When I was a staffing executive, I faced a crucial decision that would determine the fate of our organization. Our largest client had given us an ultimatum that would require me to completely restructure our organization to meet their service requirements. In addition, they were demanding lower margins with the promise of higher volume in the near future. What our client was demanding was a complete transformation of our organization putting at risk our financial model, our culture, and most importantly our philosophy of a quality driven staffing company. If we decided not to sign the new agreement we would lose our largest client, and have to find a way to replace almost 20% of our gross profit. We decided to walk away from the client, and built an aggressive sales strategy that replaced it with lower volume, higher margin business. After everything was said and done I convinced myself that our decision was the right one, and any company who chose otherwise was making a crucial strategic mistake. A few years later I had dinner with a company that challenged my thinking. This company was put in the exact same scenario with the same client with no more resources … Read More
From what I have seen, most growth trends for staffing companies are not linear. Instead, there is strong growth followed by a plateau. I have come to the conclusion that managers may not be able to completely escape plateaus, but they are the key factor in determining how long they last. The reason for this is simple. As a company grows and operations become more complex, it is more difficult to identify bottlenecks and drive accountability. Each manager has a different role in breaking through plateaus, below are some common considerations each functional role must consider. Middle management isn’t listed below since they either directly or indirectly impact the functional roles. Executive Role: Responsible for adjustments in growth strategy, strategic investments, organizational structure, cultural considerations, and revamping the management framework. Sales Manager: Accountable for revamping targets, managing process improvement, using data to drive creative problem solving, establishing sales identity, formalizing on-boarding and on-going training, creating consistent accountability, and remaining externally focused. Delivery Manager: In charge of implementing new sourcing tools, maturing processes to drive operational alignment, formalizing on-boarding and on-going training, and managing automation to streamline data flow. How each of these manager’s attempts to break through the plateau varies … Read More
As a young staffing manager I was always looking for the perfect combination of policies and metrics to make managing operations easier. I wanted to find the perfect compensation plan to motivate my reports, the perfect metrics to establish expectations, and the perfect meetings to drive effective communication and collaboration. What I wanted to create was a turn-key operation that managed itself. After all, we hear consultants and authors advocate methods that basically promise a self-managing organization. Unfortunately, those promises are simply gimmicks. The best way to understand gimmicks is to listen to an infomercial, specifically one infomercial that got the better of me about 15 years ago. I was watching an infomercial on a rotisserie cooker that would cook restaurant quality food with little to no work. All you needed to do was set it and forget it. I ordered the cooker, unwilling to pass on this once in a lifetime opportunity. While I had buyer’s remorse it was nothing compared to the disappointment when I saw the big yellow warning label not to leave the cooker unattended. So much for set it and forget it. I put similar faith into the impact of formal management policies, processes and … Read More
In my first executive role, I had a difficult time letting go and allowing my managers to do their job. Whether it was getting involved in daily conflict resolution or overriding minor decisions, I spent more time acting as a puppet master than a manager. This is a tendency common in staffing and is understandable especially for the owner-operator who has built their company from scratch. However, by injecting ourselves into tactical operational decisions we impede a manager’s development, by undermining accountability and losing crucial opportunities to evaluate and coach our management team. I was speaking to one of my clients about this very issue, and their response was they simply didn’t trust that their managers had the ability to make and implement the right decisions. However, while that may be justifiable to help with daily operational decisions, it is not a long-term solution. Eventually, the executive must delegate decision making authority to the management team. This does not mean that once a person is hired or promoted into a management role that the executive doesn’t stay involved in the operations. However, executives must eventually allow a manager to do their job independently and they can begin the process by … Read More
Mountain View, Calif. – October 24, 2014 – The top 100 most influential people in the North American and European staffing markets have been announced by Staffing Industry Analysts, the global advisor on contingent work. The annual list, now in its fourth year, profiles the movers and shakers who have made a difference to the staffing industry. Staffing industry insiders and observers nominate men and women from all sectors of the industry. The Staffing Industry Analysts editorial team reviews the nominations and makes the final determination of those individuals who have in some way affected the world of contingent work and influenced people’s perception of talent and how it can be used. Mike Cleland is honored to be included in the Staffing 100 list for 2014.
Mike Cleland was named as a finalist for the Oxford Center Fast Growth Entrepreneur Legend Award at the Oxford Center Get Real Conference in New York City on September 26, 2014. The Entrepreneur Legend Award is a lifetime Legacy Award to an entrepreneur who has built and successfully exited fast growth companies, continuously demonstrates excellent customer service, exhibits a positive influence and is still actively engaged in the advancement of society. The Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs is dedicated to educating and helping fast growth entrepreneurs take business to the next level. Oxford Center knows the dedication and success necessary to achieve the high level of growth to be nominated for this honor.
A strong management team is the most important asset for the executive focused on growth. Strong staffing managers build, develop and motivate top producers, manage the day-to-day operations, and drive critical improvements. All of these elements are crucial for productive operations. In addition, a strong management team combined with a focused and driven executive provides strategic flexibility which can lead to additional service offerings, geographical expansion, acquisitions, and succession planning. Each of these strategic decisions has a high cost of failure and a high return on success. Oftentimes, success or failure is determined by the abilities of the management team. Too often the importance of the capabilities of the management team is simply overlooked. I witnessed a great example of this when I was eating lunch at a conference. An owner of a mid-sized staffing firm had just acquired a smaller staffing company and was concerned about how the acquisition has negatively impacted the production of both operations. He insisted he had a strong management team and they would figure out how to turn things around even though they were relatively young and none of them had experienced the complexities a merger creates. No more than five minutes later, he … Read More
On Thursday, July 26, I will be hosting a webinar sponsored by eRecruit on Metrics for the Staffing Industry. In this webinar, I will discuss how the right metrics portfolio can empower management decision making to ensure both short and long term competitiveness. It is important to understand that the right metric portfolio can help executives and leaders Measure Results Provide a Leading Indicator Identify Operational Weaknesses Reveal Investment Opportunites Drive Individual Accountability Measure Change In this webinar, we will discuss Financial Metrics as well as Personnel Metrics and Operational Metrics. The Operational Metrics will include both the Sales and Delivery Model. Once the right metrics portfolio is in place, the metrics can help quantify change, determine if change is feasible, provide data for effective change management and hold all levels of the organization accountable. I look forward to having you join us on this Metrics Webinar. Mike Cleland President, Charted Path
On Wednesday March 14th, I will be presenting at the SIA Executive Forum on aligning your recruiting organization with your client buying patterns to improve profitability. The impact of effective alignment can be quickly realized in the bottom line results and are typically of a substantial scale. Why is the impact of improving operations so significant? Well, because delivery issues are oftentimes driven by self imposed process inefficiencies. Yes, the talent pool may be tightening, but don’t fool yourself that the lack of productivity is out of your control. Spend the time to drill down into your delivery organization and honestly evaluate whether it is truly aligned with your current client base. I have worked with client’s who are married to old processes because they worked in the past. However, this is an expensive mistake. Managers must look at their processes in relation to their account base and customize their delivery accordingly. The good news is that these types of improvements can lead to stunning results. I have seen results increase by over 40% and will present these case studies during my presentation at the SIA Executive Forum. In contrast, addressing bottlenecks in the sales strategy takes longer and typically … Read More
Most successful executives I have worked with have an indefinable intuition for the business that drives their decision making. This ability presents itself in a variety of ways, but is best revealed when they are forced to make decisions for which there is no clear right direction. In those cases, the executive uses their best judgment and hopes for the best. Executives that are able to make the right judgments continue to see their firm grow, while others are left stagnant repairing the repercussions of poor decision making. But what happens when a staffing company grows and decision making becomes more and more complex? Can intuition effectively guide decision making? While I don’t completely disregard the role of intuition, a common mistake I see owners make is to believe that their intuition is a unique gift that shouldn’t be challenged even as their operational knowledge wanes. This perspective is often justified by the book Blink by Malcom Gladwell. In this book, Gladwell discusses rapid cognition or the thinking that happens in the first two seconds when placed in a new situation. Many people walk away from Blink with a higher regard for instincts as the key driver of decision making rather than fact based … Read More