Archive for June, 2012

A spring in my step all day today

Found this feedback on a conference keynote I give and it’s put a spring in my step all day

“I have seen Stephen speaking on more than one occasion and I’m a strong advocate of his material.
The talk is fun and engaging with a deft touch. Mainly though I think the content is vital.
It has a demonstrable ROI and is hugely relevant in this time of constant change.
I would recommend it to anyone serious about the long term success of their business”
Caspar Berry

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66% of hiring managers regret their decision

This week I’ve been talking to two businesses that are expanding about their interview programmes.

66% of hiring managers regret their decision
Both were surprised when I told them that 66% of hiring managers regret their interview based decisions. When you consider the vast sums of money that organisations invest in their recruitment process one has to wonder what’s wrong. The problem is that, despite some having very prescriptive systems, most companies interview and select their new hires very badly. In fact around 40% of new hires go on to fail to deliver the results anticipated.

Top talent walks away
The biggest problem is that many managers will hire on whether they like the person. Then again I know of some interviewers that like to place a lot of pressure on candidates. Only a desperate job hunter will put up with this technique and most “top talent” will simply walk away. The lesson here is that asking questions to make them squirm is ineffective and counter productive.

Future tense questions reveals capability more effectively
Then again most questions are “past tense” and historical questions and a well prepared candidate can shine.
I always suggest asking most quwestions in the future tense that include actions that they would use in the job on offer. It becomes easier to to assess capability for the job that needs doing.

Much, much more revealing
Posing a top talent candidate a real and actual business problem and holding a discussion and debate with them using a white board to record detail and thought processes will reveal much more about “thinking, compatability and ability” than just posing questions. It may take longer, it may be less structured than you currently use but it is also likely to be much, much more revealing.

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Lighting Customers up

Over the past two weeks I’ve really enjoyed working with some great professionals and it prompted me to think what it was that did that made contact with them so pleasurable.

The first was John Cassidy who I asked to take some new photos. John specialises in headshots and had photographed David Beckam, most of the English football squad as well as Royalty. Not only did John create some great results but he was a joy to meet, very engaging and took time to find out what I wanted. “It’s what you would expect” I hear you say and I would reply “True, but I have been photographed by people who didn’t light me up and consequently got poor results”.

With John I relaxed, enjoyed working with him and the results were better than I expected. He explained how to get the most from his time with him and how to prepare for the session. What to wear, grooming, and what to do the week, day and evening before the shoot. That was certainly new for me and a three hour photoshoot seemed like twenty minutes!

Then there was a twenty-one year old graduate who once swam for Team GB Youth team called James Hosrfall who’s set up his own fitness suppliment company. I will be talking about him in greater detail in another blog. Then there was the builder, the lawyer and ….

We may, often, complain about the standard of work in the UK and I know I do so regularly, but there’s an awful lot of great and knowledgable professionals about. Thanks guys for lighting me up!

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Wickes, not building customer trust with me

It’s not often that I come accross a business that seems to have a business model guaranteed to upset the customer.
However, I have to give the prize to Wickes. The people who’ve got their name on it! and their branch in St Albans!

Some months ago I decided on a new kitchen. The old one couldn’t hold all the equipment, pots, pans and so on and anyhow it looked old fashioned. So I decided to splash out. After some research I fell in love with a modern look that Wickes had on display. Cream coloured cabinets with no handles, easy to clezan and perfect. The very personable salesperson came to measure up and produced a stunning 360 computer plan (see below) of what the kitchen would look like. I was really impressed and it was a few punds over budget, but when you fall in love…so what

New kitchen

Things started to go wrong
A deposit was paid and a date arranged for a fitter (i guess a subcontractor) to call to take exact measurements. It was then that things started to go wrong!
The fitter arrived and took exact measurement by waving his tape measure around and seemingly rounded up the measurements to give him wiggle room. (No sign of a laser measurer which he told me was less acurate than the old tape measure)
Then cam the add-ons. These are the bits priced up by the fitter and excluded by Wickes designers. Such as light fittings, tiling, electricals and so on.

Price escalated to over 20% more
After the fitter had added up all his extras the project price had risen by an additional 20% (I will admit it included a new fuse box).
I was then told that the work would take two weeks, Wickes had told me it would take one!
I was then left with no paperwork by the fitter except that half the additional payment would be required before starting. Had the fitter demanded more I had no proof that was the agreed amount
I still had to buy the tiles and light fittings!

Second thoughts

  • I decided that the budget had been exceeded and so cancelled the contract within the 14 day cooling-off period.
  • It was promised that the deposit would be repaid and I’m still waiting
  • The regional manager phoned me to discuss my concerns and before I could call back (he called on the Saturday of the Jubillee holiday) and has since gone off on holiday without leaving another person’s contact details

Change the poor business model
I would suggest that Wickes consider changing their business model so as to conclude a SINGLE price for all the work and which includes all their sub-contractors work including tiling, light fitting and all other works. It might result in kitchens and possibly bathrooms being a bit more expensive at the quote stage BUT it would prevent the thoughts that sub-contractors were inflating prices and that the process was inefficient and in the end not worth the frustration.
Would I go back, not even for some plywood!

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