Rosalie HarrisonRosalie HarrisonDecember 10, 2019
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5min1974

A few months ago, I was retained to find a medical executive for a growing biotech.

The Hiring Manager set forth all of the expected criteria during our briefing and then something extraordinary happened. “You don’t need to find me a pretty CV,” she instructed.

“I am happy with a messy one. You know, its ok if you find someone with diverse experiences or who took some time off or traveled the world or whatever.”

As the proud owner of a messy – aka nontraditional career path – CV, I was ecstatic with this instruction. Understanding my joyous response probably requires a little background.

You see, 30 years ago, I applied to law school with a pharmacy degree and two years of pharmaceutical industry experience under my belt. I still remember the sting of reading my Harvard Law School rejection letter, which expressly declared my five-year pharmacy degree to be “vocational training” unsuited for legal studies.

Luckily, I have always been the type to persevere and received my law degree despite these narrow-minded rejections – performing quite well, thank you, despite my alleged lack of educational foundation. I then survived the interviewers that told me that I appeared professionally “unstable”, and landed a job at a top international law firm.

I spent the next 14 years pursuing a legal career, even reaching that coveted partnership milestone. The next decade, however, involved more wonderful mess. Expatriate living in two different European countries as a trailing spouse and mom, and my current (perhaps third) career evolution to a partner in a boutique (female owned and operated) executive search firm.

Now, when I walk someone through my professional history, the most common word that comes back at me is “impressive”. And, more importantly, in my current role, literally all of my life experiences are professionally relevant.

Given the historical response to my non-traditional career path, the current response to my “messy” CV always makes me smile. So, what has changed exactly to give a boost to the credibility of the non-traditional CV?

The answer is simple. The life sciences business trends are creating working environments that are increasingly dynamic (i.e. a nice word for messy) shifting the types of competencies needed for business success. Pressure to boost pipeline innovation and speed to market – while preserving efficacy, safety and quality – is creating a business model where cross-functional collaboration and external alliances are the norm.

Big Data, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence are drastically changing the scope and impact of products, services and operations. Precision and personalised medicine are creating health care delivery models that are literally dismantling established treatment norms.

Sustainability of health care ecosystems with limited resources are requiring that patient access to treatments be value driven. And, changes in global patient demographics, emerging market demands and opportunities, and an increasingly female talent pool, are presenting the industry with diversity demands that benefit from cross-cultural understanding and inclusion.

In an environment where change is a constant and lots of flexibility and curiosity are needed, the owners of a non-traditional CV experiences suddenly have attributes that are recognisable as being valuable to business success.

Messy CV owners have proven an ability to challenge the status quo, an attribute that is needed to drive and/or embrace creative and innovative ways of working. Flexibility and change management resilience are derived from both personal and professional life choices. Living and working internationally supports multi-cultural understanding. Engaging in cross functional roles or educational experiences enhances contribution and collaboration.

So what is our advice? If you are a professional with a nontraditional career path, take a look at the competencies you’ve gained as a result of your varying professional and life experiences and display them confidently in your messy CV.

No apologies needed.

If you are hiring manager, don’t be afraid of messy CVs. Nontraditional candidates might just have all of the competencies that are needed for success in your challenging and dynamic global environment.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamOctober 28, 2019
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6min2093

Some say there has never been a better time to be searching for employment.

It is true that the whole process has significantly improved, especially with the growth of technology and the internet. Plus, long gone are the days when everyone needed to be in London to find a job, with other cities in the UK growing at a tremendous rate. In fact, Manchester has been the fastest growing city in England and Wales between 2002-2015. So finding jobs in Manchester with online recruiters is just as easy as getting a similar position in London.

With that being said, it can be argued that being successful at the interview stage may be one of the trickiest parts of the course. Especially with recruiters getting more creative these days when it comes to looking for their perfect candidate; which has seen digital interviews become increasingly popular.

Digital interviews, in many respects, are the ideal way to put a potential recruit to the test, so if you’re facing one any time soon, we have some fantastic tips for you.

Research

One of the first things you can do to prepare to nail a digital interview is to put effort into research. There’s a lot of things to study ahead of the conversation, but by making time you will give yourself a better chance of being successful.

Begin by researching the company, learn of the vital information. From there, study the role you’re applying for, as well as doing your homework on the interviewer.

After getting the research done, preparing how you’re going to present yourself is the next step. Research again can help here, especially if you’re able to ascertain the dress code of the company itself or the role you’re applying.

Looking smart is always a requirement, and remember, first impressions count. However, don’t be overdressed. The interviewer is more interested in what you have to say, so don’t let your appearance take their attention away from this.

Practise

So, now not only do you know the company, your potential role, and the interviewer you’ll face, you also know how you’ll present yourself too. Now it’s time to call on a friend or two, as you’re going to need to practice ahead of the real thing. Practice digital interviews are essential, especially when using multiple people, as they allow you to refine your approach and work on areas that perhaps need a bit of improvement ahead of the upcoming interview with the employer.

The great thing about practice digital interviews is that they can be recorded and then watched back. It will allow you to get to grips with how you’re presenting yourself, the way you answer questions and everything else which will prove to be prominent on the day. Having the opportunity to have practice runs will give you the chance to perhaps pick up on overusing words or phrases or talking too fast, or too slow.

Rest

Now it’s on to the eve of your digital interview. A good night’s sleep will be needed ahead of the event, as not only will you look more presentable, your cognitive function will also be better too. Therefore, you’ll be able to think quicker, provide better answers, and remain calm too. A shower after walking up is essential also, as this will help refresh and relax you, and again have a positive effect on both your appearance and state of mind.

If you use all the tips we’ve provided above, you should be well on your way to nailing your digital interview. Remember, stay calm and focused, and most importantly of all, be yourself and enjoy.

It is your chance to impress.


Tony LynchTony LynchOctober 15, 2019
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18min2351

According to a recent survey published by Harvard Business Review, 41 percent of board members recognise their biggest challenge is attracting and retaining top talent.

We also know that with good leadership, talent does not come and go – rather talent comes and grows.

Effective leaders focus on ways of developing talent within their teams and organisations. Retaining and growing talented teams to reach their potential grows fulfilment, effectiveness, productivity, and profitability.

However, this all starts from recruiting the right type of people to your organisation. Selecting the right person to your team can be a challenging task. Having interviewed and hired numerous people for over 25 years, I fully understand the importance of getting this right.

The hiring of people to join your team can have a huge impact upon the company one way or the other. Therefore, the interview procedure must be carefully planned out. Strategic coaching questions should be crafted in order to get inside the heart and mind of the person you are interviewing.

The 7 C’s Strategic Approach for Successful Recruiting I am about to share with you will provide a solid process, which will enable greater success for you in hiring the right person to your team.

It is a process I have used and added to over the years. As a business consultant, I know that the process for selecting the initial interviews, the questions asked in the interview, and the process to the appointment can be weak and needs to be addressed.

I often say that in order to develop a company, develop the team – however for this to be successful you must have the right team members on board.

So be honest with yourself as you answer the following question:

  • On a scale of 1-10 how effective would you describe your recruitment process?

Which areas need to be up levelled in order to attract the very best to your company, and to ensure you are saving on recruitment fees?

It can often be said that when someone joins your team, they are one day closer to leaving. However, the aim and intention is that you attract the very best in the marketplace and that you both enjoy a long-term and very successful business relationship.

What should you be looking out for when recruiting someone to join your company? 

This is a key question that must be given great consideration before the interviews start. So where do you make a start?

Always have an agreed established process in place to ensure that you are making a wise judgement when offering someone an opportunity to join your team. Don’t rush this, think into this well. 

What will your process look like?

As I have previously mentioned, the interview process for some companies and teams may not be as robust as they could be, which can lead to the wrong person being offered a job as well as costing the company a large amount of time and money.

Too much money is being wasted when it comes to recruiting. Successful recruiting allows you to reinvest in your own business. Making the wrong choice when it comes to increasing your team can have huge financial implications for the company. 

For small companies with less than five people, this can even lead to the company failing. Don’t let this happen to you – the pain is far too great and not needed!

So, first, recognise that hiring the best staff is an art. It takes time and wisdom as you seek to determine who could be the best candidate to fill a function or role you have available.

Good employers ask great questions – at the interview stage, well-crafted, well-thought questions will help to determine the quality of answer that you are looking for. Never rush this process; consider in advance the questions you want to be asking.

Don’t just think of questions during the interview. If there is a panel interview, decide in advance which questions each of you will be asking. Don’t put yourself in the position that you say after the interview has finished thinking to yourself I forgot to ask a good question!

Prepare in advance for the interviewing process. Always use a personality profile approach as this will help to reveal the strengths and limitations of an individual, but will also reveal how they respond to being part of a team.

As a Business Consultant I would highly recommend for you The Seven C’s Strategic Approach for Successful Recruiting:

1. Character

A member of staff with a good attitude, who is able to learn, and with skills that can be developed will have huge positive effect on your team, productivity, and profitability. Character is often described as what are we like when no one is watching.

Good character will ensure you have someone working not just for you but with you, someone who is honest with you, the customer, and themselves. They will not be compromised.

2. Coachable

Are they coachable or do they think they know everything there is to know?

Are they open to change? When you employ coachable people on your team, you can be assured they will have a great attitude. A coachable person will always go far within a team. You can see this in business as well as in sport.

A team member with a very pleasant attitude is a great person to be working with. It will be easier to work with someone with a good coachable attitude than with a poor one.

3. Care

Do they care?

It is so important to have team members who care – about the vision, mission, fellow team members, and values of the company. Caring team members know how to care for their customers.

Caring team members will go the extra mile. They care about the work they do. Ask them to share with you some examples of how they have displayed a caring approach in their work situation. You want to hear their stories about this.

4. Conscientious

You can always spot conscientious team members; they are often good listeners.

They will always look out for what is best for the company, team, and customers. They can often be great thinkers.

You want these types of people on your team. They won’t be looking to cut corners. They have high standards and will always seek to do their best.

5. Can-do attitude

Do they have a can-do attitude? Do they see the possibilities, or do they just see the problems? 

A can-do attitude is very contagious; it spreads well within a team and causes it to become very courageous. Are they prepared to have a go and take on new responsibility?

When you have a can-do attitude amongst your team, when it becomes part of the team DNA, it inspires everyone to step up. Ask leading questions to find out if they have this approach and if they do, ask them for a few specific examples and the difference it made.

6. Competent

Do they have the competency to fulfil the position you are offering? Can they do this role today and are they someone you can develop for a wider role in the future?

Do they have the skills and talents you could develop as you look to grow your business? A good leader will look to develop the talents in each member of their team, both for now and the future.

Therefore, it’s important to see if they have the capacity for growth as you grow your business.

As I mentioned earlier, with good leadership talent does not come and go – rather it comes and grows. It’s important never to despise a small acorn when it comes to talents. If you want to grow your company, grow the talents within your team.

7. Chemistry

Can I really work with this person? Can they work with me? Is there a personality clash? Can they work with the team? Are they a good team player? Will they be accountable?

Get this one wrong and it can spoil your entire team. Just because someone is competent does not mean they are a right match for your team! 

There have been times when I have not appointed someone to join my team, not because they lacked the competency –  in fact they could do the role very well – however they were simply not the right match for the others.

The chemistry just did not fit. Team to me is more important than just one person.

You need to be asking tough questions such as: will this person not just work for me, but will they work with me?

Is it all about them or is it about working towards the vision and mission of the company? There is a huge difference between someone just working for you (pay cheque) and someone working with you (loyalty).

Don’t be tempted just to take someone on because of their reputation or record achievements alone; you are interested in the future success of your team and company.

Get this one right and you are doing your best in building a great team. This is so important, please read this part again! I really want you to succeed with this.

So, when recruiting, consider The Seven C’s Strategic Approach for Successful Recruiting. 

You may be a manager, or in HR, or maybe it’s your job to lead the interview process. Ensure you have a solid process and plan ahead to stay ahead when it comes to recruiting.

Your ability to recruit well will determine the success of your team and company. These effective recruitment strategies and practices will save you time and money so that you continue to build a successful and sustainable business.

Some final questions to consider:

  • How will you upgrade your process for successful recruiting?
  • What could the impact be on the company once you make those changes in the next 12 months?
  • What could the impact be on the company in the next 12 months if you did not actively change your recruiting process?

Tony Lynch has authored a white paper, Developing and Growing a Team for Optimal Performance: A Close Up Look at a Team Development Model That has Stood the Test of Timewhich is available to download for free from Keep Thinking Big.

 


Alf RehnAlf RehnJuly 10, 2019
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6min1510

The following article has been written for CXM by bestselling author and Professor of Innovation, Design and Management at the University of Southern Denmark, Alf Rehn

 

We might call this the tragedy of niceness…

So used are we to thinking of business as a cold, hard space, bereft of emotions and ruled by calculated rationality, that even when issues more aligned with caring and compassion are discussed, they are often presented as marginal concerns.

Consider, for instance, the issue of diversity. A plethora of studies has shown that diversity is a key business driver. Organisations which rate high in diversity, particularly when this includes top management, outperform less diverse companies when it comes to things such as performance and profitability, and in particular when it comes to innovation.

A recent study from the Boston Consulting Group showed that companies with more diverse leadership teams reported almost double the innovation revenues than companies with below-average diversity scores. In today’s highly competitive environment, such figures can literally be the difference between life or death for a company.

That said, diversity is still often discussed as a ‘nice to have’ for an organisation, rather than something of critical and strategic importance. I’ve sometimes referred to this as “the aestheticisation of diversity”, by which I mean that diversity is looked to more for its superficial benefits and less for the manner in which it responds to core business requirements. Coupled with the tendency to frame diversity as an ethical and moral issue, this ends up presenting diversity as a fundamentally nice thing – and this is a problem.

Damaging: Alf Rehn highlights ‘the aestheticisation of diversity’ as a problem for firms

As long as issues such as diversity – and we could easily replace this word with e.g. care, compassion, or civility – are presented as issues that make ethical or aesthetic sense, they will fail to become adopted as core logics in an organisation.

This is not only problematic from the perspective of diversity itself, it actively damages companies. We thus need to push far harder for the point that diversity is done for logical reasons, fully in line with the profit motive companies tend to operate under, if only to ensure that these principles are taken seriously.

In my research into innovation, this has played out in the starkest ways possible. Studies have consistently and for a very long time shown that team and company diversity are some of the most critical deciding factors for creativity and innovation success there are. Further, I have myself seen how organisations that embrace cultural values such as respect and compassion do considerably better when it comes to idea generation and development than organisations that are lacking in these dimensions.

Still, whenever talk turns to the way in which diversity and compassion might be developed in an organisations, CEOs and key executives often treat these as marginal issues. Rather than seeing them as strategic engagements, they are shunted off to HR, or given short shrift by at best being discussed as a possible theme for a workshop some times in the future.

This needs to change, as in an increasingly competitive environment, companies simply cannot afford to lose the cognitive surplus that lies in having diverse and compassionate organisations. Whilst it might sound troubling to some, diversity isn’t only nice, nor is compassion just pleasant. Both deliver where it counts, in creativity, in profit margins, in improved customer relationships.

Squandering such riches isn’t just about being a boor, but about being an incompetent executive. So let the aestheticisation of diversity and compassion take second place to what truly matters – the cold, hard reality that diversity and compassion drives results, generates innovations, and makes companies better. That they’re nice is a lovely added bonus.


Sharon WilliamsSharon WilliamsJuly 10, 2019
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7min2281

Recruitment has never been an easy task, regardless of which industry is facing the challenge.

Difficulties in finding the right people, at the right time, with the right skills, is something all organisations encounter. One such industry is contact centres. Outsourced contact centres are extremely people-focused, meaning that it’s imperative to get the recruitment process right from the offset and meet the challenges faced head-on.

In a contact centre environment, there is a need for recruiters to not only meet seasonal demand, but to be able to find the right person for each position, focusing on retaining employees that are skilled, motivated and committed to the role. A successful contact centre will find, train and retain staff that can meet customer expectations and work to make sure teams have the right attributes to properly represent the organisation they work for.

However, there are numerous outsourced contact centres getting recruitment right, and by following a few simple steps, recruiters can build a successful recruitment strategy that gets it right every time.

Staff on demand

Numerous industries are known to face issues with peaks and troughs of demand, but one that certainly suffers the most is retail. With huge seasonal spikes throughout the year – Black FridayChristmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter – this industry understands what it’s like to see a huge rush of customers that can vanish as quickly as they appear.

Seasonal spikes: Retail knows all-too well the pressures of fluctuating demand

To cope with these hectic periods, it’s essential for organisations to be confident that the recruitment channels being used will reach the right people, quickly and effectively. Advertising locally on buses and billboards, for example, can be more targeted and help to enhance brand recognition for an organisation looking to seek local Customer Service Advisors, as an addition to online.

Additionally, contact centre organisations need to prepare for these peaks by working closely with their customers to understand when the demand might rise and fall, and what levels of staff will be needed accordingly. By reflecting on busy periods of the past, recruitment teams can work in harmony with marketing teams to figure out what works, what could change and then put a plan in place for the next peak time.

Talking the talk

Contact centres have undoubtedly evolved. Just look at the name; what was once referred to as a call centre has grown to become much more. The omnichannel world that consumers now live in means they expect to receive the same customer experience, regardless of which channel they use – whether it’s social media, a phone call, email, online chat, or through instant messaging. They expect answers instantly, and they want their queries answered or issues resolved in as few steps as possible.

Digital demand: Customers need queries answered – quickly – across all channels

Because of this, the skill sets required of Customer Service Advisors has also changed. Advisors now need to be proficient in communicating across a variety of channels, utilising strong written and verbal communication skills to make the experience as seamless as possible for the customer. This eclectic way of working means that Advisors need to be flexible, adaptable, and able to multi-task, providing the same, exceptional experience with each customer interaction. A coherent selection process will ensure that recruitment teams are finding the right people for the job.

Capturing brand personality

When it comes to the selection process, this not only needs to be tailored for each job role, but also for each brand – this is the very nature of an outsourced contact centre. Each organisation that is represented by the contact centre will require something different, and this shouldn’t just come through when the Customer Service Advisors are answering queries; it should start at the beginning of the recruitment journey.

CV savvy: Recruitment strategies should must help brands find the best people

Recruitment teams should actively work with the client to build the job description, which should then underpin the selection process. Recruitment strategies should also be tailored for each brand to find the most suitable people; who are the organisation’s target market? How do they communicate? Can brand advocates be chosen to ensure the Customer Service Advisor has a genuine interest in the brand? This ensures the brand’s personality can be captured in each customer interaction, through style, tone of voice and language used.

The recruitment journey

Developing a CX strategy starts with recruitment. With the end customer in mind, a recruitment strategy can be developed that ensures the right team is sourced and trained in line with the organisation’s requirements. Recruitment doesn’t have to be a challenge; a clear understanding of the organisation’s values from the outset is a simple way to get the journey heading in the right direction and, coupled with the right approach to customer service, means that contact centres can commit to delivering an exceptional CX, every time.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 10, 2019
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4min1072

New research has shone a light on a potential recruitment crisis which could lead to “failure” for firms.

A study published by recruitment-tech firm, Worksome found that up to a third of new employees are not passing their six-month probationary reviews, while only eight percent of businesses feel new hires have all the skills needed for the job, costing companies thousands of pounds and creating long-lasting negative effects.

The research found that, on average, businesses spend nearly £6459 a year on recruitment and hiring. If a candidate doesn’t work out, not only are these fees lost, but the salary for the probationary period is also wasted. With the average advertised UK salary being £35k, this equates to potentially £17k lost over a six month probation period.

In total, that means that one in every three new hires could be wasting £23k for a business.

The research also revealed that over a quarter of businesses prioritise cost over quality when it comes to recruitment, but 21 percent say they later come to regret that decision. Meanwhile, 32 percent of business owners say recruiters are too pushy, and rush them to make a decision.

Hiring hindrance: Only six percent of business believe that recruiters have access to the best talent.

According to Mathias Linnemann, co-founder of Worksome, there are many reasons why a business may turn to a recruitment consultant.

“The prospect of saving time can be a major lure especially in a world where it’s essential to fill positions quickly, and promise to deliver a quality of candidate that businesses are otherwise unable to access,” he said.

“For business leaders lacking confidence in recruitment, the promise of quickly supplied talent is enough to make the recruiter’s commission fees seem worth it.

“However, our research demonstrates that the traditional recruiter method of securing talent is simply no longer working. Businesses are clearly feeling that there is lack of knowledge in their business which – in a fast moving world where getting the right skills, at the right times – could be the difference between success and failure.”

Sharing his thoughts on how employers and recruiters can ensure that they don’t fall foul of the failings in the recruitment process, he added: “With a third of candidates not making it past their six-month probationary period, we can see that something is broken in the recruitment and hiring process.

“While our research suggests pain-points relating to the use of recruitment consultants, there is no one single factor to blame. For many businesses, recruitment consultants offer a vital service and so shouldn’t be dismissed, or all tarred with the same brush. If hiring managers can feel more confident about candidates and recruits before they walk through the door, they can take back a level of control and feel more empowered to make the right decisions.”


Paul AddyPaul AddyFebruary 18, 2019
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5min1039

We all hear CEOs, MDs, and leaders of companies saying that employees are their greatest asset.

Therefore, it makes sense to commit considerable resources into recruitment, training, and development. So, what exactly is the secret to attracting the right people and holding onto them?

Remuneration is an influencing factor, but people are growing increasingly more concerned about the overall benefits package.

Offering an imaginative benefits package, such as wellbeing programmes, will help improve the attractiveness of your organisation. These could include a gym, cyber cafe, incentive schemes (financial and non-financial), flexible benefit schemes, and flexible working schemes.

Getting these benefits out in the market is really important and using your company website is the best opportunity to do this. Make sure you utilise this external mechanism to sell the benefits of working for your company. Showcase to prospective employees the great culture you have. Consider setting up a careers microsite giving you the opportunity to create more positive content.

If you believe in your organisation and the culture, then use your current team to attract new employees by offering a recommend a friend scheme.

For most roles in an organisation you can look to recruit for attitude over skills. I am a real believer that if your employees have the right attitude then you can develop them to be great in their roles. It’s much easier to train skill rather than will.

What is really important is the period between the role being offered and the candidate starting with your organisation. Create an engagement process that makes the new employee feel special. Communicate with them regularly and reconfirm that the decision you and they have made is the right one.

If you are hiring based on attitude, then the key to the success of the new employee is the induction process. Ensure that it is thorough and provides them with the knowledge and skills they need to be competent in the role they have been recruited for.

Once you have recruited the right people, you’ll want to keep them. If you foster a great team culture and keep employees well-informed, involved, engaged, and recognised, then they will perform better, stay longer, and progress further. Develop initiatives that communicate your culture and how you engage with your team.

Regular reviews of performance is an important aspect of retaining team members. It is a way of ensuring that employees and their line managers meet regularly, that recognition is given, and development is discussed. If it is robust and is consistently applied, then your employees will feel that there is a culture of fairness across the business.

Ongoing development is important to people, particularly those that want to progress in the organisation, so ensure you have process for identifying these people.

Making your business a place where people want to work will attract a better calibre of candidate. Looking after your employees will not only improve retention but will also increase productivity; it’s better for them and better for you. 




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