December 3, 2023Comments are off for this post.

Lessons My Students Taught Me

In learning you will teach and in teaching you will learn. My foray into teaching two Business classes at a local College has been illuminating and has altered generational impressions and stereotypes and created some opportunities for me to grow. Here are the lessons my students have taught me:
* The next generation of business leaders need assistance with collaborative project management and presentation skills. Their technical competence is assured – they have the ideas but need help selling them and building them out.
* Feedback needs to be consistent and formal as well as spontaneous and off the cuff – but more importantly, it needs to be direct. In short they need to know where they are.
* Onboarding needs to be succinct and functional – I spent more time clearly defining short terms goals and short-term expectations – the long-term attention span needs to be developed and not assumed.
* Their ability to navigate adapting technology supersedes those that will be leading them – the ability to create content that speaks to that ability keeps them engaged (vs traditional forms of learning).
* Soft skills will determine their success in the market – will form zones of separation from their competitive set.
*There is no blind acceptance of power norms (norms that previously generations accepted and created) – they are not questioning everything out of immaturity or entitlement – they are questioning out of self-advocacy.
I think great students are hard to find but are even harder to forget. To the students I have taught this semester thank you for your patience, guidance, and opportunity for me to gain another inalienable truth for my toolbox – it is impossible to learn unless you admit you do not know.


Brent Billing is a Senior Director of Client Services at Lecours Group. He has been with Lecours for 22 years.

August 28, 2023Comments are off for this post.

Recruitment Poker – take the candidate every time.

Imagine playing poker where your opponent’s hold cards are invisible when you must show yours at the outset of every hand.
In recruitment the deck is stacked against a client when competing for A+ talent. I can no longer ask a candidate for the specifics of their package, and I must disclose the dynamics of our proposed deal. I can ask for their expectations only and that is going to be framed by the range I am obligated to provide. There are ancillary parts to an offer that can be kept close to the vest – benefits, bonus measurements, car allowances etc. but the key salary numbers are shared.
The deck is stacked.
My advice to any candidate is to reflect on the compensation package before going down the garden path. In two recent recruitment projects, I and my client transparently discussed the dynamics of a proposed offer well ahead of putting pen to paper. That is the opportunity to respond (be it to a recruiter or to the hiring manager directly). If you go past this stage without articulating your expectations, you are wasting your time and the company’s time. 11th hour expressions of higher compensation expectations can lead to bridge burning. You have a personal brand to protect – if the company must be transparent from day one – you should reciprocate.
This does not mean you cannot say no – but it should mean that you are not quoting financial considerations as your primary motivating factor if those numbers were shared previously. If after truly crunching the numbers and feeling that you might not see enough compensation growth – counter. But to go through the entire process to simply say no can dent your brand. In a transient and fluid industry, you never know where paths might cross again.  This holds true for familial implications – every career move demands input from your inner circle – but that is not a conversation that starts after the offer is received.
There are fixed aspects to a contract that should never be the reason you say no – previously discussed salary, hybrid vs in office work model, bonus percentage etc – no way you should be surprised by any of this. The factors that you might be surprised about – vacation allotment, car allowance, strength or weakness of benefit programs – totally fair to hit the pause button and ask for flexibility or clarification.
High performance is a reflection of high expectation, and you should get the absolute best package for you and your family. But there is a way to do that that reinforces your ethics and integrity and in my estimation, in this market, this is all about pre offer transparency.

Take care of your reputation, it is your most valuable asset.

Brent Billing is a Senior Director of Client Services at Lecours Group. He has been with Lecours for 22 years.

August 28, 2023Comments are off for this post.

The Market Never Lies…

There is an adage in real estate that your house is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. In recruitment, the position will pay what the market determines.
You can certainly adjust your profile to fit your compensation paradigm, but the market never lies. And for clients – this is a massive challenge in 2023; and I do not see it getting better.
For arguments sake – let us use a luxury hotel position I worked on several years ago to illustrate this point. A 500-room property in the Mid Atlantic US was seeking a Director of Revenue Management. They were paying 135k and the position reports to the DOSM and is on site. They did not want a first-time Director.
- Of the 75 properties in their geographic comp set – 50 of the DORM’s were remote or hybrid.
- 45 were multi-unit.
- 60 were above 135k.
- 90% reported to the GM and not to the DOSM.
So right away I had to work with the client on adjusting their expectations. They could either move on the location/reporting structure/compensation or adjust the profile of the candidate. The market will produce candidates at 135k but there might not be a lot of them, nor will they meet your experiential prerequisites. 
Ask your recruitment partner to quantify why the market is resisting the opportunity – use that data to make a solid business decision. Do not be bound by what you paid your last leader – it is irrelevant in a fluid and organic market. It is commensurately not important to rely on salary data or survey information – nobody is going to move laterally to do the same job. Put yourself at the end of that recruitment call – would you toss your hat in the ring if the role on paper did not provide compensation growth?
The key is flexibility. Assess and reflect. 
In this market, flexibility is a mental preservative for sanity.

Brent Billing is a Senior Director of Client Services at Lecours Group. He has been with Lecours for 22 years.

August 14, 2023Comments are off for this post.

Your word is your word – until it isn’t.

I have been doing this for a long time – 22 years.  And from 2001-2022 – I think I could count on my hand the number of times a signed deal has been reneged on (the candidate signed it and then several days/weeks later backed out).
It has happened 4 times this month.
My advice to every client moving forward will be to recruit for the position until the hired candidate starts. Maybe not actively interview – but continue to source and keep options open. I need to protect their interests and as such I can no longer state without equivocation that a signed contract is the end of the process. It simply does not carry the weight that it once did.
I am by nature someone that hates to make generational comparisons – linking a birth year to ethics and morality is a fool’s errand. But something has changed. Maybe it is the fact that companies through COVID and other times of financial uncertainty had zero issue slashing their workforce – loyalty is a two-way street. Or maybe it is merely a reflection of a hot market. But either way – it is not over until they pass through your doors.
In the last instance – the bridge was burnt, and it will come back to haunt this candidate. There is a way to pull out of a signed deal and wow did she not do it correctly.  It is not six degrees of Kevin Bacon in the luxury hotel world – so rest assured that you will be judged by how you handle your toughest moments. Honesty is the only way to handle this – the second you change your mind – tell them. Allow them to put the wheels of recovery in motion. Be transparent and do not be vague. 
We are not judged by how we sail in calm seas – it is how we navigate the storms that leave an impression.
I love my job.
             I love my job.
                           I love my job.

Brent Billing is a Senior Director of Client Services at Lecours Group. He has been with Lecours for 22 years.

August 14, 2023Comments are off for this post.

“Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.” – Teddy Roosevelt.

There are 10 things my clients should be doing to lessen the likelihood that an offer will either not be accepted.

1. Define your recruitment process and cut the timeline in half. If it takes 8 weeks to recruit a GM – cut that to 4. Figure out what parts of your process are an impediment to a yes-yes negotiation and eliminate them. All stake holders in the recruitment decision must make it a priority and the entire recruitment process should be outlined and shared with any candidate who moves past interview one. Create a clear expected start date and make sure candidates are aware of this expectation.

2. As a candidate navigates your now streamlined process, do not hold any package cards close to your vest. Salary, bonus structure, PTO, benefit packages, relocation assistance numbers and LTIP programs all must be transparently discussed prior to the offer – and frankly prior to the final interview. There should be no surprises when the offer is made.

3. Make the offer Friday afternoon – it is good to Monday morning. If someone has been in a clearly defined process for one month – they do need any more time than 72 hours to make their decision. Making it outside of traditional business hours limits the opportunity for their head to get turned.

4. Eliminate unnecessary referencing. Let us be honest – the most overrated part of any recruitment process is completing the references THE CANDIDATE PROVIDED YOU. But if you do have to do them – do them Friday morning – schedule them – complete them – make the offer. You could be speaking to someone who has just had a vacancy come up within their organization – you just created competition unnecessarily.

5. Create artificial gravitas. You have made the offer on Friday. Have a senior corporate leader who maybe was not involved in the process send a quick two sentence email to the candidate over the weekend “we have not met, but I am aware of your candidacy and feel you could be a great addition to the team.” It matters.

6. Do not decline anyone. This tight recruitment timeline and short consideration period will allow you to quickly pivot should you not get the desired outcome.

7. Do not stop recruiting.

8. Be firm with deadlines. If someone asks for more time – I am telling you without equivocation the answer will be no. Buying time = keeping options open.

9. Limit the space between acceptance and start time. Professional notice periods are not 5-7 weeks – you defined in step 1 what your expected start time is – hold them to it.

10. Treat recruitment like sales. Your recruitment partners are not in HR – they are in sales and what they are selling is the link between talent and opportunity. Hire better people – and they will hire better people.

"To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often." - Winston Churchill

Brent Billing is a Senior Director of Client Services at Lecours Group. He has been with Lecours for 22 years.

January 26, 2023No Comments

The Only Consistent Culture I am Aware of is in Yoghurt

Candidate and company psychology fascinates me. It is organic and fluid and is a mirror into both a company’s culture and the ever-evolving view of what a candidate feels they are entitled to.
There is a company that I have never recruited for, yet I have taken a lot of their people. In my world the true measure of a company’s culture is how easy is to turn their leaders’ heads.
They are incredibly active on LinkedIn – trumpeting everything from employee driven charitable causes to their new internal HR branding. It seems like food trucks are at their locations in perpetuity. Yet, I get a resume nearly every time I call their people.
So, what is culture in a company from the perspective of someone trying to poach your people?
Do your leaders know where they stand with you?
Do you tolerate mediocre performance?
Do you reward and compensate based on tenure and longevity or are you a meritocracy?
Do you navigate the tough waters with the same aplomb that you trumpet your successes?
Do you onboard with class and allow exits with professionalism?
When I poach people, the above 5 areas come out at some point in time. I do not know what my next step is. I am not compensated in relation to my performance. I see them promoting the political over the substantive. I do not feel we train well. If I resign, they will toss their toys out of the pram.
Culture is represented in consistent impactful behavior. It is not a tagline or some sort of HR branding. If it is, when I call, I will take your people. Every single time.
Culture is the sum of your leader’s daily behavior – that is it. Get all the ice cream trucks you want, but if you treat your people with a sense of entitlement, it will get you a place at the victims’ table very quickly.

Brent Billing is a Senior Director of Client Services at Lecours Group. He has been with Lecours for 22 years.

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