Archive for the ‘LEAN Methods’ Category

That this time, the job market is different.  Normal job search methods are not working well, yet nobody seems to be offering new ideas that might respond to the modern marketplaces.  In our session at New York SHRM, we emerged with some clever new ideas…

If you want a list of the problems, read my original post here.  While they are targeted to some specifics in the HR profession, they fit anywhere.

Let’s apply some fresh ideas.  I have made the following recommendation to several people – and most of them just edge away from me with a scared look in their eyes.  Whatever.  As Ashleigh Brilliant, the English cartoonist said – “Good ideas are common – what is uncommon are people willing to work hard enough to bring them about.”

First, use LinkedIn in a proper way – research and introductions.  Simply put, posting a resume and sending a vague posting does not work.  Ever.  If you know of an organization of interest, use the search and research functions in LinkedIn to find people inside the firm, then use the power of LinkedIn to see which of your friends in your network knows someone inside the firm.  Ask them for an introduction, and you are knocking at the door with a warm call, not a cold call.  Warm is better.

Second, and this is the big one  –  use benchmarking and research instead of what people call networking.  What most people are currently doing is just plain wrong.  You ask for a brief meeting to get advice on the market and job opportunities, promising to only need 20 minutes.  When you show up, it is a show all about you.  You review your background, then bug them for job leads, then ask if you can bug their friends.  What benefit is in this for the person who is opening up their calendar and rolodex?  A warm feeling from being altruistic, perhaps.  You will probably not be welcome for a second meeting, as there was nothing in it for them.

Let’s agree that people in leadership roles are under time pressure, and they are feeling out of touch with the world because of business pressures.  They have a hunger for current information from the front lines of business.  Use this in your job search.  Offer them fresh information.  Offer something they value, and do it in a meeting that is worth their time.

How? First, select a hot topic of interest to you and to the type of person you are approaching.  Something current.   If the audience is COO, make it operational.  If CFO, make it financial.  If CEO, make it an issue focused on strategic advantage.  If HR, look at workforce planning or performance management.  Want ideas?  Read CFO Magazine, or Fortune, or Forbes, or The Economist.   Then, select 20 or so organizations that are of interest to you as possible employers.  Do a direct approach to the leadership team of those organizations, offering them the chance to participate in a benchmarking of this topic, and all who participate will get to share in the results.

If the goal of networking is to build high quality business relationships in a non-threatening environment, this will give you just that.  You have to be a good communicator, interviewing them about how their organization handles your topic.  You will then write a white paper from all of the information gathered from all of the organizations, and share it with your participants.  This will elevate you in their minds as an expert in your field, will give them fresh, local insight on a current topic.  Best of all, they now know you and they will help you on your next steps, or perhaps they may need you in their organization to fix a problem or two…

For extra credit, have your white paper published in the business press to elevate your brand or status in the community. 

In all of this, you, the job seeker, are acting as a high quality consultant and professional, not a time-wasting job seeker.  Best of all, you are making the job search process more of a “LEAN” process, and advancing your own knowledge as you do it.  A win-win-win.

Best of luck as you implement this.  Don’t hesitate to ask for my guidance on making it work.  Happy to help.

Happy new decade!


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The migration begins.  Get ready to pick up some talent.

High performing employees have been hunkered down since last October (October 8th, 2008 to be exact.  4:00 pm EST to be even more exact.  That is when Lehman Brothers declared bankrupcy)

I offer as proof the current “leading edge” job listings at Amazon HQ for top talent in recruiting.  If you work in Lean, you watch Toyota.  If you work in staffing, you watch Amazon and Google.

To quote Amazon themselves – “We currently have the following positions open in our Seattle Corporate offices:

• Manager, Talent Acquisition (Digital/Kindle team)
• Recruiting Manager, University Programs
• Sr. Recruiter – University Recruiting
• Sr. Recruiter – Human Resources
• MBA Recruiter
• Technical Sourcing Recruiter, Seller Services
• Sales Sourcing Recruiter, Seller Services
• Sourcing Recruiter – Digital
• Recruiting Coordinator – Digital
• Compliance Leader, OFCCP

You can review any of the positions at: www.amazon.com/careers”

This is big. I interpret that this significant recruiting hire is the first sign of spring – that Amazon wants their team in place to harvest the best of the flood of high performers that will be coming out of the woodwork in the Spring.

As I’m writing my book about the coming talent shortage (and what to do about it) I am pleased to see the first signs of the thaw.

I have my opinions – what other signs do you see?

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One of the key precepts of all this LEAN stuff is that eliminating waste and wasted activity can open doors to creativity.  Here is a great example.

I’m not musical.  Love music, but I can’t play it.

Then I found an amazing, simple program…Click here.

Try it - this is ToneMatrix, a great example of simple creativity

Try it - this is ToneMatrix, a great example of simple creativity

It’s called ToneMatrix.  Just click on the link above the image, click on a couple of boxes and you’ll figure it out.

What does this have to do with LEAN theory?  Plenty.  It’s a great example of simplicity offering a canvas for new artistry.  remember this as you try to make your organization simpler and better…

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So, HR has been accused of not taking risks.  We’re being told that risk taking – good risk taking –  is an important part of our economic recovery.

Why should we?  For decades, HR has been browbeaten into risk avoidance, not risk taking.  The hiring of HR people has included people with administration backgrounds and legal backgrounds.  In general, neither administrators or lawyers have entrepreneurial leanings.  Neither of these types pushes the envelope and tries new things.  Risk taking is not in the “comfort zone”

What to do?  If we agree that good risk taking behaviors are needed in the HR community, we need to make a few basic changes.

First, we need to make Risk Management a more prominent part of the “body of knowledge” in the Human Resource Certification Institute’s certification process. Teach it, and require it as a part of PHR or SPHR certification.  When I took my SPHR exam, I don’t recall answering any risk questions.  To be fair, I was in enough of a test panic mode that I doubt I could recall any question in the SPHR exam beyond what year the Taft-HartleyAct was passed.  1947, I think.

Second, we need to practice good risk behaviors in our personal lives. This is a life skill, and taking good and prudent risks is not well tought in our society.  Just as negotiation is not a part of the North American culture, the basic midwestern risk profile is to not do it until at least three other people have tried it, whatever it is.  I know people with rotary dial phones in their house – this touch tone thing is just a fad, perhaps…

Finally, we need CEOs and CFOs that recognize and reward good risk taking. Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated.  We have been talking about performance management and performance reviews.  I’ll bet money that none of your review forms have a discussion of good risk behaviors that are a part of the feedback loop, unless the job title has “Actuary” in it somewhere…

Until we’re rewarded and not punished for it, I don’t think it will happen.

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You don’t have to be high tech to “get it.”

Thinking about Hank’s comment to my last post as I drove by a car wash a minute ago.  The staff was out front in neckties and white shirts, waving in a line of cars and selling the service of a clean car.   Me?  I’m cheap and I use a discount gas station.  It’s $3 cheaper.

The local car wash chain ran an interesting series of advertisements a while ago.  They weren’t selling their service directly.  They spent their advertising dollars to have their hourly staff talk about the high quality of their bosses and how much they enjoyed the opportunity for personal development and what motivates them on the job.  They talked about how tough it was to get a job there and what they thought of having to wear a necktie.  They were clearly proud of it all.

And, they clearly think we have more intelligence than the average terrier or sheepdog or whatever breed it was that I recently saw in a parked car.

Seen on the street near my house...

Seen on the street near my house...

They never talked about washing cars or coming to Mike’s Car Wash.

My takeaway was that they are clearly a group of high performers at the bottom of the corporate food chain, and that I get more than $3 of additional service at their place. Also, I am impressed that the leadership team is proud enough of their culture to spend advertising $$$ to sell HR, not coupons.

To me, it is proof that good performance management and communication and high standards for hiring all pay off.  I’m going back there this afternoon for a wash…and I’m expecting a good experience.

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I’m going through the presentations at SHRM National, looking for clues and trends on Performance Management and how social media might be used.  I’ll check back with updates.  Has anyone seen any data or heard of anyone doing this?  I think it’s a very interesting concept…

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Coming off as a kind of cranky, rumpled professor, John Kotter presented a general session that looked at economics and our nation’s sense of urgency.  Acutally, he is a cranky, rumpled professor at Harvard Business School.  Details to follow – but the big deal to me was that he didn’t use Powerpoint – he was using overhead projector technology and I found it very refreshing.

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