The diverse team: how your company can benefit and gain significant synergy

We’ve all heard the term “diversity in the workplace,” and many times our thoughts turn to the policies that many companies have implemented in order to abide by federal, state and local laws. However, the concept is more than just legislation. Diversity has countless benefits for U.S. businesses of all sizes, and it’s important to embrace it within your own. Here are the best practices for creating a culture that values diversity and the positives your company can take away from them.

Hiring employees from a more diverse candidate pool makes for a more qualified workforce.

Recruiting from the largest group of potential hires means you’ll be looking at individuals with the highest levels of skills and qualifications. You’re more likely to bring in the best minds available and develop a greatly talented workforce, one of your company’s most important assets.

Hiring a diverse workforce can help you improve your “employee brand.”

You want your company to be a place where the top talent is begging to work, so developing a strong “employee brand” is one of the best practices for creating a culture that values diversity. Demonstrating the diversity of your workforce shows that your business is one of inclusion, making your company more likely to attract the greatest minds in your industry.

Diverse workplaces allow you to bring in fresh perspectives.

People from various backgrounds, countries and ethnic groups bring with them new perspectives, which can turn into new ideas for improving company efficiencies, lowering costs and other benefits. You can boost productivity and workflow with the different sets of skills these employees bring to the table. In addition, these various backgrounds can enable you to market to your target customers more effectively.

Diversity in your workplace can help your company provide better service.

Implementing diversity initiatives will typically require you to provide the proper training programs to increase appreciation of other cultures and sensitivity levels. Through this process, your employees will learn to communicate more effectively with each other. This phenomenon benefits your company as your team members are better able to relate to customer needs and provide improved service.

Placing value on diversity drives the U.S. economy.

The human component of company assets is improved as more women and ethnicities become part of the workforce. Individuals from non-traditional cultural groups have actually improved the U.S. Gross Domestic Product over the last few decades.

A diverse workplace suffers lower employee turnover.

Companies that refuse to foster an inclusive work environment experience a higher employee turnover rate than those businesses that support diversity initiatives. The reason is that an exclusive workplace creates a more hostile atmosphere, leading employees to seek other positions. Retaining quality personnel actually affects a company’s bottom line, as the costs of replacing employees who leave are considerable.

The best practices for creating a culture that values diversity have far-reaching impacts that your company cannot afford to deny. However, finding the right balance within your workforce can be a difficult task, especially when you need to be focused on running your business. Turning to a staffing company can help you develop a diverse, highly skilled team of employees that bring more to the table than just job qualifications. Please contact the specialists at KP Companies to hear more about our diversity search services and solutions.

How to Be Ready for Your Executive Interview

Job interviews can be a stressful ordeal in any event, but once you reach the executive level, it’s a whole other ballgame. You’re not just trying to convince the hiring manager that you’re qualified for the position. Everyone who walks into the room is qualified, or they wouldn’t have made it this far. You need to show them that you’ll be a good fit for their company, and offer them something that the others won’t. How do you do that? It helps to be prepared. Here are a few things you can do to be ready for your executive interview.

    Do Your Research

    Before you go in, find out a little about the company you’re interviewing with. What are they known for? Have they been in the news recently? What kind of marketing and branding do they do? What’s their social media presence like? The more you know about the company that’s considering hiring you, the better you’ll be able to connect with them. Tell them what you like about their operation and what appeals to you about the possibility of working there. If you know the name of the person who’s going to be interviewing you, look them up as well. Not in a creepy way, of course. But find out what their history with the company is, how long they’ve been there, any awards or recognition, etc. Dropping a couple of key tidbits into the conversation can show them you’ve done your homework, as well as preparing you a bit before meeting them face to face. We live in the Information Age, so there’s no excuse for going in without knowing what you’re dealing with.

    Prepare Interview Answers

    This one treads a fine line. If you memorize all of your answers to standard interview questions and deliver them by rote, it won’t tell the company much about you other than that you know the standard answers to common interview questions. However, if you don’t prepare for certain questions, you could be caught off guard. If you can, reach out to someone who’s interviewed at this company in the past, and find out what it was like for them. This will give you an idea of what to expect, while still allowing you a chance to answer questions genuinely and naturally and make a real connection with the interviewer.

    Be Prepared for Uncomfortable Questions

    There may be a question or two for which the answer is a bit awkward. Maybe you were fired from your last job, and they want to know why. Maybe there’s a gap in your resume wherein you weren’t working. Maybe you had a run-in with the law when you were younger. Be prepared for these in advance, so that you can navigate them with ease. The most important thing to remember, though, is not to lie. The truth will come out eventually no matter what, and making excuses or shifting the blame for an unfortunate situation will just make it sound like you can’t take responsibility for your own actions. Be open and honest with them, and, if possible, include something positive that came from the experience. Most employers will appreciate your candor.

    Have Questions of Your Own

    At the executive level, the purpose of an interview isn’t just to have the right answers to questions. It’s an opportunity for people from the company to engage with you on a deeper level. To that end, it’s important to come in with a few questions of your own, which can show that you have a real interest in their company and its goings on. Ask something about how they do things related to your field (e.g. “Do you use an Enterprise Resource Planning platform? If so, which one, what version, etc.?”). Ask about something that interested you as you researched the company. Ask about the company culture or dynamic. Don’t overdo it, but come up with three or four good questions to ask, to show your knowledge, flexibility, and general enthusiasm.

    These are just a few things you can do to prepare for an executive interview. Most important, though, is don’t be intimidated. Don’t be afraid to voice concerns, or to ask about difficult things, like salary and benefits. Remember, you’re evaluating them as much as they’re evaluating you. Show them why you’re the best person for the position, but also let them show you why their company would be the best place for you to work. Be confident, knowledgeable, and respectful, and you’ll come out just fine.

10 Things Employers Need to Know When Recruiting Executive Level Candidates

Filling a position in your company isn’t easy under any circumstances, and the higher up the ladder you go, the more difficult it becomes. When it comes to executive level candidates, you’re not just looking for someone with the right skills and experience on paper. You want someone who will really fit in with your company’s dynamic and add value to your organization. How do you bring someone like that into your fold? Here are 10 things you need to know about recruiting executive level candidates.

1. Planning is Key

The first thing you need to do, before doing any recruiting, is to sit down and create a profile for your ideal candidate. This means more than just education and experience. What kind of personality do they have? How do they approach challenges and resolve problems? How do they interact with both their superiors and their subordinates? In addition, there are issues to determine such as what kind of salary and benefits you’re able to provide, and how high you’re willing to go in negotiations. You might not be able to find someone who fits the bill exactly, but the more detailed you are in outlining who you’re looking for, the better you’ll be able to recognize the right candidate when they come along.

2. It’s About Making Connections, Not Reading Resumes

Putting listings on job sites is great, but more important is networking. You’re more likely to land someone with whom you’ve made an actual connection, or who at least knows your company and what it’s all about, than someone who filled out your application along with a dozen others online. Social media works well in this regard. By simply posting your job listings on your social media profiles, you open yourself up to a group of people who already have enough interest in your company to connect with it online. It also helps to cultivate relationships wherever you go: conferences, trade shows, etc. By making these connections and staying in touch even when you’re not actively looking for job candidates, you’ll have a great starting point once you finally are.

3. Assessment Tools Can Help

You’ve cast your net broadly. You put listings on all the major job sites, plus social media and your other networks. Now, a myriad of applications are flowing in. The bigger the pool, the more likely you’ll be to find the perfect candidate. But in order to do that, first you’ll need to weed out the unqualified ones—and that can take some time. The best way to do it quickly is with an online assessment tool. Along with the basic application, have each candidate fill out an assessment questionnaire. It will gauge their aptitude in a variety of different areas, from leadership to teamwork to problem solving skills, and more. The questionnaire can also be tailored to your company’s specific needs and environment. Then, an analytics program automatically determines which are the best candidates for your organization, and which are unqualified, a poor fit, etc. You’re then left with a small pool of highly qualified candidates who are ready to move on to the interview process—in much less time than it would take your organization to go through every application by hand.

4. They’re Evaluating You Too

For an intelligent and well-qualified candidate at the executive level, it’s a safe bet you’re not the only company they’re interviewing with. So the question becomes, why should they choose to take a position with your organization, as opposed to one of the others? So while you’re evaluating them, they’re doing the same to you. During the entire hiring process, from the moment they first see your name, through each stage of interviews, up until the moment you make them an offer, your executive level candidates are looking at what you have to offer them. So put your best foot forward.

5. Their Time Is Valuable

A couple of rounds of interviews may be necessary to narrow your list down to a single candidate, but don’t draw things out longer than you have to. They’re busy people, and if you’re going to bring them into your company, you owe it to them not to waste their time or force them to jump through extra, unnecessary hoops. Get your candidates in a room with your hiring manager from the beginning, so they know they’re dealing with the person who makes the ultimate decision, rather than someone who may or may not recommend them to someone else. It is still important to get multiple people’s opinions, to minimize bias, but they can still meet everyone on a single day, rather than forcing them to come back two or three more times. Showing them you respect their time shows that you respect them as well, and goes a long way towards bringing them aboard your organization.

6. Money and Benefits Aren’t Everything

When we say “what you have to offer them,” we mean more than just starting salary and vacation time. Especially at the executive level, job candidates are looking at what your office environment is like, what kind of opportunities you have for advancement, whether or not you can provide a flexible work schedule to accommodate things like picking up their kids from school, and more. In fact, if you can give them something they really care about, they may be willing to join your company over another that pays more, but doesn’t have what they want.

7. You’ll Need to Negotiate

Particularly if your ideal candidate has several other offers on the table—or if you’re trying to recruit them away from their current job—they’ll likely have at least a couple of requests of their own. It may be additional money or benefits, or it may be something else. This is where the planning from #1 comes in. It’s important to know in advance exactly how far you’re willing/able to go to accommodate their needs. If their demands take you by surprise, you may find yourself giving in to more than you can reasonably afford to.

8. You May Need a Backup Plan

Ultimately, even if you present them with the best possible offer, your top choice to fill the available position may decide to go in a different direction. There may be any number of reasons why, many of which have nothing to do with you or your company at all. But it’s important to be prepared. Choose your top three or four candidates, so that if one falls through, you can just go to the next one. Just be sure not to let them know they were your second choice, or make them feel like you would have rather had someone else. Nobody likes that.

9. You Should Keep the Resources You Gain

So let’s say your top choice does agree to work at your company. Keep in touch with the other three or four candidates on your list, and anyone else who catches your eye during the interview process, but just didn’t quite make the cut. Follow up with them after the interview and keep in touch in the coming months to find out how they are and what they’re up to. You never know when another position may open up in your company that they may be better suited for (see point #2 about networking and making connections).

10. Onboarding Starts Immediately

Recruiting is only half the battle. Once you’ve brought someone into the fold, your next job is to keep them there. Employee turnover is inconvenient and costly. To combat this, it’s important to integrate your new recruit into your existing company culture quickly and thoroughly. In reality, the first stages of the onboarding process should begin during the interview process, and continue on seamlessly from there. Make them fit in and feel welcome and help them understand their role on your team, and your new recruit will be more likely to become a faithful long term employee.

Recruiting executive level employees isn’t an easy process. It’s important that it be done well, and you can’t cut corners—otherwise you risk missing out on that perfect candidate. But if you know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for, you can greatly increase your chances of finding someone who can benefit your company for years to come.

A Step by Step Guide to Executive Career Planning

In the Broadway musical, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, a bright young man named Finch manages to work his way from a lowly mailroom clerk to a junior executive after only one day on the job. Within a few weeks, he ascends the ranks further still, becoming a Vice President, and eventually Chairman of the Board.

Of course, things don’t really work that way, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of executives with dreams of making a similar climb. And it certainly is possible to work your way up the corporate ladder, and even reach the very top. The only difference is, in the real world, it takes more time, effort, and planning. Here’s a step by step guide to executive career planning.

Outline Your Goals

Where do you want to be, jobwise, a year from now? How about five years, or ten years from now? Where do you ultimately want to end up, and what do you want to be doing? Map out your career goals, from the very big, down to the very small. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going.

Create a Strategy

Now that you have an outline of your goals… What’s it going to take to achieve them? What will you have to do? What obstacles are in your way? Again, look at both the ultimate, big picture goals, and the smaller, more immediate ones. Use this information to create a timeline of exactly what you should be doing and when, in order to help you towards your goals. Note that this could mean moving up the corporate ladder within your company, or moving to another company that better fits with your goals.

Evaluate Yourself

What are your strengths that will help you along in your career? Skills, experience, natural aptitudes, or anything else that could be helpful. Now, what weaknesses might hold you back? Bad habits, personality clashes, knowledge gaps, etc. Now, set about honing your strengths and overcoming your weaknesses. Is there a particular set of skills that you need in order to reach the level you’re aiming for? How can you get it? Do you always react in a particular, negative way when faced with certain circumstances? Be aware of it and try to eliminate that behavior. Turn yourself into the type of person that the position requires.

Develop Your Personal Brand

You won’t get anywhere in your career if no one knows who you are. You are a brand, and your goal is to get someone else to invest in it. Make sure you have a perfect and polished executive resume, as well as stellar references. But your brand isn’t just limited to job hunting. Whether you’re in an interview or merely going through your daily work routine, how you present yourself to those around you is key. If your company offers any sort of paid additional education or training, take it. Taking the initiative is a great way to make yourself stand out from the others. Of course, don’t oversell yourself. Don’t deliberately go out of your way to show off how great you are when you know that the higher ups are looking. Instead, present yourself in the best possible light at all times and establish your brand as one that others will be interested in.

You never know when or where you may meet someone who can help

you along on your journey. Make connections wherever you go. Within your own company, see about getting someone to mentor you. Not only will you gain valuable knowledge from their experience, they’ll also have an active interest in you, and may recommend you for a promotion or other advancement. Likewise, when you meet people at conferences, trade shows, and other events in your field, they may be able to help you move your career forward in all sorts of ways. Connect with them and touch base regularly, just to stay on their radar.

Be Flexible

Things rarely, if ever, go exactly the way you want them to. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Be on the lookout for opportunities that don’t necessarily fit in with the plan you’ve mapped out, but could still represent an important step up for your career. By being willing to follow an unexpected opportunity, you could end up somewhere better than where you originally planned.

Advancing your career at the executive level takes a lot of time, hard work, and commitment. But in the end, anything is possible. With drive, initiative, and careful career planning, you can reach your goals and get everything you’ve ever wanted.

The Employers’ Guide to an Executive Interview

Remember the first time you were interviewed for a job? You were nervous and uncertain, and the whole experience was a little bit terrifying. But you said to yourself, “Someday, I’m going to be on the other side of that desk, as the one conducting the interviews.” Well, now you are. And to your surprise, you’re just as nervous and uncertain, and the whole experience is just as terrifying, as it was when you were the one being interviewed.

Conducting executive interviews is a big responsibility. What criteria do you use to evaluate the candidates? How do you make the ultimate decision? What if you miss something and hire the wrong person? It can be a daunting task, certainly, but with these basic tips, you’ll hopefully be better equipped to find the best fit for your company.

Know What You’re Looking For

You’ll have a much easier time finding the right candidate if you know as much as possible up front about the type of person you’re looking to hire. That means more than just skills and experience. Hopefully, everyone who’s made it to the interview process has the necessary requirements on their resume. But what kind of personality do they have? What are their problem solving skills like? How do they work in a team, and on their own? Map out what you’re looking for in an ideal candidate and design interview questions around that.

Do Your Homework

Review each candidate thoroughly before they come in for their interview. This includes going over their resume, contacting their references, and looking at any work of theirs from other companies that you may have access to. Treat them as more than just the next person on the list of potential hires. Know, from the moment they walk in the door, exactly who they are and what they’re about. Be ready with specific questions that relate to their history and experience, instead of just the general boilerplate interview questions that everyone asks. This will help you connect with them better over the course of the interview process.

Remember Interviews Are a Two Way Street

Don’t just do all the talking yourself. At the same time, don’t just let them do all the talking either. Experts say that the interviewer should talk about 30% of the time. But use that 30% effectively. Engage them in conversation. Give them an opportunity to ask their own questions and voice any issues they may have. By engaging them in this way, you’ll be able to learn more about them than just a bunch of standard questions and answers, and more effectively gauge what kind of fit they’ll be in your company.

Bring Others Into the Process

Everyone has their own biases. Even when you know what they are, they can be difficult to overcome, and can interfere with your making a fair hiring decision. That’s why it’s important to bring a couple of other people into the interview process. Not too many—maybe two or three at the most. Ideally, in addition to the hiring manager, you should have the person who’s going to be your candidate’s direct boss, and someone from HR. Those extra pairs of eyes can help you evaluate candidates from multiple angles and get a better, more complete picture of who they are and what kind of fit they are for the job.

See Them in Action.

Most interviews ask questions like, “How would you react in this situation?” or “Give me an example of a time you dealt with this kind of problem.” The answers can certainly be helpful, but even so, there’s a difference between saying and doing. Find ways of seeing what they’re like in action. Give them a task that they’ll be likely to encounter in their position at your company, and see how they handle it. You can even put them in a team with a couple of your existing employees, to observe how they work in a team, and how they fit in with your existing group dynamic. This “hands on” approach is a great way of finding who’s really best suited to work for you.

The most important thing to remember when conducting an executive interview is that the candidate is evaluating you just as much as you’re evaluating them. If they’re talented and well-qualified, they’ll likely be entertaining several different offers. So always show your company in the best possible light, and let them see what makes you stand out from the rest. With a little effort and preparation, you’ll be able to find the perfect candidate to fill the position and fit in well with your company culture.

Hiring Top Performers

When recruiting new employees, it’s important that you get the very best. But “best” can be subjective. No doubt, your top candidates look very much alike on paper. Their interviews are also likely stellar. So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? How do you even know what you’re looking for when it comes to hiring top performers? Here are a few hiring practices you should look into, to make sure you get the best employees for your company.

Use Data and Analytics

Your company likely has a lot of established hiring practices when it comes to recruiting, interviewing, etc. You may have certain questions to ask, like, “What’s your greatest weakness?” to establish… Well, that’s the problem. The answer to that question, along with a lot of other “standard” hiring practices, don’t really establish anything worth knowing about the candidate or how they’ll perform at your company. Many of your methods are likely outdated. So leave them behind and instead adopt a strategy of data and analytics. The right analytics program can take the raw data about a potential hire and scan it for certain key factors that indicate they’d be a good match for your company. By crunching the numbers, it can provide you with not only the most qualified candidates, but the ones that would be the best fit for your company.

Use Assessment Tools

How do you get the raw data about a candidate?  You use an online assessment tool. These tests determine a candidate’s aptitude in a number of different areas, from leadership skills to teamwork to problem solving and more. They can be customized to fit your company and programmed to find specific traits that will best complement your existing team.

Look for Passion

Computer software and test results can’t tell you everything you need to know about a candidate. You still need to interview them one on one to determine who will be the best fit for your company. But perhaps try a different tack when talking to them. You’ve already determined their skills and aptitudes. It’s clear they’re capable of doing the job. So what you want to determine is, what are they passionate about? Will they find something in this job to motivate them every day and spur them towards greatness? Or will it just be about trading 8 hours of their day for a paycheck? Find someone who really cares about the work you do, and you’ll find a candidate who will not just excel, but stick with you for the long haul.

Look for Unique Individuals

What does your ideal candidate look like? Well, if you’re like a lot of executives, they basically look a lot like you when you were at that stage of life. Or they look exactly like the previous person who filled that position. That attitude turns all of your employees into cogs in a machine. One leaves, so you find a carbon copy, fit them into the hole that was left, and it’s business as usual. That’s not how business works—or life, for that matter. Choose the people you hire based on their own merits and personalities, not just on the qualities that have worked for you in the past. Yes, that means the dynamic of your workforce will change. But if you make the right hire, it will change for the better.

These are just a few of the hiring practices you should look at when trying to find top performers for your company. It’s not an easy process, and it can take some time, but with the right tools and the right attitude, you can fill your company with people who really want to make a difference, and can remain with you for years to come.

Building an Authentic and Inclusive Company Culture

Every company has a culture. It’s how your employees interact with each other and how you interact with other companies. It’s your values and what you stand for. It’s the way you work on a day to day basis: your habits, your practices, etc. In short, it’s everything that makes your company what it is. And it’s a big part of what will ultimately determine your success of failure. Therefore, if you want to improve the direction in which you’re going, you’re going to need to take an active interest in building your company’s culture, to make it authentic and inclusive. Here are a few ways to do that.

Know Who You Are—and Who You Want to Be

What is it that your company stands for? What are your core values? What are your goals for the next year, the next five years, the next century? Determining who you are as a company will help you better establish a more authentic company culture. Don’t just look at bigger, more successful organizations in your field and try to copy them. That will just doom you to failure. Instead, embrace what makes you unique.

Get Rid of What Doesn’t Fit

When you hire a new employee, it’s important to make sure that they’ll fit into your company culture. There are a number of assessment tests and analytics programs that can help you do that. That, plus the interviews, will hopefully help you find the best workers to complement your existing dynamic. But if somehow it doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to replace them with someone better suited. Of course, firing employees quickly doesn’t mean you should have an itchy trigger finger. That makes it difficult to maintain inclusivity. But if it’s clear that an employee simply won’t work in your company, it’s better to let them go sooner, rather than later. Likewise, if some of your practices and policies aren’t meshing with your culture, and aren’t yielding the results they should, eliminate them and find a better way. It’s easy to hold on to old, established ways of doing things, just out of habit and routine. But doing so can be detrimental to your company.

Create Dialogue

Do your employees have a voice within your company? When you make decisions, are you taking their opinions into consideration? When they have concerns, is there an outlet for them to express them and have action taken in response? Your employees are the most important part of your company culture. Maintain an open dialogue with them, rather than just dictating to them and expecting them to follow. This will lead to better job satisfaction and help you to solve problems more quickly and make better decisions overall.

Recognize Exceptional Work

Confucius said that a good government is one that both chastises those who do poorly and rewards those who do well. This can also be applied to business. Unfortunately, a lot of companies only practice the former. If someone’s sales numbers aren’t where they should be, management is jumping down their throat. But when they reach a new milestone, no one says a word. Make sure your employees feel appreciated and recognize and reward them for a job well done. When you do that, you make them feel more invested in their job and in your company and motivate them to continue working hard and doing well going forward.

Authenticity and inclusivity are both essential aspects of your company culture. Your organization should be like a family. It’s where most of your employees spend the bulk of their day. They should feel like they belong—like they’re a part of something great. And by building an inclusive and authentic company culture, you can help them be proud of that fact.

Effective Employer Branding

An important position just opened up in your company. You post a job listing on the most popular employment sites, as well as on your own site and social media, and talk to a recruiter. You end up with a stack of resumes, which you then evaluate carefully to see which candidate will be the best fit for your company.

What you need to realize, though, is that your top candidates are doing exactly the same with you. For the best, most qualified applicants, chances are you’re not the only company making them an offer. Why should your ideal hire choose you over all of their other options? The way you get a better chance at landing them is called employer branding.

What Is Employer Branding?

These days, there are many more factors involved in choosing a place of employment, besides just who offers the highest salary or the best benefits. When weighing their options, potential hires will ask things like, “Is this a nice place to work?” and “What good can I do here, both in my field and in the world?” In fact, they may even be willing to take a slightly lower offer, if it means working at a place they know has a reputation for a good working environment and satisfied employees.

That reputation is employer branding. It’s what separates you from your competition, not just on paper, but in practice. In evaluating whether or not to take the job you offer them, one of the first questions candidates will ask themselves is, what do they know about you—not just from the tour you gave them in the interview, or from your website, but from what they’ve heard. Here are a few factors they’ll look at:

What’s it like to work for your company on a daily basis?

Some of the best employer branding in that regard belongs to Google. Everyone knows that working for them is a dream. They provide free gourmet meals, snacks, and drinks for their employees. You can bring your pets to work with you. There are games, gym equipment, and offers of massages as incentive for a job well done. You’re not Google and don’t have their money or resources, but you can still improve your branding by adding a few perks that make employees look forward to coming into work every day.

Big corporations often have a reputation for being evil

Or at least cold and uncaring. Therefore, companies with a reputation for giving back to the community and making a difference to the world around them are often very attractive to potential hires. Do you care about the environment and reducing your carbon footprint? Do you organize charitable programs that employees can be a part of? Prospective employees will often be more likely to choose your company if you give them the opportunity to do some good in the world.

Once they come aboard your company, what will your hire be able to do there?

This doesn’t just mean opportunities for advancement, though those are important as well. It also refers to what kind of work they’ll do on a daily basis. What impact will it have in your field, and in the world at large? Are you building new technologies? Performing revolutionary research? Maybe you give employees access to your company’s resources to work on their own projects on the side. Giving potential hires the opportunity to do something they’re passionate is a big part of employer branding.

Obviously, your company doesn’t have to provide employees with all of these things. Find your niche, the thing that makes you stand out as an employer, and focus your branding on that. Then, focus a portion of your resources on showing the world that that’s who you are.

For instance, if your focus is on providing a good working environment, post pictures to your social channels of employees enjoying their day at the office and some of the things you offer. If your focus is on giving back to the community, send out press releases for some of your bigger charitable events and get them covered by the media.

Make it clear to the world exactly who your company is and what you stand for, and what sets you apart from every other employer. That way, when you make an offer to a job candidate, they’ll know your reputation and be able to see why working for you is worthwhile, besides just money and benefits. And the employees you choose will be more likely to choose you too.

Retaining Diverse and Other Top Notch Employees

Diversity is an important factor in your hiring process. There are plenty of tried and true methods for recruiting top quality employees of all different backgrounds. But the question is, how do you get them to stay? Is there a high rate of turnover among your diverse talent? How do you maintain a high quality, diverse workforce over time?

A Vicious Circle

A recent survey of companies in the Twin Cities found that a lot of employers were having trouble retaining people of color in their workforce. 16% of diverse employees overall and 22% of those under 30 expressed a desire to leave the area within the next five years.

There may be a number of reasons that make Minnesota less than appealing as a place to work, but the main reason cited was the lack of diversity in the area. So essentially, diverse employees don’t want to stay in the Twin Cities because there aren’t enough diverse employees. This leads to a vicious circle which continues to make employee retention difficult going forward. How do you break the cycle?

Making Connections

But of course, the problem goes deeper than that, and the underlying issue also lends itself to a solution. It’s not just a lack of diverse faces that drives people of color away, but a general lack of inclusion and cultural awareness.

The lack of diversity can make existing diverse employees feel alone and isolated. Many employees found their coworkers closed off and insular, making it difficult to connect with them in any meaningful way. Even if you’re not actively being made to feel unwelcome, when your working environment has a passive feeling of exclusivity, it’s easy to start thinking about seeking more inclusionary conditions elsewhere.

Furthermore, though many companies did exhibit diversity, far fewer people of color were found to occupy leadership positions. This could partly account for the insular nature of existing employees. When the lack of cultural awareness is coming from management, it can make connections even more difficult. Additionally, it could indicate a lack of advancement opportunities for employees of color.

Diversity vs. Inclusion

So how can you fix the diversity problem in your company when it comes to employee retention? The first step is not to think of it in terms of filling a quota, but instead looking with an eye towards actual inclusion. That means making sure there are top notch employees of color at every level of management, and that your diverse workers have real advancement opportunities. For your entry level employees, provide mentors who can help them map out a career path and help them on the road to success.

Encourage connection between employees of all different cultures and backgrounds. You can even hold events that encourage an understanding and appreciation for all different cultures. And make sure that the recognition of those cultural differences doesn’t stop with those events.

For instance, remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays. Everyone gets off for Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, but do Jewish employees get off for Yom Kippur? Do Muslim employees get off for Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, which are celebrated during Ramadan? Or do they have to cut into their vacation time to observe those days?

Cultural awareness and inclusion are an ongoing process, and an important part of retaining diverse talent. Simply having people of different colors in your organization is not enough. You need to make sure they feel like they’re truly a part of the family. Take an active interest in your employees, their wellbeing, and their inclusion in your company, no matter their color or creed. By doing that, you’ll be on the road to maintaining truly lasting diverse workforce.

How to Reach Your Potential at Work

Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your talents? Particularly at work—you know your job and you know the company backwards and forwards. You feel like you should be able to rise higher or earn more, but something’s holding you back. How can you reach your full potential at work, in order to achieve your career goals? Here are a few tips.

List Your Strengths

The Greeks said, “Know thyself.” Harvard Business Review says it, too. They recommend beginning by taking stock of your current skills in your job and the things you do well. Just list the two or three biggest or most important ones on a piece of paper. What is it that makes you good at these things? What can you accomplish with these skills, both now and in the future?

List Your Weaknesses

Write down your two or three biggest weaknesses. What do you struggle with? What do you need to work on? This one is a little tougher. It can be difficult to admit there are things you can’t do, or problems in your job performance. It might help to talk to your coworkers and superiors about it. Once you’ve got your list, figure out how to improve your performance by fixing these issues. It might require coaching from a professional. Whatever it takes, do what you can to conquer your weaknesses and improve your work overall.

Identify Your Goals

What is it, exactly, that you’re trying to accomplish? Do you want a promotion? More money? A better job at another company? A position that offers better hours, or an opportunity to travel? Write down where you want to end up, and what you want to be doing. Include both long term and short term goals: what you want to be doing in five or ten years, but also next week and next month. Then break down exactly what it’s going to take to accomplish those goals, and turn those steps into new goals.

Create a Timeline

One of the biggest obstacles to reaching your potential is thinking in too broad of terms. You want to be Executive VP—great! But there’s a difference between having an idea of where you want to go and actually working towards getting there. Now that you’ve got your list of goals, motivate yourself by creating a timeline of how (and when) you’re going to achieve them. Then, once you have your basic timeline in place, of goals for the next five or ten years, get more specific. Create a timeline for the next month, and then one for the next week. Every day, at any given moment, you should be able to identify what it is that you’re doing right now to achieve your goals and reach your potential.

Get a Mentor

Nobody ever achieved anything all on their own. Talk to the people above you. Let them know what it is you want within your company and ask what you need to do for them to give it to you. In particular, find someone whom you respect and ask them to help you on a more personal and individual basis. Get them to mentor you and help you improve. Not only will this make you a better worker, but it will give you an ally in the company who will be more likely to consider and recommend you when it comes time to discuss promotions, raises, etc.

Reaching your full potential in the workplace is an ongoing process. Once you’ve achieved your goals, there will be new goals you can work towards, in terms of both achievements and performance. Never stop striving for excellence. That’s the best way to succeed.