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Is Your Vocabulary Costing You Money?

February 5th, 2014

By: Tom Hopkins

When we give a presentation to a future client not only do our appearance, visual aids, and body language relay a message, but the words we use create pictures in their minds. When we hear a word, we often picture a symbol of what that word represents. We may even attach emotions to some of these words. For example, let’s consider the words, SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN, WINTER. Depending on your particular experience, each of those words can generate positive or negative emotions in you, right?

The same applies to the words you use in your contacts with customers. You don’t know in advance which words will generate positive feelings in your clients about you, your product and your company. That’s why people in selling must become extra sensitive to the use of words if they want to have successful careers or businesses.

One of the most commonly used words in sales is the term “contract.” What type of mental image does that term bring to your mind especially when you picture yourself as a consumer? For most of us, it’s negative. We have an image of fine print, legalities and being locked into something that requires legal action to get out of. For this reason, I recommend that salespeople stop using that term, unless your particular line of business requires it. Instead, use the terms paperwork, agreement or form. Think about each of those terms for a moment. Do they bring to mind threatening images? If they do, I’ll bet those images are a lot less threatening than those created by the term contract. Do yourself a favor and eliminate that term from your vocabulary. Use paperwork, agreement or form instead.

What about the words “cost” and “price?” What pictures do they bring to your mind? If you’re like me, I see my hard-earned cash leaving my pocket. Substitute the terms investment or amount in place of cost or price. When most people hear investment, they envision getting a return on their money which is something positive. Now, there are products for which the term investment would not be appropriate so let’s use the term amount for them. That word has been proven to be less threatening to most consumers than the terms cost and price.

The same idea goes for the next terms, “down payment” and “monthly payment.” Most people envision down payments as large deposits that lock them into many smaller monthly payments for a considerable time period. They may see themselves receiving bills and writing checks every month. Not too positive a picture, is it? Replace those phrases with these: initial investment or initial amount and monthly investment or monthly amount.

The next terms I’d recommend you change are “sell” and “sold.” Many salespeople will tell prospective customers about how many units of their product they have sold. Or, they’ll brag about having sold the same product to another customer. What are the mental images here? No one likes the idea of or the feeling derived from being sold anything. It sounds as if the customer didn’t really have much say in the matter. Replace sell or sold with helped them acquire or got them involved.

Another term I feel is over-used by salespeople is the term “deal.” What does this bring to mind? Something we’ve always wanted, but never found. Top salespeople never offer deals to their clients. They offer opportunities or get them involved in transactions.
The last, but definitely not the least important term I recommend you change is “sign”. Never again ask a customer to sign your agreement, form or paperwork. We’ve all had it drilled into us from early childhood never to sign anything without careful consideration, haven’t we? So, why would you want to create that emotion in anyone you were trying to get happily involved in your product or service? Instead of asking them to sign, ask them to approve, authorize, endorse or OK your paperwork, agreement or form.

Tom Hopkins made his first million in sales by the age of 27. He accomplished this by making the subject of selling his hobby-studying every aspect of the sale in incredible detail. Today, he is world-renowned as a master sales trainer. Let him show you how to be a more effective and successful salesperson. Visit www.tomhopkins.com.

Do You Dread Cold Calling?

January 29th, 2014

By: Marshall W. Northcott

Cold calling has to be the one activity in most sales professions that is the least desirable. I think that some people would subject themselves to electric shock therapy rather than have to make cold calls. A woman in one of my workshops stated she would rather die than have to make cold calls. I’ve heard the theory that as a business development activity, cold calling is slowly phasing out of existence. Some would argue that the return on time invested is very poor compared to other business generating activities but I for one have found cold calling to be an extremely powerful method for uncovering new opportunities.

There is some confusion among sales people, especially rookies as to what exactly cold calling is. My definition would be as follows; a face to face or over the phone activity where by the sales representative initiates contact with someone with whom there is no previous existing business relationship.

Cold calling is one of many prospecting activities available to sales professionals. In some industries there is no need for cold calling because of the nature of the business. If you are constantly calling on the same clients or the market is mature and there are no new potential accounts then obviously cold calling is not necessary. In other instances, I’ve encountered people who have mastered other methods like referral based selling to the extent that they are able to avoid cold calling. Then, there are those who act like cold calling is beneath them. More than once I’ve meet someone who felt this way about making cold calls only to discover that at some point afterwards they had closed their business or quit their sales profession because it wasn’t giving them the returns they expected. If you are too dignified to make cold calls you may want to consider the alternative—poverty!

If however you work in an industry where there is untapped market potential, you are looking for opportunities to lure business away from competition or there are prospects that exist but you must seek them out because you, your product or your service is unknown, then cold calling may be an excellent way to increase your chances for success. Cold calling can be enjoyable if you are determined to make it fun.

To set yourself up for maximum results while cold calling, there are several important points to remember. Whether over the phone or in person, know what you intend to say. Have something committed to memory but be flexible so that when you are thrown a curve ball it doesn’t throw you off track. It may take you many attempts before you produce consistent results. Remain professional but at the same time relax, don’t be mechanical or overly rigid. Create a standard way of introducing yourself, your company and the product or service that you represent. Write down and simplify a quick and easy way of describing what you do so that when you explain it to the person your speaking with it will be easy for them to determine who to direct you towards. We call this your 30 second commercial or your elevator speech. In case you were wondering, no, they often don’t listen, it’s just a fact of life so get over it!

Understand that it’s nothing personal when people screen your calls, they are just doing their job! It’s your job to win them over, get them on your side so that you can speak to the person who makes the decisions. Don’t waste your time selling to the receptionist, it’s embarrassing and annoying! Once you have the attention of the person you need to speak with it better be good! The number one concern of most people you will connect with is, “Is this person going to waste my time?” Well don’t! Know what you intend to say and say it. Clearly and concisely! I recommend documenting some statements that are attention grabbers so that the decision maker will agree to an appointment. These statements are referred to as; General Benefit Statements and they should be tailored to specific needs that your prospect is likely to have based on your understanding of their business or industry. Give yourself some time to see results, if your industry has a 60 to 90 day sales cycle then that is how long it will take for your efforts to pay off, so be patient and give it time! If you can get past this hurdle there isn’t much else that will slow you down on the road to success in your sales profession.

“Fear carries a man farther than courage but not in the same direction.”

What Makes An Annoying Interviewee

December 3rd, 2013


Job-seekers who come to an interview with specific ideas of what they want to do rather than listening to what the employer wants from them, are among the most annoying, says Sonali Roychowdhury, India head of human resources at consumer giant Procter and Gamble Co.PG +0.13%

Someone who is “is not open to new experiences or to expanding their outlook…would be a no-no,” says Ms. Roychowdhury.

In a free-wheeling interview with The Wall Street Journal, Ms. Roychowdhury spoke about common interview mistakes by job-seekers and about P&G’s hiring plans.

Edited excerpts:

The Wall Street Journal: What are some of the most annoying habits of job-seekers that put you off during an interview?

Sonali Roychowdhury: One is when a candidate comes across as being very narrowly focused on the work they want to do and defining it; either in terms of a designation or what they would like to do in their first month.

We look for people who will learn and who’ll be adaptable, so that in the long term they can make good leaders. But someone who is focused on just one very narrow part of a business and is not open to new experiences or to expand their outlook, they would be a no-no. Behaviorally, it would be people who are not able to listen.

In an interview, while you want to learn about the candidate, it’s also a chance for the candidate to listen and know more about the company from the interviewer. Sometimes there are candidates who only share what they are looking for and don’t do a very good job in terms of seeking to learn more about the company. That behavior can be a deal breaker.

WSJ: P&G has a policy of not hiring people from outside for senior positions. Doesn’t that prevent you from getting access to different perspectives at senior levels?

Ms. Roychowdhury: The fact that our business has grown so much is a testament that we’ve managed to keep ahead of what’s happening in the market and industry.

As a build-from-within organization, you have to deliberately create different ways of getting perspectives, and make sure that at every level people are clued in to what’s happening out there and are able to integrate that. We do it by making sure we are part of industry forums and networks.

Also, we plan people’s careers such that we give them diverse experiences throughout their career. For example, I have worked in our P&G business in India, Singapore and other emerging markets like Vietnam. We deliberately plan these different kinds of assignments and experiences so that people always get a fresh perspective, fresh sets of skills.
Over the years P&G has also done a number of acquisitions – Gillette, Wella, and a few others. So today, about 35% to 40% of our organization comprises people who came from acquired organizations. That in itself brings that diversity of thoughts.

I would say we are pretty balanced.

WSJ: What are P&G’s hiring plans over the next year?

Ms. Roychowdhury: Our hiring is linked directly to our business plans. Most of our hiring happens once a year straight from college campuses.

We’ve been growing double digits [in sales] for almost eight to 10 years now. And I think we will continue to grow strongly in India. So yes, we do have plans for hiring. The hiring season is about four or five months away. I can’t comment on numbers.

Typical areas where P&G is growing is supply chain, sales, marketing. Usually we hire at the entry level, so typical positions would be for handling a brand…so that’s an assistant brand manager, or handling a key sales channel for us…what we call a key account manager. Or, in finance it would be someone who does analysis.

WSJ: Has the slowing economy affected your hiring plans?

Ms. Roychowdhury: For us, it’s not per se the economy. It’s always about the P&G strategy and where we are on that.

In the past five to seven years, P&G India has been on a growth curve. Our business needs have been increasing and our hiring numbers reflect that. The second thing is we are a global company. We hire for careers not only in India but all across the world. Therefore it is less affected by the economic changes in India itself, because we move people around in 10 different countries over the course of their careers.

WSJ: Share one tip for achieving work-life balance.

Ms. Roychowdhury: Identify your top two or three choices early on, drive those ruthlessly and then don’t sweat the small stuff.

I look at the year ahead for the business and the human resources department, and communicate those [goals] clearly to the organization. That ensures people are really focused on that. And then I’m very clear that if something needs to be dropped, that is much lower on priority which I call the small stuff, I tell them it’s fine.

I’ve been working 15-odd years and that’s always helped me from a work-life balance standpoint.

8 Tips For Acing a Tough Job Interview

November 26th, 2013

Job interviews: Nobody likes them, but they inevitably stand between you and your dream job.
Unfortunately, “What’s your greatest weakness?” is no longer the only hard-to-answer question hiring managers will throw your way.

New techniques, designed to do everything from measure your ability to handle criticism in the moment to downright intimidate you, are now being wielded more frequently by HR managers.

Life and Career Coach Anna Goldstein, founder of SelfintheCity.com, walks you through eight curveball interview techniques you might encounter, and the best way to ace each one.

1. Subtle Scare Tactics

It’s not just in your head: Your potential future boss did not smile at you. And if she’s using intimidation techniques in an interview, she might wait a few beats after you answer a question before responding to what you’ve said.

“These are all external distractions over which you have no control,” says Goldstein, “but what you can do is control how you react.”

First, realize that she’s trying to destabilize you, likely to see how you behave under pressure. To counteract her approach, anchor your feet to the floor and take a deep breath before you answer each question slowly and calmly. The goal is not to let these scare tactics intimidate you, so beware that you’re not playing with your hair, fiddling with your jewelry or shifting from foot to foot, all classic signs of anxiety.

Then, tune into your feelings, and ask yourself if you like the environment or whether you could see yourself working at the company (or for a boss who likes to keep you off-balance). Remember, job interviews are a two-way street–-it’s also an opportunity to see if the company and the position would be a good fit for you.

2. “Stress” Interviews

You’re probably thinking, “Aren’t all interviews stressful”? But stress interviews are a different breed. They could include an interviewer suddenly lobbing an oddball question like, “If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?”

Your interviewer might also start rapid-fire questioning or adopt an aggressive or argumentative attitude. And the degree of stress applied will vary: A mildly stressful question might be: “What makes you think you’re qualified for this job when you’ve had minimal relevant experience?” In the most x-treme versions, you might have to react to a response like: “That’s the worst answer to that question any candidate has given.”

What to do? First, don’t just write off the interviewer as a total jerk. Consider that job candidates can predict most interview questions and have a prepared response for each one; by resorting to bizarre questions and comments like the above, they want to see how the “real” you reacts to something.

And, perhaps more important than what you answer is the fact that you’re being assessed on your creativity, your ability to think on your feet and your capacity for handling criticism. Your mantra? Grace under fire.

If you find yourself in this situation, relax. Consider it a challenge—and a chance to impress your potential employer. If you get choked up, take a deep breath and collect your thoughts. It’s better to have a moment of silence than rush into an answer. And above all, don’t become defensive; instead, act professional. Your confidence and composure are sure to impress.

3. The Weakness Question

“What’s your greatest weakness?” This is the classic old-school interview question we know we’ll be asked but continue to dread. So, how do you answer it?
Don’t give the cliché answers: “I’m too much of a perfectionist,” or “Frankly, I just work too hard.” Your hiring manager could practically paper her office walls with these oft-repeated replies and can see right through your rehearsed response.

Your best bet is to be honest. The perfect compromise is to put a positive spin on your weakness, without seeming too perfect. “Explain your weakness and how you’ve been able to manage it,” suggests Goldstein. For example, you might say that sometimes you tend to work too independently, so, to correct that, you now make a point of consulting your manager before making big decisions without input. Show that you’re a problem solver by going through the steps you’ve taken to combat this flaw. And be sure to point out how the quality also has a positive spin: In this example, you’re a leader who likes to take ownership of projects.

One caveat: Just make sure you don’t try to explain how you’ve improved on a flaw that makes you seem downright incompetent, like trouble meeting deadlines, or a lack of judgment that’s cost your company money.

4. The Early-Onset Salary Question

Usually the salary question comes later, but sometimes a hiring manager will throw it at you in the first meeting. After all, their goal is to hire the best person they can who falls within the position’s prescribed budget.

How do you keep yourself in the running if the money question comes up early? There are two options you can try, depending on the situation you’re in: Either deflect the question for another time, or name a number in the higher range.

For the first option, ask if you could wait until a later date to discuss salary. Say that you’re incredibly interested in the role, but would rather discuss compensation when you’ve both determined that you’re the right candidate for the job.

However, says Goldstein, “your answer should reflect the flow of the interview.” If possible, give a figure that’s on the higher end of your position’s stated salary range. Before you name your price, look up standard industry rates for similar positions on sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor.com.

5. “Imagine You …” (The Hypothetical Situation)

Another hiring manager favorite? Asking an interviewee a scenario-based question to see how they would handle a particular situation. For example:

How would you react if a team member was not contributing to a project?
Imagine you have a deadline and you are running out of time. What would you do?
Your technique in answering this type of question is fourfold: First, know the job you’re applying for, and the skills that are required (or desired). Next, think of a time when you encountered a similar situation, even if not exactly the same one being set up for you. Then, calmly walk your interviewer through how you handled the situation, and what your thinking was.

For example, in response to the first question above, career site redstarresume.com advises you try a reply like this:

“Unfortunately, I have been in this situation before, and it was detrimental to the whole team. First, I would try honest communication. What I’ve found is that the more you ignore the problem, the worse it can get. Speaking with the employee in a nonconfrontational way is the best approach. Often the reason a team member isn’t contributing comes down to not understanding the work or what’s expected of them. That way, I am at least able to find out the cause of the problem and work toward a solution.”

That way you’re exhibiting both your prior experience and your problem-solving skills.

6. Seemingly Innocuous Inquiries About Your Personal Life

“What are your hobbies?” It’s a seemingly innocent question that allows insight into your personality and can help determine if you’re company material. For instance, if you and the interviewee both enjoy table tennis or mountain climbing, that’s a common interest that can make you stand out.

Just don’t be too enthusiastic. We know of a candidate who was passed over for a job because he seemed more excited about his side job than about the job he was interviewing for.

If you’re a mom, you may not have the luxury of “me time.” You might be tempted to gush about your kids, but resist the urge. “Leave your personal life out of your answer,” says Goldstein. Legally, employers are not supposed to discriminate against you if you do have a spouse or children. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t.

If asked what you like to do in your free time, do feel free to mention a hobby that is entirely separate from work, but shows your creativity (like photography) or persistence (like running marathons).

7. “Do You Have Any Questions for Me?”

Always, always have questions for your interviewer. And yes, you will be judged on the amount of research you’ve done about them and the company, as well as your thoughtfulness. A few good rules of thumb: Research your interviewer, and the jobs they’ve held in the past. At a bare minimum, read up on any recent press releases the company has written or new products they’ve launched. Then, stay present and engaged throughout the interview so you have relevant questions to ask at the end.

There are also some greatest-hits questions to bring. Ask about the biggest challenges the company is currently facing, Goldstein says. Their response will give you a sense of how you could be part of the solution.

Other insightful questions include: “What do you consider the best and worst features of this job?” and “How do you imagine that this role will evolve over time?” Stay away from questions that involve compensation, the time frame of the interview process, and other applicants who may have applied.

8. Speed Interviewing

A short interview does not signify a bad interview. Recently, for example, Pizza Hut was conducting 140-second job interviews!

But why do quick interviews seem to be more common? It could be that employers are really busy and don’t have the luxury of chatting for an hour, Goldstein says.

Another reason: First impressions can be made relatively fast. One NYU study showed that impressions are made within the first seven seconds of meeting. Which means you don’t need to be in someone’ s office for an hour for her to decide that you’re right for the job.

BY: Alyssa Goldman

5 Ways to Make Your Workplace More Flexible

November 19th, 2013

While most employees are in favor of flexible work options, if an employer doesn’t implement them properly, the entire business could suffer.

“Companies want to reap the benefits of work flexibility — cost savings, reduced turnover and increased employee satisfaction — without experiencing the perceived downsides to flexible work: Namely, productivity loss,” said Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of the job listing site FlexJobs.

To help businesses avoid a drop in production, Fell offered several tips for companies trying to make their workplace more flexible:

Plan out a flex strategy: Before sending one person home to work, or allow someone a flexible schedule, it’s important to create a flexible-work strategy. Determine which departments and individuals will have access to work flexibility, what kinds of flex they’ll be offered and who has the final say on any flex-work arrangements. Figure out the best metrics for tracking productivity in each individual case and department-wide, and make sure the new strategy is clear to everyone involved.

Devise a trial run: Before launching a full-scale flexible work program, create a trial program using one department or a small group of employees from different departments. Plan to run the trial for a good length of time — one month or longer — to work out the kinks and gather real data. At the end of the trial, assess the outcomes and make adjustments before taking the program company-wide.

Make communication a top priority: Without a specific communication plan in place for flexible work, the program is doomed to fail. Find ways for teams to continue communicating and collaborating with one another, even if everyone is scattered into home offices, or working different schedules. Use online collaboration tools like Yammer and join.me to keep employees connected and ensure continuous communication.

Know that not everyone will be a good flexible worker: Telecommuting and working flexible schedules require specific traits that not everyone has. But don’t shut down the entire flex-work program just because a few people aren’t cut out for it. Instead, consider other perks that can be offered to employees for whom flex work isn’t a good option, while continuing to let the majority of employees take advantage of work flexibility.

Train managers to manage flexible workers: Managing a flexible workforce isn’t the same as managing a traditional one. Yahoo learned this the hard way when it discovered that some of its telecommuting employees hadn’t even logged in for months yet were continuing to get paid. Where were their managers? Train managers to ask questions, challenge their team and be available through a variety of communication methods — phone, email, instant messaging, etc. Make sure they schedule regular phone meetings, or face-to-face meetings if possible. Use different methods of communication so that no team members are left out.

“Companies who don’t prepare a flexible work strategy are usually the ones who claim that flexible work makes their teams less productive,” Sutton Fell said. “But with the proper planning, a trial period and constant open communication, flexible work programs can work for companies and employees.”

By: Chad Brooks

How to Get Hired When You’re Just Starting Your Career

November 5th, 2013

Job searches are never much fun, but when you’re just starting out and don’t have much – or any – experience, it’s often hard to know where to start. How can you position yourself to get hired when you’re brand new to the workforce?

1. If your résumé is sparse, think creatively about what experience you can include. While work experience is best, you can also add volunteer work, extracurricular leadership positions, community involvement, blogging and other activities that demonstrate your work ethic and skills.

2. Add to your experience even though you don’t have a job. Volunteering doesn’t just help out organizations in need. It also expands your network, adds something to your résumé and puts you in contact with loads of new people who will now want to help you. You might also find other ways to be productive: Start a blog in your field, take on a leadership role in a professional organization or otherwise use your time in ways that will flesh out your résumé and show you’ve kept building your skills.

3. Learn how to job search and don’t just wing it. Don’t be one of the hordes of inexperienced job searchers who send out terrible application packages and make inadvertent missteps, like not preparing for common interview questions or forgetting to prep their references. There are plenty of resources for job seekers online, covering everything from writing a strong résumé to how to ace an interview. Read as much as you can find.

4. Go beyond just cleaning up your online profile. By now, you’ve probably heard plenty about how important it is to make sure that employers Googling you won’t find photos of you engaged in drunken antics or any other professional turn-offs. But go beyond eliminating anything problematic and proactively work to build a positive online presence. That could mean anything from a website portfolio of your work to a track record of smart and thoughtful comments on industry blogs. When employers Googles you, let them be impressed by what they find.

5. Write an amazing cover letter. Don’t fall into the trap of using your cover letter merely to summarize your résumé; that’s a waste of a whole page of your application. Instead, you’ll stand out if you write about why you want this particular job (not just a job) and why you’ll excel at it. And don’t be stiff or dry; show some personality so that employers can get a feel for who you are.

6. Connect with alumni. Think you don’t know anyone in your field? There are almost certainly people in the field you’d like to go into among your school’s alumni. Get in touch with your alma mater and ask to be put into contact with alumni in your field. You might be surprised by how willing fellow alumni are to help you out, whether it’s talking with you informally about their career path and what you can expect within the industry or helping you connect with hiring managers in your field. (But make sure you do your research beforehand and come prepared with specific questions. Most people are more willing to help you if it’s clear that you’ve done your homework.)

7. Get on LinkedIn. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have much of a professional profile to advertise there yet; fill out what you can, but more importantly, add connections from all areas of your life. That way, you’ll be able to see who in your network might know someone who works at a company where you’d like to apply or whose company might be hiring. Plus, LinkedIn has thousands of alumni, industry and professional groups, which might help build your knowledge and give you access to industry experts.

8. Get over any fears of networking. If you feel pushy or awkward reaching out about your job search to past co-workers, your parents’ friends and other people you know, it’s time to get over it. The people you reach out to won’t think you’re doing anything odd; networking is normal and most people want to help if they can. So don’t let the fact that it’s new or nerve-wracking stop you from doing it.

By: Alison Green

6 Things That Are Killing Worker Productivity (And How to Fix Them)

October 31st, 2013

Many bosses are quick to blame unrestricted Internet access and short attention spans when their employees aren’t getting things done at work. But there are other factors that are potential culprits behind your office’s lack of productivity, and as a leader, you might be contributing to them.

Chris Majer, founder and CEO of The Human Potential Project and author of “The Power to Transform: Passion, Power and Purpose in Daily Life” (Rodale, 2009), believes productivity issues in modern offices stem from an outdated understanding of waste.

“Waste refers to the events, phenomena, experiences and features that diminish our capacity to do what matters to us,” Majer said. “These wastes are particular to specific concerns and moments in time: What was wasteful yesterday may or may not be wasteful tomorrow. The business world is making tectonic shifts from even a few short years ago, and most leaders are meeting these changes with entirely misdirected responses.”

Majer said there are six interconnected productivity killers affecting today’s workplaces. Before you tighten up that BYOD (bring-your-own-device) policy and set up firewalls, see if your organization is falling prey to one of them.

Degenerative moods

Moods fall into one of two categories: generative and degenerative. Too many organizations today have a workplace culture marked by some combination of degenerative moods, like distrust, resentment, resignation, cynicism, arrogance and complacency. This can lead to a wide range of unproductive behaviors, which, in turn, waste vast quantities of resources, while leaders are forced to work around or attempt to correct them. People simply cannot or will not perform to their potential when their work environments are negative, unhappy places. The success of managers will depend on their mood-management skills, and their ability to consistently design and deploy generative moods of ambition, confidence and trust.

Not listening

People value their own opinions, and they want others to value them as well. The same is true in business: Clients, customers, partners and employees expect people to listen to them. Too many organizations today have created and tolerated a range of practices in which creativity, innovation and the fundamental expressions of thoughts and feelings about work and the future are ignored or spurned. If people are not truly listening to one another, accomplishing anything significant and making effective changes become all but impossible.

Bureaucratic styles

Most companies still operate bureaucratically, insisting employees work inside increasingly complex structures with processes and procedures designed to standardize or control everything. While this might have been the most efficient way to train assembly-line workers during the Industrial Era, human capital is now the greatest resource for most companies. People are paid to think, innovate and collaborate with others to produce the best possible results. You can’t achieve this level of performance if you attempt to dictate their every move with rigid policies and procedures.

Information worship

Information is often viewed as the most valuable commodity, but data and information are useless without human beings to interpret them. By making information the priority, companies lose sight of its fundamental purpose: to enable them to effectively address their customers’ concerns. As people deal with the inadequacies, breakdowns and sterility of most modern information systems, they find themselves unavoidably generating waste and unproductive moods. Rather than attempting to replace people, IT systems, processes and products should be aimed at enabling the human cooperation, collaboration and innovation that are essential to growing a business.

Suppressing innovation

Many organizations confuse the occasional “lightning strike” of a new idea or product improvement with having a culture that fosters innovation. But for this to truly be the case, innovation should not be something that happens every once in a while; it should be a critical competence, a skill to be developed, fostered, rewarded and embedded into the workforce. Contemporary management practices are geared toward ensuring stability and predictability, but innovation is unpredictable, and even disruptive. An innovative organization can only exist when leaders are willing to embrace diversity, set aside bureaucracy, and listen to the continuously changing concerns of their employees, customers, suppliers and investors.

Lack of value in work

Some employees see their work as an endless series of tasks that have commercial value for the enterprise but produce little or no sense of value for the individual worker. This creates an environment where people feel trapped by their need to make a living, prepare for retirement, support families and deal with modern life, while their bosses ignore, diminish or distort the possible ways that work could bring meaning to their lives. When leaders are willing to make the shift away from bureaucratic work styles and encourage listening and innovation, their team will experience meaning and purpose in their working lives. Their interpretation of work will shift from feeling as though they’re renting out their brains to feeling like their contributions to the financial strength, practical knowledge and reputation of the company are also a route to developing their own financial success, competence and identities in the world. From this vantage point, work ceases to be toil and becomes a source of meaning and inspiration.

By: Nicole Fallon

Job Hunting Goes Mobile

October 29th, 2013

Job seekers are no longer searching for new work exclusively from home or an office — more and more people are doing it on the go, new research shows.

A study from job search engine SimplyHired revealed that the number of workers looking for jobs via mobile devices has skyrocketed, from 2.3 million to 9.3 million in the last year. Overall, 30 percent of the job-search traffic on SimplyHired this year came from mobile devices.

Researchers expect that number to grow to 50 percent by the end of 2015, with usage spread across all platforms and job categories. More than 40 percent of the job seekers studied are using an Android device to look for work, with 29 percent accessing job listings with their iOS devices.

Specifically, 75 percent of all mobile job clicks came from mobile phones, while 25 percent came from tablets.

“Recruiters must figure out how to serve the mobile user or risk losing out on a massive pool of candidates,” said James Beriker, president and CEO of Simply Hired.

The study found that mobile candidates are not just killing time, or “snacking” on opportunities, but are actually more engaged than the average desktop candidate when it comes to spending time with job listings. Mobile searchers click on 60 percent more job postings and spend nearly 30 percent longer looking at those jobs than those using a desktop computer. They also spend 25 percent more time on job sites and view more jobs when doing so.

The research discovered that office and administrative jobs, as well as health care practitioners, are the most searched for jobs via mobile devices, with mobile job searching peaking on Mondays and hitting a low point on Saturdays.

The most active period of the day for those looking for work on a mobile device is between 8 and 9 p.m., compared with 11:30 a.m. for those looking via a desktop computer, according to the study.

The research was based on job-seeker activity on Simplyhired.com, which sees more than 30 million unique monthly visitors.

By Chad Brooks

The Top 10 Workplace Trends Of 2013

October 22nd, 2013

This year, through primary research through my company and secondary research by a variety of trusted sources, I’ve tracked ten major workplace trends affecting the world of work. They focus on the generational shift, the rise of freelancing, the skills gap and more. From a professional perspective, understanding these trends will give you the leg up as you make career choices. From the corporate perspective, these trends will help you make more informed business decisions. Here are my top ten:

1. Millennials will rise up. Despite all the reports of the poor economy and the high unemployment rate for Gen Y, they will start to get jobs again. They will become nearly 30% of the American workforce next year and that number will increase substantially in the next five to ten years. As millennials enter and boomers retire, new life will be breathed into corporations and policies will change rapidly.

2. Working from home becomes mainstream. We’ve heard some companies trusting their employees enough to let them work from home. In 2013, companies will realize the cost savings and the productivity increase and give their employees more flexibility. While in years past flexibility programs were viewed as a perk, they will become more standardized and expected. One of the best examples is Aetna. 47% of their 35,000 employees work from home and they have saved an estimated 15% to 25% on real estate costs at an annual savings of about $80 million.

3. Emphasis on employee engagement. Employers are still having major retention problems and it’s costing them a fortune. In 2013, they will focus more on employee engagement to increase their retention rates. An October survey by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training found only a mere 29% of employees are fully engaged. One example is when MGM Resorts put on an entire show for their employees this month.

4. More boomers retire. The shift in workplace demographics is finally upon us. Boomers will start to leave the workplace and retire next year and it’s about time. This will free up positions for Gen X and Gen Y to take leadership roles. The question is which generation will seize their roles? My research next year may give you an answer to that question.

5. Intrapreneurship is embraced. Companies are starting to understand how entrepreneurial Gen Y is and in order to compete with startups, intrapreneurship programs will take off. Aside from EY, PwC, DreamWorks, Microsoft, Google and Facebook, LinkedIn has now created their own program called “[in]cubator.” Employees with an idea can organize a team and pitch their project to executive staff once a quarter.

6. Freelance nation booms. We keep hearing about the surplus of freelancers out there and it’s just the beginning. Next year, there will be millions more freelancers, replacing full-time workers. Companies will hire experts to solve problems instead of full-time employees and save on benefit packages. This is due to the economy and how corporations operate now. One third of American workers are freelancers, reports NBC News.

7. The skills gap shrinks. As of this year, there are over 12 million people who are unemployed and 3.6 million open positions, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. American Manufacturers have 600,000 unfilled positions and 34% of companies say they are having trouble filling open positions. I see this skills gap shrinking as new talent enters the workforce, companies work with schools to train the next generation workforce and people realize that they need new skills in order to get jobs.

8.Internal hiring takes off. It costs companies 1.7x as much to hire an external candidate. The top reason why millennials leave companies is lack of career opportunities. My research shows that companies are starting to give opportunities to their employees over anyone else. This also means that job seekers will suffer. Internal hiring is good for employee morale, saves them money and is quicker (weeks versus months).

9. Employees become social advocates. Companies will start to leverage their talent in order to recruit and market. They will finally realize that they can just use their employees to get the word out instead of wasting money on advertising. Companies will become publishers and in some capacity compete with the likes of magazines and newspapers. IBM, for instance, has 32,000 employee blogs that touch on every area of their business.

10. Women start to outpace men at work. One billion women will enter the workplace in the next decade. Research shows that they are more educated than men and many are saying that they will start taking leadership positions away from them. Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer are just the beginning. Look for more females to break into top roles next year and beyond.

How to Be an Effective Boss

October 17th, 2013

Effective managers provide feedback on a regular basis. They realize that any time is ideal for feedback, and it does not have to be in the form of a scheduled performance review. Effective managers are straightforward and constructive. If an employee’s work isn’t up to par, then say it; explain why and provide guidance on how to improve. It’s the only way an employee will get better.

Successful managers are also always available and over communicate, constantly talking with their teams, troubleshooting problems and answering questions. This means being available nights, weekends, etc.

Great managers set ambitious goals for themselves and their team.
They are continually pushing their teams to achieve goals, while challenging their objections and engaging them in new ways of thinking. They understand that most employees need a balance between autonomy and guidance to achieve optimal productivity. Great managers realize that by providing clear targets to focus on, employees will execute more efficiently, as well as garner a sense of achievement when meeting set benchmarks along the way.

Effective leaders promote internal communication.
They encourage employees to get up, move around the office and talk to coworkers in different units. They realize that some of the best ideas come from cross-office communication and collaboration, and encourage impromptu meetings and idea generation sessions.

Effective managers compile diverse teams.
This comes down to hiring practices and personnel placement. Great managers hire people from different backgrounds, experience levels and with varied interests. They realize the most productive and innovative teams share few similar characteristics.

The most effective managers know their team on a personal and professional level.
They understand what motivates them, their goals and fears, and truly value their staff. They listen to employee feedback and implement new initiatives within budgetary restraints. They understand small rewards can go a long way, and take an interest in their employee’s opinions.

By: Tom Gimbel

© 2004-2010 Porter Group, Inc.

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