Crazy Times, Crazy Organisations…

It was a few years ago when I sat listening to Tom Peters and his opinions about management and organisations. Some of the things he said were quite shocking for many employees in the room. The title of this blog was stolen from Tom’s presentation and I thought I’d share it with you, showing the relevance to his comments – which have proven to be pretty accurate.

Tom was insistant that companies should look at their employees very carefully and assess their suitability for each role on an ongoing basis. This means that every employee is being continually assessed for performance and fit-in factor.
He said with passion, as he walked up and down the stage…”SPEED, SPEED, SPEED”

What did the audience expect next?

Tom made it very clear that most employees were lazy at best and lacked the passion and determination to press forward in their careers. That Managers and Directors found themselves going around in circles, without direction or showing proper leadership. He said that people who wanted to be the best at what they do, have no work/life balance and that it is impossible to be at the top of your chosen career without something suffering in your personal life.

An interesting point.

He spoke of the 16 year old employee of a department store, who had been employed for less than a week, when he had to deal with a customer complaint. It went something like this…

A lady approached the 16 year old new employee and said, “excuse me, I’ve lost my new pen and it’s very expensive. Have you seen it? Did I leave it in the store? The 16 year old said, ” I’m sorry madam, I haven’t seen your pen, but I shall check with our “Lost & Found” department. (lost Property).

He asked her to take a seat and that he would return in a few moments.

When he returned, he apologised and said, “I’m really sorry, then pen hasn’t been handed in”. “Please let me take your number and I’ll call you,  should it turn up.” The lady was upset and lent on the counter to give her number. The newly employed 16 year old, said” Thank you for your number, I hope the pen turns up, but in the meantime (he reached into a lower drawer) he said” Please accept this gift certificate for our store” – He handed the lady a $50 gift voucher and said, “It is the least we can do, it isn’t a replacement for your pen, but I hope it helps.”

Think about the kind of organisation he was working for. In just about a week, he had the autonomy and common sense, drilled into him from the management to enable him to give her the voucher.  The other great thing of course –  think how many people the woman would have told about her experience..

I wonder when UK housebuilders will take a leaf out of some of the customer care initiatives being used in the US. Has anyone bought an apple product?

Food for thought.

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Sales Directors, All Change – (Mind the gap)

Does this sound familiar? It’s spring and what better time to change your Sales Director. I can’t remember the last time I was aware of up to 10 Sales Director vacancies within a matter of weeks. Has the market gone crazy or have housebuilders decided to clear out their Sales Directors alongside a few other skeletons in the wardrobe. Keep your eyes peeled for smartly dressed folk outside charity shops up and down the country. Isn’t that where everything else ends up following a spring clear-out?

So, what’s happening and why? I have a feeling that it’s all about the “new brush” theory. The current Sales Directors know too much about the strategy for next year and some will struggle to buy into the numbers as companies try to increase their output and lift volumes. Maybe a new and exciting fresh pair of eyes is better than someone who may have difficulty in signing up to the ambitious goals and is therefore seen as negative influence without their heart and soul being put into achieving these new targets.  It might be a case of complacency, trying to teach an old dog new tricks or a combination of both. Whatever the reasons, this is a strange situation to be in.

It’s not a shock to me. I’ve been cursing most Sales departments for their lack of vision and sloppy attitudes to all aspects of the sales process. I think that it’s really refreshing to see change, so long as people learn and embrace the changes. One or two companies are hoping to find some ‘cheap directors’, but as with all things in life, you get what you pay for in the long run.

So, if you are a director of Sales, keep your wits about you. Now is the time to command a good salary package and work harder than you’ve ever had to before.  There are some very hungry managers in the wings, keen to show their abilities and they cost about 50% less to employ.

Now it’s time to watch the ‘chair hopping’, where an empty seat creates new opportunities for others. Exciting times ahead. If you need some impartial advice on salaries and expectations, call me or make an appointment to meet.

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Big Bucks for Top Sales Consultants

The housebuilding industry is going through not only an economic change, it’s going through a shake up of Sales Departments. It’s about time, because from my own experience, Sales Consultants representing companies everyday of the week are rubbish.

Ok, so maybe that’s a bit harsh. They’re not rubbish, they just lack training, motivation, selling skills, people skills, aptitude, tenacity, vision, thought, consideration, empathy….

The list would continue for some time, but I’m already fed up with spelling out the obvious key skills required of any good sales person.

It doesn’t stop there. Middle Management could do with some leadership from the Sales Directors, who in-turn, could benefit from opening their eyes and spend some on the job training time with their managers and frontline sales consultants.

This won’t be popular with Sales teams around the country, but too bad. Wake up.
I am retained by certain clients to find some of the best Sales Teams in the UK housebuilding sector. It’s extremely disappointing to see Managers that can’t string a sentence together within an email, Sales people at the sharp end who don’t qualify properly, find it difficult to ask the right questions and lack initiative. Sales Directors who allow it all to happen are just as bad.

There is some good news – Some of the best Sales Consultants, Managers and Directors will be well rewarded above market valuation.

So, if you think you are special, let me know.

I could extend my comments to most disciplines, but Sales are the obvious easy target, because of their visibility in the public eye.

Encouraging though for the special ones. Timid Sales People have Skinny Kids !

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New Year – New Job?

It’s always an interesting situation when the major ‘jobs boards’ around the world start spending their advertising budgets in January, hoping to attract new candidates. For many people reading this blog, a good proportion have never visited a ‘Jobs Board’ in their lives. When I created, I wanted to provide a simple platform for Housebuilding personnel to make themselves known, by registering their CV and being kept informed of new opportunities as they arise. Since it’s launch in 2008, against a backdrop of mass redundancy and global economic meltdown, the site has attracted quite a few thousand quality candidates including Managing Directors, individual department directors and managers from all housebuilding disciplines. In fact the site caters for every role from Reception staff to Chief Exec’s.

My role as a headhunter is made easier by having ‘talent puddles’ to draw good people from, including and most importantly my own exclusive database

‘Talent Puddles’ seem to be the best description, in this world of digital social media networking. Other puddles include sites like Linked-In, Facebook, twitter and platforms of this nature, where passive candidates are resources and tapped on the shoulder.

January has begun with a shake up in Sales Directors, both in the Midlands and South East. Hot-Chair hopping will be taking place amongst the plc businesses as they substitute people they hope to be better than their existing director. How do they know whether the new incumbent will be any better than the last? My job is to know how these folk perform in the role and I accumulate the feedback from staff, managers colleagues and bosses throughout the year.

Cultures of companies are as important as the roles themselves and it is never a surprise to learn that within 6 months, fitting-in has or has not been successful.
Touch wood, I have a pretty good record of getting things right, because I understand the roles, the people and companies.

If you are unhappy with your present situation, don’t wait and suffer in silence. Make your circumstances known to a recruiter, but be careful – not all recruiters are as ethical as you may think. I’ve know cases where this has happened and in all good faith, the candidate has intimated he/she is looking to make a move and before you know it, the recruiter has gone in the back door to their boss asking whether they would like a replacement, as they hear that perhaps the person in the role is not as happy as they could be. Tread very carefully and if in doubt, say nothing and call me for a truly confidential discussion.

Will there be more job vacancies this year than last year? Pass. If Janaury is a measure, then yes.

What if you have been unemployed for say two years? – So?  Let’s be clear on this. There were over 10,000 redundancies in 2008/2009 within the housebuilding sector and businesses collapsed and where they remained in business, their staffing levels reduced by up to 70%, sometimes more.

There haven’t been 10,000 jobs created last year or anywhere near that number, so if you’re concerned that you have missed the boat, think again. What’s more important, is who you are and what you can do. Then it’s about positioning yourself to make sure people have considered your application and consider the relevance. It’s easy to consider taking a less paid lower ranking role, but is this what the employer wants? Often, no.

So, much reliance is placed upon the recruiter marketing you as a viable candidate. The biggest problem with this, is the lack of knowledge the recruiter has about you and the company. They cannot say with conviction, that you should be seen. I’m unique, so I can position you if I consider you to be appropriate for the client based upon ‘you’.

One further tip – if you have a facebook account that has the same email address as the email on your CV, you can be searched and recruiters can dig around in your photo library, wall posts and other information. Make sure that your privacy settings are as you want them to be. If you have revealing photo’s or comments in your facebook account, beware – it may cost you more than the interview.

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Sick and Tired of Media Trash?

Just when things start to get moving within the housebuilding sector, what can be only described as “media morons” feel it necessary to report the most fragile and insignificant property news about prices falling. The other day, it was the Halifax, then Nationwide, then RICS, now rightmove. Falls of less than 1% seem to be interest to these businesses. I’ve worked in an environment that manage numbers and quite frankly, I consider this kind of reporting to be destructive, during a time of recovery. I wonder by which method these numbers are calculated, because from where I’m sitting, activity has improved, people are moving and housebuilding clients are starting new sites with sales being achieved. The other thing about precise percentages, is the accuracy. I would love for these benchmark businesses to reveal to the world, exactly how they determine their numbers. They won’t because they would be attacked from every angle. So, Halifax, Nationwide, Rightmove, and RICS, let’s have your methodology in full view, so that we can really see what’s happening. Let us see that the upper market is booming, with sales in excess of £1m happening readily.  I discovered something recently, which most readers of this blog will not know. It involves Google search engine and will reveal within a few moments, most homes on the market within the UK or world, whichever you choose. Simply type in a post code or area you wish to view, select the ‘maps’ icon and within the map are five options just to the top right of the screen. Select the one that says “more”, wait for the drop-down menu and tick the box which says “properties”. Wait a few moments and little dots will appear, showing you homes for sale and prices, which agent, etc. There’s quite a few properties for sale in the UK and these people need somewhere to live.

HIP’s (home information packs) were abolished a while ago and this opened the gates for people to start marketing their homes, where once they may have felt that it was all too much trouble. Has anyone heard of supply and demand? It’s no wonder prices fluctuate, it’s good old supply and demand.

The main problem as I understand, is the availability of mortgage funds and the approval criteria. Let’s hope the Banks are not responsible for screwing up the economy again.

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When October Goes

With the clocks going back very soon and housebuilding companies squeezing the last sales before dark, the feeling amongst clients is one of realism. The realistic picture from what I can gather is a definate shortage of first time buyers, a willing but difficult middle market and an active upper market. When will banks realise that they hold many keys to the growth of the sector. With sales becoming more difficult to secure, housebuilding companies are in search of the very best sales personnel to ensure that every stone is being over-turned. When the jewels are discovered, they are being rewarded well. A few new clients have tasked me with refreshing their teams, by selecting the pick of the bunch. If you are not one of my clients, you should expect to see your best people disappear.

Recruiter influence in career growth and development of personnel is of paramount importance. I will only recommend sensible moves for candidates and as always, give impartial advice based upon inside knowledge of how teams function.

In a recent confidential survey amongst employees, 52% said that they would leave their current employer for something better, having gone through rough times within the last year or so. Many have faced redundancies, shorter working weeks and pay cuts. Some have been demoted with no chance of their role being reinstated in the medium term, some companies have made really odd decisions with saving money by using middle management to run departments, of which a few are now suffering the consequences. Whilst all of these antics are going on, the apparent value of the employee has shrunk. Housebuilders are now puzzled as to why they can’t find really good people for their teams. Being a headhunter specialising within the housebuilding sector and for having an appreciation for the roles, I can fully understand why there are so many discruntled staff.

My role is to carefully create solutions for the people who are open to discussion and to give advice based upon knowledge of the company, personnel and structure.

With more connections than the local BT exchange, I may just have the person you are looking for, to compliment your team. I’m not talking about a bank of CV’s, I’m referring to relationships with candidates with whom I fully understand their aspirations for change. I’ve met thousands of housebuilding personnel within the last 8 years and those relationships are paying off. We don’t advertise, we work upon recommendation. Having exclusive access to the UK’s first housebuilding jobs board is also a great help.

How are you doing?

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When September Goes

The nights are drawing-in and housebuilders move slowly towards a financial milestone, either a half or full years trading report for the world to see. With the cogs in the machinery turning quickly to secure those key goals, whether they be planning, technical, build, sales or simply increasing resource, the pressure is on.  Clients of mine are beginning to add to their teams in readiness for the new year and there will be empty seats in some housebuilding groups, where people have been plucked out by tempting offers from rival companies.

Knowing who may be looking for a new opportunity is only part of the skill involved in headhunting. Presenting a new opportunity and giving impartial and honest advice to candidates is very important for all concerned. Most of all, an ethical and professional headhunter will never approach staff from a client. Sadly and all too often, this isn’t the case. Some recruiters will be forever keen to move people around like chess pieces for their own advantage.

If you are looking to make a move, it is always worthwhile chatting with me before ‘jumping’ because whether I’m involved in the recruitment process or not, I will always give you my honest opinion about the culture, team dynamics and ‘fit’ of the new role.

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Fishing around for good staff?

With just over 8000 redundancies in the housebuilding sector during 2008 and 2009, it’s no surprise that housebuilding groups feel that they can recruit people quite easily without the need to employ the services of a recruiter. To some extent, this is true. The bigger picture, which was outlined in one of my earlier blogs, is that there are still many employees doing a good job for someone else within the sector already and the likelihood of attracting some of the best employed personnel is remote. Not only that, with so many companies to choose from, often candidates are just sending in CV’s speculatively without any real consideration of whether they would actually like to work for the employer they have approached, resulting in the wrong appointment and a very costly recruiting experience soon after. It may not be costly in recruitment terms, but it will damage the business and the timings of projects and even possibly, severance pay.

Because Face-Fit guarantee our placements, we are confident that all appointments have been thoroughly explored long before the candidate is offered to a client. This has resulted in an 8 year track record of 100% placement, without the need to refund a client ever.

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