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February 2010 Newsletter
(ph) 858.566.3072   (f) 858.271.6496 
Making Progress in 2010 !!!KPI Dynamics
 
We are in the middle of the the first quarter of a new year.  Business conditions remain challenging and as a Senior Executive, you and your team are well on your way to executing this year's business plan. If you're a small business, credit markets remain tight and revenue generation becomes all the more critical if your business is to continue growing.   
 
Staffing levels remain lean at many companies and the talent pool of job seekers is very large. This may be an ideal time to either add talent in key spots, or replace a weak performer with a stronger one.  This month, I'd like to share some ideas on what to look for in in the way of character traits that are key indicators of successful performers.  Learn what character traits to look for and "CREAAT" a winning team!
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Want Superstars on Your Team ?
 
" C.R.E.A.A.T " Them by Looking for 6 Key Traits

Dear (Contact First Name)     
  
No, that is not a typo in the title. If you noticed it right away, then you possess at least one of the six key traits that successful hires possess. CREAAT is an acronym that stands for six character traits that are often found in superstar employees: Candor, Risk, Execution, Attention to Detail, Accountability and Trust.  If you picked up the 'typo' then kudos for having attention to detail.
  
Let me set the record straight.  The acronym came out of an ISO 9002 certification process when I was the Sales Director for Delkin Devices, a manufacturing firm in Poway, CA.  The CEO challenged his executive team to identify character traits found in our most successful and productive employees.  After several iterations, we settled on the six mentioned. We then came up with the acronym CREAAT, and built an employee awareness program around the theme.  Martin Wood, the CEO,  was kind enough to allow me to share the results of that project.  He and his staff continue to practice these six traits, which in no small way accounts for his firm's continuing success.  My thanks to Martin Wood and Delkin Devices!
 
As every Senior Executive knows, success comes from the people that are hired in the company. No matter how thorough the screening process, hiring managers take a calculated risk when extending an offer to a candidate.  You can greatly improve the chances for a successful hire in any capacity, if your candidates can identify and articulate how they exhibit these 6 traits. You probably have a few of your own that you look for.  I would encourage you to continue to look for those traits as well.  

6  Character Traits that help "C.R.E.A.A.T" Superstars
 
1. CANDOR 
 
Being Honest and Truthful.  Individuals need to be truthful in their dealings with their colleagues, customers and vendors.  There is nothing more important. It starts with honesty in one's personal life and it extends to their professional life.  People often do not want to hear the truth or they can't handle it.  Managers need be honest in evaluating employees.  Co-workers need to be honest and candid when they work on projects together.  Sales people need to be honest when they represent the company. A complimentary trait is tact.  If being truthful requires constructive criticism, it's important to speak in terms of facts and not personalities.  Candor simplifies communication and builds both respect and trust. Withholding your thoughts, prevents ideas from being heard and true opinion being expressed.  We call this having some "Edge."  Ask candidates to recall an uncomfortable experience where candor was needed, why it was needed and what was the outcome.
 
2. RISK 
 
Risk taking in business is essential for companies to succeed. Successful risk takers do so after carefully weighing both the positive and negative consequences of that risk. They have paid attention to detail.  Others have faith or trust in their judgement and they exhibit trust in others in return. Risk takers are accountable for the results, good or bad, and will not seek to blame others if there is failure. Change in organizations requires that risks be taken. When failure occurs, it allows companies and individuals to learn from their mistakes and improve processes, quality and personnel.  Ask candidates to recall an incident where they took some risk, what the nature of the risk was, what they saw as the upside and downside of the risk, and what the outcome was.  A good follow up question would be to have them explained the reasons for success or failure, noting if credit is given to others or if blame is given to others.
 
3. EXECUTION  
 
Execution is simply completing a plan as intended, in a timely manner.  Sometimes the outcome is successful and sometimes it is not. However, creating a plan and then putting the plan in place and completing the process, is a skill or trait required for success.  One of my managers always said that an incomplete plan executed on time has a better chance for success than a perfect plan never executed. How true that is.  Execution results when all details are covered, all tasks are assigned, ownership for each segment is assigned and ownership for implementation and results is established. Execution sometimes requires that individuals have to move obstacles that get in the way.  Ask candidates to recall a project that they were responsible for executing. Ask them what details needed to covered before, during and after the project began. Have them talk about obstacles that may have  gotten in the way, and how they overcame them.  Ask them to describe the outcome, why it was successful or not, and what could have been done better.
 
 
4. ATTENTION TO DETAIL 
 
It's the little things that matter. Those that have great attention to detail manage to cover all the bases, dot the i's, cross the t's, find mistakes, imperfections and miscues. Attention to detail shows commitment to excellence and professionalism. Those with attention to detail, exhibit this trait internally and externally. It shows in the work they produce, the interactions with their colleagues and their interactions with customers and vendors. Call it Pride or Quality of Work.   Attention to detail and successful execution are not unrelated.  When interviewing, ask your candidates to convey a story where attention to detail had a positive result, a story where lack of attention to detail had a negative result, what that result was, and what impact it had on their job or the company.
 
5. ACCOUNTABILITY
 
This is a driver for many other traits that successful individuals exhibit. Being personally responsible and taking ownership for actions, or lack of actions, and accepting the accolades and consequences (without blaming others) is key to success.  Individuals that accept accountability, often inherently exhibit candor and attention to detail. They are candid in acknowledging that they alone control the outcome of their actions. They perform as expected or better. They make good moral and rational decisions. Their colleagues allow them to take risks because they WILL BE accountable for the results.  It is equally important that we look for people that hold others accountable for their actions.  They do so by being candid and by communicating this in a positive and professional way.  Ask your candidates to describe how they are accountable for their successes and their failures. Ask them to describe the outcome from a situation that they effected in a positive way or in a negative way, and how they handled the feedback. You might ask the candidate to discuss a situation where they had to hold others accountable, how they handled the situation, and what the outcome was.
 
6. TRUST
 
You might also called this faith or confidence.  Successful people earn the trust of their colleagues because they are candid and are accountable.  They expect the best from themselves and others and allow others to do their job until proven wrong. They do as they say they will do and they don't quit until the job is done correctly. Ask candidates how they earn trust from their colleagues and how they exhibit trust in their colleagues.
 
As Senior Management, we have our own preferences in the traits and character qualities that we seek when hiring new employees.  These six are by no means the only traits to look for.  I found these six traits to be very common in successful hires and I often would ask candidates to rank the six in order of importance.  Of course there is no right answer.  However, the candidate's response would often provide me with valuable insight into their thought processes and their values.
 
The next time you think about hiring a key employee, think about what it is that you need to CREAAT a winning team.  The answer will invariably be in the key traits that the winning candidate exhibits.
 
Again, my thanks to Martin Wood, CEO at Delkin Devices, in permitting me to share this with you. 
 
Best wishes for success!
 
 
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