Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Making Your Customers Work for You

There's an old commercial for ING Direct and the idea behind it is that you should have your money work for you. They show dollar bills doing all sorts of things but the theme is that you worked hard to earn that money, and you should have the money now work hard for you. The idea is the same in a business with customers. As Bill Lee writes in the Harvard Business Review blog, there are some things that customers can do better than you--and those things can help advance your business. The idea is that you should grow your customer base and, in turn, they should grow your business.

Lee writes about five things that customers do better than companies including knowing more about each other, being more credible, being more persuasive, understanding the buyers needs, and attracting prospects. The idea is that you don't always need to grow your employee base to grow your business--the goal is to grow your customers. Customers don't always have to buy something (he lists Facebook as an example), but they are integral in growing your brand. And they're a heckuva lot cheaper than hiring an employee. Look at instagram which recently got bought by Facebook for $1 billion--they had ~13 employees but their value was in their customers.

So think about that the next time you have capital to spend. Most companies pump capital into employees to grow their internal infrastructure but it may be just as important to pump that capital into attracting new customers and growing that base. They know your business best and can help promote and grow it. Let your customers work for you (and sometimes they get to be furry and cute).

Monday, April 09, 2012

Finding New Hires in a Relatively Intuitive Place

We spend a lot of time talking about the different places that people go to apply to jobs from job sites such as and to help wanted ads in the newspaper or Craigslist to social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, but the place that most new hires come from, according to Forbes, is from internal referrals and a company's own career site.
It turns out that job applications who come in through internal sources get the same number of interviews as ones from outside. However, internal sources, such as employee referrals, inside hires, walk-ins and a company’s career site, produce almost twice the number of hires as external ones, which include job search engines, job boards, print advertising, and job fairs.

“I think a lot of the findings will surprise people, while others will confirm what we’ve known all along,” says Thomas Boyle, director of product marketing at SilkRoad. “What you have to think about is that most companies try and foster internal mobility as part of their employee retention and alignment strategy. So, it’s not uncommon for employees to see and have the opportunity to apply or submit referrals for positions before they ever get released to the public.”
It's a bit surprising at first (especially since we're always thinking of the new and exciting ways that people get jobs, but the truth is that when you think about it more, it seems more intuitive that those who get hired are hired because they either sought out the company they really wanted to work for or because someone internal can vouch for that new employee.

In some ways, this is also a bit disappointing. We've come a long way from potential hires having to beat the pavement and show up at doors to get a job at a place that they don't know anyone at--and it really drives home the old adage that it really is all about who you know. But the truth is that companies are like people and when you bring in someone new, you want to feel like they really want you and you want to feel like you can trust them. Referrals and internal hires are exactly that.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

The Norwegians Monitor Bathroom Breaks

Do you ever get back to your desk after going to the bathroom to have someone ask where you were? It feels like a weird questions and an uncomfortable answer--and it feels like your privacy at work is somehow being violated. Well the Norwegians have taken that a step further according to Business Insurance:

Employees at a Norwegian insurance company have eight minutes per day to do their business before an alarm alerts managers of time spent away from their desks, including bathroom breaks. 

Using a new surveillance system, managers at a life insurance unit of Oslo, Norway-based DNB Bank A.S.A. are alerted by flashing lights when an employee has been away from their desk for “personal activities” beyond the allotted time, according to news reports.
Imagine if a company started doing this in the United States--the uproar would be tremendous. I thought getting a hall pass in school was rough but a countdown to do your business is way beyond that. Norway apparently operates a bit differently (or they just have too much loss of productivity from those "on bathroom breaks"). Amazingly, according to the article, this isn't the first time that a Norwegian company has done something like this (and this sounds much worse):

Norway’s chief workplace ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon told The Telegraph that one firm required employees to wear a red bracelet during their menstrual cycles to indicate the need for more restroom visits.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Astronology - Effectively Dealing with Poor Management

Astron Website Top 


Volume XII

Issue 26

April 3, 2012

Dear Andrew,

Astron Solutions provides high-quality, low-cost, innovative human resources consulting services to organizations like yours. Call us for advice, innovative program design, and user-friendly Web/PC based software.


Fact or Fiction

The "natural alarm clock" that some people have, enabling them to wake up a specific time, is due to the anticipated stress of waking up.




The "natural alarm clock" that some people have, which enables them to wake up at a specific time, is caused by a burst of adrenocorticotropin hormone. Researchers believe this reflects an unconscious anticipation of the stress of waking up.

Here at Astronology, we wonder if this is why the night before an early morning flight, we seem to wake up every hour on the hour!



Effectively Dealing with Poor Management

While many individuals assume that pay or benefits are driving factors in employee dissatisfaction and turnover, research points in another direction.  A Gallup Management Journal article highlighting excerpts from the book, First, Break All the Rules, reveals what is often the source of turnover.  Employees join companies...but leave managers. The idea that a manager could affect whether an employee stays loyal to an organization isn't a new concept. What made this article special was that it used a real life example of why one graduate of Stanford and Harvard left a well-known company after working there for only one year. The former employee said of her manager, "He's not a bad man; He's just not a manager. He's insecure and I don't think you can be insecure and be a good manager." Her comment should alert all organizational leaders.....more  


Have a Question?

If you have a topic you would like addressed in Astronology, or some feedback on a past article, don't hesitate to tell us!  Simply reply to this e-mail.  See your question answered, or comments addressed, in an upcoming issue of Astronology.

Looking for a top-notch presenter for your human resource organization's meeting?  Both Jennifer Loftus and Michael Maciekowich present highly-rated sessions on a variety of compensation and employee retention issues.  For more information, send an e-mail to


The Fine Print

We hold your e-mail address in trust.  Astron Solutions promises never to share or rent your personal information.  We also promise never to send you frivolous e-mails and will allow you to leave our list, at your option, at any time.

To remove yourself from this list, please follow your personalized subscriber link at the bottom of your Astronology alert e-mail.

Copyright 2012, Astron Solutions, LLC

ISSN Number 1549-0467

Quick Links


World of HR Blog

Bringing you Human Resource news from around the globe...compliments of Astron Solutions.



Join Our Mailing List


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Embrace the Meritocracy

In a recent episode of The Office (a show I once loved but has now gone so far downhill), a new manager walks into the office and on the first day does performance reviews where she just gives everyone raises since she doesn't know anyone or their skills. Sometimes it feels like companies do this all the time. Although promotions and raises are supposed to be based on production and hard work, many companies base it on other factors, and it's a shame that they do so.

This is not something new--office politics have been around forever--but the sad part is that in today's economy, it's better to be liked, than to produce. And, in some ways, that's fair as the sum is supposed to be greater than its parts and if someone isn't contributing to the "team" their contribution isn't worth as much. But the truth is that we all have some sort of metrics we get judged on and 90% of the battle should be meeting or exceeding those numbers.

But its rare that companies embrace that way of thinking, and it's a shame. Companies lose some of the best workers because they're too busy trying to make them brown nose their way to a promotion. We've all had bosses who rather hear how great they are and how much you can say "yes" rather than looking at your great numbers and how many times you hit the bell after a sale.

So how do companies change that? Embrace the meritocracy. You produce "X", you get "Y". Simple and straightforward. Special circumstances can always be made for people who go the extra mile but don't get the results that others get, but if someone goes the extra mile and produces, make sure that's celebrated. You want employees to know that you value their production and the best way to do that is to make sure those who make you successful, are rewarded handsomely. You do that by embracing the idea of being a true meritocracy.

Stat Counter