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9 competences you need in your workforce today and tomorrow

If you are looking to hire someone to join your company or to develop existing people who will regularly bring added-value (in the long-term), you need to think about more than technical or functional skills. In my opinion, the 9 following competences are absolutely key to sustainable success in today and tomorrow’s business environment…

 

THE CONSTANT LEARNER

It has been said for decades that the only constant is change. Clearly that hasn’t changed. If we cannot be sure about what tomorrow looks like, then the following three competences are important:

  • Open-mindedness is the ability to receive and treat new information without overbearing prejudice. Many of us spend the majority of our waking lives on autopilot, doing things just like we did yesterday, set in our ways and thoughts. Open-minded people are able to put their own convictions on hold and see things differently in order to deal with new ideas. They are conscious of their own habits and convictions, they listen well and they tend not to mix up their own perception with reality.
  • Self-learning is the ability to define, follow-up, deliver and evaluate learning goals in an autonomous way. Today’s workers must be able to acquire and assimilate knowledge, learn new skills and question their own attitude without the necessary intervention of a learning department or teacher. Specific skills here include goal-setting, self-coaching and identifying infinite learning opportunities.
  • Problem-solving skills and scientific reasoning are required in order to figure things out where no answer currently exists. Workers must have the ability to correctly assess and define a problem. They must have a minimum of business acumen and creativity to propose multiple hypotheses and a sufficient scientific process to create “experiments” that will allow them to isolate, test and understand problem causes and potential solutions.

 

FUNCTIONING WELL IN TODAY’S UBER-SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT

In today’s working environment (the “New World of Work”) the possibilities are endless. We can gather and share information from and to everywhere in a click. We have unprecedented access to other people. We are mobile within markets and across functional and geographical lines. The following three competences are all about getting and giving the best in that environment:

  • Personal Knowledge Management is a collection of processes that a person uses to gather, classify, store, search, retrieve, and share knowledge in his or her daily activities. Faced with the enormous noise of information coming in from everywhere in multiple formats, today’s workers need to be able to make sense of it all and put the noise to effective use for herself and others, today and in the future.
  • Networking skills allow workers to effectively analyse, evaluate and improve their own networks in order to receive and give more value. With a clear long-term mission and good social skills, effective networkers can assess, create and maintain well-functioning networks. They know the right people (who know the right people..) and can establish trusting useful contacts over a variety of face-to-face and virtual platforms in order to achieve their goals.
  • Commercial communication and personal branding. As businesses become more “intrapreneurial” and workers get involved in more cross-functional, multinational projects, the ability to understand the situation, values and needs of other people and position oneself and one’s work “commercially” in terms of benefits is key to being accepted and being useful. No-one can sit back and say that “sales” is for someone else. As Daniel Pink has said, to sell is human and we’re all doing it, whether we know it or not. The product/service branding approach of matching key messages to target audiences can today be equally well applied to individuals – effective personal branding helps other people to see your own value more easily.

 

BRINGING VALUE TO THE BUSINESS

A constant learner who is able to function well in an uber-social environment is not worth anything if he doesn’t really understand how business is happening and what can be done to achieve goals. He needs three additional competences:

  • Business acumen or business intelligence is the first foundation for adding value to an organisation. In the past, only the management needed to worry about the universal drivers of cash, profit, growth, people and assets; everyone else could “just” focus on his job. But as environments, people, projects and processes change rapidly, there is more need for workers who truly understand their own work and how it influences the bottom-line and delivers on company strategy. If you don’t understand the core factors that make your business successful, you will not be able to identify opportunities, solve problems or articulate solutions that bring any value.
  • Strategic thinking is the ability to identify priorities based on current position in relationship to the end-goal. Technical or tactical experts tend to have a good grasp on which is the best way to achieve a certain action, but strategic thinkers more easily identify those actual actions which really need to be taken at this time. Although top-management may be responsible for defining the company strategy, each individual needs himself to be able to regularly and effectively assess their own position (in terms of S/W/O/T etc..) and look for recurring themes and priorities. In this way, they can strategically choose relevant action and next concrete steps.
  • Proactivity is the ability to stop, think and choose, rather than simply reacting to circumstance. A close-cousin of both strategic-thinking, open-mindedness and problem-solving ability, proactivity requires self-knowledge and a specific attitude, in addition to specific knowledge of the environment and mission. Faced with unacceptable results, the proactively-reactive person will assess the situation and processes/programs in order to create change which he or she believes he can orchestrate. And the truly proactive person will “in advance” take the initiative to assess risks to the mission and think about how to do things differently and how to have a maximum impact.

 

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Job hunting strategy and 16 tips

If you are looking for a job, this post will explain the single most important thing you need to know about your job-seeking strategy. It also delivers 16 tips to get you on your way to employment…

 

First of all, a few assumptions

  • Assumption number 1: There are enough jobs for everyone
  • Assumption number 2: Most available jobs are not advertised
  • Assumption number 3: Most job seekers only reply to advertised jobs, in the normal way

 

 

Let’s use the following example to see what this means for you. I have applied the Pareto Principle and am convinced that even if the numbers are not exact, the point is true:

  • If there are 100 available jobs and 100 job seekers, there is enough work for everyone.
  • Of those 100 available jobs, up to 80 of them may not be advertised at all. And certainly not everywhere.
  • Of the 100 job seekers, 80 of them will only be looking in the usual channels for advertised jobs and will respond in the usual way by sending a CV and motivation letter and then waiting.
  • The other 20 job seekers will expand their searching horizons and use different methods to make their applications.
  • This means that 80 people are looking at 20 jobs (with a 1 in 4 chance of success) while the other 20 people can choose between 4 available jobs.

 

So: You need to be in the 20 group!

And you need to apply these 16 tips to look for a job:

  • Recognise that everyone you know is a potential lead. And considering “The Obama Effect”, the potential leads are far more numerous.
  • Email all your friends and family to tell them what kind of work you are looking for and ask them to send you any leads.
  • Think about your added-value and created a polished tweetable message about yourself.
  • Ensure any presence on social networks or the www reinforces your personal brand.
  • If possible, announce your intentions via social media platforms and request input and feedback from peers. Update your LinkedIn profile and get some relevant recommendations.
  • Research people with similar jobs in their targeted company and talk to them to get contact details, job leads and other relevant information.
  • If you see any news about your targeted company winning new contracts or creating a new product, service or office strike while the iron is hot.
  • Go to conferences in your field of interest and talk to people.
  • Email the person you actually want to work with. Tell them you want support and ask for a phone conversation. If you don’t get a reply, try cold-calling them anyway.
  • Adapt each CV and its content to the company you want to work with.
  • Be FAB and answer the 3 most important questions.
  • Use creative techniques to make sure your CV stands out.
  • If you make a formal application, make sure it gets in the hands of the right people, bypassing reception and generalist recruiters at all costs.
  • Follow up on your applications quickly.
  • Spy on your prospective company building at arrival and leaving times to see how people are dressed. Now you know how to dress for the interview.
  • Practice interview skills with a friend or coach.

 

To conclude, it is only fair to note whilst assumptions 2 and 3 are based on my experience with job seekers and recruiting companies, the first assumption could just be a wildly optimistic statement. All the more reason to apply the strategies noted above…

 

Good luck!

 

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Onboarding Activities Spread Over Time

I’ve been working with a Belgian company recently to re-define their onboarding process. Faced with a regular influx of young starters, a bored team of “induction presenters” and a realisation that they can do much better, they are revamping their onboarding for the future. This short post simply outlines the activities we have considered  – it may give you some ideas. Nothing here is more expensive to implement than the previous processes. 

During recruitment

  • Recruiters explain the basic onboarding process and give potential starters a flyer about their first weeks in the company

Upon contract signature

  • First “handshake tour” of the office
  • Give branded “care package” handed-over
  • “Welcome video” from CEO waiting in email inbox
  • Access to internal Yammer network

Start minus 2-weeks

  • Assignment to starters: Introduce yourself on Yammer network
  • Information presentations (PPTs, Prezi, video) delivered  to starters with important information (compliance, processes)

Start minus 1-week

  • Onboarding agenda delivered (and Outlook calendar pre-populated)
  • Starters given a joiners company quiz to complete in their own time prior to day 1 – answers can be found in various online resources

Start minus 1-day

  • Courtesy phone-call from manager: “Everything OK for tomorrow?”

Day 1

  • First beautiful welcome in reception: We wait for you
  • Orienteering game in the office
  • Fire drill (do, not tell)
  • Short Q+A sessions in place of long classical presentations (you already got the information; now bring your questions)
  • Lunch with other new joiners (not manager)
  • Answers to quiz questions
  • Time at desk with one real job to achieve
  • Hand-over laptop, phone etc at the end of the day

 

Day “2” (or maybe 3…)

  • Manager gives first week focus: 3 priorities to be achieved
  • Lunch buddy or “parrain”
  • Courtesy call from IT helpdesk: “Everything OK?”
  • Colleagues start welcoming via Yammer network

 

End week 1

  • First status-update meeting with manager
  • Video presentation from CEO: “Company mission, vision and strategy”
  • Online satisfaction survey: “Week 1 onboarding”
  • Sweets for the weekend 🙂

End month 1

  • Meeting with recruiter: Compare notes on recruitment, function and onboarding
  • Manager sets performance targets for next 2-months
  • Meeting with other new starters: Starters present their job/projects to other starters
  • Workshop with other new starters: SWOT and company strategy
  • Online satisfaction survey: “Month 1 onboarding”
  • Networking event with other new joiners

End month 3

  • Knowledge (compliance) test regarding specific company processes
  • First formal performance evaluation meeting with HR
  • First formal performance evaluation meeting with manager
  • Online satisfaction survey: “Month 3 onboarding”

End trial period (6 months in Belgium)

  • Golden handshake from CEO
  • Letter sent home with good news
  • Discussion about career development and talent development processes in company
  • Party

There are many other things that could be done to make onboarding a success (gamify the whole thing??) and I’ll be going through the major principles behind success in future blog posts…

Thanks for reading!

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I could use a trainer …shoe pun :-/

This post has nothing to do with trainers. Well, sort of. It is about getting a job, getting seen or self-branding..

 

In 1999, a good friend of mine tried to get a job in a highly esteemed London Ad Agency. He was amongst 1000 hopeful graduates just on the market trying to get into the best spots. Big names, big competition. I wonder how many of them did what he did…

Instead of sending a CV, he sent a plastic moulded cast of his foot. In a shoe box. When the box was opened, there was a simple message: “I need a trainer. Call me” (+ his number).

I suppose that most other people sent in a CV. My guy didn’t. He did what everyone needs to do if they want to get somewhere with the help of other people….

 

1 – Tune in to the situation, values and needs of the other person

This is key to any “sales situation”, whether it be getting a job, selling a house or service or convincing your friends to come out on a Saturday night. You need to put your active empathy skills into practice and tune in to the other person. You’ve gotta be FAB. The shoe in a box was tuned into the need for creativity and an original dynamic approach.

 

2 – You have to stand out . You might say: That’s easy in the advertising world, but not in real life. OK, a good point – but I’m not asking you to be creative and wacky all the time. Just different to the other guy. What makes you different? Even if you have a simple classic CV, you have to have something that the others don’t have. A USP.

 

3 – But don’t bullshit. What I liked about the shoe in the box was that it didn’t make any great claims-to-fame that wouldn’t hold up. The action itself suggested “creativeness” but the need for a trainer underlined a lack of arrogance that needed supporting. Nice. Subtle. But cool.

 

These lessons may come from a world of advertising and recruitment, but they are valid for a lot of communication situations. Tune into the situation/values/needs of the other, stand out and keep it real.

Have fun!

Thanks for reading.

 

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