and what recent deals have you closed?” Yet do they REALLY know how to sell? The basic and classic standby, “sell me this pen” approach is simple and could be applied with modification to your next hire. Use a different product or change the question, yet attempt to understand what steps this person takes to make a sale.
Do they question in an articulate manner? Do they listen and process and then take the answer you give them and ask further questions? Are they engaging when they are presenting their product to you? Are they offering value and ROI? Are they personable or are they robotic? Are they nimble and adaptable? Are they easily flustered? You get the point!