Team T’s

By | Building a Company, Culture, Talent | No Comments

You thought I was going to write about DAXKO’s Kick-Off T-shirt design, but…that’s not it.

The Team T’s I’m talking about here came from an excerpt from “The Game Changer” that Dave G. left on my desk.   The article is about building an innovation team.  I like it.

One of the things that hit home is the importance of intellectual diversity on the team.  In short, to innovate a great product that will succeed in the marketplace takes a few key people with diverse “thinking styles.”  Intellectual diversity means people approach problems and opportunities in very different ways.  There are idea people, project managers, executioners (not as bad as it sounds!), and leaders.  A successful innovation team needs them all, and sometimes more than one from each person.

Different people are going to get to the goal in different ways.  Example:  Market people will look at a market problem and attempt to solve it for a profit (looking out for the business).  Product people, like artists and engineers, fall in love with design, novelty, or functionality (enamored with the killer product/service).  Successful innovation takes both, and will only work when both types recognize the value of the other in reaching the end goal.

Tim Brown of IDEO uses the term “T-shaped” disposition to describe the intellectual profile of innovative teams.  IDEO looks for people with depth in one subject (the down-stroke of the T).   They must also have a breadth of curiosity and willingness to consider other people’s skills (the top part of the T).  These “Type T” people are not easy to find. With drive and passion often comes ego and self-righteousness.  Building a trusting team of T-Players is critical to getting our Association business on a success track.  I am Thankful—with a capital T—that the players on the team already show great signs of being T-Players.

Square Peg, Round Hole – Can The Traditional Organization Afford to Focus on Strengths?

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Is performance management upside down in Corporate America?  Here are a couple of quick observations:

1.  Jobs are structured for the company, not the employee.  I’m not saying that’s wrong, just outlining the facts.

2.  90% of the time we spend talking about performance is about how to manage negative variance.

3.  We don’t spend a lot of the time evaluating how we can continue to maximize a person’s strengths.  We’ll tell them they are doing great, give them an “exceeds”, then move on to how they can improve their “areas of opportunity”.

4.  The combination of those competencies, that create “jobs”, are pretty inflexible in corporate America.

With that in mind, it should come as no shock that while we love to read books like “Now Discover Your Strengths” and nod accordingly when discussing, we pretty much go back to the coal mine and expect people to fit in the traditional spaces we’ve defined.

Scott McArthur talked awhile back about the power of positive, strength-based psychology in the workplace.  From the sweet rundown at McArthur’s Rant:

“Positive psychology suggests that by focusing on people’s strengths rather than on their development needs we can transform wellness at work and as a consequence improve organizational performance.

The notion behind the work that is being done under the banner of Positive Psychology is to enhance our experiences of love, work and play and by doing so encourage wellbeing. This is in contrast to the traditional ways of thinking in both psychology and business where the focus is on finding what isn’t working and trying to fix it.

Techniques such as Appreciative Enquiry and Strength Finders as well as writers such as Csikszentmihalyi in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience have been extolling the value of adopting this approach for some time. In Gallup’s case they have produced some strong statistical evidence that it works..”

Scott acknowledges in his post that while focusing on employee strengths is a powerful tool, it’s problematic for the traditional organization to figure out how to do it.

Here’s my take.  The power of focusing on strengths in corporate America is probably best used in a combination of performance management and engagement.  The smart managers know that they can’t adjust a role to fit the employee’s strengths with a 100% match.  But with the right amount of praise, coaching and organizational flexibility, they can create an environment where the employee understands that the more efficient they are in their formal job, the more they can chase what they really love to do, and maybe even innovate and create stuff on the way.

And that would be a pretty cool thing…

Making the Move from Service to Sales

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By now you know that DAXKO believes in promoting from within.  In fact, over half of our team members aren’t in the same role as when they started.  We like giving folks opportunities to grow, take on more responsibility, find a role they love… and rock at!  There’s lot of those kinds of stories here at DAXKO.  Here’s one…

Sally, Product Specialist
DAXKO Claim toFame: Now in her third role at DAXKO, Sally first rocked it on the customer service side of the house and now works to promote our products and services to future customers.

Q: In your first role as a Trainer, what did you most enjoy?

A: I LOVED seeing people ‘get it’ – seeing it ‘click’ and watching people realize how our software can fundamentally change the way their business runs.

Q: After almost 2 years as a  Trainer, you moved into a new role.  Tell us about that move.

A: I was seeking a new challenge and looking to take on more responsibility.  I became DAXKO’s first CRS – Customer Relationship Specialist (now called Adoption Specialist).  I worked with our customers to better understand their needs and to help them fully adopt and optimize our solutions.  Since then, that team has more than doubled in size (now 3 people).  The company has seen positive results from creating that role and is continuing to invest in the vision.

Q: What did you learn during your time as a CRS?

A: One of the most important skills I learned during that time was how to ‘triage’ a situation – gather the necessary info, delegate tasks, and put out the fire.  I also learned how to step back and allow others to handle those delegated tasks.  That was hard for me, but I feel like it helped me develop some self-discipline that was missing before.

Q: A year and a half later, you joined the Sales Team as a Product Specialist.  Are you glad you made the move?

A: Moving teams was the absolute best thing I could have done for my career!  While I enjoyed my time in Professional Services, moving to an entirely new team within DAXKO broadened my horizon of how a company should operate, how teams should work together, and the importance of sound businesss processes, accountability, and metrics.  I feel like the move helped me to grow professionally and better understand what I want to do long-term.

Q: How has your role as a Product Specialist evolved?

A: I’ve definitely brought some structure and accountability to the role.  I’ve also taken on two additional products – DAXKO Accounting and MobileFit.  In order to help my team operate more efficiently, I’ve thrown myself into their environment, even taking on some admin responsibilities with our internal CRM system.

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of your current role?

A: I love supporting the Account Executives that sell our products and services.  The Account Executive is like the quarterback.  My position varies based on who we are facing defensively.  I’ll play wide receiver, tight end, or running back… whatever it takes to help my quarterback score the touchdown!

Q: What does the future hold for Sally?

A: That’s a good question!  Currently, I’m working with my team lead and an experienced mentor to figure out where I want to go professionally.  We’ll see…

DAXKO Recruiting: How Many Candidates Do We Interview?

By | Culture, Employment Brand, Interviewing, Talent | No Comments

If there is anything the insertion of technology has done in the hiring process, it’s cheapen the value of each application submitted by a candidate when job hunting.  The old process used to keep a lot of people out of consideration – it took work, including printing your resume, addressing an envelope, maybe doing a cover letter and getting the whole thing out in a timely fashion.

Now, candidates can push send and send out a couple hundred resumes in an afternoon via tools like Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.

Most of which are promptly ignored by the business world.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  Across a few thousand resume/online application submittals, here are the DAXKO stats regarding what the hiring funnel (how many resumes we receive for each position filled, etc.) looks like overall on average to this point in 2009:

  • 62 resumes received/sourced for each open position
  • resulting in 14 phone screens (23%)
  • resulting in 8 first interviews (13%)
  • resulting in 3 second interviews (5%)
  • resulting in 2 third interviews (3%)
  • resulting in 1 hire for the open position in question (1.6%).

Too hard? Too soft? Depends?

First up, I was a little stunned that we actually phone screen 23% of all applicants and interview 13% of those candidates.  The numbers seem a little high to me, and I guarantee you that most Fortune 500s don’t approach those percentages for phone screens and interviews.

But, we don’t use job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder, so the big boards that would drive overall volume for most companies aren’t in play for us.  Which means our capacity to phone screen and interview equates into a higher percentage since the huge resume volume isn’t a problem for us.

Your thoughts?  Always interesting to look at the numbers…