The War For Talent: How Small Businesses Can Compete With the Big Boys


 *This piece appeared on the CBS Small Business Pulse website:

How To Keep The Competitive Hiring Culture In Your Favor

December 28, 2015

Click here for online version of article with accompanying video:

Todd Cherches is the CEO and co-founder of BigBlueGumball, a NYC-based training consulting firm that helps companies discover and develop the hidden talents within their organizations. He offers the following insights on a major issue that small businesses are currently facing.

There are numerous issues commonly faced by my small business clients, but one of the biggest issues right now is the war for talent as small businesses compete with bigger companies, and with each other, around talent acquisition, engagement, and retention.

With the job market picking up, employees have more opportunities available to them than they have had in years to decide where they want to take their talents. So companies need to work harder than ever to get people to stay…while also getting them to put their heart and soul into what they do. As one of the top reasons people quit their jobs is due to poor management and/or no leadership, leadership development and management training are more crucial than ever.

What do small businesses need to do to compete in this war for talent?

Just as a speedboat is more nimble than a battleship, small businesses can compete with larger organizations by leveraging their competitive advantages. While small businesses may not have the size, resources, and visibility of the big boys, they can and must be more creative and flexible in attracting, engaging and retaining talented people.

There are numerous ways of doing so including, but not limited to:

  • Offering employees greater access to information and increased involvement in things that interest them
  • Flexibility in terms of when, where and how they go about their work
  • Being creative in implementing non-financial, low-cost reward and recognition programs
  • Offering training and development, and personalized coaching and mentoring opportunities

This war is a battle amongst organizations of all types to acquire, engage, and retain the best people from a limited pool of top talent. The way we help in this regard -- through our consulting, training and coaching work -- is by encouraging and enabling our clients to create an environment that gets potential hires to want to work there, to motivate these employees to perform and to produce while they are there, and to support and develop them so that they want to stay there.

In his book, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Dan Pink states that people are motivated by three key non-financial incentives — Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. If small businesses empower their people to do their jobs in their own way [autonomy], in an environment that allows them to develop and grow [mastery], while doing work that truly matters [purpose], they will be taking positive steps towards setting their people, and their organizations, up for success.
As told to Robin D. Everson of for CBS Small Business Pulse.

How to Wrap Up 2015...and Get the New Year Off to a Flying Start!

The last couple of weeks of December is the perfect time to take stock – not only of whether you’ve been naughty or nice over the past year – but of what you’ve accomplished, and where you need to focus your time, attention, and energy to set yourself up for success in 2016.

To help you do that, it might be useful to conduct the following seven productivity “inventories”:

• Goals inventory
• Personal inventory
• Environmental inventory
• Relationship inventory
• Financial inventory
• Time inventory
• Self-development inventory

For more details on each one, please click here to read my complete post on The Hired Guns website!

In an ever-changing world, if you're standing're falling behind.

7 Simple Ways to Give Back to Those Who Gave to You

I can no other answer make but thanks, And thanks; and ever thanks.

~Shakespeare (Twelfth Night Act III scene iii)


In this fast-paced, always-on, often-superficial social media world we live in these days, it seems that so many people treat many of their relationships as disposable – rather than as something enduring and valuable to be nurtured and cherished. It becomes all about “What can I GET FROM this relationship?”…as opposed to “What can I GIVE TO it?”

With the constant focus on building our number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, and Facebook Friends, it is so easy to lose sight of the people behind the profiles. And as we become consumed with increasing the quantity of our connections, what often suffers is the quality of the actual relationships that those numbers represent. 

To counter that, here are 7 simple ways to give back to others who have given so much to you:

1.  Send a thank you note – out of the blue – to a former boss, mentor, or teacher (or to anyone) who made a difference in your life.

2.  Write someone a glowing recommendation.

3.  Write a 5-star Amazon review for a book that made an impact on you.

4.  Tweet, Re-tweet, Like, Forward, and Share.

5.  Catch people doing something right.

6.  Be a connector.

7.  Pay it forward.

Those are the seven quick tips; to read the full post -- featuring more examples and details, please click here

The Hierarchy of Followership: How Likely Is It For Someone to Follow Your Lead?


We all want to be liked.

But if you had to choose between being liked, admired, respected, or trusted which would you choose?

If you could only pick one, would you rather have a boss that you liked, that you admired, that you respected, or that you trusted?

What about if you are a manager or HR recruiter interviewing potential job candidates. Could you, would you, hire someone who – on a personal level – you trusted to do the job…but didn’t really like?

These terms are definitely not mutually exclusive. And, ideally we’d like to be – and associate with – someone who possesses all four of these highly positive traits.

But what about when they come into conflict with one another?

Whose lead would you choose to follow?

Let’s say that you were assigned to a 5-person project team with four other people.

1. Alan is someone you really LIKE on a personal level. He’s a good guy, friendly, fun, personable, and you enjoy being in his company. But he’s kind of a class clown who others often make fun of, so you don’t really admire the fact that people don’t take him seriously, respect, or trust him on a professional level.

2. Betty you don’t really like that much on a personal level as she’s not really that friendly or warm towards you, but you ADMIRE her impressive background, advanced degree, and career accomplishments. As she doesn’t treat you or others with respect, you don’t have much respect for her in return, and are not sure if you really trust her.

3. Chris is not that friendly either, and you don’t really admire the fact that he got his job through an internal personal connection, leapfrogging over others who’ve been here longer and were more deserving. But you RESPECT the fact that he’s overcome numerous personal and professional obstacles to get as far as he has in his career despite these setbacks.

4. And Diane is someone who, upon first meeting, you don’t really like, admire, or respect based on what you’ve heard about her through the grapevine. But she is super-smart, has an amazing, unparalleled track record of success, and you TRUST that when it comes to getting things done, compared to everyone else on the team, there’s no one better.

So, based on the above brief descriptions, if you had to elect a team leader from this group (i.e., someone other than yourself), who would it be – and why? Is it the person you most like, admire, respect…or trust?

Sometimes as leaders we need to make tough decisions that not everyone’s going to like – or like us for. And, while it is nice when people admire us for our past accomplishments that’s all it is: a nice-to-have. Most importantly, we want people to respect us – our intelligence, our judgement, our integrity, etc. – and, ideally, to trust us.

But what is “trust” anyway?

In my leadership workshops and NYU “Leadership and Team Building” class, when we discuss the characteristics, traits, and qualities of effective leaders -- and my "Hierarchy of Followership" model (see below) -- the word “trust” inevitably comes up near the top of the list. But what do we mean by it?

That is such an often-asked question that out of the roughly one million entries in the English dictionary, according to, “trust” is listed as the 102nd most commonly looked up word.

And when you look up the word “trust,” there are numerous definitions but they all basically have to do with “belief” and/or confidence. Belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc., and the assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.

From a word origin perspective, “trust” and “truth” have the same root, and are both related to the concept of “belief”:

  • Do you believe that this person is telling the truth?
  • Do you believe that this person will follow-through on what they say they are going to do?
  • Do you believe that this person will follow-up with you as promised?
  • Do you believe that this person will keep his or her commitments?
  • Do you believe that this person can be held accountable for meeting or exceeding expectations?
  • Do you believe, from a leadership perspective, that this person is someone you would voluntarily choose to follow?

How can YOU gain the trust of others?

The best way to gain others’ trust…is to be “trustworthy.” That’s obvious. But it means exhibiting the qualities that you would want in a job candidate, a teammate, or a leader:

  • Be truthful
  • Be transparent
  • Be authentic
  • Be accountable
  • Take ownership
  • Keep promises
  • Follow up
  • Follow through
  • Do what you say
  • And say what you do

So the next time you are deciding whether a person is someone you should hire, or whose leadership you would choose to follow, keep in mind that while it would be nice if you liked, admired, and respected them…it is most important that you trust them.

Similarly, while it is great to be liked, feels good to be admired, and an honor to be respected, ultimately, the key to building relationships and gaining followership is to build trust.