Tag Archives: human resources

Remote Control

8 Tips and Tricks for Conducting Stronger Conference Calls and Virtual Meetings

By Kate Zabriskie

Kate Zabriskie-meetings

Despite large advances in technology, few people look forward to participating in remote meetings. When fellow participants fail to mute their lines, don’t give the interaction their full attention, or commit some other virtual-get-together sin, the mood of the group quickly deteriorates. So is there no hope for the countless teams who must connect through broadband instead of boardrooms? Of course not. By taking eight simple steps and following some proven guidelines, almost anyone’s virtual gathering can improve.

Tip One: Keep the meeting’s focus narrow. The more specific your agenda, the less likely you will find your conversations jumping off-topic. For example, instead of discussing office security training, narrow the focus to non-technology-related office security for customer-facing employees. By shrinking the field of discussion, you may realize you need less time and fewer people to arrive at a satisfactory decision.

No matter what kind of remote meeting you run, you can make it better by increasing your planning, tightening your delivery, leveraging technology and people, and taking stock of what works at what doesn’t. Click To Tweet

Tip Two: State the goal of the meeting at the beginning, end, and several times throughout to remind people why they are there and how they are expected to contribute. 

Before we begin, I would like to thank Ted, Rhonda, Nel, Jerome, and Fred for joining the discussion today. Each of you comes from a different area of the business and can offer a perspective the rest of us may not readily see. As we move through the discussion, I’m going to call on you to offer your point of view. Our goal today is to come up with some preliminary topics for training our customer-facing employees on security measures they need to take to keep themselves, the company data, and our customers safe. When we’re done, we should have a robust list of non-technology ideas. We’re going to deal with technology during a separate meeting.

Tip Three: Think like a newscaster. Newscasters plan in segments or blocks. Your agenda should do the same, and your language should advertise what’s happened previously and what’s coming next. 

First, we’re going to talk about our current occupancy rates, next we’ll look at forecasts for the next quarter, and finally, we’ll review plans to ensure we make our forecast.

Tip Four: Steal a few more ideas from the news. Dialing your energy up by 10 percent to 15 percent and editing your content should help you increase engagement. Edits might include such activities as removing weak or uncertain language. “I’m not sure, I don’t know, and this may be dumb” have no place in any meeting—especially a remote one. After all, if you don’t believe in or know about what you’re discussing, why should anyone else?

Tip Five: If possible, use a platform that allows people to use cameras, chat, and screen sharing.

Cameras allow people to use their faces and bodies to supplement their verbal messages. Cameras also keep people honest, as it’s difficult for most of us to multitask or go on mental vacation when you’re doing it in plain sight.

Chat engages people’s fingers. If you are typing in a chatbox, you aren’t checking email, texting a client, or doing anything else unrelated to the meeting. Furthermore, chat levels the playing field and allows opportunities for both extroverts and introverts to weigh in at essentially the same rate.

Screensharing focuses people’s attention on the topic at hand. It’s human nature to want to look at something. If you can, do yourself a favor and provide visuals. One word of caution: do not read from your slides. If you put slides in front of a team, they’re going to read them. They don’t need you to insult the repeat what they’ve seen verbatim.

Tip Six: Assign roles. You don’t have to be the leader, timekeeper, notetaker, and so forth. Delegation engages people and allows the leader to lead the meeting. Of course, role delegation will work best if you model what’s expected. 

For instance, provide a notes template and an example of notes to the notetaker and provide the timekeeper with some instructions, “Ted, I’d like you to serve as our timekeeper and agenda monitor today. If we wander off-topic, please poll the group to ascertain whether we should deviate from the agenda or take the topic offline.”

Tip Seven: Be prepared to do a little warm-up as you are waiting for people to join in. That means jumping on a call early and giving people something to do before the start of the meeting. If people are regularly late to your organization’s meetings, this is especially important. If you are using technology beyond the telephone, this is particularly easy. For example, you might set up a poll with everyone’s name listed and take attendance by asking them to select their names from the list. You could also show reminders (e.g. how to mute your line) and the notes from the last meeting and request people take a minute to review them. The possibilities are endless. The main idea, however, is to ensure that you don’t lose people who come early or on time to your remote meeting and that you can absorb people who join late with little disruption.

Tip Eight: View your remote meetings as works in progress. Ask those who participate what’s working for them and what isn’t. As teams change, technology evolves, and workplace demands vary, what works now might not work in the future.

No matter what kind of remote meeting you run, you can make it better by increasing your planning, tightening your delivery, leveraging technology and people, and taking stock of what works at what doesn’t. The key is trying, assessing, learning, and repeating the cycle. Happy meeting!

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit www.businesstrainingworks.com.

How to Simplify and Maximize Your Video Interviews

By Jeremy Eskenazi

Jeremy Eskenazi-video interview

Interview practices have come a long way over the last few years. With it has come to some huge benefits like video interviews! It has saved candidates hours in anxious commuting time as one standout benefit. The flip side is that video interviews that are not well set up can create even more anxiety and a poor candidate experience.

A simple way to mitigate this risk is to put some guard-rails around your video (and phone) interviewing practices. This will improve the experience and make sure you’re not missing out on great talent for your organization. Many of the higher cost platforms now include some of these practices, but it doesn’t mean you can’t build your own success practices with a lower cost option. The key is keeping the candidate experience front and center.

Most people now carry a mobile phone with a decent camera. Many will also have access to a laptop or tablet with a camera embedded, so this takes care of the hardware portion of the equation. When approaching video interviews, there are two main methods, and both require the proper set up and expectation setting for the candidate. One way to maximize what you’ll get out of both approaches is to share a checklist to help candidates prepare and know exactly what to expect. It could include the following:

  1. The type of questions you’ll ask 
  2. The process they can expect as they move through the questions
  3. The follow-up practices they can expect after the interview

With these expectations set, candidates will not be surprised, and this helps most people prepare to focus on the questions, not the medium of the interview. The two methods to consider as you think about video interviewing are:

Regardless of which type of video interview you choose, remember that you have a have a responsibility to respond after the interview! Click To Tweet

The two-way live video interview

This method is more approachable and more accepted by most people. It involves the recruiter or hiring manager joining a live video session at the same time as the candidate. The interaction is in real-time making it feel very similar to an in-person interview. Some tips that help set candidates up for success for this specific type of interview include:

  • Make sure you’re in spot with good lighting and minimal background noise
  • Test your audio and video before the interview
  • Coach the candidate to think about their answers, even if it creates a pause. Let them know it will not be awkward at all! 
  • Let the candidate know if you have multiple people joining the call (yes, you can do online panel-style interviews!)

We’ve all been on personal and professional video calls that waste the first few minutes with “I can’t hear you”, “What is that in the background?”, and “Are you wearing pants?” With proper expectation setting, your video interviews can be very productive, and quite smooth. Having someone to interact with live allows non-verbal communication to take place. Real-time feedback and the opportunity to ask questions have been staples of interviews for a long time and it is a comfortable approach for most candidates, even if they are not used to being on video. 

Using this type of video interview is helpful as an initial screen to get a better sense of a candidate or through first-round interviews. 

The second more common type of video interviews can produce a very polarizing reaction for candidates. 

Pre-recorded video interviews

This type of interview is newer and rapidly growing in popularity. There are many vendors to choose from at various price points and tiered offerings worth exploring. This type of interview is not as popular with candidates because you are not offering an engaging conversation, but rather the candidate sees a question within the portal and then their responses are recorded (and sometimes timed!). The video is then sent back to the recruiter for review and assessment. While the tips offered above to set up for two-way live interviews still apply, there are some additional tips and expectations that should be set with candidates in advance of you sharing this pre-recorded video interview style. 

  • Set the stage to make it clear that there is no live interaction and that the questions will be provided during the interview and cannot be re-recorded
  • Keep the questions specific so clarification is not likely needed 
  • Be clear about the timelines and don’t expect candidates to record in the same day you reach out to them, nor should they expect your follow up the day they submit their video 
  • Send your own video message to kick things off so there is a real person explaining that the recording is timed, but is not a test

This type of video interview is helpful for a role that produces a lot of candidates, for example, hiring for a call center role or home-based roles. It will give you a faster way to select the candidates you want to move ahead because you don’t need to watch all the questions. 

Regardless of which type of video interview you choose, remember that you have a responsibility to respond after the interview! A personalized email, phone call, or video message sent via weblink are all ways to accomplish this. You appreciate their effort and interest in your company and don’t want them walking away feeling that they jumped through hoops and got no response. This can impact your employer brand that is so important to your ability to attract top talent.

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

6 Low Cost/ No Cost Recruiting Efforts

Attracting the Best on a Budget

By Jeremy Eskenazi

Jeremy Eskenazi

Recruiting can be challenging in any economy. When times are good, top candidates have many options, and when times are bad, employed people don’t want to make a move. As with any challenge, it’s important to tackle it strategically, and your recruiting professionals are no different. When it comes to acquiring talent, having your sourcing strategy and process in place should happen before you even need to hire someone.

You may be wondering why you would need to know your search strategy before you need candidates. With the market quickly fluctuating, it’s important to know where to look, and what type of talent you will be looking for because as much as you want to snap your fingers and have amazing candidates appear, it often takes a lot longer than that.

Once your talent acquisition strategy is in place overall, you can start to think about where you would find the kind of talent you and your recruiting team determined your business needs to continue to be successful. To help you get started, here are some low-cost/no-cost sourcing channels that could be considered as part of a recruiting strategy:

Think about where you would find the kind of talent you and your recruiting team determined your business needs to continue to be successful. Click To Tweet

Referrals

Employee referrals (ER) are the number one source of candidates by far—and usually rated the best quality source. ER programs don’t always have to have a monetary reward, though many do, and the best focus on recognition and simplicity.

Recognizing employees for their referral quickly is the key. Instead of monetary rewards, think about other less costly rewards that focus on the recognition. Try not to put too many rules or barriers to participate in the process and be sure to have a process to recognize referrals immediately and follow up with them to ensure success. If you pay a reward, consider paying it immediately upon hire and consider alternative ways to pay including branded debit cards or check ceremonies.

Job Boards

Job boards are great for attracting active candidates. Ensure that your team’s postings are well written from a candidate’s “What’s in it for me” perspective. Don’t use company acronyms and slang. Check out and “borrow” great postings using the job board’s search system. Make sure your posting is easily findable and is refreshed regularly. Resume databases are quite expensive, and because of this, they aren’t suggested if you are focusing on low-cost resources. However, there are some other alternatives to this option including the use of free or “niche” job boards.

Social Networking

Social networks provide a great opportunity to find more passive candidates who may not be applying to your open job postings. Using social networks only help your recruiters find possible targets to contact—you still have to call or contact these people! Keep this in mind when you are planning your recruitment strategy. Since time is limited, focus on the best resources:

LinkedIn: First, make sure your team members are easily found. Their profiles should be complete and “public.” Change the settings in LinkedIn to ensure that they are searchable in Google. There are places on profiles to include links to websites for your company and other information. Your team should thoughtfully ask and answer questions in LinkedIn answers to be more findable.

Use LinkedIn Groups to join and start groups, and you can post jobs here for free! Invite people who can expand your network to find the type of people you want (like your hiring managers). You can use these LinkedIn sources to build a call list to actually call or e-mail them directly (outside of LinkedIn). LinkedIn “InMail” is limited and more expensive.

Facebook: Facebook is still targeted at a slightly younger audience. It’s harder to find sources on Facebook, but your team can use regular searches to find their co-workers, classmates, and others to get beyond their own network. Search for Friends on Facebook or leverage it to find candidates to join Facebook pages that are appropriate to you and your jobs. Facebook company pages are also great ways to attract candidates.

Twitter and Instagram: It is even harder to find people on these platforms, but a lot of posts are public and searchable. Use these sites to broadcast your jobs (video job descriptions starring current employees or your CEO are a popular low-cost option) to relevant people or talk about your company’s culture.

Blogs

Search relevant online blogs for subject matter experts and sources of candidate referrals. Find blogs by using Google Blog search and review the “About me” section. Look at their blogroll to find others who share the same interest. Discussion groups are great places to search too—you can simply review their content and decide if you want to pursue.

Google

Googling for candidates is an even more specialized skill, one that is free, provided the recruiter has the skill to do it well. There are great resources out there to learn how to do this even more effectively. Remember, the lowest cost solution may not always be the best resource to actually save money if it ends up taking an unskilled person triple the time to complete the task!

Resume Mining Services

Instead of buying expensive resume database access, consider using a “Resume Mining Service.” These services offer a low-cost solution on a per-job basis or in packages of jobs. The work they do is simple: they source and scour internet online resume databases for actual resumes and provide those resumes to you, usually overnight. Most services can offer an additional resource to do quick telephone screens on the resumes submitted.

Sourcing can be stressful, but with a game plan, and a little creativity, you can find the best talent with little, or even no budget. Good luck with your sourcing efforts!

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

Bolster Your Company’s Culture with 7 Skillsets of No Fail Trust

By Jason O. Harris

Jason Harris-your people

Each day you walk into your office, are you giving consideration to what type of culture you are cultivating? Are you and your team of leaders aware that your actions will dictate whether you are cultivating a culture of compliance or culture of connection, commitment, and community?

Daily, you are faced with important decisions, and how you handle those decisions as well as how you interact with your team, will dictate the culture. Your organization’s culture will ultimately determine what kind of experience your customers and clients will have.

If you were to be placed at the helm of a multimillion-dollar Air Force cargo jet or a commercial airliner, under stress and other challenges, there is an absolute necessity for cohesiveness, communication, and commitment in order to be the high-performance team required to operate these jets. You already have a great team, but is your team ready to handle their job along with the stress of combat? This is where it is critical to have the right skill sets that will enable you and your team to Trust the Training, Trust the Process and Trust the People

In order to cultivate cohesiveness, connection, and commitment in these fast-paced, high-performance teams, there are seven critical skill sets that are always present and encouraged.

If you or your organization are ready to soar to new heights, take a look at the seven skill sets and decide how you can apply personally and within your organization.   

1. Professional Knowledge 

Professional knowledge is critical and is the foundation to any high-performance individual and team.  When your people are equipped with the professional knowledge essential to their jobs, it makes it easier to empower them and trust them to make decisions when things get challenging. Think about a professional pilot and consider how knowledgeable you want them to be. Would you consider your team trained to have that level of knowledge, to execute their job when hundreds of lives are on the line?

2. Situational Awareness 

Situational Awareness (or SA) is the ability to understand and comprehend environmental elements, events, and possible scenarios as it applies to time, space, and the collective comprehension of their possible interpretation. There are multiple types of SA to include individual, team, and organizational SA. In order to make the right decisions at the right time, it is critical that SA be present. SA has been cited as being fundamental to successful decision making in aviation, healthcare, emergency response, and many other high-stress environments. The lack of SA, according to scholarly documents, has been a driving factor in accidents attributed to human error. In order to keep your operation performing at its best and being positioned for continued improvement, your people need to have collective SA for any threats that might harm the operations. What kind of training has been put in place that helps to cultivate and reinforce this skill set?

3. Assertiveness 

Assertiveness is defined as confident, forceful, self-assured behavior. Further, assertiveness is being self-assured and confident without being aggressive. When it is time to make business decisions and the fate of your organization is on the line, like flying a commercial airliner with hundreds of passengers on board, it is imperative that your people are trained, ready and willing to speak up and assert their voice to avert a disaster. When the success of your organization is on the line, your people need to be empowered to speak up and assert themselves, appropriately, to ensure the operation continues smoothly and, in many cases, in order for the operation to improve. Can your people trust that the leadership team will be ready to listen and acknowledge when they speak up and assert themselves for the greater good of the organization?

Can your people trust that the leadership team will be ready to listen and acknowledge when they speak up? Click To Tweet

4. Decision-Making

Decision-making is the process and action of making choices, especially important choices, by identifying a decision, gathering information, and assessing alternative possibilities. When you look at decision-making and its application to your environment and how it relates to high-performance teams, you need to be ready and able to make important and significant decisions. Sometimes these decisions will have to be made in very short order, without supervision. In order to make these time-sensitive decisions, your people will need to be empowered, knowing that they are prepared and trusted to make decisions that can be very critical to the operation and success of the organization. Consider what you can do to equip, prepare, and empower your people to make the right decision, in a moment’s notice, at the right time.

5. Communication

Communication is defined at the exchange of information or news. When it’s crunch time and critical decisions need to be made, whether in flight at 35,000 feet in the air flying at 600 mph or when a major deal is on the table for your organization, communication is absolutely essential. When it’s time to make decisions, given the time-critical scenario, you want, need and expect your people to communicate. Have your people been empowered and trusted to communicate the critical information at the right time and right place?

6. Leadership

Leadership is defined as the act of leading a group of people or an organization. Every organization, especially high performing organizations, need true and authentic leadership. They need leadership that is effective at all levels of execution. Leadership in your team and organization has to be further defined as the people that influence others to accomplish the team and organizational objectives in a manner that makes the team more cohesive and more committed to each other, the mission at hand, and the organization.

7. Adaptability 

Adaptability means being able to adjust to new conditions. When your organization or team is moving at the speed of success, it is imperative that members are adaptable. The organization has to empower its people to be ready and prepared to adapt to many different scenarios. When flying commercial jets across the world, there is likely to be some turbulence and there is likely to be some weather formations along the route. In order to get to the intended destination safely, the crew has to be adaptable to go over, under, and around the turbulence and thunderstorms. Being adaptable can only happen when the people have been empowered.

The next time you walk into your office, you should be clear on the culture you are cultivating!  The seven skillsets laid out will support the cultivation of a culture of connection, commitment, and community. When you start to implement these seven skills sets your team will begin to soar to new heights, you and your team will begin to Trust the Training, Trust the Process and Trust the People!

Jason O. Harris is a leadership and trust speaker, consultant, and certified character coach. As a decorated combat veteran, Jason brings unique perspectives gained from his battlefield experience to your organization. Jason’s No Fail Trust™ methodology was crafted from his own harrowing, life-altering experiences, and conveys the importance of cross-generational communication and mutual trust. Jason enjoys working with organizations and leaders that are no longer willing to settle for cultures of compliance and are ready to build and cultivate cultures of commitment. For more information on Jason O. Harris, please visit www.JasonOHarris.com.

Finding and Leveraging External Communications Professionals

By Anne Connor

service provider

Cassandra works at a firm spearheading a park renovation project and was tasked with producing a community outreach survey in a nearby city. After hiring a copywriter who specializes in public relations to draft the text, the city indicated that the questionnaire would also need to be distributed in Spanish and Vietnamese in order to maximize participation among the neighborhood’s residents who were not proficient in English. Cassandra thought she had found the solution because she had two bilingual coworkers who could render the English text into those languages. Everything was going according to plan until the engineer manning the hotline given in the survey started receiving calls from residents she could not understand. To make matters worse, many of these same residents attended the project’s informational open house, only to find that there were no interpreters available to assist them. They not only expected to be able to communicate in the language they felt the most comfortable with, but it turns out they also had questions about the ambiguous language in the translations. The situation caused major confusion, requiring Cassandra and her colleagues to work overtime to clear things up.

Communications is a tricky business, especially when you’re dealing with foreign languages. That’s why many companies—both large and small—turn to outside experts to support their communications and language needs. Whether you’re looking to hire a freelance translator or a full-service communications firm, here are five tips for selecting the right service provider:

1.Define your needs

This first step actually starts by defining the needs of your target audience. Who are they and how do they communicate or consume content? Think about how you will communicate with them from beginning to end. For example, if your website is going to be translated into Spanish, then customers will expect a Spanish-speaking contact person to answer their questions either orally or in written form. Outline your requirements. Do you need help with advertising, content development, digital or social media, marketing, public relations, strategic communications, or all of the above? Perhaps a freelance marketing copywriter or copy editor is all you need to take your website copy up a notch. More comprehensive communications campaigns will likely require the services of a communications firm or consultant with expertise in multiple media channels. Some consultants even offer media training services for your staff to help them look and sound professional in TV commercials and radio spots.

2. Begin your search

Communications is an artform—one that can vary from industry to industry. Look for professionals with proven experience in your company’s field or with your project’s requirements. In today’s connected world, you don’t always have to hire someone local. However, before looking too far away, consider how doing so might affect your bottom line. Start with your local Chamber of Commerce for audiovisual media production companies or check out The Society for Editing (ACES) to find local copywriters and/or copyeditors. The Public Relations Society of America is a useful resource for finding a nearby PR company.

Briefing your service providers properly can often make or break your project’s success Click To Tweet

3. Be prepared

Briefing your service providers properly can often make or break your project’s success. While preparing to interview specialists or full-service consultants, gather five pieces of information needed to adequately assess, quote and execute your job. Obviously, you should expect communications professionals to do their homework, but even the most specialized firms will need your help to get to know your company, your needs, and your objectives. Make sure they understand your industry jargon—the language your target audience speaks. Take a “more-is-more” approach and in the long run you’ll save time, money, and embarrassment.

4. Ask questions

If you’ve picked out proven experts, then you’re already on the right track, but don’t make assumptions. Question the offers you have received and ask the service providers to walk you through their processes. If your project involves multiple languages, ask how the providers intend to deliver. Do they partner with professional language service providers adept at managing multilingual translation (written communications) and interpreting (oral communications)? By asking all the right questions, you’re more likely to avoid unpleasant surprises and steer clear of awkward situations—especially those that could damage your reputation.

5. Stay Engaged

Your job doesn’t stop once you’ve hired a communication professional or firm. Though it is important to let the experts get to work, make sure you follow their progress and are highly responsive to their questions every step of the way. View your relationship as a collaboration and make them feel part of your team. And once the project is over, ask for feedback and ideas. What other opportunities do they see to further your business goals? The answers just might surprise you!

Had Cassandra followed these steps and consulted with professionals throughout the process, she would have likely leveraged their expertise and avoided an embarrassing and costly situation.

Anne Connor is a Spanish- and Italian-to-English translator and language-services professional with over twenty years in the business. She holds a BBA in Business Law from Temple University in Philadelphia and is an active member of the American Translators Association. The American Translators Association represents over 10,000 translators and interpreters across 103 countries. For more information on ATA and to hire a translation or interpreting professional, please visit www.atanet.org.