Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama vs. McCain – A Performance Objective Analysis

Let’s put politics aside for a moment. What if we were to establish performance objectives for the next President, and then assess each candidate’s qualifications for the job on the basis of his ability to achieve the critical results we need? We use performance based evaluation in hiring, and I think it applies here too.

You might have a different list, but here are my suggestions for performance objectives for the next President:

  1. Stabilize the economy, including increasing access to credit and restoring global confidence in our financial sector. Following stabilization, stimulate the economy for continued steady growth and ensure that the US can remain the world’s leader in business.

  2. Find a solution for the war in Iraq, including helping the Iraqi government to stand on its own.

  3. Improve relations with other countries, both friend and foe. Increase the level of respect with which the US is viewed worldwide.

  4. Restore ethics and morals to our government.
  5. Decrease the threat of terrorism.

  6. Decrease (or eliminate) the deficit, and implement a plan to systematically decrease the national debt.

  7. Improve the quality and access to health care.

  8. Improve the national standard of education, and increase the number of students who graduate High School and go on to college.

  9. Stabilize social security, Medicare and other entitlement programs to ensure access for future generations.
  10. Decrease our reliance on foreign oil and increase alternative energy resources.

I could go on, but frankly, if our next President were able to get most of the above list done in the next four years, I’d be a happy camper. See if your objectives for the next President differ, and make your own list. By the way, I'd advocate including the VP candidates in this assessment, because they have to be prepared to achieve these goals as well.

Now, create a score sheet for yourself and grade each objective to see which candidate you think is more likely to achieve the objectives. Candidates can be evaluated on their ability to achieve objectives based on experience, knowledge, attitude, commitment and intention. Score your candidate, then vote!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bullseye Communication

I call my concept of getting close to people quickly the “Bullseye Theory of Communication.” Picture a bullseye type of target.

We are all trained from childhood to be polite, to not be nosy, not pry, not push people too far out of their comfort zone. In my bullseye analogy, we are tiptoeing around the outer edges of communication. I have noticed in over 30 years of acquiring new business, that most people really enjoy very close, even intimate communication – peeling the onion, and penetrating to a deeper level. We’re so used to the more distant, guarded communication, that when someone makes it comfortable and safe to feel closer, we welcome that.

We’ve all heard the expression, used to describe a new but especially enjoyable acquaintance, “I feel like I’ve known him for 5 years!” This results from finding that special way to connect with someone, looking for the opening that facilitates a conversation that gets closer than you would have expected, more quickly than you would have expected.

We have two ears and one mouth, and using them proportionally helps to achieve bull’s-eye communication. Listen carefully, and think before responding, and you will find common ground that can enable you to connect deeply with people you’ve just met. I have found this makes for a meaningful relationship, and brings rewards I couldn’t have obtained with usual polite business conversation.

Make Me Care About You

Many very senior level candidates call Executive Search firms to get acquainted, and to ask for direct help in securing a new position. Many of these execs don’t seem to understand how executive search works. We work for the employer. We’re paid by the employer. If we are in retained search, we really prefer to hear from candidates who are directly relevant to a current search, and often, we can’t spare much time to chat with people not a fit for a current search.

How do you get my attention? How do you differentiate yourself? Most people begin reciting their background, without knowing what I and/or my clients might need. WRONG! Tell me about your value to the employer, hopefully an employer you know I’m working with. If you can construct an “elevator pitch” and give me (inside of a minute) the reasons I should feel compelled to work with you, you’ve got me almost at “hello” (remember
Jerry Maguire?).

I really do want to hear from candidates that fit what I’m working on, and when they can portray that fit concisely and quickly, they will move to the top of the stack and get my time and attention.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Don’t Let The Economy Kill You

In today’s news, there was a sad report on an unemployed financial advisor from Porter Ranch, who, facing his own economic struggles, killed his family, then himself. How incredibly tragic! This reminded me of the often repeated quote from Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, and renowned psychotherapist, who said, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

Clearly this is a daily challenge we all face, especially when the economy regularly flings bad news at us. It really is up to each of us as individuals to “choose our own attitude.” We must try to be positive; to see “opportunity in every difficulty” (Churchill), and to do what we can to continue to make the world (the small part we influence), a better place to live and work.

From time to time, business may get each of us down. One thing I’ve learned is that I can limit the “down” parts by choosing to respond proactively. Thomas Paine said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”

Let’s not be like the poor guy in Porter Ranch who chose to get out of the way. My friends in the blogosphere, I invite you to lead; lead yourself and others through the current crisis and let’s make our own prosperity something of our own choosing.

2009 Growth Will Be All About Market Share

Some of my clients and colleagues are naturally reporting that the fear in the economy is getting them down. Smart companies know that in a flat or declining market, the only way to grow is to steal business from the competition. Many of my clients are practically salivating at the prospect of leaping into a volatile market and expanding their business by increasing market share. The first step to taking advantage of this market is making sure you have a strong executive team that can not only weather this storm but capitalize on it. By evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your key players you may find that some new blood is needed.

Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think it is obvious that sometimes you need better people to get better results.

Most of the people looking for jobs right now are people who were just laid off by declining companies. These are not necessarily the “A” players you want to add to your team. It is usually better to find the happy, productive people who are still working hard for their current employers. These people are more likely to produce the critical results you need, based on their strong track record.

As you plan to increase your market share next year, ask yourself this question: Do I need access to the “A” players; those who aren’t looking for a job, that could help me grow my business? If the answer is yes, take the following steps:

  1. Take a look at your current team, and determine who is achieving your objectives, who is not, and why not.
  2. Be objective about the capabilities of your people. Get outside advice if needed to assess the team.
  3. Move quickly to position yourself with a solid team that can increase market share – before your competitors act on the same idea.
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