Bohan and Bradstreet

March 2013

Bad Boss Blues

Monday, March 25, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

You wake up one day and there is a new boss. It could have been a promotion, transfer, internal organization, external hire or some other fate. Obvious from the get-go, you and the boss are not compatible. It doesn’t matter whether the superior is moody, incompetent, uncommunicative, tyrannical or Machiavellian. Your life will soon be in a rut because you are catching the BAD BOSS BLUES. Let’s describe a few of the distinctive varieties that top everyone’s Most Unwanted list.


Will work you until you drop. Capable of calling on Sundays, insists on arriving and leaving when it is dark out (even in the summer), provides relentless pressure, offers only a nanosecond of appreciation.


Will hide in his or her office.


Dismisses your presence because it is meaningless in the final analysis.


Wants to bully everyone into submission through screaming tirades, shouting at will, making scenes and management by terror philosophy.


Has appreciation for his or her own opinion because there are possible alternatives to anything: their way or the wrong way.


Attracts or creates every cataclysm, disaster and debacle within their warp zone abilities.


Languishes on your knowledge, usurps your wisdom and lays claim to all contributions.


Smothers all attempts of individualism, ingenuity and the pursuit of life with a constant, never-ending, relentless triple-dot-the-“I” review.

There are numerous other personalities that can erode one’s ego and career. Always assess the situation to ensure that you haven’t overreacted to a momentary flaw (e.g., stress, illness). Examine opportunities to alter the environment by making positive suggestions or transferring to another department. If the scene remains untenable and internal change is not possible, then consider leaving. Your career and self-esteem are important. As Walter Winchell once said, “He didn’t carve his career, he chiseled it.” If life deals you a bad hand, then either fold, re-deal or change the rules.

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Win, Place & Show in Workforce Management

Monday, March 18, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

There is a new strategy when valuing management. Traditionally, companies have ranked management with an A, B and C grading and the philosophy that the more “A” management, the better the company’s potential. It is impractical that companies can afford “A” players in all management positions. The challenge is to attract and retain ”A” talent in key management positions. The difficulty is that not all management position are valued equally and the same positions in two different business models will have dramatically different significance to the success of the organization.

First, there are many business models, however, the two most prominent are the customized solutions that are targeted to a specific audience and the other is the standardized product or service that is sold to the mass markets. If one was to rank management positions by “A” (strategic), “B” (support), or “C” (surplus) in these two business models, would sales or supply chain management be graded equally? Obviously not.

In the customized solutions model, successful sales management needs to identify the unique customer need, understand the solutions development expertise of their business, and strategically (A) orchestrate the customization and delivery of the solution. In the standardized model the sales manager is more of a support (B) relationship or account manager who responds to the needs of the customer through on-time deliveries, service, and pricing. Although both roles are important, there is a higher probability that the sales management role would be ranked higher in the customized solution model.

On the other hand, the supply chain manager in the customized solution model tends to support (B) the delivery of the solution. In this case, timing and delivery is important but not as critical as in the standardized product. When servicing mass markets, the supply chain manager must be very strategic (A) and ensure on-time delivery of often large and complex finished goods to customers. The differentiator for the customized solution model is unique design, solution development and quality of product or implementation while in the standardized business model it is availability, service, and price.

The important message is to first place a value on all management roles within your business model. For those positions that have a strategic impact on the success of the company should be ranked “A” because the role can either increase revenues opportunities or reduce operating costs and expenses. “A” management roles are critical to the performance of the company and usually have autonomous decision-making authority. Calibrate compensate for strategic roles at a different level than support positions because the value to the corporation is greater.

“B” positions support value-adding “A” roles and minimize any downsize risk. These are important roles that follow specific processes and practices to ensure predictable results. “C” positions have little economic impact on the company, however, may be a necessity for the company to function. In most companies, “B” and “C” positions are the most common role in the organization. Aligning “A” quality talent in “A” designated roles is the key.

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Interview Miscues

Monday, March 11, 2013  by Ed Bradstreet

There is a distinct advantage to networking into a company. The best reason is not the most obvious. Being known increases the probability of an offer and shortcuts a lot of pitfalls that swallow the unknown candidate. Identifying a better company and/or role is both a science and an art form. It requires time, strategy, research, and practice. Too often the best candidate that is available and aware of a specific vacancy does not get hired or even personally interviewed. Here are two of the more common miscues that job applicants make:

Under-Performing Resume

Here is the logic: A company is looking externally because the solution is not available internally. The opening occurs because there are needs, pain, and/or changes impacting the company. It could be leadership, external customers, productivity, acquisitions, profitability, or a host of other challenges that need to be conquered. So what happens 85+% of the time is the unknown candidate submits a traditional chronological resume that explains their employment history, lists some skills and possibly some results, describes education and training, and often throws in addendums like interests, activities, and stale events. Boring!

There are two types of readers: decision makers and, as the book Selling to VITO suggests, “Seymours” – because they always want to “see more.” When decision makers are looking at a candidate’s paperwork, they want to find the “aspirin” for their pain. They want headlines, solutions, and successes. Decision makers do not want boring. Most resumes are written for the writer rather than the reader. Think marketing proposal rather than resume.

If you want to impress the reader and you have the appropriate expertise and know-how, then...

  • Lead the reader's eye and provide clear-cut illustrations that demonstrate your ability to lead, implement change, improve productivity, and so on.
  • Your presentation should be electronically scanable and include strengths and contributions that are appropriate to your audience. Decision makers don't like resume templates, tables or graphs.
  • 95+% of all resumes lack personality, so start with a professional summary that can include adjectives that describe your personality and major strengths that a reader can preview.
  • Use action verbs in your resume and describe accomplishments in a STAR format (Situation-Task-Action-Result).

Bad Phone Techniques

Increasingly, clients are phone-interviewing a candidate as the first step in the process. This is usually accomplished by a human resources professional and, on occasions, by the hiring authority. If asked to participate in a phone interview, then assume you are on target and have met north of 80% of the hard skills and core requirements. Practice makes perfect and there are a lot of books written that provide examples of questions and illustrations of good and bad answers. Choose a private setting and a hard line for the phone interview. Often the company caller is on a cell phone and cell to cell is not reliable enough. Make sure that you will not be interrupted and there isn't external noise that can override the conversation.

The emphasis will be more on soft skills. This is an opportunity for the company representative to assess the "personality fit." Every search and company is unique; however, the soft skills that all concentrate on are energy and enthusiasm, reasoning, listening abilities, initiative and drive, temperament, and willingness to invest in your future. In addition, research and knowledge of the company history, products/services, organizations, operating results, customers, culture, and so on are all of value.

Here are the common phone interview mistakes:

  1. Cell phone disconnects.
  2. Candidate is driving and does not fully concentrate on the interview.
  3. Applicant turns interview into a confessional and admits flaws in personality.
  4. Candidate openly offers negative comments about current or former employer.
  5. Applicant has not anticipated questions and therefore answers in abbreviated fashion or under sells abilities and knowledge.
  6. Candidate under-values the phone interview and is not considered a serious contender.
  7. Applicant goes off on a tangent.

Companies do not have the luxury to interview all applicants. A well-run search will limit the "in-person" interview to seven or less candidates (in the last year, there was only one candidate presented for 14% of Bohan & Bradstreet's placements). Typical searches may generate 30 to 400+ candidates and although many applicants lack the proper requirements, the vast majority of those that are on target are screened out for under-performing resumes and bad phone techniques.

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