Are Your References “Professional”?

What do your professional references say about you? Ever think about it? You should because no matter how good your interview went, if your references don’t say good things about you….you’re not getting that new job you want. Seems kinda harsh doesn’t it? But it’s true, a bad reference can single handedly sink an otherwise great opportunity.Ironically, most people pay little to no attention to their references. I hear things like “I haven’t talked to him in ages.”, “I didn’t really work that closely with her.”, “I’m just his friend” but my favorite is the “one word answers” – yep, no, yes, maybe, absolutely. Joking aside, if you aren’t taking the time to really cultivate and inform your professional references you are putting yourself at a disadvantage in any job search. Someone who takes their job search seriously has educated, informed, prepared and PREDICTABLE references. I recall a candidate interaction a long time ago where the recruiter asked a reference “Would you hire so and so again?”. Simple stuff, nothing major, should be a straight forward response and it was just that….”I wouldn’t hire that guy to stock shelves”. End of interview, no hire, thanks for playing. If your references say they wouldn’t hire you again, it’s pretty bad but when they go out of their way to torpedo your application it’s apocalyptic.Without further adieu, a few quick tips on how to give the best professional references:1) Give people who you know, trust and who will absolutely, positively say nice things about you – I know, right, who WOULDN’T do that? You’d be surprised. I’m not even going to talk about this anymore, do your homework, call your references so when they talk to potential a employer they don’t throw you under the bus.2) Give a former manager – Again, I know, not rocket science. I’m always happy to hear how great a guy someone is, or how they play a mean guitar or how they can finish Halo without dying……….but, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. I want to talk to someone who can tell me what kind of an employee you’ll be once you are hired. Former managers are critical to making sure any potential employer can get the info they need to hire you without reservation. If you don’t have a former manager who’ll say nice things, try someone else in a leadership role. You need someone besides your lunch buddies to say nice things about you, especially in a competitive job market like we have now.3) Make sure your references are available and expecting the call – This one drives recruiters crazy. Nothing more frustrating than leaving voice mail after voice mail for a reference only to follow up with an email that bounces back “On vacation until September 2013″. Good times! It’s common courtesy for everyone involved and will help also make sure our references say nice things about you.4) Have a few people recommend you on LinkedIn – Simple stuff, and frankly it doesn’t matter if this is a former manager or not. With the rise of social networking, more and more companies are searching the web for potential hires. No better way to reinforce that you are a quality hire than to have a well groomed LinkedIn profile that has several people singing your praises.5) Keep in touch with your references to make sure you have a big stable of people to use -This is the final tip, and probably the most important. You want to keep in touch with people who can serve as great professional references. Seriously, think about it. How many former managers can you give that would say nice things about you? The more you have, the better off you’ll be long term. You don’t need to talk to them every day, week or even every month however, you should be just touching base once every quarter or two, JUST in case you need them or, get this…..maybe they need you. That’s right, your former boss may be looking for a job and need a “former direct report” to say nice things…next think you know you guys are colleagues again. So, trust me on this one, figure out who will give you a stellar reference and then maintain and build on that relationship.That’s it, nothing crazy, nothing complicated. Follow these simple tips and I can guarantee you’ll have much more success converting those interviews into offers.

Do You Have BizVision? A Successful Management Style

What exactly separates a successful organization manager from less successful peers? Success is generally planned and requires structure and organization. We believe success managers work in this way have Business Vision in their management style.Today’s business environment is more competitive, has more sophisticated customers and a rapidly changing economic environment; maintaining or increasing a company’s performance is a managers most critical concern and managers who empower employees to higher levels, will make themselves and their employees indispensable to the organization.There are some basic successful management qualities, uncovered by years of exhaustive management studies. These studies identify that successful managers are as different as they are similar. However, close observation determines that six particular qualities are generally found in all successful managers, these six qualities are:• Being goal driven• Employing good communication skills• Continually empowering employees• Acting with a caring attitude• Embodying a caring attitude• Manage with organization and structureThese qualities have become habits for indispensable managers.Since habits are acquired behaviors, through training they can be adopted by anyone. While there is no magic success formula, a person’s desire coupled with an investment of time, energy and patience usually pays long-term management dividends.While one can say that stating six management qualities is simplistic, the successful manager invests much time and energy into the study of human nature, in particular to that of subordinates, superiors, customers and vendors. It is human nature to categorize needs into different levels of priority, understanding your level, as well as those of your peers is vital.Andrew Maslow, a renowned behaviorist, brought this to the attention of the world with his famous “Hierarchy of Needs”. Maslow’s theories are based on the idea that people naturally attempt to satisfy lower needs before seeking to gratify higher levels of needs.• First: Food and shelter• Second: safety and security• Third: belonging, friendship and love• Fourth: self-esteem, status and ego• Fifth: self-actualization and self-fulfillmentUnderstanding where you are in this hierarchy is useful in motivating yourself, then your employees to higher levels of performance. Your first step is to be aware of your own needs, giving clarity to your personal agenda, and then to those of your subordinates. The level at which they’re currently performing provides an understanding of their personal agendas, just as your performance mirrors yours.Morale and High-Level Performance are not as connected as we may think. According to Fredrick Herzberg, a social scientist of the 50′s and 60′s, the most visible of the commonly accepted motivators; salary, working conditions and company policies are referred to as “hygiene factors”, meaning they are important for morale but have little relevance for high-level performance. They answer the needs of the first two priority levels but do not motivate the employee to higher levels.Successful managers are also tuned into the most played radio station in business: WII-FM (What’s In It For Me). Performance measurement is a two-way street. Employees constantly measure their supervisors and their employer in the context of “What’s In It For Me?” Companies and managers who understand this and who tune in to answering WII-FM have more active listeners.• Take the time to get to know your reporting staff, their values, personality type and what piques their interest and primary motives.• Within the boundaries established by an employee’s Position or Task Guide, and in keeping with company policy, determine the best type of approach for each person.• Standard policy does not mean we should ignore difference between people; a good manager always looks for an employee’s strengths and builds on those instead of exploiting weaknesses.• The goal is to identify each employee’s personal goals and objectives and align them with those of the company; the result is greater organizational focus.Success habits are something that can be learned by everyone. Indispensable managers know their own personal agenda, have an organizational system, develop successful habits that support their system and transfer all of this to their employees. Any behavior repeated regularly develops into a habit, and behavioral psychologists agree that this process takes only about 21 to 42 days.As mentioned, there are six qualities basic to successful managers. Being Goal Driven means being results oriented; Aspirations, results and rewards are evident in all activities. Goal driven managers instinctively tune into Maslow’s hierarchical levels themselves and into everyone they set out to motivate; Goals are the prerequisite to achievement. An astute leader helps people set goals compatible to those of the organization and then provides the tools for achievement.Communication means that everyone is informed. Imagine trying to use a system you don’t understand. High-level communication is required and this takes time, energy and creativity. The most power medium is your spoken word privately, to an employee. Your spoken one-on-one communication, followed up with supportive action, can show tremendous results. Banners, newsletters, and email are excellent support tools, but will be treated with quiet contempt if the personal touch and follow up are lacking. In partnership with Maslow’s hierarchy, rewards both communicate and symbolize some level of accomplishment towards the final objective.Empower people. Have you ever noticed how certain people always make you feel good? They don’t shower you with false compliments, they’re not intent on telling you what you want to hear, but they possess a special quality that’s transferred and lifts your spirits. Behavioral experts refer to this as positive energy transference. Every manager needs to master this habit of transferring positive energy to others; this is empowerment. It brings out the best in others because it brings out the best in you, and it’s a habit that can be acquired by “dream building”. Everyone has a dream, including employees, whose dreams may be locked deep within their personal agendas.Indispensable managers uncover these dreams and build a bridge to the corporate mission; to be a successful manager, help people believe in themselves and recognize their talents, and then success can naturally follow. To achieve empowerment, try finding the employees dream, convert the dream into goals connected to the companies’ goals and break goals into daily activities. Also try building team belief through weekly or monthly meetings, hold the employees accountable for their goals and objectives as well as expecting them to believe and achieve while supporting them through your communications strategies.There is an old saying about caring: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Caring is an extension of communication and empowerment, and it involves action and words. There are a number of ways to develop caring habits. Pick one day a year for each employee and do something that shows them appreciation, do not talk business – learn about the person, their family, their dreams and goals. Always follow through with everything you say. Understand the needs and wants of spouses and ask yourself if you really care and make sure you do. And finally remember that the little things mean a lot.Being fully committed is required; none of the habits would be worth much if they weren’t coupled with total commitment. This is what provides dedication to one’s mission. The willingness to grow, to get personally involved, to invest time and money, and to be totally focused on performance is not taught in most business schools. These are life skills that the very best managers have developed and used in the conduct of their daily working relationships. Therefore, before any change occurs, total commitment, coupled with an action plan is a must.S.M.A.R.T. management and effective task communication means identifying what is to be communicated, use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym to assign responsibility for completing assigned tasks within expected guidelines.S – Specific (Clarity) People are not mind readers, be direct and specific when communicating by clearly spelling out what you want and what is expected and get confirmation by asking to have your question or statement repeated back to you.M- Measurable (Objectivity) always put a yardstick to a task because if you can’t measure it you can’t control it; people naturally give more attention to activities which are measured.A – Attainable (Clarity, Objectivity and Integrity) make sure that the person at the receiving end of the instructions is capable, trained, and has the proper tools to do the job.R – Reasonable (Objectivity and Integrity) establish reasonable goals and get consensus, setting unrealistic targets alienates subordinates and becomes a root cause for undesirable outcomes like sacrificing quality, failing to complete tasks, jeopardizing safety and demoralizing the team.T – Timely (Clarity and Integrity) install timelines and check on progress. Timelines must stipulate a beginning, middle milestone and an end. Review often to catch deviations from a plan and be fixed easily and inexpensively.There is a simple successful management equation; Prosperity = Objectivity + Integrity + ClarityManagement success habits are not discriminating. Any willing manager can develop these qualities into habits; and over time they will become original to anyone who uses them, as every manager develops his or her own style and gains Business Vision. Start with you and as you develop into this conceptual manager, refine your systems to work naturally with your people and in turn they will transform into an indispensable team. Work S.M.A.R.T. and use clarity, objectivity and integrity in the way you manage and prosperity for you, your staff and the company will follow.

Five Qualities Ensuring Marketing Strategy Success

Marketing is itself a strategy and so no marketing plan is completely fool-proof. There are some qualities that must be met to be able to consider it effective and this will help in converting customers to make marketing successful. A marketing plan is a frame work that must be followed to transform into a killer strategy. Here are five qualities proving its abilities in the marketing strategy.Focus on the productProduct focus is not simple as it always is focused towards the market. The product varies in demand depending on the age, gender and trend. In case it is about clothing, then women in 50s if they are working would prefer formal, quality and semi formal dresses, while the younger adults may have a different focus on the product. In case you also have shoes to offer, you can help women show how they can look tall and in this way this will include shorter women who would love to gain height, thus your marketing focus widens more effectively.Focus on the marketThe market focus should be defined. It is impossible to please everyone and if you try doing so, you are going to be under severe pressure and eventually result in losses. Focus on the market fashion, but decide first if your focus is with male or female and without fail consider the age factor. By focusing on the market you will see the likes of your target audience. The other factors worth considering are the purchasing power of your audiences. If you find there is a diverse taste, set your goals by dividing, choosing and conquer the market. Have measurable informationAnything to be marketed should be quantifiable and must be ideally in numbers. Include all the details, major and minor as detail information has a crucial role in marketing. A strategy is a must for any good marketing plan to see success. The plan that is the marketing strategy should be measurable to know the ROI. If your business is new, you can have both marketing plans, short and long. They can be interconnected. However, ensure the goals are attainable.Accountability and responsibilityMarketing strategy is about being accountable and this in combination with responsibility alone paves way to success and to attain better results. Marketing plan fails to work in groups than individuals. It is best for each individual to have a specific task and to bring good results. At the same time paying attention to individual’s accountability helps you keep a vigilant eye on their handling of responsibilities. Without fail reprimand the failures and do not forget to reward the achievers. A perfect marketing plan requires absolute involvement that one must be committed to it. Each person should know their job and also should be aware of the outcomes.ReviewsA marketing strategy is a planning process and an effective marketing plan handles everything from tracking performance to setting goals and measuring the units quantifiable. However, regular reviewing and revision is essential. Do not wait until the last day, keep reviewing regularly and change the plans in-between if essential.