Posted tagged ‘Interviewing’

Hiring Leadership

June 13, 2010

When you think about it, the amount of time devoted to the hiring process is pretty insignificant. This is ironic given that it is one of the most critical decisions made at any company.  Perhaps, there are a few hours, or at best, a few days devoted to screening, interviewing and reference checking.

The process really cries out for a method – some way of determining whether the individual was appropriate for the position and for the culture. Such an opportunity presented itself in recent weeks and it afforded me the opportunity to create such an approach.

I have always found that having multiple people interview a candidate is extremely important. Everyone has “blindspots,” areas that are not important to them or areas that they are willing to gloss over. Multiple interviewers tend to mitigate this problem and force dialogue during the assessment process.

A COO recently invited me to participate in the selection of a new leader for one of his operating companies. In order to gain as close to a full perspective of the candidates, it was agreed that his focus would include prior industry work experience. The dimension that I hoped to contribute was an assessment of managerial style and knowledge in what was important in running a company

To prepare for my role in the interview, I organized this plan.

  1. Pre-work
  2. Deciding what to evaluate
  3. Building a way for capturing the information
  4. Designing the interview questions
  5. Preparing the introduction so that the interviewee can be engaged and comfortable
  6. Providing the assessment

The pre-work stage was devoted to understanding what the company provides, the culture of the company, the background of the candidates and what the heart of the assignment was.

Understanding the “heart of the assignment,” is perhaps the most critical element in this stage. Every leadership style has its place. A young team may need a patient mentor. A seasoned team may need an expert guide. An undisciplined team might do best with a firm leader dedicated to creating structure. In short, when looking for a leader, the answer to who is the right candidate is often, “it depends…”

In the next post, we’ll continuing reviewing these stages.


Discovering the Benefits that We Provide to Our Customers

September 17, 2008

We believe that as good managers and leaders, you have a good feel for why your customers work with your company. There is a tremendous opportunity when creating a strategic plan to really tighten that perspective.

We naturally have a tendency to ascribe our own personal perspectives as to what a customer really values about a product. Put simply, this is the wrong way to evaluate the benefits of what your company provides.

The customer’s viewpoint is truly all that matters. To discover that perspective, you must do two things.  First, you must talk to your customers. Second, you must listen to them and hear what you don’t already know.

Your customers will tell you what works great about your product or service. They will tell you what your product or service does for them, how it works and what they find valuable about it. Listen to the small things that they are saying. Can you find a pattern? Can you group their answers into something important?

Ask approximately a dozen of your core customers and a few organizations that you would like to be customers, in each customer segment, a series of questions. Asking these questions results in finding out with certainty what is meaningful to them.

We recommend that you ask these four questions.

1)      What are your reasons for working with our company (what do you value about us) or what are your reasons for using our service or product? The answers to this question will tell you why the customer uses your product or service today.

2)      Where do you think your industry is heading? The answers to this question will provide you with the context regarding the issues that your customer will need to manage in the near term.

3)      How will you operate given the direction of the industry that you’ve just described? The answers to this question will tell you how your client needs to work in the future. It will begin to give you insight as to what you will need to provide in the future that will allow you to keep earning their business

4)      What will you expect from our company (or our product or service) in the future (what will make us indispensable to you)? The answers to this question will provide you with what your client sees that you will need to do to keep earning their business.

Undertaking this interview will produce substantial and wide-ranging benefits. You will:

  • Learn how to better express your value to the marketplace
  • Discover short-term opportunities to sell additional goods or services.
  • Be able to add and contribute to your clients’ strategies
  • Very naturally deepen your relationship with your customer as every customer wants to feel special and simply showing interest
  • Gain thee necessary business intelligence to accurately plot a future

The bottom line of this exercise is that you will find short-term and long-term opportunities and your clients will make you much smarter about your own business.

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