Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I decided to beak away from the things to avoid and move on to more helpful issues for candidates. Here are three things to do before an interview.
Google. You need to do your homework before your interview. You would be amazed at how many candidates I have interviewed over the years who had no clue about the company they’re visiting. Obviously you should review the company’s website itself, but don’t stop there. A corporate website is only going to tell you the good stuff. You need to find news articles and other sites that will give you a more complete picture.

Get your stories ready. You know you’re perfect for the job, but the interviewer won’t know that until you can clearly show how your past experience has prepared you to succeed in this role. The best way to do that is to demonstrate specifically what you have done and what results you achieved. If they’re looking for someone with the ability to build rapport with clients, for example, think of specific instances in which you have done that. Practice succinctly saying what issue was with this particular client, what you did to improve the relationship, and the result you achieved. You’re not only showing that you have the skills to do the job, but you’re also letting them know that you understand what they’re looking for and can bring those skills. Candidates who can deliver that message in a clear, well-organized story are the ones who get the job.

Get your questions ready. You know that part at the end where they say, “Do you have any questions for me?” That’s huge. I have had candidates who did an okay job in the interview itself, but their questions were so intelligent and insightful that it bumped them into the next round. On the flip side, there’s no worse way to end an interview than by saying, “No, I can’t think of any questions.” That’s short for “No, I’m not really all that interested in you or the company; Even if that’s true, you are not going to get the paycheck by saying so. The best approach is to make a list of questions before the interview. That shows that you’re organized and that you care enough about the job to have come prepared. This list will also save you in event you interview with The Talker: the interviewer who talks the entire time and tells you everything you could possibly want to know. When he finally stops and asks if you have questions, you could not possibly think of a thing, because he’s covered everything.

A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to interviewing. So few candidates really do this well that your effort will set you apart from the crowd, and that could mean the difference between an offer and a rejection letter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The seventh practice to avoid is heavy handed layoffs.

It's no shame to have to reduce your workforce, but why treat departing employees like convicted felons? Anyone who tells you that an RIF requires perp-walk guided exits is someone to add to the next layoff list himself. One-on-one pink-slip discussions and dignified, non-immediate departures are the new norm for ethical organizations. If you have to march your loyal, redundant co-workers out the door, it says lots about the kind of workplace you've built. What to do instead: Deal with performance problems independently of staff reductions. Treat those employees you're forced to let go like the mature professionals they are.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The 6th practice to avoid is theft of miles:

Saving money is in, but taking it out of employees' hides in the form of taking frequent-flier miles is the hallmark of a Mickey Mouse outfit. If your employees are trotting the globe to advance your cause, let them keep their hard-earned air and hotel miles. (Have you flown economy class recently?) What to do instead: Tell your travel agent to book one-stop flights in place of non-stop ones, saving a few bucks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The fifth practice to avoid is to have Rules That Force Employees To Lie

You won't be shocked to hear that a majority of working people believe their employers don't trust them. We throw gas on the fire when we install rules that encourage our employees to lie. A great example is the time-honored policy that says "Congratulations on the upcoming birth or adoption of your baby. We'll pay your insurance premiums while you're on maternity leave if you're planning to return to work afterward. If not, you'll be terminated when your leave starts, and pay your own premiums." Which Einstein dreamed up that brain-dead policy? What to do instead: Pay the same percentage of insurance premiums for all employees in a category (e.g. new moms) without requiring pointless declarations of their intentions. Don't allow any new rules (sick-time policies are a prime offender) that reward employees for withholding information.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The fourth practice to avoid is Social Media Thought Police.

It's reasonable to block Youtube (GOOG) in the office because of the bandwidth it consumes. The recent e-mail message I received from a worker who'd just been informed of her employer's "no LinkedIn profiles permitted" policy sets a new low for organizational paranoia. Memo to your general counsel: Human beings work in your business. People have lives, brands, and connections beyond your walls, and those human entanglements are more likely to help your business than to hurt it. What to do instead: Treat people like babies only if you want them to act like babies. Let the rest of them update their LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter accounts appropriately, and if they're not getting their work done, deal with that problem on its own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The third practice to avoid is overdone Policy Manuals

You know who's making money for your employer right now? Workers who are selling, building, or inventing stuff. You know who's spending the business's money right now? Other employees (most easily found in HR, IT, and Finance) who've been commanded to write, administer, and enforce the 10,000 policies that make up your company's employee handbook. Overblown policy efforts squelch creativity, bake fear into your culture, and make busywork for countless office admins, on top of wasting paper, time, and brain cells. What to do instead? Nuke one unnecessary or outdated policy every week and require the CEO's signature to add any new ones.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The second of ten practices to avoid is front loaded recruiting systems.

All the rage in the corporate hiring arena, so-called front-loaded hiring processes require candidates to surmount unbelievable obstacles before earning so much as a phone call from your HR staff. Those trials can include credit checks, reference checks, online honesty tests, questionnaires, sample work assignments, and other mandatory drills that signal "We'll just need you to crawl over a few more bits of broken glass, and you may get that interview." Don't be fooled by job-market reports—talented, creative employees are as hard to snag as ever. By giving the hiring power back to your hiring managers the speed and quality of your hires will improve and you will be recruiting the "A" player candidates.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The first of the ten practices to avoid is Forced Ranking:

According to Liz Ryan the idea behind forced ranking is that when you evaluate your employees against one another, you will see who is the most critical on the team and who is the most expendable. This theory rests on the premise that we can force or reports to work together for the sake of the team and when it really counts you can pit them against one another in a competitive exercise. The suggestion here is to evaluate employees against written goals and move quickly to remove non performers all the time and not just once a year.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

In today's fast paced world we all have a tendency to forget about the individual people in our lives and in our companies. According to Liz Ryan who is a former Fortune 500 Human Resources Manager and an expert on the new millennium work place there are many management theories and there are at least ten that are injurious to your employee population.
Over the next few weeks I will post these ten theories as described by Liz Ryan. You will have an opportunity to see if you or your company follow any of the programs.

Monday, February 8, 2010

According to a recent article in the NY Times:
Good leaders have a clear, consistent message, and they keep driving it home until their workers completely understand it, says Susan Docherty, head of the U.S. sales, service and marketing team at General Motors. "People need to internalize it, and they need to own it," she says. "And when they do, you'll know that you're effective as a leader, because you hear them saying it." The New York Times (2/6)

Friday, February 5, 2010

According to Tim Flood, Assistant Professor of Management and Corporate Communications at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School many of us do not use e-mail properly. Too many of us rush, causing confusion and requiring more time to clarify misunderstandings later. We miss chances to build relationships, motivate others, close deals and convey important information.
Avoid the following ten mistakes.
1. Using vague subject lines. "Meeting," "Update," or "Question" provide no value as subject lines. Maximize the subject line's message. PDA users will get the message quickly; everyone will appreciate the clear summary. You can communicate plenty in a five to 10 word subject line: "Your Action Items and Minutes from Last Week's Meeting" or "Sam: See You at 10:00
2. Burying the news. Convey the important points first: put dates, deadlines and deliverables in the first one to three lines of the message (if not also in the subject line). PDA limitations, time pressures, cultural distinctions and value judgments keep many readers from reading further.
3. Hiding Behind the "BCC" field. At best, the 'blind copy' field is sneaky and risky. At worst, it's deceitful or unethical. Plus, blind recipients sometimes hit "reply all," revealing the deception. Instead, post the initial message and BCC no one. Then forward your sent message to others with a brief explanation.
4. Failing to clean up the mess of earlier replies/forwards. Few readers will wade through strings of previous messages. State your position clearly, even if context follows below in the email string. "Yes" helps less than "Yes, you can have the extra funding to hire 5 temporary workers."
Summarize the discussion to date: "See below: R&D is looking for more time but Sales risks losing customers if we don't act now."
Force focus when necessary: "Let's focus on cost now and revisit the morale and equity issues at our staff meeting next week."Change subject lines cautiously. Tighter, more relevant subject lines work best, but even one letter's difference upsets inbox sorting mechanisms.
Cut extraneous or repetitive information.
5. Ignoring grammar and mechanics. PDAs have granted us certain sloppy flexibility, which means you'll impress readers even more when you write precisely.
Follow standard punctuation, capitalization and spelling rules. Think carefully about the tone different punctuation conveys. "Dear Betty," is standard, neutral; "Dear Betty:" is professional, perhaps distant; "Dear Betty!" is personable, perhaps excessively so; "Dear Betty." prefaces bad news. Avoid over-stylizing with high-priority marks, disorienting color or complex backgrounds.
Avoid all-caps and excessives (like "!!!!" or other strings of punctuation).
6. Avoiding necessarily long emails. Longer messages sometimes work best; they can help avoid attachments' hassle and security fuss. Don't fear long emails but outline your structure and motivate reading up top. Provide a 'mapping statement' to allow readers to skim for key information: "I've included information, below, on the background, costs, implementation schedule and possible problems." Emphasize the specific response you seek: "Please let me know, before Monday, how this project will impact your team." Indicate an attachment's presence and value: "I've attached slides that I need you to review before our meeting; those slides identify total costs and break down the budget.
7. Mashing everything together into bulky, imposing, inaccessible paragraphs. Length does not discourage reading; bulk does. Keep your paragraphs short, ideally no more than three to five lines of type. Open each paragraph with a bottom-line sentence. Use section headings (in all-caps) to facilitate skimming.Include blank lines between paragraphs and section headings.
Avoid italics, boldface and other typeface changes which do not reliably carry across email systems.
8. Neglecting the human beings at the other end. Email travels between actual people, even though we don't see or hear each other directly. Praise, precisely. "Great job" takes little time and space but can work wonders. Quickly wishing someone a good weekend, at the end of an email, might perk someone up without cluttering your message. Avoid conveying blame or delivering negative feedback over email. Talk to the person instead. Avoid sarcasm, caustic wit, off-color humor and potentially inappropriate remarks —all of these elements tend to confuse, disorient or fall flat over email. Consider using emoticons and exclamations ("!" but also "ha, ha" or "just kidding") when they convey useful emotional context. Adjust your style to suit your audience. For people who don't know you, a terse style might seem rude; a wordy style might seem unfocused.
9. Thinking email works best. Email is not always the best way to communicate. Need a quick answer from someone nearby? Stop by for a visit. Want a reply to several unanswered emails? Pick up the phone. Looking for more gravitas? Mail a letter. Need to explain a complex or sensitive situation? Arrange a meeting.
10. Forgetting that email lasts forever. Most of us read, send and discard emails at lightning speeds. But don't forget that emails remain on a server somewhere as easy-to-forward proof of
an error.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When going on a interview it is important to remember that the non-verbal message can speak louder than the verbal messages you are sending. Keep in mind the following:

1. Have a firm handshake but not bone crushing
2. Stand and sit erect--a slouching posture makes you look tired and uninterested
3. Maintain good eye contact
4. It is natural to gesture or talk with your hands but avoid touching your face while talking as it will give the impression that you are trying to hide something.
5. Do not fidget

Practice before you go on the interview so these items become second nature.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Many years ago I had a close friend who started his own business. Over the years I maintained a personal and business relationship with him. Before I started my own business I called him and asked him what was the most difficult decision he had faced. He thought a moment and told me that learning when to say "no" was the toughest thing he had to learn. This same advice holds true for clients and candidates when working with a professional executive recruiter. It is okay to say "no" and tell the recruiter what is right for you or your company. The worst thing you can do is fail to make a decision on your own behalf.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Are you a micro Manager?

In his book Creating Passion-Driven Teams, Dan Bobinski noted that micromanagers do share certain characteristics, and they can do a lot of harm, even as they think they are doing a great job. Bobinski maintains that there are certain clear symptoms that can be observed in those who are micromanaging.
They appear frustrated that nobody is “getting it” or taking things as seriously as they do.
They want frequent status updates, even when things are operating normally.
They are quick to point out errors and mistakes of team members.
They have an overloaded task list, but their teams are looking for things to do.
They get upset if they’re not consulted before decisions are made.
They’ll take back delegated tasks to do them quicker or better themselves.In addition, micromanagement might be the correct diagnosis when some or all of the following are observed on a team:
A team experiences high turnover.
Team members feel nothing they do is ever good enough.
Team members are required to “check with the boss” before making any decision.
Team members no longer take the initiative.
Team members are responsible for results but have little or no input on how to achieve them

Monday, February 1, 2010

What is in a name? How many time have you heard that quote? In today's technological world the quote might be "What is in an e-mail address?" As I speak with candidates and ask for their e-mail addresses, I am amazed at some of the derivations that I come across. You would be surprised at the number of times I have had a client tell me that the candidate would not get an interview because of the statement that was made by a personal e-mail address and how that address might be perceived by other employees of the company. Select an address that is personal to you or your family but be mindful of how that address may be received by others.