Tag archive for "FedEx"

by Bill, Management

When Recruiting, Consider the Size of a Person’s Motor

No Comments 21 November 2013

streetcar-desireIn the earliest days of FedEx (or Federal Express as it was then known), I had two duties as an HR manager that occupied the lion’s share of my time… (1) Finding copious quantities of people (the right people) sufficient to maintain a near vertical growth curve, and (2) trying to get them paid before their patience with our little merry band wore out.

     Second things first. Due to a dearth of cash, and a relatively unsophisticated infrastructure (all the money was going to support revenue systems), new workers often went four or five weeks before seeing their first paychecks. It was neither deliberate nor funny, but at the time we joked about this being the FedEx version of a new hire probationary policy. If you made it thru the first month or so, we would finally get around to paying you.

     More to the point of this post, the first (and larger) focus of my attention involved seeing to it that my staff and I successfully recruited several dozen (or more) new teammates every week. Most were hired for Cargo Handler (package schlepper) or Courier (pickup and delivery) positions that were (and still are) the very heart of the company.

     After watching this process play out with hundreds of thousands of applicants and tens of thousands of new hires, I was left with some clear and distinct impressions. None of them were novel, or even new, but they were powerful. The most powerful by far was the absolute connection between a person’s desire to do the work and their ultimate success. Thinking back over that ten-year period, I can recall case after case where a nominally qualified applicant became an unqualified success with us due chiefly to their desire, the size of their heart. Yes, they were ‘qualified’ in the traditional sense, but desire was the super-qualifier.

     My reason for bringing it up now is this: Modern resume templates and recruiting software have no ability to express or detect desire, or measure the size of someone’s motor. Moreover, recruiters (and by extension their software) are primarily disposed toward ruling applicants in the initial search stages out of consideration based on an absence of linkage with select key words and phrases that are used as absolute search criteria. Hence, too often, the DNA of desire is left out of the picture.

     Don’t get me wrong. I am not (repeat, not) anti technology. In fact, I tend to be an early adopter. That said, every time I experience bland, lethargic, or indifferent service, which is pretty often, I wonder if the deliverer of that service didn’t have the heart to be there in the first place, or perhaps an uncaring management has daily poured cold water on that flame.

     Some suggestions:

  1. Do not let your applicant tracking system or other recruiting software be the only means by which an applicant is rejected from consideration. Just as the gold miners on the Discovery Channel’s Gold Rush series occasionally re-run the ‘tailings’ from their sort process, do the same with your resume intake.
  2. Get personally involved with applicants earlier in the process. Yes, I know this puts extra demand on your time, but it is worth it. One way of accomplishing this is by doing group screening interviews, or inserting a telephone screening earlier in the process. Spread that extra effort by involving managers and those who aspire to leadership roles to a greater degree in the process
  3. Stop the ridiculous policy of rejecting as unqualified or unworthy those who are out of work. Contrary to popular belief in some recruiter circles, there is still a lot of talent and desire practically begging to get in the game.
  4. Take some chances with people who are minimally qualified, but evidence a clear penchant for learning, and a warrior spirit. I’ll bet you dinner that more often than not, they will work out.

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A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Leadership, Management, Motivation

Optimism is an Essential Requirement for Leadership

No Comments 09 May 2013

Earlier this week, in the first game of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series, the Chicago Bulls, absent three of their star players, traveled to Miami and beat the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat in their own building. I think it’s fair to say that a lot of basketball fans were stunned by the outcome. They may wind up being stunned by the series outcome, too. Who knows?

What we do know is that the Bulls are being led by a coach, Tom Thibodeau, who is an optimist. With three star players out of action due to injury or illness (effectively 20% of the roster), it would be easy for Thibodeau to say, “Ain’t it awful?”  and effectively foreclose on their slim chances of winning. Au contraire! On more than one recent occasion, Thibodeau, when asked about his short-handed team’s chances, has responded to the effect that, ‘we have more than we need to win.’

What matters is not that Thibodeau is saying this stuff, but that he’s got everyone on the Bulls’ bench buying in, and contributing every last drop of their discretionary effort to the cause.  With effort like that, you can’t help but be impressed, and maybe even like their chances.

Ironically, it was another Chicago coach, an NFL football coach, who many years ago announced early in the season that his team was so lousy that they probably wouldn’t win another game all year. Guess what? They didn’t, not because the coach was clairvoyant, but because the team simply played up (or in that case, down) to the coach’s expectations.

Your team, is no different. If you truly believe that good things will happen, and you do the work to prepare to win, you, too have all you need to win. Like nearly every other aspect of leadership, being an optimist is rather simple. But it can be hard, especially when you’re sailing against a strong headwind. But we have to do it, because people won’t follow, let alone give it up for a leader who is a pessimist or doesn’t believe in them.

Here are a few things you can do to improve your odds:

Check Your Look

Check your look, ‘er attitude in the mirror. Just as you might check your look on the way back to work after lunch, check your attitude every day on the way to work.  In the late 80’s, I helped run FedEx’s wilderness-based leadership development program. Week after week we were engaged with two dozen of the company’s best and brightest leaders in a physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting program in a remote, high altitude location in northern Utah. If the altitude, physical exertion, or the task of keeping 24 city-dwellers safe wasn’t kicking our butts, something else was. Accordingly, the preceptor group (program leaders) had a quick check-in every morning, first personally, and then with the group, just to make sure everyone was upbeat and in the game. If on a given day you couldn’t “spin your hat around” and really engage in a positive fashion, you stepped back and supported someone else who could.

Treasure Your Truth Tellers

Every good leader has one or more “truth tellers” around them – people who care enough about them to come in, close the door, and provide some unvarnished feedback.  It is to your advantage to cultivate those kinds of relationships. That way, if you’re getting a little cranky or narrow-minded, someone will let you know about it before it gets too far.

Have a Place to Go

We all need to have a “place to go to” when our outlook is suffering. Except for chemicals, it doesn’t matter too much what or where it is as long as you have confidence in it. Some people use a good, hard workout to clear the cobwebs and get re-oriented. Others who are musically inclined might spend time with their guitar, piano, or other instrument.   I use music (think aging rockers at high decibels pumped thru earbuds), travel (specifically looking out an aircraft window at 39,000’ at a whole lot of blue sky), and fly fishing to do the job.  The important thing is, in today’s always-on, high speed world, you can’t be afraid to unplug for a few hours or days to reorient. Your team is counting on you.

*******

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, and Rebooting Leadership. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

 

by Bill, Leadership, Management

Health Care – It’s Time to Move On

No Comments 30 June 2012

In the days since the U.S. Supreme Court’s legal affirmation of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), we have witnessed a cacophany of celebratory victory laps and ongoing bloviating about impending doom, loss of freedom, and death panels. Whether you are an employer, an individual citizen, legislator, or health care worker we would offer two words of advice that can usually be found this time of year on signs carried by course marshals at the FedEx St. Jude Golf Tournament – Hush Y’all! It is time to stop our national food fight on this issue.

Simply put, we have neither the time nor economic margin for grandstanding or political theater. We’ve got important work to do. Health care spending amounts to 17% of the nation’s GDP, and is growing at an unaffordable rate. Health outcomes are increasingly second rate, and certainly don’t match the expenditure, or our stature on the world stage. Too many of our fellow citizens are being marginalized because they lack access to quality care, take too little responsibility for their own wellness, or both. Our businesses are being rendered less competitive in world markets because of the cost overhang of a job-based funding model. It is only a matter of time before the relative health of our workforce becomes yet another competitive headwind.

As proposed in our new book, Contented Cows STILL Give Better Milk, those of us who are leaders and employers have important considerations to make right now, and “right now” means just that.

  1. We must decide thoughtfully whether to begin (or continue) participating in an employer-provided health insurance plan.  Some might posit that this decision comes down to simply choosing between employer and employee interests, or the least costly option. We would submit that it’s not that simple.
  2. Each of us should be taking steps to become informed (really informed) about the finer points of health care services and economics. It’s time to turn off the TV and do your own homework.
  3. Let’s use our influence wisely, rather than getting into yet one more “Tastes Great vs. Less Filling” debate. One good place to start would be in encouraging tort reform as pertains to health care. For so long as health care professionals are required to practice defensive medicine to prevent unnecessary lawsuits, our system will never be as efficient or effective as it needs to be. Second, we must proceed apace with implementation of a robust, integrated electronic health record (EHR). We’re told that the Veteran’s Administration already has such a system in place. It’s paid for. Why don’t we use it?
  4. It is past time to initiate an ongoing grown-up conversation with our employees about health care – its costs, complexities, options, and responsibilities. And that’s not an easy conversation to have because, for openers, our workforce is anything but monolithic. And, let’s face it, most of us couldn’t care less about health insurance until there is a serious diagnosis pending, or we’re staring down the barrel of a big fat hospital bill.

Our hope is that we can use this challenge as a vehicle to move the nation forward in a positive direction, and perhaps regain some of the credibility and trust that we, as business leaders, have lost over the last decade.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, the newest edition of which is now on sale. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

 

 

by Bill, Management

Talent Acquisition is More Than Putting Butts in Seats

No Comments 21 May 2012

For some time I’ve resisted the urge to excoriate a term that has been taking more prominent space in the lexicon of HR professionals. I’ve done so largely on the basis that there didn’t seem to be much harm in the emergence of new-agey alternative vocabulary among knowing professionals. I’ve resisted until now, that is. The term – “talent acquisition.”

Oh, I understand perfectly why some might prefer putting some distance between what they do for a living and the functional title that has long been associated with it… recruiting. Recruiting, after all is about as sexy as dirt, or maybe something that is done with dirt, like farming, or agribusiness as it’s now known. Have you ever noticed that the replacement titles never get shorter?

Like farming and selling, recruiting is hard work, because whereas you can exercise some control over the process, the outcome is much less controllable. In this respect, it matters not whether you are operating from a grimy, dog-eared Rolodex or an iPad. As with farming and selling, recruiting is vital work, and still today is a profession where you do a lot of groundwork, unearth a few leads, experience regular headwinds (e.g., withdrawn reqs, failed drug screens), and at the end of the day are glad if you can hit a bunch of singles, a few doubles, an occasional home run, and bat 300 over the long haul. Yet, one can make a compelling argument that the decision whether or not to put someone on an organization’s payroll is one of the most important decisions that can be made. So, if we want to sex up the title a bit to give ourselves some psychic income (or perhaps a higher pay grade), I’m down with that, but let’s use a little caution.

In fairness, cautious branding doesn’t sound like something that would be advocated by someone who for fourteen years has serially referred to workers, in writing no less, as “contented cows.” Thankfully for us, the cow metaphor is simple and very tight; so much so that on July 3, John Wiley & Sons will release our third book in the Contented Cows leadership series (more on that later). But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t taken some serious guff over it. I will never forget an afternoon spent on Clark Howard’s WSB Radio Show when an otherwise wonderful experience was chilled by a caller who got pretty irate over my “comparing people to animals.”

My concern with the expression, talent acquisition is this: Both words miss the mark. Although talent is important, it is secondary to finding people who, by virtue of pace, preference, temperament, and values happen to fit your particular organization. In the vast majority of cases, there are more available people with the talent to perform a given job than those who “fit” the organization. Marriott International, one of our newly minted Contented Cows, learned long ago that mixing grumpy, self-absorbed employees (no matter how talented) with travel-weary guests is not a combination that yields good business outcomes. In similar fashion, talented or not, most people (repeat, most people) would not be happy, productive, or successful working at your place. So, if we myopically get too hung up on the talent side of the equation, we run a very real risk of overlooking some extremely important factors.

Second, I’m more than a little bothered by the term, “acquisition” when it comes to the employment process. You might be able to borrow talent for a while, but you certainly don’t acquire it. Indeed, acquisition is entirely the wrong term if our aim is to do more than merely complete a transaction. I don’t know about you, but when I ran the organization that was responsible for much of the initial high growth staffing of FedEx, starting a relationship with people who would be today’s couriers and tomorrow’s managers was a hell of a lot more than merely putting butts in seats. No, we were trying to capture hearts, minds, and yes, talents, in large numbers, but still one at a time, because eagles don’t flock. Our aim then, and now is to productively engage with people who want to join our team and do important work.

Our hope is that however you choose to brand your organization’s people functions, you will do so thoughtfully.

*****

A pathfinder in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. He is co-author of the Contented Cows leadership book series, the next edition of which will be released in July 2012 by John Wiley & Sons. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Management

On Shirley Sherrod… Mr. Vilsack, What Were You Thinking? Where the Hell Was HR?

No Comments 22 July 2010

Somewhere southeast of Chattanooga my jaw undoubtedly dropped open as I listened on XM radio to the emerging details of the saga of Shirley Sherrod, who this week got the bum’s rush from her position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While driving on I-75 en route to the ATL, a route that Ms. Sherrod knows well, what I heard on the radio caused me to flash back to a former life as an HR executive at FedEx.  Superimposing the Sherrod affair onto my own career, I could envision myself in the office of FedEx founder and chairman, Fred Smith, along with the operational counterpart to Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack. Even more vividly, I can hear Mr. Smith asking the operating exec, “What were you thinking?” and then, turning to me, “and where the hell were you?”  As one who gives his executives considerable operating latitude, pays them well, and generously funds HR initiatives, he’s well within reason to ask those questions, and to expect good answers. That is no less the case with our senior public servants, and so, I hope that Secretary Vilsack and the head of his agency’s HR function have had a trip to the White House, and been given the opportunity to answer those same questions.

It’s not hard to see how the Sherrod affair came to be. The obvious political maneuverings notwithstanding, we live and work in a sound bite world where speed of thought, communication, and execution (often just execution) reign supreme. Doing it better often gets trumped by doing it faster, resulting in the occasional train wreck. It serves as a vivid reminder of the sound advice given us by our mothers in our youth, with reference to crossing the street: Stop. Look. Listen.

In recent years, most HR professionals have struggled with the objective of becoming more “strategic.” What they are really saying is that they are trying desperately to earn a seat at the table, and to remain relevant in a world where meeting this quarter’s numbers, or just surviving to tomorrow pretty well trumps any and all concern for things humanoid.

With respect to our HR friends, for whom I have profound admiration, and who do a thankless job, one of the ways that we earn (and keep) that seat at the table is by finding a way to keep our clients, folks like Secretary Vilsack, from shooting themselves in the foot. We do it by working as business partners with our management team, adding value, weighing in on difficult issues, doing our homework, and certainly by imposing a business-like process whenever someone’s livelihood is in the crosshairs. We do it each time, every time, whether we think the whole world (and Fox News) is watching, or no one is watching.

With respect to our operating exec friends, the HR profession has grown immeasurably in talent and capability (coinciding too neatly with the time I left the business). You would do well to seek their counsel and to involve them (meaningfully involve them) in all of your critical business decisions. In case of doubt, just take a few minutes and replay the video of Secretary Vilsack humbly apologizing on world-wide television to Ms. Sherrod. Play… rewind… play… rewind… play. Got it?

*****
A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Management

Getting a Foot In the Door

No Comments 14 September 2009

In a piece last week in the WSJ, Alexandra Levit offered some very practical advice for job hunters. As a long-time internal corporate recruiter, much of it really resonated with me, especially one segment on what she termed, “Connecting the Dots.” According to Ms. Levit, “The best job hunters manage the hiring process at the various firms to which they’re applying, and they don’t assume that one hand knows what the other is doing.”

Amen! Corporations large and small have never never been especially good at managing the various touchpoints in their recruitment processes. Part of that stems from arrogance (We’ve got the job, and you want it). Some of it is due to the fact that applicants enter the corporate universe from hundreds of different sources, each having its own agenda, priorities, and methods for tracking (or not) the event. One thing is for sure – Nobody involved in this chain has a sense of urgency which matches that of either the applicant or the hiring manager.

Rather than grow ever more frustrated and wonder what kind of idiots are managing the recruiting process, smart job candidates make it their business to narrow the odds by:

  1. Using multiple channels to enter the organization’s recruiting stream
  2. Introducing those channel sources to one another, and
  3. Being a remarkable (in a positive way) candidate thru preparation and attitude

I’m reminded me of a woman who many years ago applied for a job at my alma mater, FedEx. In addition to sending a resume to our corporate recruiting office, she forwarded a separate copy to the CEO, along with a brand new size 7 Jimmy Choo dress shoe, and a note that she would do anything to get her foot in the door. It worked.

If you’re on the job hunting side of this equation, be resourceful, keep your wits about you, remember your manners, and above all, do your homework. If you’re on the other side of the fence, try to make your system a little more user-friendly, efficient, and remember that today’s job applicant just might be tomorrow’s customer.

*****

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com, or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ContentedCows

by Bill, Think About It...

Employment References Matter, Period

No Comments 03 April 2009

There seems to be a good bit of scuttlebutt of late surrounding the relative importance of employment references. I overheard a lunch-table conversation the other day in which one party ventured that, “since no one is really looking for a career anyhow, the standards have been reduced on both sides of the equation, to wit employers are no longer terribly concerned about a job candidate’s references.”

I don’t know where that fellow’s been recruiting or hanging out, but I’ve got a two word response – au contraire!  I immediately harkened back to a call I got a while ago from the president of a multi-billion dollar health care company who was considering hiring a friend of mine as a senior operating exec. This guy was serious as a heart attack about the references (evidenced by the fact that he made the call personally), and darned skilled in getting them. In fact, I complimented him on his behaviorally-anchored questioning technique.

When he queried me about my level of trust in the job candidate, a former associate of mine at FedEx, I volunteered that I had trusted this man with my life (literally), and would do so again today. We had a pretty specific conversation about the nature of the trusting event, and hung up. A couple hours after we spoke, the guy called back to let me know that he had just offered my friend the job (I had already heard the news) and he volunteered that my assessment of my friend’s character and other qualifications vis-a-vis the position had been the tie breaker between my buddy and another well-qualified candidate. (Come to think of it, somebody still owes me lunch!)

Bottom line: References are like the manners that our parents (ok, our mothers) taught us when we were young. They never, ever go out of style, or diminish in value.  Preserve them, use them wisely, and they will do a lot to help feed you and your family. Elizabeth Garone did a piece recently in the WSJ about the importance of references to the job hunting process. If you , or someone you know is currently in search mode, pass it along to them. Even if you’re not, read and retain it – it is, after all… a reference.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Management

On Being ‘Overqualified’ – Job Hunting Tips for Baby-Boomers and Others

1 Comment 02 April 2009

For readers who are not looking for jobs at the moment, be thankful, and please pardon the posting of job hunting tips two days in a row. It just seems a bit relevant at the moment. Today’s post is directed largely at the over 50 crowd (or over 40, or whatever age you have to be to start worrying about your age, ‘er being “overqualified” being an issue.)

Before proceeding, here’s a shout out to Michelle Goodman, who recently wrote a really good piece on this same topic for ABC News.

From an employer’s standpoint there is no such thing as “overqualified.” Under qualified yes… mis-qualified perhaps… once qualified, sure – but not overqualified. I’ve never heard anyone complain that their doctor, airline pilot, plumber, teacher, or lover had too much talent or experience.

As an HR executive during the high growth years of FedEx, and ADP, I was responsible for the hiring of perhaps 70,000 employees. We worried a lot about things like:

  1. whether or not we’d be able to keep people whose skills might not be fully utilized right away
  2. whether or not someone had done something for so long that they would be unable or unwilling to try different approaches
  3. if an exceptionally well qualified candidate would become bored
  4. whether or not those credentials would cost us more, and if not, why not?

I can assure you though, I never once worried, and the companies we work with today don’t spend one nanosecond worrying about people bringing too much talent to the game. The question is, is that talent fresh – is it relevant to the tasks at hand? And, perhaps more importantly, what kind of attitude do they bring to the game?

What hiring managers do mind is someone who has been around the block a few times and doesn’t want to listen or learn new stuff. To be sure, a lot of managers are intimidated just a bit by the prospect of hiring somebody who may be older, smarter, more experienced, or all of those things.

That said, a lot of people are in fact told by prospective employers that they are “overqualified.” Put bluntly, that’s code for “I’m not going to hire you, and I want a short, polite, non-confrontational, legally defensible explanation for it.”

And yes, there’s a bit of a dark side to this. The odds of folks over 45 years of age (like me) hearing the “O’ word are a lot greater than my 34 year old son hearing it. What is said is “overqualified” but what is sometimes meant is another word that starts with “O” – old. That may have something to do the significant increase in age discrimination complaints filed with the EEOC in the last decade. Can you as an individual change that? No. But here’s what you can do.

1. You can make darned sure that you don’t waste one precious minute of your life getting bitter about it. You didn’t get to this ripe ‘uh age still believing that life was always fair, so get over it. Besides, you’ve got better things to do, like conducting a job search, which, by the way is about as close to a full time job as any.

2. The 1st place to invest your time and energy is in doing a targeted job search. We are in corporate classrooms just about every week, training managers to hire those people (and only those people) whose temperament, preferences, and values will allow them to be happy, productive and successful working for a given organization. You need to do the same by identifying those companies (and even individual managers) with whom you will be successful. One of the major tenets of our work is that just as people have reputations, companies have a reputation as a place to work. The more successful businesses and even individual managers have figured out that their reputation as an employer matters, a lot. If I’m on a job search, those are the businesses I should be targeting. Sites like GreatPlaceJobs.com can be a good place to begin your search.

3. Do not, repeat, do NOT apply for jobs that you feel ‘overqualified’ for. Translation:  You believe going in that the job is beneath you. Doing that is committing fraud against your psyche, your resume, and a potential employer, not to mention the folks you’d be working with.

4. Your resume is your ticket to the dance. It needs to look like a ticket to a dance that is occurring in the year 2009. On the one hand, there have been enough football coaches caught putting their resume on steroids to suggest that falsifying documents is not a very smart thing to do. On the other, you need to worry – a lot about how that resume presents you. How does it look electronically, for example? Email it to yourself and find out.

Though you should never fabricate the data (dates, positions, degrees, etc.), there is nothing wrong with choosing how you want to allocate the white space on your personal billboard… which particular talents or experiences you should emphasize for a given job or employer. You should definitely consider adapting your resume for specific jobs and situations. Skills and experiences that are no longer relevant in the job market, or for a particular job don’t bear mentioning on your resume. You wouldn’t wear a thirty year old suit to the interview would you… would you?

Yet, selective creativity is perfectly legit. I once hired a sales rep for ADP  whose resume listed outstanding qualifications – as a baseball player. His resume listed his last position as “Catcher, Kansas City Royals” and his reason for leaving as, get this… “couldn’t hit a curve ball.” Upon seeing this, I just had to talk with the guy, and he had his foot in the door. Think of it as one-to-one marketing.

5. Once you do get an interview, show up prepared – something most people don’t do. Companies that are particularly successful at making acquisitions do very good due diligence on the business they are about to acquire. An applicant’s failure to conduct that same basic research on a place they might spend 8 hours a day working at is fundamentally stupid.

Similarly, show up prepared to participate in an interview. Practice being interviewed, and in particular, answering the obvious questions about why you are willing to consider a job you were qualified to do ten years ago. Get with an interview coach who is skilled at behaviorally-based interviews, have them videotape the practice interview and give you some bone-honest feedback. Watch the tape, throw up, make some changes, and do it again. This is serious business, and your first practice session shouldn’t be on the day you need to have your best stuff. Even Mariano Rivera warms up before he pitches.

6. On the big day, go into that interview brimming with confidence, secure in the knowledge that you’ve done your homework, are well prepared, and happen to be exceptionally well qualified.

This post has been excerpted from articles available in The Fridge at ContentedCows.com.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Extra Milers, Management

Going the Extra Mile – FedEx Style

No Comments 29 March 2009

As many are aware, FedEx, the world’s largest cargo airline, and my business alma mater, lost two dedicated pilots and an MD-11 aircraft last week in the first fatal crash in the company’s 37 year history.

Since our first book, I’ve written and spoken extensively about the company’s high performance culture in which going the extra mile is the rule and not the exception. Though I’ve been gone 20 years, chills ran down my spine this morning when I read an internal account written by a fellow employee of lengths the company and its employees went to in order to pay respects to the fallen pilots and their families. Some excerpts…

“As all of you know, one of the fallen pilots was based in San Antonio.  First Officer Tony Pino is a retired Air Force officer and has been flying with FedEx for a little over 3 years. On Friday the 13th of this month, Pino jumpseated out of San Antonio for the last time with a promise to his wife that he would be home Thursday the 26th.  Today, we received about 12 of the Pino family and friends on the ramp, along with 35 uniformed pilots and approx 70 of our FedEx family to fulfill that promise.

” In Narita, Japan there were a number of pilots in full uniform to present the remains of both pilots to the aircraft and see the flight off.  In Oakland for a “gas and go” there were 25+ full uniformed pilots that went up the stairs and paid respects to the fallen ones.  In MEM a full color guard received the two and took them to a hangar where Fred Smith, Dave Bronczek and a large number of executives received 400-500 pilots and personnel that were bused to pay respects.  My understanding is that Mr. Smith was there for the duration.  People signed a book for each family.

“After which, Captain Mosely was flown to Portland Oregon this morning where the Ramp Team received the family and had approx 80 employees lined up on the nose dock.  Their operation was without any issues or concerns and was a very moving presentation according to the Senior Manager.

“F/O Pino was taken to a MEM funeral home and escorted for 12 hours by 2 crew until time for the day-turn show time.  A full honor presentation accompanied the loading.  Flowers were also sent to the MEM funeral home and all of those were loaded on our flight 379 along with crewmen (2 were formal escorts). Our pilots were not ever left without escort from Japan until the funerals and will not be unless the family requests otherwise.

“At San Antonio, it rained today until approx 1400hrs, skies cleared and the sun came out.  It was a beautiful afternoon.  We received the family and parked them on the tarmac at approx 1650hrs along with the guests and uniformed crew.  We made arrangements to have the flight land on the closest runway and touched down straight across from our ramp with a perfect landing.  The aircraft blocked at 1734hrs and the flowers from Mr. Smith  (gorgeous 6’ tall arrangement) and the book signed by all in MEM were presented to the widow and 3 boys.  Tony’s mother and other family were also present.

“The body was covered with the American flag and the pilots and honor guard stayed at full attention then moved to salute when the pallet started in motion forward.  It was lowered and the honor guard stepped up on the loader.  Mrs. Pino came forward with her son, hugged the casket and spent a few moments with her late husband.  She retreated and the transfer was completed to the hearse with proper respect and military bearing.

“I have a ramp agent that indicated in his 32 years with FedEx it was the proudest moment he has experienced.  Our FedEx Team did an exceptional job of honoring these two pilots. Our loader operator, stairs, marshaller and others were absolutely perfect in their execution. One of the pilots authorized to be here was in full UPS uniform and he was absolutely awed by the respectfulness.

“We still work for the best company in the world because we fill it with the best people in the world!  Please feel free to share this with your teams as they also should know as well.”

As we go about trying to figure out what is (and what should be) the new normal in our post-AIG world, it pays to remember that there can still be places where people care about each other, and where work is something more than a pure commercial transaction. That ain’t all bad.

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

by Bill, Character, Leadership, Management

Job Interviews… Think of Them as a Well-Prepared Conversation

No Comments 24 February 2009

For some time I’ve been writing and stumbling on a piece about job interviews (more stumbling than writing, I’m afraid, until now). Given that more people are seeking interviews now than at any time in recent history (some desperately), the piece seems timely. And, there are fewer and fewer interviews to be had. Beyond that, on the other side of the fence, with fewer openings, managers need to make every position count, thus the significance of the interview, something NONE of them have been well trained to carry out.

Some tips from a guy who oversaw the bulk of the recruiting effort during the high growth years of FedEx:

1. Good interviews involve preparation on the part of both parties. If you’re not prepared (i.e., prior study of the candidate’s resume, Google search, pre-identified a few behaviorally anchored questions, etc.) don’t proceed with the interview, as it will be a waste of your time and someone else’s. Similarly, if the candidate doesn’t evidence similar preparation, end it and move on.

2. Practice – that’s right, practice. Both interviewers and interviewees alike. If your job depends on hiring good people (what manager’s doesn’t?) put yourself through some mock interviews. Practice taking notes while maintaining eye contact. Measure how much of the time you’re actually listening, as opposed to yapping or just waiting to talk. Work at asking good, behaviorally-anchored questions. Ask your practice partner for some bone-honest feedback about your technique. If you’re a job seeker, you damn sure ought to practice, for the same reason that Derek Jeter spends time in the batting cage and Tiger Woods on the driving range before every contest. Get a professional coach or even just a friend to hit you with some good job related questions. Know what your top 3 or 4 “selling points” are and practice saying them. Videotape the session, rewind, press play, watch, puke, and reload. Oh, and wear your interview clothes for the practice session, too. That way you’ll be more comfortable when the big day arrives.

3. Read Ben Casnocha’s wonderful piece on “In-Person Conversation Skills.” It wasn’t meant as a primer for interviews, but the conversational techniques mentioned are sound. I especially like his advice to, “Be okay with silence. Don’t rush to fill silence in a conversation. Some people particularly need silent time to think and reflect, if only for a moment. And wasn’t it Aristotle who said that true friendship is when silence between two people is comfortable?”

Good luck and Godspeed!

A thought leader in the arena of leadership and employee engagement, Bill Catlette is a seminar leader, keynote speaker, and executive coach. He helps individuals and organizations improve business outcomes by having a focused, engaged, capably led workforce. For more information about Bill, his partner Richard Hadden, and their work, please visit their website at www.contentedcows.com

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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.

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