Thursday, August 30, 2007

Employees as Internal Candidates

Today, had an article by Kevin Wheeler, regarding how we value employees. I thought Kevin's article was insightful and right on target. As such, I wanted to share it with you. To read more articles by Kevin, please visit or reach out to Kevin via his email at the end of the article.

Enjoy today's posting and have a great Labor Day weekend -

Employees Are Not Assets: The value of internal candidates
Thursday, August 30, 2007 by Kevin Wheeler
Kevin Wheeler(110)
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I am still amazed at how many organizations do not allow their current employees to apply for internal positions until they meet a whole bunch of conditions. Typically, they have to have been in a position for a certain amount of time, may have to meet performance requirements, may have to fill out an application, and then go through the same interview process as an external candidate.

Most HR people think this is fine, and in fact, often put these rules in place. Their thinking is understandable from one perspective. After all, shouldn't a boss be aware that an employee is looking? And if a person has only been in a job for a few months, isn't it only fair they give their boss their services for a few months?

My answer is that yes, it would be fair, if we were not in the midst of a talent shortage where "fair" has little meaning. Is it fair any employee can simply tell her boss she won't be back tomorrow because she has another job? Is it fair that employees can often get a salary increase of 10% or more simply by moving to another company? Is it fair that we have a labor shortage?

There is little in life that is fair, and the days of stability and loyalty in our corporations are over. We could argue about why these traits have gone by the wayside, but the truth is that they have. The shortage of talent in some areas such as engineering, IT, medicine, and finance are so severe that almost anything has become "fair" in the pursuit of talented people with these skills.
I have started to notice "For Hire" signs hanging in front of lots of stores and restaurants I have been in over the past three months seeking hourly help. This underlines the growing shortage of talent and the growing need for people with key skills. To place obstacles in the way of anyone with a motivation to raise their hand to move into a needed position is plainly just dumb.
Let's face the truth: whether employees are allowed to transfer freely inside or not affects no one but the employer. They lose a good employee to another company for no good or value-added reason.

Employees As Investors
One of our problems is that we think of employees as assets, or things we control and dispose of as we see fit. Unfortunately, this characterization leads to behaviors that are incompatible with reality. Employees cannot be owned, taxed, depreciated, or disposed of as machines or other tangible assets.

They are investors in our organizations and they freely choose to share their expertise and skills with us or not. Each employee has a built-in return on investment meter that is constantly sampling the atmosphere and deciding if she is gaining or losing from a continuing association with the firm. As long as employees feel they are gaining, they don't look for different jobs.
But in this job market, whenever the balance shifts even slightly, employees become vulnerable to any offer that may present itself. That is why having managers who have a history of good employee loyalty and low turnover are so valuable.

Usually when an employee wants to apply for another position inside the firm it is because they are looking for a new challenge, are unhappy with their current assignment of boss, or feel that the new position will offer more of a return on their investment. To deny them the opportunity and to place some HR policy in their way is not only a sure way to lose them to someone else, it is also just plain dumb. Happy employees who are being treated as investors will be unlikely to leave.

Here are four things every organization and HR group should be doing or should have in place today:

All policies should be abolished that limit or control how or when employees apply for positions within an organization. Every employee should have the same employment at-will opportunities inside the company as exist in the open marketplace.

Companies should make it a policy to encourage employees to share expertise and skills broadly. After all, it is the networking interconnectedness of our employees that add value and allow us to develop new products and generate new ideas. Creativity does not arise in stable, rigid, and change-adverse organizations. The most exciting new concepts and ideas come from small firms where people wear many hats and move between responsibilities such as the dot-com companies of Silicon Valley.

Let recruiters work just as freely inside as outside the organization and let them work on back-filling positions that may be vacated by an employee who is moving on to something else. If a recruiter knows an employee is leaving for a new position, they can help the manager find someone else for the old position at almost the same time.

Create policies that allow employees to try out new jobs for a short time to see whether they like it and can do it well. Let employees share their job with someone else so they can sample more than one kind of work or more than one project. Foster a spirit of sharing expertise and skills, not of owning the mind and body of someone.

The policies that restrict or limit transfers and change within an organization are leftovers of the 20th-century organizations that are hierarchical, paternalistic, and slowly fading away. A 21st-century organization removes barriers and builds networks that power creativity and growth.

Kevin Wheeler (, the President and Founder of Global Learning Resources, Inc., is a globally-known speaker, author, columnist, and consultant in human capital acquisition and development. His extensive career, global client base, and research affiliations make GLR a leading provider of both strategy and process. GLR focuses on assisting firms architect human capital strategies. GLR guides firms thorough comprehensive talent acquisition processes and procedures as well as the development of talent within organizations of all sizes. GLR can be explored at

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Time Management

Today's feature article is from Vince Thompson, and brought to you by I cannot reiterate enough how great a resource TheLadders is, so please take a few minutes and click on the link on the right side of the blog and take a look at their site. You'll be impressed with all the resources and tools they provide - but now on to the article.

Time Management: It's About Your Boss!By Vince Thompson

For years, we’ve heard that time management is about quadrants, action items, and prioritizing tasks. In fact, go to just about any time management seminar, and I can pretty much guarantee that the trainer will spend a lot of time showing you how to analyze your calendar, log your time spent in activities, plan your workweek, etc. You'll likely realize that you do indeed spend too much time on e–mail, on the phone, and on seemingly urgent activities.

Initially, you’ll plan your calendar better, define your activities in quadrants, and prioritize your workload. But then the trainer leaves, and within a week you fall right back into your old habits.
Why does this happen? Because no matter what your actual job is, you likely end up doing the things that you think your boss expects you to do. So, even though an important part of your job may be to write business plans, you know that your boss also expects you to answer her emails within 15 minutes or to be available on Instant Messenger. Very often, these expectations come before the important tasks you need to do. While communication is important, if you’re truly going to have the time to spend on tasks that move the company forward, then you need to gain more power over your schedule and apply it to your day.

Have a conversation with your boss about the various activities you are expected to do, and reach an agreement about what defines success. From here, it’s your responsibility to constantly manage expectations.

Manage Your Manager, Not Your Time

To take back your time, your life, and your career, you need to step into the realm of managing your manager to alter their expectations related to your time. The goal is to achieve complete alignment between what your boss wants and needs you to do, and what you believe you really should do.

Here's how you do it:

1. Analyze your bosses’ needs

You need to know what your boss expects of himself and what your boss's boss expects of him. What goals do your bosses have? What can you do to help them be more successful?
Unfortunately, a lot of people in business assume that "meeting the boss’s needs" means doing exactly what the boss wants them to do – – accepting the boss’s vision and direction wholesale. Wrong! This assumption sets the stage for meeting the status quo rather than meeting the needs that’ll actually make a difference.

2. Adopt a Management Value Added mindset

One way to start using the concept of Management Value Added (MVA) to figure out the ways you can provide the most value to your company is by sitting down with your boss to discuss his or her needs. Then ask your boss, "How do you feel I can add the most value?" If your boss responds, "Huh?" you can flesh out the question with additional questions like these:
"What are the activities I’m engaged in where I contribute the most?"
"What are the activities that you and the company most need me to do?"
"What do you consider to be the best and most productive use of my time?"
"What do you think is the special contribution that I am best positioned to offer to you and the company?"
"Of all the things that I’m engaged in on behalf of this company, what are the three areas where you believe that I can contribute the most?"

Listen carefully to your boss’s answers. Using them as a guide, you can begin to understand exactly how your boss views your contributions. It’s likely that the way he or she measures your value is different from the way you might measure it.

3. Implement what you learn

You can use the information your boss shares with you to help you determine how to spend your time, which projects to support, and which meetings to attend.

For example, if your boss replies that your most important areas of contribution are your ability to guide talent, build capacity; and stay close to the customers, then before committing to any new activity, you can ask yourself, "Will this activity help me achieve my priorities? Will it help me put the right people in the right jobs? Will it help me build capability? Will it help me know and connect with our customers?" If the answer is no, avoid the activity – – even if it sounds otherwise interesting, appealing, or fun.

Abiding by the MVA concept helps you maintain a focus on the things that matter while earning the support of those you serve. Then, when your boss or someone else in the organization asks you to commit time or energy to an area that falls outside of the MVA priorities you’ve established, you can talk to your boss about how the new commitment may affect your main goals and reach a joint decision as to whether a shift in priorities is warranted. Each time you and your boss are out of alignment, you have an opportunity to further understand your boss’s needs and goals.

Manage Your Future for Success

When you follow this process and gain agreement, you’ll have a clearer understanding of where your focus should be each day. With clear focus comes a renewed sense of purpose, because you're now spending your time on what truly matters – – both to you and to your boss. And when everyone’s needs are being met in a way that supports the company’s vision, the result is a more productive and happier work environment.

Vince Thompson is a Manager. Over the course of his career he has spent 15 years leading teams in a variety of hotbeds for learning: First in restaurants, then in television stations then for seven years as Regional Vice President of Sales for America Online. He is the author of Ignited: Managers, Light up Your Career for More Power, More Purpose, and More Success.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Current Positions

Good Morning -

With the Labor Day long weekend rapidly approaching, I thought I would take a moment to update you all on the current positions on my desk. As of this morning, the current portfolio is:

  • Area Manager (Multiple positions in multiple locations)
  • Key Account Manager/Product Manager
  • Human Resources Director
  • Product Manager
  • Manufacturing Manager
  • Sales Manager
  • Safety Coordinator

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can be of any assistance in your career search. Have a great holiday weekend!!

Friday, August 17, 2007


Yesterday's ERE article by Kevin Wheeler of Global Learning Resources highlighted organizational turnover and how employers can develop a few targeted programs to help keep employees happy and with the company. I thought Kevin was right on target with his assessment and thought it prudent to share his article with all of you.

I hope you enjoy today's posting and enjoy your weekend -

Money Won't Hold Them: 6 ways to reduce turnover
8/16/2007 by Kevin Wheeler
about the author
Kevin Wheeler
Global Learning Resources, Inc.
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Turnover at one mature organization I have spoken with recently has reached close to 100% for its key engineering talent. This is not because the company is a poor performer or because it doesn't pay well. In fact, it is doing very well and pays above the average.

The reason they are losing people is because they are well-paid, have made significant income, and have built up large 401(k) accounts. They are leaving because they are successful and able to pursue other interests.

The causes of turnover are changing and wise organizations are looking deeply at those causes and learning new ways to respond.

I often hear managers, CEOs, and supervisors promising this and that and making speeches about how committed they are to their workers.

When it comes time to allow workers some say in their work, or the opportunity to transfer to another department, or the chance to try something new, they just as often hesitate. Words can take on many meanings and can be twisted to fit any occasion. Deeds speak for themselves.
Back in the "good old days," turnover levels were very low in most organizations, often approaching less than 2% in firms such as Hewlett-Packard and IBM. Employees expected to be retained until retirement and to receive a living retirement income after 25 or 30 years of service. There was loyalty and commitment to the firm and frequently in the best of these companies, strong cultures matured. These cultures provided an unwritten behavioral guide and a sense of pride and friendship. People were proud to be knows as an IBMer, for example, because it was like being admitted to an exclusive club. Their friends who were not IBMers were jealous.

But somewhere in the early 1980s, things began to change. The first crack came with the advent of the 401(k) and (b) plans that freed employees from the corporate retirement programs. The 401 programs are, in effect, portable pensions. In effect, you take your accumulated savings and add to them somewhere else.

Silicon Valley companies had never set up pension programs because the young companies there, with young non-union workers, did not feel any need to establish retirement programs. So they were the first to feel the impact of 401 programs as workers started understanding what they were all about.

Later the downsizing and re-engineering movements began reducing the workforce and began to crack the idea that a company would take care of you until you were ready to retire. Thousands found themselves on the street with no jobs and no retirement benefits. Loyalty crumbled and the idea of staying with an employer for decades became less attractive.
In fact, for many young people the idea of working for a single employer for some long period of time is frightening and is seen as career limiting. How times change!

Now as we enter a couple of decades where it will be very hard to find good people and even harder to keep them, we have corporations interested in preventing both their baby boomer experts and their newly recruited Gen Y superstars from leaving. It is tough to convince them to stay.

Most organizations find themselves with benefits packages that are increasingly the same: portable pension plans, good cafeterias, and lots of other perks. Nothing really differentiates them in material aspects from the competition.

From an employee's perspective, there is almost no negative stigma to having frequently changed jobs. In fact, changes that make sense are considered a plus as they mean the employee has added experience and competitive knowledge.

So how do you make it more attractive to keep employees? Here are a few ideas:

  • Make it easy for people to move around in your organization. Do not limit transfers. Let people try out areas where they have little experience. Encourage cross-fertilization and give people the support and development they need to succeed in the new position. Never tell an employee they are not ready, too junior, not educated enough, or haven't worked at the firm long enough to do whatever it is they want to do. To tell them any of those things is a guarantee that they will leave you soon.

  • Provide lots of free development and training. Encourage employees to get more education by offering to pay for 100% of college tuition or for 100% of a certification program. Pick key employees and offer them the chance to participate in longer-term development programs. Make a big deal out of development and then pay the employee more money when they complete the program. Gen Y, in particular, is attracted to any company that helps them gain more skills.

  • Allow employees to volunteer time outside the organization. For example, Google allows employees to donate time to charities while still being paid. Letting employees participate in community, social and charitable activities not only improve your organization's reputation, but acts as a retention tool.

  • Pay at market rates or more. Don't think that your benefits or loyalty will keep employees happy. Err on the side of generosity when you offer pay increases and never let pay be an excuse for an employee leaving. Pay is never the real reason people leave a firm, but it sure makes a great excuse for employees. Most organizations can't defend themselves on this issue because they don't pay that well.

  • Manage the performance of your managers. Track the turnover of employees for every manager. Managers who have any significant turnover need to be educated and mentored and, if things don't improve, removed from managing people. Every survey shows that one of the major reasons people leave a firm is because of mistrust, dislike, or incompatibility with the immediate manager. While these suggestions are in no particular order, if asked I would put this one first. Poor managers are the worst enemy of retention that an organization can have. Reputations spread and can infect many people and can start a negative buzz about working for the company in the marketplace.

Remember that we have entered a time when the employees are in charge. They can cripple your success and they know exactly how. They own the tools of production, and management needs to understand that the best companies, those that are most financially successful, have employees who enjoy "just enough" management and a lot of freedom. Today's employees are better educated, more independent, less afraid, more secure, and far more entrepreneurial than those of even 10 years ago. This means that HR policies and management styles have to radically change.

These are the best ways to reduce turnover and develop a workforce that is energized and productive. It requires a committed management team and a lot of new thinking, but these methods can really work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Career Accomplishments

Let me start out this morning by saying if you haven't taken an opportunity to go visit, you definitely need to take a few minutes and check it out. The link to their website is just to the right of this article; and please, let me know what you think.

Today's post comes yet again from and author Abby Locke. Our topic: Defining Career Success. While a variety of standards or benchmarks exist by which we can evaluate of professional career growth, Abby takes us a step further by making some recommendations on how we can highlight such achievements in our resume and next interview.

I found the article to be insightful and thought-provoking; and it made me reflect on my own career achievements. So take a few minutes and enjoy today's post - and most importantly, reflect on your own career achievements, so you are ready the next time someone asks you what you have accomplished in your career.

How Do You Define Career Success?By Abby Locke

Do any of these situations apply to you?

  • You have enjoyed steady career progression and have been unexpectedly thrust into the job market for the first time in 15 years.

  • A viable opportunity for internal promotion has popped up, but you will be going up against some the company's top employees.

  • You have reached the proverbial "glass ceiling" and want to pursue new executive opportunities.

  • A mentor you admire wants to introduce you to a key decision maker and a preliminary interview is scheduled.

All of these situations have one thing in common: they require you to put your best foot forward and provide proof of performance. Whether you are actively job hunting, preparing for an interview, or about to connect with a new contact, you need to be able to articulate your key strengths and unique value proposition.

If you haven't sat down and evaluated your career success in a long time, now is the time to start! One of the areas where many senior professionals fall short is in capturing strong, quantifiable and qualitative achievements relevant to their industry. For example, the success for a sales executive is going to be defined in terms of sales growth, market share expansion and strategic alliances, whereas a finance executive is going to attract attention if he/she has noteworthy achievements that relate to P&L management, ROI maximization and cost reduction.

So how do you define success in your industry? Here are a few memory-jogging questions to help you identify and chronicle high-impact achievements that can power up your resume and impress any interviewer.

1. Have you recommended a new system or process that improved efficiency or productivity?
Possible answer: Introduced innovative process improvement initiatives that automated 45 processes, shrunk operating costs by $500,000, and eliminated 100% of manual, time-consuming tasks.

2. Did your actions directly save the company money or time?
Possible answer: Identified $13.5 million savings in general and administrative expenses by conducting extensive review of corporate and field sales operations.

3. Were you responsible for reducing costs or trimming operations?
Possible answer: Slashed annual HR expenditures by $18 million by eliminating duplicate costs, creating benefit efficiencies, and reducing employee training costs.

4. Did you initiate a new program that positively impacted the bottom-line?
Possible answer: Increased annual revenues 20% by introducing a "first-of-its-kind" technology program which offered customers a complete suite of IT solutions instead of a-la carte services.

5. Have you ever been involved in a startup or turnaround operation? What was the outcome?
Possible Answer: Conceived and developed a startup technology consulting firm from the ground up to over $3 million in operations in just three years.

6. Did you receive a powerful compliment or testimony from a senior leader in the company?
Possible Answer: "Trip has devised an innovative marketing philosophy that has rebranded ABC Company in the marketplace and positioned us for success. Her contribution to the team has been valuable and her expertise as a marketing guru is evident." Chief Marketing Officer, ABC Company

7. Did you generate reports or data that improved decision making?
Possible Answer: Eliminated over $80,000 in project delay costs by implementing a project monitoring system which helped senior managers make informed business decisions on asset and resource allocation.

Getting prepared to develop your career accomplishments is not always an easy task. Don't overwhelm yourself by trying to capture ten or fifteen years of accomplishments in one day - start by working with one company at a time then pull it all together. Then, you'll be prepared for your next opportunity!

Abby M. Locke is a Certified Executive Resume-Writer and Personal Brand Coach who supports senior-level finance, accounting and technology professionals in career transition. Her resume samples have been published in Nail the Resume! Great Tips for Creating Dynamic Resumes, and Same-Day Resumes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Benefits of a Mentor

This morning's post comes yet again from, so many thanks to them and their talented team. Today's feature article from Randi Bussin, highlights the benefits of a Mentor-Mentee relationship. I have found that a Mentor can be an incredible resource when developing new skills or honing those previously acquired. So enjoy your morning coffee and today's posting, and as always, please let me know your thoughts and comments.

In closing, I would like to take a moment to thank my boss, Joe Woerner, who has been an incredible mentor to me since joining Management Recruiters and one whom I owe a great deal of my success to - Thanks Joe for everything you do.

Ten Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Mentor
By Randi Bussin

How can a mentor improve your business and career advancement? Many ways: a mentor can guide you, take you under his or her wing, and teach you new skills. Research has shown that mentoring relationships succeed and are satisfying for both parties when both the mentor and mentee take an active role in developing the relationship.

Here are 10 tips you can implement to ensure you get what you need out of your mentor-mentee relationship.

1. Be clear on why you want a mentor and why you are meeting. Define what type of help you're looking for in a mentor. Are you looking for someone with similar skills or someone with a very different skill set who can coach you? Are you looking for someone who has gone up the corporate ladder and can advise you on the ins and outs of corporate politics?

2. Establish goals for the relationship. Discuss and agree upon the goals of the relationship and what you, personally, are doing to make it a successful venture. Review these goals from time to time to be sure the relationship is working; if not, adjust and refocus.

3. Network, network, and network to find a suitable mentor. Once you decide on the type of mentor you need, participate in functions and professional associations where you might find this type of person. For example, scour your Chamber of Commerce events, alumni and professional associations, or even your own company. If you do choose someone from your own firm, it's best to select someone other than your direct supervisor.

4. Don't limit yourself to one mentor. You can establish multiple mentoring relationships with individuals who can help you grow in different aspects of your life. Think of it as building your own personal Board of Directors. Also, don't underestimate the value of a "peer mentor" or someone at your level who has complimentary skills and experiences -- even if you think you're on the same level, you can learn a lot from their previous experiences.

5. Establish communication methods and frequency of contact from the beginning.Talk with your mentor to determine the lines of communication that will work for both of you. Will you meet face to face or communicate mainly through e-mail and the telephone? Make sure you meet/talk enough to suit both of you.

6. Manage expectations and build trust. Mentoring takes time and implies sacrifices for both the mentee and the mentor. Be respectful of your mentor's time and the other priorities in their life -- family, travel, and community activities. Avoid any trust-breaking behaviors such as canceling appointments or not following through on leads and contacts given to you by your mentor.

7. Acquire mentoring skills and competencies. Pay attention to great skills that you notice in your mentors; these skills include listening, guidance, recommendations, and wisdom. When you receive corrective feedback from your mentor, don't be defensive. Listen, digest, and take immediate steps to apply what you have learned.

8. Be respectful of your mentor's time.Do not overburden him or her by demanding too much in terms of their time and/or contacts. Understand that when you decide you need information might not be the best time for them, so be patient.

9. Express your gratitude.The mentor may tend to give a lot more than you do in the relationship in terms of time and/or contacts. Be sure to express regularly that you value and appreciate your mentor's guidance.

10. Vary the activities you do together.There are numerous activities you can do with your mentor, including talking about your past experiences, goals, plans, and skill development, and attending meetings, conferences, and other events. You can also shadow your mentor at work or exchange and discuss written materials like your resume or an article one of you has written.

Randi Bussin, founder and president of Aspire!, is a career coach and counselor with 25 years of business, entrepreneurial, and career counseling expertise.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Thank You

Good Morning. I wanted to share an article with you this morning regarding thank you letters that Barbara Safani wrote for I found the article informative and refreshing - and most importantly, a reminder that I do not express my thanks nearly as often as I should. So in the spirit of the article, THANK YOU!!!

Five Reasons to Send Thank You LettersBy Barbara Safani

Thank you letters are an excellent self-marketing tool and a critical component of your job search strategy. The time you spend crafting a targeted thank you letter after an interview will be well spent, and it will help you create a credible and efficient search. Here are five reasons why you should incorporate thank you letters into your search strategy.

1. A thank you letter creates an opportunity to reconnect with employers.Chances are you aren't the only candidate being interviewed for an open position. Writing a follow up letter allows you to build a relationship with the interviewer and develop rapport. By expressing your gratitude for the interview and recapping the highlights of the meeting, you revisit the reasons why you are the best fit for the position.

2. Following up keeps your candidacy top of mind.Candidates often make the mistake of putting too much control in the interviewer's hands. They believe that, if they're the best candidate, the interviewer will remember them and keep them in the loop regarding the selection process. Unfortunately, this doesn't often happen. It's critical that candidates remind prospective employers of their interest in a position. The thank you letter is the perfect vehicle for communicating this interest.

3. Written correspondence gives you another chance to sell your strengths.While the thank you letter expresses gratitude for the meeting, it also serves a much more strategic purpose. It provides an opportunity for the candidate to present their skills and accomplishments in another format and market the value they'll add to the employer.

4. The document enables you to address points you neglected to discuss during the interview.Many candidates, after leaving the interview, think of other things they could have said during the meeting. Don't label this a liability; turn it into an asset by discussing these points in the thank you letter. Remind the reader of your ability to produce similar results for their organization.

5. A letter helps develop rapport and increases the employer's comfort level in your candidacy.A good strategy is to recap a part of the conversation where you and the interviewer shared similar views on a job-related topic. The thank you letter can also be a forum for demonstrating your consultative problem solving skills. By addressing current issues the employer is facing and proposing solutions, you are contributing to the company's success even before you are on board!

Thank you letters continue to be an important component of a successful job search campaign. But the focus has shifted from a simple courtesy and show of appreciation to a targeted self-marketing tool. By creating letters that validate your candidacy, build rapport, and remind the reader of your value added, you can significantly influence potential employers and -- most importantly -- increase your chances for subsequent interviews.