THAT’S A BAD WORD!

Thrive Consulting

OUTSOURCING!  Ow!  Considered by many to be a BAD word.  Bring up outsourcing to just about anyone and you’ll get an earful about how horrible it is that businesses outsource work—to other people, other cities, other states, other counties.  They’ll talk about how work should be kept “in house” and local and how outsourced work is sub-par.  If you’ve ever called a help number and ended up on the phone with someone that has English as a second language you absolutely know what I mean.  It’s not fun.

But here’s the thing.  You can just as easily call a local help line and have a bad experience even when the person on the phone speaks perfect English and is sitting two floors down from the CEO.  You can receive a sub-par product that was made at a locally owned manufacturing facility. It’s not the concept of outsourcing that’s the real problem.  It’s the execution and quality control. 

Ineffective outsourcing can go wrong any number of ways including poor selection of resources, unclear and undefined expectations, and poor training. Yet these issues also exist within businesses that don’t outsource at all.  You just blame the issues on something else.  So let’s stop looking at outsourcing as negative and consider the value it brings to businesses, employees, and consumers.

When done correctly, outsourcing is an effective operational strategy.  Outsourcing can save money and jobs when it’s done at the right time, for the right reasons, and the right way.  For large businesses that rely heavily on call centers and help lines, properly executed outsourcing is a way to provide a high level of around the clock customer service at a considerable cost savings.  For businesses that provide a product, outsourcing to a large manufacturing facility that specializes in the product and has access to an adequate labor pool can significantly decrease cost, improve quality, and increase speed-to-market.

Outsourcing can be critical for small and medium sized businesses.  These businesses may not have the financial resources to fill all of the operational, human resource, and financial roles required to operate successfully.  Without expertise in these key areas businesses can end up with issues that negatively impact revenue and growth such as high overhead, staff turnover, poor management, unhappy customers, and resource draining processes.  Being able to outsource rather than hire full time staff can be the difference between keeping the doors open or closing the business.  

Outsourcing can free up time allowing businesses to focus on higher level activities that drive growth, profitability, and innovation.   It makes a great deal of sense to outsource tasks that can be successfully handled by others as part of their core business. 

Ultimately, outsourcing to a strong partner can supplement internal efforts and improve results in essentially every key area bringing a higher level of success to businesses of any size.  And isn’t that the goal?

“If you deprive yourself of outsourcing and your competitors do not, you're putting yourself out of business.” Lee Kuan Yew

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HANG ON! HELP IS ON THE WAY.

Thrive Consulting

It’s said repeatedly, in many different ways, over the course of a day.

May I help you?  How can I help?  What can I do for you?  Is there something you need help with?  What can I do to help?  What do you need from me?  I’ll help you.  I can take care of that.  Let me help.  

Be careful with how, when, and why you offer help.  You may be saying “if you need an extra set of hands, I can assist.  Which is totally appropriate…except for when it’s not.  Often what you’re saying is, “I don’t think you can handle this so I better jump in and help you”.  

Many people are, by nature, service oriented.  The desire to serve is in their heart.  Their purpose in life is to help others.  It’s because of these givers that non-profit organizations exist.   When someone is in need, people with a heart of service are there.  Bless these people.  The world needs them.  And really, the world could use more of them.  It’s a noble calling…

…except for when it’s not.

There’s a fine line between helping and disabling.  Helping in the right way serves a true need.  Helping in the wrong way can be weakening.  Helping in the wrong way or at the wrong time sends the message that “you can’t be trusted to do this yourself” or “you’re not capable”.  It hinders empowerment and accountability.  Instead of building strength and ownership it creates dependency and builds helplessness.

The need to help or serve, when applied appropriately, is a necessary and cherished element of humanity.   That need becomes a selfish endeavor when it negatively impacts growth, independence, or the development of strength and resiliency in those you’re helping.  From there, it’s a downward spiral to co-dependency leading to guilt, stress, over-commitment, and the victimization of self.   Instead of feeling fulfilled, you feel exhausted and empty.

Whether you’re dealing with direct reports, co-workers, children, family, or friends the practice is the same.  

So the next time you think someone needs help, be open to lending a hand--but in the right way, at the right time, and in the right proportions.  Otherwise it’s not help at all, is it?

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WORDS OF WISDOM FROM CRASH DAVIS

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“Your shower shoes have fungus on 'em. You'll never get to the Bigs with fungus on your shower shoes.  Think classy and you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the Show you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press'll think you're colorful.  Until you win twenty in the Show, however, it means you're a slob.”

This is one of my favorite quotes from the movie Bull Durham.  When I was a leader, I used this quote when I had to give the “summer dress code” reminder speech, year after year.  In this situation the quote really hit home.  I find that when you need to clearly get a point across, refer to pop-culture—and make it funny.

This quote worked because it painted a picture for a team trying to understand why their funky, unusual, too casual, or skin bearing outfits (including flip-flops) were not right for the workplace.  It helped them see that their clothes were working against them and would ultimately hold them back in their career because of how they were perceived.  And how people perceive you has a definite impact on success, not just professionally but personally.

So, unless you’re the Steve Jobs or Sheryl Sandburg of your workplace and you’ve already made your mark, stick to looking polished and appropriate.  

The following guidelines don’t apply to everyone of course, but the vast majority will benefit from taking note.  If you work outside, build things, or get dirty, you have your own dress code and these aren’t meant for you.

What you wear and how you groom yourself sends a silent, yet loud and very clear message.  So, go ahead and look at yourself—take a good look.  What message are you sending? What message do you want to be sending?  If you aren’t getting the respect, recognition, promotion, raise, job, or relationship you know you deserve, it might be time for an image overhaul.  

If, one day in the future you’ve anchored yourself at the top of the ladder in life and work, then and only then, are you allowed to let “fungus grow on your shower shoes”.

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STOP PUSHING ME!

Thrive Consulting

Pushing people to do things you want them to do is one way to get things done.  This situation sometimes manifests in interactions between children and parents.  It also occurs all too frequently in the workplace between managers and direct reports.  In the worst cases managers dictate and use fear tactics with their staff.  They use the word “mandatory” a lot.  In their mind this is the best way to “get things done around here”.  Yes, work might get done, but it doesn’t get done well.  The manager is constantly fighting an uphill battle.

In the workplace, the staff, for the most part, does what their told—after all, they’re getting paid so they have to.   The manager stands over them—MICROMANAGING.  Ugh!  If the staff doesn’t comply and “obey” they fear reprimand or worse, termination.  The manager thinks his method is working.  He sees people moving.  Stuff is getting done.  The manager thinks “I’m doing a great job, look how busy everyone is”.  But as soon as the manger steps away, what happens?  Work slows, complaining starts, and productivity takes a nose-dive.

WHY???

Because really, you can’t make people do anything they don’t want to do.  They might look like they’re doing what you asked, but be warned.  They are simply going through the motions doing the least amount of work possible without regard to quality.  People do not and cannot, do good work if they aren’t invested and inspired.   They need a hefty amount of empowerment and engagement to actually “own” the job.  Pushing, forcing and dictating are not effective long term strategies and certainly not strategies for high performance.

“But if I don’t push them, they won’t do it!” 

Good argument but it’s way off base.  The most effective, influential and trusted managers are the ones that understand pushing or forcing people doesn’t work.  Instead they engage with their staff in a way that brings about not only compliance but cooperation and buy-in.  When a state of buy-in is reached, performance soars and results are positively impacted long-term.

HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?

To reach the desired state of buy-in, a manager has taken steps to earn the trust of the team.  The staff has been treated in a way that tells them they are valued both personally and professionally.  The behavior of the manager tells the staff that they matter as much as the company and customers.  The manager engages and inspires the staff through rewards, recognition, development, and mentoring…and through “having their back” when things go wrong.  If managers can do this, they will no longer need to PUSH in order to get work done.  Instead the staff will WANT to perform at a high level.  Productivity, efficiency, and results increase dramatically.  When managers reach this desired state, success will follow!

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." Dwight D. Eisenhower

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FIND A GREAT JOB, THE “EASY” WAY

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The importance of the right job cannot be underestimated.  Most people spend 8 to 10 hours a day at work.  Co-workers become like family.  In the best case scenarios your job is motivating and provides a sense of accomplishment.  Development and growth opportunities are abundant.  Salary is in line with work performed.  You have a boss who not only respects you, but likes you.  

HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE???

Unfortunately, many jobs don’t quite measure up and some jobs are real nightmares.  So why are you willing to settle for less than you deserve?  Why do you stay in jobs that make you unhappy?  And, if you decide to make a move, why are you unwilling to invest the time, effort and money required to help you successfully reach your career destination?  What makes you choose the easiest and cheapest methods to get you there instead of investing in yourselve?  Maybe you don’t realize that there is NO EASY WAY to success.   

I very often hear:
“I’m having a friend take a look at my resume for me.”
“I’ll just get my info off the internet.”
“I downloaded a resume and cover letter template and I can just fill them in.”
“My sister did a practice interview with me”.

REALLY?  Are these “free” resources worthy of your job search?

Complex and unknown obstacles are faced by job seekers every day.  Unless you’re a recruiter or experienced career consultant it would be nearly impossible to have a thorough understanding of how to successfully navigate the process.  Can you really properly develop a compelling resume and cover letter that differentiates you from the rest of the applicants?  Are you aware of how to get past the black hole of Application Tracking Software? Did you know that a complete LinkedIn profile is critical to job search success?  Do you know that the interview is not about you?

So many obstacles to overcome yet job seekers look for free, cheap and convenient options.  From my experience, in most cases, these options do not work well and they prolong the job search.  By the time a job seeker comes to me for help, they are highly frustrated and have spent months of their time going nowhere.   And they can’t figure out why.

“Do it yourself” might be faster and easier but is it really?  Are “free” resources really free when it takes months or years to find another job?  Cheap can always be found but you get what you pay for.  

Friends and relatives might have good intentions and want to help but they don’t know any more than you do about how to land a great job.  The close relationship prevents them from providing an unbiased opinion.  Your mother, best friend, or co-worker will never tell you that your resume needs help and you should get it done by a professional.   They won’t tell you that your interview skills need to be more polished and professional.  Those things are just too hard to say to someone you love, like or work with.  It’s a no-win situation for both of you.  

You will get the highest and fastest return on investment by using a professional who will position you in the best light and set you up for success!

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.  It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of those around you.”  Robin S Sharma

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IT’S A TRAP!!

Thrive Consulting

Mission statements, vision statements, strategies.  Regardless of what you call them they indicate the direction, focus, and purpose of a business or company.  The size of the business doesn’t matter.   Big or small, to be successful a business must know where it’s going and why, and the best way to get there.

It’s safe to say that, with the exception of non-profits, making money is a primary focus for business owners and company leaders.  Without a strong and steady revenue stream businesses can’t survive for very long. Business owners and company leaders go about creating strategies, setting goals, measuring productivity and developing operational processes—all for the purpose of ensuring profitability--first and foremost.

This might sound like a good strategy but don’t be fooled--it’s really a trap.

Businesses often prioritize like this:

  1. Company focus (profitability)
  2. Customer focus (products and services)
  3. Employee focus (hiring, salary, benefits and development)

This strategy is a recipe for failure on all levels.

Let’s say you’re planting a garden.  The desired end-result is to get enough vegetables to freeze for the winter.   You start your garden with a good foundation--finding the right patch of land with good soil and the right amount of sunlight.    You till and weed preparing the land so that when you plant the ground is ready and receptive.  Then you choose the “what”-- seeds for vegetables that you like and grow well in the climate where you live.  Over the next few months you take action—the “how”.  You water your garden, weed it, and fertilize it regularly.  After that, the rest takes care of itself.  Your vegetables thrive just as you’d hoped.  

So think about it.  The vegetable harvest was the end-result…but it’s not where you started.   If you had focused mainly on choosing the right seeds, watering, and fertilizing but failed to find a spot with good soil and adequate sunlight and didn’t prepare the ground your foundation would not support your efforts and your garden would not flourish.

You have to look at business in a similar way and prioritize accordingly.

  1. Employee Focus (hiring, salary, benefits, development)—The Foundation
  2. Customer Focus (products and services)—The What and How
  3. Company Focus (Profitability)—The End Result

Why do it this way?  Because the happiness, satisfaction, and loyalty of your customers WILL NEVER BE HIGHER than the happiness satisfaction, and loyalty of your employees.  I can hear the comments already.  Employees don’t make the company money.  No, technically they don’t.  But it’s through the employees that a company makes money and through employees that companies lose money when they don’t feel valued and appreciated.

If employees are unhappy and feeling undervalued, turnover will be high, product and service quality will suffer and customers will be lost. Companies spend billions each year due to high turnover, product and service issues, and new customer acquisition costs—all of these negatively impacts profitability.  

It’s to the benefit of the bottom line to make employees priority number one.  And if you don’t believe me, check out the book Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Zappos highly successful and respected CEO, Tony Hsieh.  Tony believes that Zappos's number one priority is company culture and his belief is that once you get the culture right, everything else - great customer service, long-term branding - will happen on its own.    Here’s to a company that’s doing it right!!

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WOW, THAT’S A TOUGH ONE

Thrive Consulting

You’re out there applying for jobs.  You’ve done your homework so you know you’re resume is in good shape.  It highlights your achievements, it’s concise, key-word rich, and follows the correct formatting to make it past Application Tracking Software.  It’s just a matter of time before you get called for an interview.

Then suddenly the phone rings.  You got the interview!  You’ve overcome a big hurdle in the job search process.  Out of the hundreds of resumes submitted for each job, YOU were selected to move forward in the process.  You pat yourself on the back and let out a sigh of relief…for a brief second.  Then you go into panic mode--because now you’re actually thinking about how to have a successful interview.

You’re head starts spinning.  How should I prepare?  How do I know what they’ll ask me?   How should I answer?

The answer is--there is not one right answer.  There are plenty of wrong answers to be sure, but there are a variety of right answers as well.  The question you should be asking yourself as you prepare is “why”.  Why are they asking me this question?  If you can figure that out, you’ll be way ahead of the pack.

When recruiters and hiring managers ask questions, here is what they are looking for:
They want to know if you’re a good fit for the company culture and team.
They want to know that you are knowledgeable about the company and how you can help them.
They want to know that you’re self-aware and able to compensate for your weaknesses.
They want to know how you solve problems, prioritize and manage time.
They want to know how you collaborate and get along with others.
They want to know that you’re open to different ideas.
They want to know what makes you different than the other applicants.
They want to know how effectively you communicate.
They want to know how you handle adversity and difficulties.
They want to know why you want to work for them—that they have what you’re looking for in a job.

For Example
Q: “What was the best thing about your last job?”
A: “You had a 37 hour workweek in the summer and loved being able to get off early on Fridays.”
Problem:  What if the company you’re interviewing with doesn’t offer a 37 hour workweek?  You’ve just told them you’re not a good fit.  Be sure to answer the question by stating something you liked about your last job that you KNOW they offer.

Q: “Tell me about a time when someone on your team didn’t want to follow the established process.”
A:  “I explained to them that it was important to follow the process that had been established as to not create issues.”
Problem:  What if the person that didn’t want to follow the process had a really good idea?  It’s best to find a situation where you were open to different ideas that had potential.  Whether the new idea was adapted or not doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that you’re receptive and understand that the world is constantly changing and business must change along with it.

Q: “Tell me about a time when something you were working on didn’t succeed.”
A: “I tried to launch a new process but it didn’t work because the software we had would not support it.”
Problem: No one cares exactly what the project was and you’re not being judged on the fact that it didn’t succeed.  What they’re looking for is did you research what you were doing and make smart decisions up front—not just jump into something without thinking.  And more importantly, how did you handle the failure—did you own it or blame someone else--and what did you learn so that the same mistake won’t be repeated.

When you’re practicing interview questions (and you should practice!), be sure that your answers address one or more of the points above.  Focus not so much on which answer comes to mind most easily or which one you think makes you look like a rock-star. Your goal is to clearly communicate that you think, collaborate, remain open to others, and learn along the way. 

Remember that the interview is really not about you.  That’s right, it’s not about you.  It’s about them—their company, their team, their NEEDS.  Be sure your answers reflect that.

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HOW BAD TO YOU WANT IT?

Thrive Consulting

In my line of work, I sometimes hear, “I can’t really spend the money”.

Interesting. 

You’re trying to find a job to EARN money and beyond that you want a job that gives you some personal satisfaction, allows you to grow, accommodates your work/life balance needs, and more. That’s a tall order.

But you can’t spend the money to have someone help you? Maybe you don’t want it bad enough?

There’s no doubt that the entire job search process is hard and complicated today. As with most things in life, anything worth having is worth investing in and working toward. The ideal job is not going to fall into your lap. 

Iit’s a proverbial jungle out there!

  • BEWARE–Application Tracking Software is your worst nightmare, chewing up your resume before anyone ever sees it.
  • One page or two? Keywords!!! Objectives???
  • What do you mean I need to quantify my experience? No one cares WHAT you did. They want to know HOW YOU WELL you did it. That means numbers, measures, percentages…
  • Reduced staff in HR departments means hiring managers and recruiters are understaffed and have little time to really assess your qualifications. Are you getting your message across is six seconds? 
  • Did you know that LinkedIn is as an extension of your resume? Did you know that 93% of recruiters use LinkedIn when evaluating a candidate?
  • Behavioral interview questions and the “tell me about yourself?” question, quite frankly, stumps many.

Looking for the right job IS a full-time job–a job you may not want to take on by yourself. Arm yourself with as much qualified help as you can get. Because in the end finding the right job is…..well…..priceless.

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