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Best Practices for Managing Remote Offices

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by Yanawan Saguansataya Hurlbut, VP, Client Services and Programming

As VP of Client Services and Programming, Yan is uSamp’s global management maverick, as she is responsible for 40 people across two countries and over four locations. She honed in on her adept management skills at Greenfield Online where she was tasked with developing and managing the Sample Only client service strategy with a 33 person organization across three countries. She served 10 years at Greenfield, growing from project manager to VP of the North American Sample Only product line. She continues to leverage this operational experience in her current role at uSamp where her latest endeavor is the creation of a programming and hosting team to support clients looking for a one-stop shop.

The fact that businesses operate as internationally connected networks is old news. It is impossible to function as silos in a global market. As we continue to expand and try to recruit top talent to our companies, it has become imperative to consider how we can effectively communicate across culture, and understand the job market it as it applies to our recruits. With my largest project management team overseas in Delhi, India, I have had to quickly learn how adapt my management skills to address the diverse markets that we’ve entered into.

The lessons that I have learned are particular to the local work culture, but I think that there are many practices that can apply to managers in any circumstance or country. I will elaborate on the keys to recruiting and training employees in an environment outside your realm of expertise.

Hiring

Understand the employment landscape:

We all know that research is invaluable, which is why we are in this world. Before entering a new market, it is critical to understand what makes people tick–in a professional sense. What are the qualification standards? Do workers move around or stay at their post? What drives employee satisfaction?

There is a lot of movement in the competitive Indian job market, and it is quite normal to come across a Project Manager candidate who has a three-page resume with multiple advanced certifications, and two-three year stints with an employer. Advancement, and the opportunities that enable advancement over the course of a career, is paramount versus staying static at the same company for longevity’s sake. This has made the hiring process exciting, but also daunting because of all the well-qualified candidates. Which leads to the next point,

Set clear qualifications requirements:

I know that our PMs are going to be client-facing, so we stress excellent verbal and written communication skills–a must for any multi-national company. We filter candidates by a formal interview with on-site managers, a basic skills test, and a telephone interview with an off-site manager. Once we find a suitable candidate, we prepare ourselves for a considerable wait-period, as often times employees must give 30 to 60 days of notice before they can leave a post. Preparation is the key to finding and securing the right candidate

Training

Customizing the training program to the culture:

As in any on-boarding process, it is important to find out how to best connect with your new hire.  What is his or her central motivating factor? Do they learn by watching or doing? Do they like to lead by example?

Training has been a critical and evolving process for our uSamp India team. Not just because we think it’s necessary to get everyone on the same page, but because our applicants expect it of us. Applicants judge a company’s clout by their training process, and place as much emphasis on learning as achieving. Our team places strong emphasis on formal training versus the “baptism-by-fire” approach that is a popular practice in America. Hires seek to build their resume, and look to a company that will help them enhance a particular skill set, and elevate them to be experts in their field.

As you wonder how to incorporate this into your own program, remember that training takes many forms.  The most obvious is new hire orientation of systems and processes.  Exposure to new study designs and technologies or even a new client set is invaluable experience that should not be discounted.  More obvious training opportunities include industry-level training (CASRO, MRA, etc.) or process-level training (PMP, Six Sigma, etc.).

Retaining

Fostering office culture:

Today’s workplace is a diverse place and retaining key contributors can be a daunting task. It is easy to undermine “culture” as just another industry buzzword, but it is at the heart of any company. Creating a cohesive culture is as important as any hiring or training process. At uSamp, every location has a game room with an Internet–enabled gaming system connecting all our offices. We regularly host lunches/dinners at our offices and quarterly team outings. Remember that fun, flexibility and an open attitude is key.  Good luck!

2012 EU Forecast: Can the market research industry beat uncertainty in Eurozone?

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by Ben Leet, Senior Director HRT and Survey Solutions

Ben joined the uSamp UK team at the very beginning, and is charged with building out our new client relationships in Europe. Prior to joining uSamp Ben held senior positions with Decision Tree Consulting, Toluna and Ugam, the first of which saw Ben designing, conducting and delivering full service research programmes to blue chip clients for over 5 years, before joining the online panel business at Toluna in early 2008. This combination allows Ben to understand all aspects of the market research process, adding value to uSamp clients along the way. Ben is a Graduate of the Nottingham Business School in the UK with a BA (Hons) in European Business.

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How Can We Reduce Sample Burn and Panel Churn? Let’s discuss.

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by Matt Dusig, co-founder & CEO

We, as consumers, are in an age of unlimited exposure. For efficiency’s sake, we agree to terms and conditions without bothering to scroll through 53 pages of stipulations. We volunteer credit-card information and secret passwords without second thought. We are at a crossroads where data mining can be beneficial or detrimental. The more information we give up about ourselves, the better our browsing experience. But at the same time, we often forget about the digital footprint left behind that can be manipulated if it falls into the wrong hands.

I am often reluctant to give 100% accurate information when registering for a website. When prompted to fill out my date of birth on non-legal sites, I’ll state the proper year but a different month and day so that I don’t compromise my privacy. It’s a scary world with all of the data leaks of major corporations, and I am hesitant to trust an unknown source with personal details. I can’t be the only person who feels this way, can I?

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Build and Brand Your Own Panel

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Pulling out all the stops with PanelBuilder™

With Scott Weinberg, Director Hosted Research Technology, Scott.Weinberg@uSamp.com

As director of uSamp’s Hosted Research Technology, Scott Weinberg and his team of expert engineers focus on two platforms: PanelBuilder™ and SampleMarket™.

“PanelBuilder allows you to quickly and transparently create your own branded customer online panels for deepening client relationships with fast and efficient audience feedback,” explains Weinberg. “You can choose from a pool of respondents who are engaged and profiled to meet your most exacting standards.”

This all–encompassing approach is a true time and money saver. It is designed to efficiently field your research studies — including your specifications, criteria and brand expectations — and to manage costs in the most cost effective way possible.

When asked what sets PanelBuilder apart from other similar platforms, Weinberg replies enthusiastically, “Only PanelBuilder offers fully automated incentive fulfillment, with over 200 redemption options.” Panelists are rewarded immediately and tangibly. “If a panelist wants to ‘cash out’ – whether it’s with a PayPal payment, an Amazon.com gift card, airline miles — he or she can just hit the ‘Redeem Now’ button,” he explains. It’s instant, and no other online private label panel offers it. Read the rest of this entry »