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Posts Tagged ‘engagement’

 

Several business people wander through a maze looking for a job

When I published the article “You’re hired!”…and it took me a year, I had no idea that I would be looking for work three years later.  Back then, I had just concluded an intensive search after my position in a stable, global financial institution was abolished, ending a successful career that progressed nicely over 16 years.

When I accepted the offer for a permanent full-time position the following year, it was not quite the dream job I was looking for, but I was convinced, and still am, that I was forging a new path to take me to the next level.  In fact, I deliberately disrupted myself.  It was a newly created job with the mandate to develop and deliver a marketing strategy for products I had never marketed before.

Two years in, there were budget and staff cutbacks.  I sub-consciously knew that the time to move on was fast approaching.   Last summer, my position was eliminated.

Although it’s cold comfort, I realize that I am not alone.  I’ve met many mid- and advanced-career professionals on the job search trail.  I see the struggles to remain positive, diffuse anxiety and stay the course.  My career transition experience has given me some insights on stumbling blocks that can potentially derail a job search and how to avoid them.

  1. Other people’s stories are theirs, not yours

During my networking, I’ve met many people who’ve “been there, done that” and they tell their stories of how they got through it.  The Winners, who took only 2 to 4 months to land on their feet; the Whiners who give very detailed explanations as to why they won’t ever get hired (age…, conspiring former bosses and colleagues…, no one hires in summer… etc.) and the Copped-Out & Lucked-Out who boast about the luxury of being able to retire early so they avoid looking for a job.

Then there are those who haven’t “been there.” They have never lost their jobs.  They are really Secretly Scared that this could happen to them, while they hint that they pity you and don’t envy you.  There are also the Helpers and Hinters who in an awkward effort to provide good advice, actually end up saying exactly what you don’t need to hear (“You’re doing something wrong, otherwise it wouldn’t take so long…”) or they send you job postings that are no match for your skills and experience.

It’s so easy to buy-in to other people’s stories.  Comparing your experience with other people’s stories is a waste of time and energy.  The truth is you need to own your story.

Instead of trying to explain your story, make a commitment to yourself to be clear on what’s best for you.  Only you can make sense of your life’s journey.  Only you really know the things that motivate you and ultimately matter to you.  Very few people will understand your story.  Most people are trying to figure out their own story and others don’t have the time or are not really interested in listening to yours.

The temptation to set low expectations and settle for less becomes real when you compare yourself with other people. It takes courage to say “no” to seemingly good opportunities in order to say “yes” to the very best.  You are not a loser if you haven’t found a job within a given timeframe or if you made it to the final interview but didn’t get the job.

Even if you don’t have the financial independence to prolong your search, if you accept a position out of necessity, remind yourself that you can work while continuing to search for your dream job.

  1. The corporate ladder is an obsolete metaphor

Job seekers, who have progressed over many years in one company, tend to be overly concerned with titles, organizational structures and status.  In most progressive organizations today, dotted lines, flat organizational structures and collaborative team environments are the norm.

I agree that people should look for challenging work that fits their experience and expertise.  But looking for a job with a title that fits into the next step on the corporate ladder can prevent you from finding enriching opportunities for meaningful work that expand your talents and capabilities.

The truth is that we are living in a new corporate world order where the corporate ladder is fast becoming an obsolete metaphor.

Sheryl Sandberg in her book Lean In, encourages professionals to forget the corporate ladder and consider careers in terms of a jungle gym. You can venture down different paths and explore numerous possibilities on the way to achieving your goals, just like trying to climb to the top of a jungle gym.  It took me quite some time to get this during my career transition four years ago.  I am glad I did, as I ended up finding an interesting opportunity which has broadened my experience not only professionally, but in my volunteer work and social life.

  1. Being stuck really sucks!

Following on my two earlier points, getting stuck can happen very easily if you can’t define what you want or if your definition of what you want doesn’t fit in the new corporate world order or with your values.

I’ve come across a few people who are stuck within a destructive ‘my way or the highway’ mindset, hanging on to what was and what will never be, taking job loss personally and feeling victimized.  When corporate priorities change, it so happens that some jobs are no longer needed. That’s why no one should take a layoff personally.

I know that it can be a drag to be out of work and pounding the pavement can be tough.  But here’s the upside:  going through a career transition can be the best opportunity to reorient a career.  On reflection, many people thank their lucky stars that they had the chance to move on, rather than stay stuck in a career that was no longer meaningful.

Most successful careers rarely ever follow a smooth, upward north-eastern trajectory.  Compromises and disruptions do occur along the way.  The truth is that compromises can be beneficial.

Speaking from my own experience, the job with a lower salary with less formal influence may just be what you need to gain more relevant experience in a changing world, while applying your past experience in a way that is beneficial to the organization and to your career in the long run.

 

Take ownership and responsibility for your career transition

The world is waiting to embrace talent and you have a fair shot to offer yours. Don’t let people, old ideas or a closed mind derail your job search.  The power to shape the future resides within each of us. That’s why it is important for every job seeker to take ownership of their career transition.

When you can clearly articulate to potential employers, who you really are and why you care, they will see that the value you bring to their organization is far greater than what you know and what they expect you to do.  This sets the stage for you to find meaningful work and for your future employer see you as a true partner, stakeholder and contributor to the organization’s success.

 

You may find the following articles helpful –

Career mistakes you must avoid@Deepak Chopra MD (Official)

Forget the Ladder; Try the Jungle Gym: What Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In Says You Can Do for Your Career Right Now – Maggie Malon

It’s called a life, not a life sentence!  How to move forward when you’re feeling stuck@Michaela Alexis

 

Camille N. Isaacs Morell is a proven marketing strategy and business development enabler. She is passionate about inspiring people to make decisions that support business success.  

She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of enterprises and non-profit organizations with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

See the BIG picture…Focus on what’s important

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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Delegate-741x480

“Check, double check and check again.”   This was possibly the best advice I received early in my career.

I followed through on my boss’ advice. I believe that this was the reason why it was noted on my performance evaluation that I was action-oriented and reliable without supervision.

In later years I realized that the checking, double checking and checking again advice wasn’t going to work for me or for the people I was leading.

During my very first role as a people manager, I understood that there is a fine line between being an effective leader and being a micro-manager.

Effective leaders know that they are ultimately accountable for the mandate that they have been given to deliver through the people they lead.

Micro-managers, in their zeal to produce results, get overly involved in the work of the people they lead.  These managers don’t confidently delegate and set expectations.  And when they do, they obsessively check, double check and check again on the work of their people, instead of letting their people, who are responsible for operations, implementation and deliverables, do the required checking.

I believe that micro-managers act the way they do mainly for the following reasons –

  • The fear of failure, which leads to the need to control other people’s actions
  • They don’t know how to manage any other way
  • They have an “agenda,” a personal need they want to fulfill

Here are 3 tips on how managers can avoid micro-managing, or can take to stop micro-managing and 3 tips on how employees can avoid being micro-managed.

 

The fear of failure and the need to control

For the manager –

  1. Gain clarity on the mandate you’ve been given. This means –
    • Identify the resources required – hire the right, competent people, ask for budgets
    • Set realistic expectations with your senior leadership and the people you lead on deliverables
    • Establish a formal schedule of checkpoints and accountabilities

For those being managed –

  1. Communicate confidentially with your manager to uncover the root cause of the fear of failure. This means –
    • Reassure your manager of your commitment and that you have his/her back
    • Mutually agree on how you will be accountable

 

Not knowing how to manage any other way

For the manager –

  1. Be courageous. Take feedback from your people and other managers seriously and seek ways to improve the situation.  This means –
    • Seeking mentorship and coaching from experienced, respected professionals you trust and who can help you to develop an effective leadership style.
    • Open communication in a dedicated forum (e.g. team meeting, off-site retreat) to discuss the mandated goals of the team and how team members will be empowered, engaged and held accountable.

For those being managed –

  1. Reduce your manager’s need to micro-manage. This means –
    • Proactively support your manager by honouring reporting commitments
    • Avoid surprises by forewarning your manager of possible delays and problems, and coming with suggestions for precautionary, preventive or risk reduction actions

 

The personal agenda or need the manager wants to fulfill

For the manager –

  1. Empowerment and accountability are essential for leadership success, regardless of what your personal agenda or motivation may be. Remember –
    • The mark of a great leader is the capacity to inspire and work with and through other people to achieve goals.

For those being managed –

  1. Find a way to see your manager’s “big picture” of what he or she is working towards. Observe and ask yourself a few questions –
    • What’s his or her motivation?
    • Who does he or she network with?
    • What’s his/her vision of the future role of the department or his/her leadership?

 

Important considerations

Managing people is not for everybody.  Managers who find it difficult to delegate and are caught in the micro-management trap should consider alternative leadership roles, such as an internal consultant, technical expert or advisor, and make an outstanding contribution to corporate objectives.

Moving on is an option for employees who are being micro-managed.   If excessive time and effort have to be invested in trying to understand and work with a micro-manager to the detriment of job satisfaction, engagement and optimal performance, the employee should decide whether to stay or to leave.

 

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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Social networking media, chat, messaging and communication concept: group of glossy colorful speech bubbles isolated on white background

As a marketer, I love the word “engagement.”

Just as in marriage, engagement in marketing involves deep, sincere interest and commitment.

Deep, sincere interest and commitment lead the potential or current customer to commit to making a purchase and better yet, being a brand advocate.

According to The Economist Intelligence Unit survey of 478 CMOs and senior marketing executives worldwide, engagement is increasingly perceived as key to the loyalty and advocacy stages of the customer life cycle. An engaged customer is one who sticks around.

Getting the customer to stick around has been viewed traditionally as the job of Sales and Customer Service.  The metrics are easy to identify – new sales, client retention, client satisfaction, repeat business etc.

Tracking engagement

Until recently, Marketing was generally not considered as a key player in client acquisition and retention.  There was no transactional dimension to engagement in marketing plans.  But this is changing.

The sun is setting on the days of multi-million dollar advertising budgets which aim to achieve single digit increases in brand awareness each year.   Back then, key metrics were based on subjective responses – such as ad recall and aided and unaided awareness – which were measured by polling sample target audiences after the campaign ended.  I know.  I’ve been there and done that.

Then things got a bit better for marketers with the advent of digital advertising and social media, which make it possible to gather data on interactions and on-line experience.  To measure marketing success, marketers counted the number of ‘likes,’ ‘downloads’ and ‘hits,’ until we found out what ‘hits’ actually means: ‘how idiots track success.’

At a Canadian Marketing Association Conference a few years ago, I remember Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik making some bold statements about tracking and analytics for websites.  He challenged marketers to go beyond measuring ‘hits’ to assessing the behaviour of visitors, once they hit our websites.   As Kaushik has pointed out on many occasions, repeat visitors, loyalty, ‘recency’ and frequency of visits, should be used to measure outcomes.  It’s the behaviour of visitors on websites and social media accounts that tells us about their level of interest and willingness to purchase, which are the best indicators of engagement.

Measuring engagement

Engagement metrics that track interactions throughout the marketing and business development funnel will, in my view, become more commonplace, as will correlations between interactions and sales.  For businesses whose leads and sales are not generated on-line, engagement metrics can and will also be used to determine the ROI on the marketing budget.

Consider using the following metrics to gather meaningful information on engagement:

  1. Correlation between awareness and consideration

The ratio of visitor engagements to social media impressions and/or visits to web sites, indicates how effective the marketing activity has been in creating awareness and the consideration to purchase.

Engagements include the number of clicks on social media posts and click throughs to other web pages, retweets, shares, favourites and direct inquiries.

The ratio will confirm if the media, channel, timing and frequency of the marketing communication are appropriate for the targeted audience.

  1. Purchases and revenue potential

Can the number of purchases be correlated to the engagement results from the marketing campaigns or activities?

Admittedly, this is more difficult to accurately measure, as a deeper analysis is required to determine if persons who engage with the brand are purchasers.  It may well be worth the effort, particularly for marketing programs with an immediate call to action in the form of on-line sales.

For businesses where leads and sales are not generated on-line, ways of measuring engagement against revenue potential should focus on correlations between interactions and the cost of investment.  For example, a good engagement metric to determine revenue potential resulting from leads generated at sponsored events such as trade shows,  could be the cost of sales appointments.  The cost of sales appointments is calculated by dividing the cost of sponsoring the event by the number of sales appointments resulting from in-person interactions. Then a correlation should be made with the revenue potential from the sales appointments and prospecting activities that follow.  The result should help determine if continued investment in the sponsored event is justified.

  1. Advocacy

Customers, who are brand advocates, are loyal, repeat buyers, influence others to purchase and are considered a trusted source by their peers.

Advocacy is a very important qualitative and quantitative metric.  Qualitative, because it involves observing what customers are saying about the product and the brand in on-line posts, discussions and various social media.  The number of shares, followers and discussions initiated provides quantitative data on brand advocacy.

See the BIG picture… Focus on what’s important

At their best, engagement metrics help businesses see the BIG picture, in which Marketing contributes to overall revenue generation, growth and proven ROI on marketing dollars.  Armed with the results of the engagement metrics, marketers can focus on what’s important: the analysis of what works and what doesn’t, and then taking action to continually evolve and improve marketing strategies and plans that support business development.

http://www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

http://www.thebigpicturecamille.wordpress.com

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Attracting and retaining the employees who are a good ‘fit’ has become as important as the skills and professional experience presented on the CVs of prospective employees. Many organizations are investing time and resources to develop compelling reasons why potential employees should work for them. Corporate values, benefits packages and special incentives are communicated in job descriptions, hiring advertisements and on career portals.

The term “employer brand” has become almost a buzzword in the language of HR professionals, brand specialists and marketers.

But what really is the employer brand?
In a nutshell, the employer brand defines what the company offers to its employees. It’s the identity of the company as an employer. More specifically, the employer brand conveys the reasons why the organization is a great place to work and sets expectations for employees’ experience throughout his or her career.

A good example of a company with a strong employer brand is Google. Google is renowned as a great place to work because the company offers a fun, energetic place to work that encourages new ideas and innovation. An astounding number of prospective employees from around the world know this and want to participate in Google’s international internship programme and apply for jobs in their Silicon-Valley operations. According to global employer branding firm Universum’s global talent attraction index “The World’s Most Attractive Employers 2012”, Google has retained the top position in both categories — business and engineering — for the fourth year in a row.

The BIG picture
Defining and communicating the employer brand to attract prospective employees is only one element that contributes to business success. A well-defined and well- managed employer brand has a much bigger role to play than attracting and recruiting employees. It is important for employers to understand that the definition and on-going management of the employer brand should not be treated as an after-thought or delegated to the Human Resources department.

To be meaningful and effective, all business leaders and people managers in the organization must buy in to the definition of the employer brand and understand its alignment with the business brand. Businesses cannot be successful unless employees see the connection between the roles they are expected to play in the business plan of the company. This, in my view, is the BIG picture.

Connecting the business brand and employer brand
One reason why companies fail to retain top talent is because employees don’t see the relevance of their role in the overall mission of the company. Far too often companies attempt to develop an employer brand without any reference to the mission and business brand of the company. The business brand gives expression to the mission of the organization so that it is perceived as having a competitive advantage. The aim of a well-defined business brand is to create interest and engagement among its target clients and to win their business and loyalty in the long-term. Companies do this by establishing a brand promise – what customers can expect when they do business with the company.

Like the business brand, the employer brand must aim to give the organization a competitive advantage by defining what employees can expect when they join the organization. Employees generally expect that their employer will enable them to successfully contribute to the delivery of the company’s business brand promise.

Google is able to attract employees who are a good fit because the company establishes a clear connection between its business brand promise and employer brand promise. Google’s brand promise is to provide access to the world’s information in one click – making simplicity out of complexity. Google succinctly weaves its business brand promise into its employer brand so that prospective employees join the company expecting that they will be enabled to solve complex problems every day to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible to Google users. And this is done in a fun, energetic, innovative work environment.

Defining the employer brand
The process of defining the employer brand is not dissimilar to the process of defining the business brand. Key steps include:

Clear understanding of the corporate goals and business strategy of the organization – develop a definition of the employee profiles required to execute the strategy

Qualitative and quantitative data gathering – on the internal experience of employees and external perceptions of the organization – its values, culture, image, performance management and rewards

Gap assessment and opportunity identification – comparison of strengths, weaknesses and differentiators with those of competing organizations

Understand target audiences – an understanding of the needs and values of the target recruits and existing employees

Connections – matching the organization’s values with those of the target employee audiences and constructing a clear definition of the employer brand.

Giving expression to the employer brand clearly requires the combined use of Marketing and Human Resource expertise to determine the appropriate messages and ensure that there is an obvious connection between the employer and business brands and that they are both aligned with the overall strategy and vision of the organization.

For example, an innovative company that chooses to base its business brand on its customer-centric focus, would do well in its employer brand definition to highlight its people-focused culture – how it enables its employees to develop their talents and encourage customer-focused innovations.

What’s more important….bringing the employer brand to life
Defining the business brand is a very important starting point. What’s even more important is bringing the employer brand to life by ensuring that employees are equipped to deliver the business brand in a workplace that is truly a great place to work.

 • Equip employees – for on-going employee training and development programmes, Marketing can and should be regarded as an important contributor to help non-Marketing staff understand and perform their tasks in ways that support the marketing strategy (e.g. cross selling and up-selling) and brand identity (e.g. style of communication).

Manage the employer and business brands in tandem – Human Resources must involve Marketing in the on-going management of the employer brand. When there are changes to business strategies and adjustments are made to the business brand, the employer brand must also be evolved and communicated to employees.

Communicate constantly– business leaders and managers must commit to an on-going programme of internal, bi-directional communication activities so that employees embrace the essence of the business brand and enthusiastically promote it.

A final word
To be successful, the communication of the employer brand should be genuine, persuasive, differentiated. The employer brand must be internally embraced, positioned appropriately to external audiences and most importantly, be consistently delivered by the organization during recruitment and on-boarding activities and throughout the employee’s career. In this age where social media platforms are accessible, it is very easy for potential employees to validate whether or not organizations are in fact being true to their employer brand and business brand.

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.
www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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Recruiting and retaining top talent continue to be  major, costly challenges for organizations that jeopardize business success. It’s been estimated that it costs up to 18 months’ salary to replace a manager and up to six months’ salary to replace an hourly-paid worker.  It can cost up to 3 times the salary if the employee departs in the first year of employment.

  • 22%  turnover occurs in first 45 days of employment.  This statistic is taken from a 2007 study.  The statistic may have changed since then.  In spite of  adverse economic conditions, a survey conducted in 2011 revealed that 59% of HR professionals in North America say turnover rates will get worse in the next 5 years!

If we put cost implications aside, low employee engagement is often cited as a major reason motivating employees to leave, regardless of tenure.

Employee engagement

Loosely defined, positive employee engagement may be considered as the personal (intellectual and emotional) commitment of the employee to work towards achieving the goals of the organization.  Determinants of positive employee engagement generally include alignment of personal goals and values with those of the organization, opportunities for personal and professional development, the nature of the job assigned and a sense of belonging and pride from being associated with the organization.  Low engagement results in dysfunctional work relationships, lower productivity, no discretionary effort.

The BIG picture

In my view, corporations need to see that employee engagement and loyalty are only two, albeit important, components of a much bigger issue – the need to engage employees to create and sustain business success. To reduce turnover rates and increase employee engagement, organizations must see the big picture:  the inspiration, motivation and effort of all employees, who understand the vision, mission and objectives of the organization, the relevance of their role and the benefits they derive from contributing to business success.  The development and on-going management of a well-defined employer brand is the key to creating a work environment where employees are engaged, loyal and working towards the common good of all stakeholders in the business.

Well-defined business brands give expression to “what’s in it for me, the customer” and offer value propositions to attract and retain customers. So too must the employer brand clearly express to potential and existing employees, why the organization is a great place to work, and bring its values to life in the experience of employees throughout their career.  A well-defined employer brand should consist of three components – the why, how and what’s being offered by the employer and what the employee can expect in return for performance and effort:

  1. Relevance: provides answers to Why? Why is the company doing what it’s doing?  What is the company’s business brand, mission, vision and values…  THEN why do you need me, the employee?? Why are you using my skills ? What’s the connection between my role and the business brand promise? Why am I here? How will my skills be used to bring value to the company – make its vision, mission and brand promises come alive, so that I contribute to the creation of conditions for sustainable business success? Why should I be loyal to the company?
  2. Relationships / Resources:  How?  How will you make me feel connected to the ‘why’? What’s the corporate culture like?  How do people work together? How can I access resources to make me contribute to the success of the company? How will I be supported to be the best I can be ?   Will my opinions be heard?  How will I be treated if I make a mistake?
  3. What’s in it for me the employee? What rewards / recognition do I get? What behaviours are rewarded?  In what ways will good performance and discretionary effort be recognized?  What can I expect in terms of promotions and opportunities for personal development and advancement?  In what ways am I being recognized as a parent, a human being, someone who has needs beyond a paycheck?

Walking the talk – putting the employer brand into action

Equipping employees to deliver on the business brand is at the core of employer brand management.    Beyond recruitment, on-boarding activities, compensation and employee benefits, organizations must demonstrate that that they are delivering on their employer brand promises through on-going career development programmes, mentorship, improvement of the work environment, staff-conferences and forums, team building and other activities that reinforce the organization’s values, culture and desired behaviours.

When these programmes equip employees to deliver the business brand promise, the conditions are created for alignment of employee behaviours with the organization’s vision, strategy, goals and objectives.  When these programmes are viewed by employees as convincing proof that the employer has delivered on the employer brand promise, the conditions are created for employee loyalty and engagement.

Capital One – a good case in point

In a recent presentation at Your Workplace Conference, Jenny Winter, Chief People Officer at Capital One highlighted how the company’s business and employer brands are aligned.  Captial One identifies its business brand values as ‘excellence’ and ‘do the right thing.’   They promise that they will meet customers’ needs and will challenge themselves to find better ways of serving customers.  These are the hallmarks of their business brand.  The employer brand promise is aligned to the business brand promise to employees as follows:

  • Why? Employees get to contribute to high-performing teams and create products that are relevant to customers – clearly in line with the business brand promise to meet customers’ needs and find better ways of serving them;
  • How does the company equip employees to do this?  Capital One provides them with opportunities to learn and grow in a fun work environment
  • What can employees expect to get in return for their efforts, beyond the paycheck?  Work-life balance and various rewards and recognition.

Check out what employees have to say about Capital One. 

A final word…

After all is said and done, the credibility of an organization’s business brand is proven when customers experience the brand promise in their interaction with the organization and its employees.  Employees who experience the employer brand promise in the workplace are motivated, engaged and loyal to the organization and its goals.  Engaged, loyal employees, regardless of their role, are the key to success in every organization.

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

Visit my website www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

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