How to Recruit the Right People First Time

Cheerful Diverse Business People Standing in RowIn 2015 SouthWest Airlines received a job application every two seconds, but it was very selective. It received over 287,000 resumes from which it interviewed 102,112 candidates, and hired only 6,582 people. Why has SouthWest Airlines gone to such an extreme to recruit so few people, less than 2% of all applicants?

The key to the hiring process is to hire the people whose values mirror yours, and who will be engaged from day one. SouthWest Airlines don’t hire for skills, but for three attributes:

  • A warrior spirit – a desire to excel, act with courage, persevere and innovate
  • A servant’s heart – the ability to put others first, treat everyone with respect and proactively serve customers
  • A fun-loving attitude – passion, joy and an aversion to taking yourself too seriously.

And when they are hiring for these key attributes they are interviewing them using behavioral questions to determine whether the candidates already have and are living them. You do need skills, but it is the attributes that people have that will differentiate them. The on-going need for these attributes is reflected in SouthWest Airlines’ development and promotion practices, and especially for those who aspire to a leadership role.

This is good for the company, but how good is this for the employees? In a 2014 employee survey, when SouthWest Airlines staff were asked whether they felt like their job was “just a job,” “a stepping stone,” or “a calling,” nearly 75% selected, “a calling,” and 86% said they were proud to work for Southwest. So hiring for values seems to be working for both the company and the employees.

How are you hiring in your business? And what attributes are you looking for? Will you be as selective in your process? Do you want your employees to feel that what they do is not just a job, but “a calling”?

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.

5 Steps for Effectively Delegating & Managing Work

A 5-step process by which to effectively delegate and manage delegated work.

DelegateDelegating effectively allows managers and leaders to free up time; ensure the work is down to the right person at the right level and on-time; helps to develop people and their capabilities, and allows the managers and leaders to focus on what is important – not just what is urgent.

Creating the Conditions & Capabilities for Delegation

For effective delegation you need to have:

  1. A culture which supports and allows delegation to occur
  2. The desire and the ability to delegate
  3. People with the necessary abilities and attitudes that you can delegate to.

If you lack any one of these it makes delegation difficult.  As such be clear as to where you are on these factors and what you need to do to address them if necessary.  Yet even if these conditions are in place many managers and leaders find it difficult to delegate.  Common reasons for this include:

  • Short-term thinking – it would be quicker to do it myself
  • Perfectionist thinking – I can do it better myself
  • Requires an investment in training/mentoring of others – I don’t have anyone I can trust to delegate it to
  • I don’t know how to delegate

The key to enabling others to delegate is to understand what delegation entails.   I define delegation as:

A task, for which a nominated individual(s) is given specific responsibility, to complete in part or full, by a given time to produce an expected outcome or result, and for which you will receive feedback on.

The 5 Step Delegation Process

  1. Identify the Task – be clear on what the actual task is that you are asking someone to complete.  In doing this put a clear frame around it – what does it include and what does it exclude.  Providing a clear description and understanding of this is critical.
  2. Nominate the Individual(s) – Identify the person(s) who will be involved in the completion of the task.  Be clear as to why you want them to do it (is it for personal development reasons, part of what they need to be able to do to gain promotion etcetera?), and make sure they understand this.

    Delegation Process
    The 5-Step Delegation Process
  3. Define the Responsibility – when discussing it with the nominee(s) ask them to summarize what they have understood that you want them to do – this will quickly highlight any discrepancies or misunderstandings before they can become problematic.  Check that they are prepared for this responsibility and are committed to completing it within the scope and timeframes that you have determined.  You also need them to be clear on your expectations as regards their completing this task and the associated results and outcomes.
  4. Completion – do you want them to complete the task in full, or only in part, before they report back to you on progress made.  If it is an area in which they have little experience, or you have a low level of trust in their ability to do so, then get them to complete the first part before reporting back to you.  This gives you a checkpoint to ascertain how they are progressing, what further guidance is necessary, and if they can be left to their own devices to complete the task.
  5. Review – establish regular times for reviewing their progress.  If you are uncertain of their capabilities then you may have multiple review points during the work on the task, or you may ask them to report back once it has been completed if you have high confidence in them.  Reviews should be short and you must ensure that the responsibility for the work stays with the nominee(s), otherwise you will find the work delegated back to you!

By breaking the delegation process into these 5 simple steps it makes it easier for you to delegate, for those delegated to understand what they need to do and what is expected of them, and for the work to be done in a controlled manner which allows people to grow and develop without being micro-managed.  Use this with your people and see how much time and effort you free up for yourself, and how your people work more effectively.

We look further at delegation in the following article, How To Manage Those Delegated To.

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Do You REALLY have a Leadership Team?

The differences and the impacts of leadership by a team and by committees.

Teams or Committees?

Many CEOs and senior leaders in companies with which I have worked with often believe, in all sincerity, that they have a leadership team or executive team which works together to help focus and drives the business.

This, in my experience, is rarely the case. More often than it is not a leadership or executive team, but a committee.  This is true for all levels of the business but becomes increasingly more frequent the further you go up the hierarchy.

It is important to understand whether you have a leadership team or a leadership committee?  The impact of each is considerable and quite different.  Many problems that you may be experiencing with your leadership team have, at their root, the fact that the leadership team is actually a leadership committee.

Let me explain by looking at teams and committees in turn:

Teams

For the purpose of this article, I define a team as a group of individuals who are working together, towards a common goal or goals, in which they will either succeed or fail to do so together.  There is a strong common purpose, common understanding and real alignment to which all members of the team are committed.

A team that is well-aligned and works well together only does so because there is a high level of trust.  As such the team sets its own goals, and all the members share resources, information, and insights. There is open and frank communication between the members, with members, prepared to challenge each other in order to resolve issues and achieve the desired outcomes. Honesty and candor underpin the team allowing alternatives to be discussed and decisions are taken only after healthy and robust debate.

Committees

Here a group of people come together because of their title or role or function (and in a role as a representative of a given area or function) and agree to work together as long as it is individually beneficial, but at any time they can withhold information, resources, or not comply; also they can be rewarded differentially i.e. I win, you lose.  The individuals participate rather than promising an outcome or a result.

There is a lack of trust and there is no common purpose or any alignment, or it is very weak if there is any.  The focus of the committee tends not to be on achieving the outcomes, but on tasks and following process. Political battles and turf wars break out as committee members jockey for position.  They can withhold resources and information from others in doing so, and people will work or collaborate with others only so far as doing so helps their individual interests.  In a committee, people can win at the expense of the others. This means decisions are made on a sub-optimal basis and, although they can advance one area’s interests, may do so even though it causes damage to the business itself.

Which Do You Have – Teams or Committees?

So how do you know which you have?  Chance is that you probably already have a pretty good idea, but sometimes the group may be in a “gray area”.  In these instances, I suggest you apply the five criteria:

Andrew Cooke’s Five Golden Keys for Evaluating Groups

Look at the questions in the following areas.  If the answers tend to favor the group over the individual you have a team, if it is the individual over the group then you have a committee.

  1. Individual and Group Intention – how would you describe the individual intentions for each group member and the group overall?  Are they prepared to put the interest of others ahead of their own in advancing the group’s interests?  Are the group’s interests shared or do they vary from each individual?
  2. Effectiveness – is the group and the members focused on doing the right things?  Are there a clearly shared and understood set of priorities and outcomes? Is the group delivering progress towards the defined outcomes, or is progress being achieved in a multiple and conflicting directions against outcomes which may or may not be those which were defined initially? Are members participating or working to deliver outcomes.
  3. Communication –what kind of discussions and debate is there between group members?  Do they focus on the issue at hand or the personalities involved?  How well do they share with others what they are doing and why?  Do they have a shared and common understanding which they can consistently and clearly articulate?
  4. Relationships  – are they cooperative and collaborative, or is it a case of acting in the individual’s self-interest?  Is the nature of the relationship long-term, strategic and aligned; or are the relationships short-term and transactional in their focus?
  5. Power – is power perceived by the group and its members to be vested in the group itself, and thus all members are subordinate to the group; or is it perceived to be vested in certain individuals for who the group’s interests are subordinate to theirs?

Do you have a leadership team or a leadership committee?  Think carefully before you answer.  If your team is exhibiting signs of dysfunction then it is likely that you have a group that is a committee or has strong leanings to some of the characteristics of a committee than a team.

Consider one of the dysfunctional teams you either have been on or are a part of now.  Is your team a committee in disguise as a team?  If so, can you apply this distinction to diagnose the problem and get your team on track?

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Peter Drucker on Marketing

Peter DruckerLong ago Peter Drucker, the father of business consulting, made a very profound observation that has been lost in the sands of time:

Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Today, when top management is surveyed, their priorities in order are finance, sales, production, management, legal and people. Missing from the list: marketing and innovation. When one considers the trouble that many of our icons have run into in recent years, it is not easy to surmise that Drucker’s advice would have perhaps helped management to avoid the problems they face today.

Ironically, David Packard of Hewlett-Packard fame once observed that “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing people.” But as the years rolled on, rather than learn about marketing and innovation, executives started to search for role models instead of marketing models.

Tom Peters probably gave this trend a giant boost with the very successful book he co-authored, In Search of Excellence. Excellence, as defined in that book, didn’t equal longevity, however, as many of the role models offered there have since foundered. In retrospect, a better title for the book might have been In Search of Strategy.

A popular method-by-example book has been Built to Last by James Collins and Jerry Porras. In it, they write glowingly about “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” that turned the likes of Boeing, Wal-Mart Stores, General Electric, IBM and others into the successful giants they have become.

The companies that the authors of Built to Last suggest for emulation were founded from 1812 (Citicorp) to 1945 (Wal-Mart). These firms didn’t have to deal with the intense competition in today’s global economy. While there is much you can learn from their success, they had the luxury of growing up when business life was a lot simpler. As a result, these role models are not very useful for companies today.

There is a growing legion of competitors coming at new businesses from every corner of the globe. Technologies are ever changing. The pace of change is faster. It is increasingly difficult for CEOs to digest the flood of information out there and make the right choices.

But a CEO can have a future.

The trick to surviving out there is not to stare at the balance sheet but simply to know where you must go to find success in a market. That’s because no one can follow you (the board, your managers, your employees) if you don’t know where you’re headed.

How do you find the proper direction? To become a great strategist, you have to put your mind in the mud of the marketplace. You have to find your inspiration down at the front, in the ebb and flow of the great marketing battles taking place in the mind of the prospect. Here is a four-step process to pursue:

Step 1: Make Sense in the Context

Arguments are never made in a vacuum. There are always surrounding competitors trying to make arguments of their own. Your message has to make sense in the context of the category. It has to start with what the marketplace has heard and registered from your competition.

What you really want to get is a quick snapshot of the perceptions that exist in the mind, not deep thoughts.

What you’re after are the perceptual strengths and weaknesses of you and your competitors as they exist in the minds of the target group of customers.

Step 2: Find the Differentiating Idea

To be different is to be not the same. To be unique is to be one of its kinds.

So you’re looking for something that separates you from your competitors. The secret to this understands that your difference does not have to be product related.

Consider a horse. Yes, horses are quickly differentiated by their type. There are racehorses, jumpers, ranch horses, wild horses and on and on. But racehorses can be differentiated by breeding, by performance, by stable, by the trainer and so forth.

Step 3: Have the Credentials

There are many ways to set your company or product apart. Let’s just say the trick is to find that difference and then use it to set up a benefit for your customer.

To build a logical argument for your difference, you must have the credentials to support your differentiating idea, to make it real and believable.

If you have a product difference, then you should be able to demonstrate that difference. The demonstration, in turn, becomes your credentials. If you have a leak-proof valve, then you should be able to have a direct comparison with valves that can leak.

Claims of difference without proof are really just claims. For example, a “wide-track” Pontiac must be wider than other cars. British Airways as the “world’s favorite airline” should fly more people than any other airline. Coca-Cola as the “real thing” has to have invented colas.

You can’t differentiate with smoke and mirrors. Consumers are skeptical. They’re thinking, “Oh yeah, Mr. Advertiser? Prove it!” You must be able to support your argument.

It’s not exactly like being in a court of law. It’s more like being in the court of public opinion, especially with the rise of social media.

Step 4: Communicate Your Difference

Just as you can’t keep your light under a basket, you can’t keep your difference under wraps.

If you build a differentiated product, the world will not automatically beat a path to your door. Better products don’t win. Better perceptions tend to be the winners. The truth will not win out unless it has some help along the way.

Every aspect of your communications should reflect your difference. Your advertising. Your brochures. Your web site. Your sales presentations.

The folks who work for or with you don’t need mystical answers on “How do I unlock my true potential?” The question they need answering is, “What makes this company different?”

That answer gives them something to latch onto, and run with.

To view or download a PDF version of this blog click here

Share your thoughts and ideas here, or email me at andrew.cooke@business-gps.com.au

If you found this article of use or interest please don’t hesitate to share it with others.

Click here to find out more about Andrew Cooke and Growth & Profit Solutions.