Dressing for Your Job Interview: 4 Tips to Consider

what to wear to interview - ladies jackets

Trying to decide what to wear for a job interview can be one of the most stressful parts of the interview process. You stand in front of your closet wondering whether that neckline is really too low or if those shoes are inappropriate for a work interview. If you've been struggling with the outfit choice for your next interview, you may want to consider these four tips.

 1. Sit down in your outfit. 

Whether you're purchasing a new outfit or selecting one that's already in your closet, make sure that you don't just stand in front of the mirror to stare at it. Take the time to sit down in it!

  • Does that skirt ride up uncomfortably high when you're trying to sit, making it impossible for you to cross your legs in your preferred position?  
  • When you lean forward, do you display more cleavage than you intended?
  • What about the buttons on your shirt: do they gape in just the wrong place once you're no longer standing?
  • Are your pants or skirt too tight and no longer reasonably comfortable?
  • Are the pants too short?
  • Do your socks fit well or fall to your ankles? Do they match?
  • Is the suit jacket too snug, or can you move about easily?
lady sitting in skirt and blouse and looking at cell phone

Since the odds are great that you'll spend the majority of your interview sitting down, make sure that your outfit still fits well in that position. You want to appear neat, professional, and completely at ease in your chosen attire.

2. Wear your outfit for a little while. 

If you have the luxury of a little spare time before your interview, put on your outfit and wear it out. Consider the way it wears when you've had it on for a few hours. A neckline that looked just fine in the dressing room may dip uncomfortably low after a few hours while pants that look great when you first put them on may lose all of the creases and look wrinkled and unkempt by the time you manage the car ride to the interview.

If you know the potential problems with your outfit, you can either avoid them or change the outfit. On the other hand, if you're wearing the outfit for the first time on the day of the interview, you could end up blindsided. 

3. Don't go with the uncomfortable shoes. 

dress code - men's shoes & belt

Yes, you want to wear professional shoes that are appropriate with your outfit. However, you don't want to wear professional-looking shoes which are so uncomfortable that you can barely walk in them. Uncomfortable shoes will increase your discomfort, especially if you need to be escorted through a large office building or if you're invited to meet other members of the team following the interview. Instead, invest in a pair of shoes that are both comfortable and professional. Then, even if you end up on your feet, you'll still be ready to meet any challenge that comes your way. 

4. Choose some color. 

suit for man and colorful striped tie

You don't need to come in dressed in the brightest outfit in your closet, but the color you add to your interview outfit can have a substantial impact on how your future employer views you. Add a pop of color in the form of a tie (for men) or choose a colored dress shirt (either gender). Colorful shoes or a lovely piece of jewelry can add the color a woman needs to increase her confidence and improve the vision employers have of her. Keep in mind, however, that you should keep all of your accessories understated and appropriate to an office environment.

success depends on you quote on computer screen

You want to walk into your job interview confident and ready to nail it. While your list of qualifications, work experience, and an optimistic attitude will go a long way toward determining whether you'll get the job, the outfit you choose for your interview has a huge impact on the first impression you'll make with your future employer. By following these tips, you can dress for success and improve your odds of landing the job of your dreams. Ready to put your name in for more of those jobs?  Contact BRANNON PROFESSIONALS today to learn how we can help.



Is Employee Retention Really a Thing of the Past?

Target Goals on dart board

You read the title of this article correctly. Employee retention is, the experts say, no longer a priority goal for HR Managers. While no one wants to lose a recently-hired employee to another company after mere months, ensuring the long-term retention of employees isn’t necessarily an imperative anymore.


It has to do with the still-recent recession and the restructuring of companies. The advancements being made in artificial intelligence (AI) even play a role. It has to do with Gen Y (the Millennials), Gen Z (the Centennials), and their outlook on life. Lastly, to ensure the growth and success of the company, a strategic move for a good employee with potential is sometimes simply necessary.

Allow me to address these four points individually . . . 

What Downsizing Means to the Job Market

competition for jobs - 2 figures pushing each other

Companies are decreasing in size and looking to accomplish their goals with a much smaller staff. When the need arises for a specific skill-set, the company hires the person for a job on a “permanent” or contractual basis. And the competition for these jobs is fierce. However, many of the positions are not truly permanent. They are short-term permanent jobs intended to fulfill an exact set of goals ushered forth by management. Once the goals are met, the position is terminated.

More and more companies are embracing the gig economy in which employees are hired as needed to fulfill the needs of the business. Therefore, hiring managers are seeing and will continue to see resumes that reveal many short-term jobs, rather than simply a few long-held positions. The reasons for all the jobs may vary, but know this without a doubt -- seasonal layoffs, downsizing and outright termination of positions are all part of the employee experience (and resume) now.

The Future of the Workforce Alongside the Advances in Artificial Intelligence

As we move towards 2020 and the AI possibilities rapidly increase, even more jobs will be eliminated as robots perform jobs which humans once performed. Employees may be hired or kept on the payroll for a transitional period, but after that, the individual will need to find a new job, perhaps even a new occupation in a different industry.

multitasking business man

That’s where the younger generations come in. Millennials and Centennials have been working with technology since they were youngsters. They multi-task better than any generation before them. Because of technology, their world is smaller. They think globally, travel internationally and are passionate about work being done (or not) all over this world. They dream of doing the work and plan for it, with or without a so-called permanent job. Side jobs, volunteer work and the entrepreneurial spirit are alive and well in Generations Y and Z.

What Today’s Workers Want

steps up ladder of success - ambition - skills - knowledge

According to Dave Clark, who is a staff writer for TTI Success Insights, today’s employees are seeking job satisfaction and opportunities to utilize their strengths and capabilities. They want to experience the thrill of success more quickly than our parents and grandparents ever anticipated experiencing it in the workplace. Yes, money matters, but for our newest generations of employees, it is not the primary motivation.

Even if it means working one to three years with a company and moving on, then so be it. Millennials and Z-ers want to seize every good opportunity which will keep them engaged, and they’ve got the skills, energy and passion to make it happen.

Here’s a prime example:

be the change - 3 figures in high five move

We have a young couple with two children living in our small, growing Mississippi town. They moved there driving an old station wagon with plans to renovate a needy downtown store front piece of property. They did it a little at a time. The store they eventually opened was a success. So was the café that was added shortly thereafter. When they hired a top-notch chef, it did even better. They invested in the space next door and expanded the size of the store and café. A few years ago, the wife and chef wrote a wonderful cookbook together which continues to sell well around town and beyond.

In the meantime, more renovations were completed down the street where the husband established a school. He teaches high-school students valuable technical skills and then sees that they find good jobs / internships upon completion of the program.

Our little town was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal - thanks, in part, to the hard work and success of these two millennials. And I believe the old station wagon is still running its course.

Strategic Moves by Your Employees (and YOU)

What does a hiring manager do when an employee wants to grow and develop their skills, but there simply isn't a good opportunity to do that - for whatever reason? Do you make promises to the employee that you know you probably won't be able to follow up on - just to keep them on the payroll? Provide insufficient, small opportunities to grow? Offer an increase in salary?

Do you ever dare to tell them it may be time to leave the company - knowing that you will have to refill the position and retrain someone else? What if leaving is what would benefit the employee and the company the most? Dissatisfied employees, especially those voicing their disappointments to other employees, can affect company culture in negative ways. And how "engaged" do you think a disgruntled employee really is? Their mind may be more "engaged" in finding a better opportunity rather than on the daily tasks presenting themselves.

If the employee is exceptional but your hands are tied, why not encourage a healthy and strategic move wherein they might gain more "managerial" or "technical" expertise? Then let them know that they are more than welcome to reapply at a later time if they would like to do so. Give them your blessing. Don't boot them out the door. Don't burn your bridges. Assure them of your support and future recommendation - if they honestly have it. You are simply widening the company's talent acquisition pipeline. They might even be able to refer strong candidates your way. Ask!

When an employee leaves on good terms and with a good attitude, it may be possible for them to train the person taking their place. Communication is key, but it can save a manager much time and stress - especially if the departing employee sees it as an opportunity to improve their reference from the company and add a new skill to his or her resume - that of training coach or mentor.

How do we as hiring managers process this information? Moreover, how should HR managers, as employees, process and adapt to these new facts of life in 2018 and beyond?


resume sample for micro-careers

These relatively short-term “permanent” positions are being termed micro-careers. Rather than working fewer than five jobs during your entire career, you may find yourself working double or triple that. Job hunters who have held multiple short-term positions may begin promoting themselves as experts with a vast array of experience across diverse industries, and it will be both true and impressive.

Preferred Experience & Skills

customer service cartoon lady

Which customer service agent do you want to hire? The one who has 20 years of experience with a distribution company or the one with 10 years of experience with a distribution company, a service provider and a retail store?  The 20-year employee received training a few times over the course of her career; she perfected her customer service skills over time, and her performance was excellent. The employee with the micro-career types of positions has received training in modern day customer service techniques, has experience adapting those techniques as needed, excelled at all 3 jobs, and has both the certificates and the references to prove it. The latter was never dismissed from a job, simply laid off as the company saw fit.

Job Hopper or Better Candidate?

quality thumbs up

Both of the workers mentioned above would probably make great candidates. But today, in your current way of thinking about candidates, would you ever actually call the 2nd candidate whose resume is a little “messy” and can leave a hiring manager wondering, “Why does she do so much job-hopping?” Based on the micro-career insight, the better response may be, “I bet there’s a good reason why companies keep hiring her!” Then do the footwork to discover why.

Furthermore, let me pose this question, “How many HR managers do you know who have been replaced or terminated – not because of wrongdoing – but because the company downsized? I know a few HR professionals who prefer to work more as HR consultants than as HR managers. Perhaps that has something to do with companies needing HR advice but not wanting to invest in long-term/20-year salary commitments for that advice. Wrap your mind around it. One day, you may be the so-called “job-hopper”.

So, who’s left to retain exactly? Is employee retention really a non-consideration?

Ignore Retention Strategies?

I don’t believe retention can be dismissed entirely, but candidates today are (or should be) interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. They don’t want a dead-end job. They want to embrace their newly acquired skills, utilize the latest technology, seek out opportunities to learn, grow and succeed, and then move on when they’ve topped out or met the company’s goals and objectives regarding their position. They want to be appreciated and respected for their achievements, regardless of age.

words denoting strategy

The Work of a Hiring Manager

Many of your long-term employees may be content, but some are bound to get caught up in the dreams and aspirations of Generations Y and Z. So know your employees and the level of satisfaction they experience with their jobs. Seek out their input regarding job, salary, benefit and growth priorities. Interview them again. Reevaluate the status quo as you may need to adapt to these new generations of employees. According to the Governance Studies at Brookings report, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,” Millennials will represent 75% of the workforce by 2025. 

3 millennial employees

As a hiring manager, you should be seeking the feedback of both your current staff as well as that of the candidates you are interviewing. You need to know and understand their new priorities and adjust your hiring (and retention) strategies accordingly. You want to be creating opportunities for your employees to explore new skills, excel in leadership roles, and feel excited about contributing to and achieving company goals. Every company and individual will vary in needs, but I believe a new pattern is being established in our workplaces – one that we would be wise to pay attention to.

For additional hiring and management assistance, contact a Brannon Professionals’ recruiter or business consultant today.

Why Emotional Intelligence in a Manager Is So Important

What is your Senior and Mid-Management recruitment strategy?

  • Does it involve poaching managers from your competition?

  • Do you recruit from within?

  • Perhaps you screen resumes for overall professional success?

  • Do you recruit college graduates with impressive intellects and cutting edge technical skills?

  • Do you go after candidates with the highest IQs or highest Wonderlic scores?

  • Maybe you simply hire by instinct the person you like the most and believe will perform best in the leadership role.

  • Does an individual’s emotional quotient ever influence your hiring decisions?

Emotional Intelligence Defined

In this article, we will explore the important role in which a person's emotional intelligence can and should play in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence basically pertains to one’s personal and social competence – how successfully a person manages themselves and others through self and social awareness. According to Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist, author and science journalist who helped to popularize emotional intelligence, the five key elements to it are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Robert K. Cooper defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information, connection, and influence.”

emotional intelligence - image of light bulb & brain in 2 heads

For just a moment, consider your top employees. Who is the best? The most trusted and respected? The one with the most overall success? It will more than likely be the one who has a high emotional quotient, and it may be a woman rather than a man. Ladies tend to be extremely aware of their shortcomings and often try to control and correct them. Many women also convey empathy quite well, and these are just a few reasons why management teams need not only men but also women as leaders inside their companies.

Do you measure your candidates’ emotional intelligence? If you are not currently in the habit of doing this, you may be out of the loop regarding what experts have to say about the potential regarding individuals with a high emotional quotient.

What are the potential advantages of hiring managers with a high emotional quotient?

happy and engaged employees
  • Leaders will have greater control over their emotions.

  • Employer/Employee relations will improve as managerial skills such as effective communication and empathy work their magic.

  • Leadership will see positive changes in both engagement and production among staff.

  • Employees will experience an emotionally healthier and more satisfying work experience.

  • The work culture will become more inspirational as employees work together successfully towards common goals.

According to Laura Wilcox, the director of management programs at Harvard, emotional intelligence is much more than a “soft” skill. Having a high emotional quotient is kind of like a booster shot for an individual who already possesses the strong intellectual and impressive technical skills for which hiring managers are competing. 

High EI enables men and women to become better managers. Daniel Goleman believes that 90% of the differences which exist between star and average candidates are related to the emotional quotient of the person.

respect between employees - a handshake

Emotionally intelligent leaders practice self-awareness and self-management. Furthermore, they practice social awareness and excel in relationship management. While emotional intelligence may be somewhat of a natural skill, it is also a skill which can be learned, honed and perfected.

Managers such as these can help build the important foundation of trust, respect and positive attitudes among their staff. Employees want to be valued and respected, yet research conducted by TalentSmart revealed that 85% of business people do not “feel” that they are valued and respected by management. And according to an article from Harvard Business Review, this could be because most senior executives lack empathy.

However, because of their social awareness, emotionally intelligent managers can pave the way for smoother, more comfortable and friendlier conversation with their team members. They will be successful in helping those employees “feel” that they are valued and respected. When an employee feels valued, they automatically become more engaged with the company’s goals and objectives.

When true concern and respect are involved, the work employees do for the company and its managers becomes more personal. Both the relationships and the work matter – a lot – because the way in which the manager engaged with the worker was genuine.


“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.” – Janet Louise Stephenson

According to Aubrey Daniels International, discretionary effort is the level of effort people could give if they wanted to, but above and beyond the minimum required. Do your current executives and managers inspire “discretionary effort”? If they do not, your business may possess as-yet untapped potential increases in engagement, production and company morale.

As stated above, emotional intelligence is not a mere soft skill, it’s a game-changing skill for which you should be screening both your employees and best job candidates.

Consider these quotes and statistics from Inc.com regarding emotional intelligence:

emotional and irritated coworkers
  • 75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust. - Center for Creative Leadership

  • If your emotional abilities aren't in hand, if you don't have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can't have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far. - Daniel Goleman

  • In my 35 years in business, I have always trusted my emotions. I have always believed that by touching emotion you get the best people to work with you, the best clients to inspire you, the best partners and most devoted customers. - Kevin Roberts

  • Emotional intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interactions with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions. Research suggests it is responsible for as much as 80 percent of the "success" in our lives. - J. Freedman

What steps should a hiring manager take next?

ladder of success - learning, training, instruction, practice
  • Find a way to assess your employees’ and your job candidates’ emotional quotient. We use TTI Success Insights for all our behavioral assessments. Brannon Professionals also has its own Value-Added Associate on staff who is available to consult with hiring managers on the EQ assessments and follow-up reports.

  • Once you have a solid understanding of emotional intelligence and its effects in the workplace, begin training with your managers. Our consultant, Mark Brannon, may be available to provide this training.

  • Employees would also benefit from different aspects of EI training.

  • Incorporate EI practices into the company’s routines and strategies.

  • Measure increases and changes in engagement, productivity and morale.

  • Enjoy the success that EI will begin to usher into your business.

If you have additional questions about emotional intelligence or TTI Success Insights’ EQ assessment, please contact Brannon Professionals at your convenience.

How to Find a Quality and Trustworthy Staffing Partner

business management rainbow colored sign

Operating your own business is exhilarating; yet, it can be a demanding job as well. One of the more challenging tasks is finding suitable employees. Hiring the wrong person can devastate the company culture. Besides, it is never fun to fire someone. All the many hours that go into preparing the job listing, reviewing resumes, and conducting interviews seem wasted when you make the wrong choice.

How can employers ensure they get the right employee the first time and avoid wasting time? Some business owners have discovered the value of a staffing partner in meeting their hiring needs. However, how can you be sure you partner with the right agency?

Here are 7 things to look for in your search for a quality and trustworthy staffing partner:

how to find quality - figure with magnifying glass

1. Open communication

One necessary criterion for beginning any relationship is having good communication. You want the agency to be interested in your business and your needs and not just be looking for another client. They should be asking you questions that delve deep into your business.

3 question marks

Potential questions may include:

  • What is the nature of your business?
  • What organizational values are most important to the company and its associates?
  • What quality do you value the most among your current employees?
  • What is the primary thing we can do to help alleviate the stress you are currently experiencing as hiring manager?

You want to be open and willing to share what your priorities are whether it be customer service experience, strong problem-solving aptitude, excellent computer skills, quick turnaround, or simply overall quality employees with integrity and a solid work ethic. Any insight you are willing to share will be vitally important to the potential success of the partnership. 

If you are looking for a strong staffing partner, consider  Brannon Professionals .

If you are looking for a strong staffing partner, consider Brannon Professionals.

2. Will be a partner to your business

You do not just want to hire a business - you want a partner in business. There is a difference between the two. A partner will be looking out for the long-term relationship and therefore will encourage your trust. You will likely get to meet the owner of the business. The partner will be interested in your financial situation and willing to negotiate as needed.

3. Works with a broad scope of job fields

Some staffing agencies work with a limited number of industries and fields. This may work if you happen to be looking for someone in that field, but what if you need additional help in the future. You want a staffing agency that can fulfill a broad variety of job positions. 

You can learn more about Brannon Professionals' value-added services by contacting us at 662-349-9194 or by visiting our  website .

You can learn more about Brannon Professionals' value-added services by contacting us at 662-349-9194 or by visiting our website.

4. Offers value-added services

Find out whether the agency you are considering offers extra services. Finding you the best candidate may require more than simply looking in a database. For example, some staffing agencies provide background checks, behavioral assessments, skills testing, training, and more. These added services are like bonus extras without the price tag.

5. Includes an Acceptable “Return Policy”

100 percent satisfaction guaranteed

It is important to know upfront what the agency’s policy is regarding employees who don’t work out. Does the agency offer any compensation or provide a satisfaction guarantee? Is the direct hire fee reimbursable under certain circumstances? What if the employee you hire through the agency moves after only being on the job a month? These are important questions to have answered before moving forward. 

6. Has an impeccable reputation

You want a company that has a superior reputation built on years of experience and good past relationships. Obviously, an agency without a good reputation is risky. As stated earlier, you are building a relationship with this new partner. You want a trustworthy agency, so here are a few ways to check out staffing companies and their reputations.

social media on cell phone and laptop
  • Learn more about the owner/manager. Visit their social media accounts such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. 
  • Check out posts, blogs, comments and company reviews for further insights about the company.
  • Look at their website for awards and testimonials or ask for a business reference.
  • Ask around the community. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce or Economic Council.

7. Locally owned

Brannon Professionals has served North Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas for over 20 years.

Brannon Professionals has served North Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, and the surrounding areas for over 20 years.

While some companies may opt for more nationally-known agencies, there are advantages to conducting business with a locally owned and operated company. For one, community residents will likely know them. Also, sometimes privately owned agencies have more flexibility when negotiating fees. Next, you can visit the location if you ever have a problem, question or just want to stop by. Finally, investing in a locally-owned business is investing in your own community.

At BRANNON PROFESSIONALS, we strive to develop partnerships with our clients that will last for decades, not mere months. If you are considering partnering with a staffing agency, please allow us the opportunity to serve you and your business.

Leading with Compassion in the Workplace

The Need for Compassion

Is compassion needed in the world? In the workplace? In your home? In your relationships? 


Yes, yes, yes, and yes! Financial worries, relationship issues, loss of any kind, stress – all these can lead to serious and detrimental results on the job, not to mention one's health. You know and understand that compassion is always needed. But one must ask, “What forms of compassion - in the workplace, specifically - are acceptable?”

The question has been posed, so let’s attempt an answer to it - starting with a definition of compassion and why simple awareness of others' needs or struggles is so important.

What Is Compassion?

According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), ‘Intelligence is not what one knows, but what one does when one does not know’.

According to Jean Piaget (1896-1980), ‘Intelligence is not what one knows, but what one does when one does not know’.

Merriam-Webster defines compassion as sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Google’s dictionary offers the following as synonyms for compassion: pity, sympathy, empathy, care, concern, sensitivity, warmth, love, tenderness, mercy, leniency, tolerance, and kindness.

Awareness of Others

When we are aware of others' distress, it reveals our emotional intelligence (EI), and a person with high EI should be able to work successfully with people facing stressful and difficult situations. Why? Because they tend to be somewhat intuitive about others' feelings or moods as well as both focused and effective in their responses. Not surprisingly, they are also known for tackling problems and pondering solutions rather than merely offering sympathy and concentrating only on the problem itself.

Yet sometimes, it is in the mere acknowledgment of another person's feelings or obvious emotional turmoil whereby compassion is best expressed. In the workplace, we shouldn't cross the acceptable personal line of voiced concern for our coworkers to the private line of questioning unless there is a mutual trust and willingness to open up.

The Practice of Compassion

However, the question remains, "How should compassion play out in the workplace?" The simple answer is this: kindness and compassion toward others is a great thing. The complexity of the answer lies in this statement: kindness is always a great thing - yet the way it can play out is not always necessarily the desired outcome. Maybe the timing is wrong, maybe emotions are off the charts, maybe . . . any number of reasons.

the beauty of kindness

Need an example or two? While a listening ear and a compassionate word are usually well-received, that is not always the case.

If I am on the verge of tears at work or in any public place, although it may be the thing I need, a kind word or hug could usher in a flood of tears and loud sobbing.

My own daughter does not wish for blatant sympathy when she is dealing with certain unfortunate circumstances, no matter how honorable my intentions are in regard to empathizing with her. She simply prefers to move on with life, even if the sadness creeps in and takes over periodically. She sees no need to rehash the sadness aloud. If I insist on talking about "it", even as a mom, I've crossed a line in my expression of compassion (with her).

We would also do well to remember that anger is one of the stages of grief. If a coworker is going through a great loss, we may be exposed not only to their sadness but also to their hostility and irritability. There is no easy cure for grief, and if it spirals out of control during office hours, it may be time to recommend a grief counselor. However, you never know how an employee will respond to that recommendation either, especially if they are already upset or angry at the world.

As much as possible, be intuitive and sensitive rather than careless with your words and actions in the workplace. Asking if a person in crisis wants to talk about "it" is always a direct way of conveying your concern to a coworker. Letting them know your availability to talk when they are ready is another option. Whatever you say, keep it simple. Limit your words but not necessarily your sympathy. Allow the person to focus on work rather than on the crisis if it's not an appropriate time to talk. 

The Extent of Compassion in the Office

How far should you take compassion in the workplace? Honestly, my best answer is to take it as far as you must in order to meet the need. You’ve heard the stories of business owners who have gone to extreme lengths by providing cars or even homes for their employees who found themselves in dire situations.

Perhaps you’re also acquainted with employees who have willingly shared some of their paid time off with fellow employees who were struggling with cancer or some other diagnosis requiring them to be out of the office for long periods of time.

On the other hand, maybe you’ve been micromanaged by bosses who go strictly by the book and fail to show compassion no matter how difficult a situation an employee finds him/herself in.

challenging & stressful work - lady feels pressure from every direction

It’s true. Working in a corporate environment generally requires a strict accounting of hours worked, lunch hours and paid time off, but does that mean compassion cannot abound? Absolutely not, especially when employees find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

While disproportionate amounts of flexibility directed toward a few individual employees would most likely be called into question, typical acts of sincere kindness, generosity and flexibility should not be. Direct managers should be provided with company guidelines on how to handle such situations. 

The What-Ifs That Stir Our Compassion

disaster spelled with Scrabble tiles

Literally, what if there is a natural disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or fire that impacts your staff and they need an advance on their next paycheck? What if your employee has no means of transportation to a parent’s funeral? What if a close family member or a beloved pet dies, and the employee has no more PTO remaining? What if a judge requires one of your staff members to appear in court daily throughout an entire month?

As a business owner or HR Manager, it is wise to have a contingency plan for responding to these what-if scenarios.

The Look of Workplace Compassion

Unfortunately, it is true that employees can push the envelope of expectation and entitlement, so we have these questions to consider: 

  • How much flexibility should you allow a struggling employee?
  • How much compassion in the form of "tangible help" should an employer offer, if any?
  • Is your Human Resource department one which promotes kindness, giving, flexibility, and loyalty toward its people, especially during stressful situations or natural disasters that company employees may find themselves a part of?

Some may say that this is why their company provides vacation time and personal days for employees. Nevertheless, sometimes more is needed.

help (in ALL CAPS)

Below are a few ideas regarding compassion directed toward employees:

  • You can always express a word of sympathy and sincere concern for others’ losses and difficulties in life – and probably should in most cases.
  • If you have been through a similar situation, remember the reality of your struggle, and show empathy.
  • Sometimes employers don’t fully realize it, but showing compassion is not against the law -- favoritism is what you should be careful of. Showing sensitivity and a little flexibility is displaying kindness. However, all managers should respond similarly to any known struggle of their employees and understand both how and when it is appropriate (or not) to intervene.
  • Managers and co-workers must remember that outright pity is something which many people do not desire. It is also difficult for many people to accept "charity", so be mindful of others' feelings.
  • Should you ever sponsor a GoFundMe page for an employee or one of their family members? Maybe so.
  • Should you ever advance a paycheck or extra cash to your employees? Maybe so.
  • Should you ever grant an unpaid leave of absence? Perhaps. Maybe your company needs to develop a sabbatical type of program detailing the situations in which an employee might be granted unpaid leave.
  • In all expressions of compassion, exercise wisdom and caution in regard to both your words and actions.
Here’s a good - though sometimes costly - rule of thumb: If it is in your power to do good, then you should.

Here’s a good - though sometimes costly - rule of thumb: If it is in your power to do good, then you should.

The good you do may take the form of a sympathy card, a plant, paid time off, a flexible schedule, and maybe even time off without pay. It may also be providing counseling, support in conquering a bad habit, accountability, the opportunity to make up for a mistake, or forgiveness. Kindness may involve a few employees showing up after hours to assist a struggling employee with some challenging task, simply taking the time to listen, or even donating to a worthy cause. Perhaps the employee just needs you to bear with them for a time, then re-evaluate the situation.

A Story of Workplace Compassion

I love this story from a now-retired HR Manager: There was a long-time employee causing his boss and coworkers lots of grief with his moody disposition, rude behavior, and negative attitude during the work day. In previous years, this man had been a great employee, but that was no longer the case. The HR manager had a heart-to-heart talk with the employee about his behavior. In turn, he chose to share some of his situation with her. However, the situation he was facing did not change the fact that he had to find a way to improve his attitude and behavior toward others. She was sympathetic (and wise), so instead of firing him, the HR manager told the man to take a few weeks off (paid!) so he could try to remember why he took the job to begin with and to reconsider all its benefits. He did take some time off, and when he returned, all was well once again and (to my knowledge) stayed that way.

conversation between two professional figures

What I appreciate most about this case scenario is that the HR Manager addressed the problem directly with the employee and didn’t skirt around the issue. He was going to lose his job if his attitude didn’t improve in a big way. She remembered that the costs associated with losing and hiring a new employee are just that . . . costly! Was her gamble with the employee (a.k.a. compassion) worth an extra $1,000 or $2,000? Absolutely! The company held on to a great employee who was simply going through a crisis and needed some time to refocus. She was happy with the outcome, and so was the employee. I can assure you that the “compassionate accountability” she required of him will never be forgotten.

Leading With Compassion

the trust factor in the workplace

Walking with employees through the ups and downs of life can be costly, but worth every penny when you see them come through those valleys successfully. As far as building loyalty and trust among your employees - wow! There may not even be a need for fancy employee engagement or retention strategies when you practice kindness and moral support. So, invest in your people today and see what leading with a little compassion can do for employee engagement and retention at your place of business.

For more information about Brannon Professionals and its staffing/consulting services, CLICK HERE.

12 Interesting Insights About Millennials and the Up & Coming Gen Z-ers

millennial man in glasses

Millennials and Gen Z-ers . . . everyone wants to know and understand these generations better.

  • How to attract, engage, interview, learn from, work with, train, and retain them.
  • How to understand their experience, their expectations, and their strengths as well as their shortcomings.
  • Finally, how to best capitalize on their extraordinary skill with digital technology and heartfelt desire to be the change that this world needs.

We hope the following insights will help you plan for the future as Millennials and Gen Z-ers make up greater and greater percentages of the overall workforce in America.

Insight #1

The Age Range of Generations Y and Z

The current age range of Millennials or Generation Y is between 20 and 35. Following them is Generation Z with ages ranging from 2 to 19.

Insight #2

digital technology items on work desk

Their Experience with Digital Technology

They tend to work at a very fast pace when it comes to technology, and they are a quick-study when it comes to new technology. They want and even prefer a digital experience. It is their comfort zone, and most older generations could learn much from them in this regard.

Insight #3

The Purpose of Transparent Leadership & an Open Work Environment

open work / office environment - 3 workers

Have you ever thought about transparency as a teaching tool? Millennials have an appreciation for an open work environment which serves as a learning tool as they watch leadership in action. Company purpose, values, and end goals take on a whole different level of meaning as the energy, inspiration and rationale behind the decision-making process play out directly in front of the entire team.

Insight #4

puzzle piece missing representing skills gap

The Supposed Skills Gap

Some people report a skills gap among millennials, but members of this generation have and are making careers out of their unique skill-sets and deep-seated passions. Furthermore, they possess the technological skills to overcome any perceived gap regarding their skill-set.

Insight #5

The Ever-Sought-After Work/Life Balance

work at home millennial

Working remotely may interest a few millennials; however, it is more of a fluid type of schedule that they desire – one in which they can move back and forth between the office, home, and personal business all day and evenings too.

Flextime is a huge perk! What if your top employees were allowed to work from home one day each week?

Insight #6

The Opportunity to Learn & Grow

These generations like to learn, so professional development opportunities such as night or online classes (even training on the extensive uses of LinkedIn), conferences, and the chance to invest in business-related books should abound.

A Few Suggestions: Reimburse employees for yearly training expenses up to one week's salary. Also reimburse them for any associated traveling expenses up to one week’s salary. Managers should keep up with what their employees are learning and utilize those skills as often as possible. Furthermore, why not share the specifics with everyone in the company? It's an excellent way to brag on your employees for their accomplishments and to effectively, albeit briefly, place them in the spotlight.

training and development

Insight #7

The Value of Networking and Mentoring

Create networking opportunities through brown bag lunches and mentorship programs. Reverse mentoring is also a great thing as these methods of networking help improve company-wide collaborative initiatives and can enhance peer engagement.


You can make mentorship opportunities more prestigious by making them “by-invitation or by-application only” and by involving senior management in this learning process. Depending on the transparency and humility of those in leadership, some 2-sided learning might even occur. And try not to place the responsibility all on one party. Instead, conduct 6-month or 1-year long mentorships, and imitate BNY Mellon, a Boston-based wealth management powerhouse. That is, allow the mentee to work several different types of jobs during the mentorship: a) working with clients; b) in operations; and c) in a back-end role such as accounting or administration.

Insight #8

The Unique Benefits & Purposes of Internships

teamwork at computer with intern

Improve your employer branding (image) and attract more members of Gen Y and Z by offering 1 to 3-month long internship opportunities to college students. Where is your greatest need? Which departments can barely meet the deadlines set before it? Where is your overtime coming from? Which manager is overwhelmed? Hire interns for these departments.

Insight #9

The Correlation Between Instant Gratification & Successful Outcomes

The desire for instant gratification that millennials are much berated for can translate into the desire for successful outcomes in the workplace. So, it is best when management provides these generations with a deep understanding of their role and the potential impact that a “job well done” will have upon the overall business. In this way, Gen’s Y and Z will find satisfaction as they achieve the “desired outcomes” which managers have set before them as goals.

Insight #10

The Risky ROI . . . Managed

ROI image - stacked coins and clock

Some hiring managers firmly believe that millennials lack loyalty and that the potential return on their investment (ROI) is risky at best. However, some of that supposed lack could be better managed by doing these 3 things:

  • Invest in the personal growth and career development of your employees. Even go so far as to conduct employee evaluations for recent graduates every six months rather than every year or two and give at least one opportunity for a promotion if possible. The goal is to build trust and loyalty.
  • Challenge them to strive toward success in meeting all their short and long-term goals.
  • Encourage them to feel good about the individual successes they achieve along the way.

Insight #11

be the change in our world - 3 figures giving high five

The Merging of Enthusiasm & Excellence

These generations possess energy and enthusiasm, especially over what they find interesting and/or challenging to them personally. They want to “be the change” and possess both the knowledge and skills to be the force behind new innovations. Build the overall excellence factor, especially regarding professional etiquette and communication skills, and they will be well on their way.

Insight #12

The Construct of a Good Citizen in a Needy Community

2 volunteers talking a selfie

Build good corporate citizens through volunteer work with charities, especially those providing educational opportunities for young people. It may be a daycare that is interested in improving the services it offers children. It may be a non-profit that provides computer training. It may be a mission that simply needs more donations to support their cause - and consider matching your employees’ donations, dollar for dollar.


For even more interesting insights regarding Millennials, check out these related Brannon Professionals' articles:

  • How to Better Understand the Mindset & Motivation of Millennials - Click HERE
  • How to Successfully Interview a Millennial - Click HERE
  • What to Expect from Millennials in the Workforce - Click HERE
  • Millennial Recruiting and Retention Strategies - Click HERE





How to Become an Emotionally Intelligent Leader

Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) is a label that was created by Peter Salavoy and John Mayer (both researchers) and then made popular by Dan Goleman in his book, Emotional Intelligence, 1996. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE is much more than understanding how to be likable, sociable or sensitive. EI is the ability to "recognize, understand and manage" one's own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

Head - brain - emotional intelligence

According to Travis Bradberry, author and expert on EI, here's how emotional intelligence works:

"Unlike your IQ (intelligence quotient), your EQ (emotional quotient) is highly malleable. As you train your brain by repeatedly practicing new emotionally intelligent behaviors, it builds the pathways needed to make them into habits. As your brain reinforces the use of these new behaviors, the connections supporting old, destructive behaviors die off. Before long, you begin responding to your surroundings with emotional intelligence without even having to think about it." 

woman in conflict.jpg

As you work to improve your emotional intelligence (EI) and become a more effective and desirable manager, here are some specific behaviors and scenarios which may help you better understand EI and how it might play out in the workplace. The articles referred to below also offer several proofs or signs of emotional intelligence, and you will see some of these referred to in the examples I've set forth in this post.

13 Methods for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

A) Acknowledge the part of any problem that is you. To be sure, you have strengths, but you also have weaknesses. We all do. Consider the time and attention you give to the individuals surrounding you in the office. When you do give them the time of day, are you honest with them? Do you convey genuine concern?

Do you care that everybody despises your bossy, arrogant and rude administrative assistant? Have you noticed that the new guy never has anything to say because he’s super shy and that everyone pretty much ignores him? Does it bother you that you told your accounting assistant that she can’t get a promotion because she has no degree, and that after completing her degree, your company still failed to promote her? Perhaps you weren't being completely honest and forthright when you told her that the lack of a degree was the only thing holding her back from a promotion. Maybe it's her absolute lack of professionalism that is the real issue.

Proof of EI: You recognize your strengths and weaknesses (Bradberry) and then actively engage in improving the areas where you fall short. You also recognize weakness in others and actively engage in helping them grow in their career. 

business people working.jpg

B) Look around at each employee. How do you label them? Is it with colorful descriptions behind their backs or as people with real value, feelings, goals and ideas? Stop with the stereotypes and get to know your staff.

The loud, funny lady who is such a joy is currently struggling to pay her bills. That’s why you sometimes catch her crying. The girl at the front desk is new, and she has some great organizational management ideas. But you’ll never know what they are because neither you nor anyone else in the office values her enough to spend time in conversation asking important, relevant questions. The new guy seemed nice during the interview process but now his attitude stinks. You don’t know why because you just ignore him. But by simply addressing the attitude, you might learn that he is offended because his office is beside the men’s bathroom. He was hired in at $90K and honestly feels that he deserves better.

Proof of EI: You are curious about people. (Bradberry) And you treat them in a respectful manner at all times. You are able to show empathy and understand the feelings of others. (Bariso)

C) Explore the true motives and feelings of your staff; don’t assume you know what they are all about.

If an employee is angry one day during work hours, don’t assume that it is because of you or a coworker. Perhaps it is due to a conflict with a friend or family member outside the office. But anger is something you can and should address with an employee because it affects others. Your employee isn’t obliged to share details with you, but they will need to manage that anger in an appropriate manner while at work.

Proof of EI: You are a good judge of character and motivations. (Bradberry) You also address problems in the workplace quickly and effectively.


D) You are either a motivator, building up your team, or a demotivator, constantly bringing them down with your attitude and rude demands. Which kind of leader are you?

Regardless of the money a person makes doing their job, their level of engagement with the job depends on much more than the salary. Having a manager and coworkers who are friendly and pleasant to work with is also a priority. Put yourself if your employees’ place. Would you enjoy working for you?

Proof of EI: You are genuinely liked and respected by your staff.

E) Observe attitudes, moods and stress levels because they usually reflect you and your leadership style to some degree, for better or worse.

emotional - anxiety sign.png

When you give a somewhat stern or undesirable directive, take the time to look around and notice anxiety levels and attitudes. Don’t keep silent but address the negative reactions. One on one is preferable unless the attitude is widespread. But you must take care not to single anyone out or carelessly dismiss what the general feeling / attitude is.

Proof of EI: You don't seek perfection, but you do seek understanding of others and their emotions. (Bradberry, Bariso)

F) Hold your temper and choose to listen to others. Practice holding your tongue and being patient and calm when unfortunate circumstances arise.  Be mindful of reactive expressions, careless words that attack others, mean-spirited behaviors, negative attitudes and quick, emotional decisions. Avoid them.

angry emotion.jpg

When you are angry at a staff member for making a costly mistake or for mishandling a situation with a customer, wait at least 30 minutes before responding. Calm down, think about what you want to achieve and how to best to manage the situation, then make your move.

Proof of EI: You're able to let go of mistakes, both yours and others. (Bradberry)

G) Remember how you got where you are.


Why did you take this job originally? If you have been promoted, remember what it was you did that merited that promotion. Why are you a good leader? Or if you aren't, why not? Are you happy in this position? Happy in your personal life? Is it possible you are taking some of your unhappiness and stress out on your staff? If so, this is not right. Do all you can to correct the problem. And by all means, apologize.

Proof of EI: You won't let anyone (or anything) limit your joy. (Bradberry)

H) Learn how to be a better communicator.

Here’s a scenario for you to consider:

In the Accounting department of your firm, a new boss arrives. He is highly qualified and somewhat of a quiet leader, but friendly with an open-door policy. He is a supportive manager and assures his staff that he will always address any negative or concerning issues that crop up before he discusses them with others or makes any decisions based solely on the issue. He does just that, and good relations prevail. Both employees and managers are happy and engaged.

worried man.jpeg

In the Sales department, another new boss arrives. She is highly qualified and very direct. Perhaps a little threatening in the sense that you realize she will be looking closely at every person and position to see who/what is working well or not so well. So, the pressure to perform is high. Her tendency is to point out shortcomings without offering advice for improvement. And that's it, the warning shot. Many people leave, are fired, or get laid off as a result of her leadership and management style. This is worrisome and stressful to the remaining employees, many of whom choose to leave to avoid the same potential treatment.

As a manager, being tough and direct is a part of the job. However, in all of your acts of leadership, remember that kindness, honest conversation, wise and thoughtful decision-making, and a non-threatening leadership approach can also play a role in creating a happier, more effective and engaged worker not to mention a more successful business.

Proof of EI: You don't water down the truth (Murphy), but rather, you convey it with sincere care and concern for the person in front of you.

I) Learn how to praise and appreciate your employees.

When is the last time you said "thank you" to someone at work . . . for anything? Are you too busy? Too ungrateful? Too self-centered? Too distracted and stressed out?

thumbs up3.jpeg

People want and need to feel valued. They need to hear their supervisors and managers give them credit where credit is due. Simple comments such as, “Good job!” or “Thank you!” can often do the trick but doing and saying more regarding specific tasks or projects is highly recommended.

Proof of EI: You give others the opportunity to shine, whether in the form of attention, appreciation, performance, or praise.

J) Learn how to resolve conflict. However, being willing to face the conflicts in an office is the first step towards becoming a problem solver.

You are a department manager with an office staff of ten. Many of your agents are out of the office daily, but not all. The ones who remain in the office are constantly exposed to the obnoxious behavior of the department’s secretary. Nobody enjoys working with her. She irritates and angers everyone, but no manager has ever been willing to call her out regarding her unprofessional behavior. She offends and hurts others’ feelings constantly. Whether they fear a lawsuit or are simply afraid of her, she has gotten by with that attitude for many years. As the new manager in the office, can your employees trust you to manage ALL your staff or just the ones who are easiest to manage?

Proof of EI: You understand how to manage conflict and you do it to help those involved as well as your department and the company as a whole. (MTCT, Bariso)

K) Be the type of decision maker whose choices are both well-informed and carefully considered.


Nobody wants a hothead or an impulsive manager. Slow down and be mindful; consider all your options. Seek out truth. Be sure your decisions are based on fact, not mere emotional reaction, gossip, or others' false perceptions of reality.

Proof of EI: You pause and slow down long enough to think logically before making any quick, irrational or highly emotional decisions. (Bariso, MTCT)

L) Recognize your values. Is your integrity in tact? Are you a manager worth emulating? Or do you compromise your values when it works to yours or the company’s advantage? Do you compromise your manners or professionalism when you find yourself annoyed and angry? Your employees are watching and will judge you accordingly.

When your company’s cash flow is lacking, do you lie to your creditors? Do you say that the check is in the mail when it absolutely isn’t? Do you speak to collectors in a rude manner? Do you deny others what is honestly owed to them? As managers, we are constantly setting the standard for dealing with challenging situations.

Proof of EI: You hold yourself accountable. (MTCT)

M) Talk with your employees. Engage in everyday conversation with them. Do not ignore them or fail to learn their names and a little about their lives.


Saying hello is good, but it’s really not enough. As busy as you may be, slow down periodically to join in a conversation, make a joke, or initiate a conversation. Your staff needs to know that you are more than a manager. You are person with life, family and fun times outside the office. Share a little of that with your employees. It’s a great way to show that you care and see them as more than mere hires to do your bidding.

Proof of EI: Your conversations with others are authentic. (Bariso)

The 5 Building Blocks of EI: Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills

self awareness1.jpg

These are just a few of the myriad signs of high emotional intelligence among leaders in the workplace.

SELF-AWARENESS: Being aware of your emotions as well as those of the people around you is advantageous to a leader.

SELF-CONTROL: Yet learning how to control or regulate those emotions is even more impressive and helpful, especially when working with a socially and emotionally diverse group of folks.

MOTIVATION: Staying motivated as a leader and manager of others is also helpful in maintaining that positive, hopeful outlook which is so important for us as human beings.


EMPATHY: As to empathy in a leader, it's imperative. According to the Mind Tools' Content Team, "Leaders with empathy have the ability to put themselves in someone else's situation. They help develop the people on their team, challenge others who are acting unfairly, give constructive feedback, and listen to those who need it."

SOCIAL SKILLS: Finally, developing one's social skills can make a tremendous difference to those within your circle of influence leading to better communication with employees, feedback that builds trust, and less conflict in the office. Who could ask for much more from a manager? (MTCT)

To learn more about emotional intelligence or to discover what your level of EI is based on assessment, contact Brannon Professionals, an authorized provider of TTI Success Insights' assessments for over 15 years.



In the Workplace: How to Be an Exceptionally Effective Customer Service Employee

customer service focus

The Makeup of a Customer Service Minded Person

I believe that success as a customer service employee stems from a person’s honest desire to help others. That said, first and foremost, I must ask, “Are you (or your CSRs) motivated by a desire to help and serve others, to meet needs, to solve problems?” These are some of the motivations most prevalent among customer service-oriented employees. Other characteristics of strong customer service-minded individuals include a pleasant personality and disposition, an “I can do it” sort of determination, and a mindset that extends outward rather than inward.

If Shiu Singh is correct, and the “purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers,” then businesses need to hire people who will provide awesome service experiences for their customers – to the point that those current customers can’t help but share their wonderful experience with others.

happy customer service employee

Here’s one example . . .

Happy employees are invariably linked to good customer service. Show me a happy person, and that joy, that smile, and that contentment will spill over into every aspect of customer service in the workplace.

I’m reminded of a teen girl who recently started working at a nearby grocery store. I work for Brannon Professionals, a staffing firm, and every time this young lady waits on me, I think about asking her if she would like our help in finding a better paying customer service job. But she’s a student, and not available for full-time work just yet.

Why am I so impressed with her? It’s her smile, her cheerful attitude and friendly demeanor, her exceptional communication skills, her sincerity and confidence, her pace. . . you name it, she’s got it when it comes to customer service. She’s probably making around $8 per hour. If she has the computer skills most millennials have these days, we could easily place her in a position paying at least double that. The problem is . . . what she possesses is far too rare these days. But wouldn’t you like your customers to feel this positive about your employees and their customer service experiences?

What she possesses is natural customer service skill. Positive words. Helpful actions. Friendly expressions. Professional manner.

What she possesses is natural customer service skill. Positive words. Helpful actions. Friendly expressions. Professional manner.

Every communication and encounter we have with another person is either positive or negative. We will either drain others of energy or make them feel better, even energized. We might be so helpful and inspiring that people have a difficult time hanging up or walking away from us. Or the customer may try to find a way to speak with us every time they call. People are almost desperate for decent customer service experiences. Then when they have one especially significant, you can be sure they will share that experience with others.

“A brand is defined by the customer’s experience. The experience is delivered by the employees.” – Shep Hyken

Think about your daily encounters for a few minutes:

happy & smiling customer service worker

A) What FACIAL EXPRESSIONS and EMOTIONS do you portray to your customers?

Looks of anger, annoyance, arrogance, boredom, concentration, contempt, curiosity, disgust, fear, frustration, joy, peace, sadness, surprise and weariness WILL affect your customers one way or the other.

Smile & Personality - “Your smile is your logo, your personality is your business card, how you leave others feeling after having an experience with you becomes your trademark.” – Jay Danzie

Face to Face & Active Listening - “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.” - Ross Perot

B) What types of WORDS are coming out of your mouth daily as you serve others?

excellent customer service question - how can we help you?

Words of hope, confidence, apology or appreciation, offers related to convenience, curious and questioning words, positive and encouraging expressions, truth expressed in helpful, empathetic and thoughtful ways, words that convey trust and respect. Negative words and phrases may include complaints, threats, whining, cursing, reprimands, and even directives if not sprinkled with a little kindness.

Confidence - “Customers will want to talk to you if they believe you can solve their problems.” – Jeffery Gitomer

Attitude Trumps Words - “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” – John Maxwell

Words That Make Others Feel Important - “I have learned to imagine an invisible sign around each person’s neck that says, ‘Make me feel important!’” – Mary Kay Ash

“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” - Jeffrey Gitomer

“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” - Jeffrey Gitomer

C) What are your ACTIONS toward customers like?

Kind, determined, mean-spirited, generous, resentful, service-oriented, careless, nit-picky, (un)friendly, stubborn, professional, enjoyable, unforgiving, or truly helpful - as in going the extra mile - above and beyond what the customer ever expected?

"A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service, but it’s just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity." – Christopher McCormick

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

D) What ATTITUDES are conveyed to your customers?

Does your attitude reflect a caring, sincere, thoughtful and obliging disposition as well as a willingness to go beyond the call of duty? Or is your attitude more pessimistic, assuming the worst - even rude, rushed, and completely annoyed?

smiling customer service team in circle leaning down for picture

Serving with Sincerity and Integrity - “To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money. That is sincerity and integrity.” – Douglas Adams

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

“When you assume negative intent, you're angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed." - Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico

“When you assume negative intent, you're angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed." - Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico

Serving without Negative Assumption

I like the quote from Ms. Nooyi because it rings true in so many areas of life. Here’s another real-life case scenario:

Suppose you have a customer who has failed to pay their bill on time. Rather than trusting that the customer actually wants to pay their bill, you assume that the customer is "one of those" who is always late due to lack of funds and uses every excuse in the book to get out of paying their bill. So the progression of problems begins:

The first month, the problem is that the company fails to mail a paper invoice, so the bill doesn't get paid. The customer calls to request a bill.

The second month, the bill is mailed, but not in time to make an on-time payment. However, the customer pays (for 2 months) by phone although she is charged a late fee.

customer service agent in headset

The third month, the customer calls in to make a payment by phone since the payment will be late again if it is mailed. This is because the bill was received only 4-5 days before the due date. However, the customer isn’t allowed to pay by phone because the last payment apparently didn’t go through properly. The company is convinced she intentionally gave the wrong account information; however, she is certain she did not as it is a very simple account number. She argues that the CSR must have entered the information incorrectly but to no avail. This infuriates the customer, but she mails in a payment (for all 3 bills) anyway.

The fourth time the customer calls, it is to request that the bill be mailed earlier or that the due date be changed. She is still not allowed to pay by phone, and there isn’t enough time to pay the bill by the due date, so there is another late fee. The company will not oblige her with a change in due date. The company also refuses to reimburse her any late fees. The customer has a meltdown over the phone and says that all she has ever wanted to do is to pay her bill – like she ALWAYS has until this change in ownership and billing procedures. The CSR says nothing, just waits on her to calm down. The customer decides to talk with a supervisor. She talks to supervisors until there are no more supervisors available. None of them will budge on the late fee or the taking of a payment by phone. Such is life. They're just following the script they've been given from management.

Then, the customer calls again later regarding a different matter, and the customer service is awesome. Kindness and understanding are the rule of the day. They notice that all fees and payments have been made, if not timely, then without exception. Paid in full. The CSR announces that the most recent late fee(s) will be removed. The bills begin to be received in a more timely manner and paid on time. All is well.

Finally, consider this analogy . . . 

excellent customer service is like a beautiful flower bloom

A business is like a flowering plant. Its roots are ALL the employees and their inherent desires to make a positive impact, to serve others, and to grow professionally. Customer service is the stem which is there for all to witness as the plant develops leaves and begins to bud. The petals inside these buds are individual successes - company wide - which eventually blossom into something utterly beautiful - a happy customer. Yet a faded bloom or one missing even a single petal can lessen the beauty. It doesn’t necessarily equate to utter failure, but the constant goal is the formation of a perfect blossom - a perfectly satisfied and LOYAL customer - with preferably MANY more in the making.

Here's to serving your customers well and building that loyalty factor . . . All the best!


How to Successfully Interview a Millennial

According to a recent article on the TTI Success Insights® website, retention is irrelevant. The writer further elaborates, “Nowadays, individuals are hiring a company to hone their skills, achieve their personal goals and fulfill their dreams. If you are still hiring based on resume and traditional interviews, you might want to try something new.”

millennial woman in professional attire

Something new.

A non-traditional approach.

Asking similar interview questions, but from a different perspective.

Making the candidate’s skills, goals and dreams your primary focus.

Discerning whether the candidate’s motivators are a good match for both the job and the company.

The Standard Interview

Here’s how a normal interview might progress . . .

Tell me about yourself. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses? How will your references describe you? What motivates you? Share 2 or 3 of your greatest accomplishments thus far. What type of work do you find most satisfying? In your research, what have you found most interesting about our company? Why do you want this job? What are a few of your long-term career goals? The salary for this job is $$$. Are you interested? When could you start if we decide to move forward?

interview - no faces  - man & woman

The Millennial Interview

Here’s one idea of how an interview with a millennial might progress . . .

Say, “I am very impressed with your resume and skills.” Then pursue the line of questioning suggested in Section A, "How to Address Millennials' Skills". (see below)

Say, “While there is always more to learn, your current skill-set is certainly impressive. I wonder, however, if this job will meet your expectations and sufficiently challenge you.” Then follow the line of questioning in Section B, "How to Address Millennials' Goals".

Ask the candidate about their level of interest in the job thus far. Then follow the line of questioning in Section C, "How to Address Millennials' Dreams".

A) How to Address Millennials’ Skills

1. Know your candidates’ skills and capabilities as thoroughly as possible, and be prepared to discuss them. Understand the limited or extensive range of those skills. If it is not obvious, ask relevant questions.

skills - competence - growth - experience - learning

2. Look at more than just their resume. Check out LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets also. You may discover additional skills not mentioned on their professional resume.

3. Be aware of potential training opportunities available with your company. The more details you can share with a candidate, the more trust will be established. Additionally, many businesses have learned that providing (carefully chosen) mentors for new employees can be extremely helpful in the training process.

Ask the following:

  • Do your current skills fall short of your personal or professional aspirations in any way?

  • How do you anticipate this job helping you improve your skill-set or craft?

  • Are there any skills which you are particularly passionate about learning or improving?

B) How to Address Millennials’ Goals

1. Discuss any new skills, computer programs and experiences to which the candidate will be exposed.

2. Know what previous employees in this position loved about their job, then convey those inspiring aspects of the job to the candidate.

goal - man in suit - arrow graphic

Ask the following:

  • How do think this job might help you accomplish your extended career goals?

  • What life goal motivates you the most currently? (does not need to be work-related, just ask, and see where the conversation takes you)

C) How to Address Millennials’ Dreams

1. Make an effort to discover what unique gifts, traits, insights, skills and experiences they might bring to the table. You need to know what one thing stands out about this person in the eyes of his or her references.

2. Discuss personal motivation. Why? Because this is important insight for both the employer and employee to possess moving forward. The aforementioned article from TTI Success Insights® provides a brief overview of 12 different types of motivators which can help managers understand what drives their employees to act in particular ways. 

do what you love

The 12 driving forces/motivators include the following: 

  • Intellectual - all about truth, knowledge, learning

  • Instinctive - driven to make decisions based on intuition

  • Resourceful - motivated by efficiency and ROI

  • Selfless - willing to complete a task simply because it needs to be done

  • Harmonious - focused on the experience and balance, viewpoint is subjective

  • Objective - interested in the functionality of things in one's surroundings

  • Altruistic - being supportive ushers in personal satisfaction

  • Intentional - being helpful and willing to assist others, but with a specific purpose in mind

  • Commanding - all about status, recognition and control

  • Collaborative - being supportive with little need for recognition

  • Receptive - open-minded, interested in finding new ways to accomplish daily tasks

  • Structured - follows tried and true methods for accomplishing tasks

Review a sample 12 Driving Forces® (Motivators) report HERE. To learn more about these assessments/reports and how they can help you discern the type of candidate who would be the best match for your job and company, contact Brannon Professionals, an authorized TTISI® provider.

3. If at this point you see the candidate as a strong possibility for hire, go ahead and answer all those often unspoken but always relevant questions. Say, “If we offer and you accept this position, this is what you can expect." Be honest. They need a realistic idea of what all the job can offer them. Share specific information about salary (even if you must quote the minimum starting pay rate or a range of pay), benefits, perks, and career opportunities. Let them be excited about a potential job offer from your company.

Ask the following:

dream job signage - arrow pointing this way
  • What advantageous role do you think this job might play in helping you achieve your dream?

  • Explore the candidate’s strengths, outside interests, and volunteer or service project involvement. Try to establish solid connections between those passions and your company. This may lead to discussions regarding cross-training, leadership opportunities, or new company-wide initiatives.

  • Millennials have been exposed to so much more (especially regarding technology) than generations prior. Why not ask good questions to see what you might honestly learn from them and then (without taking unfair, uncompensated advantage) see how you might utilize their talents to accomplish more than simply the job at hand?

Traditional, Resume-Focused Interviews vs                Non-Traditional, Candidate-Focused Conversations

interviewing figures sitting in chairs

These are some ideas which may help you capture the interest of the very talented and passionate Millennial generation.

Explore. Candidate skills. Candidate goals. Candidate dreams. Candidate motivations.

This type of interview definitely requires some effort and a different focus, but the benefits can be extensive. And as I always say, asking even one of the above questions can provide insight which you might otherwise miss.

Try it. You may never want to return to those old standard interview questions again, not with any generation.

How to Better Understand the Mindset & Motivation of a Millennial

True or false?     Millennials are lazy. Millennials are     entitled. Millennials are     narcissis    tic.

True or false? Millennials are lazy. Millennials are entitled. Millennials are narcissistic.

The Hidden Truth Behind These Statements

Do these statements ring true about millennials in general? Are they true about the millennials you know personally, including the ones in your own family? 

My personal opinion is that the statements are somewhat true, but there is so much more to say about millennials! In spite of any perceived laziness, they are also extremely passionate about pursuing their interests. As for feelings of entitlement, maybe, but I have found them to be willing to work most diligently when attempting to meet and/or finance their goals. And narcissism? Who can blame them for being so completely self-absorbed when social media pretty much demands it? Who's coaching them to live life differently? Some parents and teachers are, but not all.

A Truthful Assessment Regarding Millennial Behavior

millennials in discussion

The truth is, some millennials behave exactly in this manner (lazy, entitled, self-centered) while others do not. Many millennials are often motivated to be industrious rather than lazy and people-centric as opposed to self-centered. As to that whole entitlement thing . . . there's  a lot to say about that one.

The Truth About the Entitlement Factor

Entitlement is associated with thoughts and behaviors such as selfishness, high expectations, demand for the best, and assumption that all will be as one wishes it to be.

My rationale flows something like this: First of all, whose tendency as a young person isn't selfish? And aren't high expectations supposedly a good thing? Parents dish them out on their children constantly. As to wanting the best . . . as long as it's tempered with giving your best, would we rather them aim for less? Regarding assumptions, each of us may need a reality check at times, but that reality may hit millennials especially hard.

The True Potential of Millennials

Below are some quotes and links to both articles and interviews which are meant to help us sort through the labels placed on millennials and perhaps see beyond those negatives to how these millennials are much more than the labels their world has assigned them. While they also  have much good to offer, they still need older generations to make an effort to seek a deeper understanding of them.

working millennial at desk with laptop and coffee

This article is an attempt to take you into their world. By exploring their thoughts, motivations, expectations, and experiences, and by heeding the valuable insights of their managers, we can learn a great deal about how best to work with and guide millennials as they enter the workforce and strive to make their mark upon this world.

Millennials and Maturity

What it means to be a grownup

"Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you're grown up. Growing up means being patient, holding your temper, cutting out the self-pity, and quitting with the righteous indignation." - Brandon Stanton, author of Humans of New York

Perspectives on Millennials  

The desire to make the world a better place  

"I'm very encouraged by millennials and their drive to make the world a better place." - John Mackey, CEO, Whole Foods Market

The gift of individualism  

man on the move

"One of the things I admire most about millennials is they celebrate individualism, and their singularity is encouraged. To be different is to be cool as opposed to weird." - Sutton Foster, American actress

The gift of intellect & the work of serving others  

"These Millennials are volunteering more; they're smarter than ever." - Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor of California

The gift of engagement

"The Millennial Generation will entirely recast the image of youth from downbeat and alienated to upbeat and engaged -- with potentially seismic consequences for America." - Neil Howe and William Strauss, Millennials Rising

Millennials’ Work Ethic

man thinking - wheels turning as clock is ticking

When the work you do everyday matters

"The very first thing I tell every intern on the first day is that their internship exists solely on their resume. As far as I am concerned, they are a full-time member of my team. For all the negative stereotypes about millennials, you would be astounded by how hard they work when they believe their contribution matters." - Jay Samit, American author and digital media innovator

When the correlation between one’s work and one’s purpose is excellence

"The more a business is able to develop and articulate a core purpose and engage with millennials, who equate purpose with business excellence, the greater chances for long-term success." - Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte

What Millennials Want in the Workplace

The opportunity to thrive vs The status quo

"Recruiters sometimes have their wires crossed when it comes to what Millennials really want at work. While fancy perks are great, many Millennials are more excited about growing and thriving at a company that appreciates their talent and will help them continue to learn." Kathryn Minshew, CEO and Co-founder of The Muse

handshake among 3 professionals

Mentoring vs Managing

“Millennials don't want to be managed, they like to be led, coached and mentored. This generation is on fire and ready to go. Are you ready to change the world?” ― Farshad Asl, Best-selling author, international speaker

Hunger for growth & development vs Hunger for the complimentary, “Job well done!”

feedback written on chalkboard - 2 professionals talking

"Millennials tend to appreciate regular feedback because they want to feel that their work matters and that they are making a difference in the workplace. As the youngest generation at most organizations, they also tend to be hungry for growth and development opportunities." - Kathryn Minshew, CEO/Co-founder of The Muse

Stubborn leadership vs Flexible management

"Organizations that can’t—or won’t—customize training, career paths, incentives and work responsibilities need a wake-up call." - Carolyn A. Martin and Bruce Tulgan, authors

Millennials’ Priorities

Communicating core purpose as a priority

"Millennials want to work for organizations that prioritize purpose as well as profit. It's as simple as that." - Punit Renjen, CEO of Deloitte

words related to purpose and priorities

Culture of the workplace

"Where people work and their environment is becoming more and more important, especially for millennials." - Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber

Central concerns

A recent study by Bentley University revealed 3 priorities held by millennials:

  • Prefer talking with colleagues in person rather than texting or emailing

  • Value health-care benefits more than frequent pay raises and promotions when choosing a job

  • Believe that flexible work schedules make the workplace more productive for people their age

4 millennials using digital devices

Millennials and Technology

Learning by doing vs Learning by questioning

"Millennials, and the generations that follow, are shaping technology. This generation has grown up with computing in the palm of their hands. They are more socially and globally connected through mobile Internet devices than any prior generation. And they don't question; they just learn." - Brad D. Smith, CEO of Intuit

Other Millennial Insights

ways to create a happy work environment

Where millennials thrive

Fascinating interview between Bentley University and YNAB – check it out HERE, “Companies Where Millennials Thrive: You Need a Budget”. Read to the end so you don’t miss the CEO’s top three insights about hiring, employing and retaining millennials.

Addressing alignment

To learn more about addressing alignment between employers and potential employees, click HERE to read the article, “5 Tough Questions for Millennials and Employers”. 

happy coworkers in front of a computer

Workplace culture

For more about creating a workplace culture which millennials will find enticing, click HERE to read, “Create This Sort of Work Environment If You Want To Retain Millennials”.

Hopefully, these thoughts, tidbits of insight, quotes and links will be helpful as you seek to increase your successful engagement with the Millennial generation. Moreover, if Brannon Professionals can serve you as a talent acquisition partner or in your own job search, please connect with us online at www.brannonprofessionals.com.