Behind the Wheel: Driving Excellence in Staffing Operations

I am often asked why I wrote a book about the staffing industry. I felt like a book on staffing management needed to be written. There was no business case or financial model, just a belief that strong management is critical to the future of our industry. We needed resources that helped managers understand there unique role as well as their importance. The purpose of the book is to improvement management performance through more effective decision making and collaboration. In order to accomplish that goal, this book defines the performance drivers, provides a shared language, and clarifies the management roles. Defining performance drivers: The key elements of any growth strategy are defined by the performance drivers – Sales Strategy, Operational Alignment, and Performance-Driven Culture. The Sales Strategy begins by identifying both target market and the sales capabilities required to be successful. Operational Alignment ensures the organization has the capabilities to deliver their value proposition. The Performance-Driven Culture is the x factor in staffing operations and the fuel for top-line growth. All managers must understand the role of each of these drivers and how to manage to them effectively. Providing shared language: As a company grows, having a disciplined vocabulary becomes more … Read More

Webinar: Metrics for the Staffing Industry

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

Is Intuition Enough in the Staffing Industry?

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

In Case You Missed It: Metrics that Matter

A couple months ago I was given the opportunity to present on metrics at the SIA conference in Miami.  I have had several requests for the presentation, so it is now available on the website.  You can listen to the presentation or view in pdf format here. Some of the topics covered in the Metrics that Matter presentation are: The role of metrics in managing a high performance organization The different types of metrics that provide a properly balanced perspective The role of company strategy in effectively defining your metrics You can also view two TechServe Alliance webinars on our website as well. Strategy Simplified : Understanding strategy and its role in building an exceptional staffing organization. This presentation is tailored to the executive who must define and implement the company’s long term growth strategy. Drivers of a Successful Sales Organization : Building and managing a strong sales organization includes mastering these drivers. This presentation is a must for executives and line level sales managers Upcoming: For IT staffing companies I also encourage you to sign up for the SIA webinar “Making IT Solutions Work for your IT Staffing Firm” on May 24, 2011. I will be presenting the key success factors to consider … Read More

Planning for Success

How would you respond if someone asked “what’s your growth plan for next year”? In answering the question, you may find that you really don’t have a satisfactory answer.  One of the causes of this lack of planning is the tendency to derive business planning from the budget process instead of the other way around.  The budget should give the financial backing for the business plan to be executed.  By deriving the business plan from the budget process, managers often miss critical business issues that need to be addressed in the coming year.  Throw in the year-end reconciling of financials and it’s easy to see how planning is dominated by analyzing and discussing numbers on spreadsheets. Effective business planning requires a more holistic approach where management not only is aware of the financials, but also will evaluate each core driver of the business to identify areas of improvement for the upcoming year.  The three core drivers that need to be reviewed and challenged include your sales strategy, operational effectiveness, and the performance driven culture. Some questions to get you started are listed below. Sales Strategy: Is defined by your value proposition, the buyers you are targeting, and the sales process … Read More

Letterman’s Legacy

Recently, I stumbled across some articles that made some interesting claims including the “The ten dumbest management trends” and “The ten worst business ideas ever”.  It makes me want to write an article titled “The top ten management articles that make controversial overgeneralizations to drive web traffic”.  I understand why people structure their articles around lists, and if you want readership, then it pays to be as dramatic as possible.  Drama is entertaining.  Also, it certainly sets the expectations that the article is going to be relatively short and what manager wouldn’t want to know the top ten of anything? People love lists.  You see them everywhere on the internet from major news organizations to everyday blogs.  Lists suggest both a level of research and authority.  Initially, many lists were around interesting facts or well researched theory.  Lists are easy to digest, make for good trivia and provide a level of entertainment.  Lists can also provide important structure around management issues that can be difficult to define.  My upcoming webinar incorporates “Five Sales Drivers” is one example of that technique. However, reading these lists on management practices gives me cause for concern.  Lists that make sweeping generalizations are more about … Read More

Hiring For Drive

One of the most common questions I get from staffing managers is whether it’s better to hire experienced or green sales people. Leveraging my years of experience, I can confidently answer that I really don’t know. I have come to this conclusion because I have seen both profiles succeed and fail. In the end, it seems experience level is a poor predictor of performance. This assertion is supported by a study conducted by American Psychologists Frank Schmidt and John Hunter, who discovered that basing hiring decision on experience level had only slightly better results than a coin flip or hand writing analysis. Neither of which is terribly effective. I’m not saying that experience should not be considered, far from it, the level of experience an employee has should play an important role. However in screening candidates, experience should be balanced by those difficult to define qualities that drive the focus and perseverance of most successful sales people. In their book “Never Hire a Bad Sales Person”, Dr. Christopher Corner and Richard Abraham leverage years of data to capture personality characteristics that are consistent with top producers. The compilation of these characteristics is what they refer to as Drive. Drive is that persistent motivation … Read More

Are the Scales of Talent Tipping?

From my discussions with many staffing owners and executives, things are getting better. Job orders are up, clients are moving faster and it seems more and more likely that the worst of the great recession may be behind us. This uptick is especially true for IT staffing. This is good news, but it does bring with it issues that managers have not faced in a long time including hiring and retaining top talent. Staffing companies live off of the need for talent, but we are facing a bit of a crisis of our own. I speak with staffing managers every day and the common focus area is hiring top sales and recruiting personnel. The sales side can be particularly vexing for managers that are just looking for “A hunter that can bring in business quickly”. These people may exist, but I make a point in my TechServe Rainmaker article that it is less a hiring strategy than it is wishful thinking. Similar issues are found in finding recruiting talent. The fact of the matter is for the foreseeable future in order for companies to build competitive teams, they need to build three critical capabilities: Retain Existing Talent: These last two years have been … Read More

Budgeting Behavior

Staffing is a rapidly changing, people driven business, so I have always struggled with the role of the budget in managing the day-to-day operations over the course of an entire year.  While I know budgets are necessary, they can also exert a negative influence on management decisions and employee behavior that can be traced back to the budget process itself.  Jack Welch’s view on the budgeting process may seem a bit extreme, however; it does highlight the pitfalls of a poorly conceived budgeting process. “The budgeting process at most companies has to be the most ineffective practice in management. It sucks the energy, time, fun and big dreams out of an organization; it hides opportunity and stunts growth. It brings out the most unproductive behaviors in an organization, from sandbagging to settling for mediocrity.” Jack is not the only one to express those sentiments.  Many companies have seen their budgeting process stifle innovation and undermine management collaboration.  Does your budgeting process spend too much time negotiating and positioning future expectations, and too little time discussing how the business is actually going to grow and outmaneuver the competition? If the answer is yes, then I would encourage you to challenge your … Read More

The Power of Habit

I was just reading a book called the Power or Habit by Jack Hodge.  The primary narrative of the book is that we, more than anything else, are defined by what we do, and close to 90% of what we do is determined by habits both good and bad. I am not sure how he determined the 90%, but we all know that our habits are a powerful force in our lives.  However, I would argue that we as managers may underestimate the power of habits in managing and coaching our teams. This make me think back on a conversation I had with one of my past employees a few years ago.  She came into my office to discuss the relevance of my monthly training topic.  Her point was that everyone already understood the best practice we were going to discuss.  It was in her eyes a waste of time.  It was then that the light bulb went off.  I wasn’t training because they didn’t already understand the best practice; I was training because they weren’t doing the best practice.   So in a way, my training was an infomercial on the best practice and a platform to explain my expectations to the … Read More