Evaluating Organizational Fit

By Cathy Hammer

Many job seekers focus solely on whether their skills match the specific position for which they are applying.  For long-term results, it is equally important to examine the organization as a whole.  It won’t help your resume if you dread going to work each morning and quit after only a few months. Here are some tips for helping you determine if the company’s environment is going to support what you need to be successful.

Check out their internet buzz.

Now that every company not only has a webpage but also social media feeds and third party comments, there is no longer any reason not to know a great deal about them.  Start by reading their vision statement to see if it’s in line with your own goals.  Read their careers page and see how they describe their culture.  (If they don’t mention it at all, consider the possibility that this isn’t a priority for them).  Look for specifics.  Simply saying they are “high-achievers” or “a winning team” doesn’t tell you much.  “We look for self-directed individuals” and “we offer onsite yoga and dry-cleaning” tell you much more.  Finally, search for articles and trade publications that can give you an outside viewpoint of the company.  You might also scan posts by current and former employees, but keep in mind that these may be highly biased.

Take in the scenery.

You deserve to be excited about landing an interview, but don’t let your emotions carry you away.  Take advantage of being on location to conduct a little espionage.  Do they have “Fast Company” or “New Republic” in the waiting area?  Does their bulletin board feature flyers about a company picnic and their “Rebuilding Together” project, or sexual harassment training and the Heimlich maneuver?  Are the people leaving for lunch engaged in friendly conversation or vigorous arguments?  All these observations give you insight into a company’s priorities and personality.

Ask Questions about your “Must Haves”.

Don’t let your conversation with the HR representative become one-sided.  Show your interest and concern for fit by asking a few questions of your own.  Carefully weigh what you must have in the workplace and write a short checklist for yourself.  Is there variety?  Structure?  Camaraderie?  Recognition?  Listen carefully to the answers you are given and pay attention to your gut.  This will help you determine if you’ll get what you need to do your best work.

Here are some examples.

– What is a typical day like?  (Is there a typical day?)

– Are the work hours / location flexible?

– What is the process for setting quarterly goals?

– What is the anticipated growth track of this position?

– How do team members collaborate on a project?

– What training and skill building opportunities are available ?

– Is there an employee handbook or knowledge database covering this position?

Think you might benefit from some one-on-one coaching before you begin the interviewing process?  Please give us a call and schedule a talk.  We want to help you find the right fit, so the first meeting is on us.


Portrait of a Customer Service “Don’t”… and some “Dos”

Recently we terminated a 12 year relationship with our ISP.  While their products had been fine, their customer service had become a portrait of a “don’t”.  We found ourselves musing over what we would have suggested had they been our client instead of our vendor and thought we’d share our top three recommendations with the 4Views Community.

1) Empower your employees to make decisions that cost up to an agreed-upon dollar amount.

The first sign of trouble in our relationship came when we were told by the ISP’s technical department that we needed a new part.  He was only authorized to use USPS ground, which was going to take 7-9 business days.  That’s an obscenely long time to ask a business to stay off-line in today’s climate.  Had he been given the freedom to use his judgement about spending up to $100 to keep a loyal customer happy (a common dollar amount among our clients), we would have had our part the next day without feeling like their broken system was costing us money to repair.

 2) Ensure that you have solid lines of communication between departments serving the same customer base.

When our part arrived, it was immediately apparent that it wasn’t going to solve our issue.  While the ISP’s technical department acknowledged this and eventually dIspatched appropriate help, this information was never communicated to the billing department.  Three weeks later, our account was hit with charges for the unneeded part as well as shipping, handling and taxes.  We had to contact our credit card company and it took weeks to get the money refunded.  If the tech’s notes had been instantly forwarded to billing, they could have promptly sent us a return postage tag for the package and reversed charges before our statement was generated.  Instead we felt like the company had taken advantage of having our card number on file to arrange a short-term loan.

3) If you ask customers to take a satisfaction survey, have a process in place to respond appropriately to unhappy answers.

Our ISP’s first satisfaction survey arrived in our Inbox while our network was still down.  That was certainly an example of poor communication and follow-through.  But to our way of thinking, their reaction to the second survey was even more damaging.  Even though we had given them scores of 0-2 out of 10 on every question and wrote in detail about our experience, we never heard a word from them.  A satisfaction survey should be part of a process that demonstrates care for the business you are being given and illustrates the steps being taken to correct the problem.  We would have recommended not only a personalized note from a senior advisor, but a free month of service.  For goodness sake don’t compound a service problem by ignoring answers to a satisfaction survey someone has taken the time to answer.

The Lost Art of Networking

by Cathy Hammer

Remember when it was actually enjoyable to attend a networking event?  Even after a long day of work, you could look forward to connecting with people who shared your interests.  Some might even be able to help you reach an important goal.  More often now, you can expect to be “treated” to a series of unsolicited sales pitches and then head for home with a pocket full of business cards you’re going to toss as soon as you get there.

It seems that as more of our community is built online, many business owners have forgotten what makes live networking such an important step in their development process.  It isn’t the same as marketing and it certainly isn’t selling.  At its core, networking is about cooperating with others in order to achieve success for all.

When working the room, the goal is to share ideas, information and resources, not close deals.  4Views offers these suggestions for setting the right tone at your next networking event.

Break the Ice

  • Approach people who display positive and inviting body language.  Don’t interrupt any intense private conversation.
  • Try opening with a question relative to the event and then really listening to the answer.  Not only might you gain useful knowledge, but you will empower the other person by letting them be the expert.
  • Find common ground.  People develop confidence in those with whom they feel a connection.

Pair Up

  • Try attending with co-workers and referral partners to feel more at ease.  Just make sure to talk to new people as well as to each other.
  • Start a chain reaction by introducing your networking buddies to people you know in the room; then ask those people who else you should meet.
  • Promote each other.   It’s easier for you to make a flattering remark about a colleague than it is for him to talk up his own achievements.


  • Hand out your card only after common ground as been established.  You are making it easy for the other person to reach you in order to continue a conversation.
  • If you agree to provide or receive anything (information, leads, resources etc.), write a reminder on the back of both the card you are giving and the one you are receiving.
  • Follow up promptly and warmly via email or phone.  Maybe you can recommend another appropriate event for you and your new contact to attend together.

If we all conduct ourselves in this collaborative manner, perhaps with time others will follow suit.   Please share your experiences with us.

“So What Exactly is Organizational Effectiveness?”

We at 4Views are often asked how organizational effectiveness — the focus of our practice — differs from the more commonly known organizational development.  The primary distinction is that OE starts at “the end”: looking at desired final outcomes.  Then various activities within the company including operations, administration, IT, marketing and customer relations are evaluated and enhanced to better support progress towards those goals.

In today’s brisk business environment, effectiveness is most often measured by productivity and cash flow.  Yet many organizations only open their books to a select few while still expecting staff to make good decisions and set the right priorities.  A certain amount of financial information needs to be shared and understood at all levels so that everyone knows at a minimum what makes money and what costs money.

A flush bottom line shouldn’t be the only criterion of effectiveness.  A top grossing salesperson might not be your model asset if he’s aggressive and overbearing and you manufacture plush toys for newborns.  Knowing what to prioritize in your hiring function can make the difference between building a successful team and assembling a revolving door.  Sometimes even small gestures need to be carefully weighed in the bright light of brand identity.  You might rethink that complimentary plastic keychain if your company supports environmental responsibility and the dang things keep winding up in the trashcan in the lobby.

Marketing and promotions are obvious areas to evaluate for organizational effectiveness.  Advertising, press and appearances are common vehicles for introducing your company to prospects. But even your home office and help desk need to effectively represent you.  How would it look if Disneyland, the “Happiest Place on Earth,” had quick tempered gate attendants?

One of our first clients was a start-up that was at the forefront of conducting real time focus group research using a scientifically accurate sampling. They had developed hardware and software that bridged the digital divide at time when only about 60% of households had internet access. Their desired target audience was manufacturers of consumer goods.  But many of their sales materials trumpeted “unique technology,” “superior platform” and software with an odd acronym; not exactly selling points to those who make toothpaste and cola.  In their case, priority one to achieving organizational effectiveness was aligning communication with reaching those manufacturers.  We made sure there was emphasis on their service’s superior predictive results of consumer attitudes and buying behavior.  Consumer-friendly language ultimately dominated not just the marketing materials, but every customer touch point from the receptionists and messengers to the CXOs.

In recent years, the power of organizational effectiveness has been co-opted by the nonprofit world.  In that realm, measurements towards goals are essential in order to secure funding.  But the practice of evaluating and aligning functions to support company goals can help any organization achieve measurable and sustainable success.  We hope you will share your experiences of OE with our 4views community.

Preserving Trust Relationships

by Cathy Hammer

Retaining your precious customers.  Collaborating on a revolutionary product.  Merging two companies to create a dynamic enterprise.  All of these critical business concerns rely on trust relationships to be successful.  As we’ve seen all too often in the latest headlines, once this trust is broken it can be difficult to repair.  In fact, building a trust relationship is one of the few things we do that gets harder with each attempt.

There are distinct phases that two people must go through in order to build trust.  If a stage is rushed or skipped all together, the relationship won’t hold up under the pressures of a typical work environment.  It starts by assessing one another; asking probing questions and storing away the answers.  Once there is a shared knowledge and understanding, a level of confidence can develop.  Eventually that confidence grows into trust.  If that trust is damaged, the cycle starts from the beginning with a fresh assessment.  This time, there will be a layer of doubt and apprehension that acts as a filter over the answers, and confidence and trust will be harder to achieve.

As a society, we’ve grown far too casual with our trust relationships.  We rush to trust sources of information we haven’t fully vetted.  Fear of competition makes us secretive when communication is called for.  We rely on hasty apologies when our actions harm others.  These are vain attempts to make an end run around basic human psychology.  However clever your lawyer may be, you cannot build a healthy business on contracts and paperwork alone.  You can only make reliable progress by preserving your trust relationships.

Getting Your Butterflies in Formation

by Cathy Hammer

As the CEO of your company, you may be a leader, a visionary, and a negotiator.  But are you ready to represent your company at interviews, conventions and panels?  Even with the explosion of social media – or maybe because of it – representing your company in the public eye is more important than ever to building your business.  Whether or not you have experience in the spotlight, you are going to get nervous.  Unlike death (the second most-feared thing), it simply isn’t a natural act.  However, there are ways to train yourself to treat those butterflies as “a good thing,” and use the added energy to give your speech an extra edge.

The first thing to remember is that, no matter how badly your knees are knocking, chances are no one else can tell.  The worst thing you can do is announce your nervousness.  Gentle souls in the audience are bound to become concerned about you, instead of paying attention to what you are saying.

To get control of those butterflies, get into condition.  All types of performers warm-up with exercises, stretches, and vocalization.  You need to develop a speaking training routine.  Watch yourself speak, on video if possible.  Isolate the movements that enhance your speech from the ones that are nervous mannerisms.  Nothing makes you look more nervous than letting your hands fly around, instead of using gestures only when emphasizing key points.

On the day you are scheduled to speak, get some exercise.  This will release nervous tension.   Before you take your place, shake your fingers, picturing your nervousness dripping off them and onto the floor.  Relax your shoulders and let them drop.  Release your lower jaw and move it from side to side.  Wiggle your toes and move your ankles in small circles.  As with all exercise routines, remember to keep breathing deeply, expanding your stomach as you exhale.

During your speech, continue to breath deeply.  Speak slowly.  Talking too fast makes you sound nervous and can encourage a sudden rush of adrenaline.  If you are prone to dry mouth, keep a cup of water under the podium.  Just knowing it is there will almost guarantee you won’t need it.

If, despite all this preparation, you get hit with a rush of adrenaline, picture yourself on a roller coaster.  Instead of clutching the bar, see your hands rise into the air and enjoy the ride.  You’ll hear the power enrich your voice and feel the energy brighten your face.  When they fly in formation, those butterflies are beautiful.

Cutting Back The Right Way

by John Maver

The recession is still upon us.  The economists are debating the issues and – given the political climate – the facts are being spun to make political gain.  The simple truth is that many businesses and Americans are hurting.

We see it in the 4Views community as companies are cutting back and becoming very defensive in their spending.  Cost cutting may be the right step, but it should be done with a solid plan that will protect the business for the future.  Otherwise, it’s like cutting away the parts of a tree that keep it solid and healthy.  Instead you must look for the “dry rot” that will in time cause the death and collapse of the tree.

The “rot” could be in your products where you have allowed some lines to become vulnerable to competition or even unprofitable when expenses aren’t allocated properly.  It could be with your customers, as some of them no longer justify the expense to keep them.  It could be with your processes that have become outdated and are no longer efficient.  It could be with your organization where the development, care and nurturing of your managers has not taken place and you no longer have the appropriate replacement plans or bench strength.

From the inside, it can be difficult to see the issues clearly and the possible solutions appear to be distasteful.  A rancher hires a tree surgeon to identify the rotting trees that needed removal and to thin out the trees that need thinning, even though they are healthy.  The result is a much more productive environment that will thrive in the future.

Similarly, you may need an outside expert to help ensure that when the recession ends you are leaner and healthier and not weaker from cost cutting and short term measures.  If you have a plan, please share it with the 4Views community.  If you don’t, call us and we’ll help you develop one.