How to Make Brainstorming Meetings More Productive

January 23rd, 2017 Comments off
Brainstorming Brainstorm Business People Design Planning


Small businesses thrive on innovation, and bringing your team together for brainstorming sessions can be a great way to generate new ideas. If not properly executed, however, these collaborative gatherings have the potential to be a waste of time – about the last thing you can afford when everyone at your small business already is juggling many projects. Here are some tips for getting the most out of brainstorming meetings.

Determine the purpose

Just as a student panics when faced with a blank piece of paper, so too can a small business worker whose only instruction is to come up with a fresh idea. Instead, try asking a question such as “How can we improve customer service?” or “What tweak would you most like to make to one of our existing products?” Focusing encourages substantive exploration of a single issue rather than a hodgepodge of random thoughts.

Set some limitations

Tossing around ideas without restraint or editing is a hallmark of brainstorming – to a degree. As the creative juices get flowing, start introducing potential obstacles. Encourage staff members to up their problem-solving ability to work around time, money, and other limitations common to small businesses.

Get everyone involved

Some people enjoy the energy of brainstorming as a group. They love expressing their own ideas and building on what colleagues suggest. Others may be shy or not sure how to jump in among their more vocal peers. Success comes from tapping into the collective brainpower, so look for ways in which everyone can contribute. Consider allowing time for individual reflection on the topic before opening up the floor; reserved team members may relish this chance to collect their thoughts before being expected to speak. Another option is first brainstorming in groups of two, then presenting the most promising ideas to the whole team for further exploration. Having a partner can build confidence by diffusing the spotlight.

Create a supportive environment

Nothing kills someone from contributing more than hurtful comments from a manager or colleague. A brainstorming session needs to be a safe place where people are expected to be civil and supportive. Develop a zero-tolerance policy for making fun of ideas or labeling something as “stupid.” Every idea is a step in the process of building a better small business and should be respected.

Follow up

Finally, realize that your small business team will not take future brainstorming sessions seriously if nothing ever comes from them. Prevent discouragement by acting as much as possible on promising ideas. Look into points raised. Revisit the topic and report progress at a staff meeting. Your employees will come to see brainstorming as a productive activity rather than as a managerial whim that keeps them away from their “real” work.

Want more small business advice? Find the answers you’re looking for at CareerBuilder’s small business resource page.


3 Fall To-Do’s for Your 2016 Staffing Plans

October 13th, 2015 Comments off
3 Fall To-Do's for Your 2016 Staffing Plans

If you’re a staffing industry leader, you’re probably also an early adopter — meaning that when you notice a trend, innovation or new technology you explore the opportunity. So what are the trending issues within staffing and recruiting as we approach 2016? We’re glad you asked.

In September 2015, CareerBuilder surveyed over 200 members of the staffing industry in our Q4 Pulse Survey in order to give you a fall checklist for your staffing plans as the New Year approaches. The survey findings also give you a glimpse into what your peers are thinking about going into 2016.

Here are what innovators are asking for and early adopters are paying attention to this fall.

1. Explore talent sourcing upgrades.

While building an always-on talent pipeline and continuing to focus on the skills gap are at the top of many staffing professional’s lists in terms of focus, there are also some key challenges that many are concerned with. We asked respondents, “In your opinion, as you look toward 2016, what is your staffing firm’s biggest challenge?”

  • We have open positions that we can’t help our clients find qualified candidates for. (30 percent)
  • Increasing our pipeline of quality talent. (29 percent)
  • Finding new ways to source more efficiently and effectively. (26 percent)
  • Implementing new technology and software solutions in order to maintain a competitive advantage. (8 percent)
  • Implementing data and analytics to improve our business. (5 percent)


Overwhelmingly, respondents answered that they struggle to find more qualified candidates and do so more efficiently and effectively. The top three answers make up 85 percent of the responses, sending a loud and clear message that sourcing is a continuous challenge for most staffers.

A key part of helping clients find qualified candidates is using your resources — not only looking in your own existing database, but also using the help of software technology to better source and match. There are solutions to do that, as well as new tools for finding the hidden gems of talent that you’re having trouble sourcing.

2. Determine recruitment strategy end-goals.

When we look at ways to improve our recruitment strategies, that usually means incorporating better ways to complete our current tasks or fix current problems. But what are you doing to prevent future recruitment problems or challenges?

Get ahead of the game by setting key goals for your firm now. Q4 is a great time to set goals not only for the end of the year, but to start preparing for the year ahead. At the beginning of 2015 CareerBuilder identified five key trends to watch within the staffing industry. We asked respondents, “Which of the following goals will your organization still be focusing on going into 2016?”
What is your staffing firm's biggest challenge?

  • Building a talent pipeline that “re-recruits” talent. (42 percent)
  • Working with your clients to help overcome the skills gap. (35 percent)
  • Increasing your firm’s employment brand presence via video and social. (11 percent)
  • Working with your clients to better work with a multigenerational workforce. (8 percent)
  • Creating and executing a strong mobile strategy. (4 percent)


These areas of focus are showing where the most competitive staffing and recruitment organizations are looking to improve, and where you’ll need to upgrade your own strategies in order to stay relevant and competitive. Mobile strategies, social media and talent pipelines are just some of the areas of engagement that are crucial to building a reliable stream of talent.

3. Bring attention to candidates and user experience.

The majority of staffers who responded to the survey feel positive about the year ahead, but also voice challenges in regards to the economy, the candidate-driven marketplace and rising competition. Their sentiments all share the same thought, though: It’s time to bring attention to candidates and user experience.

One respondent says:

Moving into 2016, I predict that the staffing industry will continue to see a positive upswing of opportunities as companies continue to struggle to attract top talent in a market that is primarily candidate driven for the first time in years. Many companies are struggling to stay up to date with their staffing and marketing strategy to best vie for top talent. Staffing agencies can play a powerful role in aiding these companies in their search. I believe that we will continue to see a market flooded with openings, however we will be faced with challenging timeframes and expectations from clients due to this lack of education about the current market.”

Another survey respondent echoed that thought, saying:

The market is moving to a candidate-centric environment, meaning, there is more competition for companies in attracting and retaining prospects and employees.” Similarly, another survey respondent says, “Even if you’re a 100-year-old company, it doesn’t make you the best. I believe we need to focus on the client experience and how to integrate this into our company.”

2016 is approaching quickly, so getting ready for the New Year by preparing this fall means that you’re among the leaders of the staffing industry pack — well positioned for the year ahead.

3 Ways Technology Is Making HR Better

September 18th, 2015 Comments off
3 ways HR tech will make HR better and easier

Whenever someone talks to me about HR technology, I always black out from boredom. While it’s important to talk tech as a talent advisor, sometimes I just want to talk about Kim Kardashian.

As I dig deeper and expand my knowledge of HR, I realize HR technology is not as boring as it seems. (Okay, that might not be true. All the Silicon Valley jargon is monotonous.) I do believe there are three specific ways in which technology is helping HR play a bigger role in the changing nature of the workforce.

3 ways I see tech making HR easier and better:

1. Compliance and Payroll Continue to Get Better.

In my first HR job, payroll checks were cut on a typewriter by a woman who looked like Maxine on the old Hallmark greeting cards. She always wore a cardigan sweater, even in July, because her office was always too cold. When I think about those old days, with cranky Maxine and the illegal space heater she kept under her desk, I praise all the nerds who enjoyed math and science classes and excelled in computer programming. Compliance and payroll used to be a nightmare. Now it’s an outsourced process, informed by cloud-based databases that are linked to the most up-to-date tax codes, which rarely let anybody down.

2. Finance and HR talk to one another with greater ease.

No HR technology vendor can deliver a seamless and foolproof link between financial data and HR data; however, they are getting close. Cloud software as a service, or SaaS, HR vendors are moving their customers to a future where managers and supervisors can make better recruiting, performance, and learning decisions for their employees. Until SaaS vendors can create a unified system with predictive capabilities that pull from reliable and timely financial and workforce information, finance and HR will have to talk to one another. But it gets easier to have a holistic conversation about money and employees as these technology systems evolve and issue new releases.

3. Learning is Fun Again.

At one point in my mediocre HR career, I achieved Master Trainer Certification with DDI. Every blue moon, someone would ask me to run a session on how to hold better meetings. All of that rote, entry-level stuff is now on the Internet — good riddance. You want to learn behavioral interviewing or how to accelerate “new hire productivity levels” in the first 90 days? There is a YouTube video for that. And training geeks can focus on the fun stuff: strategic and advisory services that help leaders do great things.

While HR technology doesn’t solve world hunger or encourage the rains to fall in Africa, it can make your job a little easier. Whether it’s transforming the candidate experience or helping your small business find big talent, technology can help you work effectively and efficiently as a talent advisor.

Are you ready to embrace new HR technologies and change the very nature of HR? How has tech made your job easier? Leave me a comment below! 

Throughout the month of September, our resident talent advisors are focused on offering tactical advice to human capital management professionals do their jobs smarter. Subscribe to Talent Advisor to stay on top of the latest blog posts and discussions to help take your professional game to the next level.