Category Archives: Life & Style

How Generation Y is shaking up retail and digital marketing

It is expected that by 2026 the main consumers of luxury will be millennials (or generation Y). This is notable for two reasons… The ways in which we consume digital content is steadily changing, and our newfound reliance on social networks will also have a profound effect on our shopping habits.

Some Millennials, tomorrow.
Some millennials, tomorrow.

This is a guest blog post from fashion entrepreneur Daniela Cecilio, Founder and CEO of ASAP54 (and previously of Farfetch.com).

It’s a well known fact that the world’s population is ageing , but what are the consequences from a marketing point of view for brands and consumers? The teenagers and young adults of today, often referred to as millennials, are expected to be brands’ center of attention in the near future. While at the moment their contribution to brands’ profits is small, they will soon increase their consumption capabilities as they will have their own families and reach senior and managerial positions professionally.

By 2026, the main consumers of luxury goods are predicted to be digital natives i.e. people born between 1980 and 2000 who’ve had technology penetrate every aspect of their lives from a young age. .

The main challenge here for brands will be to understand and adapt to this generation. Luxury companies are known to be reluctant to develop their online presence as it is often seen in the business as harming the image of exclusivity – but these companies might not have a choice anymore.

Shopping codes and references are evolving, being deeply linked to digital innovations: the path-to-purchase is getting more complicated and dense as the number of potential touch-points increases with new social and technological innovation. Social media is playing a bigger role in people’s lives, with consumers expecting to be able to interact with brands in the same way, whether online or offline.

The consequence of a missed interaction can be devastating for brands, as word of mouth coupled with the speed of the Internet is enough to spread negative perceptions and sentiments.

With 1 billion active users on video platform Youtube and 420 million users on blogging and image-sharing platform Tumblr, for example, brands cannot stick to traditional touch-points anymore and are forced to leave their comfort zones and to experiment – often for the best.

By teaming with social platforms, brands are creating immersive shopping experiences, enabling shoppers to discover and buy products at any time, anywhere. This ‘World Wide Window shopping’ concept is pushing messaging in a seamless way, taking digital strategies beyond the retailers’ websites. The American clothing brand Gap recently developed its own Instagram micro-series with a Valentine’s Day hook to showcase its line of jeans in a new and more integrated format, while luxury brand Burberry is now seen as a digital leader, being one of the first to live stream its fashion shows.

That being said, 2015 should be all about mobile apps, which were the biggest growth area in the mobile world in 2014. Internet shopping via computers and laptops dropped from 78 to 63 per cent last year, whereas smartphone and tablet shopping nearly doubled; from 8 to 15 per cent and 5 to 10 per cent respectively.

In the near future, I expect to see a significant development in integrated shopping experiences, as the number of users of visual social channels such as Instagram is consistently growing. Recently, we chose to integrate a new update within our visual recognition-based fashion app ASAP54, allowing users to access all their Instagram photos as well as all pictures they liked on the platform, to use within the service without having to switch platforms. I wonder then, what could be next? 

Negotiations needn’t be tricky – how to best prepare

How to best prepare for negotiation

Negotiation is a critical skill, not just in business, but also in our personal lives. Whether it’s readjusting contract terms with a supplier, discussing your next pay raise or organising where to go on your upcoming family holiday, the way we negotiate has a direct impact on where we’re headed in life.

However, entering into a negotiation situation can be a daunting thought. For many of us, the word negotiation is closely linked with feelings of awkwardness, compromise and conflict. We feel often feel ill equipped to manage the unknown, especially when negotiating with someone more senior, more powerful or more stubborn than ourselves.

With this in mind, I’d like to share with you a series of articles and propose some steps that will help you to prepare for your next negotiation.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll address what you can do to better understand the person you are negotiating with and why you should always consider external interests when you are preparing for a negotiation. But today’s topic centres on how to personally prepare and position yourself for a successful negotiation.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail

The most successful negotiators have a clear understanding of what they want to achieve during a negotiation. If you can’t succinctly sum up what you want out of a negotiation, how can you possible hope to achieve it?

One strategy that can help to focus your efforts in this phase is to make a list of what you want, but also why you want it and why you think it’s reasonable that should you get it. Doing this in advance of your negotiation will help you to clarify your thoughts and provide you with answers to some of the tough questions that are likely to surface during the discussion.

Move beyond the dollars

When you are establishing what it is you want from the negotiation, it’s important to keep an open mind and think beyond mere dollar figures.

While monetary benefits are undoubtedly important, they needn’t be the sole determinant of success in a negotiation. Ask yourself what would constitute a good outcome for you. Could working from home or having the flexibility to spend more time with your family provide a similar level of happiness to a higher salary? If so, introduce these points into the discussion.

It’s important to keep your financial goals in mind and to push for them; however, good negotiators understand there are a number of ways to arrive at a good outcome.

Understand there may be more than one good outcome

As is often said, there is more than one way to skin a cat. When preparing to negotiate, try to think of a number of outcomes that you would deem to be acceptable. If you want, you can rank these outcomes in order of preference, but by understanding that the negotiation could have a number of good potential outcomes, you increase your chances of reaching an agreement.

If you enter into a supplier negotiation with a single viewpoint of what you consider to be an acceptable outcome (20 per cent price discount for example), you close yourself off to finding other innovative, potentially more lucrative solutions. Furthermore, any result other than your single viewpoint will feel like a failure. Looking at your interests (and those of your company) more holistically will naturally give you more flexibility and increase your chances of reaching an agreement that fully satisfies both parties.

Understand your walk away point

While negotiating is meant to be about reaching agreement, sometimes it is best not to. Not reaching an agreement allows you to explore other, potentially more lucrative options.

To this end, it’s important to take some time to understand your walk away position and to be prepared to put it into practice.

In their best selling book ‘Getting to Yes’ Roger Fisher and William Ury put some structure around this process and introduce the concept of BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). Your BATNA essentially outlines what will happen if you fail to reach an agreement during the negotiation.

In order to fully understand your BATNA, you need to understand what your next best options are. This requires a good understanding of the external market. What would another employer pay you? What price and service level would a competing supplier offer this product or service for?

By understanding your BATNA and walk away position, you enable yourself to make an informed decision about what the other party is offering. This process goes a long way in determining the balance of power in the negotiation.

What other tips have you got for preparing for a negotiation? Share them below and stay tuned for next week, when we delve into the steps you can take to better understand the person you are negotiating with.

Jon Hansen on building your procurement social media footprint

Your social media footprint. Image Pixabay

Last week I received the following Tweet:

@piblogger1 Lots of #Procurement pros keen to build #socialmedia profile but not sure where to start. Any tips for #Twitter success?

The timing for the above query was notable because on the same day, I received a message in LinkedIn from an industry sales representative asking a similar question.  The sales rep – who works for one of the industry’s more dominant P2P providers – wanted to find a way to better expand her footprint in the world of social media.

Besides pointing out the obvious, such as using a proper photograph for your profile pic, at the end of the day I wrote back, you need to follow the 3Cs model.

Centered around the Know, Like and Trust edict for doing business, I directed her to read my post titled The 3Cs of Social Media Success.

For those unfamiliar with the Know, Like and Trust reference, it is based on the fact that people will ultimately work with or do business with someone they well . . . Know, Like and Trust.  In fact, in the purchasing world, the more complex or significant the expenditure, the more of a factor this becomes.  You simply have to listen to my interview with a former aide of Governor Cuomo’s , in which he states that more than 90 percent of all contract winners in the state are selected before the actual RFP is issued, to understand its actual importance.

The question is how do you get to this point in a relationship.  Especially given that fact that despite being more connected today through social media and the myriad of electronic devices, we actually seem to be communicating less?

This is where the 3Cs come into play.

We are all familiar with the three R’s associated with learning (Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic).  Think of the 3Cs of social media in the same way.

In a world of increasing noise levels where it is becoming difficult to establish a distinguishable presence and brand, the three Cs are the foundation upon which to build a meaningful rapport within the virtual realms of the Internet.

So What Are The 3Cs?

Content: Your content is relevant with what is happening in the world right now

Context: You have something meaningful to share with the world

Contact: Your content is shared or cross-pollinated across traditional and electronic print mediums, radio and Internet TV, social networks and social network groups

There it is, I can stop writing this post now and wait to hear about your success.

Much to the chagrin of every Internet huckster peddling a service or product that proclaims to know the secret of your success (i.e. SEO), the formula for connecting with an audience or market is quite simple.  You have to take an interest in the world around you!

This is the inescapable starting point.  There are no techniques per say, nor hidden paths to establishing the kind of meaningful rapport that is necessary for you to increase your virtual presence.  We are not talking about the recipe for Coca Cola here, or the secret herbs and spices that go into making the Colonel’s world famous chicken.

To be part of the conversation, you have to join the conversation, and in the process add value that is unique to your view of the world.  It is the only way for people to really get to know you, like you, and trust you to the point of actually wanting to make a meaningful connection with you.

To get to that stage however, you have to say something worth hearing before people will listen to you. And if they listen to you, they will get to know you and, as is often times the case, to know you is to like you.  From there, trusting you is just a short walk down the street.

Now for those out there who simply cannot believe or accept that building a strong social media presence is this simple, it is.

To start, ask yourself these three basic questions; 1. what is it I have to say that is meaningful to the world, 2. how does it relate to what is both interesting and important to the world and, 3. what are the venues through which I can best connect with the world around me?

While there are certainly demographic considerations with each venue – LinkedIn is more business oriented catering to the 35 to 55 age group, while Facebook is more personal focusing on the younger generation – the answers to the above questions are applicable across the board.

In short, what value are you bringing to the relationship?  Are you providing real knowledge and useful insight, or are you just trying to reach as many people as possible in an effort to make a sale.  There is a world of difference between the two.

In a future post I will talk about social media in terms of the procurement process itself, and how you can use the various platforms to become more strategic.  In the meantime, start building your personal footprint using the 3Cs and watch both your presence and influence grow.

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What can basketball teach us about hiring decisions?

Would you a hire generalist over someone who specialises?

What can basketball teach us about the hiring process?

While flying last week, I listened to a HBR podcast that discussed Google’s approach to talent selection and management. One of the first topics of discussion was Google’s preference for hiring ‘generalists’ over ‘specialists’.

Google’s partiality for generalists stems from the fast changing nature of its business. The company sits at the forefront of innovation, both within its traditional realm of Internet search and but also with it’s seemingly outrageous side projects like its efforts to produce self driving cars.

The podcast suggests that Google tends to hire generalists because they believe these ‘learning animals’ are more flexible and bring an open mind to problem solving and this suits Google. I guess when you are doing something that’s never been done before past experience is a little less relevant.

The podcast also states that specialists tend to bring a certain bias to problem solving. This sentiment is perhaps summed up by this quote from Abraham Maslow (he of ‘ the hierarchy of needs’ fame):

“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

The one thing I took away from this podcast was that while hiring generalists may work for Google, I’m not sure this logic applies across the board.

The age of the procurement specialist

In procurement for example, I believe there is a strong case for hiring specialists. As the procurement landscape continues to become more complex geographically, technologically and legally, I believe the role of sourcing specialists with niche skill sets will increase in prominence.

IT is a great example of a category that has got infinitely more complex to understand, let alone manage, over the last decade (ironically, thanks in part to the generalists at Google). Firms have become more reliant on their IT operations as a source of competitive advantage – therefore doesn’t it follow that someone with an intricate knowledge of this area becomes more valuable?

Clearly, the generalist vs. specialist argument is an oversimplification of a complex matter. Successful teams undoubtedly need a balance of both. But how can procurement teams ensure they get the balance right?

What’s basketball got to do with it?

Studies by Dr Long Wang of City University of Hong Kong have addressed the issue of balancing generalists and specialists both in the workplace and on the basketball court.

Wang suggests that we as managers (or basketball coaches) have a troubling tendency to compare generalists to specialists in isolation. This tendency, he argues, is counter productive.

Wang suggests we should be analysing both the worth of employees and basketball players in the context of a team. While a basketball all-rounder may out perform a specialist three point shooter in a one-on-one match up, this is not a fair indication of their effectiveness as part of a team. Moreover basketball, like business, is about achieving team results not individual accolades.

Have you got the guts to pick a three-point shooter?

Wang postulates that our bias towards generalists has a lot to do with our aversion to risk. Generalists are more defendable to managers than specialists are.

“If I was the general manager of a basketball team” Wang said, “it would be easy for me to justify hiring one great athlete after the next because you can [justify] their individual statistics really well,”

While comparing a three-point specialist to a more rounded basketball star may appear unfair at first glance, (three-point shooters tend to be less athletic, post fewer recordable stats and are generally less captivating) their impact on the team’s overall performance is huge. Ultimately it’s the team performance we are interested in anyway.

“Do you want five superior athletes, or one clunky, non jumping, great-shooting three-point shooter and four great athletes? In fact, the five great ones, on average, might each be better than this guy, but as a team you do better when you have a role player who can do something special.” Said Wang.

There is no hard and fast rule to follow when it comes to selecting generalists over specialists or vice versa. But, I think it’s important that we remember to evaluate candidates based on how they perform as part of a larger team and not just what they are capable of in isolation.

Generation ‘Why’? Debunking the Millennial Myth

Professional Services firm, PwC estimates that by 2016 almost 80 per cent of its workforce will be Millennials. In light of this frankly staggering statistic we would like to dispel some of the myths that surround the ’next generation’ of procurement professionals.

The rise of the Millennial workforce

Who are the Millennials?

A Millennial is the term attributed to someone born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. You might also know them as ‘Generation Y’.

The stereotype

In recent years Millennials have garnered much criticism from their baby-boomer counterparts. The New York Post even went so far as to label them ‘the worst generation’ ever.

If you believed everything you read in the mainstream media, you’d see Millennials as a generation of entitled, delusional, lazy workers with a penchant for replacing traditional social interactions with a series of web enabled applications.

However, these presumptions that a Millennial workforce is one that is constantly looking for a new job, requires extended holiday leave, possesses an inflated sense of ability and prioritises work-life balance over remuneration, are neither fair nor accurate.

The reality

A recent study by SAP (a German software producer) has gone some way to dispelling the myths attached Millennials, claiming that the ‘next generation’ of worker shares more with the rest of the workforce than many of us first thought.

The study points out that Millennials are in fact no more likely to prioritise workplace ethics, work-life balance or salary expectations in a different way to any other generation.

The report provides the following stats to support these claims:

  • Competitive pay is the biggest motivator for job satisfaction for both Millennials (68 per cent) and non-Millennials (64 per cent).
  • The second biggest motivator for job satisfaction for both groups was a merit based reward system and bonus structure. (55 per cent Millennials, 56 per cent non-Millennials).
  • Despite what stereotypes suggest, fewer Millennials (29 per cent) reported that achieving work/life balance would contribute towards professional satisfaction than did non-Millennials (31 per cent).
  • Similarly, more non-Millennials believe that ‘finding personal meaning in work’ is important (17 per cent) than did Millennials (14 per cent)
  • A meagre one-fifth of each group suggested that making a positive difference in world impacted their job satisfaction.
  • In other stereotype-breaking findings, more non-Millennials (23 per cent) are considering leaving their job in the next six months than are their Millennial counterparts (21 per cent).

Whether our preconceptions were correct or incorrect, the Millennials have arrived. They are the largest generation ever and they possess the greatest collective largest purchasing power in history. What they believe, how they work and the way in which they interact will matter.

Disclaimer – This article was written, edited and posted by a Millennial.

Influencing skills can be learnt – start now

How to persuade and influence

Last week a leading Chief Procurement Officer said that up to 80 per cent of a CPO’s time is spent influencing internal stakeholders.  What does that mean for the ambitious procurement professional?   It means that besides having top class technical skills and experience, to get ahead you need to be a sales person as well.

Listen more, talk less 

Sales training includes advice on how to be an active listener.   As well as giving your full attention to the speaker, it is important that as an active listener you are also seen to be listening.  You can convey your Interest to the speaker by maintaining eye contact or uttering regular words of encouragement to continue.

By giving this ‘feedback”, the person speaking will communicate more easily, openly and honestly with you.  Inter-personal relationships with internal customers are always open for improvement, even if you have been trained repeatedly in “soft skills”.

You can develop a reputation for being approachable and for solving your users’ routine problems. Without stating the obvious, attitude speaks volumes.

The powers of persuasion 

It is important to position yourself as a credible, trustworthy and knowledgeable person if you want users to follow your way of thinking.  Understanding human nature and the principles of persuading and influencing can help create better working relationships.

Persuasion is presenting your case so that you can sway opinions or motivate a decision, usually by appealing to their emotions.   Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of the popular book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion talks about reciprocity. Your internal customers will feel better disposed to your overtures if you can give them something personalized or unexpected. They may even get to like you.  His six principles are beautifully explained in this info graphic drawn by Everreach.

Change management

Much of a CPO’s time is spent in managing change, traditionally not a mainstream procurement function.  Conventional wisdom says 20 per cent will embrace change, 60 per cent will go along with it, but 20 per cent will outright reject it.

Knowing how to handle the bottom 20 per cent can save you time, money and stress.  The implications of ignoring stakeholders that have a vested interest in a given solution cause extra work, aggravation and a poor result.  Remind yourself that they are always thinking of this acronym:  WIIFM  –  what’s in it for me?

Dale Carnegie wrote a classic in 1937 called How to Win Friends and Influence People which is still completely relevant today. He teaches the principles of dealing with people so that they feel important and appreciated. He also emphasises fundamental techniques for handling people without making them feel manipulated.

Knowing how to approach people and make them feel important is a skill that will work for you forever. Stakeholder management is developing into a core competency.

How to reap the benefits of the conference circuit

How to get the most out of conferences

At Procurious, we’re obviously big advocates for online social networking, we’ve outlined the career and personal benefits of partaking herehere and here.

However, we want to use this blog post to remind you all of the importance of incorporating traditional face-to-face events and conferences into your networking program.

Should you need any convincing, we’ve listed some of the benefits you’ll reap from attending conferences and events below.

You’ll get a sense that you are not alone in the world

Lets face it, procurement can be isolating at times. Have you ever sat at your desk and questioned your approach to a certain problem? It could be negotiating new terms with a supplier or trying to get a bigger slice of your CPO’s time. Well chances are in hundreds of offices across the world, other procurement professionals are pondering exactly the same problems. Conferences are an opportunity for you to meet these people, share your challenges and potentially come up with some solutions.

You’ll learn about the full breadth of your industry

At a good conference, everyone is present: be it tech providers, consulting groups, journalists or fellow procurement professionals. It’s incredible to see the diversity of companies and potential careers that are supported by the procurement function.

You’ll be exposed to new technologies

Conferences are a place where technology providers and consulting groups come to pitch their wares. While sales calls from these organisations may be disruptive and tedious while you’re at your desk, at conferences you have the opportunity to sit back and evaluate these solutions on their merit. Not sure about the new supplier relationship management tool you heard about before lunch? Why not find someone from a company that has already implemented the solution and get the inside word?

You’ll get an opportunity to take stock

Taking time away from the office to step back from the day-to-day and engage with other professionals on a strategic level can help to refocus your efforts when you’re back at the desk. Conferences not only provide a new perspective on old problems, they also serve as a great opportunity to reinvigorate your efforts.

It’s an opportunity to position yourself as an expert

Whether it’s a formal presenting role or simply speaking-up during a roundtable discussion, conferences provide a pedestal for you to display your knowledge and expertise. Events are a fantastic opportunity to grow your profile within the function.

You’ll experience a diverse range of opinions

While you may not agree with everyone’s point of view (how boring would the world be if you did?), the opinions of others will challenge your own personal beliefs and may encourage you to tackle issues from another angle. Unless you’re certain there is no way you could possibly improve as a procurement professional, it is definitely worth listening to what others have to say. As Einstein said, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

You’ll have fun

One Republic will play at Microsoft Convergence this year (maybe that’s not everyone’s idea of fun), Boris Becker presented the trophies at last year’s Procurement Leaders Awards and Bill Clinton is popping up more frequently on the corporate speaking tour. So, despite what many say, conferences can be a great opportunity to have fun! Great food, open bars, hotel rooms and exciting cities – what else do you need?

You can turn it into a vacation

The procurement conference schedule is packed with events lined up all over the world. Savvy conference organisers have figured out that you are more likely to attend events towards the end of the week and have adjusted their timetables accordingly. What this means is that conferences have become a great excuse for you (and your loved ones) to take an extended city break. Further your career and win some brownie points with your spouse in the same week? No brainer!

Remember, at these events engagement is key. Don’t be shy, get out and talk to people, tell them your problems, listen to theirs, talk about the presentations, interact, learn and enjoy. The more conferences you attend, the easier the networking becomes – you’ll feel more comfortable catching up with the colleagues you’ve met at previous events and the benefits of these catch-ups will magnify.

Here’s the problem: convincing you on the value of conferences is the easy part, but ultimately it’s not you we need to convince is it? Your boss holds the budget and has the final say as to whether or not you attend conferences.

Keep an eye on Procurious because next week, we’ll give you a guide on ‘how to ask you boss to pay for your next conference’.

The benefits of social networking

Networking… It’s a maligned term that often sits alongside exercising and dieting as things that we know in our hearts we should do, but never seem to get around to. 

Guide to using social networking in the job hunt

Well, we’re here to tell you it needn’t be so. In this post we are going to point out some simple tips that will make your networking efforts more effective and less cringe-worthy.

We’re all in this together

It’s important to remember that on social media platforms and at face-to-face events, everyone is there for the same purpose… To network.

People don’t attend events with the intention of sitting silently in corner, not communicating or not learning. Similarly people don’t join Procurious or LinkedIn to avoid contact with other members.

So the next time you approach someone for networking purposes, remember they are coming from the same place as you. They want to network as well!

Ask for help

As US president Barack Obama once said:

“Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and that then allows you to learn something new.” 

Asking people for help should be an active part of your networking strategy as it actually solves two problems.

The first is clear; asking for help will enable you to find solutions to your problems. Not sure who the best procurement recruiter in New York City is? Ask someone! Trying to determine if a CIPS qualification is worth the investment? Ask someone!

The second benefit that comes from asking for help is less apparent but just as important. A study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that workers who help others, feel happier about their work than those who decide not to help.  By asking someone for help, you give them the opportunity to display their skills and knowledge and at the same time give their self-esteem a boost.

“Our findings make a simple but profound point about altruism: helping others makes us happier. Altruism is not a form of martyrdom, but operates for many as part of a healthy psychological reward system” – University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Donald Moynihan.

If the person asking the question wins and the person answering the question wins, what’s stopping us from asking more questions?

Now back on the Barrack Obama thread, the Economist magazine recently reported that during his time as a US Senator, Barrack Obama, a man who I think you’ll agree has amassed an impressive network over the years, asked more than one third of his fellow Senators for ‘help’.

Be targeted in your approach

No one likes spam. Not in their email accounts, not in their sandwiches and certainly not when they are networking.

When you are looking to connect with people, be genuine not generic.

If you have a particular person you want to meet at an event, it pays to take some time to research them and their interests. The background work you do will not only spark your targets interest but also help to break the ice.

When connecting with people on social media sites try to send personalised messages rather than the default settings of the platform. It doesn’t have to be much but “Hey, I noticed you also work in advertising procurement, lets connect” is infinitely better than “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network”.

Don’t ask for a job

It’s true that social platforms like Procurious and LinkedIn are effectively online CV repositories, and that these platforms are increasing being used by companies and recruiters to fill vacancies.

However, the direction of this flow should not be turned around. Job seekers should avoid directly soliciting for jobs or big-noting themselves to hiring managers through social media platforms or at networking events.

The key here is subtly; it’s OK to ask someone at an event for advice, an opinion or even to meet up for a drink after the conference. However, by asking for a job, you end up alienating yourself from the very person you’re trying to impress.

Keep going, it’s important

Whether it makes your toes curl or not, networking is important. People who network find better jobs more easily than those who don’t.

The Guardian newspaper recently reported that a staggering 90 per cent of UK employers use social media a means to find staff.

The importance of networking is magnified as you progress through your career. A large portion of senior positions are never formally advertised, with firms preferring to rely on references and people they ‘know’ to fill important roles. The question is will they ‘know’ you?

The importance of networking stretches beyond finding your next job. Networks can be a source of inspiration. They can provide you with information and insight you would have never otherwise encountered. Effective networking may help you find your next mentor, role model or god forbid even a friend!

So get out there and network!

Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

When you rehire an ex-employee, especially one that was a star, it looks like you are getting a great deal. What you see is what you get. They understand your business and its own unique culture, are immediately productive and bring industry knowledge and new ideas.

Should you ever rehire an ex-employee?

The best-case scenario is when an employee wants to return because he has had time to learn new skills and has gained in-depth work experience somewhere else that he can share with you.

The good news about rehiring top performers

Rehiring former employees often costs much less than hiring from scratch, especially since you can cut out the extremely costly recruiting and interview process. When budgets are tight, you can explore this avenue using social media, alumni groups and word-of-mouth to find out who is actively looking.

The potential rehires, also known as boomerangs, are easier to assimilate into the organization and you will save you orientation time. The thinking is that since they know exactly what they’ll be signing up for, they will be likely to stay longer the second time and therefore be less risky, more productive and better for your retention statistics.

There’s also some thought that a rehired person can provide you with a fresh perspective, innovative ideas and some industry intelligence.

So what can go wrong? Quite a lot

Not all former employees are worthy of rehiring. Let’s hope they left for the right reasons and of their own accord. Obviously, you will exclude anyone who was fired, incompetent or unproductive or suddenly has accumulated a criminal record.

Here are a few of the main disadvantages of rehiring former employees:

  •  Current managers and co-workers may feel threatened if the employee returns with a new set of skills, and especially irritated if they come back onboard with a higher remuneration package, which is quite likely. They may feel an employee already had their chance.
  •  The reason that they left in the first place may still be a problem: the boss from hell, lack of benefits, poor promotion prospects and/or lack of opportunities to learn.
  •  There may be unintended consequences if the rehire is appointed at a higher level than his previous role. It may trigger other departures if promotional prospects are blocked, i.e. waiting to fill “dead man’s shoes.”
  •  Returning employees may just not fit in. The climate and culture of the company may no longer be the same. In this case, their new presence may be disruptive and cause tension.

Develop a rehiring policy

A definite success factor is having a firm policy that is applied fairly to all potential “Comeback Kids.” Who is eligible to be rehired should be agreed upon internally and be legally defensible.  Two important elements to include are how long after leaving an employee can return, and  what’s a reasonable maximum time to be away.

In some industries, some employers also refuse to rehire an employee who left to go to a competitor. Other organizations may welcome the broader experience and give preference

to ambitious ex-employees who went off to try their hand at consulting or starting their own business.

Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading U.S. consultancy, is such a staunch believer in rehiring that it sponsors a Comeback Kids program, through which it actively reaches out to past employees and those from the military.

A few more things to consider when rehiring

  • Make sure the conditions that caused that person to leave are not still barriers. Exit interviews are notoriously unreliable. so it’s best to work out why the employee really left. If he undervalued the company before, has anything changed?
  • Is this person really the best candidate for the job? It should not be a quick fix — don’t take the lazy recruiter’s solution.
  • Are you overlooking quality internal candidates? Someone else internally might be just as qualified to do the job. Think about the message you’re sending and the possible repercussions of rehiring instead.

Don’t forget to brief the new employee on how things have changed since he left and any new projects that have come up since.  A “welcome back” interview shows that your company is open to hiring the best people, whatever their job history.

Would you rehire a great former employee? Let us know by commenting on the story below.

7 gadgets to help improve your sleep

Suffering from back to work blues?

Whether you’re putting on that extra layer to protect from the cold or basking in altogether warmer climes, January’s unlikely to ever win any accolades for favourite month of the year…

Ostrich Pillow - best gadgets to improve your sleep

To that end we’re providing you with a few good excuses to hide away and snuggle down for that little bit longer each morning. Eyes down for a selection of bizarre gadgets that will do everything from analysing your sleeping patterns to guaranteeing a good night’s sleep.

Sleep Number x12 bed

Sleep Number x12 bed

If someone were to remark that they thought your bed was pretty clever, you’d probably wonder whether they’d been getting enough sleep themselves… But you’d be forgetting that we live in an age where just about everything has become ‘smart’ – that’s right, even beds are getting in on the act.

US bed maker Sleep Number has gone and made the world’s first smart bed. The built-in Sleep IQ technology tracks the usual measurements (heart rate, breathing rate etc.) but also responds to voice commands to easily activate a wealth of other features. The x12 bed is also dual-sided and it (for example) allows you to make minute adjustments to alleviate a noisy snoring bedfellow.

At $8000 it certainly isn’t cheap, but with all that gadgetry onboard we’re sure you’ll enjoy a jolly nice sleep.

Clocky robotic alarm

Clocky Robotic Alarm

This little wonderful wheeled alarm clock started life as an engineering student’s project. Having trouble waking up herself, Gauri Nanda developed Clocky to shriek annoyingly and effectively, waking you up. The fun doesn’t end there though, Clocky will leap off your bedside table (without a thought for its own safety), and drive around your room, all the while performing random turns to whizz away from your grasp. There’s only one thing for it, you’ll have to get out of bed and hunt the little blighter down yourself.

Ostrich Pillow - sleep gadgets

Ostrich Pillow

“What is that silly thing around your head?” Enquires a bemused work colleague. “Why it’s only a revolutionary new product to enable easy power naps anytime, everywhere” you answer, Right, of course it is.

The Ostrich Pillow really can be used anywhere – be it airports, trains, aeroplanes, libraries, at the office, on a sofa and even on the floor. Heck we know it looks silly but its creators have been beavering away on the Ostrich Pillow for one year, testing and exploring the perfect dimensions and materials to create the best possible experience for the nap.

Selk'bag

Selk’bag

The strangely-named Selk’bag looks like a giant onesie, and has clearly been designed for those adults among us who just refuse to grow up (that makes most of us then).

It’s based on the Japanese Snuggie (which resembled a giant mutant tadpole) and amusingly became the stuff of Internet-lore back in 2009. Perfect for a variety of adventures, the Selk’bag is used by outdoor enthusiasts the world over for camping in a tent, under the stars, at the lake, on the beach, or log cabin (just don’t go scaring others in the woods…)

shapeup alarm clock

Shape Up Alarm Clock

It’s hard enough to get up in the morning and the Shape Up Alarm Clock (shaped like a dumbbell) is set to make things that little bit harder… OK so it’s a bit of a challenge, but you’ll look buff.

This is a digital alarm clock and dumbbell all wrapped up into one novelty alarm clock package. Set the digital alarm clock as normal using the friendly buttons and then wait for your wakeup call with a twist. Only the upward swing of the dumbbell shuts off the repeating buzz – 30 upward swings of the dumbbell that is – meanwhile you can watch your progress using the LCD display.

Sleep Recorder app for Windows Phone

Sleep Recorder App (for Windows Phone)

Prone to talking in your sleep? If you’ve ever wondered what you (or a loved one) sounds like then download the excellent Sleep Recorder app and see for yourself. Sleep Recorder uses your phone’s microphone to capture audio and saves the recording if it detects voice. It won’t record silence or noise. Editor’s tip: keep your phone plugged-in overnight to ease battery drain while in-use.

Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow

Sound Oasis Sleep Therapy Pillow

This unique pillow allows the weary to enjoy their favourite music or sounds in optimal relaxation and comfort. Audio is delivered via two high fidelity, ultra-thin stereo speakers positioned deep within the pillow, there is also an in-line volume control so you don’t need to faff around when turning the pillow up or down.

What’s more the pillow is finished with a soft brushed cover and hypoallergenic polyester fibrefill.