Blog Archive

Build the Perfect Management Team


by Katharine Giacalone

 

There is no magic formula for putting a group of people together to create a great organization.

 

Building an executive team can be a daunting task, but recruiting, hiring and integrating the right people into a business are essential to growth and success. Most of the time, building the team is a strategic process - at other times, luck plays a big role. And just when the answers seem obvious something happens: Someone quits, a new competitor emerges, or the financial landscape changes. The process and adaptation to changes along the way is just as important as putting together the team. The talent leader has certain responsibilities to employees, since the people hired are a reflection of his or her leadership style, personal beliefs, values and organizational goals.

 

Here are 12 steps to help build the perfect team:

 

Step 1: Map an action plan.

Spend time planning to avoid wasting time and money in the long run, which will interrupt business operations.

 

It's not unreasonable to take a few months to plan the hiring strategy for a management team. Some organizations actually do planning and test the waters for candidates before a company is formed. This eliminates the emotion of "hurry up and hire," which can cause trouble fairly quickly.

 

It's important to recognize the company size, growth potential and big-business implications before hiring employees. These concepts apply to established organizations with management teams, as well. Always be on alert for talent.

 

Develop strategy by brainstorming with other employees, who are always a good source for feedback, colleagues, or friends who have organized a team and managed its growth and evolution over time. Understand what the competition looks like and how they may have structured their organizations. Sometimes we avoid the obvious. It's always a good idea to borrow things that work and throw out the things that don't.

 

Step 2: Prepare the organization for prime time.

The most embarrassing and fruitless moments in establishing an organization or in the evolutionary phases of change in an existing organization often are the result of shooting from the hip and hiring familiar employees - perhaps those from sister companies - relatives or, worse, single-discipline focused, "pigeon-holed" individuals. These people aren't able to adapt to the multiple functions needed in small companies, start-ups or organizations going through periods of change and adaptation.

 

It is important to articulate to potential employees what makes the company a great place to work. Be able to explain the business to someone who can then ask intelligent questions that will expand the conversation.

 

Step 3: Build organizational capacity.

Continually examine the core competencies of high-performance team members. What skills should the team possess? Create a list of essential talents that all employees must have, (e.g., creative thinking, interpersonal skills, communication skills, leadership skills and problem-solving abilities). Then overlay these talents with the technical skills for a specific position. This will make an organization more agile and better-equipped to share resources among departments. Job descriptions will be easily written after the talent manager thinks through the core competencies.

 

Remember, in some cases, talent leaders may be recruiting from large organizations where executives are used to thinking of budgets in terms of tens of millions of dollars - not thousands. These people may not be used to struggling to raise funds to start a business, keep a small company afloat or turn around a business. Sometimes it's hard for these executives to ratchet down to smaller-sized companies or a different way of managing.

 

Step 4: Know budget and compensation specifications up-front.

Many executive placements are made via networking. Placing an ad in a trade journal or newspaper may or may not bring what the company needs in a candidate. Many organizations turn to executive search firms, which can be an appropriate strategy for recruitment if the terms of the search agreement are clear and the talent managers can maximize them.

 

Hiring the search firm is the easy part; managing its success takes work. Have the position description clearly defined and written and the perfect candidate clearly in mind before engaging a search firm. Also know where the search firm should look for the talent. It can often look in places the talent manager can't. To build a successful partnership, chose a search firm that allows the organization to partner with it every step of the way.

 

In terms of compensation, know the market base salary. If that's a number that's not easily obtainable, such as if the company is a start-up and can't pay the IT executive the same salary as a Fortune 50 company, ask the candidates how much he or she is currently earning - not what he or she wants to earn. Then determine if the organization can justify the salary as it relates to the other executives on the team.

 

Create the pay-for-performance bonus arrangements up-front and know the expenses for relocation. Always leave room for negotiation, but know maximum compensation limits. Don't be held hostage to high sign-on bonuses or large stock option portfolios that may not be worth much these days. If the individual really wants the job, he or she will make realistic compensation decisions.

 

Step 5: Identify key management milestones early.

Once core competencies are identified, find the balance between hiring too early or too late. Knowing the milestones the company must meet will be a key factor in determining if putting in place an interim executive or outsourcing the executive's function would be better than hiring a full-time employee.

 

Step 6: Know it's OK to change your mind during the process.

That's the great news about planning and having core competencies established for a company: They ensure talent managers stay focused and create a framework to easily change courses should new information alter considerations about how the team should be structured.

 

Step 7: Stop.

Is the organization really ready to begin looking for team members? Let this process take as much time as necessary. Make sure all critical steps have been identified. If it's necessary to retool some aspect of the team-building process, now is the time to do it.

 

Step 8: Go.

Whatever recruiting strategy used, conducting the search and the interviewing process are the next steps. It may take a while to source candidates and schedule interviews. Be flexible. Use technology where possible - for example, webcams, video conferences and Skype. These tasks may be time-consuming, so try and build in a cushion of time to avoid falling behind on the overall schedule.

 

Step 9: Don't miss out on hiring opportunities.

Despite planning and searching, it's going to be hard to make a decision. Selecting a candidate means a commitment of people, compensation and personal chemistry. Choosing too soon or waiting too long will have a direct impact on the outcome of the search. Don't be disappointed if a top candidate decides not to join the organization. Have a plan B waiting in the wings whether this happens or not.

 

Step 10: Put your high performers together.

Don't expect new executives, whether it is one person or 10, to mesh instantly. Recruiting these people was the easy part. Now it's time to make sure they work together, share their talents and complement each other's ideas and experiences.

 

Mentor them no matter how long they've been in business. Provide some framework for how the organization should function so the culture will continue to thrive and prosper with new team members. This will take time and a great deal of involvement from the talent manager.

 

Step 11: Provide an orientation and training time.

Spend time with new team members, and have an orientation plan ready for them when they arrive. The plan could be as simple as spending time with some of the existing employees, or as extensive as visiting clients, reading briefs and interviewing staff. Provide training on technical parts of the organization if people hired don't have knowledge of your specific business.

 

Step 12: Remember to take care of yourself.

As the talent leader in charge, it's important to continue to develop yourself. Give a speech at a national or local conference. Participate in an industry council breakfast or lunch. Get involved in local efforts to link industry to education, such as giving a talk to high school seniors at career day.

 

Surrounding yourself with a team of awesome professionals will give you a chance to rejuvenate your thinking and reenergize to continue your hard work and dedication with the business. And if after you've settled in with your team you think you're ready for your next adventure, you'll have the time and right frame of mind to recruit a successor.

 

Throughout this process, track milestones to ensure activities stay on point. Some tasks will take more time than others. Be focused and determined to help stay on course. Be flexible too, since the process for every new team member will not fit into this time frame. It all depends on how clearly you have defined the core competencies, technical skills, scope of responsibility, competitive market salary and current market conditions.

 

Building a great team is time-consuming, but the organization payoffs are immeasurable. Following these 12 steps can promote success.

 

 

[About the Author: Katharine Giacalone, also known as The Corporate Nanny, is a management consultant in the Washington, D.C., area with more than 25 years of experience.]


Story: The Eagle and The Chickens


Once upon a time there was a large mountain side where there an eagle's nest rested. The eagle nest contains four large eagle eggs. One day an earthquake rocked the mountain causing one of the eggs to roll down the mountain, to a chicken farm, located in the valley below. The chickens knew that they must protect and care for the eagle's egg, so an old hen volunteered to nurture and raise the large egg.

One day the egg hatched and a beautiful eagle was born. Sadly, however the eagle was raised to be a chicken. Soon the eagle believed he was nothing more than a chicken. The eagle did what the other chicken did. It scratched in the dirt for seeds. It clucked and crackled. It never flew more than a few feet because that is what the other chickens did. The eagle loved his home and family but his spirit cried out for more. While playing a game on the farm one day he looked to the skies above and noticed an eagle soaring gracefully and majestically in the skies. He asked the chickens: "what is that beautiful bird?' the chickens replied, "That is an eagle. He is an outstanding bird, but you cannot fly like him because you are just a chicken." So the eagle never gave it a second thought, believing that to be truth. He lived the life of and died as a chicken depriving himself of his heritage because of lack of vision.

What a waste! He was born to win but conditioned to lose.

The same thing is true for most people. The unfortunate part of life is as Oliver Wendall Holmes said, " We don't achieve excellence because our own lack of vision."
Don't let negative people drag you down. Remember that a person's character is not only judged by the company they keep but also by the company they avoid.

Story: Honest Lincoln

 Story by: Adam Khan

Lincoln was one of the few great men who really was great. Before he became president, Lincoln spent twenty years as an unsuccessful Illinois lawyer -- at least he was unsuccessful in financial terms. But when you measure the good he did, he was very rich indeed. Legends are often untrue, but Lincoln was the real thing. George Washington never chopped down a cherry tree, but Abraham Lincoln was honest. During his years as a lawyer, there were hundreds of documented examples of his honesty and decency.

For example, Lincoln did not like to charge people much who were as poor as he was. Once a man sent him twenty-five dollars, but Lincoln sent him back ten of it, saying he was being too generous.

He was known at times to convince his clients to settle their issue out of court, saving them a lot of money, and earning himself nothing.

An old woman in dire poverty, the widow of a Revolutionary soldier, was charged $200 for getting her $400 pension. Lincoln sued the pension agent and won the case for the old woman. He did not charge her for his services and, in fact, paid her hotel bill and gave her money to buy a ticket home!

He and his associate once prevented a con man from gaining possession of a tract of land owned by a mentally ill girl. The case took fifteen minutes. Lincoln's associate came to divide up their fee, but Lincoln reprimanded him. His associate argued that the girl's brother had agreed on the fee ahead of time, and he was completely satisfied.

"That may be," said Lincoln, "but I am not satisfied. That money comes out of the pocket of a poor, demented girl; and I would rather starve than swindle her in this manner. You return half the money at least, or I'll not take a cent of it as my share."

He was a fool, perhaps, by certain standards. He did not have much, and it was his own fault. But he was a good human being by anyone's standards and I'm glad we celebrate his birthday.

Honesty makes you feel good about yourself and creates trust in others. It improves your relationship with yourself and with others. It is not much in fashion these days to talk about the benefits of honesty and decency, but the benefits are there and they are valuable and worth the trouble. Honesty. It may be corny, but it is the finest force for good in the world, and it always will be.
Do some honest good in the world.

20 Great Excel Secrets

After Microsoft developed Excel to the 2010 version, it offered more surprises than ever. In order to deal with tons of big data, you can’t ignore the important role Excel plays in daily work. However, both for beginners and advanced users, there are still many useful tips and tricks that are inevitably overlooked. Here are 20 useful Excel spreadsheet secrets you may not know. Please note that all these functions are based on Microsoft Excel 2010

1. One Click to Select All

You might know how to select all by using the Ctrl + A shortcut, but few know that with only one click of the corner button, as shown in the screenshot below, all data will be selected in seconds.

One Click to Select All

2. Open Excel Files in Bulk

Rather than open files one by one when you have multiple files you need to handle, there is a handy way to open them all with one click. Select the files you would like to open then press the Enter key on the keyboard, all files will open simultaneously.

Open Excel Files in Bulk

3. Shift Between Different Excel Files

When you have different spreadsheets open, it’s really annoying shifting between different files because sometimes working on the wrong sheet can ruin the whole project. Using Ctrl + Tab you can shift between different files freely. This function is also applicable to other files like different Windows tabs in Firefox when opened using Windows 7.

Shift Different Excel Files

4. Create a New Shortcut Menu

Generally there are three shortcuts in the top menu, which are Save, Undo Typing and Repeat Typing. However, if you want to use more shortcuts, like Copy and Cut, you can set them up as follows:

File->Options->Quick Access Toolbar, add Cut and Copy from the left column to the right, save it. You will see two more shortcuts added in the top menu.

Create New Shortcut Menu

5. Add a Diagonal Line to a Cell

When creating a classmate address list, for example, you may need a diagonal link in the first cell to separate different attributes of rows and columns. How to make it? Everyone knows that Home->Font-> Borders can change different borders for a cell, and even add different colors. However, if you click More Borders, you will get more surprises, like a diagonal line. Click it and save—you can now make it immediately.

Add Diagonal Line for a Cell

6. Add More Than One New Row or Column

You may know the way to add one new row or column, but it really wastes a lot of time if you need to insert more than one of these by repeating this action X number of times. The best way is to drag and select X rows or columns (X is two or more) if you want to add X rows or columns above or left. Right click the highlighted rows or columns and choose Insert from the drop down menu. New rows will be inserted above the row or to the left of the column you first selected.

Add More Than One New Row/Column

7. Speedily Move and Copy Data in Cells

If you want to move one column of data in a spreadsheet, the fast way is to choose it and move the pointer to the border, after it turns to a crossed arrow icon, drag to move the column freely. What if you want to copy the data? You can press the Ctrl button before you drag to move; the new column will copy all the selected data.

Speedy Move and Copy Data in Cells

8. Speedily Delete Blank Cells

Some default data will be blank, for various reasons. If you need to delete these to maintain accuracy, especially when calculating the average value, the speedy way is to filter out all blank cells and delete them with one click. Choose the column you want to filter, go to Data->Filter, after the downward button shows, undo Select All and then pick up the last option, Blanks. All blank cells will show immediately. Go back to Home and click Delete directly, all of them will be removed.

Speedy Delete Blank Cells

9. Vague Search with Wild Card

You may know how to activate the speedy search by using the shortcut Ctrl + F, but there are two main wild cards—Question Mark and Asterisk—used in Excel spreadsheets to activate a vague search. This is used when you are not sure about the target result. Question Mark stands for one character and Asterisk represents one or more characters. What if you need to search Question Mark and Asterisk as a target result? Don’t forget add a Wave Line in front.

Vague Search with Wild-card

10. Generate a Unique Value in a Column

You are aware of the key function of Filter, but few people use the Advanced Filter, which will be repeatedly applied when you need to filter a unique value from data in a column. Click to choose the column and go to Data->Advanced. A pop-up window will show up. As the screenshot shows, click Copy to another location, which should be in accord with the second red rectangular area. Then specify the target location by typing the value or clicking the area-choosing button. In this example, the unique age can be generated from Column C and show in Column E. Don’t forget to choose Unique records only, then click OK. The unique value showing in column E can be the contrast of the original data in C, that’s the reason why it is recommended to copy to another location.

Generate Unique Value in Column

11. Input Restriction with Data Validation Function

In order to retain the validity of data, sometimes you need to restrict the input value and offer some tips for further steps. For example, age in this sheet should be whole numbers and all people participating in this survey should be between 18 and 60 years old. To ensure that data outside of this age range isn’t entered, go to Data->Data Validation->Setting, input the conditions and shift to Input Message to give prompts like, “Please input your age with whole number, which should range from 18 to 60.” Users will get this prompt when hanging the pointer in this area and get a warning message if the inputted information is unqualified.

Input Restriction with Data Validation Function

12. Fast Navigation with Ctrl + Arrow Button

When you click Ctrl + any arrow button on the keyboard, you can jump to the edge of the sheet in different directions. If you want to jump to the bottom line of the data, just try to click Ctrl + downward button.

Fast Navigation with Ctrl + Arrow Button

13. Transpose Data from a Row to a Column

You would use this feature if you want to transpose data to get a better display; however, retyping all data would be the last thing you would need to do if you know how to use the Transpose function in Paste. Here’s how: copy the area you want to transpose, move the pointer to another blank location. Go to Home->Paste->Transpose, please note that this function won’t activate until you copy the data first.

Transpose Data from Row to Column

14. Hide Data Thoroughly

Almost all users know how to hide data by right clicking to select the Hide function, but this can be easily noticed if there is only a little bit of data. The best and easiest way to hide data thoroughly is to use the Format Cells function. Choose the area and go to Home->Font->Open Format Cells->Number Tab->Custom->Type ;;; -> Click OK, then all the values in the area will be invisible, and can only be found in the preview area next to the Function button.

Hide Data Thoroughly

15. Compose Text with &

Complicated formulation is unnecessary, as long as you know how to use &. You can compose any text freely with this symbol. Below I have four columns with different texts, but what if I want to compose them to one value in one cell? First, locate the cell that is to show the composed result, use the formulation with & as shown in the screenshot below. Click Enter: all texts in A2, B2, C2 and D2 will be composed together to become LizaUSA25@ in F2.

Compose Text with &

16. Transforming the Case of Text

With all the tricks shared here, I’ve tried my best to avoid complicated formulation. But there are still some simple and easy to use formulations to show you, like UPPER, LOWER and PROPER, which can transform texts for different purposes. UPPER will capitalize all characters, LOWER can change text to all lower case and PROPER will only capitalize the first character of a word.

Text Transform

17. Input Values Starting with 0

When an input value starts with zero, Excel will delete the zero by default. Rather than reset the Format Cells, this problem can be easily solved by adding a single quote mark ahead of the first zero, as shown.

Input Value Starts with 0

18. Speed up Inputting Complicated Terms with AutoCorrect

If you need to repeat the same value and it is complicated to input, the best way is to use the AutoCorrect function, which will replace your text with the correct text. Take my name, Liza Brown, for example, which can be replaced by LZ. Therefore, every time I input LZ, it can autocorrect to Liza Brown. Go to File->Options->Proofing->AutoCorrect Options and input Replace text with correct text in the red rectangular area, as below.

Speed up Inputting Complicate Terms with AutoCorrect

19. One Click to Get More Status

Most users know how to check the data status in the bottom of an Excel sheet, like Average and Sum Value. However, do you know you can move the pointer to the bottom tab and right click to get more status, as shown below?

One Click to Get More Status

20. Rename a Sheet Using Double Click

There are multiple ways to rename sheets, and most users will right click to choose Rename, which actually wastes a lot of time. The best way is to just click twice, then you can rename it directly.

Rename Sheet by Double Click

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/technology/20-excel-spreadsheet-secrets-youll-never-know-you-dont-read-this.html?ref=fbp&n=1


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For Beginners: Some Tips to improve your English

  1. Sign up for a regular English tip on several websites.
  2. Read a book you've already read
  3. Read a book with lots of dialogue.
  4. Read English language magazines.
  5. Take a one week intensive course.
  6. Teach your children or friends some English.
  7. Say or think what you are doing in English as you do your daily tasks.
  8. Watch English language news.
  9. Watching English children's TV programmes.
  10. Read English children's books.
  11. Make your own vocabulary and read it several times daily
  12. Label things in your house or office with post-its.
  13. Keep a diary in English. Write it daily
  14. Listen to the radio news in English.
  15. Read an English language newspaper.
  16. Watch English language exercise videos.
  17. Use English-English dictionary
  18. Learn some spelling rules.
  19. Record your own voice and listen.
  20. Learn as many words as you can of one category, e.g. animal words..
  21. Sign up for an English language exam TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS or FCE.
  22. Buy a speaking electronic dictionary.

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Message of the Day

Just as steady drips will always fill a bucket; small steps will always change the course of our lives. We can’t predict  when the tipping points will come but we can trust that those breakthrough days will happen just as long as we do our part and keep taking those small steps.

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