Monthly Archives: December 2015
Looking over my last few posts, I realized…in order to capitalize on this huge network of users – I must focus my posts on the pulse of mass need. Whether that be through controversial posts or feeding information to those who are hungry for it…I will deliver. Today’s post will be in the latter category. Almost every day, I see articles left and right talking about how you can achieve all of your goals, meet destiny at the door and one day land your dream job. These posts are so interesting and I love hearing the different perspectives and routes people have taken. The one thing I fail to see however, is the acknowledgement that there is NO right answer to this eluding question of how one can achieve their dreams. There is NO master key to the door of success. There is NO one size fits all method for people to try on. Instead, you must pick and choose elements of success from all sources, understanding that you and only you know what will make you happy. Personally, I have always believed in having strong mentors both internally and externally to learn what it took for them to get to where they are today. But no matter how influential, rich, powerful or successful these people are, I take every piece of advice with a grain of salt...ensuring I can insert my own beliefs and ideologies – knowing full well there will be bumps and bruises on the way…
And such is the first tip towards landing your dream job.
Learn From Every ExperienceYou just graduated from College & are ready to take the world by storm…or so you think. You begin applying for dozens of jobs, looking for generous salaries and amazing perks. You want to dive headfirst into the corporate world and break the chains of academia. Your optimism sees no limits and you are full of life. While this is all great – you soon realize no one told you how hard this process would be. No one told you about how hard rejection will hit you. No one told you how mundane and unchallenging certain entry level jobs might be. No one had told you that work for 90% of people is just work and being able to be passionate about what you do and still make money are rare feats few and far between. What you must realize however, is that you are not alone. We all have gone through or will go through similar experiences en route to our dream job. (This goes for experienced professionals as well). You must be prepared to walk through the shards of glass, work hard and see the glimmers of light in the tattered ceilings to push forward. One of the most important things I have learned from poor job experiences, is that there is always takeaway value. Whether you had a horrible boss or lack of growth opportunities, you still invested time. The most important asset you will ever have is your time – and so you must never let anyone rob you of that…as it will never be returned. Use negative experiences to help guide your roadmap and understanding of what you want and require in your dream job.
Create a VisionOnce you begin going through both positive and negative work experiences, you begin learning what it is you like to do. You begin developing a set of skills that will help you succeed in many different roles and career tracks. It is up to you now to begin developing a vision of the future. To start you will need to ask yourself some guiding questions. (Examples below)
What problem are you looking to solve?What are your primary motivators?Where and how do you want to make an impact?These are types of questions that can help you begin to define your set of values. Core values you vest interest and passion in will shape your career path. It’s vital to begin identifying these elements. To give you an example, I will share a personal story.
I recently engaged in a casual conversation with someone who wanted to learn my goals. When explaining my interests and expectations of next roles in the coming years, I was challenged and given the feedback that my scope of interests was far too wide. I was told that because there was not one unique role, title or team I could dedicate myself to, that I would probably lack the ability to perform as passionately as others who knew exactly what their next role should be. At first, I almost agreed…But the more thought I gave this, the more I realized, this person could not be more wrong. You must be asking yourself , “Isn’t this section about creating a vision? How can the person be wrong?”
This section IS dedicated towards creating a vision. A long term vision. There is no way anyone should know exactly what their next job should be. The most talented leaders of the world are ones who have had diverse experiences, and been put in areas in which they are not comfortable with. This is the foundation of learning and growth. While there is nothing wrong with if you want to be in a specialized role like a recruiter, accountant or office manager your whole life, the majority of people out there are ambitious and have lofty goals & expectations… All in which they have every right to chase. Maybe its the millennial in me speaking here, but I believe whole heartedly that everyone should cast wide nets of jobs they wish to pursue. We live in an age of adaptability and agility – the best workers are those who can utilize their prior experiences and leverage them in new and unique ways on different teams in a short amount of time. So yes…Create a long term vision of where you see yourself finishing your career but understand the pages between now and then are all unwritten…waiting to be filled in. You and only control the pen.
For me, I have always envisioned myself finishing my career having a significant impact on the lives of employees through focusing on people development, culture and innovation. And so – as shown below my title will be Chief Architect of People, Culture & Innovation. The tree and leaves between my current role and my future goals represents all of the different experiences and exposures I will need to reach my end goal and vision. The takeaway from the below visual is to understand there is much diversity in the roles and experiences between now and the future. In order to land your dream job, it is most important to identify ALL of the things you need to continue to learn, not the exact title of your next job.
Network Religiously Last tip of this post will be to network religiously. I am sure this a topic you have seen all throughout LinkedIn and for good reason. Another key component of landing your dream job is speaking to people who currently have that job. What better way to understand what its really like to be in a certain position, team or company, that to hear directly from the source? All too often, I have seen people talk about how much they wish they had a certain job and then they get it!….But they then realize it is not as great as they had hoped. This is an unfortunate position you do not want to find yourself in, especially if you have invested all your time and experiences towards reaching this role. This section coincides directly with creating your vision and set of values. As you begin building your roadmap, you will be able to mitigate these types of risks and know full well what you are most passionate about doing. Networking with leaders and individuals who hold of positions of interest of yours are invaluable resources of information that will help you along your career. Start developing your writing skills and actively message these individuals on LinkedIn – explaining your interest in wanting to learn about their experiences. You will be surprised at how many people are appreciative of individuals who want to talk to them to learn and not ask for a job. While LinkedIn is a great platform for getting opportunities – it is just as a great a tool to get information and build relationships. Look out for a future post teaching you how to craft the perfect InMail!
While there are many more technical and traditional forms of advice on attaining your dream job, my goal was to present a more strategic approach to long term career thought. I hope these models help spark your vision and allow you to begin developing the picture of your dream job. In order to get it, you must define it.
More to come…
-The HR Kid
Having fun at work and improving quality of life has long been tied to improved employee engagement and productivity as well as employee retention. Recent studies show that fun at work also lowers employee healthcare and increases an employee’s overall quality of life. Research shows that the happiest employees take 66% less sick leave and that the happiest of people at work are good for teams and can boost the mood of colleagues.
Having a work environment that promotes wellness and happiness not only increases mood, but productivity. The same study reported that happy workers reported spending 80% of their week on work related tasks, while less happy workers spend only 40% of their time on work related tasks. What boss doesn’t want employees spending more time on work related tasks? The idea of having fun at work isn’t new. What is important is addressing the direct connection to an employee’s quality of work and life and their work performance without dramatically impacting your company or department’s bottom line.
- Manage your workforce, but avoid micromanaging.No one likes their employer looking over their shoulder every minute of every day. More than ever there is a large pool of employees who don’t need managing. Self-starters are in abundance and work a whole lot better without a micromanager. Employees need to be given freedom to think for themselves and work in a space that isn’t constrained at every turn. In order to produce exceptional results, quit micromanaging.
- Recognize good work. How can something so simple improve quality of work? As GenY starts to become one of the largest demographics in the workforce they rely on constant recognition. You must ensure that as an employer you always have something positive to say about your employees and their work. Don’t rely on the old principle if you don’t say anything that means everything is fine, because GenY will take that as things being worse. Rewards, and other ways of keeping employees happy will make them feel that their effort is being recognized and that the company needs them.
- Set goals, reward if met. Have production goals that need to be met by the end of the day? Set a goal and do something fun if the goal is met. Giving your employees a challenge throughout the day will give them something to work towards and generally they will go above and beyond to meet the goal. For example, focus on production goals or deadlines that have to be met. If they meet them ahead of schedule, go out for happy hour on the company, extend their lunches, or if viable, let them take half a day. These simple rewards will revitalize your employees and give them more drive to produce the same results outside a rewards system.
- Challenge your employees. To go one step further on setting and meeting goals, challenge your employees with new tasks that might be outside their job function. Do you have a problem within your organization that needs fixing? Challenge an employee to head a taskforce or committee to identify, evaluate, and come up with a solution. Making employees feel like they are a part of a bigger change will encourage them and keep the quality of their productivity up.
- Food is fun.Food can be a powerful short term motivator for your workplace. Don’t give them food in exchange for having to listen to their boss go on and on about work, no one will stay and you’re basically using lunch to sell your employees. Free lunches boost workplace morale and wellness (depending on what you provide for them). Providing free food doesn’t only increase morale, but it makes employees appreciate a company a little more. Free food has this magic quality that instantly gives your company credibility with employees.
This article first appeared on inimitablerich.endoxaconsulting.com in July of 2013.
In a bygone era hiring the best talent regardless of attitude was fairly common. As long as an employee delivered the goods shortcomings were accommodated. Aptitude simply trumped attitude.
In recent years we note a marked change in hiring practices, however. Today, company culture, office atmosphere, a litigious society, and a long list of other “fears”, are used as filters in the hiring process. Attitude has begun to trump aptitude in the hiring process. What might this mean for organizations, long term? What happens when hiring for attitude alone rules?
Organizations may find themselves flush with inspired, polite, fun, and at times charismatic people who are incapable of doing their jobs and delivering the value necessary for the company to thrive. Obviously, hiring for aptitude alone or attitude alone isn’t the right answer.
What is the right answer? Hire for aptitude AND attitude, of course!
Business leaders have a responsibility to deliver outstanding results and typically this is accomplished through a myriad of processes. One of these processes includes the responsibility to hire, train, and engage an outstanding team – a team capable of working together synergistically to get things done! The right attitudes allow for collegial interactions and the right aptitudes drive productivity through engagement.
Though hiring for both skill and personality may seem like common sense it is often difficult to accomplish for a variety of reasons. In order to promote a positive culture of talent acquisition in your business or organization the following 4 criteria must be an integral part of the screening and hiring and talent management processes.
- Hire for attitude, but make certain there is aptitude. Testing, review of references, background checks, verification of licenses, certificates, and degrees, and even additional interviewing processes where the candidate breaks down or explains how the work gets done are all examples of how to determine aptitude. Also, keep in mind It is far easier to train someone to your specifications than to teach them how to follow the Golden Rule in the workplace.
- Never hire the best “available” candidate! Far too often, organizations hire the best candidate in the pool of applicants. The best available candidate may not be good enough! In the short run, hiring candidates like this may alleviate the stress related to being short-staffed, but in the long run hurts the team and overall organizational effectiveness. Always hire the best candidate who meets all of the hiring criteria, keeping in mind no one is absolutely perfect. Moral: Do not settle… the time and effort of continuing a search are well worth it.
- Set specific goals and meticulously manage your succession and growth plans. An alternative to hiring highly skilled talent from outside the organization? Focus on developing outstanding talent internally, because developing top-performers must be the basis of an effective succession plan. Employee engagement will soar, and as a result, turnover drops as well, which negates urgent hiring needs in the future. Risk is nullified as your internal candidates are a known commodity and you avoid hiring “unknowns” from the outside. Finally, by ostensibly developing top performers and moving them into higher functioning positions where aptitude is essential, you can hire more for attitude with your “entry level” needs.
- Hold under-performers, malcontents, and the “un-nice” accountable. Let’s be clear. These are the people who have been given every opportunity to show they can change their behaviors — for everyone’s benefit including their own. Allowing employees like this to stick around is so detrimental to the health of an organization. With no action on the part of management morale suffers. This puts a wedge between great results and the organization – and the “rabble” will continue to make it worse over time. Act with integrity, but give the “dregs” their due.
Hiring the best and brightest means looking for those who possess an outstanding “can do” attitude which includes a professional, bright, and engaging personality. It also means their credentials have been completely vetted. Later, as the team is managed and assessed, through a rigorous performance review process, if a hiring mistake is identified, act quickly to remedy the situation– it may hurt in the short run, but will have a beneficial impact in the long run.
Hiring for attitude AND aptitude not only makes good sense, it has a profound impact on an organizations health, growth, and the all important bottom line.
This article is based on my own experiences and is not meant to be a criticism on one subject or the other.
I tell my 8 year old daughter to stick in and study at school, that way she will do well and have less to worry about when she leaves in about ten years from now. As someone who did not always pay attention and in some cases was happy for others to disrupt the class, I sometimes wish I could turn the clock back.
But if I did, would I be where I am today and the person I am today?
There are strong arguments that say Experience is more important than Education and vice versa. I, like many had to take the harder route and try to get a combination or balance of both.
Having left school without the qualifications I wanted and needed to further my accountancy career, I had to start at the bottom of the ladder. For those that remember it, the Youth Training Scheme, or YTS, was the best thing that happened to me.
For a wage of £25 per week I attended an office training college situated in Broughton Street Lane, Edinburgh. The only boy in the class who was learning to touch type, answer a phone properly and become a proficient office junior. This lead to work experience with a reputable firm of Chartered Accountants and at the end of it a full time job as an office junior. I was on the first rung of the accountancy ladder.
Whilst holding down my day job I started evening classes to improve my grades, and slowly worked my way up through the company and indeed moved companies. Again, more studying and more working as I progressed to achieving my Accounting Technician qualification.
So on it went, working and studying, studying and working and all the time gaining vital on the job experience that the books could not teach me. I remember having to show a colleague who had recently left University where she would find her clients trial balance so that she could prepare the accounts. I remember the look on her face as I handed here a box of invoices, statements and cheque stubbs and said “its in there”.
Don’t get me wrong, education is important and a vital ingredient, but don’t overlook experience. Someone with a vast number of years experience is very likely to have been involved in CPD – Continuing Professional Development. They cannot afford to stand still so they keep up to speed on all developments.
So when you are looking for a new employee, by all means look at those who have the qualifications, the MBA’s, the ACCA’s and of course the CA’s. But don’t overlook the people with a lot of years under their belt who can still do the same job but perhaps don’t have the right letters after their name.
All I ask of anyone is to balance the scales and make it a fair and level playing field. Judge people on all their attributes, on everything they bring to the table and in some cases what they have achieved to date.
Then you will be able to make an informed decision on your next new member of staff.
To finish, I’d like to share a little known fact. The office training college that I started in way back in late 198, well I am now back in that office in my current role.
Only now I am Head of Risk for a multi million pound company that is also about to be acquired (for the second time) as part of an international billion dollar deal.
All it took me was a lot of hard work, a lot studying, a lot of experience, a lot of determination and of course 29 years to do it all in.
As a teenager I had a heck of a time learning this lesson and I wasn’t different than any of the guys that I knew. We often tripped over ourselves to get the attention of, or accommodate, the girls we liked. I was a slow learner… I married at 29.
Recruitment, we have defined in other entries as the “process of attracting” individuals to your company and team. Having been a partner in a successful recruitment agency, owned a leading job site and consulted in sales management for more than 25 years, I have witnessed over and over again the subtle dance that seems to draw amazing talent to brilliant leaders.
It turns out that this subtle dance is relatively easy to engineer. Helping your sales managers avoid the biggest error in recruitment is half the battle.
The Innocent Mistake
Here’s how it looks. John, the energetic and highly competitive sales manager at XYZ knows exactly where to find his next recruit – his competition. One night he survey’s his competitor’s website and identifies a competitor in his open territory – Tammy. The next day, a quick series of telephone calls to key contacts reveals evidence that Tammy is a reputed performer. John swings into action and a direct contact is made with Tammy. John explains who he is and invites Tammy for a “get to know you” coffee. Tammy knows XYZ, a big player, and accepts his invitation thinking that she might get some good intelligence anyway.
Introductions are warm and the conversation open when the two meet. John asks a few questions about Tammy and her experience, and she shares her experience willingly. John, seeing this openness begins to describe his opportunity. He pours on the accolades for his peers and brags about his company’s ambition to expand. Tammy is polite and listens well. John’s interest in her becomes more obvious as he pours on the charm. As the conversation winds down, John has to ask, “Would you be interested in discussing the opportunity further?” Tammy, ever generous and charming gently lets John down by responding. “John, let me think about it for a little bit and perhaps we can talk again. I am happy at ABC but this was a very interesting conversation.” Disappointed but not crushed, John accepts the offer to speak again and promises to be in touch.
Error: Direct, fast and strong
On the plus side, John’s approach, direct, fast and strong demonstrated confidence. He’s a “get it done guy!” On the down side, Tammy wasn’t given the chance to even get interested before she got the feeling she was “wanted”. Her feelings about the experience where exposed in her discussion that evening with her husband. When he asked about her day, she said “Great, I had a kind-of-coffee-interview with XYZ today- they’re after me but I said no.”
We want what is difficult to get. Remember scarcity? Once upon a time I must have looked like a panting puppy. Maybe John did too. John and his opportunity lost much of his attractiveness by coming on too strong.
Several challenges are found in the example above:
1. John is the worst guy to share information about his opportunity. His conflict is obvious to Tammy. How can she believe this competitor who clearly “wants” her? Robert Cialdini, in his book Influence, suggests that Tammy needs “Social Proof” which is best delivered by someone else.
2. If Tammy was unhappy about her current position it could work. And why is that a problem? Sometimes it isn’t. But often people are unhappy because they are failing. Because of this problem, this approach, when it works, frequently delivers mediocre performers.
3. John’s expression of interest in the opening “kind-of-coffee-interview” was clear enough to Tammy that she told her husband XYZ wants me – she and John seem to know this. Under these conditions, what is the likelihood John will implement the difficult selection experiences, such as testing, in-depth interviews, roleplays and job trials that create dissonance and increase motivation for the job on the part of the candidate. Not likely. Particularly, if and when Tammy is a top performer with significant proven performance. Imagine how John would have to sell a short but intense series of selection activities to her then. Tough job that is when you have already implied that you have selected the candidate.
Great recruiters engineer a series of experiences that cause a potential candidate to:
• Become aware of the opportunity
• Explore it’s unique benefits in contrast to their current situation
• Develop a relationship of trust with their potential manager
• Earn the respect of their prospective boss
• See themselves more successful in the new opportunity
Three highly strategies have proven successful for our key clients and I’ll write about them soon. They are:
- Develop advocates
- Position the opportunity for growth
- Leverage a structure selection process to enhance candidate motivation
It turns out that in nature, attractiveness has universal qualities.
So many people believe that in order to be a likeable person, they need some form of super power that only a few a privy to. They believe that the privilege of being liked is only given to a a select few and that they themselves will never possess such a skill.
I am here to tell you, that this is completely incorrect and is 100% not the case.
Each and every one of us are incredibly special for who we are. We have everything inside of us that we need to be liked, and then some. It is only a case of gaining the knowledge necessary in order to understand how we all may unlock our inner self and become the most likeable person we know, i.e. ourself!
You won’t believe how easy it is.
All likeable people…
Use Positive Body LanguageSo let’s imagine a scenario… you meet a group of friends at the weekend for a get-together and they have each brought a friend or two of their own, whom you have never met before.
So what do you do? Should you simply acknowledge their presence but turn to your friends and talk to them instead? Certainly not. In fact you should just smile and say hello to your friends, but place themajority of your attention to the people whom you do not know, at least for a period of time. Stand in a neutral but interested stance towards them. Smile at them and greet them with a handshake. Say hello, and ask them how they are…. Go out of your way to make them feel comfortable with your presence.
As a result, you will be enriched by their presence, and they by yours.
Ask Thought-Provoking QuestionsThe conversation you inevitably spark up is flowing and everything is great. And then it comes their turn to speak. NOW, you must ensure that you not only listen to what they have to say but you also ask questions about what they are saying.
‘Oh, sounds like you had a great holiday in Dubai, what was the food like?’, ‘I really like action movies too, who’s your favourite action star?’ or ‘Wow, doing a part time master’s is really admirable. Do you have any tips of what courses I could do for gaining experience in Computer Science & Business?’.
Be Genuinely InterestedNot only is it important to listen to what they have to say, but to be genuinely interested in what they are saying. Most of the time a person you just met will do their best to say things they think you will be interested in. It is your job to appreciate the fact that the person you are speaking with, may be trying really hard to impress you or just be friends with you. Don’t make it hard on them, help them to help you to like them!
Pay special attention to everything they say with open ears, and respond accordingly. And if all else fails, you can simply wait for your turn to speak, and gently change the conversation to something more along the lines of your interests!
Smiles Are ContagiousSo you guys are having a great chat. You are really enjoying each other’s company and you really like where the conversation is going. Smile. Smile like you never smiled before. A simple smile offer’s re-assurance to whomever you are speaking with. Not only that but it makes you feel more comfortable with the current situation, allowing more creative juices to flow which in turn sparks a more meaningful conversation.
Plus if you are not actually really enjoying what’s being said, just smile anyway. I guarantee that, after a few minutes, you will feel more keen about the conversation at hand.
Don’t Ever Pass JudgementSometimes it’s easy to jump to conclusions about someone you just met. They seem to be cool, but they then say something like ‘Yeah I thought she was my best friend, but then she got married and we don’t speak anymore. I hate her now.’ or ‘Paul from work is a real pain, he’s always talking rubbish and is terrible at his job’, you think that they may actually be a terror inside. The fact is, you really don’t know the person they are talking about, and even if you do, you still don’t know that person from their perspective.
Try to never ‘judge a book by its cover’. When they complain about something, simply be sympathetic. Take it with a grain of salt and move one. It is better to be friendly and supportive than to be distant and judgemental. They will come around to your thinking in time.
Pay Attention To Every WordWhen in the depths of a conversation, you can easily kill it’s flow by not paying attention. Simply taking out your phone when someone else is speaking to you can disrupt what they are saying or cause them to loose their chain of thought as they wonder… ‘why is he/she not paying attention, am I boring or something?’.
Let’s be honest here, you would like to be listened to when you speak out loud. So you should treat others the way you want to be treated.
Don’t Seek AttentionQuite a lot of people are unfavourable to hearing other’s boast about their accomplishments. Whether it be past, present or future. Not only does it show you are more selfish and prefer talking about yourself, but it alerts other’s to the fact that you may not want to hear what they have to say at all.
Instead, hold a genuine conversation. Ask other’s about their interests, and eventually their thought on a particular topic. Once they have said their piece and you have given a genuine response, you can then tell them about what sort of action you have taken on the particular area or what activities of note you have been involved in.
Leave A Strong First ImpressionAll of the above will no doubt help you in ensuring you leave a strong first impression with the people you have just met and have spent a conversation with. It is nice to be remembered and everyone likes to be liked & remembered. That is the important point here.
Take the time to say good bye in a genuine way. Use whatever medium you can (speech, expression, action) to portray to them that you have enjoyed their company and found what they had to say quite interesting.
You may even go so far as to arrange another meeting or express interest in it.
Greet Everyone By NameThe best thing you can do to make someone feel pride in themselves and an interest in you or what you will say next, is by greeting them by their name. Quite a simple concept yet it is usually over looked. Whether it is your closest friend or someone you barely know, always greet them by their name.
Now this may be more easily said than done in some cases, especially when you meet a lot of new faces on a regular basis, however that just enforces the results when you strive to remember each and everyones name. They will respect you for it, and they will in turn, remember your name too.
Bringing Everything TogetherI guarantee that you have felt, been in or hear of at least some of the topics and situations described above. It is impossible for any of us to adhere to or respond perfectly to all of the situations described. We are only humans. However as human beings, we have the innate ability to learn, to overcome our short-comings and to better ourselves each and every day.
Simply put, when you are aware of the habits that cause people to like you, you are far more likely to follow them to the best of your ability.
Here’s to us, and our quest to become the most likeable person on the planet.
LifeCourse Associates has released, “Why Generations Matter” – a research report that uncovers what each generation values in an employer and how well the needs of different generations of workers are – or are not – being met. A short review of the findings and, in particular, what the generations want regarding training and technology is outlined below.
“This is the most comprehensive quantitative study performed on generations in the workforce”, says Warren Wright, vice president of LifeCourse Associates. Wright adds, “We now know what engages different generations”.
The study included Millennials (age 30 and under), Generation X (ages 31 to 51), and Boomers (ages 52 to 69) who are employed full-time. The survey was conducted through a nationally representative online panel of 1,250 respondents, and was tested again on 4,986 insurance industry employees 2 months later.
- Generations matter. Nearly three-quarters of respondents agreed, not only that there are important generational differences but also that they ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ pose challenges in the workplace.
- Millennials want mentorship. Nearly a third of Millennials ‘strongly’ agreed that they want to work for an organisation that provides an excellent mentoring program, far more than any other generation. Millennials also experience the largest gap between what they have and what they want when it comes to mentoring.
- Millennials want a social workplace. An overwhelming 68 percent of Millennials agreed that they like to socialise informally and make new friends while at work, about 10 points higher than any other generation.
- Millennials want to contribute. Nearly two-thirds of Millennials agreed that they like their employer, ‘to contribute to social and ethical causes’ that they think are important, vs. barely half of Boomers and older Gen Xers.
- Millennials and Gen Xers want cutting-edge technology. High shares of both Millennials and Gen Xers ‘strongly agree’ that they ‘like to work with state-of-the-art technology’, while Boomers rate this as significantly less important. Millennials rate their employers’ performance in this area the lowest.
Boomers are mission-focused. Fully 56 percent of older Boomers and 50 percent of younger Boomers ‘strongly agree’ that they want to be ‘100 percent dedicated to the organisation’s mission’. That number declines sharply for older Gen Xers and continues to decline through Millennials, in a remarkable 19-point generational spread.
Why It Matters
- Every generation in your workforce needs at some point in their career to be trained.
- Since the generations grew up in different eras, you must use a variety of different training methods to reach every generation effectively.
- Make full use of a blended learning approach to ensure that employees of all ages can learn to work safely.
The following is an excerpt from The Real-Life MBA, a new book by Jack and Suzy Welch.
Every career-stall story has its own particularities. Its mitigating factors; its extraordinary circumstances.
But generally speaking, careers only stall for a few reasons, which we’re going to run through here before getting to the action steps that we believe might turn your situation around.
First, careers can stall when your company does not have a position for you to grow into. There’s a “blocker” above you – usually your boss – who’s doing a fine job and has no plans to retire, change industries, or move to Toledo. Your boss may even have a blocker above him or herself. Such a situation can be absolutely maddening, but it happens all the time in business. The main culprit is lack of growth; your company, industry, or the economy overall is in a hard place, standing still or even contracting. In such situations, opportunities for upward mobility are necessarily hard to come by. But blocking is also endemic to family companies, where the top jobs are often filled by “pre-ordained” individuals.
If you’re in a blocker situation, you really only have one choice, and it’s to decide how long you’re willing to endure stasis, and we mean, decide. Put an expiration date on your patience. “If something doesn’t change within a year, I’m putting out feelers, and within two years, I’m out of here,” you might conclude.
In this assessment, you also need to consider your own standing within the company. If a promotion becomes available, are you likely to get it? Have you been getting A-plus performance reviews or only in the B range? Do you have an embedded reputation that might be hard to shake? Is your boss known for promoting his or her best people or sitting on their careers while they reap the benefits? Every piece of such data is critical in determining the terms of the “perseverance contract” you write with yourself.
Importantly, there is no rule on the right amount of time to wait out a blockage. All that matters is that you explicitly pick a timeframe based on your values, standing, circumstances, and constraints, as well as your company’s future. In doing so, your stall won’t end, but with a clear horizon and potential exit plan, your daily angst will surely ebb.
Another general reason that careers stall is because of wrong-headed notions about the importance of multi-functional expertise. We see this phenomenon all the time. Mary is a terrific financial analyst. Jeff is a star in marketing. Back in business school, both Mary and Jeff were repeatedly assured that the fastest, smartest, most time-tested way to senior management is by successively seeking out and landing stints in every function. “You need two to three years in each function, plus some time in international,” they were told. “You need to build a well-rounded portfolio of competencies.”
How cockamamie. Yes, there are some companies that like to parade their high-potentials through the fairgrounds, stopping at every ride. But far more often, companies promote people who are known to be really, really good at what they do, and they promote them right up the ladder, all the way to the top. The facts are, if you’re a finance guru, you don’t need two years in marketing to understand the function’s importance to results. You know it in your bones, or through astute observation. Nor does a wildly creative type in marketing need to slog through a couple years in operations to know that quality matters. Please. Yet, because of the received wisdom about “rounding yourself out,” we’ve seen too many terrific functional experts jump out of their areas, only to vanish into the organizational ether.
Look, if you’re really talented at something and you intentionally up and move yourself to an area where you’re not so talented, it’s like an ice hockey star quitting to join the NBA. (Or like Michael Jordan deciding to become a professional baseball player; we all remember where that went.) Our point is, don’t wear skates to a basketball game. It’s a surefire way to stall a career. And if you’re finding that out for yourself right now, the fix is clear. Get back where you belong. You’ll be back in the game and your career will be too.
Then there are careers that stall because of an attitude problem. Okay, that’s being polite. We’re talking about boss-haters. You know, the people who play by the rules outwardly, while inwardly they ooze disdain and disgust for the organization and its leaders.
The thing about boss-haters, we’ve realized after writing and talking about them for more than a decade, is that they rarely know they’re boss-haters. They are not the problem, in their opinion. The company is the problem. The people in charge are fools and incompetents. They only care about money; they don’t understand a thing about the customer or the products. And frankly, most of their co-workers aren’t much better. They all suck-up to the bigs and don’t know anything useful.
As we said, we don’t expect boss-haters to self-identify. But on the off chance these sentiments ring a bell, welcome to understanding why your career has stalled. And welcome, too, to accepting that, without a serious change in mindset, you are truly stuck. Because even if you’re smart and capable – and boss-haters tend to be – no higher-up is ever going to give a leg up to someone who scorns them. It’s not happening.
But enough about boss-haters. Luckily, they’re relatively few in number. Let’s turn finally to the most common reason that careers stall. Performance.
Or more precisely, under-performance.
Now, under-performance doesn’t mean you’re not trying hard at work. You might very well be giving it your all. But the last place effort counted more than results was in elementary school. This is real life.
Here’s the problem, though. In real life, too many under-performers don’t know that they’re under-performing. The reason is that too many managers out there don’t tell their people where they stand. They’re too busy. Or they think people should figure it out on their own. Or they’re too “kind” for straight-up candor, or so they claim.
None of these reasons make sense. In fact, as we said earlier, we’d argue that obfuscation around performance is cruel and unfair. People deserve to know how they’re doing at something they’re doing eight or ten hours a day. Come on.
But, sadly, that’s the way it is. If you’re in purgatory, and you’re not being blocked, you’re not wearing ice skates to a basketball game, and you’re not a boss-hater, you can assume that in the eyes of the powers-that-be, you’re just not good enough to be promoted.
You’re not big enough.
Now, we’re not talking about big enough in terms of personality. In fact, sometimes having a big personality can hurt you as you try to ascend the ladder. People can read your extroversion as arrogance, or take you as a know-it-all or blow-hard. People with big personalities can make very big targets of themselves.
No, we’re talking about big enough in terms of having the breadth and depth to handle the next job.
Breadth and depth.
Regardless of the specifics of your job, that combination is what your bosses are waiting to see.
You, only much better.
You, a changed person.
Jack Welch is Executive Chairman of the Jack Welch Management Institute at Strayer University and co-author of the forthcoming book, The Real Life MBA. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute provides students and organizations with the proven methodologies, immediately actionable practices, and respected credentials needed to win in business.
Suzy Welch is a best-selling author, popular television commentator, and noted business journalist. Her New York Times bestselling book, 10-10-10: A Life Transforming Idea, presents a powerful decision-making strategy for success at work and in parenting, love and friendship. Together with her husband Jack Welch, Suzy is also co-author of the #1 international bestseller Winning, its companion volume, Winning: The Answers, and their forthcoming book, The Real Life MBA.
Hiring the right people is critical for any business. Bringing in the wrong person not only not only wastes time and money, it also creates a ripple of negativity that impacts every other employee — and therefore the business.
So why, when you’re the perfect candidate, do companies still not hire you? Here are five reasons they end up hiring the wrong candidate:
1. They ignore what matters most.
Every employee has to follow company rules and guidelines, whether formal or unwritten. Still, some people can’t… or just won’t. And often that’s okay.
If you’re a skilled engineer with an incredible track record of designing new products — and who also berates support and admin staffers — you won’t immediately turn over a new interpersonal leaf just because you got hired. Or if you’re a programmer who only works Selene hours as if you’ll melt in sunlight, you won’t magically transform into a standard-issue 9-to-5er.
For some people, the work, and how they perform that work, is what matters most — not the job. And yet they can still be perfect for the job.
Smart companies decide to accept the total package and all that comes with it. If they desperately need engineering skills they could decide to live with a proven engineering superstar’s diva behavior. In the same way, letting a vampire-style programmer work nights may be fine even if everyone else works normal hours and communication will be less than optimal.
Smart companies assume that if compromises need to be made, they will make them — because ultimately they want superstars… warts and all.
I’ll take a somewhat high maintenance superstar over a mediocre but easy going employee any day.
2. They hire for skills and totally ignore attitude.
Skills and knowledge are worthless when they aren’t put to use. Experience, no matter how vast, is useless when it is not shared with others.
Think of it this way: The smaller your business the more likely you are to be an expert in your field; transferring those skills to others is relatively easy. But you can’t train enthusiasm, a solid work ethic, and great interpersonal skills — and those traits can matter a lot more than any skills a candidate brings.
According to one study, only 11% of the new hires that failed in the first 18 months failed due to deficiencies in technical skills. The vast majority failed due to problems with motivation, willingness to be coached, temperament, and emotional intelligence.
Smart companies hire for attitude. They know they can train almost any skill but it’s nearly impossible to train attitude. They see the candidate who lacks certain hard skills as a cause for concern… but they wisely see the candidate who lacks interpersonal skills and enthusiasm as a giant red flag.
3. They automatically hire friends and family.
Sure, some successful businesses look like an ongoing family reunion.
Still, smart companies are careful. Some employees will naturally overstate a family member’s qualifications when they make a recommendation. The employee’s heart may be in the right place, but their desire to help out a family member doesn’t always align with a company’s need to hire great employees.
Plus friends and family see each other outside of work, too, increasing the chances of interpersonal conflicts. In extreme cases, especially in small businesses, the workplace turns into an episode of Survivor: three relatives working in a six-person business may end up wielding more effective power than the owner.
Some companies set up an appropriate policy, like “no family members in the same department.” Smart companies simply do an incredibly thorough job of evaluating the candidate — that way they know when to say no.
4. They ignore gut feel.
Nothing beats a formal, comprehensive hiring process — except, sometimes, a little dose of gut feel and intuition.
Smart companies weigh impressions against qualitative considerations. And they feel free to run little “tests.” I always took supervisor candidates on a tour of our manufacturing areas. Sometimes an employee would stop me to ask a question. I always took the time to get involved because employee needs always come first. Any candidate — especially a managerial candidate — who seemed irritated or frustrated by the interruption was a definite cause for concern.
The same was true if an employee was struggling to keep up on a production line. I naturally pitched in while still talking to the candidate. Most job seekers also pitched in, some self-consciously in an obvious attempt to impress, others naturally and without affect. (It’s easy to tell the people who automatically help out from those who do so only because you are watching.)
Smart companies know the intangible qualities they want in their employees, and figure out simple ways to see if a candidate has those qualities.
Candidates like you.
6. They take the wrong chance.
There are two kinds of chances you can take on a potential employee.
There are the good chances: taking a shot on a candidate you feel has more potential than her previous employer let her show; taking a shot on a candidate who has few of the skills but all of the attitude; taking a chance on a candidate you feel certain brings the enthusiasm, drive, and spirit your team desperately needs — those are good chances to take.
Then there are the bad chances: the candidate with a history of attendance problems who you hope will suddenly develop a strong work ethic; the candidate who left each of his last three jobs within weeks because “all my bosses were jerks;” the candidate who has no experience in your industry and only wants to talk about how quickly and often she can get promoted.
Why do companies take bad chances? They’re desperate. Or lazy. Or have “better things to do.” Or figure a bad apple won’t spoil the bunch for very long because turnover rates are already high.
Smart companies know that matter how hard they try, everyone makes hiring mistakes. So they don’t take bad chances — those almost always turn out poorly.
Plus they know good chances often turn out to be their most inspired hires — and their best employees.
I often find that we can learn great lessons to apply to our leadership acumen in very odd places. Such is the case in the murder conviction of NFL stand-out Aaron Hernandez.
Although not personally involved in the trial or specifics, there are so many lessons to learn about common mistakes leaders often buy in to when making important hires.
Here are the top 4 mistakes:
- Falling in love with a candidate’s skills, ONLY. Skill is the only thing that can be easily learned and the least likely thing to create havoc in the organization. It’s all the other stuff a person brings with them that often determines success or failure.
- Placing too much emphasis and weight on one person’s opinion in terms of “fit” in an organization, especially when the respected leader had motive for ensuring “fit.”
- Dismissing the signals, data, and evidence of a failed cultural fit provided by their own scientific and behavioral experts. Ignoring the evidence doesn’t make it go away.
- Using intuition, gut and most likely ego instead of ensuring the individual would easily align with its organizational non-negotiable principles of leadership on and off the field. Most companies I know cannot afford the bad PR, waste of capital, and interference with the organization’s mission.
We see leader after leader who are just as guilty of making bad hires based only on skill or a “gut feeling” while disregarding a candidate’s ability to smoothly and easily merge into its culture and make a positive imprint immediately. More often than not, ignoring the science and signals ends up hurting the company, productivity and the individual.
There will be many people reply that New England still won the Super Bowl this year. And I reply, you are right. However, how many business leaders can take this type of PR hit, lose millions in a bad hire, have its owner subpoenaed to testify in a murder trial and still win? That’s the stuff of football legend – not a typical business.
What are you doing to ensure you are positioning your team to be successful through smart hiring?