Coach HR Weblog

September 1, 2010

The Right Fit: How to Become the Obvious Choice

For the last couple of months, I’ve been speaking at ProNet Charlotte on the idea of “The Right Fit”. ProNet is a free career center for professionals located in Uptown Charlotte, NC. One day, AnnMarie Young, Chief Marketing Problem-Solver for ProNet, and I were talking about the dreaded phone call after an interview. You know the one where the recruiter calls saying, “You were an awesome candidate but we were looking for someone who’s a better fit.” Your response, “What the heck!”

Here’s the really interesting part. It the same kind of comment every business owner/salesperson hears when they don’t make the sale. So this question of “right fit” extends way past the job hunting situation. Accepting an offer, whether a job offer or buying a service or product, is based upon how we think it “fits with our need”. Acceptance hinges on believing it will make our life easier, better, more enjoyable.

Of course everyone’s definition of what’s easier, better and/or more enjoyable can be different. But the ability to understand another’s point of view and selflessly be committed to helping them achieve success is the key to your own success.

Talent Drive (www.talentdrive) recently released and published the results from its “Job Market Perceptions” survey. The findings confirm that employers are increasingly becoming focused on finding people who can solve specific problems. Generalists are out. Specialists are in high demand.

Here are a few takeaways for job seekers.

  • 71% of employers say that more than half of their open positions are “specialized.”
  • 61% of job seekers consider themselves to have a “broad skill set” rather than “specialized in their field.
  • 73% of job seekers have had more than five interviews per month since starting their job search with over 75% receiving zero offers.
  • The most effective hiring tool is social media sites and networking.

Now compare that with a few facts for entrepreneurs.

  • 100% of all sales result from a belief that the product/service purchased solves one of three things-a change in a condition, circumstance or the essence of who you are.
  • 100% of people buy because they were given a good reason why the product/service is a perfect fit for them.
  • On average, it takes 5 – 7 encounters with a sales person before a person will buy.
  • Networking, LinkedIn, Google, and Facebook are the most effective social media tool for creating the relationships necessary for getting leads and selling products.

Every successful entrepreneur will tell you the same thing. Your success depends on your problem solving ability.  It’s seems the hiring managers are looking for the same thing.  Holding onto the outdated strategy of being a generalist –the ability to do all things – will hold you back. Transform your beliefs, transform your results.  Change from having a broad skill set to what’s in demand.  Specialists are in demand.


July 27, 2010

Living Your Dreams – 8 Words to Success

Last week I spoke to a group of 6th – 12th graders.  They were attending a one week college preparation course offered by the Charlotte Housing Authority called Raising The Bar.  I speak to a lot of executives and leaders and there’s no harder crowd than 50 pre-teen and teenagers at 4:30 p.m. on a day where the temperature is hovering around 98 degrees. Talk about a tough crowd!

As a speaker, you don’t always know when you’ve done a good job.  If you’re a parent with kids in this age group then you know just how hard it is to know whether they’re listening. Parenting, teaching and coaching are acts of faith.  Every time you speak to someone you are taking a leap of faith that what you have to offer is just what they need.  It’s like the song… “He may not come when you want but God is always on time.”

I started the speech saying, “you may not remember anything I have to say but I hope these eight words will inspire you at the right moment to live your dreams.  You see too many adults get to be old and then realize that they have bucket lists and then spend the rest of their lives trying to complete the list.” As I ended with the last of the 8 words, I thought the most exciting thing about my speech were the prizes I gave away during the speech.  So imagine my surprise Devon Campbell, 6th grade, gave me a paper with showing how he used the 8 words in a story about his dream.

These 8 words to success are really true. The 8 words represent what we do now in school and out of school. Like “Ideas”.  I get a lot of ideas and when I get them I start planning.

I “work” to fulfill my dream which is to become the world’s greatest game creator. All my life I been caught up in games and some people say I’m addicted to it. And even people in school gave me the nickname “game freak”.  I am not very close to completing my goal yet, because I have to go to college to get my degree.

That’s why I have “passion” for what I’m doing and I made a “choice” to do this.  I’ll “push” myself every day. Everyday to be the best.  Dreaming about it every day. But I also know there is “value” in doing this.

Also I will “serve” others like my teachers and guardians so I can get help. I believe what you said about helping others (it will always come back to you).  I will “persist” to get help so that I won’t fall behind in completing my goal. Also I do this to make my future the way I want it to be. “

Speechless I looked at Devon and thank him and asked if I could use his piece in a blog post.  Speaking before a crowd of 50 kids takes courage. As a speaker you always strive to be your best because it is a gift to be before others.  Your job is to educate, entertain and inspire others.  When the crowd is this young, constantly moving, talking, and constantly fidgeting it’s easy to think no one is listening.  Thanks Devon for reminding me what we say matters and someone is always listening.

N Joy


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June 27, 2010

Declare Your Independence

Filed under: Personal growth — Denise Cooper @ 5:15 pm
Tags: , , ,

On July 4, America will celebrate Independence Day. It’s known as the day America told England we’re taking our ball and bat and going away. And OBTW, we don’t want to play by your rules anymore.

So as the week goes by what tyranny are you saying good bye to?
Here’s my 5.

  1. TV commercials, magazines and any other messages that say unless I’m a size 0 I’m  not sexy or worthy of  love.
  2. Allowing others to define me.  This week I don’t want to hear anything about you’re too upbeat, too straightforward, your personality is too big, or you’re got the right stuff to make it but I’m not going to help you because you’ll get it on your own. Oh this brings me to number 3.
  3. I declare independence from back handed compliments. You know the veiled compliments that are really slaps.  “You’re so beautiful who would take you seriously in business?” Or “you’re so bold to let your natural gray show. Most women look old and tired”. But my favorite is this one “I’d call you but you’re too busy”. Really now! Is the fact that I am busy a good excuse for you not calling?
  4. I declare independence from feeling guilty because I didn’t get the WHOLE list of to do’s done. I know I’m an overachiever and I generally have too much on my plate. So why feel guilty.  Instead I’m going to celebrate all that I do get done and add to the list something fun every day.
  5. I declare independence from the Super Woman Club. This goes hand in hand with overachieving and feeling guilty. In Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages, the second way to show love is through acts of service.  By giving up my membership in the Super Woman’s Club I can allow others to help me and to express love for me by doing things for me. This week I want my friends and family to show me a bit of love by helping me get my to do list done and I’m going to accept their help with grace, style and appreciation.

So will you join me?  What tyranny will you say no to?  Share your thoughts here at the Station.
And while you’re doing so, enjoy a ice cold glass of your favorite drink. Put a umbrella in it to remind you to relax and enjoy your independence.
N Joy

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June 26, 2010

Are You Accountable for What You Say?

So this week there’s been this firestorm.  President Obama fired his top military official in Afganistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the press has had a field day. Before you look for me to take sides that’s not what this post is about. I’ll admit I have read all the articles or seen all the news briefs on the incident but one thing has been noticeably missing.  Gen.McChystal and his aids have not said any of the reported comments are untrue or that they didn’t say them. There have been many opportunities for them to deny that they made the comments and they didn’t so that can only mean – they said them.  What they have argued is that all the comments were made “off the record”.  Which means THE COMMENTS WERE SAID AND THE ARTICLE WAS TRUE!!!!  Ok sorry for yelling.

If the comments were said then McChrystal and his aides are really anger because the reporter Michael Hastings snitched.  And we don’t like anyone who snitches. Some parts of the African American community are ravaged by gang violence, drug activity and criminal behavior. It is allowed to flourish because of the code – Don’t Snitch (which means don’t tell) lives. It pervades our community because the consequences can mean death.  The Don’t Snitch code lives in other communities too. We’ve heard it from girlfriends, police departments, the mafia and Italian community, prison community and the military. Even on the latest episode of Donald Trump’s The Ultimate Match with Omarosa where she chides one of the men for not ratting out the others.  The “Don’t Snitch” culture is pervasive. If you think it’s someone think again. When your co-worker brings the gossip to your desk about the supervisor, peer, co-worker, girlfriend, boyfriend whatever. You know when they come by and start the “have you heard…” it’s juicy and interesting gossip. You also know the “Don’t Snitch” code is in force.

But when is it ok to tell?  How do you make it ok, acceptable to tell?  When do we rally around people who report dishonorable, illegal, immoral and unethical activities so that we all can stand in the light of integrity.  Maybe if we did we’d see less Enron’s, financial meltdowns and oil spills.

So in the case of Gen. McChrystal he said it and now is regretting it got out.  Hey Gen. McChrystal set an example: Be accountable for what you say. Accountability means being answerable, libel for your actions. You said it, you meant it now own it and move on.

Just my thoughts.

N Joy

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June 25, 2010

If Delivering Results Is the Goal… Why Are You Missing the Mark?

June is a great month.  For many it’s a time of celebration. School’s out, vacations and family reunion season starts.  But it is also a time when we are looking at our goals and our results over the first half of the year.  Now I’m willing to bet if you’re reading you are either  A) having a panic attack,  B) thinking “I still have time – no worries or c) thinking “Goals: A painful exercise in futility”.

Achieving results or performance is a simple idea. But over the years, it has been complicated by frankly a lot of people selling products based on poor or bad science to a bunch of people who don’t know better.  And that lack of knowledge on what works is costly. The Gallup Organization estimates businesses lose about $350 billion (yes BILLION) in productivity annually.

So what do the numbers mean to you?  Well, according to Gallup’s survey of employee engagement about 54% of employees are not engaged (meaning not doing the right things to produce results) and another 17% are actively disengaged (meaning they act out their discontent and sow seeds of negativity at every opportunity). Assuming this makes up about 70% of your employee population and being conservative in thinking about 50% of the time they are working on activities that don’t provide value you now have an idea of the size of your problem. How many more sales are needed to overcome that negative number?

So what’s the problem?

1)      Most performance management systems are designed to measure unworthy performance. Harold Stolovitch said it best “working hard and long, being knowledgeable and being highly motivated without equal accomplishments is unworthy performance.”

2)      People don’t know how to write goals.  Goals cascade down through an organization and are dependent upon each level understanding what are the critical RESULTS that deliver value.

3)      Most managers focus on behavior not accomplishments. Don’t believe me? Take a moment and answer this question. In a week, how many assignments and conversations do you have with your middle performers and lower performers? Be honest and ask yourself why? Is it because it’s easier to be with your top performers. Let’s face it they’re eager all the time – they’re engaged and excited. There may be others who are fun to be with but nothing like the excitement from your top performers.

As I started, achieving results/performance is a simple idea.  If you are not celebrating your accomplishments to date, take some time to think about what you are going to do differently for the second half of the year.  We learn through a combination of doing, reflecting and guided learning. Make 2010 your best year ever. It’s not too late.

N Joy

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June 24, 2010

How Rude Can We Get?

I am really interested in hearing your experiences. They say misery loves company so come on join me in this observation and commentary on the state of human kind. My friends and I have noticed an increase in just plain rudeness. Tonight we were just sitting around when the conversation went to men. Amy, mentioned that she has been talking to this guy on Facebook, Twitter, the whole text thing. After 3- 4 weeks of this non-stop chatter they were supposed to meet.

Moss was to pick her up at 6. He planned the whole date and refused to tell her the details. It was to be a surprise. Well it was. He didn’t show up. not a call, tweet, or note via Facebook – nothing! Now this could have turned into a male bashing evening but it didn’t. One by one, we started giving examples of people just being rude in the last week.

  • While working at Macy’s the story of customers who basically ignore sales clerks who are just trying to help.
  • Driving down the street you signal for a lane change and drivers will speed up to block you from getting into their lane.
  • You get out of your car in the rain, run for the door and the person in front of you literally slams the door in your face.
  • Parents on the phone with their kids.; The kids do what kids do and that’s ask questions and the parents scream at them to shut up.
  • People set up appointments and don’t show up and don’t call and don’t apologize.

Here’s a kicker. The Gallup Organization has been doing engagement surveys for a bit over 10 years. Steadily about 15% of employees are actively disengaged or sabotage the co-workers! Can you believe it 15%! So what do you do if you’re working with someone who so angry, so disgruntled, so pissed off that they spend their time thinking of ways to simply annoy the rest of us. I understood them at work and having them isolated there was just fine. But now I think they may be spreading, venturing out into the world.

So is something going on and I didn’t get the memo? Should we start a movement like the “don’t drive and text” movement? We could call it “bring Ms. Manners back” or “Show your humanity – pay attention to life”

So what’s your tale of poor manners? Share your story or your idea to start a movement. As Michael Port of Think Big fame – let’s start a revolution!

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June 23, 2010

When your child turns on you

I’m a good networker or at least I thought so until last night. Every third Monday, Charlotte Business Professionals holds a face to face networking meeting. I’m the Membership Chairperson for the LinkedIN group of over 6,000 members.  Last night I was working the door, collecting money and talking with each person.  What was different was I brought my daughter Regina.

Regina is 23 soon to be 24 years old and looks like she’s 16. She’s incredibly shy and still enjoys standing under my wing.  So imagine my surprise when I cut off registration and people started coming up to me to compliment me on my daughter.  Several said they wish they had her confidence and ability to engage people – she was simply charming.

If you’re a parent then you know what it’s like when you hear something great about your child. Your first thought is  – “who are you talking about ‘cuz you definitely didn’t see that child’s room or weren’t there when I had to threaten her within an inch of her life to do the dishes”. But then you realize they really are talking about your child. The one that’s now grown up, networking for a job and also trying to get people interested in her dream of having a non-profit business to help kids in trouble.

I turned to see her at a table holding 4 people in a conversation. Fascination and awe was on their faces but I also saw deep interest in what she was saying. As I watched my child explain her dream, I felt the proud rush of a parent who knows her child is spreading their wings. It was a moment I’ll never forget.

And then reality hit. I realized that having my child there also made me an unforgettable figure in the room. Now I have to live up to the bar my child set. I only hope that I have as much grace, charm and fearlessness as she displayed. When you’re young the world is yours. As we get older or “vintage” as Linda likes to say we lose something. Sometimes we become small. We take things for granted and the excitement and awwww that makes people want to be with us is lost. So now looking at her, I realize that I’ve got to find the charm of youth.
Regina, my child, has set the bar very high. I only hope that I can live up to it.

N Joy

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June 21, 2010

Feedback! How I cringe at the sound.

Feedback (a noun) – advice, opinion, reaction, commentary, criticism. It’s June and for many people this is the time they’ll get a lot of feedback. Feedback from their boss concerning the progress on their goals. Reactions or feedback from parents to children because this month many are graduating.

Today, I pondered why when we think feedback our first thought is criticism? How many of us give or receive criticism under the heading of helpful feedback? According to Websters’ the word has a broad range of meaning and for the most part the words that define it are positive and helpful. Yet somehow when we give each other feedback it doesn’t seem or feel so helpful.

I picked feedback as my topic today because yesterday I led a strategic retreat for a non-profit. I had a team of people from the non-profit help me put it together and because of their help the retreat was an overwhelming success. Earlier today, I decided to call the women who helped to say thanks. I learned years ago, when giving thanks try and be specific so the person understands what was meaningful for you and they can choose to do it again.

I began the conversation by saying I’d love to give you a bit of feedback and praise. Their first reaction… “What did I do wrong?” “Nothing”, I said. “I just wanted to tell you what you did that made my job so easy”. I could hear in the silence the reaction of “huh!”

Obviously I choose the wrong word and I did realize that after the first call but I continued because I was curious. I’m sorry to say that it seems commonplace that our first thought is duck as we listen for the criticism. After I gave the feedback, several women commented that this maybe the first time anyone has helped them see how they matter.

Today, all the personal and professional development programs tell us to focus on our strengths. The best programs teach us how to leverage our strengths to accomplish more. Yet we still give feedback that is focused on our weaknesses and what we did wrong.

The upside to this story is I’m sure that if I ever need help from these women they’ll come running to my aid. Companies spend a lot of money trying to “engage employees”. Maybe if feedback changed from criticism to advice and reflections on what we did right engagement wouldn’t be an issue.

N Joy

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June 15, 2010

Is An Act of Selfishness Really An Act of Love?

Filed under: Personal growth,What do you do for yourself? — Denise Cooper @ 1:03 pm
Tags: ,

From time to time I meet people who seem to be struggling with the same issue.  As background, I’m a mother of twins. Fortunately, they are 23 years old so in many respects I made it. They’re grown – even if not all the way out of my house. One of my children has the same issue as a client. They are both struggling to figure out who they want to be and how do they want to live their life.

Recently, my child and I had the talk. If you’re a parent or a really good friend then you’ll know what I’m talking about.  This is the conversation you have with your child or friend that reminds them of what they’ve learned and how to make choices that are authentic for them.  These conversations help them learn how to trust themselves by letting them know you believe in them.  It goes something like this…

Q. Mom, why are people always trying to tell you what to do even after you tell them no?

A. Seems to me they want you to do what they want. Have you given in before when they keep asking?

A. Yea,

Q. So why did you give in?

A. Because they seem sad or I feel like I can do this and they will feel better. Sometime to just shut them up.

Q. So who do you want to be?  How do you want to show up

A. As normal.

Q. Why?

A. Because

Q. Because being normal it is safe and painless?

A. Yes

Q. For whom? You or them?

A. I hate it when you start asking these questions.

Giving in may be normal but it is not safe or painless. When we do it normally means not paying attention to our own needs. It normally means waiting for someone else to pay attention to our needs. But the danger in all this is unless we are clear about what we need or want how can someone else read our minds and give us what we need?

We’ve been trained that being selfish is wrong. I think being selfish is a act of kindness towards ourselves. It can be a loving act that is done to protect our mind, body and spirit. If you can feel good about eliminating excuses for not giving in, you’ll evidentially find the strength to ask for what you want and feel confident that you’ll get it.

Now ain’t that worth being normal for…

N Joy.

June 12, 2010

Oh you really thought results are the keys to success!

The Disclaimer: All names have been changed as part of my confidentiality agreement with clients.

A CEO asked me to work with a newly hired executive I’ll call Linda. They were a start-up within an established company.  Linda had an M&A background and was hired to grow the business by series of acquisitions. Because the start-up had no organization, they relied on the parent organization for support services. It was a fancy matrix structure.  Linda had a successful track record assessing and identifying the value of deals.  Within a few weeks, the CEO and Linda identified a couple of deals and it was time to tap into the matrix for support.

Linda moved quickly to get the support needed to evaluate and close the deal. As the CEO continued telling about Linda and her apparent successes, I got a feeling getting the deal done wasn’t the measure of success.

So I asked “What’s changed?  Why do you want me to work with Linda? It sounds like she is perfectly suited for the job at hand”.  “Because we want her to do more than just be a start-up player. Right now she’s getting the job done but not making a lot of friends in the process”. And recently, we’ve had other hires like her who’ve come in and didn’t work well with others.  The result was we achieved the business goals but in addition, the staff was burnt out, frustrated, and some of them left the organization.  We loss more than the executive” he said with an almost wishful voice.

“We spend a lot of time and money to build a talent pipeline and we’re just not getting what we expected. “Plus, because of Linda’s “getting the job done at any cost attitude” I’m faced with a group of executives who are out for themselves.  The ripples from the lack of trust caused by this series of hires have us spending more and more time handling personal issues and not focused on the business.” He went on to say, “This time I want a different end”

Why do we keep doing the same things over and over expecting a different result? How many times have you gone down that road? This is a curious problem and I think I know why (at least one reason) we tend to keep up this behavior.

As I thought about the Mark’s and Linda’s of the world I began to realize just how much we rely on our competence, our ability to give us credibility.  We believe that if we are REALLY good at what we do then we should get passing grades.  As an recovering HR executive, some of the hardest conversation I’ve had were with managers who had someone who was OK or better at performing their job but terrible at making work flow smoothly. Ultimately, the conversation turned to just getting rid of the person.  And since it was really difficult to say we don’t want you here because you are disruptive to the flow of work and it cost more to have you here – you need to go.

At some point, I’ll post the rest of the story of Mark and Linda. But for now, I am glad Mark wants to do it a different way. I just wish more people in management felt the same way. Maybe we could bring a little forgiveness, humanity and dignity to the workplace.

Just my thoughts
N Joy

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