Let’s Fire You All: Company Overhauls

workplace overhaulSenior management, or those who have seen it all- please feel free to chime in on this one. You may have read in a previous statement I made on this blog, that I am currently working with a company doing a 40% overhaul. This is one of the smaller overhaul’s I have worked with. The largest was 80%. As experienced managers know, this kind of drastic change in a company requires your full attention and you end up working close to-but not quite- around the clock. These are the primary reasons for the current overhaul at a glance:

  1. Embezzlement (yes again)
  2. Highly toxic environment
  3. No moral – poor culture
  4. Poor work performance by majority of employees
  5. Company is facing loss of continued funding
  6. New CEO and CFO

For those of you who may not be familiar, an overhaul does not necessarily refer to large degrees of change management- but rather the restoration and repair of a system, project, or department. This requires intense planning, action plans, group scenario probabilities, fiscal year projections, budget considerations and reports, avoiding legal barriers at all costs, and setting the stage for future legal repercussions. Depending on the issues that endorsed this overhaul – a complete deconstruction of departments, including but not limited to internal auditing and investigations are completed. I understand when an overhaul is announced in a company meeting, that staff hears the word “fire” and think that management has shared a party bag of uppers and is now going crazy firing everyone. I get it- because as front line employees, we’ve all been there. Truth: management has been planning this and has had it in consideration for months, if not a year. It is a delicate task, and requires a tact for restoring integrity, which not everyone – even a CEO, can do. This is why you hear of specialists being hired for this purpose alone. A company may do staff overhauls for integrity and budget reasons- these being some of the most main concerns.

What is ultimately unfortunate is that a mass lay off means many people facing lack of resources for rent and groceries. What does the family do? I am a little bit of a stickler when it comes to marking people’s dismissal papers “lay off” because I want to encourage them to apply for EI, and I want to refer them in the community to any resources that can help them with employment, networking, and maintaining their basic needs. Let’s face it, severance pay is ideal, but it’s not always feasible for the company, so it can be limiting. The newest trend for company overhauls is the IT/Social Media and PR departments. Recently Blackberry, Yahoo, and several Unions undertook this venture. They didn’t complete a staff overhaul, no doubt some people were let go, however the primary focus for them was systems. Has it worked? Well, considering it all took place over the past month, we can’t be too sure. However, an overhaul does present a fresh slate, a new chance, and with the primary goal to restore integrity I would say they are off to a good start. Overhaul’s affect everyone in every corner and nook of the company. It is a chain reaction that overtakes the daily routine, relationships, business ops, and budget. It is necessary for some, but more concerning about who is doing it- and prayer to be whispered that it isn’t for projection reasons.

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Myths about Introverts

ImageYou may have read my previous post on the Social Bully of Retention Plans, on the discussion of introverts and extroverts at social gatherings at the office. I received some very interesting replies, including a couple personal emails from bloggers who seemed to want to tell me, “how it really is”. One of my very good friends is an extrovert, we do a lot together both in the community and at home watching movies. When we are together, it is very difficult to tell who is the introvert and who is the extrovert because of our flexible and accommodating personalities. There are myths that introverts are “missing out”, “don’t know how to have fun”, are “cold” and “antisocial”, lack creativity, are shy, don’t like people, don’t like to talk, are only “book smart”, and more…. these are simply not true. All of these traits have no preference for personality, they can belong to anyone. Discerning the difference between the two is not as simple as outgoing and shy. There are many misconceptions between these two personalities, and unfortunately, because extroverts make up 70% and more of the population, introverts have been labeled unjustly. This post is intended to clarify the personalities in a positive light, and give more background information on why introverts should be valued in the workplace, not shamed, but encouraged to be themselves- just as extroverts are.

Myth #1) Introverts are Shy. Shyness implies a fear of social interaction- introverts are not any more afraid of people than extroverts. When I worked for a large IT company, there were mass company events, or “social gatherings” rather, once a week. The Director of Events would speak in front of aproximately 2,000 people and more over the course of the day with a team moral booster speech, act as MC, and so forth… And every morning, he would put anti-anxiety pills in his coffee about 20minutes before going on. He was an extrovert, and he could barely speak in front of a crowd without his meds. Shyness is unique to the person, not the intro-extro personality.

Myth #2) Introverts don’t have fun. I would be very interested to know what group of introverts came forward with this information. Introverts go paintballing, are horse enthusiasts, do extreme sports, belong to clubs, go to concerts, and take the train to work just like anyone else. Just like extroverts, there are high energy individuals and low energy individuals. Some introverts don’t like the outdoors, but like cooking instead- others thrive when mountain climbing but don’t like books. Introverts make their fun how it meets their own needs and what is good for them. Which leads me to the next myth, that introverts can change to be like extroverts- and it would be better for them.

Myth #3) Introverts can change to be like extroverts- and it would be better for them. Introverts cannot change, just as extroverts cannot change. Depending on the field of work that each goes into- they may adopt traits that assist them in their environment. Even more so if the individual is passionate about their line of work, and has a dynamic character. In this instance a strong introvert can be an Event Planner, and a strong extrovert can be a Librarian. Although it is a tad unusual for these, as the majority  dominates the opposite personality, it is not unheard of, and will not hinder the personality’s success. If introverts are forced, coerced, or made to believe they “must be an extrovert”, it can take a severe toll on them expending more of their energy, kind of like a jaguar pretending to be a dove all day- it’s just harder. This may be why some people think introverts tire out more easily or are extra quiet- it could just be because they have used up all their energy sporting their extrovert skills.

Myth #4) Introverts make poor managers and don’t connect with employees. False. Introverts in the office are typically in the “know” for the office pulse, but tend to fly beneath the radar undetected. No doubt that extroverts make a point of their presence being noticed- however introverts as managers sport a reliable, trustworthy open door policy, as opposed to a fluttering social butterfly get around. For professionals that have worked into middle-but for sure upper and senior management, they can attest that the differences between intro-extro at these levels become very difficult to spot. This is because a good manager climbing the ranks typically has to have a dynamic personality and character to effectively manage a diverse group of individuals. A tunnel extrovert cannot manage an introvert, and a tunnel introvert cannot manage an extrovert. Either/or, the fact remains that the stats flip for management- upper management is made up of 70% introverts > this says a lot. Introverts are more sensitive to employee relations and culture which makes them valued managers. This is primarily due to the more easy going nature of introverts who enjoy exploring different types of stimulus at varying degrees as opposed to a lot of stimulus at one degree all at once.

introvertMyth #5) Introverts only want to be alone. Believe it or not, just like extroverts- there are “world class introverts” just like “world class extroverts”. There are different sub-levels and degrees of each, kind of like the difference between being outgoing and obnoxious. There are world class introverts (kind of like myself) that can go days without being in touch with the rest of the world, even without a phone or computer. Sometimes I just really enjoy reading, writing, contemplating, and being creative on my own for a bit. Usually I want to share this with someone when I’m done my time alone, and I love sharing with other introverts who do the same thing. But believe me, not all introverts like to be alone. There are a lot who enjoy talking and sharing regularly throughout their day. Typically though, introverts prefer groups of 1-3 of close friends who they have sincere, close relationships and connections with as opposed to 5-8 people (again- notice the increase in stimulus) when together at once. It’s not that they want to be alone- it’s that they require lesser stimulus overall. Introverts get lonely for company and relationships just like anyone else.

Myth #6) Introverts are not creative. A lot of this stems from the myth about introverts having their noses in books, and being quiet all the time. Introverts can be very creative, in fact, there is not a statistic that can tell you who is more creative. Each personality enjoys art, music, food, languages, culture, and everything in between. Each personality expresses their creativity differently- writing, reading, drawing, painting, playing an instrument, designing a web page, marketing, blogging, social networking, public speaking, community networking, and the lot to follow.

I hope this helps you in your journey with understanding the differences, and how to positively work with, and understand introverts. Perhaps even for some of you (30%) you recognize yourself, and can see the qualities.

Happy Office Politics.

Steps to De-stress – an RX for Crazy

StressedWoman_shutterstock_59328619-1024x682Stress from both professional and personal lives can be overwhelming. It can leave you dreading a single toe to leave the bed in the morning, to finding excuses not to return home at night. So when another weekend passes you by, and you have been counting down the hours until your return, it’s time to start planning a little you time.

Schedule a NO Stress Zone Scheduling a time away, and in a place in your home where stress “is not allowed” can be surprisingly rewarding and fulfilling. Many readers are probably thinking of their spinning classes, krav maga classes, walking club, and so forth. -but that’s not the time away I am talking about. If you recharge by being with someone, then maybe ask your partner or a loved one to partake in these activities with you. If you are an introvert like myself, then we thrive on alone time, and the next person to walk through that doorway will find the giant rolling ball from Indiana Jones chasing them. I’m talking about lessening your stimulus intake to destress your body’s sensors emotionally, mentally, and physically. Every Thursday night my home gets cleaned. Especially the kitchen, living room, bedroom, and my bathroom. How your surroundings look represent how you feel on the inside, and can add to stress that may already be simmering. Your home does not need to be spotless. In fact if you are anything like myself, you will want it to look like someone is living there, so not so organized it feels like a hotel. Rather, tidy, neat, and the basics done so I am not worried about having clean dishes or laundry for the weekend. The garbage is changed, my fridge is stocked, my tub is clean for spontaneous baths, etc… This way, when Friday comes and I am too tired to clean and just want to go to the bar and meet up with my neighbours, I can come home to a clean home and wake up Saturday morning to a clean home. Then all day Saturday I get to enjoy my home, even if I have to go into the office, or work from home- it takes a burden off my plate. Saturday night is sacred to me though. Nothing interrupts Saturday night. No clubbing, no dancing, no noise. It’s just me, a bottle of white, some candles, a soft blanket, bacon bits, and Svengoolie. Yes, that’s right, I watch Svengoolie (a Movie Jockey who commentates and hosts old black & white horror movies like Frankenstein and Cult of the Cobra). I take the SIM card out of my phone, turn off all possible alerts on my laptop, and completely shut out the outside world. This night, I look forward to every week. It is my reward for working overtime, long hours, and under stress. I let the cares of the world take care of themselves, and tell myself to be lazy until Sunday morning. There is something so fantastically ritual about it, that it pleases my every senses. The next morning I wake to take on the world long before Monday can even begin to drag itself out of bed.

Stop Taking Work Home So many of us take work home. We answer our cell phones, check our email, write reports, and take on extra tasks when we are off the clock. This tends to happen rarely, every now and again. But if you are doing this regularly it means it’s happening for one of two reasons: you either have an extremely high profile job and complex responsibilities (which typically you are compensated by in other ways), or (this is the most common one) you have bad boundaries. The number one reason employees are stressed about taking work home with them is because they feel it is their duty to do the work. Part of this comes from a low laying level of desire to have continued drama in ones life (examine your past, youth, and childhood, if it was always “go!go!go!” mentality, most likely you have brought this into your work life today by doing too much), or you are fearful of losing your job (feelings of inadequacy, needing constant approval, needing to be constantly needed), or you are a micro-manager and find it very difficult to let go at the end of the day because you want every day to be your best foot forward for the company. Remember, think back to your employment contract. You are being paid for X amount of hours a week, which equates to a monthly salaried budget for the agency. This means, whatever it is, you have at least one week to one month to ensure full project completion. Don’t stress. This is also why as workers we are generally working in teams, with peers, and have a supervisor for counsel, and hopefully a few people we manage to help us carry our workloads. Draw firm boundaries. Unless you are a designated facilities or emergency manager, even if the building burns down at 2am. It is not your concern until 9am. Do not “Wear Your Stress”. Your stress and worry should not be like the sweater you are wearing that you take everywhere. Whatever it is, leave it at work. There are enough worries in one day without having to worry about the next. Let the cares of work take care of themselves in your absence.

Get Immediate Debriefing Support A lot of employees don’t know that most Human Resources in agencies provide counsel and support, such as soundboarding for employees who just need to vent about their days. Most likely you have a supervisor who oversees you and provides you with support. Sometimes employees feel judged, or cautious that they might seem incompetent if they go to their supervisors for support, so HR is a good option. It’s true that having a friend to talk to about your work can be helpful when it comes to destressing. Sometimes though, when a friend does not work in the same environment, it can be difficult to relate to the specifics of the politics and systems. If you have a group or a few work colleagues that you can grab a beer with after work, or even grab lunch with once a week- this will help time fly by a lot faster to feel as if you are truly being heard and understood. If you can find good supports this way you will feel better about the work you are doing.

Use Rewards When I am really stressed, ready to fly off the deep end, and am unsure if I can muster the strength to get out of bed and complete the last week of long term project that has me working 70hr weeks for the last month… I use rewards. I promise myself in the morning to get an extra large gourmet coffee of my choice, accompanied by a sweet treat. Then for a few days in a row I do a cheap lunch out. I promise myself that on Friday I am getting take away for a dinner party with friends at mine, splurging on my favorite beer, and permitting myself to be super lazy all weekend. Oh yes, and I might take Monday off. As you can see, I use food to reward myself. However once it is all spent and done, it’s a couple hundred dollars on food and a dinner party. So for those of you who don’t relish food as much as myself, perhaps a couple pairs of new shoes, clothes, a night away at a fancy hotel, a piece of furniture, bed sheets, books (my second favorite reward), and so forth could be your reward. Or maybe, it’s just having that whole weekend plus Monday off. When we know what we are working towards, we feel better about it, have more confidence, accept rather than reject the stress levels, and are more apt to not crashing so hard when it’s done. It also provides a sense of closure so you feel some gain from all the work you had done.

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Good Luck! Happy De-Stress!

Why Feeding Your Staff Could Be the Best Employee Retention Plan Ever

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When free coffee hit the office, it was the best thing since jams and jellies. But when work began providing snacks, lunches, and treats here and there- it tied over more employees through rough company patches than any other tactic. 

  • 70% of the workforce is actively or passively engaged.
  • 41% of employees understand what defines their business against competitors.
  • Companies like Ross, Google, and Amazon have some the highest turnover with the average employee staying between 10months-1.2years. Lowest turnover companies include, Kodak, Xerox, and General Motors.
  • One study for women found that 42% would leave their job for increased compensation, 35% to develop new skills or competencies, and 33% to pursue greater advancement opportunities. The same study for men found that 51% would leave for increased compensation, 32% to accept a new opportunity promising development for skills and competencies, and 30% to pursue greater advancement opportunities. 

Specific Form of Unfairness Experienced % Who left workplace

Public humiliation-14.8%

Passed over for a promotion-14.9%

Being compared to a terrorist-18.8%

Being asked to attend more recruiting or community related events-15.6%

Bullied on the job-13.5%

Having your identity mistaken-12.7%

Unwelcome questions about skin, hair, or ethnic attire-12.8%

Everyone knows you make more money when you make your employees happy. So why are 59% of employees sitting around twiddling their thumbs, not knowing why their organization is different from all the others? In this article, we will blame incentive. My personal belief is at least 1/3 is to blame poor hiring practices, however that’s a discussion for another time. Food makes the stomach churn, the tastebuds dance, the nose perk, the body warm and happy. It’s reliable, consistent, and takes care of a basic need in tough economic times. So when you consider providing regular lunch for staff, consider these reasons:

Productivity. Employees who stay onsite for lunch are more likely to eat faster, spend less time walking to and from lunch, in couple with catching up with coworkers, and may possibly eat while working. Do not discount the importance of regular breaks from work, but those breaks are better spent in small chunks. Taking an hour for lunch is more than one person needs everyday. By offering lunch onsite, you give the option to stick close and get back to work faster. Typically if an employee can take a 20-30minute break for lunch and if they have an untaken 30-40min remaining, they are happy to leave early- but feel fair about it because they had a short lunch but were rewarded for their efforts because it was provided for them. Staff who have busy personal lives will especially appreciate this, as this is one less thing off their plate, literally, when it comes to self care. One less thing they need to worry about, and feel bad about spending money on when they realize they forgot to brown bag it.

Retention. When you offer free lunch, you are giving your employees a bonus because they will spend less money on meals every month. When recruiters approach your employees, or your competition tries to steal them away, they will start asking if free lunch is offered. Since most companies do not offer free lunch, you’ll find your employees are less likely to leave. Retention is a huge cost saver to your company, even if you only keep an employee for an extra six months.

Tax Benefits. Both you and the employee will benefit from your free lunches. Consult your accountant first, but in most cases buying your staff lunch is a tax deduction for your company.

Talent Acquisition. Even in today’s market, finding and hiring the best talent is a challenge. Giving your hiring manager as many perks as possible will increase your chances of snagging hot prospects. The faster you hire the best employees, the more productive and profitable your company will be.

Stronger Teams. Instead of wandering off on their own, employees who eat in one central location tend to spend more time getting to know one another. This brings them closer together, strengthens your teams and boosts your company culture. By offering free lunch, you help facilitate conversations and team building. Because food is personal, your employees will feel that more initiative is being taken towards their care, well-being, and keeps them bonded with their coworkers and surroundings.

Can’t Afford Lunches at Work? No problem. As an HR professional, I advocate for my workers well-being regularly. A part of that is when I go to Starbucks and request a portion of their weekly donations go to my hard working staff, or when I go to Chapters and ask them for coupons and gift cards at Christmas, don’t forget Subway, Quizno’s, Safeway, and your local restaurants. All to often they have vouchers for me to give to my staff so everyone gets a minimum of 4 free meals a month, and that doesn’t include gift cards we receive from Ardene’s, Reitman’s, Shoppers Drug Mart, and more. In addition to this, I hit the local flower shops and ask them for their disposed flowers, the one’s that have minor imperfections that they throw out because they can’t make a full sale on them. Then I make bouquets with a couple volunteers like reception or another manager, and we make flower arrangements for the office and other employees. When people care, it’s amazing how it impacts the office environment.

 

Why Psychometrics is Driving Us cRAzY

The latest HR trend is using psychometrics testing. Oh no. This as bad as telling a racial minority to look “less coloured”. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Psychometrics is a variety of tests performed to evaluate the competency of an applicant or employee. It involves tests such as knowledge tests, personality traits, educational assessments, and personality assessments. Let’s examine why this is a great idea, and why it will prove majority wrong in most evaluations.

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1) It’s based off of psychology. There’s our first problem. Psychology is the study of the brain, cognitive ability, and circumstance that make the brain respond and react in different ways. Ultimately, it is the science of the brain. This is why if you want a good counselor, you avoid psychology majors at all costs. Why? Because psychology major’s use a lot of branding terms, and are very diagnoses driven. Without a diagnoses, a psych major is mostly useless at their job. So in a counseling session, they will want to do genograms, discuss your childhood, and want you to talk about your past trauma. This can be very dangerous. It’s great for the psych major because they are trained they need this information in order to calculate a diagnoses, however there are many other ways of uncovering why a person behaves a certain way without bringing up trauma for them. This is why the best counselors, therapists, and workers are always Social Workers. Once you complete your C-6 training, you can do anything. Why? Because they teach you more about circumstance and how you can outrun your genetics, and your past does not necessarily determine a one way ticket in your future. They are also more focused on problem solving and lateral thinking as opposed to linear thinking and hard evidence.

2) It’s HR using assessment tools. Oh no. Would you give your copy repair guy some lessons in assessment and then let them hire and fire in your agency? No. HR education is so conveniently wrapped around administrative work, they can learn all they want about assessment, however unless they know their strengths themselves, have been through counseling and worked on themselves, overcome their personal issues, and have a developed sense of empathy and compassion. This is like giving a banana milk shake maker to a clan of monkeys. It’s gonna get used and abused. This power can go to your head pretty quick. So who is counseling them on using this, keeping them accountable, and making sure they are not using these skills for their own agenda?

3) It’s not reliable. Personality testing and knowledge testing is hugely complex. It’s possible for someone to get a low score on an IQ test, and yet be brilliant. So much is culture specific, experience specific, and of course encompassing both of those- what information has made itself available to them. Furthermore, personality testing is not necessarily going to reveal to me if an applicant is drugging, heavy alcoholing, has anger issues, draws out complex pathology, etc… It’s just going to tell me if they’re an introvert, extrovert, aggressive, passive, creative, high achiever, low achiever, etc…. It’s kind of like a glamorous cosmo quiz for employees.

4) It’s online. The majority of testing is online. Especially for large organizations such as the Fairmont or RBC. We all know how accurate computer testing is. I adore what a special bond my computer and I have, and how I have a limited number of answers, none of which encompass my true personality. It’s just so much more fun that way.

I would take my final example from Frobes who recently published an article on hiring NCO’s over anyone else. I would agree. Next time hire the war studies major. They will be devoted, loyal, goal oriented, and will cut through all the personality nonsense like a crew cut.

Want good psychometrics?- Make sure your HR has some experience managing crazy. That’ll do it.

The Recruiters Guide to Being a Good Recruiter

ft_interview_mainThere’s a lot of blogs and articles that focus on recruitment, searching for the right employee, getting to know them, determining if they are a good fit, steering clear of not so kosher applicant’s and so forth… However, very little articles focus on tricks and tips the recruiter can use not only to be a better recruiter, but to actually make informed decisions.

human-resources-by-onurdongelJob recruitment is based on whether or not an applicant can complete the job description. This is determined by 3 things, education, experience, and WHO you have worked for. No doubt, that getting on with Bombardier looks better on your resume than Mom & Pop’s Coffee Shop. So why are there so many dysfunctional employees in an office, why is no work getting done? Because people lie. It’s plain and simple. People have a natural incline to want to be better than what they really are, after all, we are all struggling to get ahead. People lie about their education, work history, job titles, and oh so much more. Well, in an attempt to weed out the liars, psychometric testing was introduced. What a joke that is. It guarantees results with personality testing, education testing, and profile compilation- all by asking some questions on a computer screen. Something about this smells of lazy 4 day old tacos to me. You want a better example?- Check out how accurate eHarmony testing was. Yeah, that’s what I thought. Success rates are almost as high as a spider outrunning liquid chocolate at the factory. So in an attempt to help todays recruiter be a better recruiter, and draw out more information from their candidate than any CPU screen could do, check out these tips:

1) Get Over Yourself. I have met a lot of men and women who think hiring and firing is all about being able to read people and determine whether or not they can do the job. Ultimately I find a lot of recruiters to be stuck up because the truth is, they have a lot of power- being able to determine your employment fate. So as a forewarning from an HR Strategist to the Recruiter, get over yourself. When candidates walk into the office and are more nervous than a shaved terrier, let me remind you that you could be the Hamburglar, and they will still be just as nervous. Employment is nervous for everyone. This is not about you.

2) You Don’t Know Everything- and neither do they. Some recruiters have a misconception that because they may interview high profile candidates that means that they themselves are either high profile, or they have a superpower that allows them to soak up all the knowledge from this individual and whammo-bammo, they are now Executive Directors! Just because you have a list of questions in front of you with four syllable words on the paper, does not mean you know everything about the job. A good recruiter researches the job title in different capacities so they can provoke incorrect answers or detect lies from a fraudulent applicant. You need to know how the Executive Assistant looks, acts, and what the language differences are between one that works in a non-profit office, and one that works in a corporate office. In addition, if the EA has been responsible for community liaising and social networking, don’t be so horrified if on their resume it says, “Melissa Dupree, #awesomechick99 FBMellimelonD, pursuing meaningful career as an EA w/ Global Assistants where I can use my skills to 3xx capability.” Admittedly, it could be seen as a little unprofessional, but check the job history- did this person just rock out on the community service awards and demonstrate incredible ability to build relationships and an agency’s reputation? The culture difference on paper just made sense. So take it for what it’s worth.

ss-recruiting-bootstrapped3) Get to know Transferable Skill Sets. Why? Because silly goose, this makes you money! I once had a recruiter tell me that because I had a Social Work degree, my job was with families, I had no place in the corporate world. Needless to say, I walked out of that interview. Many people don’t know that in your Social Work degree you can specialize in Law and Business Management like I did, where they teach you how to start and run your own business, apply for funding, hire, fire, work with difficult people, know the in’s and out’s and many loopholes of legislation, and develop finely tuned management skills. How do you think the average Social Worker does such difficult work?- they have to know everything there is to know about all the critical stakeholders to their job that includes, municipal/provincial/federal government systems, funding, systems, policy, human rights, networking, business management, people management, conflict resolution, threat analysis, and more. So when someone says I have a degree in PoliSci, don’t just think they’re good for working at City Hall. Remember that they have to learn diplomacy, tact, systems, order, legislation, current affairs = strategy, history, and more. This just made them a prime candidate for working with grants and funding, being a community liaison, technical writing, and other related things. People have potential. Don’t forget it. Please don’t oppress them into one role. Give everyone a chance at greatness.

4) Use Your Body Language to Test their Boundaries. One thing as a war strategist they teach you is terrain. Know what lays ahead of you and test whether it is an illusion by making smoke and watch where your enemy appears. This is metaphorical (Sun Tzu) and can be applied to so many scenarios. This time, we are using it with body language. I once was teamed up with a psychotherapist, during an interview who kicked the applicant under the table  twice, feigning “Whoops!” What was he doing?- he was testing the applicant’s boundaries. How did they respond? Were they even more nervous, did they get angry, did they kick back, did they not even really care, were they put off? So many possibilities. In another interview, I had a colleague come in late to the interview, pull up a chair RIGHT beside the applicant and sit down so close next to them, they were almost on top of them. Again, same questions, how do they respond? Do they politely pull away, offer to make room, get angry, get nervous, what? It doesn’t sound nice to put minor stressors on people applying for jobs- however with the number of people that apply for jobs who are committing fraud- I think it’s fair to employ tactics to soft out the liars. Other tactics include a ridiculously firm handshake, constant unwavering eye contact, give the applicant the wobbly chair, turn up/down the heat in extreme, give them hot water instead of cold water…. there are so many tricks of the trade used when interviewing. Have fun :)timemachine

5) Don’t Judge, Ask Questions. I have an extreme scenario for you, but none the less based off of a true story. I had once interviewed an absolutely lovely applicant, polished, poised, a little over dressed for the job, but who cares- they fit the bill and had amazing potential. My interview companion spits out, “They slept their way to the top, you can totally tell.” Whoa!? Wtf?! I didn’t realize you had a MA in behavioural studies to know that!? Stop being so judgemental! Just because someone is younger than you, has climbed higher than you, and has way more potential than you, does not mean they have gone about it in unscrupulous ways. Put aside your own issues, your own insecurities, and judgements, and be honest. This is why as an interview panel, we ask questions. Don’t assume someone is lying, or playing you. Typically the one’s who boast the expertise are the one’s who are working the hardest to sell you something. Don’t overlook that with your panel, the applicant, or yourself.

6) Trust Your Gut. Too many times there is one person on the interview panel who says, “I don’t know. Something just wasn’t right.” Remember the expression, “One of these things is not like the other.” Chances are, this person has picked up on this. Occasionally you really like someone as a professional, but personally you detect something chilly, creepy, eerie, offputting, foreign, or you just can’t put your finger on it.” I would forewarn you to stay away from these people. Ten years ago the stats for sociopaths was 1/99. Today, the stats are 1/10. Strong pathology alone is a statistical achievement at 1/4. Now, very few people can diagnose a sociopath and other sorts of pathology. It can take up to 20 years to really know if someone is a sociopath. But on that note, be safe, and be careful. You don’t know who you are bringing into the workplace, and you are ethically liable as a recruiter, and as HR.

7) Interview Applicant’s Who’s Name’s You Can’t Pronounce. HR stats show that for every Anglosaxon name on a resume, they receive 1/10 call backs. Every African-American or Latin name is 1/15. Every Arabic, Slavic, and other name is 1/20. Tough crowd. That means that valuable, educated, promising candidates are being overlooked for their name. You may have read the article I wrote previously on this topic exclusively. It’s tough to get a job if your name happens to Ryseai Aminoltajari. It’s surprising to learn on top of this how many applicants have already shortened their name to Rys Amin, and still don’t get a call back. Yet they have ample education from accredited western universities, excellent work experience, stellar references, and a local address so you know they can make it into the job easy- but no. They are still not getting callbacks. This has almost become an untapped hidden source to the job market. As a recruiter, it would be wise to contact these individuals and cash in on this high standing wealth of applicants. Remember you can always google how to say their name, or simply ask them. They will be too thrilled they got a callback to even notice you asked how to pronounce their name.

I hope this helps for now my HR cohorts! Good luck, and Happy Headhunting!

Mercy & Grace in the workplace

When facing public humiliation, disgrace, and a tarnished reputation, most of us pray for mercy and grace. We wish to be absolved from our wrong doings and go on to do better things, be given a better chance, and gain more positive enablers. So when I found out my beloved agency had an embezzlement scandal, I was rather shocked.

Sometime previously, there had been investigations completed, disciplinary action taken, and a conflict resolution specialist brought in as recommended by my action plan. Unfortunately the termination of employment for fraud and false representation had not been honoured.  I have tremendous respect for my former CEO and have tried to understand the decisions made that kept the individuals who participated in criminal activity there.

mercy-grace

Someone once told me that grace is a pardon of good will and faith, while mercy is getting what you don’t deserve.

Let me ask you, as managers and executive staff, do we not need mercy and grace in the workplace? It compliments forgiveness without explanation and complicated detail… More of a, “if you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot, you’re going to shoot yourself in the foot.” Most people deserve a second chance- I say that with my own bias towards anyone who’s a pedaphile or rapist- not acceptable under any circumstances and no, you don’t get a second chance in my books. But with that being said, I think we would all hope for a second chance because we all make mistakes. As managers, supervisors, assistants, friends, lovers, and someone’s child- we all make mistakes. A colleague of mine chuckled, “No one makes it through childhood unscathed.” And isn’t that the truth? We are not golden children who are golden statuesque adults of perfection. I admit, the workplace remedy of grace and mercy has further enabled my own sleep at night. It’s as though that one extra chance of walking the road with someone ensures you do your part on behalf of social exchange and give them the opportunity for change. And, if they are going to shoot themselves in the foot, then oh well. Employees want someone to believe in them. They don’t want someone watching them expecting a screw up. They don’t want their position to be undermined, nor taken for granted.

My experience has been that having good faith in sometimes even what appears to be the worst employee, really pays off. No- not because they marvelously change, but because instead of undermining them as a whole, even drowning in screw ups, you can sometimes make out a glimmer of talent- and as that wonderful employer that you are- you place them in another position within the company where that glimmer of talent encompasses their entire being and they can rock out as the best employee for that job ever. That’s called talent management- and by the way, it shouldn’t take HR to do talent management. It should be decent human beings who are rooting and hoping for one another. I think that’s well enough to ask for.

I hope that my employer continues to give me mercy and grace- just as swiftly as I am to judge others or make rash decisions. And before the few of you go out on a limb and start listing your degrees in assessment let me kindly remind you that it’s illegal to make decisions on an employee’s job based on predicting the future- it’s also against most spiritual practices. Please make sure you use your strategic planning for this one. Everyone deserves the feasible chance to get ahead. There’s enough success in the world to go around.