As the labour market picks up we’re increasingly hearing from our customers that it’s getting harder to recruit the right kind of people for their business. In the UK this is especially true of engineers, scientists and technically qualified people. There’s too few to go around and those who are doing a great job are rarely in the job market looking for something new.
The great thing about scientists, engineers and technicians is that they are bright, they can do the maths on any job offer you make and will have factored in all the financial costs and benefits. They’ll know how long the commute is, they’ll know what they want as a package and they’re usually pretty clear about what they want in terms of the type of work they will be doing and the management style they prefer.
It’s not hard for bright and motivated people to get a job, a good job, just like the one you might be offering. Yet when we look at how people are going about their recruitment and selection processes we often find that this fact doesn’t feature. The process, and the human interactions within it, sometimes more closely resemble the “X-Factor” or “[Insert your country’s name]”s Got Talent” than an attempt to win the hearts and minds of great potential employees. They are designed to minimise the effort of the hiring business and maximise the opportunities to turn people away, as though there were an infinite pool of candidates to choose from. This approach is neither efficient nor effective. Anyone getting through is likely to be desperate for the role, rather than intrigued, enthused and motivated by the opportunity.
When talking to people about recruiting we hear “it’s OK for people like Google, Microsoft and Apple“, after all they have big names and benefits packages that are trumpeted by star struck HR and business journalists, yet there are far better employers out there, and we’ve met plenty of people who have left those tech giants for better careers elsewhere. Coursera compete directly with Facebook and Google for employees and they do it very well, not by offering driverless buses, more exotic fruit or bigger pool tables, but by treating potential new employees as humans, humans who could be great for the company.
Even people who you choose not to employ can be a great asset to your organisation if they feel they’ve been treated well in the recruitment process. We have clients who have made brilliant hires of people who have been recommended by applicants they have previously rejected, as well as people they’ve hired 18 months after first meeting them as they’ve made a great connection, but the timing wasn’t right. For help with your recruitment and onboarding process, talk to us.
Delta airlines have reworked their pre flight safety video for the internet generation. Or maybe what a slightly confused person who just discovered the internet this morning thinks the internet is. Either way it’s quite an impressive attempt to cram a decade or more of memes into one safety film everybody is so bored of seeing that all the airlines are trying to come up with new ways to present.
You could of course “Like” it, or share it on Reddit if you’re feeling internet retro.
Jon Snow (not that one) gives us a quick overview of the UK elections, with an uncanny link to the Game of Thrones…
It is possible to gather information and to directly influence a situation through effective questioning:
Ask effective questions
- Open questions – gather information – who, what, which, how, why, when, where?
- Probing questions – ask for examples
- Closed questions – get yes/no answers – gain commitment
- Research – environment; past, present, future, their motivators etc.
- Issues – examine the problems, challenges, dissatisfactions
- Consequences – explore the outcomes or impact of the ‘issues’
- Highlight Benefits – the desirability, usefulness, value of the solution
Listen to the answers
- Demonstrate concern
- Active listening
- Empathic listening
- Make detailed notes
- Maintain rapport
- Demonstrate mutual respect – even when you disagree.
Business has plenty of jargon, some of it is a useful way to communicate complex information quickly between people with a shared industry vocabulary, some of it is rather silly, with buzzwords forced into places where regular English would make far more sense.
The use of buzzwords and phrases is tricky enough, particularly when working in international teams with a limited grasp of English idioms, but when people mangle phrases, misunderstanding what they’ve heard and repeating their versions into new conversations, things can get silly.
Here’s a few favourites we’ve gathered recently:
“We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it”
A wonderfully destructive approach to business. This phrase combines the two cliches, the first “cross that bridge when you get to it”, implies that there’s no point in solving a problem that we may encounter later, we first need to work through other obstacles before we get to that “bridge” and then we can work out what to do. Sensible enough. The second, “burning your bridges” suggests committing to one course of action, ruling out all others, destroying any hope of retreat. Burning bridges as you get to them seems likely to trap you where you are.
“To the 8th degree”
It took a while to work out what this person meant, the conversation wasn’t a mathematical or engineering one, but the person was determined to do something to the 8th degree. Oddly specific, whilst completely nonsensical. It turned out that what he meant was “to the nth degree”, an expressing that makes sense, sort of, although maybe not in the marketing context. The nth degree is used to indicate any required power, usually tending to infinity, so meaning all the way. The 8th degree in that context isn’t really all that far.
“He’s been made an Escaped Goat”
This one caused bafflement and amusement in equal measure. No magic was used to turn this errant administrator into a ruminant. People had heaped blame onto him, even though he clearly wasn’t the cause of the problems they were facing. They were making him a scapegoat, rather than escaped goat. The phrase does have some goat related history, and in Leviticus the goat in question may have had the better deal than the one that was sacrificed, but still, if you must scapegoat someone (and it says a lot about you if you do) then go ahead, but don’t turn them into an escaped goat.
“She’s opening the Panda’s Box”
This one slipped by unnoticed by most people, but someone new to the organisation asked “What’s the Panda’s Box?”, causing some chuckles. She’d quite reasonably asked the question, as a newbie, wanting to know what the box was and why it was significant. Unfortunately, she hadn’t misheard, the person who mentioned the Panda’s Box went on to explain that the Panda’s Box was full of terrible problems you don’t want to think about, she wasn’t sure where the phrase came from, probably an old Chinese proverb. Pandora’s Box may contain all the evils of the world, but a panda is more likely to keep bamboo shoots in their box.
This young Detroit woman had a great idea to develop a product, and she worked hard on it. In doing so she learned more than how to develop that opportunity for herself, she created an enterprise that makes a far bigger impact for the end users she had in mind when she set out with her original business idea.
Always set up a creative session using focus – with what do we want to end up at the completion of our thinking
There are two approaches to focus:
- Purpose Focus – has a specific end purpose
g. how can we improve something, how can we speed something up etc.
- Area Focus – we explore the topic before we judge it
g. we might look at communication, meetings, safety – with no specific purpose
Once we have defined a focus we can redefine the focus in order to give us a new angle on our problem solving:
e.g. here are several alternate definitions of a parking problem:
- the car park is too small
- too many people want to use the car park
- too many people drive to work
- people complain about the small car park
Take a focus and brainstorm to pull out all current ideas – no bad ideas, give encouragement
Technique 1 – Random Word:
Use random word to generate further ideas:
Getting the random word – glance at the position of the second hand of a watch. Take the number, e.g. 32, and select the word the third line down and second noun in from a book or newspaper
Using the random word – take the word and extract an association, function, activity from the word and generate new ideas about the focus
e.g. Focus Random Word Association New Idea
Camera Gun Westerns
= sand sand proof camera
NB work individually first and then share output
Things to avoid:
- Don’t wait for the perfect random word
- Don’t list all the attributes first
- Don’t make too many jumps
- Don’t link your ideas to random output
Technique 2 – Challenge:
Technique 1 will generate a host of ideas
In order to generate broader thinking the challenge technique can be used
Challenge can be introduced at any stage; i.e. this could be the first technique used during a session.
Establish current thinking on the focus – this is achieved using the following five categories:
Dominant ideas Make money flying planes with people/cargo on board
Boundaries Airports/technology/national agreements etc
Assumptions Increasing airline congestion/growth of holidays etc
Essential Factors Safety
Avoidance Factors Overcapacity/security worries/unused planes etc
Use challenge technique on current thinking:
Why Cut: Does this need to be done at all; remove the item and run the thinking forward and see if this cut can be implemented
Why Because: If you can’t cut the item then challenge the validity of the reasons why it is done that way. Can you satisfy the focus in another way, or escape the process; i.e. revise the way things are done
Why Alternatives: Both Why C and Why B will often to lead to the generation of alternative ideas and approaches
Along with Focus this is the weakest part of all creativity sessions
Take all of the ideas generated and put them onto Post It notes
Group the ideas by category (e.g. themes/events/structures etc.) and number each idea according to its category
Position all the ideas onto a capability/impact matrix.
Select the ideas with greatest potential for further screening.