Engage 2016: Day One Recap

Scenes from Bullhorn 2016

Day One of Bullhorn Engage 2016 is a wrap! After a full day of great speakers, our heads are spinning with new ideas, insights and lessons. Since we know it’s impossible to attend every single session, here’s a quick recap of some of the most buzzed-about sessions from Day One, organized by our four main conference tracks: Accelerate Growth, Build Leadership, Engage Customers and Engage Talent.


Accelerate Growth

Why and How Do Leaders Fail? — Charlie Kim


Charlie Kim and Meghan Messenger, co-CEOs of Next Jump, shared what they’ve learned while running a company and mentoring hundreds of leaders. In 2012, they decided to start a no-firing policy. Next Jump has become known as the company that doesn’t fire people.

Firing people is easy. It’s harder to improve your hiring and development processes.

Here’s a simple formula:

Performance = Potential – Impediments

The formula is similar to driving a car. You can step on the pedal as hard you want, but if you have your other foot on the brake, you can’t move. People get stuck, unable to make progress. If you take the foot off the brake, you have a higher-performing individual and culture.

But it’s hard to talk to people honestly, authentically and compassionately about what’s holding them back. The key to successful leadership is feedback. Most people surround themselves with people who give them BS. Humans are wired to do the right thing, but we don’t because we don’t know the right way. When you surround yourself with even one person who tells you the truth, you’ll see a huge difference.


Build Leadership

Millennials – They’re Really Not That Different, Except for Everything Is Different — Joyce Russell

What’s millennials’ role in the workplace? It’s huge. By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. In this discussion, Adecco leader Joyce Russell, who has 28 years of experience in the staffing industry, talked to Adecco’s Hilary Jarman, who is 28. Their biggest takeaway was that millennials are a growing part of the workforce (“We’re here now!” Hilary says) and the most successful companies will be the ones that work to meet millennials’ expectations. Otherwise, millennial employees won’t stick around.

Millennial employees want:

  • Experiences over “stuff.”
  • Passion.
  • Stability.
  • To make an impact.

They recently Googled the word “mentor” and saw a graph of how the word has been used over time. It wasn’t an often-used term when Joyce was growing up and starting out as a professional, but the word’s use has launched in the past 20 years. Millennials grew up not expecting to take direction from their boss, but to be mentored.


Build Leadership: Leadership at the Speed of Now — Tyler Durham

For the first time, we have had five different generations in the workforce. The implications of that are complicated.

  • How do you keep five generations engaged?
  • How do you think about that workforce and motivate them to work hard for your company?
  • We’re not producing enough people to keep up with the momentum of the market.

Companies are facing a state of perpetual change. Change used to be a one-time state; now it’s a constant. Ninety-five percent of executives say that leading change is an important attribute to remain competitive in the market.

There are four common barriers to change:

  • Lack of transparency.
  • Gaining input from across the business.
  • Lack of decision-making power.
  • Being risk averse.

Tyler charged everyone with driving change and innovation in their space, since the time for change is now.


Engage Customers

Onboarding Designed to Engage and Delight Customers — Dan Fisher

Every business leader knows that onboarding is expensive. It’s a challenge to get new employees up and running and productive as quickly as possible. The average tenure of a typical sales rep is just 16 months. The margin of error for bringing a new hire on board is razor thin. You have to nail it, and onboarding can help ensure your new hire stays.

Typical onboarding and training fails to deliver.

  • New hires get information through a firehose and get overwhelmed.
  • Their managers often aren’t trained in how to deliver good training.
  • Sales reps are often trained in products, but not in overcoming roadblocks and objections.

If you want training to be successful, it has to start at the top. Leaders have to model the kind of training and coaching they want to see in the organization.


Know Thy Customer – Customer Engagement Through the Hard Times — Nancie Freitas

Nancie Freitas has spent more than 30 years working as a marketer. She’s built and led large teams of marketers and has worked with big brands like Constant Contact, AOL and TiVo. Now she uses that experience to guide leaders on what their marketing leaders should look like and how talent management relates to marketing.

She gave the staffing leaders in the room tips on building relationships with customers, since staffing and service-based businesses are all about people.

When your customer is a C-level or senior leader, you should focus on:

  • Empathy 
  • Value

One of her best pieces of advice: Do your customer’s job for them. If they’re a senior leader at an organization, they don’t have time to accomplish everything on their plate. When it comes to staffing challenges, you can show an incredible amount of value by expanding on the checklist they give you for a new hire and helping them prioritize the most important skills and experiences in a candidate.


Engage Talent

Engage Talent: Let It Go – How to Hire the Right Team So You Can Stop Micromanaging and Start Growing  — Christine Perkett

Christine focused on micromanaging, saying we should all care about it because it’s a habit that can keep you stuck, keep employees stuck and keep your company from growing. 

Ultimately, the biggest cause of micromanaging is failure to communicate. As a leader, your communication needs to be clear, and you need to listen for two-way communication. 

You also have to figure out a way to “let it go.” You can’t be copied on every email or get check-ins and status reports about every project. A few steps toward letting go:

  • Hire the right people for the job.
  • Assess your leadership skills.
  • Build a culture of communication from the very start.
  • Empower and entrust. Let people do the job you hired them for; think about how the business can grow – that’s your job as a manager. Lead your team into the future.


Engage Talent: Sourcing Talent Through Great Company Culture — Murali Balasubramanyam

Murali explained how he set his staffing firm apart by getting certified as a B Corp., which is a business that is doing good — not just being profitable. That means thinking through questions like “How do we treat customers?” and “How do we treat vendors?” Some examples of prominent B Corps. are Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s. Ian Martin Group is the only staffing firm that’s certified as a B Corp.

That’s important because millennials want meaningful work. They care about more than just a salary.

He has created a culture at Ian Martin Group that encourages play and creativity, fun and freedom for employees.

His advice for other leaders: Be the change agent within your company. Don’t just say other companies are lucky. Make the change happen within your own company.

Get more pictures, videos and sound bites from today by following #BullhornEngage. Thanks for a great first day! We’ll see you tonight at the Engage Light up the Lawn Party, sponsored by Broadbean

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