Vol. 12 No. 8 – May 28, 2012

May 27, 2012


The 8020Info Water Cooler

Highlights from the latest information
for managers, leaders and entrepreneurs

1.  Six Probing Job Interview Questions

Job interviews are high stakes situations: You have a limited amount of time, and questions, to reveal enough about the candidates to determine if it’s the right fit. On CBSMoneywatch, freelance writer Amy Levin-Epstein shares six probing questions experts use:

  • What’s important for you in a job?: This helps to unearth the individual’s values, and get a better idea of cultural fit. Is flexibility important, or candour, or rapid advancement?
  • How do you handle working with a difficult colleague?: It’s nice to talk about values, but this turns attention to a tough but common work situation. What happens when somebody takes credit for your idea or refuses to pull their weight on a project? There are no easy answers in such situations, and the question offers insights into the candidate’s character.
  • How will you add value within 30-60-90 days?: This forces the candidate to be specific about the contribution they hope to immediately make.
  • Tell me about your last great idea: This can illuminate the candidate’s creativity, drive, and ambition.
  • If you were put in a compromising situation at work, where would you turn?: Ken Martin, general manager at the staffing firm Winter, Wyman says, “In asking this question, I’m looking to see that the candidate can address these kinds of dilemmas and find the appropriate support and guidance to solve them.”
  • Tell me about your last mistake: Nobody is perfect, and this offers a glimpse at how this person handles bad moments.

2. How To Improve At Giving Recognition

 If you want to improve at giving recognition to colleagues, take a tip from a client of executive coach Marshall Goldsmith, who went from miserable to marvellous. The individual scored at the six percentile level on giving recognition to direct reports and co-workers when scored by colleagues — 94 per cent of the people in the company were more effective than him — but a year later reversed that, rated near the top, at the 94 percentile level. On his blog, Goldsmith offers the individual’s roadmap to success:

  • List the names of the key groups of people that impact your life — both at work and at home.
  • Write down the names of the people in each group.
  • Post your list in a place you can’t miss seeing regularly.
  • Twice a week — perhaps on Wednesday and Friday — review the list and ask, “Did anyone do something that I should recognize?”
  • If someone did, either stop by to say “thank you,” make a quick phone call, leave a voice mail, or send an email or note.
  • Don’t do anything that takes up too much time. “This process needs to be time-efficient or you won’t stick with it,” Goldsmith observes.
  • If no one on the list did anything that you believe should be recognized, don’t say anything. No recognition is better than recognition that you don’t really mean, which might make you seem a hypocrite or phoney.

3. How To Reward Different Personality Types

After you recognize work well done, often you will want to reward the responsible staff member with public praise and fitting new work. On her blog, careers writer Penelope Trunk identifies four personality types and the best method to reward each:

  • Power: Type-As should be given public recognition and more visionary, forward-thinking projects.
  • Relationship: Your cheerleader types should also be rewarded, but in a fun way, with a meaningful speech. Give them projects that are varied and well-defined.
  • Ideals: Your crusaders want to be rewarded along the way, not just at the end. Reward them as part of a team, not just alone. “Show faith in their ability to build strong partnerships by giving them more work to leverage that skill,” she says.
  • Craftsmanship: Your perfectionists need to be thanked for attention to detail, and in private, since they don’t like fanfare. They want to see you adopt their work as the standard.

4. The Secret To Innovation

With the concern today about innovation, everyone is looking for a system that they can use to provide the magic — hence a profusion of brainstorming meetings and training sessions. But Carol Kinsey-Gorman, who facilitates collaborative sessions for companies seeking such innovation, points to a study at Massachusetts Institute of Technology: It found that 80 per cent of breakthroughs with products and services did not occur in training sessions or formal meetings. Instead, dynamic innovation usually resulted from chance encounters.

“Want to dramatically increase your organization’s ‘creativity quotient?’” she asks on Forbes.com. “It may be simpler than we thought. It may be as simple as hiring great people, making sure they meet one another, and letting them talk.”

5. Zingers

  • Consumers tend to focus on the first piece of information in a package deal. According to research, when item quantity comes before price they are more likely to try the package. So 70 items for $29 will draw better than $29 for 70 items. (Source: TruthDive.com)
  • Consultant Donald Cooper cuts to the heart of your client relationships with these three questions: When your target clients are buying or using what you offer, what are they really trying to do; what do they want or need to know; and how do they want to feel? (Source: The Donald Cooper Corporation Newsletter)
  • Ideas are like butterflies, says consultant Wally Bock. They fly by, and you must capture them — through a notebook, index cards, phone or handheld. (Source: Three Star Leadership Blog)
  • Instead of a lifeless e-mail responder note when you’re away from work and only checking messages irregularly, use it to send a marketing message, advises consultant Drew McLellan. He cites the person who showed his status and interest in professional development by telling all correspondents he was at a conference of leading marketing agencies from around the world. (Source: Drew’s Marketing Minute)
  • Author and Professor Martin Seligman from the University of Pennsylvania points out that achievement depends not only on fast thought processes (the product of learning, skill and knowledge), but also on slower executive functions — planning, checking your work, calling up memories, and creativity. Being fast can free up time to be purposefully slow. (Source: Flourish)


6. Q&A with 8020Info:  Increasing Referrals

Question: How can I get more referrals?

8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter responds:

Referrals are a marvellous accelerant for an organization that wants new customers or clients. They provide your with new prospects who already believe you do good work, probably have a need for your services, and, as a bonus, are often individuals you generally would not have known about without the gift of a referral.

The first step to a referral is to provide consistent, trusted service to existing clients and customers. Thus, when they’re asked to suggest somebody they know in your field, they will have little hesitation in recommending you.

All of us believe our service is wonderful. But ponder the words “consistent” and “trusted” from the viewpoint of your customers — and do it with a critical mind. You may have to face the fact you are not meeting their standards, and before referrals will come you must overhaul your processes and clean up some sloppy habits.

If your service goes above and beyond — exceptional service, with moment of wow — that helps even more (as long as it’s not episodic, interspersed with moments of ugh). Then your existing clients or customers are more likely to rave about you, mentioning your name to people who aren’t even soliciting a referral.

Referrals are also more likely to come if customers and clients know you are open to newcomers. The dentist who always complains about how busy he is and the accountant who books appointments with exasperation about her schedule from hell may be raising doubts that they would want any referrals. They may also be sending a signal that more business would make it even harder for current clients to get an appointment with them.

So, assuming you want new business, when you talk about how busy you are make sure that you also indicate it’s temporary — perhaps you have just taken on some new clients or new associates who require more time from you for the moment.

You may want to set up an electronic reminder to periodically mention to a specific client that you are still open for referrals. It doesn’t hurt at the time to indicate what kind of clients you are looking for, if you perform specialized work. Occasionally you can let all your clients know you want referrals, such as the insurance broker whose email signature begins with the line: “A referral is the greatest compliment a client can give. Thank you all for your support.”

7. News From Our Water Cooler:  What’s Your Champion Status?

Whether giving referrals or simply passing along information by word of mouth or click, champions are often crucial to your brand development and marketing success. 

Your ideal champions are connectors who are not only credible and influential by virtue of their role, expertise and/or experience, but also sociable: they know a lot of people, interact with them repeatedly, and like to spread the word on the latest new thing. In some cases media champions, analysts and celebrities can help create buzz at the earliest stages of a word-of-mouth campaign, online or off.

Here’s a simple tool to assess the status of your champions. Do they …

  • Actively promote you, your products and services to friends and acquaintances?
  • Speak well when the chance arises or thought occurs?
  • Speak well when asked?
  • Avoid saying much about it?
  • Talk negatively about it?
  • Talk so negatively it hurts your organization or program?

8020Info helps teams develop and implement their strategic plans, research and marketing communications more effectively. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries at (613) 542-8020, or by email at watercooler@8020info.com

8. Closing Thought

“The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”
— Agha Hasan Abedi