g place on 30-31 August in Chicago. She outlines the critical role of talent management in supporting a growth trajectory in today’s business environment.
What are the top talent management challenges for businesses today?
I think the field has developed some excellent processes that the business leaders appreciate and that add value. We are increasingly a well-defined specialty that has best in class talent management practices. In financially challenging times, however, the business leaders invest their time and resources only when they see a direct link between our practices and their respective business mission and strategy. It’s now more important than ever to understand your business’ key competitive advantage and align your talent management practices to it. An example of this is to align your leadership behaviors with customer expectations and incorporate these behaviors across your talent processes.
The ‘war for talent’, which characterized the years up to the economic crisis, has been quelled as companies have fewer funds. Can companies look within to build their critical talent?
The question is about having ‘ready now’ talent for critically important positions. If we look to build from within for “sell”, or revenue generating positions, our leadership development processes must be accelerated to keep pace with the demands of the market place to have ready-now critical talent. Otherwise, the outside market will more than likely be the best supply of critical talent. On the other hand, for critical positions that are focused on “make” or cost management, value is found in constantly improving current processes to maximize cost savings, so grooming talent from within makes a lot of sense. Experiences tells me that most of us have a 70:30 ratio across the organization (invent, make, sell, and support) where 70 per cent of our leaders on a succession plan are filled internally through a talent pool, and that 30 per cent typically are needed from the outside as a new hire.
What do you say to those who proclaim talent management and leadership development to be activities relegated to good times only?
I first always want to acknowledge what probably is in the business leader’s mind, which is, reducing expenses, or implementing cost containment measures, makes a bigger difference on the bottom line than increasing sales---even if you double sales, it doesn’t impact the bottom line in the same way as reducing expenses. Therefore, to re-emphasize that our leadership development program will create greater leadership capacity to grow the business may fall on deaf ears during financially difficult times. Alternatively, we may want to repeat what we hear from the business leaders themselves, which is, “...we’re currently in a downturn, but we still have to be ready for the upturn when it occurs---and, we don’t want to be caught flat footed”. In our world, we too often dismantle our Talent Management programs to be a team player, when perhaps we should find ways to simplify and reduce. I further would add that research is showing that talent management practices are most effective when processes are integrated (e.g. leadership/management development, with succession planning/talent reviews, and 360 degree assessments). To re-build, of course, takes much more time and resources than working from an existing base in which the focus is to re-fine and integrate existing processes.
Is there a fear that progress made in leadership development and talent management by companies over the past decade might be wiped out as a result of excessive short-term thinking and non-strategic cost cutting?
Yes, there is always that fear. I don’t think my experience is unique, we all have been a part of building and creating best-in-class talent management practices linked to the business strategy only to hit upon financial hard times and see our efforts dismantled to the point of being ineffective or lacking business support. Even the best companies with best practices have short-term thinking when it comes to their talent management programs.
In the post crisis world we need leaders that inspire trust as well as imaginative and innovative talent that can rethink the company for a new reality. Is this truly attainable or just wishful thinking?
Yes, it’s absolutely attainable. The literature and research on leadership is constantly evolving and integrating inter-disciplinary findings, such as new discoveries on how the brain works as it relates to new ways of thinking, new ways of listening, new ways of speaking. How a leader brings out the best performance in others is the question I ask, and building trust is a very important variable. Trust is built by being good at what you do (ability), providing a supportive work environment (benevolence), and being accountable for one’s actions, having congruence between one’s values and actions. We need to emphasize and support these qualities in our development programs and integrate them in our talent management processes to create imaginative and innovative leaders.
The marcus evans 6th Annual Talent Planning and Leadership Development Conference will be held on 30-31 August in Chicago.
Contact: Michele Westergaard
455 North CityFront Plaza Drive9th Floor NBC TowerChicago, IL, 60611Telephone: 312 540 3000 ext 6625 Fax: 312 552 2155Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
eries please click here.
• Barbara Ling, Author of RiseTrends, “All Around Deity of Internet Smart Moves” in addition to Trainer, Dog Trainer, Karate bundle of ferocity
• Location: Monmouth, NJ
• RecruitingBlogs Profile
• Company Website
• Personal Blog
• Community Volunteering: Unofficial photographer for dojo/high school band
• Personal Causes: Animal Rescue
• Office Number: I don’t do phones – I do skype. Barbara.ling
• Personal Email
Barbara Ling is a "Deity of Internet Smart Moves" She has been both an Entrepreneur and Internet recruiting pioneer since 1997. She was one of the original Master Trainers of demystifying online recruiting. She has since extended that concept to teaching individuals how to become an authority in their niche (Income Fitness).
Barbara is an author of over 25 books and ebooks on entrepreneuring, Internet recruiting, marketing and business. She was spotlighted by Microsoft Corporation as the Small Business of the Month.
*Over-delivering is her trademark!* She offers free resources like those found at her Virtual Coach Income Fitness Community at http://www.virtual-coach.com/forums/forums.php
Q & A with Barbara Ling
Six Degrees: Tell us of your home world.
BARBARA I’ve been married now for 16 years to the most wonderful man on the face of the planet, and have plethora of kids that range from the ages of 13-going-on-18 down to 6. Additionally, the Ling Clan hosts 2 mooses (okay, moose-sized doggies) and 12 Twitter Budgies – you can read more at http://www.squidoo.com/barbaraling .
If you were to consider one key word to describe my family, it would be “character-building.” I always view any problems encountered in life as misunderstood opportunities that are craving to teach us something, and instill that view in my family as well.
Six Degrees: What do you do for personal fulfillment
BARBARA Gosh, where to start? During my venerable lifespan, I’ve dabbled and/or mastered:
• Stained glass design
• Telephone insulator collection
• Computer hacking/security
• Dog training
• Teaching kids to read
• Playing the trumpet
• Hustling kids in video games (okay, that was in college )
• Twitter Budgie Mastering
• Video making and parakeet humor
-- among other things! When I was 14 years old, I was a professional comedy dog trainer and visited many nursing homes and hospitals across NJ. My doggie back then was a German Shepherd/Collie mutt, and we specialized in bringing smiles to people who otherwise led a very depressing life indeed.
And would you believe, I’m one belt away from earning my black belt in Gojuryu karate? It’s true – right after the Virginia Tech Massacre, I realized that while I might have taught my children everything about academics, their education was sorely lacking in street smarts/get-out-of-the-way abilities etc. So I signed up my entire family for karate and we’ve been progressing together ever since.
Six Degrees: How many years have you been in the staffing industry?
BARBARA Teaching/training-wise, since 1997, when I started generating high SEO for local recruiters, Recruiters Online and teaching recruiters how to find quality resumes for free on the Internet.
Prior to that, however, I also dealt with recruiters on the other end (as I was a consultant to Bell Labs and AT&T after taking the buyout package in 1995).
Six Degrees: How did you get started as a recruiter?
BARBARA It was a stark and dormy knight. I started as a recruiter back in 1997 (prior to teaching) when a local NJ recruiting company asked me to help them quality local techie folk for places like AT&T and Bell Labs. I quickly realized that I far more enjoyed the thrill of the hunt rather than using a (gasp!) phone to talk with candidates, so I started focusing my skills in the training/SEO area entirely.
The owner of this particular company was good friends with my husband, and he had heard that I was a wizard with Unix and security. At that time, he was LOOKING for people with my skills, and asked just how I would go about finding them.
The rest, as one would say, is a most magnificent history lesson indeed.
Six Degrees: What single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career?
BARBARA Achieving an 8-fold increase in the SEO visibility of Recruiters Online at http://www.recruitersonline.com .
You have to remember, I started building webpages back when Mosaic was released (ie, Netscape Version 1.0). Here’s a fun fact – did you know that back then, if an image was included in a webpage that DIDN’T exist, the browser would STOP loading until you acknowledged this horrible omission? It made for humongous, long-loading pages back then, I’ll tell you that.
Do you have a mentor to whom you attribute your overall outlook on recruitment, capabilities, and/or model your career after?
BARBARA But of course – Bill Vick, the undisputed sage of everything recruiting online. Bob Larson has also been inspirational to me too.
I remember first meeting Bill back in 1998 – he was visiting NJ for the NJ Staffing association meeting. A dynamically brilliant guy, he ended up securing my services for providing SEO to Recruiters Online. Funny thing too – the next year, I was speaking at that convention. I will never will forget that.
Six Degrees: Tell us about the “Barbara Ling” engine – tell us what those pistons are churning out on a daily basis!
BARBARA Nowadays, I’m a powerhouse of one (count ‘em, one!) and focus on teaching people how to use the Internet to their best advantage (recruiters, business folk, career peoples, etc.).
I am responsible for everything regarding my brand – writing my products, designing the copy, setting up the websites, generating the high SEO, supporting my customers, and the like.
This is one of the reasons why I’m always up and about at 3am; it’s the best time to simply get things done WITHOUT having to deal with a passel of kids, 12 chirping Twitter Budgies and 2 mooses to boot.
Six Degrees: (A) What other companies' recruiting operations do you admire or have heard are best-practice examples?
BARBARA Maureen Sharib, Jim Stroud and Shally.
(B) In what aspects are they superior?
BARBARA Maureen embraces the phone (something I can NEVER do). Jim is a master at podcasting and getting the word out… and Shally, well, he’s SHALLY. And when you’ve said that, you’ve said it all.
Six Degrees: Tell us about your broader involvement within the staffing industry:
BARBARA LING I offer help via my blog and forums at http://www.virtual-coach.com/forums/forums.php I’ll also lend a hand when colleagues ask for assistance regarding their web design or how to find candidates online. Nowadays, I’ve broadened my focus to embrace the small business niche as a whole. I’ve learned that no matter in WHAT business you might have online…..some things will never change (the need for quality customer care, how to design an effective website, where to go for help online, etc.).
Six Degrees: Can you detail how the recession has affected your particular industry niche?
BARBARA For me, it generally hasn’t – people STILL want to be profitable online. But! For my recruiting customers - I’ve noticed quite the shift indeed. Many recruiters have abandoned the field in hopes of finding more profitable venues and are more open to different lines of work. The big-billers, of course, know how to weather the storm, but for others…the field was rapidly depleted of the individuals who weren’t in it for the long haul. Unemployment has become rampant, and yet at the same time, individuals are even more leery about where they spend what they still have. Thus, even recruiters who tried becoming job coaches instead found difficulty in employment as well.
Six Degrees: Aside from simply the generic term “Networking” what specific efforts have you made on your own behalf, or on behalf of colleagues to broaden your opportunities.
BARBARA I’ve been branding both my name and my sites now on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms quite prominently. I use resources like Ping.fm and Social Oomph to get the word out. Not only that – because forums are great communities, I started my own at http://www.virtual-coach.com/forums/forums.php . To do that, I had to teach myself how to run the entire exciting thingee – that was character-building in the extreme! But I always say, “Fear is the main thing that prevents success” And I refuse to let such a damaging emotion sideline my efforts.
Now, back when I was heavily involved in teaching recruiters, I would frequent sites like http://www.ere.net and the various Ning groups as well. I find those resources to be stellar in assisting recruiters to maximize their bottom line; http://www.recruitingblogs.com and http://magicmethod.ning.com are two excellent current-day resources too.
Six Degrees: Given your own Trial and Error experiences as a Networker, what advice do you have for your peers on what NOT to do?
BARBARA Got a couple of years? Here are some of the top tips I can offer:
• Do NOT spam your blog for SEO.
• Do NOT promote your C++ job opportunities to hard-core sys admins (I still get offers for that!)
• Do NOT write anything that you’d be ashamed your children found out
• Do NOT be arrogant online, but DO be confident
• NEVER apologize for your own personal greatness
• Do NOT EVER talk bad about your competitors. Compare and contrast instead.
• Showcase WHY you’re the recruiter of choice – walk the walk you talk.
Remember, it’s NOT enough for you to just make the placement. Theoretically, ANYONE can “make a placement”…but that’s a single, short-term goal indeed!
You want the candidate to RECOMMEND you to THEIR friends as well. If you choose to get known for your superior customer service (read – you SOLVE potential candidate issues instead of treating them like a commission check), your reputation will spread like wildfire in a GOOD way; the candidates will do your marketing for you!
Six Degrees: What is your next career goal? What do you need to do to get there?
BARBARA I’m shooting for Empress of the Galaxy but will be willing to accept “All Around Deity of Internet Smart Moves” , in other words, the ultimate AADISM.
I plan on becoming THE authority of choice when it comes to maximizing one’s business profits online. Recruiting, after all, is a customer service adventure – it should be hands on from the beginning to the end. And the Internet allows anyone to showcase themselves as THE recruiter of choice; it’s simply a matter of taking advantage of what’s out there an seamlessly adding it to your business online.…
te of the Southwest Florida economy
• Also search foreclosure database; read readers' views on economy; read blogs by local business leaders; see what panel of economic experts had to say
Lee County is wagering up to $25 million, and the region's vitality, on an Economic Development Office that's struggled to recruit and retain businesses.
The agency's efforts to generate jobs have sputtered at the same time the county is suffering a 9.8 percent unemployment rate and the undesirable label as America's foreclosure capital.
In the past 10 years, the taxpayer-supported Economic Development Office hasn't knocked the socks off many CEOs looking for greener pastures. According to its own data, the agency provided extensive logistical help in establishing 36 companies in target areas. Combined, they pledged to create 1,903 jobs, which amounts to less than 1 percent of Lee's labor force of 284,036 people.
Agency projections turned out to be optimistic. The News-Press spent two months tracking down those 36 companies, finding that:
- Eleven have ceased their operations here.
- Ten remaining companies employ fewer workers than anticipated; two are about to call it quits.
- Thirteen companies met or exceeded employment projections by a combined 242 jobs.
- Two companies did not return multiple calls.
All told, those 36 companies dwindled to 25, and those 1,903 jobs were cut to 1,005 positions, not counting the two non-responsive businesses.
Those numbers have not deterred Lee commissioners from believing the economic development office can revolutionize our economy.
"They've done an extremely exemplary job, from Sony to Source Interlink to Lynx Services," said Commission Chairman Ray Judah, referring to three companies the agency has assisted. "There are a number of organizations they attracted to Lee County that are expanding and hiring more employees."
Commissioners authorized a $25 million incentive program to lure companies and help existing businesses expand operations. It's quick cash is meant to relieve the economic bedlam that's been plaguing our community.
But if the agency hasn't succeeded in building a solid, diversified economy, why entrust it with an amount that's 14 times its annual budget?
Ron Inge, former chairman of a community leadership group called the Horizon Council, initially suggested the incentives. He said Lee County has been at a disadvantage for the past decade as other regions wave cash at prospective businesses.
"It's a huge competitive environment," Inge said. "In that 10-year period, we were competing against communities that had incentives already."
Jim Moore, the agency's executive director since August, admits money won't fix a broader problem that Lee's economy is too reliant on construction, real estate and tourism. Today's business climate isn't exactly suitable for companies looking to expand or relocate.
"The businessman would be foolish to go ahead with plans, given the economy," Moore said.
Times are tough, but they're also tough in Brevard County, which managed to land the Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer last May. Embraer inquired about building its $50 million, 150,000-square-foot aircraft assembly facility in Lee, but chose Melbourne, the beneficiary of 200 new jobs paying an average salary of $50,000. Embraer officials wouldn't say what qualities Lee was lacking, but Melbourne-area and state agencies ponied up $12 million in incentives.
Brent Barkway, business development officer for Lee's economic development agency, suspects this region was missing one key ingredient.
"The amount of aerospace engineers on that side of the state was too much for us to overcome," Barkway said. "It's not that there is anything wrong with us."
To woo prospects, Lee recruiters boast of our high quality of life, pro-business climate and growing work force. Sounds good, but corporate executives hear the same, if not better, sales pitches elsewhere.
In 2003, the Scripps Research Institute also checked into Lee, which emerged as one of four finalists. After evaluating contenders, the biomedical research group instead chose Jupiter for its 364,000-square-foot center. Keith McKeown, Scripps' vice president of communications and public relations, would not specify what Lee County lacked, but said Palm Beach County had six distinct advantages:
- The county donated 100 acres and $157 million in construction costs, in addition to $310 million in startup costs from state government.
- Palm Beach's housing inventory was ample for scientists and researchers.
- Southeast Florida had easy national and international flight connections.
- The Palm Beach area had variety in its cultural and physical amenities.
- Scripps staff felt Palm Beach closely resembled the institute's headquarters near San Diego.
- Palm Beach residents had money and influence.
"Palm Beach is one of the philanthropic capitals of the country," McKeown said.
Scripps' contract with Florida requires the institute to employ at least 545 people by 2013.
Lee wants to land a few "Tiffany targets," as Moore calls them, but the lack of a clincher is not just a Lee County problem. In December, the Economic Development Foundation in Naples released its 2008 Florida Economic Scorecard, comparing the state's eight geographic regions in 26 categories. Southwest Florida as a whole - Collier, Lee and Charlotte counties - ranked dead last. Northwest Florida was first.
There's no sense dwelling on the past, Lee officials say. Barkway believes Lee has 25 realistic, active prospects looking to relocate their businesses. Another bright spot is a 37 percent increase in recruitment and business assistance contacts logged by economic development staff in 2008 vs. 2007.
The Economic Development Office is a small operation with 15 employees and a $1.7 million annual budget. Moore, who earns $124,615 a year, took the helm this summer after Regina Smith, agency head for five years, accepted a county buyout.
The agency does not recruit restaurants, retail stores or hotels. It pursues companies in six target industries: aviation, shared services, corporate headquarters, information technology, life sciences and manufacturing. Staffers provide market research to anyone, but focus on target companies planning to create a minimum of 10 jobs, generate at least 51 percent of revenue outside Florida and offer salaries at 125 percent of Lee's average wage.
The 36 companies
Digital Telecom Access Control looked promising, a custom computer programming business projected to employ 15 workers earning $75,000 a year. It opened five years ago in Cape Coral. Today, callers are greeted by a recording: Press one for sales, press two for technical support, press three for the business office. Sounds like a big operation, but in actuality, all calls lead to owner and president Michael Fischer - the last man standing.
"We had a couple of good contracts, but the economy started to go in a different direction," Fischer said. "The telecom sector has come to a screeching halt."
D-TAC's decline isn't a rarity.
CallTech, a global call center, opened its Fort Myers facility in 1999, quickly outlining a series of expansions to bump the employee count to 500. CallTech's work force disintegrated just as fast. Director of recruiting Jim Phillips said the center closed in 2007 because of a client reduction that coincided with a lease expiration. Its 25,000-square-foot facility remains vacant.
BeSafe International, which manufactured protective vests for police officers, spent the past month moving its operation from Fort Myers to Miami after four years here. Flexi International, a software company that brought its regional office to Lee in 2000, moved to Naples five years later.
BeSafe and Flexi are the types of business Lee County wants: manufacturing and high-tech industries that sell products outside the region and pay above-average wages. They also are the types of business Lee County has trouble attracting and trouble keeping.
In December, the county hired Denver-based Atlas Advertising to create a campaign promoting Lee on a national level. Ben Wright, Atlas' CEO and founder, said losing businesses is not uncommon as company executives evaluate their options.
Wright discerned that two Floridas have emerged in economic development, and Lee isn't necessarily vying for an Embraer or Scripps with Brevard or Palm Beach, counties that feature bigger, better-trained work forces.
"Prospects and companies differentiate between the west coast of Florida and the east coast," Wright said. "We're not so sure we're competing with the rest of the state."
The Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast helped bring 12 companies to Brevard County in the past five years, when it began tracking the data. Lee, by comparison, landed 14 companies in that timeframe. Brevard's companies generated 977 new jobs to Lee's 776.
The true difference between Brevard and Lee are the types of new businesses opening shop. Brevard's include a glut of manufacturers: aircraft, airplane parts, medical supplies, electronics, guided missile and rubber. Lee's newcomers manufactured bulletproof vests, doors, metal products and pharmaceuticals, along with food packaging and headquarters for manufacturing and insurance firms.
Four months after commissioners approved the $25 million incentive, the economic development office is revealing its first recommendation, the expansion of a marketing research and public opinion polling firm. The undisclosed company plans to build a 70,000-square-foot facility and create 200 jobs over five years, each averaging $60,000-a-year salaries. Commissioners will vote Tuesday on whether the project merits $350,000 in incentives.
Jennifer Berg, marketing and communications manager for the economic office, said an 80-employee consumer finance company soon will announce it is relocating here.
Moore repeatedly has stated he'd rather not spend a penny of the $25 million, calling the incentives a marketing tool.
"The only way I'm going to use the $25 million is to close the deal," Moore said. "I'm not going to put it out there on the table and say 'please come have as much as you want.'"
New vs. existing
In the past decade, the economic development office helped 77 businesses expand their local presence, creating 3,403 new jobs. Just like new companies, some existing businesses also closed their doors. Paragon Marketing added 40 employees in 1999, but closed the office three years later. Neomedia Technologies was going strong when the software design company added 35 employees in 2000. The company restructured in 2007, uprooting its world headquarters to Atlanta so it could "offer close contact to potential customers and easier access to international markets," according to a news release.
As the economy worsens, Lee's economic development office will monitor local businesses.
"Who is more loyal to this community than the people who are already here, have their roots here, have their families here and would like to keep them here?" Moore said.
That's fine, but Carlene Maurer, co-owner of Beach Bowl near Fort Myers Beach, admits she is struggling to keep the business afloat, but still wants to open a snack shop and arcade there. Beach Bowl, like a majority of local businesses, does not qualify for incentives because it's not a target industry looking to create 75 new jobs. Maurer relayed her idea after The News-Press solicited comments from the public.
She suggested $100,000 grants for 250 existing businesses. That $25 million, she said, would inject cash flow into companies with desire to stay in business here.
"What about us existing businesses?" Maurer said later in an interview. "We might have to shut down."
Horizon Council chairman John Wiest said a future discussion can, and should, include existing businesses that need financial help, but the $25 million has a one purpose.
"That is clearly to diversify the economy and mitigate against future economic problems," he said.
About the series
Lee County has always relied on two main industries: real estate and tourism. Despite a lot of time and money spent on the need to broaden our business base, the current downturn shows we still are not diversified enough. When the construction industry collapsed, it led to the loss of thousands of jobs from retailing and restaurants to government and financial services.
We solicited comments from the public and got dozens of suggestions on how to improve our economy. We held five meetings in which 38 business and community leaders gave us their thoughts and suggestions. And we’ve set up Web pages so the discussion can continue through the coming weeks and beyond.
A rundown on the series:
Millions: Lee County recently handed its Economic Development Office $25 million to spark economic growth. But that agency’s performance is mixed. What industries should the agency be looking to recruit?
Problems: How Lee’s lack of diversification hurts local residents. As we try to recover, there are plenty of stumbling blocks.
The upside: Lee County is well-positioned for a return to prosperity and should be able to reinvent itself.
Beginning Jan. 26, we’ll have a daily solution to our economic problems based on your feedback and we’ll wrap up with a look ahead Feb. 1.…