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The Touch Points You Can Use To Hire On Values And Build Company Culture

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Whether it has been consciously designed or not every business has its own unique culture and you can always tell what that culture is by simply spending some time inside the business.

Regardless of any values you’ll find written on the walls or championed on the website, the truth will out.

Culture is an atmosphere. Culture is a feeling. It cannot be hidden, and it cannot be cheated.

Even the most inspirational cultures find themselves under constant threat. Threats from targets not being met, threats from competitors, threats from growth. Yes, growth is a serious threat to any culture, for it often leads to new people entering the workplace.

With new people, come new dynamics and consequently new challenges.

So how do we navigate the risks involved with bringing new people into your business?

Whilst CVs have proven themselves to be ideal for understanding a candidate’s experience and skills, embellishments aside, they offer little insight in terms of what really makes a person tick.

That’s why we have interview processes, as ultimately we are looking to answer one simple question with any new hire: can we trust them?

Trust them to deliver, to fit in, to add value, to take the business forward.

Most people wouldn’t get married to someone after the first date, so how do we establish enough trust to make a decision to hire?

Today, most businesses try to adopt a ‘hire slowly, fire fast’ approach to recruitment, getting to know candidates better before making a decision, yet so much of our hiring processes are built to establish reliability, not trust.

And even the ‘fire fast’ aspect can create some accountability problems for a business. Imagine for a moment that you were unable to fire at all. What would your recruitment process look like as a result?

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It may sound crazy but Next Jump has adopted such an approach. A job for life. Their attitude to hiring can be found on their culture page which simply states: “We don’t hire employees; we adopt family members. We don’t fire… we coach.”

Whilst this approach may not suit everyone, there is much to learn from their approach to hiring and talent development and it all starts with values.

Just as culture eats strategy for breakfast, values trump performance. Values are the currency of trust.

So, why values? Taking the literal meaning, values are “principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life”. Sounds pretty simple, right? So all we need to do is ask people what their values are and we will know if they are a fit for our business or not… not quite.

Values only manifest themselves in our behaviours, which in turn determine the actions we take and the results we achieve.

This is true not just in business, but in life.

What do values come from?

So, how are values formed? Our experiences in life inform our beliefs, which in turn shape our values.  Once established our values rarely change and provide us with an operating framework, guiding all of what we do. It is for this reason values are critical to the success or failure of any new hire.

Just as culture eats strategy for breakfast, values trump performance. Values are the currency of trust.

So how do you hire to values? The law of attraction will play a big part in this process, so try not to make your company, or a role within it, appealing to everyone or chances are you will fail to attract the people you really want.

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Start with a wish list, but along with skills and experience spend equal time thinking about ideal personality type and behaviours.

What characteristics are you not willing to compromise on?

Consider every point of engagement as a potential filter to eliminate those who do not match your wish list.

Once you know the type of person you want you’ll need to create a job description, but don’t limit that description to tasks. Take the opportunity to convey the experience of working in your business. What does an average day in your company really feel like?

Every touchpoint with a candidate is an opportunity to demonstrate your culture and express what makes your business unique. Think about how you want your dream candidate to feel when they read the job description – you never get a second chance at a first impression.

Equally, consider every point of engagement as a potential filter to eliminate those who do not match your wish list. Don’t be afraid of putting people off. The more unsuitable candidates you can eliminate at this stage; the more time you can spend getting to know those who do possess the qualities you are looking for.

Crafting interview questions

Next, you’ll need to think about your interview process and technique. I would suggest always setting some form of challenge to respond to. This can be something relatively simple that’s designed to test a candidate’s attention to detail or you can ask them to prepare a short presentation to gain the first-hand experience of their approach to problem-solving.

The way we approach one problem is typically representative of how we approach all problems, so this exercise can be very insightful. You should also look to include focused, open-ended interview questions to encourage storytelling, whilst mixing things up with the occasional high leverage question to gain insight into how they see themselves.

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Storytelling questions such as ‘tell me about a time you did x or y’ can be related directly to your company values and will encourage candidates to draw from real-life experiences. High leverage questions are designed to provide maximum insight with minimum effort and again can be linked to your values.

Storytelling questions can be related directly to your company values and will encourage candidates to draw from real-life experiences.

A great example of a high leverage question comes from The Luck Factor by Dr Richard Wiseman, which argues that people who see themselves as lucky are generally happier and easier to work with than those who don’t. The question, in this case, would be: ‘how lucky are you on a scale of naught to 10?’

You should also include questions designed to see beyond a candidate’s response to the role on offer. Asking them about what their ideal job would be can expose hidden skills and talents which your company may later benefit from.

Finally, think about how you accept a successful candidate into your business. Acceptance is another opportunity to make a lasting impression, so make it memorable.

Also, be sure to say no to those candidates who are unsuccessful.

Not only will they value hearing from you, but your brand reputation will get a boost from treating every candidate like a human being.

Of course, the process doesn’t stop at saying ‘yes’ – in reality, that is just the beginning. Your induction process needs just as much thought and attention as your selection process.

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Business

Best Practices For Project Management in the Modern, Connected Era

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Regardless of the type of business, you’re running or even the industry that you’re operating in, the core goals of project management remain the same. You’re still talking about the successful development of not only the initiation of a project but also the planning, execution, regulation and even closure.

The decisions you make in the early stages of project management can easily mean the difference between success and failure in terms of everything that you’re trying to accomplish. During the beginning of a project, you’re setting goals and agreeing on critical factors like scope, time, quality and even budget. Naturally, keeping everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction is of paramount importance.

Which, of course, is a lot easier said than done.

Project management can be difficult in general – to say nothing of how hard things become when more people are suddenly working remotely than ever. But it is still possible to use these early moments in a project’s development lifecycle to set the foundation upon which everything else will be built. You just need to keep a few key things in mind while you do it.

The Art of Project Management: Breaking Things Down

By far, the most important step you can take in terms of successful project management in the modern era involves making sure that you have the right tools by your side at the beginning of the process.

The types of project tools that you embrace need to give you access to a few core features, regardless of which particular piece of software you choose. For the absolute best results, your tools should:

  • Allow your users to create and store data almost entirely in the cloud. People should be able to be just as productive in their own home as they can be in the comfort of their office at work – especially these days, for obvious reasons. Therefore, any tool that you select needs to allow them to accomplish precisely that.
  • Your tools should also give real-time reports to project managers into the status of ALL projects, regardless of how many are in progress at the same time. This is the best way to make sure that everyone is keeping up with their duties. It also gives project managers a chance to stop a small problem now before it has a chance to become a much bigger one down the road.
  • Your tools should also streamline workflows in a way that project managers can see how EVERY person on the team is performing. Not only that, but they should also provide invaluable metrics so that you can see how projects are moving along. This level of insight can help make sure that if any adjustments are needed they can be executed immediately, all so that you don’t even have to worry about missing your estimated completion date.
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The point about the cloud is particularly important in terms of creative project management software, as so many people on your team will essentially be drawing from the same resources at the same time. By embracing a tool that acts as a centralized location for all project-related tasks, files and documents, you’re doing your part to help boost productivity as much as possible. Communications and discussions become easier than ever and collaboration essentially becomes a forgone conclusion. All of this will pay dividends as your project moves farther down the line towards completion every single day.

Another key factor that you’ll want to keep in mind ultimately comes down to the type of support documentation that you’re creating along the way. For the sake of example, let’s say your current project involves getting an upcoming product ready for launch. You and your teams have worked tirelessly for months on getting this right – now, you’re just a few short weeks away from unleashing it on the entire world.

Don’t wait until the end of the project to start thinking about the types of support documentation that your users will need to get the most out of their purchase. These materials shouldn’t be an afterthought – they should be a natural part of the project management and development process from as early as possible.

All of this is to say that you should use a pie chart maker like Visme (which I founded) to create those visual “help” documents that people are going to need while you’re still going through the project, not after it is complete. This will allow you to proactively answer questions and address potential concerns while they’re all still fresh in your mind – thus leading to more accurate information that people can actually use.

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Likewise, you should be going to sites like Respona on a regular basis to research the types of topics that the people in your audience actually care about. If you do this while the project is still in the development stages, it can actually clue you in on certain features and other benefits to embrace that will further act as your value differentiator in the market at large.

Think about it like this. Let’s say you and your teamwork on your upcoming product and it’s (thankfully) totally finished. Then, you head to Respona for topic research and find out that a lot of your potential customers have the same core problem that they’re trying to solve. You could easily include a feature that helps them meet that challenge… or you could have if you’d have learned this information while you were still knee-deep in development.

If you were conducting this level of research while things were still fluid, you definitely would have been in a better position to pivot and capitalize on an opportunity instead of allowing it to pass you by.

This is why it’s important to think of these things not as an afterthought, but as a critical element of what you’re doing. You never know where inspiration is going to come from and no matter what, you need to be in a position to listen to it and adapt to it whenever possible. This is the part of project management that far too many people don’t pay enough attention to until it’s too late.

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Finally, one of the most important elements of successful project management involves keeping scope creep in check whenever you can. Every project has constraints – regardless of how many people are working with you or how large your budget is. But if your scope begins to shift in the wrong direction, things will slowly begin to fall apart before you know it. If things change too drastically, you could be dealing with budget overruns and you could easily lose buy-in from the stakeholders you’re going to need when everything is said and done.

Therefore, you must make it a priority to manage scope creep in a proactive way. Don’t think about it at the end of each month or at the end of the week. Keep it in the back of your mind every single day and don’t be afraid to confront it when necessary.

If you’re able to keep all of these things in mind during the project management process, there’s truly no limit to what you and your colleagues will be able to accomplish.

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7 Reasons Why Its Important to Have a Niche

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A niche is a focused, targetable segment of the market. You are a specialist providing a product or service that focuses on the specific needs of an identified client group, which cannot or are not being addressed in such detail by the dominant providers in your industry.

But it is important to understand that there is, in fact, a difference between your identified niche and your target market.

Your target market is a specific identifiable group of people you work with, e.g. women in the city, technology start-ups, creative agency owners, small and medium businesses in a particular revenue range.

Your niche is the service you specialise in offering to your target market.

For example, standing desks are aimed at professionals who work in front of a computer for long periods of time. This is a well-defined niche.

Here are 7 reasons why it is important to have a niche:

To avoid spreading yourself too thin

Instead of the risk of spreading yourself too thin in saying that ‘everyone’ is your potential client, niche marketing will help you to focus on a specific grouping of people, and particularly on what their needs and wants are.

You will unlikely to be able to serve everybody, so it is important to focus on what you do best and aim it at a specific group of people who will likely buy what you offer.

It is important to find out what is important to them, what blogs they read, their beliefs and attitudes, who the main influencers in that network are.

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Having these insights means that you can develop products or services specifically aimed at this group, based on your thorough knowledge and understanding of what they are interested in.

It’s easier to identify and target potential clients and partners to work with

As the pool of people that exists for a niche is smaller than its mainstream equivalent, it will be easier to identify potential clients and partners to work with, as you can be much more targeted and laser-focused with your marketing efforts.

It’s easier to become an expert and well known in your niche

Niching means it will be much easier for others to understand ‘what you do’ and ‘for whom’, which will make it easier to position you as an expert in your field. As this group is more targeted and of a smaller size, you can rapidly become well known within this group of people.

Your profile and overall visibility will increase within this group. It is a small world after all!

More and better referrals

Since it will be easier for others to understand what you do and for whom, it, in turn, becomes much easier for them to refer more and better quality clients to you that fit the profile of your ideal client, as you have built up trust, credibility, visibility, and it is very clear as to what your specialism is.

The more unique you are, the less competition you will have

There will be less competition, as you will provide the specific services or create the specific products for the specific people you are seeking to help in a specific way that meets their needs. The BIG advantage of becoming more unique is that usually it can’t be easily replicated by your competition!

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Marketing becomes much easier

Effective niche marketing should really help with your marketing, positioning and branding as you will attract the ‘right people’ much more easily and quickly. People with similar interests tend to behave and are attracted to similar things. This means that many of your clients will do all the hard work for you as they will refer you more and more because your profile, credibility and influence are readily apparent within your tribe.

More repeat business

As you are able to provide an increasingly better service or product, based on your specific client’s needs, it is likely that you will get more repeat business – people will come back for more, and as an added benefit will often start spending more with you as your relationship grows with them.

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