Author Archives: Dorothy Dalton

political correctness

When did political correctness become incorrect?

And when did respect become political correctness?

Have you ever noticed how people apologise for political correctness or pour scorn on it as somehow  it’s something we have to justify. We frequently hear sentences starting with “I know this is politically incorrect but…..”  They then go on to say something mildly or even extremely offensive.

Others say that they are simply tired of it and feel it inhibitis their right to express themselves freely. They say they “loathe obsessive political correctness.” The reality is that political correctness was politically imposed on us because as individuals and groups we fail to treat all people with respect and dignity they deserve of our accord. We seem to need outside guidelines to be respectful.

Political correctness is defined as:

the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

What is happening is that certain layers of our communities look back to a time when they didn’t have to think before they spoke or took action without reflecting on the potential negative impact on others. It might have been at a time when as a dominant group, their life view was the one that prevailed and they could share opinions and use language that was racist, sexist, homophobic, or held prejudicial views against a specific group which was offensive in its nature. We see it now on social media in an extreme form and amongst some leaders who are offensive and abusive. They share their biases and prejudices openly about specific demographics  with few, if any, repercussions.

Incivility on the rise

According to research from Christine Porath of Georgetown University incivility is on the rise. There has been an increase of 13% since 1998. She also notes that 66% of these instances of incivility occurred between a manager and an employee. Incivility impacts employee engagement with all the downsides. Two-thirds of those employees who experienced incivility, “intentionally give less to their organization as the result. 25% take it out on the customer.” More than 50% of employee don’t report  incivility for fear of repercussions.

The reality is that most organisations don’t realise that their culture might be toxic until their employee engagement survey gives bad news. Most managers would be horrified to find they would be considered to be a toxic boss. 

How does workplace incivility manifest itself?

Workplace incivility has been defined as low-intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target. Uncivil behaviors are characteristically rude and discourteous, displaying a lack of regard for others.”

Here is a check list of areas where incivility and lack of respect can appear in the workplace:

  • rudeness – this is complex and can be difficult to define precisely because cross cultural differences have to be factored in as well as personal levels of tolerance and bias. It can be conveyed in writing, verbally and through body language.
  • unfairness  – playing favorites, inconsistent treatment of colleagues, facilitating gossip, withholding information, exclusion
  • poor time keeping – late for meetings or missing deadlines. It implies that you think you are more important than everyone else.
  • distracted or not giving full attention. Smart phone usage is rampant in this group. See above.
  • interrupting
  • talking over someone
  • dismissing a colleague’s view-point
  • name calling
  • attacking the person not the argument
  • adopting an either/or position rather than also/and
  • use of bad language
  • jokes and banter with racist, sexist or comments that belittle a person or a demographic
  • invading someone’s personal space
  • emoting – yelling, slamming doors, throwing things
  • lack of courtesy and good manners. No please or thank yous.
  • bullying  – this can be verbal, physical or emotional. The result is the employee feels psychologically unsafe in the workplace and is likely to be disengaged with all that implies for business success.
  • Exhibiting bias in a way that favours one demographic over an other

Impact on business of incivility

The impact on employee engagement of a lack of political correctness and increased incivility is significant.

  • Increased employee turnover
  • A high level of employee grievances and complaints.
  • Absenteesim and sick leave increased
  • Increased customer complaints
  • Drop in productivity
  • Conflict caused by miscommunication
  • Disconnect with leadership
  • Resistance to change
  • Reduced collaboration
  • Reduced innovation
  • Low levels of accountabilty

The very same managers who will think they are thoughtful and decent people will tick many of those boxes you see above. So next time you have negative feedback from your team, or the employee engagement survey gives a lower than expected rating, it’s think long and hard about our own behaviour and whether we are uncivil at a very basic level. Leadership language and behaviour matters and political correctness helps keep us on track. It’s about being mindful of others.

Now might be a good to to apply some political correctness if it doesn’t come naturally and spontaneously.

If you need support with your talent pipeline contact us now.

toxic boss

7 tips to avoid being a toxic boss

Last week I wrote a post “5 ways to avoid a toxic workplace culture.” This took a macro view of workplace culture. I have been asked by many readers to give practical tips to avoid being or becoming a toxic boss.

There is an old adage that says people leave bosses not organisations so all managers are responsible to some degree for employee engagement. But it can be easy for a leader to slip into becoming a toxic boss under pressure from an unrelenting  corporate world especially if no training is given. It is the seemingly unimportant, imperceptible daily actions which can have the greatest impact on employee engagement.

Dealing with adversity and ambiguity

External factors such as sector, financial or senior leadership crises occur, but it is how the boss responds in these circumstances that counts. I have worked with countless individuals who have been laid off and even when they are firing people,  they still respect good bosses. Without exception the best leaders are the ones that can sustain employee engagement despite ambiguity and adversity, even when they are making redundancies.

Many very well known and established businesses have pockets where individual bosses do not know how to manage their teams and create a toxic atmosphere. On an every-day level it’s the first line supervisor who has the greatest impact on employee motivation and commitment. Lack of employee engagement has a significant impact on the bottom line and with 81% of employees reported to be potentially open for a move and the cost in terms of innovation, customer service, creativity, mental well-being and overall productivity is high.

The toxic boss

Individual managers are rarely held accountable for employee engagement unless there is a crisis in their department or division. If the manager is responsible for generating revenue the fact that his/her employees show signs of demotivation is frequently overlooked. This also applies to more serious cases of sexism, harassment, bullying and unethical practises. Sometimes leaders and shareholders just want results with no questions asked. They are less concerned with the how until there are issues. A high percentage of the career transition coaching I do is rooted in poor leadership and lack of employee engagement, although they may not be the visible presenting issues. All of these negatively impact any employer brand.

Greatest asset

Business success might have nothing to do with a great corporate culture but about market conditions. The real test is what happens when business is challenging.  It is the same leaders who say that their employees are their greatest asset, but their behaviour is not consistent with their so-called mission or values statement.

Highly engaged and motivated employees should be any organisations greatest assets. But very often they get the least attention. At one time the people part of the business was even designated “human capital” which sounds more like “human cattle.”

Old school managerial style

There are many managers in post who subscribe to what would be considered a more old school style of management. This is a “command and control” approach rather than influence and persuade. It’s not necessarily always older generations who subscribe to this philosophy either. As millennials dominate the workforce they are looking for a more inclusive leadership style which is about transparency, flexibility and influence. Good barometers are not just in your employee engagement survey but comments placed on social proofing sites when people have left. These are frequently dismissed as the rantings of disgruntled ex-employees, but  if there is a consistent theme then it’s worth paying attention to the message.

Many pundits also dismiss the exit interview. These can add value if done correctly and there is transparency. Many employees are reluctant to be open for fear of reprisals and poor references looping back to the point about transparency. If fear replaces respect then any manager is in trouble.

7 tips to avoid being a toxic boss

Many managers have no idea that they have moved into the toxic zone where they are alienating their employees and not engaging them. In tri-partite discussions there are some who take a hard-line “this is how I am .. get over it” but others are genuinely shocked, upset even and open to change. Here are some simple every day  tips to bring that change about.

  1. Walk the talk – all leaders should embody their message and do as they want others to do. This means engaging regularly with your team and not sitting in an ivory tower sending out directional emails. You need to be out there seeing what goes on and being visible.
  2. Exhibit empathy – this doesn’t mean that you have to agree with everything your employees say or do, but if they have a problem or a concern try to walk in their shoes and experience a situation from their point of view. It’s also about respecting their boundaries in terms of time and communication.
  3. Listen and be inquisitive – the most motivating bosses are the ones that listen and communicate openly and transparently. If a topic is not for discussion for any reason you can say that and let them know that as soon as you can you will involve them. Find out what is going on for them. Be up front that you may not always be able to act on what they want but you will always be willing to listen. Understanding your employees and being open with them is key to motivation. They won’t be open with you if you are closed with them.
  4. Be ethical – conduct yourself with integrity and with the values you subscribe to. Don’t play favourites and always be neutral and just. In an era where there seems to be a pronounced absence of leadership values it’s important to align yourself with values that employees trust and respect.
  5. Give responsibilities – empowerment and accountability are great motivators. Make sure your team have the proper skills and tools to do their jobs properly. Give credit, thanks and recognition when it is due and support them all the way even if the team comes under scrutiny.  All of these practises lead to increase confidence which benefits the employer and enhances the employer brand. This is the time when there is an I in team. Above all do not micro-manage. This is a consistent reported characteristic of a toxic boss and one of the single most damaging management flaws. It implies lack of trust, and is stifling and demotivating.
  6. Develop their careers – offer training and personal development opportunities. Sponsor and mentor as appropriate. Promote them where possible and give constructive feedback when their career goals are not being met. If promotion isn’t realistically feasible maintain their personal development and learning. Long serving solid employees offer as much value as the whizz kid hot shot.
  7. Create a team charter – one of the simplest ways of empowering any team is to agree guidelines on the things that are important to them, communicating goals and agreeing norms and values. This could be about communication style, the way meetings are run, dress code or protocols for the resolution of disagreements and conflict. An inclusive management style will have an immediate impact on employee engagement.

A strong highly motivated team will be more creative, productive and committed to the organisational mission. Make sure that you are on the right side of the line to avoid being a toxic boss.

Check out our corporate training programmes HERE!

 

toxic workplace cultures

5 ways to avoid toxic workplace cultures

Very often those leading or working in toxic workplace cultures are unable to see things how they really are. Bad habits and behaviours are so deeply ingrained that the individuals involved no longer notice. Or if they do, they make excuses “That’s how he/ she is” or “that’s the way we do things here.” 

Then there is a crisis or a disruptive event that exposes a way of working for what it really is.  It might be a significant error of judgment with extensive fallout bringing a demand for third party accountability. We saw this in a multitude of recent scandals: the President’s Club, Oxfam, Miramax and the Starbucks racism exposure. It might be a solitary whistle blower who has finally had enough or their conscience is tested.  Chris Wylie’s exposure of Cambridge Analytica comes to mind. Or it could be a class action where a group of aggrieved employees campaign together to highlight systemic injustice as we saw with the female employees at Nike. 

Everyday issues too

We need to shine a light to ask how  organisations get to a place where in extreme cases implosion is just a question of time leading to an external investigation and reckoning. This is not just about the at times illegal and the ethically dubious. The normalisation of deviance manifests itself beyond the big issues, to every day workplace practises that we are all involved in. Many of us take them for granted. It can be creating a culture of overwork, promoting the domination of one group at the expense of another, allowing a negative communication style to predominate, and accepting the unacceptable, all contribute to the creation and embedding of toxic workplace cultures.

Organisational impact

The impact on organisations is substantial.  Cultural toxicity impacts employee engagement, productivity, creativity, retention and exaggerates churn. Lack of engagement costs 1% of payroll in the U.S and absenteeism from work in the EU is estimated at 2.5% of GDP across 27 member states, or 6% of working time. Mental health issues are at an all-time high and research from Gary Hamel of the London Business School suggests that 63% of the global workforce are not engaged in the workplace and 81% are open for a move. All of these elements will be reflected in the bottom line and employer brand. Starbucks closed 8000 coffee shops for half a day to carry out unconscious  racial bias training – at what cost? The President’s Club closed totally. A Volkswagen executive has been jailed for his role in the cover up of research data on diesel emissions. Harvey Weinstein has been charged with rape.

5 ways to avoid toxic workplace cultures

What can leaders do to make sure their workplaces are healthy and sustainable and don’t slide into toxic workplace cultures?

#1 Create a genuine mission statement 

Corporate values can be a bit of a grey area which don’t seem to be applied on a daily basis. Saying one thing but doing another is the way toxic workplace cultures take hold. It’s important for leaders to define their core values and then walk the talk and not simply pay lip service. Make sure these values are publicly displayed and everyone knows what they are and are signed up for them. Include them on the web site and in onboarding protocols.

#2 Understanding little things make a difference  

Toxic workplace cultures frequently start with what seem like insignificant but expedient short cuts. Bad practises and corner cutting are oftentimes rooted in the little things. Turning a blind eye once sets a precedent, which unchecked will mushroom into a practise or a norm. This can be allowing the big sales generator some lea way with complaints about sexism, the raging of a senior manager to go unchallenged or “flexibility” on expenses.

#3 Don’t make excuses

At the root of all defences are the claims that whatever happens is in the interests of the business. It is necessary to maintain market share, to stay ahead of the competition, increase margins and sales or cut costs. All those excuses foster toxic workplace cultures. Like Topsy they also grow exponentially until there are clusters of bad practises, which rarely exist in isolation.

#4 Have pristine processes

If organisations genuinely want to prevent toxic workplace cultures they have to set up pristine processes that everyone trusts for open, respectful and respected communication.  It is vital to create an inclusive environment where employees can call out issues that are bothering before they escalate, without fear of reprisals. This also means having fail safe protocols for the more serious stuff, so that everyone knows that anything reported will be dealt with in a neutral and effective way.

#5 Carry out an audit 

It’s very hard to make an objective assessment of any culture where we play a central role or are deeply committed to. So carrying out an evaluation by an external provider in the way that company accounts are audited will only add value.  An objective assessment may flag up some hidden messages which will divert a crisis before it becomes one.

For your talent pipeline needs contact us now

 

toxic talk and anger

Toxic Talk, LinkedIn and the Anger Iceberg

Toxic talk is prevalent but has now reached LinkedIn

For some years Academics have becoming increasingly concerned about the potential fallout from “uncivil discourse.”  So called “toxic talk” can end up polarizing opinion “when individuals rather than issues are attacked” (Stryker, Conway, & Danielson, 2014). The concerns over incivility extend to the online information environment, where “nasty comments can harm healthy constructive dialogue.

Posting on social media is a potential minefield and can lead to inches of toxic talk. We are all aware of the rise in incivility in these areas, but I am still astonished at the aggression and vitriol which even the most mundane comment can produce. I have seen it on Facebook and Twitter but I had never encountered it on LinkedIn.

Last week I had very minor exposure myself to toxic talk, where it seemed I had the temerity to call out a male coded infographic on a post on LinkedIn which was used to illustrate a modern day workplace. All the icons were male. Male coded workplaces are one of the key reasons women leave organisations. It was evident that I touched some hot buttons and the level of push back was interesting and surprising.

My input was considered “brutal.” Really.

” If you choose to see more in it because of some inferiority complex, and haven’t got help for your own insecurities, that’s all on you.”

“Stop making problems.”

I could go on. I was tempted to engage and expand on my comment, but remembered the time honoured phrase don’t feed the trolls.” I didn’t feel further input would add value and would only engage me in a flame war. The conversation stopped. The influencer who posted the original topic and was in a Bystander role in this instance, did not moderate his stream. Why should he? It was heady click bait fodder.

I have seen some people include in their post requests for people to be polite and constructive, with the intention of eliminating any toxic talk. This shouldn’t really be necessary. But the fact that it is required is a sign of the times. Even factoring in the potential for miscommunication posed by email and posting on social media present, these extreme responses seem exaggerated.

Maybe I’m being a wimp but I had also not expected this on the professional platform LinkedIn.

Anger Iceberg

Compared to the experiences of others, I am fully aware that this small pushback is inconsequential. Women in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and those who stood up after the Parkland shooting have experienced horrendous trolling and toxic talk. Some of this is from leaders who should know better. Dianne Abbott a UK MP received almost half of all abusive tweets (both racist and sexist) sent to female MPs before the 2017 election including death and rape threats. She said the ‘volume’ of abuse she received was ‘debilitating, corrosive and so upsetting’

In today’s world anger seems to be the go-to surface emotion.

Sofie-Ann Bracke, Belgium based mediation expert, shared this Anger Iceberg infographic from the Gottman Institute which resonated.To lash out at someone online (they are probably unlikely to do so in person) we have to take a close look at motivation behind their reactions and responses. Sometimes all negative emotions which are expressed as anger are actually rooted in something else.

Emotional Intelligence

The ease at which toxic talk becomes a common pattern of communication also taps into levels of emotional intelligence. Daniel Goleman, an American psychologist who helped to popularize the concept, says there are five key elements to it:

  • Self-awareness.

When we are self-aware, we have an understanding of how we feel and why and know well that, our emotions and your actions impact those around us.

My takeaway from my own experience now, is to anticipate a negative reaction. Rather than make a statement of fact, (“This is a very male-coded infographic“) I will probably try and elaborate with tried and tested intervention techniques. “Help me understand why a male coded infographic was used to illustrate the workplace which is 50% female.” Perhaps that would have made a difference. I will let you know.

  • Self-regulation.

People with emotional intelligence are able to self-regulate effectively rarely verbally attack others, make irrational or emotional decisions, stereotype others or compromise their value. Self-regulation is all about staying in control and not blaming other.

It’s easy to tap in an emotional response and hit send.

  • Motivation

This is about looking for an upside in every situation or challenge, no matter discouraging is a sign of strong emotional intelligence.

  • Empathy

Empathy is critical to successfully building relationships. Individuals with empathy are able to see another persons point of view and put themselves in their shoes without necessarily agreeing. They are able to give constructive feedback and challenge unfairness.

  • Social skills.

Those with social skills are great communicators.  They are good at managing change and resolve conflict effectively and diplomatically. They lead by example.

To communicate effectively, we must all acquire a solid understanding of how our emotions and actions affect the people around them. We also need to identify what triggers our emotions and why we respond in a certain way.

In the meantime it’s important that we all do what we can in our own area of influence to reduce the levels of toxic talk and other communication in our streams. LinkedIn could also offer a wider range of reporting options as UAE connection Dawn Metcalfe found when she received a picture of a penis in her LinkedIn messages.

Who else has experienced toxic talk on LinkedIn? Am I being a wimp and just accept this is part of the LinkedIn experience?

I am running a workshop in Brussels on May 29th on “How to deal with Sexism and Harassment in the Workplace” Please join me. Details HERE 

 

hiring process

Do you trust your gut in the hiring process? Maybe stop

In any hiring process I have been involved in, if I had a Euro (or any other currency) for the number of times I have heard these phrases I could probably retire:

  • It didn’t feel right
  • He/she wouldn’t fit
  • There was something about…

Trusting our instincts can help us in many ways. But in some cases trusting our guts can mislead us into safe, tried and tested decisions, which are not always the best. They certainly don’t lead to building diverse teams.  Most of the hiring process is ineffective either profoundly or marginally. But despite the publicity around the inefficiencies and the cost of making the wrong hiring decisions, companies rarely change their approach to filling open vacancies. They rely on submitted applications and key worded ATS searches, network referrals, telephone or video screening, maybe some psychometric testing or a behavioural interview task and finally an unstructured interview(s). Sometimes there could be series of 5 or more interviews with different members of an organisation at different times, bu frequently  covering the same ground.  Some candidates report up to 9 interviews requiring multiple vacation days on top of hours of preparation. If they are rejected some never even find out why.

There are  multiple reasons for adhering to these outdated and flawed systems

  • No one has any experience of doing anything differently. Interviewers complain about being cramped by more structured and standardized approaches which they feel are more formal and potentially intimidating to top candidates. They want candidates to like them.
  • Most managers rely on their instincts and think they can trust their guts when it comes to making the right hire, especially when it comes to building a team. Their team. They can resent the interference of outside influences – such as HR or even an external specialist.
  • Many organisations want shared responsibility for hiring. It deflects accountability if something goes wrong.

Yet there is overwhelming data to suggest that more consistent and formal approaches work better than casual and laissez- faire set -ups. Structured interviews are the best way to assess potential talent in a hiring process. The challenge is getting hiring managers to accept and then adopt the methodology. One of the main challenges is diary commitments and getting all players on site at the same time. But if people are the most important part of any business then they have to be given priority and time must be made to accommodate interviews.

Here are 6 ways to avoid having to rely on your gut in the hiring process

#1 Manage expectations

One of the most off-putting situations for any candidate is not having clarity around the process and what exactly is going to happen. If possible this should be explained upfront  before the interview with details on the hiring process.  If candidates understand that the interview is set up to make sure that all candidates will be be treated fairly and equally and asked the same questions. If there is any pre-interview chat as part of the warming up process, keep it to  neutral generalities. The weather and, journey to the venue are both banal and uncontentious and should be non-bias orientating discussions.

#2 Select a diverse panel 

if possible interviewers should be as diverse as possible in terms of background, age, seniority and personality types. There clearly has to be a subject expert in the group. This is a good opportunity to give junior employees exposure to the hiring process to prepare them for the future. VP roles don’t have to be interviewed exclusively by peers or more senior employees.

#3 Bench mark competences

The role should have a properly prepared job description with a clear definition of the main competences against which each candidate will be assessed on a matrix with scaled results for hard and soft skills. Questions around which skills or personality traits are missing from the team should be asked rather than looking for people who will fit in and others will “like.”

Hard skills are easy to evaluate:  For example fluency in a second language might be a necessary qualification. In which case it will be benchmarked at 9 or 10.   An engineering degree likewise. Soft skills are harder to assess and questions need to be structured so that a candidate can describe situations where they have exhibited those particular skills as part of their career stories.

Creating a score card is invaluable in guided thinking and increasing mindfulness in the recruitment process.

#4 Structure questioning

Panel members or interviewers should have a pre-determined schedule for asking questions with a series of prepared questions.  Then it should be decided:

  • Who will be covering which topics
  • The order of questioning

Behavioural questions are always helpful

“Tell us about a time you had to deal with a situation when your opinion was the minority view. How did you deal with that?”  You can deep-dive with more penetrating questions: “What sort of opposition did you encounter?“, “How did you follow up?“, “What was the outcome,”

#5 Be accountable 

Interviewers should evaluate candidates against the benchmark matrix consistently for all candidates.  This can be scaled 1-5, or 1-10 based on the profile. If a person speaks  French fluently they will be allocated a 10 against the benchmark. Conversational French might be a 5.

It’s important to be able to discuss any divergence in evaluations between the hiring team. This is the moment to raise concerns about potential unconscious bias. Why did one interviewer give a candidate a low rating on a particular skill when others rated him or her more highly? This will be invaluable to identifying the barriers to effective decision making.

Any discrepancies in scoring should be highlighted in relation to potential bias in the most constructive way possible.

This allows prompt decision making and the opportunity to give measured feedback if candidates ask for it.

#6  Make an immediate decision

The mind can play some strange tricks, so any discussion should be held at the end and also if necessary mid way through the process depending on how many candidates are being interviewed. It might be important to check that everyone is on the same page. It is very common for hiring decisions to go through multiple layers of approval only to have the original decision overturned.

Senior leaders have to trust their teams to hire the right people. Micro-managing the process can be very frustrating for all involved. One of the most important revelations in any hiring process is for those involved to understand that their instincts may not always lead them down the right path. This is why unconscious bias training for everyone involved in the recruitment process is  so important.

Organisations have to make systemic changes to their recruitment processes to produce better results both for the business and candidates. And no one likes change. That’s the problem.

For an innovative approach to identifying and attracting the best talent – contact us now.

 

 

traffic light coaching

Reflections on The future of HR at Carnival of HR

Never before has the future of HR been so under the microscope. The pace of change in our workplaces is unprecedented. Businesses need to make decisions and make them quickly around digitalisation, gig and agile workforces, gender balance, diverse and inclusive teams, employee performance and engagement, at a time of global economic uncertainty.The role of HR in this disruption should be vital to the success of these organisations. But will it? Now is the time for some serious inner reflection.

I asked the contributors to Carnival of HR to carry out a traffic light exercise on our own function and consider:

  • What does HR do well?
  • What do we do that needs tweaking
  • What should we stop doing altogether?

Green light: What HR does well

The future of HR will be deeply connected to the role the function plays in managing change. Here are some reflections that our contributors think we do well, with some super tips for making sure we continue on the right path.

Laurie Ruettimann shares why learning about HR and to make the function better involves more than watching an online video series. “Your lesson begins and ends right here and right now. Time and action are the best instructional tools. Now get off the internet and get back to work.” Read more

Judy Lindenberger, President, The Lindenberger Group, LLC makes the following point:  Managing employees through a period of change takes art, intuition, skill, strong listening, and effective communication. When done correctly, change management can help a leader gain respect and loyalty. Done poorly, it can have adverse effects on the organization and its people. She proposes 8 great ways to manage workplace change effectively.  Read more

Kate Graham content and communications manager at Fosway commenting on takeaways from the #Unleash18 event in London is optimistic “Organizations have to start thinking about digital first or they will be left by the wayside, that much is clear…..My hope is that thinking about HR experiences beyond the interface should help put people at the heart of digital transformation. And maybe this takes away some of that fear or reluctance that still exists around HR technology. Which might mean we are ready for the future of work, after all. Read more 

Mark Stelzner on Voice of HR  gives strategic tips to build a business case for HR transformation. “Despite the fact that every single HR transformation our team has authored has been approved, I know that the road from ideation to execution is a long one. So here are the tried and true methods we employ every single day. I hope you find value in our journey.” Read more  

Claire Petrie HR and Talent Accquistion specialist says “I think what we do well is connect with and mentor future HR leaders. After speaking with the emerging professionals, I talked to established HR professionals and asked their take on entering a career in HR, what their advice would be to these emerging professionals and what they did to ensure they are successful today. Read more.

Mike Haberman, HR consultant, advisor, speaker and instructor at Omega Solutions talks about the roe of HR  and how insisting on proper training, not just for the sake of compliance, saves lives and reduces accidents. “Since companies are going to be held responsible for the actions of supervisors under respondent superior, the company can best protect itself by making sure supervisors, leadmen, and managers are properly trained” Read more

In her post “Over 50 and Counting”  Yvonne La Rose talks about the value 50-somethings bring to the workplace. When it comes to recruiting and hiring, we need to keep in mind that having a keen and useful instrument for industry applies to both equipment as well as people. It’s necessary to make certain they’re kept in good order and used on a regular basis.”  Read more

Cici Clarke at HR2Serve “I have Onboarded a couple hundred new employees and the question that I love to ask is what motivates you to come to work every day? The answers are always around: Family, Money and Career Advancement.”  Read more

Amber –  what needs tweaking 

Future of HR

There was a huge awareness on the future of HR from the contributors around what needed tweaking. It seems that in many instances were are headed in the right direction, but need something extra to make it happen

John Baldino President of Humarso warns us in post Hook about the downsides of routine and repetition “The security of knowing what you have to do might be all you can hang your hat on today.  Repetition is the great learning equalizer.  Practice provides the opportunity for consistency and mastery of a skill or process.  Doing it over and over can settle in a great sense of accomplishment. And yet, don’t assume that lifelong repetition will be enough for all.  Boredom can set in.  The ho-hum of life is not a strategy. Read more

Wendy Dailey in her post “It’s hard to speak up”  on the Dailey Journey, suggests we need to be better at helping staff speak up about behavioural issues at work. “In light of the #MeToo movement, one thing I continue to see is people admonishing victims for not speaking up sooner. It’s the ultimate defense: if it was so bad, why didn’t you speak up sooner? The thought is that we are all just that comfortable with speaking up against someone higher up or even a peer when they say something that makes us uncomfortable.” Read more.

Steve Browne in his blog Everyday People with his extrovert personality urges people to connect with other HR people intentionally on a daily basis. “I do it through this blog and social media platforms. I continue to fight against the tide of people who want to do things just on their own. I do this because I have questions, and I relish the chance to reach out and ask someone for their insight and advice.” So go on! Just ask!  Read more

Sabrina Baker at Arcacia Solutions urges small businesses to be more creative around recruiting solutions by using text messages.  “Small businesses often discredit innovative recruiting methods for no other reason than they think it will cost to much or use up resources and time they don’t have. Adding the option to communicate via text with candidates is free and actually can free up time you spend following up through numerous emails or phone calls.”  Read more

Prasad Okurion shares with us how we can better integrate the mystical (Organization Development) and the analytical (HR Analytics) in HR. “If the initial sense of ‘strangeness’ between OD and HR Analytics is overcome by working together and getting to know each other’s craft better, an immense amount of mutual value addition (and value addition to the organization that employs both of them) is possible! Read more:

Jennifer Juo – Senior Content Manager at Udemy for Business  asks if “the corporate tax  break giving your company a little extra budget this year? If it is she says you should consider investing it in programs that will benefit your employees.” Here are some creative ways to offer benefits that matter. Read more  

Red  – what does HR need to stop doing?

Future of HR

How active should an HR person be on social media? Paul Hebert says  – don’t come off it all together  – but scale back. HR needs distance. “I suggest, to be better people, to be better professionals, we pull back from social media and stop being cows – stuck in the perpetual present – and make the effort to truly focus on the things that really matter – the people and their needs. Have a conversation where you can get context. Read more

On 3Plus International  I looked at why HR doesn’t do more for gender balance especially as it is a female dominated function. It’s an issue that has always baffled me and one we need to get out in the open.The suggestion is we should “move way from “pink skill” silos, become more business focused and stop hiring women for their soft skills. Gender balance in the function is key.”  Read more: 

So what would you add?

faux professional

“Whose fact is it?” Opinion & the faux professional

In an era of fake news and general misinformation is it time to challenge the faux professional?

What is a Faux Professional?

One day last week I sat with a career transition client reviewing his activity since our last session. Let’s call him Bob. It seemed that Bob had gone off plan. When looking into the thinking behind this switch it transpired that he had started following some individuals on LinkedIn, some influential, others not and had heeded their advice. Some of their tips were fine, some were dubious and others were just barking mad, for this particular individual at this stage in his career. And perhaps even for the population at large. But that’s just my opinion. This post from one particular individual had hundreds of comments, shares and likes, including Bob. So I ask isn’t it time to talk about the faux professional and look at some facts?

Opinions not fact

The faux professional is someone who might be very experienced in their own sphere but on the basis of their success and popularity they venture into other fields. There is a tendency not to present opinions as such, but as a fact or a truth.

The advent of social media has created a whole new culture of people who can send out what are essentially opinions, rather than fact, to large audiences interested in job search, recruitment and the workplace in general. Very often this commentary is couched in click bait headlines which confuse the life out of readers. We live in a world of fake news where high profile figures spew out misinformation both intentionally and unintentionally and even outright lies. At one time we used to ask “whose opinion is it?” If the person had the necessary credibility we would probably accept it as being valid.

Today we perhaps need to ask “whose fact is it?”

Influencers have …..influence 

Coming from so-called workplace and professional “Influencers” these nuggets carry additional weight for a very susceptible audience. Influencers have well… influence. Embedded in that role is influencer responsibility. if they stay in their own environment and specialism then it can be fine, but very often there is more than that at play. Cory Galbraith suggested in 2015 that people write and post for a number of reasons – to sell a product, enhance a reputation or ego, and some even to be genuinely helpful. What bothers me, is the level of information which is either inaccurate, wrong or an opinion shared as a truth. The number of likes or shares a post receives doesn’t make it truer.

Careers, the workplace and job seeking are a bit like having a life. Everyone usually has been there, done it and is more than willing to share their experiences, regardless of their knowledge level or qualifications. Even if they haven’t applied for a job in 20 years or worked in recruitment, sometimes ever, or dipped their toe into the trenches of a corporate environment in living memory!  The search term “How to create a successful resume” produces 74.64 million resources in 0.64 of a Google second.

Factually incorrect 

I see in my daily stream on social media, provocative headlines presumably to encourage debate or discussions. They frequently include the words always, never, only, must. They come in different forms of sophistication from basic LinkedIn posts, tweet’s with gifs, to hi-tech animated videos. Today I watched one such offering which suggested that we should never use the word “strategic”  in our job search and described adverbs as potential “red flags” to recruiters. In more than 20 years in the business I can honestly say, I have NEVER, ever seen a raised eyebrow, heard a comment or encountered anyone being cut from a process for either. Can you imagine:

Hmmmm….This candidate uses the words successfully and strategic on LinkedIn – probably dodgy. Let’s move on.”

Nuance is unpopular

It just doesn’t happen. The person posting gets what Simon Sinek describes as the device addicted age dopamine hit of “likes” “shares” and increased followers. And what’s not to like about that? We all welcome an endorsement. The fact remains that being a cultural leader and influencer is almost a standalone profession these days. It requires a lot of work and energy and comes with a high level of influencer responsibility which is sometimes not exercised correctly. Frequently the activity is sub-contracted to a social media agency.

So although it goes against the grain for social media marketing to express a situation as  heaven forbid being nuanced  – maybe it’s now time for the faux professional to focus on their own field or cite a fact as an opinion.

Need executive search or research services? Contact us NOW

 

Diversity of thought and the talent pipeline

When cultural fit is important, diversity of thought is sidelined

The toughest and most re-occurring challenge for any organisation when trying to implement a diversity and inclusion policy is diversity of thought.  Why? Because diversity of thought can question the fabric of an organisation’s culture. It is a change management exercise that asks everyone involved to take a long hard look at the leadership style of the organisation and how those values impact the way their business is run. It also involves taking a long look at ourselves. And we all know how we hate to do that.

Most companies go to a lot of expense and effort to create a signature corporate culture. They talk about “fit” and the way “we do things.” They implement homogenous policies designed to cultivate consistency and unity. They create a corporate brand and design and systemic protocols for operational effectiveness. Everyone’s buy-in is taken for granted. Anyone outside the criteria for fit is screened out in the recruitment process or counselled out once hired.

In the last few months we have seen some advertising campaigns that have gone horribly adrift. Clarks Shoes, H & M, PepsiCo to name but three which have created a media furore and been subsequently withdrawn. The question on everyone’s lips at the time was “what were they thinking?”  Given the layers of approval in these types of ad campaigns, it can’t have been that no one was thinking. It was just that everyone was thinking along the same lines.

There was an acute lack diversity of thought and group think was the driver

Disruptive thinking and comfort zones

diversity of thought

Dealing with disruptive thinking is hard for us all. Whether people are considering a new hire, a new initiative or changing something deeply embedded in the way we do things, we all tend to steer away from that level of discomfort. We fear the lack of acceptance or push-back if people are upset or challenged. One of the reasons why diversity and inclusion initiatives flounder at middle management level is that these are the employees at the front line, meeting and managing resistance head on. These managers can be at the receiving end of negative responses, whether direct antagonism or passive aggression.

Diversity of thought should be one of the most valuable and creative tools in our business world. Yet it is associated with conflict, problems and divisiveness rather than differences to be leveraged for something positive. Solving problems takes time and energy and it’s much easier and quicker (read cheaper) if everyone is on the same page as quickly as possible. We see this at every point in the talent pipeline. In sourcing, interviewing and hiring candidates, to how they are developed and promoted.

When diversity of thought is missing

There are lots of tells that let us know that diversity of thought is not prevalent in our organisations.

  • An organisation does not reflect wider cultural and demographic shifts. We hire from existing networks in the way that we always have done. It’s faster, cheaper, but not ncessarily diverse. We launch change initiatives without including new blood – let alone new minds and thoughts. Noone can produce anything new using old thinking.
  • Individuals are defined by the business and not vice-versa. We expect talent to adapt rather than looking at how we can incorporate different ways of thinking into our culture. People are rarely hired to shake things up, but to fit in. Career coaches encourage candidates to reflect the values of the target company and blend in.
  • Leadership styles favour authority and control rather than influence and empowerment. We like things done a certain way and micro-manage efforts with either direct supervision or with prescriptive systems. Command and control leadership style is hard to let go. It makes us feel secure behind formal authority.
  • Company values are out of step with the values of their employees.  We will see this increasingly as Millennials will dominate the workplace.
  • Cultural fit is the key driver.  In a “yes” culture everyone is on the same page. Contradiction, disagreement and tension is discouraged and business practices are not challengedThis can be packaged as focused energy towards a shared goal, but divergent thinking isn’t necessarily negative.

Encouraging diversity of thought throughout the talent pipeline contributes to the evolution of diversity and inclusion as a business led imperative, to gain competitive edge, rather than simply ticking D & I compliance boxes. Leadership behaviour that seeks alternative viewpoints, develops cultural awareness and values difference, impacts all elements of the talent pipeline. This includes talent acquisition, employer branding, promotions, succession management and leadership development.

Organisations that encourage diversity of thought are more likely to foster inclusivity, offering programmes that help to create bias conscious cultures and provide the support of mentors and sponsors to help them succeed. But perhaps more than anything they create a system of accountability where results are linked to reward.

If you would like a wide range of candidates for your short lists – contact us now.

 

 

 

3 reasons recruiters don’t respond to unsolicited CVs

Many organisations, if they have sophisticated ATS, could easily set up an automated response system acknowledging receipt of unsolicited CVs. If that isn’t happening I don’t understand why.  But even that would not appease some people, who see this lack of engagement as “inhumane” treatment. Although some recruiters are lazy, most aren’t, and there are valid reasons why you don’t hear from them.

Here are 3 reasons why recruiters don’t respond to your unsolicited CVs

#1 Lack of time

I receive between 10 and 20 unsolicited CVs a week. Compared to large organisations that number will be minimal. You can see below a typical message following the acceptance of a LinkedIn request and the receipt of a resume in my in box. Bear in mind this is from someone with whom I have no prior relationship.

I’d appreciate if you could suggest contact or vacancies where they look for people with my professional profile and experience.

To be thorough, I or one of my team, would need to examine this person’s LinkedIn profile and CV and then run a search for potential target companies based on any obvious key words. If there are any. Frequently there aren’t. The estimated time for this exercise would be about 30 minutes to do a proper job. Multiply this by even 10 and we are looking at more than half a day a week. This is something a job seeker should do themselves. If they don’t know how they should seek out help from a career coach. If funds are limited, there are lots of free online resources to support them.

Job seekers should realise that just by being a first level connection to a recruiter or hiring manager, provided that your LinkedIn profile is complete and has a good sprinkling of key words in line with your goals, then our researchers will find you when you appear in our LinkedIn searches.

Recruiters are not always career coaches. It happens that I am. But then a request has to be made for career coaching.

#2 Bad timing 

It sometimes happens that unsolicited CVs land on a recruiters’ desk’ at exactly the right time and serendipity kicks in. Your background and experience are in perfect sync, or even near enough with an ongoing assignment. For the rest of the time most unsolicited CVs and cover letters are generic and don’t specifically state your value proposition as it links to a particular opening and why you stand out from any other candidates. This puts you at an immediate disadvantage.

Recruiters work for, and are paid, by their clients and that is the first point of misunderstanding.  Most won’t interview candidates who send in unsolicited CVs, unless you have the type of experience that they regularly place. They will also be more inclined to engage if you have a hard-to-find skill set, are very senior (C-level,) can provide market intel, or can help generate future business for their organisation (senior HR professional.)

If you don’t fall into those categories your chances are slim to maybe even zero.

#3 You wait until you are desperate 

Most people don’t have an ongoing career management strategy and then try to make contact with recruiters when they have an urgent need. This is not the best way to go about things. If you are smart, you will build up your network connections before you are desperate. Any relationship is reciprocal, so I am always surprised when potential candidates don’t seize the opportunity to engage with recruiters either at all, or correctly, when they are ever approached. If you are not getting calls from anyone in the hiring process it will be because your profile isn’t visible enough.

It is rare for a recruiter to meet a candidate if they don’t they have an active assignment, unless as stated previously your profile is “special,” and most aren’t. If you are have been successfully placed by a recruiter or head hunter, make sure you stay in touch with them  – a thank you note and an onboarding update is all it takes. If you don’t go forward in any search or the match isn’t right, send a snippet of market information that might be helpful in the future, or an article that might be of interest. There are also other ways to connect via social media: LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages or Twitter. It’s basically about keeping a relationship alive and it’s easier now than it ever was.

This post is an explanation of why certain things happen in the hiring process. It’s  definitely not about a lack of humanity on the part of the recruiter.  If you have any other ideas  – let me know!

If your organisation is looking for professional executive search and candidate identification services that go above and beyond   – contact us NOW.  

 

 

traffic light coaching

Try traffic light coaching for 2018

Today we will be inundated with posts about goal setting and New year’s resolutions. It’s well recorded that I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions especially when it comes to career goals. “In one year and out the next” is pretty accurate way to describe the process. I’ve long favoured manageable, achievable goals which spur us on to more challenging things. One way to avoid that is via the traffic light coaching exercise. This is a great drill and can be used for personal assessment or even for your team. It’s simple and easy to apply with exactly the same principles as the highway code.

Any goals should be ongoing and not just made at a random time of the year because everyone else is on the bandwagon. And more than once a year at that. Most New Year’s resolutions fizzle out almost as fast as the New Year bubbly, which is why gyms are rammed in January and only half full in March. What I do encourage anyone as part of their regular career management exercises is to review their year retrospectively. I’ve even read that a goal isn’t a goal unless it’s painful. To be effective, goals need to be chosen wisely and pursued systematically and consistently, rather than with a flurry of enthusiasm in January. This is not to be confused with challenge or discomfort. If your language is peppered with “Stop, no more, lose, reduce, limit, fix” you are probably setting yourself up for sure failure. Having goals isn’t about being a suffering martyr!

This is why the traffic light coaching exercise works. It incorporates what you already do well and gives you a factual base on which to make a plan.

Traffic light coaching

 

Green light 

I like to start with green and positive affirmation of achievements during the past year.  I’ve found no one gets very far if they begin by berating themselves for things that didn’t go to plan and putting themselves down. it’s also more fun. The green light in all traffic systems everywhere is a signal to go and move forward.  We even use it on an everyday level. if someone has a “green light.”  it tells is that they have the go-ahead. Inbuilt into this phrase, is the assumption that it is safe to do so. It means that we have taken all the necessary precautions or carried out a risk evaluation before we shift gears. It assumes that we have paid attention to any potential warnings: parked cars, pedestrians, and any other hazards such as bad drivers – not you of course.

The same is true for your career. Look at what you have done well in 2017, and which actions  have helped you reach your goals. It means being observant and mindful of your successes and analysing how they happened and how those methods can be applied in the up coming year. It’s about owning and articulating your accomplishments and valuing your transferable skills. You would be surprised how many people struggle with this process. Congratulate and reward yourself for a job well done.  It’s popular to say there’s no “I” in team  – but there is an “i” in fired. We are all accountable and responsible for reaching our goals and objectives.

Amber light

An amber light is the signal to slow down.  It’s time to listen to those around you, to be present in what you are doing and understanding the more nuanced areas of your performance in your job and even your life. What do you do that produces inconsistent results  – sometime good, sometimes less great? Why is that? Evaluate your activities strategically. You might have identified that you are a great networker but there comes a point where you have reached diminishing returns. Can your time and investment be better deployed elsewhere?  Examine what are you doing less well and work out a plan to improve. Create a personal development plan for the upcoming year. Research options and formulate a budget. Even though some organisations are cutting back on training, many are willing to invest in competence coaching for employees. Career coaching is also frequently funded by organisations. Perhaps this is the time to look for a mentor, someone who can give you neutral feedback.

Red light

This makes us look at what we need to stop doing and to be realistic about why something didn’t go as planned. It’s a time to examine habits we may have fallen into, and own the ones that are counter-productive. It might be spending too much time on social media or being too detail focused or not paying enough attention to the small things that matter. It can be about your communication style. Ask your team or peers for feedback. What do they think your red light areas are? Take a look at your relationships – are there any that have become toxic? The approach is to focus on positive actions and not negative ones.

Traffic light coaching make helps you carry out an analysis of the key elements of your professional life and makes it easier to see the bigger picture. The process is about understanding the present, making an evaluation, opening your mind to new ideas and commiting to change. Then making that change happen. Maybe you’ve out grown your job and need to move on. Perhaps your organisation is great, but you need a bigger challenge.

So instead of agonising over possibly unrealistic resolutions and beating yourself up for not following through, try this simple traffic light coaching exercise and see how you get on.

 

Need career coaching support – contact me.