Red Shirt Relationships Becoming More Important (Guest Blog)

With the increasing intensity of labor shortages, social media in recruiting is becoming more important than ever before. According to recruiting guru Peter Weddle, “The art of social recruiting involves the development of two kinds of candidate relationships”: Blink Relationships, those that can “establish trust and familiarity in the blink of an eye” and Red Shirt Relationships, those that involve having talent waiting “on the bench”.

Following the sports analogy, Weddle calls them Red Shirt Relationships because “a red shirt player is one who is part of a team, but not yet actively participating with it in competition”. Though Blink Relationships are the “foundation for success in filling current openings”, Red Shirt Relationships are the answer to creating a sustainable talent pipeline.

Red Shirt Relationships require more time to develop, because they build trust and familiarity more slowly. Recruiters often find dozens and sometimes even hundreds of prospects to fill a single opening. Frequently, those candidates who are not chosen for the position would be terrific applicants for later openings. “For others, the timing or opportunity wasn’t right, but at some point, it could conceivably be.” Instead of abandoning these candidates and writing off the tremendous investment made to connect with them, “a growing number of employers are now leveraging them into enduring relationships”.

Weddle defines a talent pipeline as “a network of prequalified candidates who feel an affinity for a specific employer”. Though these pipelines are typically difficult to maintain, cultivating these Red Shirt Relationships can be a valuable key. These relationships encourage candidates to think of themselves as members of “an employer’s select team”. Though they are not yet employees, they may be acknowledged and treated as valued prospects.

These relationships continually strengthen the connections between talented candidates and the employer by highlighting how working for this employer may advance their careers and reinforcing the candidates’ beliefs that future opportunities are real. The precious return-on-investment for the employer is “a strong bench of talent, that cuts both the cost and time to fill its openings”.

Wise employers will embrace Weddle’s ideas, resulting in tremendous benefits for their long-term profitability and success. Expect to see growing emphasis on the importance of Red Shirt Relationships and sustainable talent pipelines. These will be critical factors in smart employers’ responses to intensifying talent shortages.

For more information, visit

Copyright 1998-2014 by The Herman Group, Inc. — reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From “The Herman Trend Alert,” by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3547 or The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc.”

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Leading Change Can Be As Easy As Changing Your Socks

My first employer insisted we wear dark suits and ties to work. One of my Masters students encountered a similar situation inIMAG0865 the financial institution where he was recently recruited to work.

He felt this was burdensome and old-fashioned (I agree).

So, he took action in a light and fun way to encourage, initiate and lead change. He wore mismatched and colorfully patterned socks to work under his suit pants.

Others noticed and commented and laughed and got the point. They began to follow the sock revolution and even had competitions for the loudest, most colorful, fun characters, etc.

Of course, management eventually noticed and discussed this ‘poking fun’ at the dress code as reflecting its’ antiquated and outdated expectations. Particularly for those who didn’t have to interact with clients, customers and other critical interfaces where professional attire was appropriate, a more relaxed dress code could be introduced.

The decision was made to permit business casual attire in the workplace.

Have you ever watched the First Follower YouTube? If not, watch it and reflect on what it takes to lead change. It can be fun!!!

Leadership or transformational change question?  Call 330-329-3137

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Volunteers Are My Cup Of Tea

I never realized…

Most of my work life I led or followed salaried, hourly and contract employees. I never realized the difference leading and following volunteers could make!

With employees there was always a need to demonstrate and justify how changes would benefit them, the customer, the organization, etc. And even then, only some of them would truly engage and commit to the journey.

With volunteers it’s significantly different. They already have an understanding of the ‘cause’ or ‘reason’ for the change. They offer to lead or follow depending on the need at the time. Of course, not all volunteers are this eager, but I have found most to be engaged, interested and willing to commit time and effort to help achieve the shared outcomes we all have in common.

Volunteers may initially appreciate or need the sharing of the ‘greater good’ that underlies the ‘cause’, but they don’t question it or need to be reminded every little bit. They already own it and value it without constant communication. Not to say, I haven’t found the need to help them regain focus occasionally, but their energy and engagement tend not to flag.

This is not to say that many employees aren’t committed and invested in the organizations they work for; it’s just that the percentage that are seem small compared to my experience with volunteers.

Volunteer, if you have never had the experience, and learn firsthand!!!

Call with questions or to discuss 330-329-3137

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The Ideal Work Environment to Attract Talent (Guest Blog)

Not long ago, E&Y released a report titled “Differentiating for Success, Securing top talent in the BRICs”, detailing attitudes towards work and establishing the ideal employer value proposition for BRIC-based (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) companies. Though the findings focused on the BRIC countries, the lessons for companies in other countries worldwide are obvious—especially when we look at the similarities across all countries.

No matter where the respondents were, they were all looking for a high-energy, comfortable environment, where they could collaborate to get the work done. What this means for recruiters is that emphasizing these aspects of the job will attract the young talent they are looking for.

E&Y also offered five strategies for securing top talent. We will explain each briefly:

“Strategy 1: Accommodate different career goals across countries and professions.” Career pathing is very important to workers, particularly young ones, across the globe. People want to see how they will be able to grow in their careers by working with your organization.

“Strategy 2: Build a differentiated employer brand by country and profession, internally and externally”. Because cultures vary, it is critical to keep those differences in mind, when you are building internal and external employer brands.

“Strategy 3: Develop the behavioral styles of co-workers and leaders to enhance engagement.” Each of us has particular learning and work styles. When individuals are developed in keeping with those styles, everybody wins. People are more productive and engaged, because they are doing the right work for them.

“Strategy 4: Craft work environments to match country preferences.” Preferred work environments are also different within diverse cultures, e.g., ergonomic design is more important in Brazil than it is in other countries. Focus on what is most important to the workers and you will have success in attracting them.

“Strategy 5: Tailor compensation and benefits to individual and cultural differences.” For a long time now, we have advocated a cafeteria-style approach to benefits. Allowing people to choose the specific benefits they want eliminates waste and produces a more highly engaged workforce.

Wise employers will take this advice to heart. As labor markets tighten, advice like these strategies will become vital for attracting top talent.

To read the entire report, visit$FILE/EY-Securing-top-talent-in-the-BRICs.pdf

Copyright 1998-2014 by The Herman Group, Inc. — reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From “The Herman Trend Alert,” by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3547 or The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc.”

If you are interested in implementing any of the above strategies, please connect with Cook Consulting at 330-329-3137.

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Keep the Business Context Clear, Clean and Simple

Keep the Business Context Clear, Clean and Simple

When leading change at any level; keep the Business Context clean, clear and simple.

You might ask, “What is a Business Context?”

Well, it could be any number of things that identify and define what the ‘end state’ of change will be.  Sometimes, for simple changes, it’s future targets or goals compared to current performance that define the desired outcomes for change.  And, when more complex change is undertaken, it could be stories or even metaphor pictures that clarify and give depth to the difference between today and the future.

Business Context is usually larger than the future vision alone and encompasses where we currently are positioned relative to the future.  Frequently, the strategies that will be employed to achieve the future vision for change are included.

A few slides, stories or posters are typically all that are needed to engage those who are implementing the change with enough understanding and retention to enable them to take independent action while still staying aligned.

Interested?  Give a call (330) 329-3137 and let’s talk.

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Leadership & Management is All About Sustaining Change

Leadership & Management is All About Sustaining Change

Now comes the balancing act!!

Engaging the head, heart and hands of people!

3.  In order to engage the people in your organization with the change you are envisioning, a well-thought out appeal to them is needed.  Initially, the appeal may be to the executive team only, so they can share the leadership load of cascading the message to the people in the organization.  Or, it may be that you can call an All Hands meeting to share your vision with all the people in your organization at one fell swoop.

Pre-work that is needed on your part is to combine rational, logical reasoning and emotional, passionate appeal in the form of a vision for change.

Engaging accountability and commitment of people!

4.  A process for involving and enabling people to become a part of your vision is critical if you want a commitment from each of them to invest themselves in the change.  Sustainability is impossible without this buy-in from the majority of your people.

This is accomplished via the process used to engage them with the understanding, validation and assumption of accountability for portions of the change process.  Appropriately called engaging leaders at all levels.

Sustaining the gain!

5.  Lastly, it’s all about managing the change while at the same time leading and modeling with energy and enthusiasm.  Drafting new roles, new behaviors, new plans, projects, activities and goals is the role of management, and if done well will incorporate input and involvement from all people as they identify what needs to be done (and they are willing to do) to make the future a reality.

Sustaining becomes the drumbeat meetings to review progress, provide feedback, recognize milestones, adjust plans, celebrate, etc. as you move toward the future state vision.

 Perseverance and tenacity are the ongoing need from leadership and management in repeating the vision, benefit and value in every communication with people.  As well as, in modeling the new behaviors and beliefs that the vision entails.

To learn more connect with me at 330-329-3137 or

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