Category Archives: Talent Management

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Pros and cons of outsourcing your marketing department

Nobody can deny the power of marketing in the 21st century. After all, your company might be producing an amazing and one-of-a-kind product – but does it reach the customer?

Correct marketing strategy allows you to offer the right product to the right people at the right time, but the development and implementation of that strategy requires a lot of effort.

Sometimes, in-house marketing departments are simply not enough, or lack certain skills that are crucial for a specific project. These are the most common cases for hiring an outsourced marketing team to help you out and boost your promotional strategy.

In order to gain the most value from hiring an outsourced marketing team, you should know the pros and cons of this collaboration. An improper marketing strategy may not only result in financial losses but also hurt the reputation of your company.

When should you hire an outsourced marketing team?

Before looking at the pros and cons of the outsourced marketing, it is important to understand whether you really need to hire such a team.

There are various reasons to work with an outsourced marketing department. Here are some of the most common ones.

1) Tight budget

It is true that every company needs a marketing team, but not every company can afford an in-house one (i.e. growing startups).

In this case, outsourcing your marketing team is a great decision. Such services usually come at lower costs than in-house teams while still delivering high quality of services in a short period of time.

2) Time pressure

It may happen that you need to promote your product ASAP, and have absolutely zero time for strategy development and implementation. This is another scenario where the outsourced team can quickly jump in and assist you while meeting deadlines.

3) Lack of skill

Another common problem for many companies is lack of skill among the in-house employees and, as a result, problems with project realization.

Marketing is an incredibly vast field with many aspects to take care of (i.e. SEO, PR, social media marketing, PPC, etc.). Not every company can afford to employ a variety of in-house specialists full-time, so hiring an outsourced professional is the best solution to this problem. As soon as you identify the exact services that you need, you will have access to a vast talent pool and can choose a perfect specialist for your project.

4) Need for better results

You may have an in-house marketing team of experienced specialists, but you’re still not getting results. The reason for that may be that the team is missing out on something important, or is following the wrong KPIs.

In this situation, an outsourced marketing team will provide an adequate analysis of the situation and can propose actionable solutions.

Note: Before starting any marketing activity, clearly define the business goals, target audience and KPIs in order to achieve tangible results.

The pros of hiring an outsourced marketing team

So you decided that your company will benefit from hiring an outsourced marketing teams – here are all the pros that this decision will bring.

1) Rich expertise and specific skills

The biggest advantage of any outsourced talent pool is the availability of various skills and expertise. If your in-house specialists lack a certain skill, you can easily close the gap with an outsourced professional.

In addition, the outsourced specialists can bring in their own experience and help you look at the project from a different angle, which may also turn out to be a benefit.

2) Speed and quality combo

Work with outsourced specialists is great when you need to get things done quickly. Most outsourced marketers specialize in deliverables, and can fulfill tasks immediately whereas in-house marketers may be slowed down with other tasks. If you are a young startup in the need of quick promotion or simply have a burning campaign to launch, an outsourced marketing team is a great choice.

In addition to that, outsourced marketers usually have an impressive level of expertise, which means high quality of work. So in addition to fast performance, you can also enjoy high quality work.

3) A look from a different angle

Your marketing team may be composed of stellar specialists, but sooner or later, they will get used to your product and will most probably be biased and follow the standard path instead of looking for unique solutions.

In this case, an outsourced team may be a jolt of fresh air. A different angle and a novel approach may result in increased revenue and unexpected success of a marketing campaign.

The cons of hiring  an outsourced marketing team

Working with outsourced marketing team sounds great so far, but there are certain pitfalls to watch out for if you want your marketing campaign to be a success.

1) Lack of loyalty and interest

Behind every great company are great employees who are invested in its development and growth – but what if your outsourced specialists don’t care about the brand as much?

This is the case with many outsourced specialists. While they may be excellent professionals, they do not have to love your company and share its vision and values. Because of this, it’s hard to expect a lot of loyalty from an outsourced team.

2) High risks

When reaching out to outsourced marketing specialists, you never know whether they are 100% trustworthy or not, and whether they will complete a task as requested.

Keep in mind that there is always a possibility someone will lack certain skills or may even disappear. To minimize the risks, dedicate some time to researching whoever you require, and ask to see portfolios and references.

3) Less control

Working with outsourced team implies that you will have less control over the processes and will not be able to monitor them as closely as you do in case of in-house marketing.

To decrease the risks and increase transparency, agree on the most suitable ways of communication and regular reports. In this way, you will always know what’s going on with the project and what its current state is.

Summing up

Outsourced marketing is a great option that allows companies to cover all its marketing needs at a reasonable price. But to gain the maximal value from this partnership, a company has to come up with definite goals and KPIs so the outsourced marketing team will have a clear sense of direction and can propose the most actionable strategy.


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How to deal with underperformers

As a manager, you have a lot of processes to keep an eye on. Your success is not defined by your own work, but by the results of people you manage. And underperformers can significantly hurt the team’s results (and your own success).

The dilemma of many managers out there is: should I fire underperformers or give them a chance to improve? What do I do if they do not improve and we lose time and money?

It is important to approach underperformers carefully, in a thought-out manner. Otherwise, you risk hurting your reputation as a manager and the company’s profit.

Resolving the dilemma

As a manager, you have increased responsibility. You need to work efficiently by yourself and you need people on the team to keep up.

However, you also need to be an inspirational leader so people can trust you. But how do you combine camaraderie with strict management, especially when handling the underperformers?

The trick is: you don’t. As a manager, your primary task is to manage, not to be popular. Of course, you need to be a good leader and treat people with respect. But that does not mean you should sacrifice the quality of work for a good attitude.

Therefore, as soon as you identify an underperformer on a team, you need to approach the person and try to resolve the issue as soon as possible in order to retain results and meet deadlines.

Invite them for a conversation

First things first – you need to know the exact reason why a person underperforms.

Personal issues

One of the main reasons for low performance is personal issues. It may be sickness, divorce or similar troubles that distract someone from work.

In this case, the best you can do is give someone time to resolve those issues and get back to work. You have the opportunity to gain trust and loyalty when you treat situations such as these with understanding and genuine concern.

Lack of training

Another common issue that happens is simply a lack of training and/or skills.

If a person is assigned to something they cannot do, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort is dedicated – the results won’t show up. And this is a problem related to poor management.

If a manager cannot assess skills and assigns wrong tasks to the wrong people, this will inevitably lead to problems.

Misunderstanding

Another issue related to poor management is misunderstandings. If you set the wrong goals, or don’t explain tasks well enough, that could be a reason for underperformance.

If people don’t know what you want from them, how can you expect good results?

Tip: During any conversations to clear up misunderstandings, keep your emotions in check and be ready to listen before making any assumptions.

Come up with a plan

Once you define the problem behind poor performance, you can come up with a plan for improvement.

Offer help

First, offer help (if this is possible). Suggest courses, areas for improvement, and training. It’s possible that low performance stems from a lack of skills or knowledge, and that individual is too nervous to ask for help. So your task as a manager is to guide the employee in the right direction and give actionable advice.

Listen to their preferences

It’s possible that someone is assigned the wrong tasks that are in conflict with skills and interests. So listen to the employee and find out whether they really like their job or are there any other things they’d prefer to do.

The right allocation of resources and proper task assignment are the driving forces behind the company’s success. Every person is talented in something and a manager should unveil these talents and find an appropriate use for them.

Define deadlines

Once you agree on the improvement plan and the employee understands what you wanted to communicate, you need to define deadlines so they can follow a plan and show tangible results.

During this period, monitor their performance and reward improvements. Always provide a timely follow-up so the employee knows how they are doing.

What if the employee did not improve?

If, after an appropriate period of time, the underperformer doesn’t show any progress or willingness to improve, it’s time to say goodbye.

Even though it is an unpleasant procedure, it is usually the best for everyone. In this case, the manager will stop spending time and effort on a below average employee and will be able to focus on more important tasks. As for the employee, s/he will get a chance to find a more suitable and stress-free position.

Note: during the improvement process, do not forget to document everything. This is in case the employee decides to appeal against your decision, you can always prove your point with documented evidence.

Final word

Before, during, and after the probation period you need to provide underperforming employees with constant support and guidance.

Another important issue to evaluate yourself and your managerial skills. Ask yourself: do you provide timely and informative feedback, and do all your employees understand what needs to be done?

When a manager and team works together and communicates efficiently, you get results. So, when evaluating the employees, dedicate some time to perform a self-evaluation as well. This will help you improve and master the skills needed for efficient management.


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HR Salary Overview: How much does a HR professional make in the Philippines?

There is a great need for talented human resource teams in the Philippines. Companies are constantly struggling to find talent, despite the growing population and thousands of Filipinos entering the workforce every year.

HR professionals are responsible for making sure the company runs smoothly in the face of any adversary, such as internal conflict. They navigate complicated benefits and make sure everything is in smooty working order, so your employees can focus on their jobs.

Below we list the average salaries in the HR field in the Philippines.

According to HR Nation, a HR assistant could earn 13,400 to 15,000 a month. A HR officer earns approximately 17,000 to 18,800 a month. A HR supervisor earns around 23,200 to 25,000 a month, and a HR manager typically earns 38,000 to 50,000 a month.

HR manager, the highest position in the HR department, commands an equally high salary. According to PayScale, “A Human Resources (HR) Manager earns an average salary of PHP 481,069 per year.” These managers typically oversee the direction and strategy of the HR department in relation to the overall goals of the business.

The typical skills progression of an HR assistant to manager looks something like this;

  • Begin by doing low-level tasks such as filing, attendance monitoring, and other administrative tasks for the department. This is to learn the mechanics of how the department works on the first level.
  • Once you understand more of the system, you begin managing files, handling recruitment tasks, and administration tasks that deal more with finances (such as salary and benefits).
  • When you’ve gotten your feet wet with recruitment, you graduate to training and onboarding new employees. You deal more with high level strategy, such as goals and objectives of the company, and bring that into your work.
  • Finally, at the top level you have the authority and experience to implement new programs, policies, guidelines and procedures for the company’s talent. You oversee the direction of the department, which leads the direction of recruitment, which leads the direction of the brand.

Factors that impact the HR salary

The numbers stated above are the average salaries that were calculated across the country in general. However, if one wants to learn more about the HR salary, it is important to consider a few factors that have a big impact on the salary of an HR specialist.

Company size

Many people believe that the bigger the company is, the bigger the salaries are. While this is true in some cases, this is not the ultimate rule.

A recent study revealed that non-managerial positions have higher chances for salary increases in companies with under 50 employees or companies with 750+ employees. Here is an explanation for that.

Small companies with 50 or fewer employees usually have only one or two HR specialists who are responsible for all HR-related processes (including recruitment). That’s why it’s often fair to pay them a high salary. Big companies, on the other hand, constantly grow and can afford to pay high salaries to their HR specialists.

As for HR managers, they should look for a salary increase in companies with 200-500 people. Such companies tend to display a steady growth pattern and therefore do not hesitate to raise wages for the managers that contribute to the company’s growth.

Responsibilities and skills

This is the most critical factor that impacts the future salary of an HR professional. The bigger the responsibility, the higher the salary.

Here are a few key roles in the HR department, starting with the least crucial.

  • HR assistant: Typically assists HR specialists with minor tasks and helps to do routine work that does not require a high level of skill or experience
  • HR specialist: This role usually implies tight communication with employees, conduction of interviews, surveys, and feedback, organization of events (if needed)
  • Onboarding specialist: This person is responsible for all the processes related to onboarding,
  • Compensations and benefits specialist: This specialist works only with employees’ compensations and benefits (the role is common in big companies with several offices)
  • HR manager: oversees the work of the department, assigns tasks, proposes initiatives, ensures that the work process goes alongside the strategy
  • HR director: comes up with the development strategy, manages the work of the department in a company, optimizes internal processes

However, these roles are often blurred or mixed depending on the company size and type. For example, in small companies, one specialist can combine the roles of an onboarding specialist, benefits and compensation specialist, and an HR manager.

Is the HR department really so important for a company?

According to this survey, HR managers have the highest average gross salary compared to other professionals.

While some do not understand the importance of the HR department, companies that wish to grow and develop fully embrace all the benefits that a well-structured HR department brings to a company.

Employee motivation and satisfaction

Employees are the driving force behind a high-quality product so their motivation and satisfaction should be the primary concern. And this is solely the responsibility of the HR department.

HR specialists take care of many processes that are related to employees’ motivation and satisfaction: conduction of surveys, personal talks, interviews, collection of feedback, the introduction of new practices, organization of events within a company.

All these processes aim to bring additional value to employees and strengthen the bond between them and a company. And motivated employees tend to display much better results than unmotivated ones.

Finding the best talent

HR specialists are the ones who provide the most suitable talent for a company and ensure that the candidates match the required tasks.

There are several aspects to keep in mind when choosing a perfect candidate for a position, and the primary ones are technical and soft skills. Experienced HR professionals invest a significant amount of time and resources to search through hundreds of resumes and select those candidates that seem the best fit.

In addition, HR specialists are responsible not only for finding talent but recruiting and retaining them. It takes a certain set of skills like communication and negotiation to persuade the candidate to accept the offer and make sure s/he will not leave after some time. So we can assume that HR specialists help the company grow by providing it with talented and enthusiastic people.

Budget management

One more important function that HR specialists perform is assistance with budget management. Since HR specialists manage employee benefits, compensations, and similar expenses, they can always adjust the company’s budget and negotiate the best rates.

As well, they constantly monitor the tendencies and trends in salaries across the industry and can always inform the company’s owner on whether the salary is calculated fairly. This function of the HR department is especially beneficial for small companies that do not have many specialists dealing with finances.


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The pros and cons of working with freelancers in 2020

The Internet gives companies a wonderful opportunity to communicate with people all over the world. For business owners, it not only means a wider audience reach, but also a wider talent pool.

Over the years, freelancing has been gaining popularity and has now become an integral part of the business environment. But is working with freelancers recommendable? Are there any hidden stumbling blocks that you may not know about?

Let’s take a look at the possible pros and cons of working with freelancers.

The pros of hiring a freelancer

Freelance can bring many benefits to your business. Here are the most popular reasons for hiring a freelancer.

High level of expertise

Freelancers sell a certain skill that they have mastered for years, and they tend to be true experts in their field.

While a development agency can offer a full range of services, there is no guarantee that the employees’ skills will be above average. With freelancers, you can check out their portfolio and make sure that their level of skills and expertise is suitable for your needs.

Availability of skills

This benefit relates to the point above on expertise. Because there are millions of freelancers all over the world, there is a 100% chance you will find the exact expert that you need. Working with freelancers gives you access to a vast talent pool, while your local candidates may be lacking the required skills.

Affordability

While it’s true you get what you pay for, many freelance partnerships are more cost-effective than hiring a full-time employee, especially when you don’t have enough work to fill a full-time role. You pay for deliverables, without other expenses like insurance or overhead. Freelancers are a great option when you want something laser-targeted and done well.

In case you have a complex long-term project, you could look into working with a freelancer long-term or combining an agency and one or two freelancers. A good example would be a software development agency that has an in-house development team and works with a freelance designer or copywriter.

Flexibility

Collaboration with freelancers is usually very flexible. You can get in touch with them any time you want and they usually respond in a timely manner. You can also agree on a preferred method of communication that’s comfortable for both of you.

Freelancers also tend to be very reliable when you need something done as soon as possible, although it most likely comes with a rush fee. Most freelancers are very understanding and act fast in case of emergencies.

Finally, you can always choose the priority of tasks and set necessary deadlines, which freelancers will follow. This will give you more control over the project and eliminate the risk of any unexpected issues.

The cons of hiring a freelancer

By now, you might be thinking that work with a freelancer is a dream. However, there are a few things to watch for that might hurt your project if you ignore them.

Poor communication

Because freelancers are usually not in the same city (or country) where you are, this might be a bit of a challenge.

The biggest issue is probably a time zone shift. When there is a 12+ hour difference and you need to contact the freelancer right now, things can prove difficult.

You cannot monitor freelancers the way you do with your employees. Be sure to confirm any expectations, from reports to meeting frequency, and establish good communication practices to keep you aware of the project status.

Lack of loyalty for the company

Loyal employees understand the company’s values, and this is usually displayed in their work.

Freelancers, on the other hand, are completely independent. They manage multiple projects at once and your company may be the 10th on their list of clients.

So if you want some special attention to your brand or want all employees to share the company’s vision and values, a one-off freelance project may not be your best choice. If you’re looking for loyalty, try to go with a long-term freelancer with a history of keeping clients for years.

Risk of disappearing

Because you communicate with freelancers over the Internet, you never know where they are at the moment. And there is never a 100% guarantee they will not disappear.

Unfortunately, it happens: a freelancer may simply disappear once you’ve transferred money to their account. Of course, this is not a frequent case (otherwise, freelancing would not be so popular) but still, you can never be sure.

Tips on choosing a freelancer to work with

Hiring a freelancer is a perfect option when you need to get a specific job done. Many companies collaborate with freelancers for years and that’s a really good practice if you have some ongoing specific tasks.

Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a freelancer:

  • Always ask for a portfolio, as this is what helps freelancers sell their skill
  • Ask to do a test task so you can access their skills and see how well they suit you
  • Communicate with them before getting down to work; you should be comfortable working with this person
  • Negotiate on communication method so you can monitor the project status
  • Discuss your tools, and whether you will be using Google Drive, Trello, Slack
  • Don’t forget to have them sign an NDA, when relevant

Good luck!


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5 Ways to Motivate Employees in 2020

As an employer, you should strive for motivated employees who are interested in their work. After all, happy employees equal great results.

However, some employers don’t think about employees’ needs. They look at the competition, come up with “Friday pizza day” or think that a fair salary is enough to keep someone enthusiastic about their job.

It’s true that people work for money – no one can deny that.  But it takes more than that to turn your employees into true brand ambassadors that will be happy to stay with the company long-term.

And for that, one needs to know all the intricacies of motivating employees. Ready to learn how to create a healthy work environment and make people happy? Let’s start!

Explain why they matter

Nothing works better than recognition of achievements and success.

Employers should point out mistakes or things that can be improved, but how often do they thank their employees for work or recognize their contribution to the overall success?

Start by explaining how each individual task contributes to the success of an overall project and the company. When people know that they make a change with their work, they will be ready to go the extra mile to ensure everything is done.

Another important thing is recognizing achievements. Do you see that somebody on the team shows stellar results? Approach them and let them know you’ve noticed their hard work.

Why it works: appreciation helps employees understand their significance and role in a company. This, in turn, is the driving force behind exceeding the set goals.

Keep a positive attitude

One of the worst nightmares for the majority of the employees would be the failure of the project and the proceeding outrage from the employer’s side.

But we can understand the manager too. When you are responsible for the whole team of people and the whole project, you will be double-worried if anything goes wrong.

Critical situations show whether a person can be a good leader. When something bad happens, an efficient manager will keep up a positive attitude and focus on solving the problem instead of yelling or finding whom to blame. The employees, in turn, will feel that the situation can be fixed, stop panicking and come up with brilliant ideas.

Why it works: negative reinforcement simply doesn’t work. A poor attitude doubles the stress and spreads to employees. If people see that their manager is self-collected and calm, they will be able to problem-solve with a cool and collected mind.

Be approachable

You want people to ask questions, share their ideas, and freely talk about their thoughts and feelings. For that, you need to establish an atmosphere of trust in your company.

If a boss is too arrogant, cocky, or cannot listen, people will simply stop approaching him or her. Instead, they will avoid asking for advice and struggle to solve issues by themselves, which takes longer and is less efficient.

But you are here to help them. And how can one help if people are too afraid or hesitant to even say hello?

Analyze your behavior on whether you seem approachable or not. You could be sitting with an open door all the time and people still avoid it. So how do you fix that?

Show genuine interest for your employees and prove that you care by asking questions. Do not hesitate to share your past failures and mistakes – this will help them see you as a person who once stood in their place.

Why it works: people will trust you more if they see that you care about them and treat them as peers, not just as a valuable asset.

Ensure the matching of skills and tasks

About 70% of the employees do not feel very engaged at work, according to the study by the Achievers. While there may be different reasons for that, one of the most important ones is the mismatch between the person’s skills and the tasks assigned.

Each person has different talents. The task of a good manager is to recognize these talents and assign the tasks correspondingly.

For that, ask people how they feel about their current job, what kind of tasks they are most interested in, what do they think they can do the best. Proper task assignment will not only boost employees’ engagement but will also have a positive impact on work.

Tip: Using employee assessment tools help you match skills and talents to roles, before you even hire.

Why it works: when the person feels that they are making a difference with their work, this serves as an immense motivator and boosts self-confidence.

Always give constructive feedback

First, you should give both positive and negative feedback. Positive is needed to encourage people to keep up good work and negative can be used to learn on mistakes and point out the possible improvements.

Second, the feedback should never be vague. For example, you can say: “Great job with these presentations!” However, you can go a bit further and say: “Great job with these presentations. I especially liked how well you visualized the data and the way you formulated your arguments”.

Let people know about their strengths – they will be motivated to grow further!

As for the negative feedback, do not make it sound like blame. Just point out the specific moments that need improvement and advise on the best ways to fix them or offer help (i.e. an opportunity for learning).

Why it works: when people know about own strengths and weaknesses, they will better evaluate themselves and know what is needed for further growth, like getting a salary raise.

Establish transparent communication

It is crucial that you and your employees can efficiently communicate with each other. For that, follow these principles:

  • Always keep in mind the goal of communication: to come up with the best solution, not to decide who is right and who is wrong,
  • Everyone has a right for a voice and deserve to be heard,
  • Even the craziest idea may turn out to be brilliant: encourage free sharing of thoughts,
  • Do not punish the employees for saying something that you personally do not agree with,
  • Respect each other and treat people the way you want to be treated,
  • Take responsibility for the actions and never lie – teach your employees the same.

Though obvious, these principles are often neglected or forgotten.

Why it works: a lot of problems can be avoided by clearly communicating thoughts and ideas.

Conclusion

In 2019, we celebrate diversity, including the diversity of talent, skills, ideas, and mindsets.

For the employers, it’s time to change from being a boss to being an inspiring leader who understands this diversity. In order to achieve set goals, one should invest a considerable amount of effort to nurture a healthy work environment with an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.


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Practical Tips For Hiring, Managing (and Retaining) Millennials

This is a guest post from Allison Hail. Allison is a freelance writer from Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. A passionate writer and also a self-confessed foodie who adores devouring ideas from the latest baking recipe books with a steaming cup of coffee. Watch out for her newest articles on Tumblr.

Millennials.  The often misunderstood generation of people aged 20 to 35.

They are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force today. According to a 2017 report by Pew Research Center, millennials make up about 35% of the workforce.

However, they’ve received some less than positive attention since they’ve hit the work scene.

Each generation has its own work values and work ethic. One isn’t better than the other. It’s simply important to understand how each generation performs in the workplace.

It’s vital that HR (and management) personnel understand the motivators of millennials.

Follow these practical tips for hiring, managing (and retaining) millennials.  We will reveal the motivators that will help you maximize productivity, performance and engagement in the workplace.

The Secret to Attracting and Hiring Millennials

Millennials bring a fresh perspective and youthful enthusiasm to the workplace.

But how do you attract the right millennial talent?  During the hiring and interview process, look for the following soft skills:

  1. Leadership skills
  2. Communication skills
  3. Problem-solving & critical thinking
  4. Accountability

This short video explains what to look for in a candidate.

Managing and Retaining Millennials

A 2016 Gallup report of employed millennials revealed that:

  • 21% declared they’ve changed jobs within the past year
  • 60% are open to new job opportunities

This indicates they are the least engaged generation in today’s workforce.

Gallup found only 29% of millennials are behaviorally and emotionally connected to their company and their job.

What can you do to change this?

Engaging Millennials in the Workplace

1  Provide a Sense of Purpose

A mission, purpose and meaningful work is what drives millennials.  Not just a paycheck. Allow them to take the initiative with projects.  Show you value their input.

2  Be a Coach (Like a Boss)

Millennials value a manager who can coach, not command and control.  Someone who helps them understand what’s required of them, and helps them strengthen their skills.  Ensure to provide ongoing feedback and nurture leadership qualities.

3  Support Flexibility

Millennials don’t want to be tied to an 8-hour office schedule.  Their job is their life. They are efficient multi-taskers who expect autonomy and a healthy work-life balance.

How do you put this into action? Begin by engaging millennial candidates during the hiring process.  This will increase your chances of retaining them as employees.

Use our practical tips for hiring, managing (and retaining) millennials to guide you through the process.

Before you know it, you’ll have more engaged, valuable and productive employees.


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Informational interviews: Whom and how to ask

Informational interviews are a relatively new interview format where the main goal is not to get a job, but rather get valuable insight into a particular position.

Though seemingly easy, informational interviews have their own intricacies and rules to follow in order for both the interviewer and the interviewee to benefit.

While informational interviews are often overlooked by the job seekers, they bring immense benefits, like expanding your network or pinpointing certain skills that you can improve.

In order to gain value from an informational interview, you need to know whom and what questions to ask.

Informational interview benefits

The first thing to remember: an informational interview is not a job interview and should not be approached as one.

In a job interview, a candidate wants to get hired, has a certain position in mind, and talks to an HR manager and the future manager of the department. Job interviews can be stressful and are to determine whether the candidate is a good fit.

Informational interviews are a different sort of interview. Their main goal is to help a person gain insight into the position, company, and industry as a whole.

Informational interviews are relatively stress-free, as there is no assessment – only the goal of gaining information. During such interviews, the interviewer is typically the one in a junior role, and asks questions about specific tasks and duties in a role, internal processes, possible pitfalls, and opportunities for professional growth.

The benefits of the informational interview include:

  • Significant network growth: During the interview, you can ask for valuable contacts that can help you with advice
  • Deep insights on the position that you want to fill: Such insights include the description of the role in the company, duties, attitude of the executives, company culture, etc.
  • Advice for future growth: You can learn which skills you need to work on and how to qualify for a desired position

Your first step towards conducting an informational interview would be to choose the right person and prepare a list of questions that you are going to ask.

Choosing the right person and writing down the right questions

You want the interview to bring you a certain value. For that, you need to do a bit of groundwork.

We recommend outlining the goals that you want to get from this interview: do you want to know how to become a professional in the chosen sphere or are you interested in this specific company and wish to work here?

You should choose the person and questions based on your goals.

Choosing who to interview

As said above, define your goals – they will serve as a base for the interview.

If you want to learn about a specific position, try to find a person who already works in a company in the same or similar position. If you want professional advice, you can try meeting an executive or a manager who can recommend the best methods for self-improvement.

Here are a few ideas on where to find the right people:

  • Your personal network: Maybe the needed specialists are already there
  • LinkedIn: Search among your existing network or look specifically for certain people
  • Your family and friends: Ask whether they know anyone who can help you

And remember: always be professional! An informational interview is still a professional exchange, similar to a regular interview or networking at a conference.

Send a message or an email, introduce yourself and politely ask to arrange a meeting. By acting in a professional manner, you will earn trust and respect, and can increase your chances of getting valuable insights.

Questions to ask during the interview

Once you are clear with your goals and chose the right person to conduct an interview, time to outline the questions that you are going to ask.

One of the best strategies is to first ask a person about their career: how it started, what led to the person getting this job, and how they feel about it.

People typically enjoy talking about themselves, so you could gain more insight than you expect. You may also think of extra questions while listening.

Some of your possible questions for the informational interview may include:

  • What are your daily duties?
  • What kind of skills and knowledge do you need for this position?
  • What are some of the benefits and darker sides of the industry?
  • How do you find this company, culture, and management?

After the interview, thank the person for their time with a follow-up note. If you aren’t already, don’t forget to connect with them on LinkedIn.

An informational interview is a great source of new connections, valuable advice, and even new opportunities. If you act in a professional manner, prepare in advance, and make use of the obtained information, you will significantly speed up the process of getting your dream job position – so give informational interview a try. In the 21st century, information is immensely valuable, so use it to your advantage.


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When to Let Go of Poor Performers in the Workplace

Performance reviews have long been under-fire for practices of ranking individuals into top, middle, and bottom tiers. However, these tiers or other setups showing individuals who consistently perform under set standards can help your organization to improve and succeed. Traditionally, individuals who consistently underperform are simply let go, as they are either fired or do not receive contract renewal.

Modern HR practices typically require a much more human-friendly approach, where you should offer opportunities and tools to improve. Understanding these tools and approaches will help you to understand both how to improve performance and when to give up and let go of someone who simply is not responding to efforts.

Poor Response to Coaching

Coaching and mentoring can greatly improve performance for many. Here, leaders can simply step in to determine what’s gone wrong and why. This may result in the individual being moved to a more suitable team. It may result in their roles changing. It may result in them being pushed into personal development or training to improve specific factors.

Poor performance can result from myriad factors such as stress, poor home-life conditions, poor work-life balance, overwork, a bad manager, a poor fit with team, lack of crucial knowledge or skills, lack of motivation, and other factors. Coaching can help with any of these.

No matter what direction coaching takes, it’s important to monitor results. If someone fails immediately, it may be the fault of the coach. However, if the coach is good, there is a certain point when further investment is likely futile or no longer a good investment. Here, you should set a budget based on the cost of hiring and onboarding a replacement to the same or a higher level of performance and work within that.

No Interest in Development

Individuals who do not respond to or show interest in personal development cannot improve or change. This is important because most remediation efforts for poor performance eventually result in development. Individuals who lack skills for their current role have to be trained. Persons in a role that is changing outside of their ability to perform have to be trained. Individuals who can’t communicate well have to be trained as well.

If someone is not interested in learning and improving themselves, they cannot increase or improve performance. You can typically gauge this before development begins but should do so as it proceeds as well.

Lack of Personal Motivation

Personal motivation is the key to self-improvement and it is one (hard to measure) factor that will make or break the success of any initiative. Without motivation, an individual cannot respond to coaching, cannot push themselves through development, and will not be able to engage with or become passionate about work. You can take on several strategies to boost motivation through empowerment, stress reduction, training, and offering opportunities, but it is up to the individual to respond.

Like with coaching, motivation training should stop at a certain point when it becomes clear that the cost of doing so will exceed the cost of replacing the individual altogether.

Most people will train, develop themselves, and strive to do better when given the opportunity to do so in an understanding environment. People respond well to coaching, are able to make changes to their schedules and work methods and can learn new skills to improve performance. On the rare occasion that individuals do not respond to these methods or the cost of delivering them far outstrips the cost of hiring a new employee, you should let poor performers go.


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How to brand your company well among your employees

Internal branding is a big deal.

While companies invest overwhelming sums of money into external PR campaigns, they seem to ignore internal PR and no zero effort to brand the company among their own employees.

And this is a critical mistake. Numerous studies show that 92% of people trust the opinion of their friends and family much more than they trust advertising and paid marketing campaigns – and guess who stands behind this word-of-mouth marketing?

That’s right – your employees. When they talk about their company outside of work, they can speak about your products and services with admiration or disdain. Loyal employees tend to genuinely support their company, and internal branding is a great way to inspire that loyalty.

But internal branding is not something you can do overnight. Same as external PR, it takes some time and effort to cultivate a sense of loyalty and trust towards a company.

The importance of internal branding

Some company owners may ask: why would I need to invest in building the loyalty of my employees if I already pay them a decent salary?

A good company should strive to build a long-lasting relationship with its employees, understanding that salary isn’t everything for everyone. Treat team members as skilled contributors who can help your company grow and exceed the set goals.

Word-of-mouth

Loyal employees can incite plenty of word-of-mouth marketing, which can be extremely beneficial for your company.

When an employee talks about the company’s product, believes in it,  and isn’t just trying to sell something, it motivates others to check it out too.

Increased retention

If an employee is happy at their workplace, s/he will most probably enjoy staying there as long as possible.

If your company sees a low retention rate and an alarmingly high turnover, it’s time to check out what’s wrong with your company policy and how you can improve the situation.

The better your retention, the less time you’ll spend hiring and training new team members (which can get expensive).

Increased motivation

Many company owners expect employees to be self-motivated without giving them any particular reason to get excited for work. This is another critical mistake.

In order to retain employees, give them a valid reason to stay – and by that, we mean solid company culture, clear values, and atmosphere of trust.

How to turn your employees into brand ambassadors

Now that you understand the importance of internal branding, the question is how you will actually implement this strategy.

Below is a step-by-step guide on building your brand with your employees and keeping them engaged with the company.

Define your value and mission

This might sound like a cheesy line from any company’s description written by some PR specialist, but defining your internal values and mission is important for keeping team members on the same page.

If you clearly understand your purpose, your employees will begin to notice, and it’ll be easier to implement internal branding that feels natural.

Pick the right moment

If you make big changes, try to pair them with something else that’s going on in the company. If you combine a positive event or change (like a new office) with something you want to implement for your internal branding (like a campaign), it helps when employees associate them both as positive things.

For example, if you have a new CMO coming onboard, you can also start promoting a new approach to the company’s values. This will help people embrace the change in the right mood.

Talk to your employees

Before making a change, you first need to know what needs to be changed. For that, talk to your employees – the people who will be directly affected by that change.

Conduct surveys to learn what can be improved and ask for the feedback. Invite employees to openly share their ideas with you, and make sure that good ones get implemented.

A big mistake that many companies make is conducting surveys and then not doing anything with the data. This leads to great mistrust towards the company and can lower employees loyalty if they feel they aren’t being heard (especially after putting in the effort of answering a survey).

Offer incentives

An incentive is a great way to boost loyalty and help visualize the company’s values in physical form.

According to your company and its products, you can offer employees T-shirts, books, pins, or even money for behaving in accordance with your mission. For example, if your company values sustainability, you can offer employees 1$ for every 5 plastic bottles that they recycle.

The main idea here is not to bribe the employees, but to support your mission with actions, not just words.

Notice the employees’ contribution

If you ask employees to share their ideas and thoughts, make sure to listen to them and thank them for their contribution.

Many companies ask for employees’ opinions for the sake of appearance. As a result, employees lose trust in the company and won’t want to share anything with it in the future.

So if you really want to engage employees with certain activities, keep your word and deploy the best ideas. This will significantly boost the motivation and show employees that you care about their opinion.

Turning your employees into brand ambassadors is a long-term investment in your company’s growth and development. Before taking any action, double-check that your company has a clear mission and then start building your internal PR strategy around it.


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How to Preserve Institutional Knowledge and Prevent Brain Drain

Brain drain is a situation where organizations are faced with older staff leaving and retiring at a faster rate than new employees reach equivalent levels of skill and expertise. This can be a problem in organizations of all sizes.

While especially relevant to fast-scaling startups who often outpace their own ability to onboard effectively, brain drain impacts even massive companies with tens of thousands of employees.

Preventing knowledge loss often means creating preventive strategies, effectively onboarding people, and hiring to incorporate new expertise while retaining existing knowledge.

These tactics will help you preserve institutional knowledge across your organization, so that the workforce remains productive, valuable, and capable of delivering on strategy and vision.

Implement Succession Planning

Succession planning is one of the most valuable strategies to prevent brain drain, because it ensures you always know who will take the place of existing skilled or valuable persons. This often means developing a matrix to highlight your most value-added or key employees, using competency frameworks and job profiling to determine why they add value and how to replace them, and then generating succession planning based on predictions of their likelihood of leaving the role within x amount of time.

This strategy approaches brain drain from the idea that it will happen, you have to plan for it, and you have to have people ready with the right knowledge, skills, and behaviors, to prevent drops in performance when key people do leave.

Create Mentoring Programs

Lack of proper onboarding is very common in new and old companies alike. Here, new people are often hired on, very quickly introduced to their roles, and then left to be productive under a manager or Scrum leader with no real follow-up or intensive mentoring.

When more experienced individuals do leave roles, these new people are left with very little idea of how or why things are done the way they are, no idea of backlogs, and no real way to add value without changing processes, reverting items, or making a lot of mistakes.

Introducing mentoring programs as part of onboarding helps subvert this issue by ensuring existing employees always pass their knowledge, documentation, and organizational insight on to new people. While most people don’t want to make time in their role for mentoring, it is an important part of a role. The faster you’re hiring, the more time experienced people should be making for mentoring.

Focus on Employee Retention

While replacement strategies are important, employee turnover is still one of the most crucial contributors to skill loss. If you slow down how quickly employees leave, you slow down brain drain, giving your other strategies more time to take effect.

Here, you should focus on employee satisfaction, employee empowerment, fitting individuals to their roles and teams, and creating an environment people want to work in. While you’ll always have individuals who don’t fit, employee retention will make it easier to reduce losses in other places throughout the organization.

Brain drain will slow productivity, decrease profit, and force the organization to change direction or focus as individuals with crucial knowledge leave an organization. Adopt strategies to share knowledge throughout the organization to prevent losing key employees as quickly, and have a plan in place to replace key individuals when they’re ready to move on.


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