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Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest

Tony Kubica and Sara LaForest are co-Founders of Kubica LaForest Consulting. They are management consultants, business performance improvement specialists, and executive coaches helping businesses and individuals accelerate their growth and adapt to the changing needs of the marketplace.

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6 Ways to Blend New Employees in Better

by May 22, 2012, 6:57 am ET

The integration of new talent, whether promoted from within or hired from outside the organization, represents a critical career inflection point for the new employee. Too often this process is overlooked in small businesses or simplified in larger organizations through a quick orientation or onboarding process.

This leaves people to fend for themselves and attempt to adjust to their new organization and role essentially on their own. It will negatively influence their productivity and personal experience. It will lower your new employees’ perception about your company, and ultimately your top talent will leave. They will leave because they have options. Employees want to feel important, and they want to feel that they have been given a good opportunity to integrate into their new organization.

As the recruiter, your job is to find high-potential talent. You seek candidates who are well suited to your organization both in qualification and fit. People with a high potential for talent have a lot of opportunities, as clearly seen with technical and clinical people, making the race and “fight” for these employees especially challenging. What your company offers in terms of integration, both into the position and into the company, can be, if done correctly, a competitive advantage. keep reading…

Unless No One Gets Sick, Quits, or Dies, A Plan’s in Order

by Mar 13, 2012, 5:24 am ET

Does your organization have a succession program in place? Too many organizations and small businesses default to the practice of reactionary assignment of a successor amid a now-glaringly-vacant position, or embark on a rushed external hire that often ends up as a high cost disappointment from a ”hiring misfire.” The consequences are not only expensive but are also a missed opportunity due to lack of focus and the inability to support fast growth.

And this is the challenge for recruiters: urgent hires, and the inability to explain the succession process (i.e. growth potential) to candidates, as well as to current employees who are looking to build their career. Recruiters can have an important role in helping leadership address the issue of succession readiness.

A succession strategy is about having an identified plan to fill key positions within your organization. A succession program is the implemented process of identifying, developing, and transitioning potential successors for the company’s present and future key roles, aligned with the talent and ambition of its current employees and talent network.

A common error that we see in succession planning is to target only the key executive roles (CEO, COO, CFO). This is a significant risk unless you are a micro business. For example, if you are in the construction or transportation industry, a logistics manager may be critical for the success of your business. Having a vacancy in this position could quickly result in a decrease in service and an increase in customer complaints, and possibly a decrease in customer retention.

This is why critical positions across the business need to be identified and replacement processes planned.

In our work with companies we hear some common arguments and justifications. We repeatedly see that the president or key executive doesn’t believe there is an immediate need for a succession plan. Their stated arguments are, “we’re too small,” “we’re too new,” “we already have good people in place,” or “I’m not going anywhere soon!”

In an unlikely static environment where no one leaves, no one gets ill (including the owner, president, or senior managers), growth isn’t that important, and performance is exceptional — these arguments hold true. But, we don’t live in a static business environment. People do leave, they do get sick, the executives need to focus on growing the business verses operating it, the employees are not all good performers, and some roles are hard to fill!

There is also a tendency to hold on to marginal performers because there is no clear plan on how to replace them. The impact: the business suffers, the executives suffer, employee morale and productivity decreases, the customers become less than satisfied with their service, and new candidates are not attracted to your company.

When organizations do not have a succession program in place, consequences include: keep reading…

Recruiting Intelligence: Presentation Is a Package, Not an Event

by Aug 15, 2011, 1:22 pm ET

Many recruiters we meet believe that their value to their organization is predominately in identifying and bringing good candidates to the table. Yes, this is certainly your role (it says so in your job description), but it is only a part of your value.

Your value — what you can get done — depends on increasing your influence and strengthening your reputation. And part of that is presentation: not so much what you say but how you say it.

Presentation skills, or a person’s “presentation” is a package; a combination of tangible and intangible behaviors and skills, including:

  • How you perform “on your feet”
  • Appearance
  • Poise
  • Knowledge
  • Preparation
  • Value

How are you known in your organization? Are you known as someone who: keep reading…

Gaining an Edge: Presentation as a Package vs. a La Carte

by Jun 1, 2011, 4:28 pm ET

So what’s the big deal about strengthening your presentation skills? A lot, if increasing your influence with the hiring managers and creating a reputation as the “go to” person for recruiting is important to you. This is a description of presentation that goes far beyond the old interpretations of platform skills such as poise and dressing for success. While personal presentation and effective speaking are important elements of your presentation, there are several other elements that are equally potent though less conventionally addressed.

When faced with hiring managers who are busy (and some less interested then they should be) and with the best candidates shopping options, like it or not, how you present becomes as important (we would say more important) than what you present.

While brevity and fact-based presentation are key today, if what you present is a recitation of the facts about a candidate, ranking them using some algorithm, this can be, quite frankly, boring. How do you get the hiring manager to not only want to meet with you, but also to listen to you, seek your advice, and respond? It’s in your presentation. For example, when you start working with a hiring manager and as the process continues:

  • Are you fearful about bothering them in approaching them with your concerns or questions?
  • How responsive are you? Are you slow because you are seeking the “perfect candidate”?
  • How good are you at building relationships?
  • How focused are you on the hiring managers’ issues and needs? Have you inquired as to their key priorities for the role?
  • Are you interesting to talk to and meet with? Do you bring energy, knowledge, and value-add ideas to the discussions?
  • Do you conduct yourself like a peer or subordinate?

These questions reflect the “intangible” elements of presentation. Many recruiters we meet believe that their value is predominantly in identifying and bringing good candidates to the table. Yes, this is certainly their role, though only a part of their potential value. And strong presentation will help you expand your value.

Start acting like a peer, bring distinctive and useful knowledge to the discussion, demonstrate beyond what is expected, look and be impressive, and you will be seen differently. Presentation is a package, and the ol’ a la carte approach will only take you so far.

The Techniques for Highly Effective Recruiters pre-conference workshop we’re giving at the Fall Expo will address these issues and more to help you increase your effectiveness and impact as a recruiter in your organization. And yes — it’s in your presentation.

The Benefit of Urgency in a Talent Short Market

by Mar 23, 2011, 7:09 pm ET

The job market has been picking up, and hiring managers are aggressively trying to increase human capital to reach their 2011 revenue goals. Having the right people in the right seats is key, and we see many companies take too much time when seeking to hire good talent. The most successful recruiters create a sense of urgency for their hiring managers, whose priority is acquiring top talent.

It is folly to assume there is an unlimited talent pool in this market. The current 8.9% unemployment rate (based on February 2011 data) is deceiving. First, the actual unemployment level is higher than the numbers suggest because of the number of people who have stopped looking for jobs. Also it is distorted. Many of the jobs that were eliminated during the recession are never coming back. So looking at unemployment levels alone will create the one thing you cannot afford to create: complacency. keep reading…

Finding Your Edge as a Corporate Recruiter

by Aug 23, 2010, 2:24 pm ET

The relationship between the corporate recruiter and the hiring manager is not always a good one. True, in some organizations the working relationship between the two is strong. In others, however, there is a schism between them. And in still others, the schism became a chasm. In the latter two situations neither the candidate, the hiring manager, nor the organization is best served. And in situations like this, the chance of an unsuitable hire, in our experience, is heightened.

The responsibility to establish a positive and productive working relationship with the hiring manager rests with the corporate recruiter. Whether this is the way it should be or not is not the point. What is important is that the corporate recruiter has skills and abilities that will provide significant benefit to the hiring manager, and the key is to develop the relationship and demonstrate it.

So the two questions that need to be addressed first are:

  1. How does the corporate recruiter enhance the organization’s ability to select, hire, and advance the right talent for the organization?
  2. How do they accomplish this when they have no direct authority over the hiring manager making the final decision?

The answer to these two questions is: You do this by understanding and practicing influence. Influence (something we’re doing a workshop on at the Fall Expo) is the ability to achieve your objective — to get work done — when you do not have complete control or the authority to accomplish your objective alone. keep reading…

3 Must-knows When Externally Recruiting

by Apr 12, 2010, 2:32 pm ET

Most organizations and companies need to recruit external talent. Many believe they have found the holy grail of talent when they identify and bring a manager or exec in from outside the company. And, like in War Games, their “confidence is high! I repeat, confidence is high.”

The fact of the matter is  – some statistics indicate up to 50% of the time — the candidate crashes and burns. What went wrong? Everything seemed to point to guaranteed success.

In our work with clients and their organizations in situations like this, we find three things went wrong: keep reading…

Succession Planning: More Than Just a Replacement Strategy

by Feb 16, 2010, 5:03 am ET

Picture 6There are three reasons to do a succession plan, and identifying a replacement for the CEO and select top executives is only part of one of these reasons. The three reasons are:

  • Replacement for key employees
  • To support anticipated growth
  • To address and deal with talent shortages

Unfortunately, however, succession planning is too often considered an exercise, a means to an end, a human resources task to be checked off and moved into the done pile. This is absolutely the wrong way to think about succession planning. keep reading…

Internal Talent Integration

by Nov 15, 2009, 5:04 am ET

How well does your organization select and integrate talent for internal promotion? If you are like many organizations we’ve seen — not very well.

When promoting from within, do you select the person who is doing the best job in their current role? Do you promote the person you like the most, the person who has the most seniority, or the person who gives you attention and deference? It is not unusual to promote a good technical person or a good clinical person into a management position. Technology companies and healthcare organizations do this frequently.

If this is your current practice, then you are missing out on the opportunity to improve business performance. You may also be dramatically and unnecessarily increasing your cost of operations. This is hardly a good strategy in the current economy.

Look at the cost of a bad (mismatched) promotion: keep reading…

Hiring for Fast-growing Departments or Companies

by Sep 11, 2009, 5:10 am ET

To be a fast-growing company, whether a start-up or a new growth unit within a large corporation, there needs to be a product or service that is priced right, that customers are interested in, and are buying. The company also need to hire and manage people well, and you as the owner, recruiting executive, or HR manager in charge are faced with managing rapid growth.

The typical hiring questions that come up are:

  • Who do we hire?
  • Where do we find them?
  • What should we pay them?
  • How do we retain them?

While these questions are important, there are two issues that must be addressed first: alignment and transformability.

Alignment addresses the passion and skills the person brings to the organization, and their fit within the organization. Transformability is hiring the person not for the job as it exists today, but as it will exist tomorrow. Addressing the alignment issue without considering the transformability issue will likely result in hiring the wrong person.

Alignment has three components: passion, skills, and fit. In selecting an employee, gauge their passion for the work and for the challenge it represents. Identify the skills needed to support the continuing growth of the company. It could be marketing, sales, operations, or financial skills. Lastly, evaluate how the person will fit into your organization. Fit essentially is how well the person will cope with the “way work is done around here”: with the personalities, the pace, and the customers.

Alignment is important, but in isolation of the second component — transformability — insufficient to ensure that the right person will be hired. You are not hiring for the job as it exists today; you are hiring for the job as it will likely exist 12 months from today.

Remember, we are talking about a fast-growing company, and one of the characteristics of a fast-growing company is that things change — fast.

Think about the last time you changed jobs. While we all like to believe we hit the ground running, most of us took some time to assimilate into the new job, to the way work gets done, to what is and is not acceptable, and to a myriad of other issues resident in a new organization.

Now consider this: you just start feeling comfortable in your work environment (that is, you have assimilated) and you come to work the next day and the job has changed. Your skills are no longer what are required because what is required now is different. This is a fact of life in fast-growing companies.

So when you are thinking about hiring, and you are a fast growing company, think about how the job will look 12 months from now. Think about the skills that will be required, and start looking for candidates who fit the future, not just the current, job requirements.

When talking with candidates, tell them what the job is today, how you expect it will change over time, and that you are looking to fill the job as it will likely exist in the future, not as it exists today. This way, you are being honest.

Some candidates may seriously wonder if you know what you are doing. Others will be energized by the idea that the job will change and they will not only have a chance to grow, but they will be expected to grow. Fast-changing job requirements are not for the faint of heart or bureaucrats. This kind of job ambiguity isn’t for everyone, but if you consider alignment and transformability as you start the hiring process, you are being honest with both yourself and with your future employee. The probability that you will hire and retain the right person increases significantly.

Here are nine questions to consider when interviewing for a fast-growing company: keep reading…