Eric Jacobson

Archive for the ‘Hiring Great People’ Category

Interview Questions To Identify Cultural Fit

In Cultural Fit, Hiring, Hiring Great People, Interviewing on December 31, 2015 at 6:44 am

If you are leading an organization and are the last person to interview a candidate, focus your questions more on trying to see if the person is a cultural fit. Here are a few questions to pose to potential new hires (from the new book, Advisory Leadership:

  1. What motivates you?
  2. What are you passionate about? (Finding out what people are passionate about and why is a great window into someone’s personality.)
  3. What are you telling your family/spouse about our company? (This question often takes candidates off guard and results in some often very honest answers.)
  4. What did you enjoy most/find most challenging in  your last position? (There are no right or wrong answers, necessarily. This question is a great assessment of the candidate, especially when considering certain roles.)
  5. What opportunities do you see for yourself here?

How To Identify A Leader During An Interview

In Eric Jacobson On Corporate Culture, Eric Jacobson On Leadership, General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Interviewing, Interviewing Leaders, Leadership, Management on April 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Eric Jacobson Leadership

The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access  their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:

  1. What personal qualities define you as a leader?  Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.
  2. Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.
  3. What is the toughest group from which you’ve had to get cooperation?
  4. Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas?  What was your approach?  Did it work?
  5. Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?
  6. One leadership skill is the ability to accommodate different views  in the workplace, regardless of what they are.  What have you done to  foster a wide number of views in your work environment?

Thanks to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, for these helpful questions!

3 Best Places To Interview Job Candidates

In Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Hiring, Hiring Great People, Hiring Older Workers, Management on September 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

One of the reasons you want to interview people in three different places is that candidates will usually be at their very best in the first interview (likely in your office).  After that, if they are pretending, the veneer will come off in subsequent meetings in out-of-the office locations.

Also, because most employees can only be successful in their jobs in different locations as well, it makes sense to witness your candidates in different settings.  So, consider interviewing the candidate over a lunch at a nearby restaurant.

And, finally, consider interviewing them in a group setting where you invite a variety of your employees to be part of the group.  If you do this, be sure to let each employee voice their “vote” regarding the candidate after the meeting.

There are lots more great tips like this one in Thompson’s and Tracy’s book, Now…Build a Great Business!

Work Reimagined Connects Experienced Workers With Interested Hiring Businesses

In Collaboration, Corporate Culture, Engaging Employees, Hiring, Hiring Great People, Hiring Older Workers on August 21, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Older displaced leaders seeking work have a new online resource to help connect them with businesses with a special interest in workers with long experience.  AARP launched a new website in July called, Work Reimagined.

The site is powered by LinkedIn, the career-oriented social media site.

Work Reimagined is the first talent exchange dedicated to helping companies find experienced workers and to helping experienced professionals connect to more satisfying careers.

For businesses hiring, Work Reimagined helps them target the most appropriate, experienced workers.

For people looking for work, the site lets you access unique, personalized job leads from employers who respect depth of knowledge and experience.

The site also is a place to share experiences, challenges and dreams for the future via groups and discussions on LinkedIn.

Working with AARP, participating companies have signed a pledge to level the playing field for experienced workers.  Employers who sign the Pledge agree that they have:

  • Openness to the value of mature workers
  • Nondiscriminatory HR policies
  • Immediate hiring needs (at the time of Pledge signature)

How To Hire A Marketing Leader

In Effective Communications, General Leadership Skills, Hiring, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Management, Marketing on January 19, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Welcome Debbie Laskey to my blog! 

With 15 years of marketing experience and an MBA Degree, Debbie developed her marketing expertise while working in the high-tech industry, the Consumer Marketing Department at Disneyland Paris in France, the non-profit arena, and the insurance industry. 

Currently, Debbie is a brand marketing and social media consultant to small businesses and nonprofits in California. 

I met Debbie a few years ago while we worked together on a training committee for MicroMentor, a nonprofit that connects small business owners with business mentors. 

  • Debbie and I recently discussed what business owners should look for when hiring marketing leaders, and highlights are provided below. 

Eric:  What personality traits are ideal for a marketing leader?

Debbie Laskey: First, marketing is not sales. I say this because, while the two areas must work in tandem if both departments exist in a company, sales people have very different personalities than those in marketing.

People who sell cars or real estate focus completely on the sale. Most people who work in marketing focus on the entire customer lifecycle from prospecting to building relationships to creating a sale to building repeat business. Therefore, marketing professionals need to be patient, flexible, high-energy, and dedicated. 

From a business perspective, the best marketing professionals are innovative, open-minded, adaptable, and enjoy working with all types of people. From a management perspective, the best marketing leaders are those who have managed both small and large teams, possess excellent communication skills, served as leaders in the past, and worked in a variety of industries.

Eric:  What’s the best professional background for a marketing leader?

Debbie Laskey: Talented marketing leaders can go from one industry to another with fast ramp-up time. Since experience and education are critical, a person who has worked as a marketing leader in one industry can apply what he/she has learned – both initiatives that worked and those that didn’t – and can easily market anything ranging from widgets to professional services. Naturally, there will be differences in the B2C, B2B, and nonprofit arenas, but marketing leaders can quickly study the competitive landscape, target market, value proposition, and then recommend viable marketing campaigns.

Eric:  What should be discussed during the interview process when searching for a marketing leader?

Debbie Laskey: Since a marketing leader should be an important member of a company’s leadership team, the hiring process should allow sufficient time for both parties to get to know each other. 

Several members of the company should interview the top candidates, and questions should focus on realistic situations to determine how the candidates will approach the development of marketing campaigns and how to increase business opportunities for the company. 

It is an insult to ask questions such as, “If you were a bug, which one would you be?” or “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” These questions range from the ridiculous to those that demand canned responses. The reality is that no one will hire a candidate who can list three weaknesses. Besides, if someone is a good interviewer, he/she can easily determine strengths and weaknesses without having to ask. 

Since the best interviews are conversations, rather than interrogations, focus on realistic marketing scenarios such as, “If we were going to implement a social media campaign, which social media channels would you emphasize and why?” or “If we were going to implement a mobile marketing initiative for the spring quarter, how would you create your plan?” 

Also, ask for details about previous marketing successes – and watch how the candidate explains the successes. Is he/she enthusiastic or bored? Does he/she take ownership of the campaign? Also, ask about marketing campaigns that might not have yielded the expected results. Ask the candidate to explain why and watch body language. Does he/she take ownership for the lack of results? 

If the candidate said he/she managed others, one way to confirm the accuracy of that fact is by asking how he/she rewarded or thanked a subordinate for performing excellent work. Again, watch how the candidate answers and be on the look-out for enthusiasm or discomfort.

Eric:  How should you measure the performance of a newly-hired marketing leader after 30 days, 90 days, and one year?

Debbie Laskey: When a new person joins the team as the marketing leader, there is often a lot to learn about the company, its competitive advantage, its target market, and its competitors. Therefore, a good marketing professional will spend time creating a marketing audit, which reflects on the external marketing environment (customers and competition), the internal marketing environment (company resources including staff, budgets, product portfolio, new products, pricing, distribution, and market share), and evaluates all previous marketing initiatives. 

It is critical to understand previous marketing activities, what worked, and what did not work in order to create a new marketing plan that will yield more successful results. 

If a company does not want the new marketing leader to analyze previous initiatives, that is a clue that the company does not want to undertake any serious marketing initiatives. Walk to the door and leave – no, run – the job is not a fit and will just cause frustration. But if the company’s leaders genuinely want to improve their business and implement new marketing initiatives, they will welcome a detailed marketing audit. 

Based on timing and priorities, an audit may take one-to-three months. 

In addition, a new marketing leader should speak with all department leaders to gain detailed understandings of their departments and how they will work in tandem with the marketing department

There may also be a need to hire additional marketing staff – that may take place during a marketing leader’s first six-to-twelve months. 

But the bottom line is that the new marketing leader and the business owner must agree on the marketing leader’s overall objectives for all timeframes – they must be on the same page for success to result.

Eric:  Where can a business owner learn more about marketing?

Debbie Laskey: Here are some excellent online marketing resources:

You may follow Debbie on Twitter (www.twitter.com/DebbieLaskeyMBA), Google+ (http://www.gplus.to/dlmba), or on her Blog (http://debbielaskey.blogspot.com).

How To Identify A Leader During An Interview

In General Leadership Skills, Hiring, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Skills, Management on January 7, 2012 at 8:31 pm

The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access  their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:

  • What personal qualities define you as a leader?  Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.
  • Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.
  • What is the toughest group from which you’ve had to get cooperation?
  • Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas?  What was your approach?  Did it work?
  • Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?
  • One leadership skill is the ability to accommodate different views  in the workplace, regardless of what they are.  What have you done to  foster a wide number of views in your work environment?

Thanks to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, for these helpful questions!

Top 20 Leadership Books: What To Give First To A New Manager

In Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Education, Leadership Quotes, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Listening Skills, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Sales Management, Setting Goals, Strategic Planning, Team Building on December 10, 2011 at 6:53 am

Eighteen months ago, I posted the question “What’s The First Leadership Book You Would Give To a New Manager?” within the discussion forum for the LinkedIn group Linked 2 Leadership.

That question generated 603 comments and 690 recommendations.  Some people suggested more than one book.  Some during the course of the 18 months made the same book recommendations a couple times.  And, the group discussion continues to be one of the most active still today.

In early November 2011, group member Len White graciously culled through the comments using his company’s Symphony Content Analysis Software that assists with the organization, analysis, and reporting of themes contained in text data.

And here are the results:

·    412 different/unique books were recommended

·    The Top 20 recommended books, collectively, received 250 of the total recommendations

·    Two authors – Stephen R. Covey and John C. Maxwell each have two books in the Top 20

·    Group members recommended other things instead of giving a book about leadership to a new manager, such as:

o   Interviewing everyone in the company with whom they will directly work 

o   Giving a book about management first

o   Mentoring the person for a period of time before recommending a leadership book

And, unlike a question about “What is Your Favorite Leadership Book,” the question this time asked what is the first book you would give to a new manager.

The Top 20 Books are:

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
  2. Leadership and Self-Deception– Arbinger Institute
  3. The One Minute Manager– Kenneth H. Blanchard
  4. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership– John C. Maxwell
  5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team– Patrick Lencioni
  6. First Break All the Rules– Marcus Buckingham
  7. The Leadership Challenge– Jim Kouzes
  8. The First 90 Days– Michael Watkins
  9. How to Win Friends and Influence People– Dale Carnegie
  10. Good to Great– Jim Collins
  11. It’s Your Ship– Michael Abrashoff
  12. The Speed of Trust– Stephen R. Covey
  13. Developing the Leader Within You– John C. Maxwell
  14. Who Moved My Cheese– Spencer Johnson
  15. Don’t Bring it to Work– Sylvia Lafair
  16. Leaders Without Borders– Doug Dickerson
  17. Leadership and the One Minute Manager– Kenneth H. Blanchard
  18. On Becoming a Leader– Warren Bennis
  19. The Anatomy of Peace– Arbinger Institute
  20. The Art of Possibility– Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander

Within the Top 35 list of the book recommendations, you’ll find four more John C. Maxwell books, including:

·        The 360 Degree Leader

·        Developing the Leaders Around  You

·        Failing Forward

·        Leadership 101

The authors and leadership book publishers most discussed within the group forum have been:

·        Dale Carnegie

·        Jim Collins

·        Jim Kouzes

·        John C. Maxwell

·        Kenneth H. Blanchard

·        Marcus Buckingham

·        Michael Watkins

·        Patrick Lencioni

·        Stephen R. Covey

·        Arbinger Institute

Group discussion participants are clearly inspired by a wide variety of books – biographies, autobiographies, books backed by research and academia, books made famous by the popular press, books by motivation speakers, and books by professionals eager to share their personal and professional leadership success stories, tips and suggestions.

Finally, the book I recommended, The Leadership Test, by Timothy R. Clark made it within the Top 35.

Thanks to all the group members who made recommendations and to Tom Schulte, Executive Director of Linked 2 Leadership, and the owner and moderator for the LinkedIn group, Linked 2 Leadership, which has 19,678 members.

Note:  Symphony Content Analysis Software is designed and published by Active Java.

Brian Tracy Shows Leaders How To Make Employees Happy In New Book: Full Engagement

In Company Culture, Effective Communications, Employee Engagement, General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Books, Leadership Skills, Leadership Training, Leading By Example, Listening Skills, Management, Mentoring, Motivating Employees, Team Building on May 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Best-selling author Brian Tracy’s newest book, Full Engagement, provides practical advice for how to inspire your employees to perform at their absolute best. He explains that above nearly every measure, employees’ most powerful single motivator is the “desire to be happy”.

So, Tracy teaches you how to make your employees happy by:

  • Organizing their work from the first step in the hiring process through the final step in their departure from your company so they are happy with you, their work, their coworkers, as well as in their interactions with your customers, suppliers and vendors.

Full Engagement includes these chapters and topics:

  • The Psychology of Motivation
  • Ignite the Flame of Personal Performance
  • Make People Feel Important
  • Drive Out Fear
  • Create That Winning Feeling
  • Select The Right People
  • Internal Versus External Motivation

At a minimum, Tracy suggests that managers do the following when managing their employees:

  • Smile
  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Be polite
  • Say “Thank You”
  • Keep employees informed
  • Encourage improvement
  • Treat employees like volunteers
  • Pay employees well
  • Compliment employees
  • Assure harmony
  • Praise regularly
  • Refuse to criticize
  • Celebrate success
  • Express interest in employees
  • Be a mentor
  • Give employees freedom to do their work
  • Protect employees from negativity, rudeness or bad treatment from other people
  • Be pleasant
  • Speak positively about your staff with other people
  • Be clear about employee’s job responsibilities
  • Give feedback
  • Be a good role model
  • Disagree without being disagreeable
  • Set clear, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bounded goals

One of my favorite sections of the book is where Tracy outlines the Law of Three for hiring:

  • Interview three candidates
  • Interview the person you like best three times
  • Interview the that person in three different meeting places
  • Have three different people interview you top candidate

Tracy provides a number of compelling personal references and examples from his vast business experience and upbringing in Full Engagement. In addition, each chapter in the book ends with a list of Action Exercises to help you implement Tracy’s guidance.

I recommend the book for any manager who wants to learn how best to work with an employee to:

  • build up his/her self-esteem
  • build his/her self-image
  • drive away his/her fears
  • make him/her feel like a winner

Note:  Thanks to the publisher for providing me an advance copy of the book.

What Southwest Airlines Teaches Leaders About Corporate Culture

In Company Culture, Customer Service, Employee Engagement, Employee Satisfaction, General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Skills, Leading By Example, Management, Motivating Employees on April 2, 2011 at 8:56 am

If you’ve flown Southwest Airlines you know they’re tops in airline customer service, driven by a leadership style that creates a company-wide culture where all employees own that culture.

According to SWA Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly, as reported in the company’s in-flight magazine, “every company has a culture, whether that culture is supportive or stifling, active or passive, fun or discouraging.”

One way we do culture differently is by making Southwest’s culture everyone’s responsibility. In fact, we ask everyone to ‘own it,'” says Kelly.

Here are some of the ways that SWA keeps its winning culture in the forefront that you can also do to keep employees motivated and to drive great customer service:

1.  Form a corporate culture committee and a local culture committee that organizes low-cost employee events throughout the year.
2. Include a section related to culture on each employee’s annual performance appraisal. This goes for every employee in your company, including the entire management team.
3.  Explain your company’s culture on the first day of each new hire’s orientation and training.
4.  Foster a culture that encourages celebration.

What To Ask Yourself Before You Start A New Business

In General Leadership Skills, Hiring Great People, Leadership, Leadership Skills, Management, Marketing on March 27, 2011 at 9:02 am

Are you a leader contemplating starting a new business?  Or, has a budding entrepreneur turned to you because of your leadership skills to ask for your help? 

Here are 11 questions you or that entrepreneur should ask before starting a business.

  1. Is there a true need for my product/service? 
  2. What is the competitive environment and how will my product/service be unique, different or better?
  3. Will my location (or accessibility online) be convenient and easy to get to for my customers? 
  4. Do I have adequate funding to support my business, particularly during the ramp-up period that could be a year or more?
  5. Do I have the stamina to start a new business and work hard even if it means months of extended work hours and perhaps even seven days a week?
  6. Will my family and social life withstand my commitment to my new business?
  7. Will the name of my business be easy to spell, suitable for print on online, and memorable?
  8. Am I a risk taker?
  9. Am I humble enough to ask for help, especially if I am not an expert in marketing or accounting?
  10. Do I hire well? Do I have the skills, ability and resources to hire people who will share my same vision, work ethic and commitment to the business?
  11. Do I have an exit plan? Do I know how to handle exiting from the business should it fail or, ideally, should it become so successful I’ll be able to sell it?

And, before you start your business, write a business plan even if you don’t have to present one to a bank, funders or lenders.  And, ask a handful of your peers to review your plan.  Be sure to select a few people who are your best critics.

Writing the plan, which could take two to six weeks of working on it nearly every day, will force you to think of all aspects of your business and will require you to address tough questions you will likely not ask without the discipline of writing a plan.

Perhaps most critical in your plan will be the sections on:

  • Competition
  • Marketing
  • Financial Projections
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