Monthly Archives: November 2007

How To Test Drive Employees and Irritate People

A Recent Post from Tim Ferriss, new uber cult figure and Author of the 4-Hour Workweek has applications in the world of work as well. Pardon my adaptation but I don’t suspect Tim would mind… He’s cool that way. In fact, he might be surprised to hear that I’ve outsourced my blog to him today!

The art of irritation can, in fact, be just as valuable as the art of persuasion. How so? Let’s start with the problem: people are good liars and actors… up to a point.

What if it were possible to fast-forward relationships, whether with new employees or business partners? To get past the honeymoon facade of niceties and see their true tendencies underneath all it all?

Catching bad apples early begins with recognizing a truism:

Adversity doesn’t primarily build character—it reveals it.

Therefore, by putting someone under pressure or in a manufactured adverse situation, you can pull back the covers and get a glimpse of what’s in store a few weeks or months down the line.

Here are a few options for doing your own behavioral cross-referencing with a new potential friend, partner, employee or mate.

1. Meet them for dinner or lunch at an appointed time, and indicate upon their arrival that you made a mistake and set the reservation for 30 minutes prior. See how they respond to the change in plans. (Testing: how they contend with mistakes on your part)

2. Same as 1, but tell them that the reservation was accidentally made for 30 minutes after their arrival. Alternatively, travel with them and purposefully orchestrate things so that you miss a bus or train. Obviously, you then fix the problem and cover costs. (Testing: how they deal with waiting and unexpected changes in plans)

3. Take them to a restaurant with good food but bad service. (Testing: how diplomatically they contend with and resolve incompetence, which is the default mode of the universe)

4. Invite them to an event or function and then profusely apologize when you realize you’ve forgotten your wallet. Offer to repay them later or treat them the next time out. (Testing: how they relate to money issues. Wonderful people sometimes turn into irrational monsters as soon as even a few dollars are involved. It drives me crazy to keep a running ledger of who owes whom for a few dollars here and there, especially in social settings. Repaying the favor is mandatory, but dwelling on differences of pennies is tiring.)

5. Take them somewhere extremely crowded where they’ll be inadvertently bumped, preferably where they are exposed to people of different races and of lower socio-economic classes. Large outdoor markets are good, as are subways during rush hour. (Testing: biases against specific races and social classes, which are usually fast to emerge after there is any physical contact.)

6. Explore the most controversial topics until you find something the two of you disagree on. Ask them to explain why people have the opposing viewpoint. I use this mostly for potential romantic partners and potential travelmates. (Testing: how well they listen and both consider and summarize points-of-view or feelings opposite their own. I always look for both friends and girlfriends who fight well. Not in the physical sense, but in the intellectual and emotional sense. If I travel with one of my best friends for even a week straight, there will be times when we butt heads and fight. It’s inescapable. In those cases, are they civil and good at listening and finding compromises? Good at identifying common ground, picking their battles, and laughing off the unimportant? Or, do they lose control of their emotions and make hurtful personal attacks or generalizations? Do they use guilt or other negative emotions instead of taking time to discuss things logically? Hold grudges?)

Life is both too long and too short to suffer through toxic relationships. Rather than hoping for the best and getting trapped in relationships you are unwilling to end due to guilt and inertia, test drive and get a taste of what’s in store.

Choose wisely.

Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch

I’m not yet on my four hour work week so I still indulge at reading emails at all times throughout the day. One phrase from one friend caught my attention and upon further investigation, I’ve uncovered, not the source, but an expert. Here is some background and 7 ways to make sure that your positive culture radiates throughout your organization.

Ed Horrell, a Memphis-based speaker and author, was speaking to group in Atlanta the phrase ”Culture eats strategy for lunch” was offered by one of his attendees.

Simply put, the statement implies that companies who establish a particular culture in their business will be superior in practice than those who forsake culture for strategy or process. Culture will win every time.

Take a look at the finest companies in providing service, such as LL Bean, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton, Chick-fil-A and others. A close look will reflect an actual culture that permeates throughout the entire organization from top to bottom. It is not their process that sets them apart, it is the way that they deliver their product or service; it is their culture.

You buy the same stuff at Nordstrom that you do anywhere else; their culture sets them apart. You get fast food at Chick-fil-A, cooked on the spot, served with a Coke, but it’s not the cooking process or the food that sets them apart; its their culture. The Ritz-Carlton checks you in, gives you a room, and feeds you just like hundreds of other hotels; their culture of service sets them apart. Note that the process and strategy of each of these companies is the same as their competition. It is their culture, their people, which separates them.

The question here is “How does a company establish a culture?” You show by example, discuss what is going on, compassionately correct and encourage when things are right. This creates a culture. The result is what is called “constancy of purpose”, a never-ending focus on an end-result.

Here are some ways to make that happen.

1) Establish in detail how you want your customers to be treated. Make it clear and concise, remembering that your employees have internal customers as well as external customers.
2) Make sure your managers understand these basics down pat. Clearly. Also make sure they know the importance of this employee/customer treatment.
3) Reinforce these with management constantly. This results in the above described “constancy of purpose”.
4) Teach the basics to all employees and require management to coach and enforce the practices.
5) Hire employees who “fit” the new culture.
6) Remember that the way we treat employees is the way they will treat our customers.
7) Talk about the culture every day.

The result will be a shift towards a culture that will be observable.

You Can’t Use Walmart Technology to attract a Tiffany Customer

Saturday, November 10, 2007

You Can’t Use Walmart Technology to attract a Tiffany Customer

From Lou Adler,
Friday, October 26, 2007

A great article with insight and info–

How to Win the New Sourcing-is-Consumer-Marketing Game
Coupling technology with consumer-branded marketing ideas

The talent wars have entered a new phase. Now it’s more about guerilla warfare and skirmishes, not big battles. With this concept in mind, I was lured to a workshop a few weeks ago to hear about some of the latest creative sourcing ideas going on throughout our industry. Some of them were Web 2.0 based, others technology-oriented, a few based on contests, and others just targeted and compelling advertising. Regardless of the approach, all had one theme in common:You can’t use Wal-Mart advertising to attract a Tiffany’s customer.

Bottom line, sourcing is comparable to consumer marketing: It must be designed to meet the needs of your target audience.

Engineers won’t respond to the same approach as entry-level call center representatives, and mid-level accounting managers aren’t going to go the same website as retired people looking for part-time sales jobs. Targeting the right audience with the right message is critical to maximizing your sourcing efforts. For me, the other big takeaway from the workshop was that companies are getting much more aggressive with respect to their sourcing techniques. Benchmarking other recruiting departments’ best sourcing processes is no longer the strategy. Instead, more and more companies are benchmarking best consumer marketing practices.

As part of this, going on the offensive and pushing advertising to your target prospect will be the difference-makers for those who want to be the winners in the next phase of the war for talent. So, to get in the new “sourcing-is-consumer-marketing” game, consider implementing the following ideas right away. Then, figure out ways to make them better. Implemented properly, they will work and they will allow you to increase your share of the top talent market in 2008 and beyond:

Harrah’s MBA Poker Contest
. Susan Hailey, the vice president of talent at Harrah’s, described a poker championship sponsored by Harrah’s for MBAs only. The only admission fee is the MBA student’s resume. Of course, the event was advertised at all of the major B-schools (participants must pay their own expenses, but they get a block rate room). Although the poker championship was initially designed to target Harrah’s internal MBA recruitment goals, I just received an email from Susan stating that they’re opening up their next event at Caesar’s Palace (January 2008) to other companies. (Email me for more details < some info on Harrah’s Poker Contest> .) Their tagline: “Imagine spending a weekend with 1,300 MBAs from the top schools in the country.”
Dennis Smith’s Wireless Blog. Google “wireless jobs” right now and see who’s on the top of the organic listings. It’s <> , which is none other than Dennis Smith’s blog. Dennis, who is T-Mobile’s senior manager of recruiting, started the blog three years ago and spends about 30 minutes a day keeping it current. The real key is that people looking for jobs in wireless, whether they’re installers, engineers, or executives, will find Dennis first. This is a great way to build a proprietary database of resumes of top people. And, don’t forget each person in the database knows six to 10 other great people. Dennis’s blog is a great example of how to build a just-in-time pipeline of hot talent.

L-3’s Creative Niche Advertising. Amber O’Brien is a staffing specialist for L-3 Communications Group in Sonoma, California. It’s pretty tough to get aerospace engineers and support personnel to relocate to wine country unless you use some creative sourcing techniques. Amber has taken outrageous and niche advertising to another extreme. One ad, posted on an optics engineering job site, had the title “O.G.S.K.S., aka Optic Geeks Seeking Kindred Spirits,” which resulted in five qualified candidates in a few hours. The rest of the ad was more compelling than the title, which is what really captured the attention of what Amber aptly calls “cryptonomicon characters.” Another one of her ads had the unusual title “Wine Country and Aerospace, together at last.” She posted this ad with compelling and unusual copy (e.g., “…loves finding new and creative ways to solve quixotic quandaries”) on a site designed for government contractors. Amber said she was “deluged” with responses. The key: compelling advertising on niche sites.

Sodexho’s Virtual Job Fair. Anthony Scarpino, senior director of talent acquisition for Sodexho, and Amy Brooks, led the company’s first virtual job fair using Second Life. (Here’s an article with some of their caveats and specific advice <> .) Anthony and Amy both contend that putting a virtual career is not easy and the results aren’t instantaneous. Regardless, it’s worthwhile investigating this new Web 2.0 technology, particularly for targeting entry-level candidates.

Jobs2Web’s Career Site Cloning. Doug Berg is a genius when it comes to making technology work better in the recruiting space. If you don’t know Doug, he’s the founder of HotGigs and Jobs2Web. I’m continually amazed at how Jobs2Web <>  can free up a company’s website so it can be found. The Jobs2Web system clones every job, gives it a logical title, adds a bunch of keywords and meta tags, and then reverse engineers them so that people googling for jobs can easily find them. For results, consider that Merck’s Jobs2Web system is rapidly becoming its lowest cost and primary means to find top talent online.

3M’s Sponsoring Industry-Focused College Fraternity. John Lanning, 3M’s manager of sales recruiting, described the impact of the company’s long-term sponsorship of Pi Sigma Epsilon’s annual Pro-Am Sell-A-Thon. For background, here’s the purpose of the Sell-A-Thon directly from their website: To provide PSE collegiate members with the opportunity to experience the salesperson’s role in a simulated business-to-business sales environment, with coaching from a sales professional. Of course, 3M has first access to the best college grads who win the contest, and most of the salespeople John hires make their quota way ahead of schedule. In addition to sponsoring similar contests, you might want to search within your resume databases for “PSE members” as well as for “Sell-A-Thon,” “winner,” and “runner-up.”

Again, the key to success here is coupling the latest technology with consumer-branded marketing ideas. One thing is readily apparent when you attempt to do this: you can’t copy someone else’s marketing approaches and creative ideas and expect them to work just as well. So, being the early-bird and putting your own spin on everything is important. Despite this caveat, trying a similar idea in a different market is a good way to start. To try out the consumer marketing idea, just write a compelling ad on a niche site and compare the results to a traditional, boring ad on the same site. You’ll probably get three to five times the response in both quality and quantity. This will be enough evidence to convince the naysayers. But don’t wait. Everyone will be doing this kind of crazy stuff in the next 12 months.

So, another reason for BRANDEMiX’s success- the right model for developing a branded recruitment advertising campaign. Next step- employee engagement from onboarding through assimilation. Great article Lou.



BRANDEMiX Uses the Web and Social Networking to Transform Employee Referral Programs

Independent marketing communications agency updates recruiting employees to higher education.

Our new online employee referral program makes it easy and fun for our employees to contribute to our company growth — and easy for us to manage the process

New York, NY (PRWEB) November 2, 2007 — When Kaplan Higher Education, a premier education provider and subsidiary of the Washington Post Company, set out to enhance their existing employee referral program, they turned to BRANDEMiX, a Web-savvy internal communications agency. The result was an innovative online program built to engage employees and reduce recruitment costs.

“Taking it online makes the ERP process more user friendly for both employees and the company,” explained Jody Ordioni, the founder of BRANDEMiX. “Along with ever changing downloadable posters and online postcards for employees to send to friends, we even created badges for them to host on their social networking sites to attract more attention to the program and Kaplan as an Employer of Choice.”

Ordioni and her team at BRANDEMiX mapped out and will manage the entire annual campaign for Kaplan, from sourcing an easy-to-remember custom url name for the site, to creating reminder emails to blast out to employees to generate excitement and a constant stream of new referrals. BRANDEMiX even created a tech interface so that HR can link referrals to their applicant tracking system. “Our new online employee referral program makes it easy and fun for our employees to contribute to our company growth — and easy for us to manage the process,” says Lisa Summers Carriegos, Director of Recruiting at Kaplan Higher Education.

Employee referrals are a powerful tool that can cut recruitment costs by as much of 75 percent. And according to Ordioni, the number-one overall benefit is that they bring in a better quality of hire who can become productive in less time. “Online employee referral programs that offer cash and prize incentives to refer friends is the most effective way to go,” says Ordioni The Kaplan ERP created by BRANDEMiX offers a cash award, quarterly gift cards and a grand prize drawing for a free vacation for two. “Who wouldn’t want to refer some friends and be in the running for all that?” asks Ordioni, “And with employees using the Internet in and out of work and participating in networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, it’s a natural to bring your internal communications message online where people spend more and more of their time.”