Outside-In® Chronicles: Three Things Grandmom Rose Taught Me About Leadership

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photo-2-223x300With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I wanted to revisit this blog about my Grandmom Rose and her significant influence on my leadership style.

My Grandmom Rose was an amazing person. When she was young, she absolutely loved to dance. When she was older, during a time when marrying those of another religion was uncommon, she left her Jewish faith to marry a man of a different one. And for decades, she fought for the underdog through volunteering for the rights and privileges of the blind here in Delaware. She lived to be well over 102—but her wisdom remains infinite. Although Rose died a few years ago, I think of her often. How could I not? Whenever I was sick as a child, Rose played 97 straight games of Candy Land with me. Imagine that. I think she let me win every time, too.

Today, I thought I would share a few thoughts on Rose’s lifestyle that I think translates pretty darn well into reminders for all of us in leadership positions.

1. Have a sense of mindfulness. This is a hard one. Are you centered and focused on the moment or the task at hand? Are you in the meeting you’re in? Or are you messaging others on your cell phone and trying to keep up with the rest of your day? Rose never knew technology and its advantages, but you always knew she was focused on you when you were sitting in front of her. As a leader, are you giving 100% to the team or person in front of you? Or do your distractions show? Does your lack of attention send the message that your time there is not important? Value the face time.

2. Ask valuable questions. If you’re in a sales, leadership, consulting, or frankly any role in life, there is nothing better than the ability to invest in others through asking questions. If you knew Rose she could ask some humdingers. They would just keep coming, too. They were good and stimulating questions. She genuinely cared about you and life—this showed through her investment in you. As a leader, how many times do you catch yourself talking, maybe dulling out general advice because it’s easier and feels good. Certainly easier than asking the style of questions that help people work through their own challenges and opportunities. Staff members want more than answers. They want skills they can use again and again. Does your leadership style involve a healthy sense of curiosity and frequently asking questions? Or are you too busy to lead and simply give out answers just to keep the day moving along?

3. Do one thing at a time. This sounds so…well, impossible in today’s world. Rose was really great about doing one thing at a time. I think she just wouldn’t understand why we think it is a good idea to multi-task to the point of exhaustion. Leaders get that adrenaline rush. Fight that fire. Answer that email. Text that message. All of these are signs of a normal, hectic day. However, before we know it the day is done. Did you accomplish your most important task? Did you finish what you started? It may seem old fashioned, but there is something to working on the hardest thing first and working on it until it is completed. It’s even more impressive if you do so without succumbing to the constant distractions of smart phones, tablets, and laptops!

When I was young, Rose took me to Gino’s for lunch every week for almost a year to collect that week’s plastic NFL football helmet. Each time she would laugh as I would eat one giant burger and then ask for a second one! Rose knew what was important in relationships. She knew what to bother with. If you see me turn off my phone, close my laptop, or shut the door to focus, know that in some small way, it’s my ode to Rose!

Show Me the Money: Why Bringing on a Long-term IT Contractor Isn’t as Pricey as You Think

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By Outside-In® Team Member Zach Werde

Why would you bring on a long-term IT contractor? It’s twice as expensive as hiring someone permanently, right? WRONG! At a glance, it may seem that bringing on a senior contractor may be exponentially more expensive than hiring a permanent resource. The $100k you were looking to spend to hire someone permanently may turn into a $100 per hour charge from your staffing agency after agency markup and accounting for the fact that a contractor will need more money. Holy cow, that’s more than twice as much money over the course of a year if my contractor works 52 weeks at 40 hrs/week! Here’s where I say….hold the phone! Let’s look at the true differences in cost comparing the hiring of a 100k salaried employee through a staffing agency or bringing on a $100/hr contractor for a year through a staffing agency.

If you speak to your HR department, they will confirm that there is something in the neighborhood of a 15% burden to put this person on your payroll and pay the associated taxes, fees, and insurance. Tack on the $3.5k cost per hire that is the national average and that will bring your annual cost up to $118.5k.

Let’s talk about benefits. I’m sure you are aware of the Affordable Care Act. Employer contribution varies incredibly depending on the insurance you offer your employees, but I imagine your HR department will confirm you are spending between $500-$600 per month on healthcare per employee. It could be more depending on the premiums you offer. If your company offers the standard 3% match on 401k, go ahead and tack on another $3k. Do you offer a bonus? Many firms offer 15%-20% based on individual performance and/or company performance. Let’s say you are only at 10% annually for a good employee and you hire another a good person. There’s another 10k for the year. Assuming you don’t offer any other benefits (which I am sure you do), the benefits total another $19k-$20.2k which brings your cost to $137.5k-$138.7k to hire your “$100k” employee.

Don’t forget, if you are working through an agency and want them to find you a permanent resource, they are going to charge a 20% fee, or more. Tack on another $20k. Now your “true” cost for one year to hire a $100k salaried employee through an agency is around $157.5k-$158.7k.

Perhaps you noticed I left PTO out of the benefits conversation. Remember, assuming your organization offers holidays and vacation time, you are paying them for 52 weeks even though they are only working 47 weeks (I’m guessing they have off for 10 holidays, another 10 business days of vacation, and another 5 for personal days). However, for a contractor, you only pay time worked. All other factors aside, if your contractor works 47 weeks out of the year, you aren’t paying him/her for 5 weeks of the year. So, at $100/hr, even if they work 40/hrs per week, that means your total, all inclusive cost for a contractor for the year is $188k. If they work 37.5 hours a week, you’re looking at $176.2k. For sure, they won’t work during your holidays (since you will be closed), and contractors will take time off just like everyone else, they just won’t be paid for it.

That means, looking at the entire picture, you are spending between 11%-19.5% more over the course of 1 year to bring on a year long contractor, instead of hiring a permanent resource. Not exactly double anymore, is it? Obviously, if they stay on less than a year, then it may actually be less expensive to bring the contractor in, although they may be working less.

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What Would Happen if We Stopped Taking Risks?

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Lets start with the obvious, avoiding taking any risk is actually a pretty serious risk all by itself! This requires us to avoid phone calls and interactions with customers and associates. We need to skip team meetings and duck out of the break room, too. The longer we stand still and stay status quo the more likely we are to fall a step behind or even lose altogether—all while our competitors and peers march forward.

The Outside-In® Companies believe in our value of taking risks. We definitely don’t steer around or away from it, but why does it matter for our employees to live this value? Who really cares anyway? In fact, why should any service company encourage risk taking?

ID-100309958First off, risk taking is really about decision making, the lack of perceived authority, task discretion, and reward for doing so. Employees that do not make decisions often do so because their company’s culture discourages it. This is cultivated through the management team and their practices. This is quite often an unexpected negative outcome of a company that lacks a cultural plan to encourage customer centric actions with those that have direct customer contact.

Employees that don’t make decisions have little or no choice but to get the answer for a customer from those that have the power or information. Usually, the power lies in controlling that information and it is intended to be a business control that simply hedges risk. However, in this case, it kills the customer! This can be because of a lack of training and knowledge or a matter of policy and the preferred hierarchical nature of the company.

Close your eyes and remember when this happened to you, a roommate, someone from your household, etc. Is there anything more frustrating than when you’re on the phone with that utility, or in line at the retail store, or airport and the service associate needs a manager? All you needed was to make a return, change a seat, or get your bill in the correct name. The worst part is that the supervisor does not do anything fancy—they just need a stupid code or a key to take care of your return or to move your flight.

A culture that values its customers empowers and encourages risks that take place in the act of serving a customer!

Employees that are not encouraged to notice what their customers are actually saying and then do something about it are not serving the strategic purposes of the business. The front lines see and hear it all. How many times have you heard a clerk or phone representative say that they have told management about a customer opinion so many times but no one listens. Then their voice trails off and their interest and engagement level wanes day by day! If we listen to customers as employees they will tell you why they are angry about a program or policy change, what is never in the store, when service is slow, or when a product has been replaced that should not have been. We can always hear it as employees.

A culture that values risk taking creates an environment where employees have tools and formats to share what they hear and take action! This is customer centric and systematic cultural risk taking. What did you learn from our marketplace today? What did our customers challenge us with? What do they need and want from us? Ask employees for feedback often, give all employees a format to share, reward this flow of insights, then categorize it and teach what to do with it. Most likely your plan of improvement needs tweaking. Employees just need permission to open their eyes and be empowered to see what needs fixing. Empowerment and the confidence to stand up and share what might be the next product or service that enhances your company’s top line strategy are the keys to grow your business.

Risk taking is a cultural tool to encourage customer centric and entrepreneurial behaviors for all of your employees. You have a choice in your organization; you can either treat employees like leased resources, or you can act and create an environment that encourages entrepreneurial behaviors that enhance your customer’s experience with you.

Go sit and listen to your employees, have Outside-In® eyes and ears, and gather the information you need in order to decide how to encourage risk taking that improves the experience for your customer base. Or come visit our office and see it in action!

CBI Way: The Talent Pipeline Situation

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By Outside-In® Team Member Alex Patton

ID-100248873When planning the direction of your company, one of the most important aspects must be the talent supporting the business. Proactively thinking about the talent that will help drive your business can be a difference-making strategy to be a step ahead of the competition. In turn, building long-term relationships with quality candidates for future hiring, or talent pipelining, can be a critical investment as the job market continues to improve, with another 126,000 new jobs added in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Previously, we’ve talked about the challenge with the growing number of passive candidates – 75% of all candidates, according to LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruitment Trends survey, which increases the difficulty of quickly identifying and hiring top talent. Constructing a strong pipeline of candidates in specific industries is a great way to be ahead of the game while also increasing the potential for quality referrals, by spreading the word of hiring inside your business. Instead of reacting to a new requisition by sourcing, screening, and interviewing; having a pipeline of talent knocks out at least the first step of the process, also reducing the time-to-fill.

Additionally, maintaining the passive pipeline by keeping the talent engaged and aware of company openings and happenings can help build your brand, keeping your business on the top of candidate’s minds if their situation should change. While it may be time consuming initially, building your pipelines will become a regular strategy to meet your talent acquisition needs and pay dividends as a long-term strategy.

Stay tuned for the next CBI Way Blog to learn ways to best build your talent pipeline in the new age of social recruiting.

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Five Reasons Why You Should Utilize IT Contractors for Your Tech Workforce

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By Outside-In® Team Member Zach Werde

Are you struggling to find the IT talent that you need? Is your department or company adamant about filling open roles with direct hire staff? You may be putting yourself at a disadvantage by not considering the contingent workforce for your tech needs. Here are five reasons why:

1. A lot of the best resources are contractors. Many of the best “techies” actually prefer to be on a contract. Why? Because they understand that by consulting with a variety of different companies they are able to keep their skills sharp and cutting-edge. Who would you rather have on your team? Someone who has been using state of the art technology with a variety of your competitors for the last five years? Or would you rather have someone who has a fraction of the diversity because they spent the last five years working for the same company?

2. Many of these contractors are actually unwilling to take a permanent position. They don’t want to sit at the same company indefinitely and allow their skills to become obsolete or risk losing the value of their diverse background. They also know that if they are good, they will make more money as a contractor than they will on a salaried basis. They would love to consider a move to your organization on a contractual basis.

3. Instead of thinking of a contractor as a solution, why not think of them as a supplement? If you are having trouble finding the right people but desperately need the help, why not bring in a contractor to serve as a band aid until you eventually find the resource you need?

4. Consider the entire candidate pool. For some of the more “niche” needs, you may find a lot of your applicants are visa holders. This is because there is a gap in the US workforce of available IT workers. By refusing to consider some of these individuals for contract work, you may be ignoring as many as 90% of the qualified applicants.

5. Show me THE MONEY! One of the greatest misconceptions of all about IT contractors is that it is so much more expensive to bring on a contractor than to hire someone permanently. I will discuss these misconceptions in my next blog, which will be called “Show Me the Money.” Stay tuned!

Placers Announces Partnership with Delaware Association of Rehabilitation Facilities

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We are pleased to announce that we have entered into a new partnership with DelARF to benefit all of their members and offer talent management services in recruitment, temporary staffing, and outplacement.

DelARF is a statewide membership association of agencies supporting people with disabilities. Membership is open to organizations that provide direct services, advocacy and/or educational services to Delawareans with disabilities, their families and advocates.

“We know that talent can be a real difference maker in your company. We offer customer-centric talent services that can help you in the course of running your business!” says Outside-In® President, Chris Burkhard.

- Do you have a need to hire key staff but don’t have the Human Resources staff to handle the recruitment process?

- Have you considered using a temporary workforce to give you budget flexibility, but don’t know how to get started?

- Do you experience highs and lows in hiring and need a steadier flexible recruiting stream that you can turn on and off as needed?

- Is your company experiencing a reduction in force? If so, you need tools at your disposal to help your impacted workforce get redeployed quickly as you do the right thing for the community and for the brand you represent!

As a values-based company founded in Delaware in 2001, the Outside-In® team is committed to providing “Service to the Nth Degree”. If you are interested in learning more about these services, please visit or call our Newark office at (877) 746-8450.

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