Talent Circles

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Are you a leader or a manager? Be a linchpin instead

Print from personal collection by Hugh MacLeod available at qapingvoid

You don't like this question... and you are right!
You do not want to come across as arrogant by calling yourself a "leader,” or too pedestrian by saying that you are [only] a manager. You feel trapped in a bad dichotomy and you are right...
—     Being a leader refers to an attitude and an inspiring style that enables you to rally people around a vision.
—     Being a manager refers to a functional position where the goal is to execute a project and direct employers to do so.

Being a leader and being a manager are not mutually exclusive. The same person can be both and probably should in many circumstances. Look at it this way:  What is a leader with no management or execution skills? A hot-air blower out of touch with reality? A sloppy organizer? A dreamer? What is a manager with no leadership qualities? A short-sighted bureaucrat? A rank-and-file pen pusher?  A great leader must be a manager. A great manager must be leader. 

What if people define you using this dichotomy?
How do you take these statements?
—     "You are a leader and not a manager."
—     "You are a manager, not a leader."
If you believe these statements are truly descriptive of you, it's OK. Sometimes, however, you may not want others to define you through clichés and even if you are not afraid of this, it may be useful to contextualize such statements and assess their exact purpose.

"You are a leader and not a manager"
There is such a premium attached to the statement of "being a leader" that the tendency is to value the first part of the sentence and discount the second part of it. Make sure, however, that it's not a poisonous compliment... 

From superiors
You are being told that you are a guiding force, but that you fail at actually directing people or following through on projects. Are you a leader, then?

Your reality may be this:  Your superiors may resent your leadership and the management skills that come with leadership (cross-domain skills, fast problem solving capabilities and extensive processing capabilities that enable you to understand situations and learn quickly.... including the ability to see through this superior).  Chances are that their statement is a rhetorical scheme to demote you and put you into some "strategic" function where you will have no power, no voice, no decision-making or follow-through capabilities, and less access to information. In short, these superiors are removing what fuels your leadership to strengthen their own power and are taking this opportunity to micro-manage in order to keep control.

From subordinates
It can be the honest reproach of subordinates that you do not assist them as much as they expect - and it's true that for fast-thinkers, it can be exasperating to baby-sit subordinates that don't get it.  There is another case, though... when subordinates tell you that to make sure that you won't look too closely into what they actually do in order to be perceived as indispensable. That's their way of maintaining their little kingdom. You may not want to accept this so-called compliment...  

Whether the statement is coming from superiors or subordinates, chances are that you are facing a fairly common strategy of B players destined to box you in the place where they want you to be to protect their power.
"You are a manager, not a leader."
Maybe it's true and maybe you do not want to lead... If this is not the case, also look at where this statement comes from. Again, who is telling you that?

A superior?
Chances are that your management skills and your potential, threaten your superior. That's their only way to affirm their authority and maintain their own power, real or perceived. In other words, they don't want you to grow in your job, let alone further your career. This person is definitely not going to help you and will crush your initiatives at all costs.  

A subordinate?
It can be the reproach from a subordinate who expects more from you... So show your leadership skills and allow your subordinate to grow and thrive. 

Conclusion: Be a linchpin

Great leaders manage up, not down. Great managers must also be inspiring leaders. The distinction may work in dull hierarchical environments where people are boring, unimaginative and all about protecting their turf or where bosses are all about managing their egos and looking for cogs. BUT not in the energetic companies where people are happy to work because they know that they are linchpins whatever they do or are asked to do. It's always good to reread Seth Godin's books, especially Linchpin, a great manifesto for individual development and a call for a new workplace which I discussed a while back.

How to Improve Communication Within Your Recruiting Team

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

When most recruitment teams discuss communications, the focus will naturally go to the outbound communications between company and candidates. While this is essential for successful recruitment and hiring strategies, solid outbound communications and content sharing require a foundation of solid internal team communications. So, how can you ensure good internal communications without losing your primary focus on candidates and talent development?

Here are five simple strategies you can implement for effective internal communications that will support your outbound messaging and recruitment efforts.

  1. Build and maintain internal relationships

One on one time can make a huge difference in effective communications. With today’s “remote” workers and telecommuters, this can be even more important for those who don’t already spend all day in an office together. Respect their time and keep your meetings brief and friendly, a short lunch or coffee is ideal, somewhere away from the distractions and pressures of the office environment.

  1. Collaborate whenever possible

Even for solopreneurs like me, with mostly virtual team members, collaboration is vital. As the old saying goes, two minds are better than one. Whether you need a fresh idea from a different perspective, or simply need some confirmation on an idea you are already working on, ask for help. Being available to help others is the flipside of this coin and does a lot to build communications and trust. Hop on a call or video, invite a peer for coffee or just swing by their office to foster good partnerships, great ideas and a fun atmosphere focused on doing awesome things.

  1. Keep your meetings short

Strategy sessions and endless meetings have become a running joke among office dwellers. Only hard core loners hate all meetings on principle, and you can do a lot to make your meetings valuable to all concerned by keeping them short and focused. Keep meetings regular, but only as frequently as is actually productive to minimize the frustration associated with interruptions.

  1. Avoid impersonal communication

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with too much communication especially among a fast paced recruiting team. This can be worse than not enough. To combat this, avoid the urge to send copied messages to those who don’t really need them. Make your communication targeted. The extra time it takes to personalize messages, at least to smaller groups if not individuals, will be made up for by the seriousness your communications will be treated with. By respecting your team members and only giving them what they need, you save them time in sorting out the essential information as well.

  1. Open source best practices

Even those who consider themselves least creative, have brilliant ideas from time to time. By providing a place to share the tips and tricks that are working best, you can open source your own best practices among your team members. Whether it’s a great tip for getting the responses you really need in interviews, or a piece of open source software that saves time and money, encourage your team to share what works. Anything that saves time, money, or grief is always appreciated. Use a Facebook Group, Google doc, or work platform such as podio or basecamp as a central repository for your ideas. Check out HootSuite's #HootOS initiative in recruiting and hiring.

The benefits will astound you

Once open and clear communication is established within a work team, the outgoing communications will improve dramatically. From being able to use team members where their strengths lie, to understanding the motives behind what is being done, the benefits are almost limitless.

TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She's the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I Dub Thee the Year of Communication in Recruiting & Hiring

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about how to improve recruiting communication by checking back for this two part series.

In the world we live in, a debate rages on. Do we communicate more, or less? We say a lot more, but is it just coming across as more noise? We often think of recruitment communications, as a siloed, outbound activity. As long as we feed high quality, content into our pipeline, candidates will get the message. But, I propose that we can no longer see this type of communication as being just between us and the outside world. It must include internal branding and company culture as well.

To understand what needs to be done, we have to look at the purpose of communication in the recruitment process.

  • We want to have laser-sited candidate targeting.

  • We want to feed the knowledge need by providing candidates enough information for them to make an informed decision before they even apply.

As these three needs drive development in recruitment communications, we need to include the internal elements as well. Candidates are not the only ones that need to receive our messaging. Hiring managers and HR personnel, peers in the recruitment industry, senior leadership inside our own companies and in fact, the entire corporate family need to be kept in mind. Since it is generally easier to keep and improve upon talent we already have, we are –in a sense- in a state of recruiting them to remain as a part of our team.
Tools that make this possible
In today’s new media climate, it’s not enough to put out passive notices and wait for them to come to you. You have to take a proactive approach to maintain open communication. Here are some tools you should be using.
  1. Video
Video is one of the strongest communication tools in use today. It conveys messages quickly and memorably and with the tools available, it is quick, affordable and simple to use in almost any facet of your communications strategy especially in recruiting and hiring.
  1. Mobile
More and more we depend on our mobile devices to keep us informed and in touch and even as a means of completing and submitting work in certain applications. Most people carry their mobile devices with them everywhere, meaning they are never out of touch.  
  1. Social
Understand that your employees and others are likely using social media to communicate about you. The best way to ensure that this is healthy is to establish policies, protocols and strategies to put it to work for you. Whether through groups on public networks, like Facebook and Twitter, or on internal social networks set up for your company, it’s a powerful way to share messaging and build conversation.
  1. Analytics
To know whether your communication is effective, some type of measurement needs to be instituted. Tracking direct interaction and internal surveys are not enough. Learn to use available tools, and even explore custom options if needed, to record and analyze interaction to determine what is working best and target your strategies.
  1. Keep it personal
Since most communication in our world these days is digital, it can be a constant struggle to establish and maintain the human element. So much so, that “humanization” or specifically "candidate experience" is becoming something of a buzzword in recruitment circles. Using real life examples that illustrate your message is a great way to incorporate this across all channels. By keeping the people who make your strategies and goals possible front and center, you present a personable, human face to new recruits and current team members.

Learn more about how to improve recruiting communication by checking back for this two part series.

TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She's the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How Negative Viral Publicity Can Hurt Your #EmployerBrand and What You Can Do About It

By Jessica Miller-Merrell
When Martin Beijerinck, discovered the first known virus, in 1898, little could he imagine how his concept of infectious disease would mutate to define the rapid spread of data, information or content through the internet. We’ve all seen it, that cute little video that one friend is sharing and by the end of the week, it has made the rounds and now takes over your news feeds. Videos are not the only things that “go” viral. News stories (like this one), songs, and even memes seem to take on a life of their own. So, what is viral and what does it mean in business?
Viral outbreak procedures are not just for hospitals anymore
According to dictionary.com viral is an adjective, which means: “becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet” This phenomenon, so named for its resemblance to an infectious disease, is often the ultimate goal of many internet marketing strategies. But, is all “viral” content good? What happens when bad news goes viral especially in employer brand, recruiting and hiring?
Many companies experience negative publicity or feedback. It can threaten the company image and negatively impact your brand. Articles, candidate feedback on review sites and even tweets from employees can cause a loss of business, rattle consumer confidence, rattle existing employees faith in the company and potentially decimate the talent pool of prospective candidates seeking employment. It can take on many forms.

  • Bad online reviews from customers, job applicants, or employees.   

  • Video content aimed at consumers, recruiting prospects, or even internal video being leaked.

  • Comments and conversation on social media.  

  • News reports on your company that take a negative view.

  • Backbiting and gossip from employees, or customers in the real world can damage you within your local community.

Be prepared to fight it on more than one front
Since no one can accurately predict what will and won’t catch the imagination of the internet in such a way that it creates a feeding frenzy of sharing, it is impossible to know which pieces of media you should be prepared to react to. Without preparing a response for every piece of content that goes out, it is impossible to prepare specific strategies for these cases. Best practice dictates policies be put in place, outlining “viral outbreak” procedures –good or bad- so that a timely response can be launched.
So, what should that strategy entail?
A solid social media recruiting presence with lots of sharing and interaction based around the values your company wants to portray can go a long way toward establishing a character that is harder to damage. This can’t be a response tactic, however, it needs to be done preventatively before any issues arise. It pays to prepare for the eventuality that negative viral content could become an issue, even when it looks like it will never happen. This is why I'm a fan of creating an established base of resources and brand assets to establish a reputation long before something goes viral of the negative variety.
Employees can be encouraged to serve as brand ambassadors. By allowing them to share about positive corporate culture and what it means to them to work for your company, you can humanize the issue and make it harder to brand your company as a heartless, faceless corporation.
Start a conversation around your company brand and don’t shy away from tough issues that come up. Don't be afraid to respond to negative online reviews but focus on the responses and changes made as a result of the candidate and employee feedback. By giving careful and thoughtful responses to your detractors, you can often defuse the situation before it goes viral. Engage in active listening and set “alerts” on your company name and brands to catch viral content as early as possible. Never ignore the threat of potential viral content. When it is good, be prepared to capitalize on it and when it is bad, work to reframe the story. Become a brand that handles adversity well.

TalentCircles is the most comprehensive candidate engagement platform on the market. Take a product tour or request a live demo today. 

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology anthropologist specializing in HR and recruiting. She's the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs and author of The HR Technology Field Guide. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.