Recruitment: Are You Proactive or Reactive?

Ashley Overberg- Incipio Workforce Solutions

I always say recruiting is about being “proactive” and not “reactive.”

It’s the worst-case scenario if you have to be reactive to staff shortages. Even if someone gives you a two-week notice, you’re often caught in a time crunch. You’re scrambling asking them to train someone for their position. If not, that job might be open for a long time.

One way to get ahead of the hiring crunch is to examine recruiting trends at your company. Is there a certain time of year your staffing requirements have to ramp up? Perhaps in the past, you have lost people around the holidays. Knowing the history of hiring needs will help you avoid staffing problems in the future.

Identify trends, create a strategy before you need it.

Planning ahead.

Once you’ve identified some trends, you should develop a strategy and then a marketing plan. Begin by making sure there is an open line of communication between the executive team and human resources. It’s all about being honest. Is there a problem with turnover? If so, what strategies and solutions do we have in place? What’s been going on in the past month? The past year? What needs do you foresee? Even when things are running smoothly, it’s important to have that check-in to ensure there are no surprises. If any issues are identified, it pays to address them early before you find yourself short-staffed, which will affect your bottom line.

Employee Referral Programs

Assuming you’ve created a company culture where your current employees are motivated, engaged and proud of where they work, an employee referral program can be helpful. Setting up some criteria around that program is important, however. For example, a new hire has to stay for a certain amount of time for the referring employee to get a bonus.

It’s also important to look at the demographics of your hires. Benefits evolve over time. Make sure your benefits package is designed to draw in both a boomer and a millennial. What can you provide that might be unique and set you apart from a competitor? With millennials for example, can you offer student loan assistance or a loan repayment plan? That’s important to young people coming out of school with large amounts of debt. When was the last time you looked at your 401(k) benefit? Is the company match sufficient to attract a worker proactive about being prepared for retirement?

Are you looking for a good fit or a warm body?

Once you have a candidate, obviously you begin by looking at their technical skills. Do they have the knowledge and skills to do that job effectively? Then you look at whether they might be a good “fit.” Behavioral questions can help you make that determination. For example, rather than asking someone, “Can you multitask?” Ask them to describe a time when they juggled six projects at the same time. Answers to similar open-ended questions will give you an idea of their skills and experiences are a good match for your open position.

It’s important to recognize not everyone is skilled at interviewing. Every manager needs training in this area. Without even knowing it, some people will ask questions that are illegal or ask questions that might imply favoritism. It’s important managers know what they can and can’t ask. A strong internal training program designed around hiring best practices will head off any issues and strengthen your ability to recruit quality employees.

Recruitment: A Better Process for Better People

How to Get People Who Are Right for Your Business

Businesses often think of recruitment as a necessary evil. At Incipio, we encourage our clients to view recruitment as a strategy – not as a headache.


We are firm believers in what we call an “Operating Style Assessment.” Our process is to assess individuals on the team followed by an assessment of applicants. This is one of the key differentiators with Incipio’s service. These assessments provide much more than simply identifying strengths and weaknesses. They help ensure the new hire makes a positive assimilation into an existing team by improving communication.

During the interview process, you’ll likely see a candidate at his or her finest. Your goal is to retain that energy and passion and harness it into onboarding and far beyond. We can help you merge communication across the team and focus on mentoring, coaching and managing performance. That gets you through a new hire’s “honeymoon phase” faster and lets you get down to business.

For example, the assessment shows a team member needs time to process new directives. The new hire learns that upfront – as opposed to overwhelming a team member in the beginning. We’ve found much greater results in retention for companies that follow our process.


Incipio has two primary goals: Reduce the cost of doing business and increase revenue. If we aren’t doing one of those two things, then we’re not doing what we were hired to do. Labor costs are the biggest expense to an organization. Instead of seeing that expense only as a line item in a financial report, we help our clients capitalize on the value of what that line can bring to the business.


If recruiting is taking up a lot of our time, it can be a great value-add to outsource it. For example, if you work a 40-hour week and you spend more than five percent of your time and effort to fill a position, you should outsource it. The value and return on investment of an experienced, trained, a talented recruiter will not only produce a higher ROI for you, you’ll find better talent faster!

Professional Development: Keeping it Strong

Are Your Professional Development Efforts Really Sticking?

Have you worked at a company where everyone was required to attend a two-hour team-building exercise? The company likely heard something about professional development and assumed this exercise would solve whatever issues it was having with employees. Everything seemed great. Employees seemed to “like each other” again. But the next day people went back to their jobs – got busy – and soon the benefit of the exercise was lost. That is “transactional” professional development. It simply gets employees “pumped up” for a few hours.

What needs to happen is “transformational” professional development. After assessments of the strengths of employees – and after you have identified what skills you need to develop – you put together a plan and a budget and begin targeted training and coaching. Then you combine that with actionable steps and expectations to hold people accountable.

If it’s not part of your strategic plan, that’s a problem. I’ve never seen a successful business that didn’t make employee personal growth a priority. Professional development at a previous employer made me who I am today. My growth occurred early in my career because that company was committed to developing their employees – helping them learn to be engaged, loyal and productive. It was seen as an important step that would lead to growth of the business.


Reducing turnover is one way to measure success. Companies always worry they’re going to invest in professional development and then an employee is going to walk out the door and go somewhere else. But what’s the alternative? For them to leave and complain about the company they worked for because they didn’t provide any training or coaching? Or for a company to provide professional development so if employees do leave they have positive things to say about what a great place it was to work? Plus, if you promote continued learning as part of your values during the recruiting process you’ll likely attract candidates who want opportunities to learn, grow and innovate – an important trait in today’s rapidly changing economy.


You can’t do business today the way you have always done it. People coming into the workforce today are in many cases an entirely different set of people. Some haven’t had parents at home to shape them into the people they need to be. Others have parents working so hard to make ends meet they simply aren’t around as often as our parents. In many cases business owners today are forced to become parents. They have to invest in developing people and teaching the soft skills important to be successful in a job – like why showing up on time is important. The most successful companies take pride in treating employees as family – respecting them and providing them with professional development to help them become people who are committed to lifelong learning.

Bulking Up Your Business- Smarter is Stronger!

Are You and Your Team Members Getting Smarter?

The other day I ran into a former co-worker. We were able to catch up in about five minutes – a “memory conversation” if you will. I realized pretty quickly there hadn’t been a lot of professional growth for him since we worked together. He seemed satisfied to be in the same job and apparently saw no real need to improve his skills or stretch himself professionally.

If you’re in an organization that isn’t promoting culture and engagement it’s easy to become disengaged in that “toxic” environment. On the other hand, the smartest companies today strive to hire employees eager to grow themselves because they know it will help the business grow. Great leaders have the confidence to surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are – people who add value to every aspect of their job. It makes sense. Research shows when people get the tools and training to do their jobs well they feel supported, are engaged and more loyal.


Regardless of whether your company has a commitment to professional development, ask yourself, “How do I as an individual contributor to an organization become more valuable and a greater asset to the group?” Professional development gives you the ability to speak to different topics in conversation – not only with current or potential clients but also with your fellow employees. It can also put you a path to leadership opportunities, increase your productivity or put you on a path to a boost in compensation.

It’s important you personally seek out opportunities. For example, put together a group of accountability partners you meet with on a monthly basis. Discuss topics at hand or ask to be challenged in your line of thinking. Seek out training and development opportunities for yourself – maybe after hours or on the weekends.

Push yourself to learn something about the business with which you’re not currently familiar. Think about how you can become better versed in cross-functional tasks within the company. The more diverse you make your area of expertise the greater the growth opportunity.

Perhaps you attend a conference and when you return you make it your responsibility to deliver a “CliffsNotes” version to your team. You share your knowledge with others which shows value, and in turn, increases everyone’s value. It also provides a “win-win” for the company to justify the conference expense.

Taking control of your professional development isn’t always easy. But if you stay motivated you’ll find the benefits are immensely rewarding.

Bulking Up Your Business: Talent Matters!

The Talent Challenge

Attracting, acquiring, and retaining talent is more challenging than ever before. To be successful, today’s tight labor market should encourage companies to adopt a strategy to develop existing talent. Aside from showing employees you appreciate their contributions, the investment in training and development helps retain employees by letting them know they have the opportunity to grow. Firing an employee in the hopes you’ll be able to hire a solution to your problem is much more of a gamble. As Incipio’s president and founder Molley Rickett likes to say, “If you really examine it, the talent walking out your door is usually not the same talent that is walking in your door.” The days of “plug and play” are in the past.

That’s not to say there isn’t a place for effective recruitment. There likely are some key roles within your company where you simply need to fill that position with outside talent. But thinking first about “bulking up” your talent within your company can be an effective strategy because in this job market it’s time to get creative.


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Look at your current workforce and examine whether people are in the right positions. After a review of their strengths you may discover you should rethink some roles. An employee may function best in a different position than that for which they were initially hired. For example, I’ve witnessed a human resources professional blossom and become a valued employee once they were given an opportunity in software development. Communication is key – as is support from leadership. Employees want leaders who care about their well-being. They want to work for leaders who recognize and appreciate them. Having an open and honest conversation is often the best place to start. Perhaps the performance review process makes it clear an employee isn’t meeting expectations. So now you work together to look at their talents from a different perspective. What are their strengths? What do they bring to the table that could help the company grow? If you play to their strengths you’ll develop an employee who is happier, more engaged and more effective for both themselves and the business.

Bulking Up Your Business, Focusing on Your Team

Professional development is all about developing a team. Whether it’s professional or personal, development helps employees grow to better the organization while at the same time helping to better themselves.

The most successful companies, and the most confident leaders, recognize the value of training, coaching and development. When a conversation with an employee takes place in the appropriate tone and manner, professional development is seen by the employee as a perk – not a punishment. Communication is crucial to ensure the message is shared in the correct way so the employee realizes coaching could provide an upward career trajectory. It’s sharing with associates the company is willing to invest time and money in their growth.

You may want to begin the program with your top performers – your “up and comers.” People you see who take initiative but often are silent performers not seeking recognition. Perhaps you have an employee who is ready to be promoted but has never managed people. Now is the time to be proactive to guarantee success. When developing people or changing behavior there is always a learning curve. But if you’re following the plan and budget you have created, you’ll be prepared.


A development program could take the form of on-the-job training. It might provide educational opportunities outside the organization. It could include mentoring or job shadowing where a more seasoned employee takes part of the day to pass on knowledge and experience. You don’t need to do it all the time. Perhaps the plan says an employee spends a half day every two weeks shadowing someone across every functional area so they come to understand how each department works. This way employees learn and absorb new skills but are still productive in their current roles. It’s up to leaders to choose what is most effective for workers by asking what they want to learn and then determining and what works best for the organization in terms of time and budget.

Professional development should also include strategic recruitment. As you identify high performers and people you want to grow and engage you may discover gaping holes in your succession plan. Examining your bench strength and identifying early on where you have holes should help you decide if you can coach to promote internally, or if you need to hire from the outside. If you uncover a department that is stagnant or not growing despite development efforts, it might be time to bring someone in from the outside with fresh ideas and new motivational strategies.

Relationships In Your Business Network – Valuable Beyond Measure

A packed room of two hundred people at an industry conference.  A table of five at a working lunch. An unexpected introduction at a decidedly non-work function.  Ready to make it work for your business? Do you know what you have to do? Networking! It comes easy for some, yet can be painfully difficult for others.  Putting yourself out there and meeting new people can be very intimidating, especially in business situations. The ability to build relationships through networking is a critical tool to getting both your name and your products and services out of your office or work area and into the public domain.  By building a successful network, you have access to endless opportunities and tools that can improve your business.

So where does it start?  The first step is communication, and the ability to effectively communicate with someone can make or break your network before it ever really begins to form.  For me, it starts with a fundamental set of attributes; respect and compassion, checking your ego at the door, and truly listen, doing whatever has to be done to really hear what the other person is saying. The business world can be a scary place, but there is no way to get anything out of it if we are only concerned about our own ideas and thoughts.

As a business owner, I know it can be easy to get caught up in your work. It has a tendency to overshadow other things, but your relationships should be priority one.  And like most things of value, they take a lot of work to maintain; get together, catch up, get to know them personally, and really understand them. Work to get beyond just the surface and work to build deeper connections.  Life happens, and it is so easy to let our own needs get in the way of maintaining our connections, but when we recognize that networks have the power to transform individuals and businesses alike, the value proposition is easy to see.

A Network Relationship = Any Other Relationship

Networks, like any other kind of relationship building, take time and effort. They aren’t just things you can expect to fall into your lap or appear at the snap of a finger. For those of you new to networking or looking to build a personal network of your own, it takes some time, but you can start by asking for help. In a networking situation, people expect you to ask them for help. If you turn that around and just offer some support, your networking partner will be grateful and want to return the favor. We are all out there looking for the same thing; ways to improve our business. If you put yourself out there and offer your services you are bound to find someone in need of your support, and that one person can open doors to many other contacts and networking opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise know of if you didn’t venture out of your comfort zone.

A key aspect of effective networking, and to relationships in general, is that every interaction and transaction is not something that you are always going to benefit from. You don’t always have to gain something direct and tangible in a networking relationship. If you can introduce people who can benefit from one another, it’s just as effective. It is all about the give and take, and sometimes you may help facilitate something that in no way directly benefits your business right now, but will pay tremendous dividends in the long run.

Kicking it into Gear

Once you have developed your own personal network, it’s now time to develop a strategy for maintaining it.  Networks and relationships are much more like gardens, much less like monuments; they need constant tending and care, and without that what you’ve worked so hard to create will slowly disappear. It’s important to take the person that you are making these connections with into consideration and be mindful of the fact that they are people too, not just business advancing opportunities. Get to know people for who they are and recall little fun facts about them; their birthday, their families, favorite foods. As I mentioned before, moving beyond the surface and developing deeper emotional connections is when the fun starts, and the value of the relationship you’ve built really starts to become evident.

It can be a warm and fuzzy feeling when you get a text or email from a coworker wishing you a happy birthday, or someone brings up a funny story you told them at a meeting a month ago, because it shows that they care. These are people that you can rely on to help benefit your business and it will only make the journey easier if you can truly value them as both a business relationship and as an individual.

I have worked hard to develop and maintain Incipio’s network and I’m constantly working to improve it even further. Networks deliver three unique advantages: private information, access to diverse skill sets, and power. Executives see these advantages at work every day, but might not pause to consider how their networks regulate them. We can often take these networking assets for granted, but for many successful businesses, their networks are their foundation and without them, they might not be where they are today. Networks are like a puzzle, and even when one piece is missing, the puzzle is incomplete.

Keeping Your Network in Check

Consider every relationship you have within your network to be just as important as the next; even if it may not offer as much to your business as others right now, at some point in the future it may prove to be invaluable.

To start, treat others the way you wish to be treated.  We’ve all heard that before, but it carries a much stronger meaning in the business world, where potential clients or partners are all around us. Once you’ve established that solid relationship, it allows you to advance the relationship quality to the next level, where you treat them less how YOU wish to be treated and can focus more on treating them the way THEY wish to be treated.

Networking opportunities are everywhere, whether we are aware of it or not.  This is why it is so important to always maintain the image of your business everywhere you go because you never know who you will run in to.

Networks have the power to work wonders, but they can also wreak havoc if managed inappropriately. We’re humans, and naturally we are selfish beings which is why it can be very easy to unknowingly overload our partners and networking sources with tasks and questions so that we can better our business. Once you start to develop your network it can begin to grow exponentially and it is our responsibility to keep it under control and prevent it from becoming a burden rather than a tool.

One of the biggest challenges that I have faced within my own personal network has been managing the growth and expansion of it. If people know you, then they have an ‘in’, and sometimes you don’t have the time to manage all the asks. Treat your network as if it was a significant other, establish boundaries and what you are and are not willing to do. This will prevent a lot of headaches in the future if you lay down your expectations at the start.  This allows both parties to understand the perimeters before things get to be unmanageable.

We are all in this together, and as discouraged as we all may get sometimes, we all have our own unique assets that bring value to the bigger picture. If you run a business with a close-minded attitude and tend to only keep to your close-knit group of people, then expect to only have access to a limited amount of resources! There are so many opportunities out there, and to have a successful business it takes branching out and truly connecting with people. Speak, listen, and really hear what each other is saying.  Don’t just wait for your turn to speak. Pausing to think about the words you just heard is OK. You never know what these people can bring to the table. If you’re only concerned with what you have to contribute to others rather than allowing others to be of support to you, then you’re only holding yourself, and your business back.

At the end of the day, the relationships that we build are the most important aspects of our lives.  Thankfully this is no different in our work-lives; businesses are built by people and the relationships they form as those organizations are created.  Those relationships expand further as partnerships are created, and this extends even more as clients and customers are brought into the picture. Investing in building strong relationships and expanding your personal and professional networks is critical to growing yourself and your business.  Make sure you have a strategy to do both!

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