The power of first impressions?

Do first impressions really matter? Absolutely YES!

In a society where so much of our communication is done through electronic messaging such as email, text message and LinkedIn the importance of a good first impression is still relevant. With the increased use of electronic communication, the amount of time to make a first impression has shrunk because of the shortening of the actual social engagement. For example, before texting we were required to speak with someone on the phone for a few minutes in an interaction that can now be completed in seconds with a brief text message exchange. This brief exchange can be sandwiched into you completing a multitude of other activities, work projects, or even just grabbing a bite to eat. The benefits of rapid communication are quite numerous. Unfortunately, we are no longer concentrating on each interaction with the same focus as before. This has resulted in misunderstandings, poor communications and bad first impressions. The effect of our “text culture” spills into how we interact in business emails and sites like LinkedIn.  Additionally, it is common that when meeting in person, one or both people are constantly looking at their phones, answering emails and text messages in a cascade of dings, beeps and vibrations. What kind of impression does this make? Does it convey to the other person that the interaction is meaningful? How does it reflect on the focus of a potential job candidate? What level of engagement does it show a client or prospect?

As a recruiter, we tell candidates that first impressions are very important. From the very first interaction companies start evaluating you on each and every engagement you have with them.  The way that you conduct yourself tells a lot about you.  The next question is often what does it tell us? The first engagement tells the hiring manager how professional you are in your phone etiquette which transfers to your etiquette when you will be calling on clients and/or representing their company. It also shows how you handle yourself in different situations. I know some clients that will take candidates to different locations and environments to have breakfast or lunch with them just to see how they interact with different types of individuals. All these things are helping the employer to build an opinion of whether you will fit in their environment.

Scientific studies have shown that you only have seven seconds to make a first impression. But if you think about it think about what all can be covered in seven seconds on phone call or an email for that matter. For example, I had a hiring manager follow up with me saying that he reached out to my candidate and he was very unprofessional in the way he answered his phone. The candidate said he would call him back later that he was in his car. The candidate did not call back. The hiring manager said that the way he spoke and conducted himself was not a good first impression. He was going to reconsider if the candidate was the right fit. The sad thing was that the candidate was perfect for the role, he had all of the qualifications and experience necessary to succeed and thrive. Even worse was that it was the candidate’s “dream” company and role. These two people engaged for less than five minutes and the hiring manager already has a negative thought on the candidate. On the flip side of the coin, do we know what the candidate might have been doing or dealing with in this situation? Sometimes even the best gets frazzled or have a bad day. If you are not in a good place to answer a call you need to send the call to voicemail. If you are not prepared to be “ON” when you answer your phone, then you might just need to take a break. How much better would this exchange have gone if the candidate had not hurriedly answered the phone call, sent it to voicemail, took a few minutes to compose themselves and then called back. This would have given him the proper time and ability to be in a good spot to return the hiring managers phone call and take notes etc.

The previous example was about a phone call, but poor first impressions can happen with texts, email, and social media. One of the big deal breakers in initial business communication is the use of “text slang” and emojis. Once you get to know the person, they may enjoy your emojis, Gifs, and slang, but generally it is a very bad idea to initially communicate that way. Spell the words out, do not use colored font, do not put silly emojis, and do not attempt to use sarcasm or wit in text or email because it is often misinterpreted.

Next time we will be talking about how to change a negative first impression. Stay tuned! 

What to do when there’s an undeniable gap between expectations and the offer?

closing the gapThe scenario:

A top-notch team meets with the hiring manager at a firm that has all the marking of being a great fit. The culture and the vision can align, great technology and a client-focused value proposition. The team describes their needs and goals in details, lets them know what they are wanting from this move, and outlines the financial expectations. The hiring manager listens, takes notes, and nods in agreement without an indication of any of this being an issue. The hiring manager is enthusiastic about getting them to join the firm and how much better this will be for their professional lives and financial futures. The meeting is adjourned and the team leaves feeling everyone is on the same page. The hiring manager says that he will outline the terms of the deal and outline their next steps.

Time passes, and the team starts putting together their game plan for the potential move and how this will work for them as a team, individually etc.

A week later the hiring manager that met with the team reaches back out to discuss the deal and there is a noticeable change in their demeanor. He makes small talk for a bit and then proceeds to tell them that the best deal could write up would be based on a team but only captures two-thirds of what they were expecting. You of course take emotion out of the situation, but you are not sure how to proceed. The first though that goes through your head is: IS THIS A DEAD DEAL?

Is the deal dead? Not necessarily, but the only change the hiring manager has of saving it is to acknowledge the disconnect and prove to the team that despite the difference in the expected deal terms, they will grow faster and more efficiently in the new firm. The hiring manager is the responsible one for getting the train back on the tracks and getting it moving again.

Next Steps

If the hiring manager feels strongly enough about the proposition, they need to help the team connect the dots on how this will be a good fit for them.

  1. Since the offer was below the mark, the hiring manager needs to re-establish a connection with them letting them know he understands their perspective and share his own experiences with them, so they have a common bond. He needs to validate their disappointments.
  2. They need to discuss as a group what the team’s most important drivers are (I.E. financial, stability, Benefits, Transition planning, etc.).
  3. The hiring manager needs to unpack the deal for the team and walk them through the different components, so they can see what they are getting. This will allow them to have an apple to apples comparison and feel more comfortable with the deal.
  4. Last, the hiring manager needs to discuss about the intangible things. He needs to discuss the firm’s philosophy and the intrinsic value involved. This requires the hiring manager to be able to have a solid connection with the team and understanding of what needs the team has to have resolved to best meet their requirements to move. The hiring manager needs to be strong in their delivery and recognize that both sides have invested a lot of time into this process.

How likely will the deal close?

This is ultimately determined by how well the hiring manager was at delivering his points to the team. In the end it is not just about the money. The hiring manager must get the team to see the value in the firm’s culture and the long-term potential. In these situations, the Cultural FIT is very important for the team to feel this is a place where they can come and grow their business along with identifying with the company values.

Ultimately closing the deal is a process that takes a bit of work on both sides of the table. The team has to have a full understanding of their goals and be able to clearly communicate what their goals are along with which ones are the most meaningful. The hiring manager needs to be able to address this list and be genuine while presenting the best possible solutions for the team.

The process is successful if there is an alignment between the talent acquisition requirements of a hiring firm and the goals of an advisor and/or their team. If both sides are open and communicate effectively with each other this should help lessen the likelihood of needing to address major gaps later on.

If you are a Financial Advisor thinking about making a change and wanting to evaluate this further, you can reach out to Madison Professional Group. We can help you define what the end looks like for you and counsel you to dig a bit deeper. This can mean answering important questions about your business, your short term and long-term goals as well as what to replicate about your current experience, what is frustrating you.the most, and what you would be willing to give up making a change.

Keep your holiday jolly in check Part 2: Gift Giving Tips for Clients in the Workplace

GiftDo you ever wonder if it is appropriate to give a client or someone at the office a gift during the holiday season? If so, what should you give? I love the holiday season and gift giving. I enjoy the giving portion far more than receiving and I enjoy being creative in finding something that I felt confident my client would enjoy but will also be creative or clever. There are some things you need to consider before you make your decision. For example, what is your company’s policy about giving gifts? What is the client’s company’s policy about giving gifts?  Whether this is a professional thank you gift to a client or a group gift to the boss, it is very important to maintain business etiquette at all times.

You need to make sure the gift is appropriate and follows the customs and norms of your industry. They’re there for a reason and you should never expect a gift in return. Also, just as you must consider the business culture in your office you need to consider the country culture. In some countries gifts are inappropriate, regardless of the reason. In other countries, there is a specific cultural way to give and receive gifts. For example, I had a client from China and they did not open the present that I gave them in front of me. The best intentions can backfire if you don’t, and it can take you and the client to a very awkward place. If you are giving a gift to clients in other countries. I recommend a great resource: Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway. This is an incredible resource on how to give or receive when trying to determine the ins and outs of different cultures other than just gift giving.

How to Choose an Appropriate Gift:

Tool of Titans.jpgWhen choosing a gift for a business associate or client you should be creative and relevant to the occasion. However, always avoid anything too personal that may be misinterpreted as a bribe or something that may be insulting or embarrassing. It is important not to give any intimate apparel, expensive perfume, or jewelry that is not related to the business. I enjoy giving things that are unique to the client. For example, if I have talked with the client and know some of the things they like for example, certain wines, books, hobbies. I remember the time my insurance broker, Brent gave me this amazing book, Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss. It’s a great resource for a business person or entrepreneur that is looking to others to hear their stories of struggles to triumphs. Examples of appropriate business gifts include:

  • Fruit Baskets
  • Bottle of wine
  • Box of candy
  • Bouquet of flowers
  • Scarf or tie
  • Briefcase or leather portfolio
  • Book of interest
  • Items manufactured by your company
  • Tickets to an event and/or performance

Gifts to your manager:

Most of the time it is not expected for employees to give their managers presents. However, if you feel comfortable a small, inexpensive item is suitable if it is in good taste. It is important not to put the supervisor in an uncomfortable place. It may upset him or her and may create tension in the future. The same items such as personal items clothes, perfume, or expensive items are not ideal and should not be given to the manager. If a group of you are going in on a gift, a fun idea can be a collection of little gifts from each coworker. For example, I remember receiving a miniature Christmas tree with assorted gift cards on it. I remember how excited I was about receiving a tree as such with gift cards to Starbucks, the movies, restaurants and some other fun spots. It was such a fun gift and I remember displaying it on my desk. These types of items are fun, and everyone can contribute what they are able to without feeling too much pressure to break their budget.

Acknowledging and saying thank you:

Thank youAlways acknowledge any gift you receive as soon as possible. I am old fashion and I like receiving a handwritten thank you note, but email or text is acceptable as well depending on the environment. If you are receiving large quantities of gifts, don’t take company time to write your notes. I suggest doing this at home and then sending them out that week. The thank you note should be brief and say something such as, “thank you for the Gift Card Christmas tree, I appreciate the team’s generosity and will look forward to visiting these different spots”.

Clients Gifts:

It is very common to give clients and prospects gifts to maintain or develop a closer business relationship. Before giving something to the client be sure to check the company’s policies on receiving gifts. Many companies have different rules in the value of the gift and if it is over a certain amount they have to share it with the whole office or reject it out of hand. You want to be sure you do not put anyone in an awkward position. As always, avoid anything too personal. One idea that is very fun is perhaps giving an inspiring book, a bottle of wine they might enjoy, a gift basket of yummy treats, and a decorative or food gift that can be shared by everyone in the office. Also, I like to include branding on the item as well. For example, the crate or container the items arrive in might have the company logo or slogan on it. It can be helpful because it will be on their desk or the assistants desk and people will see the name of the company, increasing your branding and notability.

Gifts to your employees:

Mark and GrahamI love everything monogrammed, I feel its it makes it very special and personalized. For example, a couple of years back I gave my team each a business card holder with their initials on it and they were a neat gift they can take and use for themselves later. You want to be sure its not too expensive and doesn’t break the rules of appropriateness. The following are a couple of neat ideas:

  1. Engraved pen or key ring
  2. Gift cards to restaurants, movies, or local events
  3. Picture frame for desk
  4. Cups engraved with initials and company logo.

Secret Santa:

Secret Santa has become popular in the workplace because it makes it a fun multiday celebration, it allows co-workers to learn more about each other. It is important that the Supervisor and HR Manager are both on the same page when sending out the message to the team. You also want to be sure that if someone does not want to participate or can not due to financial restrictions that you are sensitive to that. I would recommend having the participating employees fill out a quick info sheet about their likes, dislikes and allergic reaction, so there are no mistakes. Also, be sure to include the monetary amount and limits of the gifts during Secret Santa. You do not want anyone to feel bad about this.

Holiday Gifts to Co-workers:

Holiday gift giving can be very tricky because you are not sure what everyone celebrates. The office can have varying faiths and they may be uncomfortable receiving Christmas presents. It is important not give gifts at the holiday party unless you have a gift for everyone or it is designated that you bring the final gift for your Secret Santa reveal. If you are unsure it is always good to check with the manager or office manager. They can help steer you in making good decisions on how to handle the situation. A simple holiday or winter celebration might be a better option if you are unsure of different individuals’ beliefs.

 

If you have any fun and creative ideas that you have used in giving gifts to clients, co-workers or bosses. Please share them with us on our feed in this thread.

 

Keep your holiday jolly in check series: 10 Holiday Office Party Tips

MPG PresentThe holiday season is a fun and festive time of year. Company parties and gatherings are great, but you should never forget where you are. It is important to remain professional as you will have to see and interact with these people at work. When your company is having a holiday celebration, you should make a point to attend, unless you are sick. Your professional reputation is important and how you interact with your co-workers at various events can greatly impact how you are seen.

#1 Dress for success is not for the work day only. You need to put considerable thought into your attire and remember that what is the most “in style” clothing choices might not be appropriate for your party. For example, a couple of years back I hosted a company holiday party at a five-star steakhouse. I had an individual arrive in the “trendy” jeans that everyone was wearing at the time with cuts and holes in them. This was not only inappropriate for the company holiday party but is generally inappropriate for a business event in general. This individual almost didn’t make it into restaurant, as they were in violation of the dress code to even eat there. It is important if your company is having it at a venue that you check the dress attire so that you are prepared.

alcohol at party.jpg#2 Alcohol consumption: If you enjoy drinking alcohol it is important to keep this in check. You do not want to consume too much, and it change your co-workers’ thoughts about you. Also, if co-workers plan to go to additional spots after the party you should still be careful how much alcohol you consume. Just as at any networking function or get together it is important to not become inebriated and make a spectacle of yourself. Be sure you keep your jolly in check!

#3 The Food: It is important you enjoy the food but do not make a glutton of yourself at the event. You need to be sure if you are self-serving that you do not use your fingers and use the utensils. If the meal is seated be sure you are using the correct utensils. Additionally, it is important to observe basic food etiquette like not chewing with your mouth open or talking with food in your mouth. If one of your parents would have reprimanded you for it, then don’t do it at the company Holiday party. Also, under no circumstances is it acceptable to ask for a doggy bag.

#4 Conversations: Speak to everyone at the party in a positive and friendly tone. This is not the place to say something negative that may get you into trouble later. If you find this difficult, make the rounds, greet everyone, and find an excuse to leave early. You should never say anything you wouldn’t say at the office. This is a good time to speak to executives and supervisors you may not otherwise have a chance to talk to. Approach them with a smile, introduce yourself if they don’t already know your name, and keep the conversation short. You want to be friendly, but you don’t want to keep them from talking to others. This is not the time to complain about your job, your coworkers, or the company. This is a celebratory event and it should be treated as such. Mingle with people outside your department. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know someone you only communicate with via email, so they can make a connection with you. Always be a good listener. No one likes partying with someone who hogs the conversation.

#5 Guest: Before bringing a guest to the company party be sure it is okay with the individual that is planning the event or check the invite in regard to guests. Also, it is important to follow the RSVP instructions, so they are anticipating you and your guest if one is allowed.

#6 Gifts for other attendees: Some parties involve a gift exchange. Stay in the price range recommended. Avoid purchasing anything risqué or personal. It is important to remember that this is an office exchange and not your buddies, so it needs to be appropriate.

Gift giving#7 Hostess or Party Planner Gift: You may or may not choose to bring a host or hostess gift, but if in doubt, it is always good form to bring something. If you know the host or hostess well, you can be creative and bring something you know he or she will enjoy. However, if you aren’t sure what to bring, you can’t go wrong with flowers, a bottle of wine or perhaps a candle. I like to bring something especially if it is hosted at one of the team members home. I think it is a nice gesture for them since they are opening their clock.jpg

#9 When to arrive: It is important to not be the very first person to arrive unless you are part of the planning group. It is okay to arrive about 15 minutes later. Also, if it is a seated meal it is important to be there on time since the meal is being served in a specific order. Additionally, it is important to know the schedule for the event, is it just a casual meal, or are there speakers and awards. You do not want to be the person that shows up during the middle of your Boss’s Holiday speech.

#10 When to leave: It is important that you are not the last person there unless you are supposed to be part of the planning committee and you are designated to remain behind. If you are still wanting to enjoy the evening it is best to go to another location for after dinner drinks and festivities. Parties require quite a bit of planning and effort, and the organizer will appreciate your kind gesture. If the host is a supervisor, you’ll stand out as someone who is gracious and has good manners.

What Candidates expect from the Hiring Process?

We focus a lot of our attention on what the company or hiring manager is focused on but this week we are focusing on the candidate and what they expect during the hiring process. As hiring managers, you are trying to stay focused on screening top candidates that will fit your organization from a skills and cultural basis. The question is are you investing time into what the experience is like for the applicants as well? Madison Professional Group knows if you are not evaluating this you could be unknowingly sending the wrong message and thus harming your employee brand as well as future candidates.

The following are things to keep in mind as to what candidates expect:

Candidates want to know what you want

As candidates have their first contact with a company, whether it is through a job ad, company career site, the expectations should be clear and thorough as possible. When you use words that are cryptic, or vague job descriptions, it does not give the candidate a clear picture and it sends a message of, “Maybe this isn’t the job for me.” It is important to have a clear theme throughout the hiring process. From when and how to communicate, to initial expectations, consistent transparency saves on time.

personalized communication.pngCandidates want Communication

Madison Professional knows that communication is very important. Unfortunately, many times the candidates are left in the dark, which in turn causes the company to miss out on great candidates. Therefore, it is important to be quick with your communication with the candidates and let them know where they stand. If the news is bad it is important to communicate that as well because it allows them to move on. As the company you need to keep in mind that social media is a driving factor in so much of today’s brand awareness and companies can mitigate negative feedback by being prompt, upfront, and honest in their assessments of job candidates.

If the interview process is going to require 4 or 5 rounds of interviews, tell your applicants right up front so they are prepared and have expectations set.

clockTime Matters

The hiring process is taking longer and longer. Recruiters and hiring managers are adding interview rounds to be sure they are hiring candidates that are the right fit. It is important that even if the candidate does not get the role, they need to leave feeling that their time mattered. It is important to forge a professional relationship with the candidate, connect on LinkedIn, give them constructive feedback. If they might be a fit later down the road let them know that they should try again after they do the following steps (i.e. licenses, experience, etc). All of this will tie into the message you are sending to the candidate and proper branding of your company. You want to leave as positive of footprint on the candidate as possible.

They Want an Efficient Process

This ties back to our first advice on have a smooth and efficient process in place. The first steps a potential candidate takes in joining a company are usually on the website or career portal. These tools should work flawlessly as they are a candidates first interaction with the company. Poorly run and/or inefficient software can dissuade job seekers from applying.  If your site requires them to create an account and fill in fifty prompts, use only a certain web browser etc. then you probably need to explore your options and update your system.

It might be a good time to update your hiring lifecycle from start to finish from the applicant’s perspective. This will allow you to smooth out any issues that you see pop up during the process that might apprehend them from being submitted.

It is important to remember that if your hiring process is not in order then the expectation when you have these applicants become candidates and then hopefully employees, they will see the company has a strong acquisition foundation and they become your talented management strategy. By actively incorporating these items from the beginning you set the stage for a successful partnership, right from the start.

Interested in outsourcing hiring to local experts?

Give Madison Professional Group a call. Our top priority is “creating connections that last”. In doing that we deliver exceptional job candidates, not just medium candidates who may have the skills. If you are ready to take advantage of the services, our team can office then reach out to us today!