We’re Doomed…Doomed I tell you!

I had a long breakfast with a friend and Company Director this morning. Over the bacon and eggs we talked about some senior and unexpected departures from one of his competitors. He was identifying the opportunities these senior departures presented for his own company.

In short he categorised these as:

  • Available talent might be available and useful to his own comany (possibly on a consultancy basis)
  • The competitor’s clients might speculate that they might need to shop around for alternative suppliers (Just in case!)
  • Loss in staff morale and as a result loss of productivity
  • Gap in leadership until new leader can be appointed and begin to succeed
  • Possible further departures which could increase problems
  • Cost to competitor of rehiring and lead-in time for newe job holder

Too often, when senior management departs staff look to the future wondering if the business is doomed. (Even if the leader had been unpopular) and wonder if they should consider finding another job before it’s too late. My friend and I speculated that the benefits for my friend’s company could last between six and nine months and be worth many clients and an increase in sales income.

Bernard Matthews as an example
One only has to look at Bernard Matthews, the turkey company, to see how the loss of top people can benefit competitors. Last week the Chairman, Davis McCall, stepped down. Then the Chief Executive, Noel Bartram left and follows Rob Mears the Managing Director’s ealier departure.
The company employs 2200 people with a further 1000 staff in Germany and Hungary. In recent years Trading conditions have been poor for the company with bird flu and increase in costs. In addition staff morale has been hit and sales have slumped. Profits on a turnover of £341m amounted to just £2m.
With the departure of senior people it could be expected that morale and productivity will further be affected unless the latest appointment of David Joll (former CE) can secure a rumoured investment of between £20 and £30million. In which case he could end up as a hero.

A Strategy

My friend and I worked on plans until lunchtime on ways to manage possible, though unlikely, senior departures in his own company.

Stephen Harvard Davis

No comments

It Takes Eight Interviews To Work For Apple

A few days ago Mark Rogers, the UK General Manager for Apple Computers, told me that for a job at Apple and above Manager level there will be around eight interviews.

Actually this came as no surprise. The energy that Apple put into selecting the right individual for their senior appointments is indicative of the energy that they put into everything they do!

However, when mentioning this to some of my business friends, they thought this process too long and protracted and would take up too much valuable time. Yet my argument would be that it’s better to expend valuable time at the start of the process and to get it right than to have to waste it later in clearing up a mess!

This latest video may help you decide



No comments

Telephone and video Interview Tips

70% of graduate interviews now include a telephone interview and 42% of companies now use video conferencing interviews when seeking to hire senior executives.

These statistics came as no surprise to me but when a friend asked me for advice on both techniques I thought I would share the info with my blog followers. Here’s the first with ten tips on handling a telephone interview and within the next few days I’ll upload more tips on managing the video interview.


No comments

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.

No comments

The Dreaded Interview Questions

I’m not surprised that I’m often I get asked for my recommended replies to specific questions but this hides the real question I’m being posed. The real question is “How do I sound different, better and more attractive than the other candidates?”. Over this last week I’ve talked to three groups of people about how to prepare and shine at interviews.

Introductions first.
Yesterday I was talking to a university student that hopes to gain a placement at a large technology firm and defer the last year of his degree to gain experience in a job. I’m sure that he will do well but first he must pass a day long interview where he’s bound to have to introduce himself to a group of people.
Most introductions are either it’s too short such as “I’m an accountant” and gives no further information on expertise or capability or it results in a ramble of words that has little impact and even less meaning for the listener.
For real impact candidates need to develop a twenty to twenty five word description of yourself and your skills that you can memorise and deliver with confidence. The objective is to gain the listeners interest and engage in further conversation. It’s no different from the elevator pitch used by business people (too often very badly!)

Think through the questions you will be asked
Another group I was talking to were in sales and wanting to know how to look different. My advice was to write down the questions you expect to be asked and then ask a friend to ask them and then listen to your answer and make suggestions for improvement. Practice the answers time and again until they sound right to you and answers the underlying questions the interviewer is wanting to discover. (Many interview questions are wanting two or three points addressed)

What questions will you ask the interviewer?
This is an important area because it shows interest and reflects the research made into the future employer (you should have looked at and studied the corporate history, products and their prices and so on)
Consider asking questions on what the company would expect you to have contributed, learned and achieved by the end of the first year

Sales and Marketing interview questions
Have a look at my YouTube channel for further interview films

No comments

Do Aliens Conduct Interviews?

I’m having great fun collecting examples of “strange but true interview questions” and their answers. Some of which I’m posting onto Twitter for the enjoyment of my friends and followers.
One of my favourites is “If Aliens landed in your garden and offered you a job on their planet what job would it be?”.

Favourite interview answers
My favourite answer to the interview question “What’s your greatest weakness?” is still the candidate that responded “Kryptonite. I have yet to discover whether he (I presume it’s a he) got the job.

Other strange but true interview questions that caught my eye include:

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • If you laid all the roads in the UK end to end, how many times round the world would they go?
  • If you were a type of cheese, what cheese would you be?
  • If you were a salad, what type of salad dressing would you choose?

Three Admirals
Another interview answer I like is for the selection board for the Royal Navy, made up of three retired Admirals, interviewing some school leavers. One candidate was asked to name three famous British Admirals. The answer came “Nelson, Drake… and I didn’t catch your name Sir?”
He didn’t get selected for insubordination which I think most unfair!

No comments

A revolution in the making

I was interested to read that two leading academics have predicted a revolution at work over the next ten years. Alison
Maitland and Peter Thomson, visiting fellows at Cass Business School and
Henley Business School respectively, are predicting that employees will soon be deciding when, where and how they do their jobs and that in future workers will be paid by results and not by the hours worked.

Revolution will help boost output
Reported in People Management, the pair maintain that such a
radical change in working practices will help businesses boost output,
cut costs, speed access to new markets and afford employees greater

They highlight the Clothing
retailer Gap that is said to have halved the turnover rate of employees
when it introduced a ‘Results-Only Work Environment’ in the production
and design department of their outlet division in California.

A flawed prediction.

I see there being a flaw in their argument. Can you imagine shops, banks, and other places where staffing is needed during opening hours, allowing complete flexibility in how, when and where the job is done?

Then there’s their proposal of paying for results. Now that sounds like a great idea and would have much support from people all over Europe that would love to propose that we start by paying Bankers, politicians, Estate agents (Realtors) and civil servants purely on their quantifiable results. I can see there being thousands of applications to be “Productivity assessors”
Now there’s a revolution! 

No comments

Gifted employees need not be hard to find

despite the high levels of unemployment many of the businesses that I talk to are finding difficulties in hiring gifted and talented people to join their teams.

This is backed up by the recent research from the CIPD talent planning survey 2011 that found that 52% of businesses are finding it difficult to fill vacant positions with the talent they need to do the job. The CBI suggests that more than half of their members aren’t confident of finding talent to meet their needs.

So what can a business do to find gifted employees?

  1. Consider using job boards such as those on LinkedIn and Facebook
  2. Consider using on-line groups and forums to say you are seeking talent
  3. Ensure that you are looking for the talent that will match the business strategy
  4. Consider internal candidates
  5. Consider if the job, benefits and profile of your business will attract the very best and if not then restructure the position so that it will be attractive to the talent you are looking for
  6. Calculate your talent needs for the present, medium and long-term and create strategies to deliver these
  7. Don’t be too rigid in recruiting the “very best”. The perfect employee doesn’t exist. But make sure you capture the “best available” before your competitors.
No comments

Rightsizing, Downsizing, Normalizing…

I do hate it when business use phrases to hide actions in order to reduce the potential impact and effects and one that I find increasingly annoying is “Rightsizing”. This is partly because it’s so often used to replace more accurate descriptions such as Redundancy.

It was used in Management Today “UBS is far from being the only bank which has announced
job cuts recently – everyone from HSBC to Credit Suisse has been busy
‘rightsizing’ their workforces…The job cuts at UBS amount to over 5% of its total workforce

Now, I know that “Rightsizing” has been used for some years but surely it’s poor management to have “Wrongsized” in the first place (see Tony Miller descriptions below) but I doubt that it’s the management jobs that are about to be rightsized! You can imagine the  press release from UBS HR was at pains to seem to be “normalizing” the situation but is the term “Rightsizing” the correct one.
Thanks to Tony Miller  for giving a reasonable explanation so that we can all make up our own mind!:

Is simply reducing the number of reporting layers in the business to produce a better line of communication and efficiency…Downsizing is a stressful and risky business and should not be carried out by anyone who has not experienced this technique.

Involves reducing the organisation by a small percentage. By doing this you can keep the organisation trim and in better condition. It can be achieved by a number of painless means such as:
Freezing recruitment
Releasing the long-term sick
Releasing poor performers


No comments

Hiring Good Sales People and Avoiding Ordertakers

I’m continually asked by businesses how they can interview and recruit good sales people whilst avoiding the order-taker that eats up valuable management time and resource.
So here’s a video I’ve just uploaded and hope that you find it useful

Hiring salespeople, avoiding ordertakers

No comments

Next Page »