Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Things people don't do at an Interview

I ran a poll via Linkedin recently subtly headed what are the biggest turns while you are Interviewing someone, which led to some surprising results.
Over 791 people responded from different companies around the world, but the results were polarised.
Check out the details and especially the comments by the Interviewers, its really valuable Information, and a real eye opener.

The biggest turn off is lack of preparation and good questions!
Not skill on the job, not having done this before or being able to give evidence of what you would do.
Second biggest turn off was appearance and dress, and in third was rambling and being boring.
So the moral to this story is asking good questions makes a massive difference to the way you come across and your associated credibility, followed by your appearance which seems to re-enforce peoples view of their perception of you through your appearance and confidence.

Once they believe you have the relevant experience they are looking for evidence that you're the right or wrong person for the role.
I know this sounds obvious, its like saying Football is a game of two halves, but what this really means is you  have a 50/50 chance of success. The problem is most people think they have a much smaller chance and ignore the key things that will get them to the 50%.

Read the results and some of the comments, its a real eye opener.


By Gary Gamp Corporate Coach, Consultant, Trainer, Facilitator and Change Agent at Positive Momentum  •   791 votes  •  49 comments  •  Ended 14 Oct 2011
55110165220275330Lack of preparation & good questions357 (45%)Appearance (way they dress)126 (16%)Not thought through what they would do100 (13%)Rampling & a bit boring109 (14%)Ability to demonstrate experience99 (13%)
Overall demographics
382 male171 female

What's the moral to the story I hear you ask?
If your going to an Interview, your success will be based on three things, apart from ability and track record.

*The way you look (I don't mean how good looking you are)
*The way you come across
*Your credibility and fit to the organisation

The way you tilt success towards you, is by taking away anything that could go against you.
Here are three ideas:

1. Dress well and appropriately, look the part
2. Really research the person you are seeing and the organisation and anything you can find out about where they have been and where they are going. Linkedin and the Google are a great source of data, and the company website and annual report normally lead you to the updated strategy of the company.
3. Decide in advance a small number of really good questions which show you understand what's going on and generate a good debate, whilst avoiding being a smart arse for obvious reasons.

Finally, if you are very well prepared, and have thought through answers to questions they might ask, you will feel confident and come across much better. This will also lead to better self belief and add to your credibility and confidence.

Try it, it works! there's a fine line between success and failure during an interview.

Hope it helps

Good Luck!

Monday, 18 July 2011

The unsaid about what is said

The Truth about moving to a solutions business

It’s Interesting looking at what’s going on in both Telecoms and IT Companies at the moment.
There is a large focus on moving from a product to a solution play, but this isn’t the first time we are seeing this.
Back in the 90’s numerous IT companies like Digital, NCR and IBM were looking to differentiate and move away from a commodity scenario.
History has shown that IBM were the role model organisation that moved from predominantly a products play to a balanced services product mix with good success.

Over time more and more technology companies find themselves in a commodity play and quite rightly look to successful paradigms from the past.
This is becoming more evident especially in the Mobile and Service Provider space, where the life of a technology cycle is short lived, and the product factory tries to keep up.

This transformation is critical in driving the organisation to success in Services and Solutions, with a great deal of references to draw on, but interestingly some of the more obvious approaches may not lead to the method that will have the most traction and success.

This short blog focuses on the key learning’s that have been recognised over the years and offers a few tips on the priority areas, key activities and pitfalls for transforming from a product to a solutions or services play.

Most Product to solutions and services transformations fail to get traction
 ... for three key reasons:
1.     No or Low Sponsorship
The change required is understood intellectually but doesn’t really have senior level or stakeholder commitment, mainly because they don’t believe the outcome will meet the goal, and that the activity will de-focus people away from the core business
2.     Failing to balance the short and long term
Organisation’s try to change too much at once, and not focus on the areas that will give the greatest return, and therefore spread the jam too thin, with little real traction in the right areas, and take too long to get a result. Transformation should be long and short term focused, with a strong focus on short/medium significant results
3.     No or Low Focus
Because people are already busy, the wrong people are assigned normally on a part time basis. Generally having the wrong people doing the wrong things, too much analysis and presumptions about what needs addressed with a lack of experience about what really needs to be done, and the people who have the experience and need to be assigned are busy elsewhere or not put forward by their management, as Transformation sometimes gets seen as something that is done on the side.
1   Miss the following at your Peril! ...The UNSAID
     1. Not everything is a Solution
The biggest mistake people make is trying to make one size fit all. Because of the enthusiasm of moving to a solutions business it becomes an obsession for everyone to only talk about being Consultative. The truth is most organisation’s buy both transactionally and Consultatively, so not recognising this is a mistake. It depends on whom you are speaking to in an organisation. More technically minded people will know what they want and buy on quality and price, and therefore buy transactionally, while others may need advice and guidance, so being a thought leader may be more appropriate. Catering for both is key. The way this manifests itself is companies try and throw out anyone that doesn’t look like a consultant. The appropriate mix is 75/25 with 75% still selling what is your core business. This is not the time to be ashamed of what is core business, just build a solution wrap to complement and differentiate what you do.
     2. Be Careful, people hire mirrors of themselves
Look out, there is definitely a need to enhance and upgrade your team, but be careful what you wish for. History has shown us that people generally hire mirrors of themselves. One organisation I worked with changed out 50% of the sales force, but didn’t move any further forward as the managers that were hiring hired the same types of people they let go.
Also there is a real danger of defocusing people while you are trying to build the solutions wrap. Instead of trying to de-focus people and get people to do this important activity in their spare time, it makes sense to get a small team of people who are dedicated full-time, use mainly internal people so you can get commitment and bring people with you on the journey, add a few customer advocates and an external subject matter expert who knows the pitfalls, knows what good looks like and has a track record of doing this before, then slowly hire the right people but get a cross functional view of each hire
3.     Be joined at the hip with the Sales force
It’s important to develop a strong Professional Services business and organisation to help drive the change and get traction with Customers, but it’s really important not to do this in isolation. For example, some organisation’s think that as the solutions or services business has not been successful before, it must be due to the lack of skills in the sales organisation; so they build a shadow organisation and pursue success as an Island. This clearly doesn’t work and is one of the main reasons for the failure of this type of transformation. The shutters come down as the sales force gets alienated, and people look for reinforcement of what they thought was wrong in the first place. The most effective approach is to be joined at the hip with the sales, to build a joint team and have sales and PS in the Tent together with complimentary skills driving together in the same direction
4.     Prove the value quickly
There are 90-120 days to get traction, during your focused work stream make sure you get Incremental and significant results quickly so people see that this is not another programme that doesn’t deliver, and your stakeholders gain confidence quickly. This will also ensure further sponsorship you will require to accelerate. You will need to have a really clear idea about where to focus for the best returns and move aggressively towards your goal. Shock and Awe!

 Hope it helps - Good Luck!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Bikini Diet for Business

Most people that know me don't think of me as competitive. I'm quite level headed and sometimes appear laid back, but the truth is I'm a quiet Exocet missile, when I lock on to something nothing is going to stop me.

Why am I rambling on about this? Well recently my wife and daughter decided that they were going on a diet to get into the Bikini for the summer. After much jibing by me, they made some throw-away comment about not understanding and never having been on a diet, so I threw down the gauntlet and found myself on the Ducan diet. 
This is ridiculous as I don't need to go on a diet, but I just couldn't resist the challenge. And I don't even have a bikini.

I've been on this damm diet for a month, eating no carbs and lots of protein, given up on countless great dinners and been off the booze for a month. Even my favourite Malbec collection is gathering dust!.
What kind of fool am I ?

The more I've been on it, the more determined I have become, I don't even need to be on a bloody diet and in just 4 weeks I've lost 1 Stone in weight!!  (or 7 kg if you're metric)

Why the hell are you writing a blog on this Gary, after all whats the point you are making I hear you ask.
The point is this.

Get something that get's your goat, something that drives you, get challenged, or just find something that gives you a burn in your business or personal life, you will be surprised how much you can accomplish.

Too many people either don't finnish what they start or worse still don't start......yet, 

Ill start on Monday ??!!

The diet thing is a small and insignificant example, but it got me thinking.

I try to live my life in this way, being driven by my own motivation. Life is too short.

What's yours?

Bring on the next challenge!!!
and a plate of triple chocolate Ice Cream

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Lies and dashboards

Sorry to tell you this, but the majority of management dashboards are far from the truth. This is especially true for project management.
This is how it works. No one wants to hear bad news, and the way it manifests itself is “give me bad news and I give you pain”! Don’t give me problems, give me solutions.
This is fine and I agree in principal, but the implication of this approach is,
many Dashboards are not a real reflection of the situation to avoid drama and escalation.

Things look nice and green, sometimes a little yellow, but overall not a real reflection of either the key activity, Issues or the real status of a project.

What’s the answer I hear you ask ?
It depends where you’re at. If its an existing project, get someone the team trust in the middle as a buffer, go back to the source, the statement of work and build the real truth from there. Make people feel safe to be transparent.
What was committed to the customer. Now look at the key milestones, do they really reflect what was committed at the outset, and honestly review the key milestones and the realistic delivery dates and any potential issues in the real world.
Now you have this baseline review the project plan, and see where you are against it and the real dates.

Now you have an honest appraisal of where you are, what the gaps are and the realistic dates that can be achieved.

If it’s a new project, recognise that the price of pain drives people to give you a massaged outlook.

By the way, this is not only present in project management. I was recently on a plane sitting next to an FD of an organsiation, who explained to me that the CEO he worked for always tells him, “I’ve never missed my targets in last 5 years, not planning on doing so now” What do you think his dashboard looks like ?

By the way this doesn’t mean we should be soft and not deal with the key issues that are present, I’m just suggesting you can create the right culture to be more transparent. It’s a bit like empowerment; people wont take it unless they feel safe to do so.

So the truth is, the rough and tumble of business life drives a certain behavior, but the great news is once you understand this, you can create an environment that gives your team the safety to be honest and realistic, so you can understand and deal with the real issues and be comfortable and confident that you are acting and making business decisions based on the real truth.

Friday, 15 April 2011

5 Tips for Improving your Interview Chances by 50%

The truth is most people dont Interview well.
I've Interviewed thousands of people over the last few years and its amazing how potentially great people screw it up!
I dont know what happens to people, they take leave of their senses and if they were standing back watching themselves they would be amazed.
There are quite a few books on the subject and numerous articles but most of them focus on the basics of getting to the interview or body language.
I want to de-mystify what really goes on in the real world.
Firstly the text books make an assumption that the person Interviewing you Interviews by the book. They dont.
The Interviewer is generally too busy to get prepared. Have you ever been to an Interview where the person Interviewing you has just picked up your CV on the way to the meeting.
Here are 5 tips for Improving your chances by 50%
1. Research like crazy.
Research everything you can, the company their annual report for signs of what the strategy is and where they might be going, and research the person you are going to see and find out what they have done, what they like, using Google, Linkedin or through your Network, then make sure you keep linking back to it in the Interview. If you find someone you know that is linked the the interviewer try and break the ice by mentioning them.
2. Be confident but not arrogant and believe you will get the role
People smell blood, don't be weak at an interview, be confident in what you do, think of the language you use, avoid saying we did this and we did that, sounds like you didn't do anything someone else did.
Dont be arrogant, but hold your own, look someone in the eye, believe you are going to get the role. Look if you're good at doing this job, then they would be mad not to hire you, and if you've done the research upfront this will re-enforce you know what to do and how to do it to yourself
3. Dress the part
I dont care what people say, you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression, its all part of the package. Avoid being too trendy
4. Think through and plan the answers to the questions they will ask you
But Gary, I dont know what they are going to ask. Want a bet, most Interviewers ask the same questions they are sometimes wrapped up differently. Also, the interviewers job is to gain evidence, so make sure you keep the conversation focussed on giving evidence without rambling on
These are some of questions you need an answer to:
What would you do if you got the job in the first 90 days
Whats the most difficult thing you have had to do
Give me examples where your project failed, what did you do how would you handle it differently
Why should they give you the job versus someone else, feel free to blow your trumpet but as you have planned this give them real examples of where you have done it before, or what you would do
At some point in the Interview they are going to ask the question that phases most people. It may be disguissed but its coming and you need to plan an answer
What are your strengths and weaknesses.
The strengths are easy but the weakness question is the one that kills people.
In my experience when I ask this question, people are normally very honest, only the other day someone told me he was unorganised and lacked focus, which was a bit of a challenge for a project management role.
You need to give something away but not the thing thats going to kill you.
I suggested to a sales person recently to say
"Im very driven, thats not everyone's cup of tea"
5. Ask a meaningful question at the beginning and the end
Before you launch into boring people about your life story, ask a well planned question at the beginning that lets the interviewer know that you know what youre about, like
"is this area serious for the whole company, what's the plan for the next 12 months, and how will you know its been successful"
At the end of the Interview finish with another well planned question.
Hope some of these ideas are helpful, wishing you every success

Sunday, 16 January 2011

discomfortably comfortable

I speak with a great deal of people who are discontent at the moment for a number of reasons, time rolls on before you know it months and years go by, and we sometimes look back and wonder where time went.
I spoke with someone the other day, he told me he married his wife to spend more time with her and ended up marrying his work instead.
People are working really hard, then the market challenge came and it compacted the problem. People started to fear more, maybe about their jobs, their Boss told them they should be thankful they had a job, and before you know it you end up putting up with the very thing we said we never would.
Then procrastination steps in, we are too busy being busy to stop and sharpen the axe.

Whenever we start a new job or take over a new function we write a 90 day plan and arrange an offsite meeting to strategise on where we should go with the team, but how often do we do the same for ourselves.
We write appraisals for our team and do one on one meetings to talk about their future, but what about ourselves.
I appreciate at a senior level its not cool to think about these things, but business is fragile, its a complex city structure made of paper, and any day someone can walk on your  paper city with little notice.

Take some time out to reflect on what you are doing and what you really want to do, and build a plan to get there, you deserve it !