Five ways to put your customers’ best interest first It’s the right way to do business – and there’s even a law about it now!

Posted by Mark Jackson on Tue, May, 10, 2016 @ 11:05 AM

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You may have heard about the recent change made by the Labor Department affecting how financial professionals handle the dollars they invest on their customers’ behalf. Those professionals must now act in the best interest of their clients. Really? You mean they weren’t?

Shouldn’t all business professionals act in their clients’ best interests – without it being the law? And, just what does acting in a client’s best interest mean? Here are five simple - but often overlooked - ways you can put your clients first. 

  1. Stay connected

We all like knowing that someone is thinking of us – it makes us feel important and valued. While flowers or a foot massage might be a good way to demonstrate that attention for a loved one, for our clients, it might be a regular phone call to see how the business is running, what has changed and what new challenges have emerged. In addition to regular phone calls or email check-ins, it’s smart to implement a solid marketing plan that keeps your firm top of mind and relevant. That marketing plan could include collateral such as a newsletter, user group meetings or webcasts. Communication like this enables you to better able to anticipate an upcoming need and offer your firm’s assistance – before someone else does.

  1. Brainstorm solutions

We’re talking collaboration here. You may be the software expert, but your client is the expert on their business. Work through problems and solutions together – making sure you take the time to thoroughly understand both their pain points and their ideal outcome. As a software vendor, you have access to a large number of solution offerings. If you’re asking the right questions, and listening to your client’s pain points carefully, you’re more likely to be able to recommend the right solution at the right time. By becoming a strategic partner to your clients, you’ll raise the value of your firm’s services, and build long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.

  1. Speak frankly

You aren’t doing your clients any favors by telling them what they want to hear or making promises you cannot keep. Respect their time, money and technology investment by setting realistic expectations for the solutions you’re proposing and the return on investment they can anticipate. You won’t have all the answers to every question, but if you are honest and candid throughout every interaction, you will gain your clients’ respect. And remember that it’s ok to say no. You can’t resolve every issue they bring to you, and your honesty in that regard will go a long way.

  1. Become indispensable

You become indispensable to your client not simply by successfully completing each engagement you win. You become indispensable by staying out in front of their business – by continually seeking and recommending ways they can leverage software to meet new business challenges.

  1. Remain informed and in touch with current trends, solutions and strategies

The wisest people don’t pretend to know everything, the wisest people are the ones that seek input from others – experts in their respective fields of knowledge, and then distill that information into new ideas, directions and innovation. As a software provider, you generate value for your clients when you bring them new ideas and solutions based on your research of their organization and the available business solutions that overlap with their marketplace. The more problem-solutions you can offer your clients, the higher the value they will place on your relationship, and will always look to you first as their expert go-to provider. Keep in mind that your clients are constantly being bombarded with marketing messages from competing providers offering complementary products and services. If you haven’t been the one to introduce your clients to their options, they may respond to those messages – leaving you behind.

Visibility Software has a flexible and friendly partner program designed to support you in introducing our Cyber Recruiter and Cyber Train solutions to your clients. You can find more information about that program here.

 

Tags: partner, customer solutions

Saying “I do” to Employee Engagement - It’s a long-term commitment that starts with recruiting

Posted by Mark Jackson on Wed, Apr, 20, 2016 @ 10:04 AM

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Employee engagement is a workplace concept that refers to how committed employees are to their organization’s goals and values, and how motivated they are to contribute to the organization’s success. Research has shown that highly engaged employees: 

  • Are more customer focused, more creative at work, and take less sick leave
  • Care about the future of their organization and put in greater effort to help it meet its goals and objectives
  • Feel proud of the organization they work for, are inspired to do their best, and motivated to deliver
  • Are much less likely to leave the organization.

Perhaps it’s not surprising then, that companies whose employees express a high level of engagement are more profitable, have greater revenue figures, and have higher levels of customer satisfaction. A company that values its employees and invests in them right from the beginning is laying the foundation for high levels of engagement. Here are some ways your organization can begin building employee engagement during the recruiting cycle.

Meet Them Where They’re At

Social media has quickly become a powerful recruiting tool. In fact, a recent Aberdeen Group survey reported that 68 percent of “best in class” recruiters think social media is “crucial” to their recruitment strategies. Your company’s LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts can help you spread the word about new job opportunities. They also help put a human touch on your organization, providing a way to introduce and showcase elements of your corporate culture and mission.

Respect Their Time

Strive to be an employer that respects candidates’ time and efforts by streamlining the application process. Post open positions to your company’s website and/or an online job board like Monster.com® and Careerbuilder.com®. Make it simple for them to apply to more than one position at a time. And, send an acknowledgement email letting them know that their resume was received. An applicant tracking and recruiting solution, like Cyber Recruiter, can automate and streamline these tasks, integrating them fully into your workflow.

Conduct Effective Interviews

An interview is the first impression for both employer and candidate. It’s not only a chance for you to assess the candidate; it’s also the candidate’s chance to observe your corporate culture. As many as 42 percent of companies now employee video conferencing (solutions like Spark Hire) in the interview process. This is a great way to give both parties that vital first impression without either of you incurring the expense of an in-person interview.

Make Your Proposal  

Once you’ve identified your next hire, make the proposal a good one. Prepare and send an offer letter along with onboarding forms. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) help speed and automate this part of the process, letting your candidate know you value them and respect their decision-making process. And of course, the applicants that were not selected deserve the same level of respect, so be certain you send them an email or letter as notification.

Prevent Information Overload

On your new employees’ first day on the job, don’t inundate them with paperwork. Much of the necessary information was gathered during the recruiting cycle, and if you’re using an ATS, that data can transfer seamlessly to your payroll and HRMS applications, eliminating the need for duplicate data entry. 

Use that first day instead to make the new employee feel welcome with an office tour, introductions to key personnel, and a welcome gift bag filled with product samples and company swag. 

Striving for high levels of employee engagement simply makes smart business sense. Think of employee engagement as a long-term, evolving relationship between your organization and your employees - one that begins long before the employee starts to work. By building employee engagement strategies into your recruiting methods, you are demonstrating that yours is a company that invests in its most valuable assets.

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Tags: company culture, employee engagement, candidate experience, Hiring, Job Candidates

Best Questions to see if Your Job Candidate Has a Positive Attitude

Posted by Mark Jackson on Fri, Feb, 19, 2016 @ 09:02 AM

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Attitudes, we’ve all got them. Employers, job candidates and even employees have their own unique personality. When it comes to hiring, how do you decipher which job candidates have positive and productive attitudes when the most face time you receive is that of a short-lived interview? Uncovering a potential employee’s basic personality traits is no easy feat and to truly uncover one’s underlying personality traits and general disposition (whether it be sunny or muddled in grey-black clouds) is even more difficult.

Luckily you won’t have to sweat it for too long! In a recent Quora post, professionals in the HR world discussed just this situation.

This question originally appeared on Quora. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Q: What is the best question to ask in an interview in order to determine if a job candidate has good attitude?

“I ask candidates to explain their motivations in choosing to join and leave companies they've worked for, including their current employer. I find these simple questions reveal a lot about motivation and attitude.

Years ago I interviewed with a well known CEO and at the end he asked me "are you lucky?" I was taken aback, it was such an open ended question, but he didn't seem to want to volunteer more context. I gave him my honest perspective. Afterwards he told me the importance of attitude in his leadership team, and that is the question he uses to assess it. 

-John Ciancutti is an engineer and Chief Product Officer at Coursera

 

“Good attitude" is a commonly used phrase and I must confess that after years of interviewing it's still never clear this side of surly what it means.

The best way I know to do three things; how does the candidate interact and engage with you, how does s/he interact with other people with whom they've interviewed and interacted, and how do people describe how the candidate behaves if you get to the reference point.

There are people who appear to be positive and can-do's who turn snarky and snarly when they're "off camera." The only good way I know to make an accurate assessment is by collecting as much observational data as I can.

And as a by the way, I love collecting data from people like receptionists and recruiting coordinators; they have have dealt with lots of candidates, and their observations are usually spot-on.

-J. Mike Smith is a talent coach and a performance coach

 

 Tweet This: Some tricky ways to collect observational data:

 

Most people aren't ready to admit what they're bad at.  When I was a manager recruiter in another life, one of the key litmus test questions was getting a cogent and (perceptibly honest) answer to the unanswerable questions:

"Tell me about a time in a past assignment where you seriously messed up and had to be reprimanded and/or corrected?  Tell me about how you felt and what you did about that reprimand?"

Nobody in management has EVER made it to being a manager without screwing something up.  You can say you haven't, but I won't believe you.  Mess-ups are natural and a part of growth.  Most people cover up for them, deny them and aren't ready to answer these questions. A truly mature manager will admit it and answer honestly.  Only a very amazing liar will be able to come up with something on the fly (good for them), the rest of us will have to access memory and be direct about it.

-Dan Holliday, Corporate Recruiter 

 

Tweet This: "Nobody in management has EVER made it to being a manager without screwing something up." -Dan Holliday

 

Finding a candidate with a positive attitude during your initial interview can be accomplished in various ways: 

      Ask probing, emotion-based questions to elicit a telling response

      Use your gut, if the person seems to be “putting on a show” it can be a red flag.

      Look for genuine qualities, confidence and of course, honesty.

      Focus on which candidates seem unable to admit defeat or failure.

      Ask about former co-workers to determine positivity and cultural fit. 

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Tags: Job Candidates

4 Reasons Employee Development is the Golden Egg of Every Successful Company

Posted by Mark Jackson on Thu, Feb, 18, 2016 @ 09:02 AM

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According to Training Mag, the average amount a midsize company dedicated to the training budget was $1.5 million.

Companies of every size are shelling out the big bucks to train their new employees. Why? Because new employees are an investment and the future and they need to be molded into the common practices and company culture of the workforce in which they are placed. Communication is key in order to keep those new nuggets of talent and in case you hadn’t heard the cost of replacing an employee is through the roof these days. It costs 50-60% of an employee’s annual salary. 

So why should you revamp your employee development program?

 

1. Engaging with your employees leads to SUCCESS

This one’s a no-brainer, but is often seriously overlooked. Engage with your employees, especially your new ones. The more your employees participate in company culture and are associated with the company’s goals and interests the more they can support all those pieces.

 

“Employee development is a way that you can keep your employees engaged at work to prevent that kind of boredom from setting in. Interesting training programs, and future development events that are fun or challenging to look forward to — this removes the plodding daily feel to a job that leads to that dreaded boredom.”

-Chad Halvorson, When I Work

 

Unsurprisingly, 70% of employees who don’t have confidence in the abilities of senior leadership are not fully engaged. Engagement is easy when tackled from a conscious standpoint.

Tweet This: See what happens when employees don't believe in the abilities of senior leadership:

 

2. The fiscal and emotional costs of replacing an employee

The stresses that come with replacing an employee can sometimes outweigh the fiscal costs of replacing said employee. Our advice? Avoid it all together with a streamlined, simple, informative and productive employee development process. For example, 60% of companies have already started re-engineering their performance management system.

Tweet This: 60% of companies are re-engineering performance management. Have you?

In need of some help in this department? Check out Visibility’s talent development solutions to help aid in the assistance of employee development.

 

3. HR Professionals are constantly looking for ways to improve their processes

Keep up on your employee development processes. Setting up a good platform in which an employee can learn paves the way for successful training and continual development in the future. 80% of companies believe HR skills are an issue and 39% rate this as an outright issue. 

 

“Highly-structured, one-size-fits-all learning programs don’t work anymore. Individuals must own, self-direct, and control their learning futures. Yet they can’t do it alone, nor do you want them to. The development and growth of your talent is vital to your ongoing success, ability to innovate, and overall productivity.”

- Keith Ferrazzi, Entrepreneur

 

4. Informal learning, while great, should not be your main vessel of training

Who doesn’t love inadvertent learning? That special kind of learning sharp witted new employees simply pick up from observing and inferring from other employees? While this type of “off the cuff” training is great, it should NOT be a company’s only means for knowledge sharing. An astounding 87% of companies rate "retention, engagement, and culture" as an important imperative and 50% rate it "urgent."

Leaving too much for an employee to infer can lead to major communication problems in the long run. Misinterpretation is the essence of all workplace issues! Be nothing if not overly clear about what you expect from your employees.

Now you have your reasons, but here comes the real work. Check out the many programs Visibility Software has to offer in the employee development realm if you don’t know where to start. You might be surprised at just how easy employee development can really be!

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Tags: employee development

3 Tips for Teaching Employees to Overcome Mistakes

Posted by Mark Jackson on Tue, Jan, 26, 2016 @ 07:01 AM

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Only 13% of employees are engaged at work according to Gallup. Not completely understanding daily tasks or lacking interest in projects can be one of the many factors for the myriad of mistakes employees make. The truth is, no matter who you are, mistakes will happen. They aren’t fun and no one loves dealing with the repercussions, but how you or your employees choose to approach the solution can make all the difference. Consider mistakes as an opportunity for growth. How a leader guides employees through errors as well as how that leader solves their own can make all the difference in a team dynamic.

 

Learn from the mistake

As Lifehacker suggests, making forgiveness a part of the daily routine is pivotal to handling those larger, more impactful errors:

You're not the first person to make a major error. Look at the failures of the people you look up to, and you'll realize it's all a part of the process. The greatest of the greats was a human too, and they most likely had more than a few "whoopsies" in their lifetime.”

Tweet This: "The greatest of greats was a human too, and they most likely had more than a few "whoopsies"..."

Don’t kid yourself; you’ve been in the hot seat before and it wasn’t fun. That said, you can probably remember the repercussions as well as how the issue was solved. If handled correctly, that same error was never once made again. That is the learning that an employee needs. Solving those smaller issues quickly and with little emotion makes the larger issues easier to approach. That’s the trust employees need to have in leadership. The more trust, the more innovation.

 

Owning the mistake

According to a study, 70% of decisions we make will be wrong. Remind your employee not to be defensive when a problem does occur rather, take time to analyze what went wrong. Don’t let the error be the focus of any following correspondence. That will encourage defensiveness and  being defensive not only wastes time and money but distracts from the solution.

Tweet This: 70% of the decisions we make will be wrong. Learn to forgive error, like this: 

This is an opportune time to lead by example. There always has to be give and take. It is easier to own up to leadership when those who manage the team are aware of their own failings. Leaders who are defensive are generally rated as less effective on measures like self-awareness, communication, adaptability and ability to meet business objectives. 

Defensiveness... hinders leaders' ability to learn and, as a result, their success. The researchers looked at feedback that 134 leaders received from their managers and found that defensive leaders were generally rated as less effective on measures including self-awareness, communication, adaptability, and ability to meet business objectives.” - Shana Lebowitz (@ShanaDLebowitz), Business Insider

 

Fix the mistake

Once all issues are laid out on the table and blame is accepted, move on to the solution. Remind your employee that while everyone does make mistakes, owning up and fixing the mistake is the most responsible thing to do. Fully explain what needs to be done to right the wrong, then ask the employee to add input. Ask questions that demand answers.

      What can I, as your manager, do to eliminate the chance of this happening again?

      Is there a way your team can support you to avoid this happening in the future?

      Is there a part of your job or daily tasks that you are confused about?

      Are there any tools that you believe could help you do your job better?

Tweet This: Next time your employee makes a mistake, try this approach: 

 A study found 44% of employees report they didn’t understand the change they were being asked to make. When the approach is one-sided and lacks interaction, the employee loses a valuable step in the process of learning. It is important to help guide your employee to the fix as well as making he or she an integral piece in actualizing the solution. There may be a reason as to why the mistake happened in the first place, and if the right conversation takes place, avoiding recurrence is far more plausible.

Tweet This: 44% of employees report not understanding changes they're asked to make. Try this when leading change: 

Forbes found that 51% of employees said they would rather have had their employer compliment them, point out the wrong and ending once again with a compliment. Some may know this as the “sandwich” method. It might be difficult to find in a stressed time to find the positives, but remember, there’s a reason that you chose to continue working with this employee. Be stern, don’t belittle and make the conversation a two way street. Your employee’s engagement and dedication is on the line as well as the team who leans on he or she. This method will have your employee leaving the meeting encouraged and ready to move forward to success.

Managing, mentoring and training teams is difficult. When you add in organizing the paperwork and compliance concerns of employee mistakes, the stress only heightens. Considering the ways you can curb mistakes before they happen is important. Increase productivity and efficiency with Visibility Software’s learning management system, Cyber Train, so employees are well-trained and engaged, keeping mistakes are kept at a minimum.

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Tags: Employee Training