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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Independence Day – Travel Safe, Be Healthy, Spend Time with Family and Friends

Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, and family reunions.  Flags adorn many lawns and town squares.  This three-day weekend gives us “independence” from the headlines of tragic global and national events, and allows us to take a breath and spend time with those most important to us. 

While celebration and enjoyment are the focus, I will take time to keep a special thought for all of our military serving in the face of imminent danger.   They serve at the command of our government and though I may not agree with every decision made by our president and congress, the soldiers are there and each one deserves our thoughts and prayers.  I can hope that sometime soon, we will not need to have so many of our country’s brave woman and men in harm’s way many miles away from the families and friends back home that will be thinking of them each time a firework explodes high in the sky a safe distance away.

Enjoy the time ahead.  Time with family and friends is precious.  Be safe, healthy, and safe this weekend!

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Posted by on June 30, 2011 in National Holidays

 

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42nd Street – Tap Dancing Into Your New Career

A Podcast of this blog post is available at http://bit.ly/iq5aRC

What does the musical 42nd Street have to do with a business blog about career moves?  Everything!  As a quick primer, 42nd Street the Musical is based on a movie of the same name from 1933.  It’s a play within a play in that all the casting and rehearsals are the scenes of a fictional 1932 Broadway play called Pretty Girl.  Recall that 1932 was the beginning of the depression and here we are in 2011 still oscillating with our current recession.

Though the economic times are similar, that is merely the backdrop of why I am blending the musical with business.  I recently attended a local community theatre opening night performance of 42nd Street.  I was utterly amassed that they could find 29 local actors that could tap dance, since almost all of the numbers involve serious tap dancing.  I leaned over and whispered this to my wife and she said that most of them likely learned to tap for the show.  This is at least true of one of the male leads who credits the choreographer with teaching him to tap. The frequent cheers and applause during the show, and the standing ovation at the end, was well-earned by the energy, passion, and outstanding singing, acting, and dancing.

So how did the producer and casting director pick the actors during the auditions?  Was it because they could tap dance?  Not likely.  It must have been their theatrical accomplishments, competencies, and passion for the role.  The choreographer/producer made the assumption she could teach them to tap if they brought forth the core talent to perform. Because of the casting choices and excellent directing and training, the audience thoroughly enjoyed the singing, acting, and tap dancing of every cast member and their collective ensemble stage presence. 

Now contrast this with the current methodology many companies are using today as they seek to audition a candidate for employment.  The job requirement often lists 10 things the candidate must have and if a candidate doesn’t possess all of the requirements, they are often excluded from moving forward in the hiring process.  In the pre-recession days of scarce resources, those 10 requirements would have been divided into Must-Have’s and Nice-to-Have’s with about a 50/50 split.  With an abundance of people in the job market, some recruiters and hiring managers are insisting on all 10 without applying weighting factors.  Are they seeking to hire the best overall employee for the company or one that can identify with the current needed skill?

Imagine if the choreographer chose only those that could tap dance.  Would that have produced the excitement and passion that thrilled me the other night?  Is tap that popular these days?  Or did she pick the best actors that had proven they could sing and had dance talent and then assume that a few weeks of intense tap dance training would create an outstanding cast?  Would I have enjoyed great tap dancing at the expense of stage presence, singing strength, or acting ability?

How many candidates possess that stage presence, functional strengths, a progressive record of outstanding accomplishments, and core professional competencies, but are minus one learnable skill?  If the one learnable skill was absent from the requirement, would these same candidates be much better employees in the long run and bring sustained success to the company. Are these companies hiring for that one next assignment or hiring people for a career that will provide year over year value to customers and increase shareholder value?

I have been spending more time networking recently and have met many intelligent and motivated people who are seeking a new career opportunity.  They often talk about the one thing that excluded them from becoming an employee of their targeted company.  I can’t help but wonder if the person chosen over them was really a better addition to the people equity of that firm. Over a cup of coffee, I had the privilege to experience tremendous strengths and passion they could have used to make a difference in value creation for that company.  Would the company acquire a more loyal employee by taking the risk and investing a small amount of time for that person to “hit the ground running” a few weeks out?  Or have they hired the sub-optimal candidate that can “hit the ground running”, but then head in the wrong direction really quick?

The challenge to acquire that next employee in this recession recovery period is the responsibility of both candidates and employers.  The candidates need to prove they are active learners and can demonstrate this with recent skill acquisition and demonstrated active learner behaviors.  The employers need to evaluate the accomplishments and competencies of the candidates and assume that a missing skill is one training event away.  Given these assumptions, every employer has a golden opportunity to hire proven, accomplished, and talented people who will leverage new skill training into success for their customers and shareholders.

Candidates – step up to the challenge to prove you are an agile and active learner.  Employers – step up to the challenge to hire your best next employee.  After all, you will end up spending more time with them during the work week than you will with your family or friends! 

“Come and meet those dancing feet on the avenue I’m taking you to… 42nd Street.”

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Posted by on June 14, 2011 in Talent Acquisition

 

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A Death in the Giro d’Italia and Corporate Social Consciousness – Compassionate Competition?

 A podcast version of this blog is available at http://bit.ly/l3F3dd

Cyclist Wouter Weylandt died after a crash on a mountain decent in Stage 3 of the Giro d’Italia.  I imagine that many reading this blog will wonder why this is the lead paragraph in an otherwise business blog.  What happened next in the Giro should be what we expect from our corporate behaviors.  Allow me to set the stage for our collective reflection with a few important facts about the event.

      • The Giro d’Italia is one of three Grand Tours of cycling. 
      • There are 21 stages over 23 days totaling 2189 miles.
      • This year is the 94th year of competition and coincides with the 150th anniversary of Italian unification. 
      • The event is contested by 23 professional teams each consisting of 9 members for a total peloton of 207 riders at the beginning of the race. 

Professional cycling is big business and the Giro is a major international event, so lots of revenue and operating expense are at stake. Given that, take a moment and recall how your company responded to the tragic death of one of their key employees.  Was it to mention the event at the beginning of a meeting, ask for thoughts for the family, and then move onto to the agenda for the day?

Weylandt’s death was tragic and had a profound impact on all of the cyclists.  It’s what happened on the next stage that sets a challenge for all of us in our highly competitive corporate world, where winning is everything, and damn those that would slow our pace towards that victory.  Weyland’s parents and finance flew in and met with his Leopard Trek team the evening of the crash.  The team then met with each of the 22 competing teams and collectively changed the following stage into a funeral cortege instead of the planned competitive race.  In effect, the race was neutralized for this stage with no team or rider gaining or losing any advantage.

The pageantry normally preceding the start of the stage was canceled.  Weylandt’s Leopard Trek team bus was brought to the starting line and each of the 9 members of the 22 competitor teams rode by single file to pay respect to Weylandt and his team. His team then lined up side by side at the starting line with black arm bands while taps was played and the procession started.  Each team took turns pacing the peloton for 10 kilometers, and then rotated to the back of the peloton to allow the next team it’s turn at the front, for the entire 200 kilometer stage. On a day when competition would have been intense, the peloton stayed together as one single body through the corridor of muted applause that greeted them along the way. 3km from the finish line, race leader David Millar finished his team’s pace-setting, and he waved Weylandt’s Leopard Trek teammates to the front and together they rode 10 meters ahead of the rest of the peloton. In a touching moment, Weylandt’s close friend Tyler Farrar was invited to join the Leopard Trek riders as they crossed the finish line arm in arm with tears in their eyes.

Where else could this happen?  I’m trying to think of a different sporting event suspending competition and working together in remembrance of one of their sport.  Now try to think about this happening in our corporate landscape. Imagine a bidder’s conference where all the competing firms agreed to suspend their pursuit efforts for one or more days, instead replacing it with a conference that all the firms attend.  Possible topics could be employee wellness or engagement.  Maybe because I’m writing this on Memorial Day with all the imagery of the day forefront in my mind is this creating such a challenge for me?  I know my CSC colleagues would stand arm in arm if such a tragic death happened to one of our corporate teammates, but I sense this behavior is becoming extinct in the recession induced management style that treats employees as transactional and fungible assets of the corporation.   

There are many examples where corporations compete in friendly events such as the Wall Street Walk/Run, Susan B Komen Run, and the MS Rides to name a few.  These are excellent examples of corporations competing for fun and charity.  But can that spirit move back inside the board room and create a compassionate corporate competition? Recall the scene from Miracle of 34thStreet when the Santa Claus at Macy’s sends a customer to Gimbels, their arch rival in NY.  As the press picks up on this, two arch rivals compete for which brand cares more about their customers than short-term seasonal profits, with the Macy’s customers telling Macy’s management of their future loyalty for such an unselfish act during the holiday season. Fairy tale Compassionate Competition? Maybe, but who reading this blog doesn’t recall that scene and wonder what if….? 

Imagine any new RFP containing a requirement that the bidding company would need to demonstrate and commit to Corporate Social Consciousness as a weighting factor in the selection criteria.  Imagine a company that requires Corporate Social Consciousness as a key measurement for their employee’s performance management process and backs this up with time away from normal job responsibilities.   

If you could make a difference in your company’s culture and enable your firm to compete on the hypothetical Corporate Social Consciousness requirement of a future RFP, how much more business could be won?  How would this create a market pull for the best of the best future employees?  What members of your business or social community would benefit? How proud would you be of being a member of a successful and compassionate company?  Commit to be a Compassionate Competitor and stand steadfast in that resolve to brand your company with the leadership that comes not only from industry success but also from proactive responses to tragic events and enabling Social Consciousness in the lives of those on your team and those with which you compete.   

Universal Sports was thoughtful enough to make a brief 3 minute YouTube available for you to experience this first hand. The power of this video clip comes at the end, please watch all the way through.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkJw1s0vvek.  

Please come back at me with comments on this blog since I fully recognize it suggests corporate behaviors and commitments that vary widely from the norm.

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