Guest Post, Management

Managing Expectations: Under Promise and Over Deliver

1 Comment 16 August 2013

Guest Post by Robert Cordray
There’s an old expression, “He who expects little is seldom disappointed.” That’s not a great catchphrase for the customer service department, but it does bring up the topic of managing the expectations of customers and others by “under promising and over delivering”. The premise is simple. Don’t make overblown claims that get a person’s hopes up, only to disappoint them when you can’t deliver.

Instead, make attainable promises that set realistic expectations, and then deliver in a way that exceeds those expectations. The Creole term, “lagniappe” effectively captures the delightful surprise that emanates from that extra morsel of effort or product. That’s a pretty sound philosophy for doing business, and here are five reasons why “under promise and over deliver” is such an important strategy.

Consumers value great serviceAccording to a recent survey by American Express, today’s post recession consumers expect great customer service, and they’re willing to pay for it. In fact, 70 percent of consumers are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more for goods and services with companies that provide excellent customer service. If those statistics don’t motivate organizations to do all they can to exceed expectations and provide a great customer experience, what will?

Customers aren’t getting great serviceIn the same survey, sixty percent of American consumers believe that businesses are doing little to improve customer service. This leaves the door wide open for businesses to stand out by going the extra mile to give great service. Small businesses appear to be a bright spot, as 81 percent of respondents feel that small businesses are doing a better job of providing good customer service than large businesses.

Bad customer service is costlyHere’s a sobering statistic. 78 percent of consumers said that poor customer service has caused them to either abandon a transaction or not make a purchase that they had intended to make. But it doesn’t stop there. When consumers have a good customer experience, they tell an average of nine people about it. But when they have a negative experience, they tell twice as many people about it. Add to that the interconnectedness of today’s consumers through various social media platforms, and that could spell big trouble when negative comments go viral.

Customer service delivers strong ROIAs previously mentioned, consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide superior service. And consistently “over delivering” on customer service will help build the kind of reputation that attracts new consumers and creates the kind of long-term loyalty and advocacy that is essential for driving solid business growth. Companies willing to invest in whatever talent, training, and tools they need in order to elevate the overall customer experience, will in turn experience a very high ROI.

Workers prefer to be associated with ExcellenceOne of the greatest returns on product or service excellence is the attendant boost in morale of the organization’s staff.  People, all of us, want to be associated with a winner, and conversely, we hate being associated with schlock stuff. Employee engagement surveys consistently identify the organization’s reputation for quality as a primary driver of worker engagement.

In order to successfully implement the “under promise and over deliver” strategy, companies need to understand that it has less to do with lowering the bar on the “promise” end, and everything to do with raising the bar on the “deliver” end. After all, no successful business was ever built on a weak promise. Only by offering the best possible promise—a promise that stretches limitations—and then going the extra mile to exceed the consumer’s expectations of that promise, can a company experience the satisfaction and success that comes from, not just meeting, but exceeding its own expectations.


Robert Cordray is a freelance writer interested in helping HR managers and small business owners build strong teams through employee appreciation.


Guest Post, Leadership

How to Gain the Leadership Experience Employers Want

No Comments 05 August 2013

Looking for LeadershipAlthough most of the posts on this blog are original, every now and then we like to feature articles we think would be helpful to you, our readers. We recently read one such article, and wanted to share it with you. It’s a great read on how younger professionals can gain the leadership experience so sought after by employers today.

Click here, and enjoy!



Guest Post, Leadership

Leaders Ought to Know

No Comments 25 April 2013

leaders ought to knowOur good friend, Phillip Van Hooser has written a new book: Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership, published by our publisher, John Wiley and Sons. Here’s an excerpt from the book: “Honesty builds respect; respect builds trust — leaders ought to know that, but sometimes it’s hard for leaders to maintain honesty and confidentiality.”

Leaders Ought to Know: Maintain Honesty and Confidentiality

“Casey is a front line supervisor.  During a weekly supervisory meeting, Casey’s department manager announced a plan to transfer one of the team’s newest members to another division.  The affected employee was unaware of the transfer decision.  The supervisors were cautioned about maintaining confidentiality.  The manager wanted to meet with the affected employee before the news became public.” Less than an hour after the meeting, out of the blue Casey was approached by the employee in question.  “Do you know anything about me being transferred?” he asked.  “No, I don’t know anything about that,” Casey responded before walking away. “Moments later Casey returned to the employee with this startling revelation.  “I lied to you a few minutes ago.  You asked what I knew about a transfer and I said I knew nothing.  The truth is that subject was discussed during a meeting I was in this morning.  Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to share details — your manager will do that — but I wanted to be honest with you.” ‘The surprised employee responded, “Thanks.  I appreciate your honesty.” ‘Casey voluntarily shared this very personal leadership experience with me.  His admission sparked a wonderful discussion.  We marveled at how easy it is for leaders to play loose with the truth—and how often it happens in organizations.  We also agreed that leaders often disregard the impact such dishonesty can have on their reputations.’

The Honesty Game

Leaders Ought to Know Ground Rule #5:  “Leaders don’t play loose with the truth; Leaders lead from a position of unquestioned honesty.” (Excerpted from Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership, John Wiley & Sons, releasing April 22, 2013.) Thankfully, the most considerate leaders fully understand that honesty builds respect; respect builds trust; and trust builds leadership reputations.  But the converse is also true.  Dishonesty (including those harmless little “white lies”) undercuts respect; unearned respect erodes trust; and eroding trust destroys leadership reputations. Simply put, Leaders Ought To Know the honesty game is one conscientious leaders cannot afford to lose.

Leaders Ought to Know Maintain Honesty and ConfidentialityNow it’s your turn: What are some ways leaders can rebuild a reputation when they’ve been less than honest or confidential?Join the LinkedIn Discussion Now.


Phillip Van Hooser, Leadership Expert, Keynote Speaker, Author – Leaders Ought to Know: 11 Ground Rules for Common Sense Leadership

Guest Post

4 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Recruiter

No Comments 20 April 2013

By Erin Osterhaus, Software Advice.

It’s hard to evaluate a third-party recruiter in advance. The ultimate test, of course, is whether the recruiter brings you high-quality candidates. But you won”t know this until you’ve worked with that recruiter for months. You”ll certainly want to choose a recruiter who has experience hiring in your industry for the type of talent you need. But these basics just scratch the surface. To dig deeper, I asked three recruiting experts for some clever questions to ask a prospective recruiter. The experts:

  • Jessica Miller-Merrell is the President and CEO of XceptionalHR, which provides businesses with recruitment strategies and human resources consulting, as well as the head writer for the well-known HR blog, Blogging4Jobs.
  • Julie LaBrie is the President of BlueSky Personnel, a Canadian recruiting agency based in Toronto. She has worked in the staffing and recruiting industry for 14 years.
  • Jennifer McClure is the President of Unbridled Talent, a consulting and advisory firm that provides services to clients in the areas of recruiting and HR strategy.


The Experts

1. What is the internal turnover rate at your recruiting firm?

This is a great question to help you determine if a recruiting agency or Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider you’re considering engaging has a history of hiring dedicated recruiters. The logic: if the agency vets its own recruiters thoroughly, there will be less internal turnover–a good indicator that the agency has a history of hiring dedicated individuals who will be equally dedicated to finding you great candidates. According to LaBrie, when she hires new recruiters for BlueSky Personnel, she tries “To find out first if they’re passionate about what they do and if they really care. At the end of the day, I need to find out if they’re going to dig for that person.”

2. What is the turnover rate of your past placements?

One of the most quantifiable ways to assess a recruiter’s dedication to finding the right person for the job is to determine if they have a track record of placing new hires who stayed on the job for an extended period of time. If their past placements have stayed on for at least two years, it’s a good indication that they know how to source candidates who have the skills required to succeed in a position and are a good culture fit with the employer. Conversely, a high turnover rate could indicate that the recruiter failed to adequately screen candidates.

3. What is your sourcing strategy?

Often the best candidates for a position are passive. In fact, for any given role, only 10 percent of the relevant talent is actively looking for a job. To access the other 90 percent of that talent pool, you’ll want to find a recruiter will do more than just post jobs and search job boards.

Great research skills are essential, because, LaBrie says, “We don’t always get the candidates we want through the postings, so we have to be very good researchers and diggers to get the information.” Your recruiter needs to have a proven method for doing this if they’re going to find those needles in the haystack.

McClure says it’s a good idea to ask how a prospective recruiter typically finds people, and what tactics they then use to engage the candidate. And, she notes, “Once they find the people, how do they connect with them, build rapport? Do they understand what the candidates are looking for to make a move? And how do they sell them on the opportunity, especially if it’s a passive type candidate who they found when they weren’t actively looking?”

4. How do you determine if a candidate fits the culture of the client?

Determining if a candidate will be a good fit with your company culture is absolutely necessary for your (and their) success. As the authors of Who: The A Method for Hiring found, “Not evaluating cultural fit was one of the biggest reasons for hiring mistakes. People who don’t fit fail on the job, even when they are perfectly talented in all other respects.”

McClure recommends asking the prospective recruiter what questions they use to assess whether a candidate would be a culture fit. For example: “Tell me about the best culture that you’ve ever worked in. What made it really enjoyable for you to work there? Where’s a place where you didn’t fit well and what was that like?”

She also emphasizes that it’s important to evaluate how the recruiter poses those questions to candidates. Companies should consider, ”Do they ask open-ended questions, and are they good at framing it in such a way that it really doesn’t give away what they’re looking for?”

Of course, it’s also important to know how the recruiter will get to know your culture before they can assess a candidate’s compatibility with it. Ask how the prospective recruiter would go about that. Miller-Merrell says, “Most third party recruiters will probably go through a checklist, or they’ll spend some time with you on the phone, or they’ll do some research on the Internet to try to get a sense of who you are as a company.”

You’ll have to do your part, too. As LaBrie notes, for recruiters, “What’s important for us when we’re trying to recruit for the company culture is that [the employer] shares everything–absolutely everything–with us. When it comes to who their hiring manager is, his style or her style, it’s very important for us to understand that.”

If you ask these questions up front, you’ll be well on your way to finding a recruiter who will source great people for the open positions your business’s growth has created–and with their help, you’ll be able to focus on what you do best, and keep your business growing.

Guest Post, Leadership

Three Reasons You Should Have a Leadership Program

No Comments 26 July 2012

Guest post by Kyle Lagunas.

Why is the process of finding a leader–whether to backfill someone or to fill a new role–often treated as an isolated event rather than an ongoing process? With the cost per hire only rising, why do so few organizations have a process for identifying and cultivating leaders within their existing talent pool?

Neil Nicoll, President and CEO of YMCA warned us in Finding Leaders for America’s Nonprofits: Commentaries that, “Until [we] become much more intentional about development of internal talent, we are doomed to an ever-growing leadership deficit.” That was three years ago.

Companies need to change the way they are sourcing leadership talent. Rather than look outward when a leader is needed, they should instead continuously look inward to identify candidates with leadership aptitude and invest in honing their skills with development programs.

Regardless of whether you ultimately hire leaders from within, simply having a leadership development program yields important benefits for any organization. Here are reasons to do it:

  • Leadership Programs Boost Employee Engagement

A study conducted by ACCOR found that although 90% of leaders say employee engagement impacts business success, 75% have no engagement plan or strategy. To that end, development programs give employees the opportunity to strive toward something more meaningful and valuable than their day-to-day work. And that makes them happy.

Leadership development is serious stuff. It takes time and dedication to make it work. If you’re going to adopt an official leadership development program, be sure to first identify your goals for the program.

  • Leadership Programs Increase Employee Performance

It’s hard to deny a linkage between development and performance. As John Robak, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Greeley and Hansen, attests, “Those individuals in our organization who are inspired tend to outperform. That’s because the more well-rounded you are, the better you’re able to perform.”

Makes sense, right? The companies outperforming you certainly think so. In fact, the highest performing organizations spend 36% more on development than their less successful counterparts. And the organizations that are doing this effectively understand what their future needs are going to be, and understand how to engage their potentials and give them the opportunity to develop the skills that they need to succeed in the operation.

  • Leadership Programs Improve Retention Rates

Many organizations see investments in employee development–leadership development, in particular–as a gamble. If the employee leaves, those investments walk out the door and potentially into the hands of a competitor. For those who cite turnover as a reason not to invest in developing employees, though, the truth is that leadership development and opportunities are actually a leading retention strategy.

“Gen Y tends to be more fluid and move more frequently, which can be intimidating for employers worried about turnover. We see the exact opposite,” says Robak.

Don’t get me wrong–turnover is a valid concern, but if you’re hemorrhaging top performers, it’s rarely because you’ve invested too much in developing them.

Transparency is King in Leadership Development

As Roback points out, “In the absence of feedback, people tend to create their own.” Whatever decision is made–whether it’s a promotion from within or an external hire, it’s critical to communicate the why. Robak goes on to say that, “We don’t just want our message to be heard–we want to ensure it’s received.” Otherwise, all of your best intentions are for naught.

What successes have you had in developing leaders internally? What challenges is your organization faced with when developing a pool of leadership candidates?

About the Author: Kyle Lagunas is an HR Analyst at Software Advice. He reports on important news, interesting conversations, and what’s trending in the world of talent management, human resources, and recruiting.


Considered thought leaders in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette and Richard Hadden speak to, train, and coach managers on leadership practices for better business outcomes.

OUR PREMISE: Having a focused, engaged, and capably led workforce is one of the best things any organization can do for its bottom line.



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