Whenever you communicate, you need to do two things well: first, clearly identify and understand your target audience, and second, craft a message that will deliver your intended meaning in a way the audience will understand and appreciate. Let’s illuminate through two examples:
There has been an absolutely beautiful, brilliant advertisement for RONA currently running on Canadian Primetime television coverage of the Olympics. In my opinion RONA certainly took a big bite into its competitors with this.
LOVE THIS AD – KUDOS TO RONA:
It features a cross-country relay, which highlights many of the most popular Olympic sports.
Now, I can just imagine some hardened veteran Supply Chain professionals out there wryly remarking that while the Just-In-Time delivery model is elegant, it is expensive, and suffers from the lack of an East Coast distribution warehouse! But that is precisely the point here. The message of the commercial isn’t aimed at Supply Chain professionals, but rather at Retail customers. And to them, the message is clear: RONA is a proud Canadian company with national reach, whose staff have a diversity of world-class skills, and will undertake Olympian efforts to get you what you want when you want it. Add fantastic scenery, a wonderful sound-track, and a comic punch-line, and the message gets hammered home (pun intended) in fine style.
Contrast this to Mitt Romney’s recent stumble in London. When asked if the UK was ready to stage the Olympics, Romney missed a golden opportunity to demonstrate his diplomatic and foreign affairs skills (and by extension, his suitability to be President), which is supposedly why he was in England in the first place. Instead, he answered the question in a cautious, fence-sitting way which did nothing to demonstrate his potential “presidentiality”, and didn’t square with his projected image as a tough-nosed former Olympics organiser who rescued the Salt Lake City Games. In other words, he did not stay “on message.” My immediate reaction was that he hadn’t anticipated the question, which does not speak well of either his preparedness or his ability to “think on his feet.”
What’s the point? The point is that THE MESSAGE IS EVERYTHING whether it’s in pursuit of the perfect role and in attracting the best talent. For example, your Resume, Career Map, Accomplishment Page (leave behind after the interview) and Cover letter (or any combination thereof) should clearly communicate the message “you really should interview me, I will add the right ROI and value to your organisation.”
Does every word, every phrase contribute to this message, or does it “muddy the waters?” This is a key reason why you need to carefully review your resume each time you submit it to a potential employer. A resume is a bit like a television commercial, since you get to control every aspect of the message, as you create a picture in someone’s mind of who you are and what you can achieve as it pertains to the actual role you are applying for. Remember the resume’s role is very simple – get in front of the company.
When you get that interview, you are there for one reason only: to do everything you can to demonstrate that you are the best choice for the job. How you answer – and ask (asking intelligent questions is very critical to the communication process so do research and have them prepared) – questions will be key, as will be your ability to establish rapport with the interviewer, and your ability to handle questions that may be designed to throw you off your game. So unlike the resume, the interview is an active, two-way process where you need to respond “in the moment.” It’s an art – you need to look and act prepared, but not overly “rehearsed.” Your body language, facial expressions, and the tone of your voice will be as much a part of the message as the words you utter. If you have done your homework, you will be better prepared to answer those seemingly-innocent questions that if not handled properly, could turn into a “gotcha” moment.
I bet Mitt Romney wishes in retrospect that he had taken the high road, and said something like, “Look, I’m not in England to critique the Games … I’m here to strengthen ties with an important ally and longtime friend of the United States. Having said that, every Olympic Games has had its challenges, and London’s no different. However, I hope and expect that our hosts will rise to the occasion, as they have so many times in the past. I’m sure they will put on a super show. I look forward to it.”
At the end of the day ‘perception is reality’ and in the interview process as in all things in life, strong positive communication is key. Learning to be persuasive rather than abrasive and learning to be a strong talker and not a long talker to get your points across, will win every time. There are many tools, techniques, books and other resources easily available to teach our Supply Chain, Strategic Sourcing and Retail network to communicate more effectively.
And that cuts both way – next time we’ll talk more on how companies can better communicate their message to their candidate audience so as to always win the top talent in a high demand low supply talent vertical.
And one last point from me, remember “Perception is Reality. It doesn’t matter how you perceive yourself, it’s how other perceive you that really counts.
Over and Out