Talent Leadership: Adam Portner, Dan Hess, Diane Jordan, Matt Valle #CASROmanage #MRX


Welcome to this series of live blogs from the CASRO Management Conference in Chicago. All posts appear within minutes after the speaker has finished. Any errors, omissions, or silly side comments are my own.

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    • Adam Portner, Senior Vice President, Research Now; Session Moderator
    • Diane Rafferty Jordan, Senior Vice President, MarketTools, Inc.
    • Dan Hess, Co-founder/CEO, Dealradar
    • Matt Valle, Senior Vice President, GfK

    Diane – All about building AND retaining the right team

  • Markettools has been around 14 years, investors were ready to move on.  How would they retain the team as the buy took place in the marketplace.
  • Company change is not just business, it IS person. How will employees take the information about the sale.
  • 3 pillars
    • lots of personalized communication
    • culture of engagement, people do a lot of water cooler talk, wanted to focus people on external, client centric, put this energy to good use
    • recognition and rewards,
  • Managers need to be visible, credible, and sincere. In person as much as you can. The management team must do this. Quarterly town hall meetings, regional meetings, give people the chance to ask questions [nice to hear that this is all stuff Research Now does🙂 ]
  • Most important piece is allowing mid-levels managers to really understand it and become aligned with what is happening. most of the communication happens AFTER the executive team leaves the room so the other managers must have the competence to discuss.
  • “Why have you stayed for so long” as opposed to “Why are you leaving the company” Answers – clients and career development
  • Monthly case study meetings – the speaker got accolades and everyone else learned more about the company and their tools, feel proud about their company [LOVE this idea]
  • Culture of engagement – Turnover is very high in India, they did a lot of cross functional training. Strategy has been successful. Allowed them to broaden skills without moving up chain of command that didn’t exist. This creates processes for produce improvement as well.
  • Recognition – People are motivated by different things. Some people do NOT like public recognition. [me] Some people want money, some people want more time with their kids (let her train in a different office and bring the kids along for the “holiday”).
  • Think about retention today. You must live it every day. People won’t just start being honest today.
  • Matt Valle
  • Starts with a great slide – a big pile of words and he just reads it. [very funny🙂 ]
  • Who cares, so what, about talent management? Want to win big, for company, for self, for family.
  • “We hire the person, not the position”
  • Trust Test – When evaluating new people, would I trust this person to give me counsel about my brand, or about the technical aspect if need be? Would P&G hire this person?
  • “Adjacent thinking” – Take people who are close to MR but have a different perspective.
  • Do you want to hire “bodies”? Don’t make the wrong hire just because you need a warm body.
  • 1837 – State of Michigan became 26th state. Queen Victoria ascended to throne. P&G opened it’s doors. P&G is still the best of the best after 100 years.
  • P&G is known for innovation. Floride in toothpaste, diapers. They say their core strength is consumer knowledge. What consumer company says THAT!
  • Do we want people who “do their job and then leave”. Accountability and ownership is a big issue. How do we instill ownership in the team.
  • Exposure – when people do a great job, shout it from the mountaintops. When you let your own light shine, you give others the permission to do the same.
  • Consistency is important [hear the theme?]
  • Incentives are important [the theme is really coming through!]
  • Consistency and incentives are daily issues.
  • Dan Hess
  • Don’t lose sight of fact that the rank and file of the companies, there are huge opportunities untapped, people are locked into a comfort zone
  • LON – Local Offer Network, deal/offer company
  • Wise words of an early mentor – don’t send me piles of numbers, make a recommendation. Never send a message without a recommendation.
  • Big data and brilliance – Researchers, data equations, numbers. Big revenue – Consultants, tools, the final solution. [ouch!] People at junior levels need to learn how to apply numbers beyond the traditional way they’ve been learned.
  • “It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong.”
  • Risks – exclusion from the most important decisions, research becoming an expensive paperweight, boutiques become attractive for add-on projects, innovation is squelched
  • Hire human beings – seek the elusive data junkie who plays guitar in a garage band
  • Empathy goes a long way, it can’t be taught but it can be influenced
  • Forbid mindless data dumps unless requested
  • Encourage teams to take reasonable risks
  • Adam Portner
  • Merging of two companies and brands – e-rewards and research now, doubled the number of employees. Moving headquarters from a public company to a private company. 17 cities world-wide.
  • Biggest challenge – how to best led hundreds of talented employees through the integration
  • keys to success
    • create something new, it must feel like a marriage of the best parts
    • execs must be deeply involved to instill confidence and commitment
    • create certainly quickly with clear and direct answers to eliminate secrets, rumors
  • HR issues
    • Properly manage the people, account for impact on emotions and expectations
    • monitor employee satisfaction, conduct frequent surveys [of course!]
    • get employees involved at all levels so everyone feels comfortable to seek answers
  • Try secondments – temporary assignment in different jobs, let people try out a new office, a new role and meet new people. Create an we instead of an us and them.
  • Cultural integration guidelines
    • Client communication to ensure they feel valued and can continue to expect high quality service
    • Vision and strategy communication so employees understand the vision and value of the merger
    • Systems integration to everyone uses the same evaluations, rewards, standards
  • [a lot of this information was taught to RN from Denison Consulting]
  • Integration goals
    • maintain intense focus on customers
    • don’t overstress capabilities
    • stay focused on value drivers
    • maintain stability of the management team
  • Group discussion now
  • Is it culture or is it motivating people? [LOVE this question. highly debatable] You have to know what change is the last straw for people.
  • What do you hire for versus what do you train for? [i don’t hire a young person who doesn’t know excel. sure i can train them but they obviously have no interest in data if they don’t already know something about excel]
  • Paradox of rewards – the more flexibility you have, a reward system can make people become mercenary
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