Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Name of the Game

A couple of days ago, I returned from attending ERE's Spring Expo in San Diego. While I have been to the Left Coast many times, this was my first time to visit San Diego.

The fact that I came back at all was a major test of self-discipline and will power, and for those readers who have been to San Diego, you will know exactly what I mean, especially after living in the Northeast in January through March. Just kidding, I love it in New England, but I have to say, the weather out there was something to treasure for sure.

Anyway, back to the ERE experience. This was my first ERE Expo, although as a company we have been to several. At this particular event, in addition to exhibiting, ExecuNet was asked to help do a summary of the "learnings" that participants were exposed to over the two days that came from a variety of well-known experts such as:

Lou Adler, CEO of The Adler Group , Jeremy Eskenazi Managing Principal Riviera Advisors, John Leech Director of Recruitment at FedEx, Shally Steckerl, Founder of JobMachine, Dr. John Sullivan and Penelope Trunk Boston Globe Columnist aka The Brazen Careerist, and this is only a sampling.

Trying to cover all the of the workshops and tracks that were offered was a challenge to say the least, but there were five of us out there, and while it made for some longish days, we got to almost everything, and as this is written, are preparing a white paper executive summary that will be sent by ERE to all the those attending since one of the toughest things about attending a conference such as this is making the difficult choices regarding what tracks you are going to go to when there are always things going on at the same time that you want to hear.

The purpose of the closing summary that we were asked to sponsor was to try and quickly summarize what the key learnings were while things were still fresh in people's minds. So, with conference chair Trudy Knoepke-Campbell Director of National Recruitment for Minuteclinic we tried to lead the group through what we felt were the key points that came out of the conference.

At one point, there was a question asked that really helped me to focus and express what the most important takeaway was, at least for me. The question went something like this: "If you were to summarize in one word what you felt expressed the key headline message over the course of the conference, what would it be?"

I wasn't sure if this was asked to make sure that I didn't go on too long, or if it was asked to help the group focus. I elected to assume it was the latter, and my response was: TRUST.

Some very smart people had spent a lot of time talking about ways and means to recruit and retain in a market place that, despite an economy that was contracting, going to remain very competitive both home and away for some time to come.

As I thought about it, it really didn't make a lot of difference if an organization was recruiting or working to build a culture in which people would want to stay once the "selling" was over, if they did not fundamentally trust the organization’s leadership, the brand, their boss, or their colleagues the relationship was doomed.

A company can have the best technology going and all that good stuff, but if they do not have a culture and values that actually support all the "copy" of a mission statement or the letters to stockholders from the CEO will not stem the departure of people in search of something/someone in which to believe, and judging from where things stand at the moment (think sub-prime debacle for openers) we still have lots of work to do.

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