Tag Archives: Career Coach Brussels; Executive Search Brussels

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Do you practise conversation hygiene?

I was introduced to this expression “conversation hygiene” by someone who is not a first language English speaker. Once I heard the words, they stuck in my head and I realised how perfect they were to describe many of the situations we all see and hear on a daily basis. Some of us don’t practise any sort of conversation hygiene at even a most basic level, and many not at all.

Hygiene is defined as:

Conditions or practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through cleanliness.

So  in terms of conversation hygiene, for the word “health” substitute “mental health”,  and for “disease” add “stress and discomfort. Although they are not soap and water instances, some can be pretty close. It has the same impact on your auditory space as bad breath and body odour have on your olfactory senses. We don’t like to be around people who smell. People who have personal hygiene problems are usually glad to be told and yet we frequently don’t tell people when they don’t carry out conversation hygiene. Why is that?

8 examples of conversation hygiene

Do any of these sound familiar?

#1 Abusers

Of course this is familiar. I’ve heard these people on a number of occasions in the last few days. On a train, in a restaurant and in a shop. Yes I do give a f*****ing  $*µ#! I have no problem people complaining – more should, but loud aggression directed at some junior employee, who possibly doesn’t understand them, is not going to help anyone at all.

#2 Dominators

conversation hygiene

Commonly found in meetings the Chair calls for everyone’s view points and then talks over them.  He clearly hasn’t listened to Simon Sinek’s video -“Leaders be the Last to Speak” There’s  no agenda and we go off topic. Nothing is decided. There is no action plan or follow up or through. It is an epic waste of time. Lack of conversation hygiene – big time.

#3 Mega Talkers     

A network encounter talked at me for about 8 minutes, apologised for talking too much, smiled and then left. More time wasted.

#4 The self absorbed 

A man held a conference call via lap top speakers in a public space. This was a major conversation hygiene fail and noise pollution alert.

#5 The self interested  

A woman watched a video in a restaurant with the volume on. it sounded like a sex/slasher and horror flick. Let’s just say it wasn’t Frozen or a TedX Talk. There was a lot of panting and screaming.  She did put in ear buds when prompted without looking even faintly embarassed or nonplussed.

#6 The inconsiderate

Two women sitting two seats down from me talked through a presentation by Daniel Thorniley at HRTechWorld Amsterdam until I asked them to stop. Trust me, everything Daniel Thorniley says is worth listing to. Every. Single. Word. They threw me a “Whatever” glare. Thorniley’s presentation was targetting their age demographic, the under 40s. They obviously have no interest in the economic and social projections about their futures. They are not great.

#7 The extreme interruptor

The extreme interrutor cuts everyone off mid sentence. All the usual strategies “let me finish” and assertive body language fail.  No, you are not more important than any of us, even though you would like to think so. The only thing that stops them is telling them to “shut up and let other people make their point”

#8 The unpresent 

This is the person who is talking to you because there is no one else. They are constantly looking over their shoulders for someone more interesting /influential to engage. As soon as they see that someone, they smile indulgently, tap you on the shoulder and leave. Their conversation hygiene needs a lot of work.

The idea of when we open our mouthes it should be with the same consideration for conversation and other people  as if we needed to brush our teeth. We wouldn’t breathe stinky breath all over anyone. Would we?

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boreout

Boreout the latest workplace malaise

Boreout is a management theory dating from 2007 in Diagnose Boreout, a book by the Swiss business consultants Peter Werder and Philippe Rothlin. They suggest that the lack of work, boredom, and subsequently low level of satisfaction is now an identifiable trend in the modern workplace particularly amongst white-collar workers. Recently, in France, Frederic Desnard tried and failed to sue his employer for being “killed professionally through boredom”  in his job as perfume industry executive.

Does boreout exist?

The report by Werder and Rothlin references research in 2005 into time-wasting at work carried out by AOL and salary.com  The survey revealed that of 10,000 employees showed that the average worker frittered away 2.09 hours per eight-hour day outside their break time on non-work related tasks. The reason most often cited for this behaviour (by 33% of respondents) was a managerial failure to assign specific tasks. They had insufficient work.

Brussels based osteopath Ian Tarlton said he is now treating patients many of whom he believes are suffering from “boreout” syndrome when it becomes manifested in physical symptoms. At one time he observed these symptoms were more readily associated with “burnout.” Long hours, over load and excessive pressure. Now he reports a shift where people simply hate their jobs and they are bored, literally to ill-health. This can be from not having enough to do or insufficient meaningful work. Each patient has different problems (e.g. headaches, digestive issues, tightness in the neck or spine) but Ian is seeing an increase in patients who openly report a lack of professional well-being.

Read: Help I hate my job

5 downsides of boreout

Low employee engagement and absenteeism have been plaguing businesses for years. A normal level of absenteeism has to be built into any HR head count projections. All employee become sick or have personal issues to attend to. The issue starts when low engagement and absenteeism become chronic. This leads to a vicious cycle:

  • reduction in productivity – low engagement impacts productivity. Employees under perform. Boreout coping strategies include stretching assignments to fill up the week and working on personal admin in office time, checking in on Facebook, taking cigarette and coffee breaks and even naps in the bathroom.
  • low morale   – an employee who is not motivated and feels unappreciated or bored is more likely to take sick days showing and increase in absenteeism.
  • reduced loyalty – an employee suffering from boreout is likely to have low levels of engagement and reduced loyalty to the company
  • the bottom line  – low morale and productivity impact business results
  • safety  and mistakes – disengagement which can cause mental health issues leads to lack of concentration which in turn leads people to make careless mistakes and even injuries.

Read: Are you ready for a professional emergency landing

Wijnand van Tilburg, Assistant Professor in Psychology at King’s College London, suggests that “boreout” is currently not a recognised condition psychological condition. But there is no doubt that people claim to be so bored at work they eventually are unable to get out of bed and face the day. They might start to self-medicate with food and alcohol until they exhibit physical symptoms which force them to consult osteopaths like Ian Tarlton.

Boreout is something that individual supervisors and managers can deal with to create a more meaningful workplace environment.  But has boreout always been there,and people just sucked it up and got on with it or did something about it?  Boreout is very real if you believe you are going through it. Ian’s advice:

I always tell them their fate is in their own hands and they have to change their lifestyle and sometimes that means changing your job. I can only treat the symptoms and not the underlying cause.

Positive outcomes

On a brighter note there can be positive outcomes to completing boring tasks. Joyce Petrina recounts:

It was sorting and filing hundreds of backlogged, unfilled financial statements for banks and private customers in a Danish Bank in Luxembourg. It was so bad I had to take over the board room’s long table and floor to get the job done. I do think that my willingness to do that tedious job led to the bank hiring me and getting my work papers in Luxembourg. Coming from the Bahamas where we def were not a member of the then EEC, it was extraordinary that the bank was able to do that for me. It changed my life.

Sally Lee is so mindful of her experiences as a finance assistant where she was bored witless that she says

“I am now mindful of my bad experience when I delegate or train others.”

Anyone who stays so long in a job which ultimately gives them health issues needs to seek help immediately. Ian Tarlton is absolutely right. The underlying causes have to be tackled .

If you are looking for a career or job change contact me NOW

 

 

 

Is the the automated interview the future?

More and more organizations use video as an integrated part of their recruitment process. But a new step is the automated interview also called the on-demand interview. This is a structured interview where candidates answer a series of predetermined questions which are recorded to camera. There are a number of platforms that deal with this and the process can vary.

Benefits of an automated interview

Marketed as a way to overcome unconscious bias, primarily they serve to cut manpower costs of labour intensive recruitment processes. An automated interview process offers the possibility to reduce the admin costs associated with preliminary interviews. This can be around scheduling and all the time-consuming to-ing and fro-ing with diaries, time zone differences, no shows and candidates who are not on target or unsuitable in another way.  Focused questions specific to the opening allow interviewers to assess candidates at their own convenience and call only the most suitable for a face-to-face interview.

For candidates they also give flexibility, reducing the time needed off from a current job or trying to find a quiet space in today’s open plan offices.

Read: 15 ways to finesse an online interview

The automatic automated interview  

Yep, that’s right… it wasn’t a mistake.  In this model all candidates receive an email access link to the video interview which can come as soon as they have submitted their CV.  Candidates can decide when they want record their responses. That gives them flexibility to complete their recording to meet the deadline  Questions may be posted as captions on the video link, or come by text and audio questions.

Recorded Answers 

The interview starts the second the open link is clicked. Sometimes there is a welcome and housekeeping message or an organisation mission statement. Candidates should complete a tech check and then are usually asked questions specific the opening. They might have 3 questions to answer in 15 minutes. They need to pace themselves and check the available answering time as well as  the number of  re-recordings (if any) they are allowed.

Once the recording is submitted the interviewer will revert to let the candidate know if they have been successful.

Live streaming generation 

Maya is a senior executive in a Brussels based international organisation and just completed her first automated interview. She had applied all the basic tips relevant to any other video interview and was well prepared.  However, she felt some discomfort without human interaction.

“With interview questions posted as captions on the screen, it felt strange delivering a monologue. I felt the process would work better for younger generations who are used to posting and recording themselves and might feel more comfortable in that situation. It’s very different from a video interview taking place in real-time. it was also strange talking live to myself on the screen”

The feedback I’ve had has been mixed. Both interviewers and candidates comment negatively on the impersonal elements with interviewerss coming our more strongly than candidates on the cost effectiveness of the process. Candidates who are confident and comfortable performing to camera tend to do better and nervous candidates tend to underperform. With limited time for answers, preparation is key with an abiltiy to be succinct more important than ever. All believed that an automated interview by video was a huge improvement on its counterpart the auotmated telephone screening.

Read: Brevity the secret to a good interview

Recruiting skill

Regular face-to face interviews are considered to be one of the least effective ways of hiring talent and lead to signficiant errors. So care is needed to make sure the questions are designed and appropriate for each role. There were some doubts around their effectiveness on managing unconscious bias. Many felt that it was simply being deferred and judgements were being made especially on appearance and voice.

One HR Manager suggested:

Despite the automation of the process it is still possible for bias to kick in around gender, appearance, accent, voice, ethnicity etc. so it doesn’t go away completely. The “performer” quite, often an indivudalist alpha male personality will tend to do better. So that’s not a change for the better.

There was a consensus that an automated interview is useful for preliminary triage especially for lower levels positions where there is a high number of applicants. It is also useful for technical roles or to assess a specific skill. it would also be helpful if a performer personality is needed for a role.

Read: Do structured interviews overcome unconsicous bias?

So where are we going with thi?  Will they ever eliminate the human element no matter how flawed? Would you hire a candidate you had never met or accept a role without meeting the hiring manager?

To take it to the next phase. Would you work for a bot?  What are your thoughts?

Ask for a call regarding executive search services for your organisation.

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When to ask for flexible working in the hiring process

There is much confusion about when to ask for flexible working in the hiring process. Karen Mattison MBE Joint CEO of Timewise writing about requests for flexible hours in the Guardian complains about the lack of transparency in recruitment processes and how asking for flex conditions as a candidate is “like playing poker.” She maintains that frequently the only jobs open for flexible or part-time working are more junior ones.

“Because there is a fundamental problem with how jobs are designed and how modern businesses recruit and retain talent. This growing mismatch between what candidates want and need and how businesses recruit is leaving skilled people trapped in roles they are overqualified for and navigating a jobs market where they don’t know the rules.”

She then goes on to say:

“Nine out of 10 managers say they would consider offering flexible working to hire the best person, yet none of them say that at the recruitment stage. Why?”

Can you afford not to?

Need vs want 

I am someone who genuinely believes that with today’s advanced  technology there is no reason why flexible conditions can’t be offered more widely.  Richard Branson tweeted:

“Give people the freedom of where to work & they will excel.”

Although flexible working conditions are on the increase, many companies don’t offer flexible conditions openly, but do give consideration to flex requests from successful candidates. This is challenging for the job seeker. When they are applying for a job they have to make a clear distinction between “needing” to ask for flexible working and “wanting” those conditions. Very often the way this works is a function of the individual, not the function of the role.

Flex business models

An increasing number of companies are shifting to different business models to accommodate the demands of a 21st century workforce. These companies will state clearly that flexible working, part-time working, and job sharing are possibilities and are part of their company culture. This could be in the ad itself or on the web site. Lists of such companies are being widely collated particularly in the press. There are also social proofing sites such as Glassdoor, Fairy Godboss and InherSight which give employee evaluations of working conditions, including flexible conditions.

So it makes sense if a job seeker “needs” flexible working, then they should target companies which meet that specific requirement. This has to be distinguished from candidates who “want” flexible working as a life style choice.

 

flexible working

Jobs are usually created to be full-time and if they are not, then they  will be clearly assigned a part-time status. They will often be stand alone or project type roles and rarely senior ones vital to the bottom line of any organisation.  Very often these are offered to freelancers which minimises the exposure for the employer. Long term part-time working at reduced rates can have a negative long-term financial impact on the worker. Women who make up the majority of this demographic are hardest hit. Many would advise women to negotiate flexible working before a part-time contract, me included.

Understanding how to process a request for flexible working, requires some insight into the system. It is very often more nuanced than it seems. Trying to shoe horn a full-time job into 80% time isn’t always feasible. If it was, it would be advertised as such and reduce the salary bill by 20%. Some organisations maybe willing for someone to work 4 x 10 hour days, but they may not always agree to that before the hiring process is completed.

Flexible working can depend on the individual not the role

# Flex and organisational structure

In the U.K. 73% of flexible working is by informal arrangement. In large organisations flexible conditions usually require a well oiled and functioning structure. This could involve remote server access, sophisticated IT systems and intranet, call forward systems, best practise guidelines, home office support, core hour commitments, hot desk facilities and so on. It is a  lot more than simply working with your lap top from home. If companies are well set up for flexible working, they will advertise that. It is a great benefit to attract top talent. I work for a number of companies with a presence culture, which is stated early in the hiring process to avoid wasting anyone’s time.  There is no doubt that this reduces the number of potential candidates, although so far is not at issue for my clients.

# The nature of the role

Some roles do not support part-time, reduced or flexible working on a wide scale. These are mainly operational roles (manufacturing, engineering come to mind) which involve a hands-on physical presence, perhaps involving leading teams. There could be elements of those jobs which are not directly involved in delivery (admin, report writing for example) and most organisations are flexible with people they know and trust. In customer facing roles, service could be impacted unless there is a sophisticated scheduling system.

# They don’t know you (yet)

Trust

Most companies set up an onboarding process during which the new hire is evaluated. For this to be effective the person usually has to experience a full role life-cycle.  During this time the new hire will be assessed, relationships will have developed and the level of discretionary effort observed. Flex requests are almost always granted to people who are valued and trusted. Much will depend on the skills they bring to the team and how that entity gels with the new hire. This takes time to evaluate.

# It depends on your value

If you have a specifically unique and valuable skill set, then employers will usually go to great lengths to attract and hire you. An extreme example is when Megyn Kelly left Fox News for NBC, they asked her what it would take to make her change. She wanted a day time show and a later start.  She got it. I have known companies accommodate all kinds of flexible working benefits for their top pick candidates. If they are not responsive to your flex request, then sadly it means they can find someone like you easily, elsewhere, who will fit into their system.

# Negative Impact on Communication

Scheduling meetings, and getting prompt answers to calls and emails can suffer when employees are on varying work hours. This can slow down the progress on important projects. It can also lengthen the communication and decision-making process of having to mail or call someone who could be on a different schedule.

# Damages Company Culture

Company culture can take a hit if leaders are perceived to be absent or unavailable.The problems is accentuated if the senior manager travels as part of the job. Face time with staff is reduced with the risk of missing collision points or moments of creativity, which can come from informal exchanges commonly found in any workplace.

mindfulness in recruitment

Morgan, a Strategy and Innovation Director at an international NGO said

“Our CEO works between 1000-1600 and two days a week from home. Combined with her travel and off-site commitments we struggled to see her. It makes life difficult and slows down the decision-making as she still wants to be consulted even though she isn’t widely available”

# System abuse

There are always bad apples in any barrel who game the system. They do so deliberately, or they get distracted and are not as productive.

# Poor time managers

Many employees are not great time managers and find that working outside a structured environment impacts their personal productivity.

# Increases isolation

In functions where team interaction is important having employees working remotely or on different schedule can increase a sense of isolation which impacts team motivation. Frequently employees prefer to be office based;

So when to pitch? 

For a job in an organisation which has no official flex policy, any job seekers who want flexible conditions would be best advised to make their flex requests after they have received the job offer. Then it can be part of  any negotiation process, although I have known companies withdraw offers from candidates who have asked for flex conditions at this point.  If it is turned down, depending if it is a deal breaker, try to get it incorporated after successfully onboarding when the company knows you and the value you can add. Stepping up with a well-thought out proposal within an organisation that trusts you, will carry more weight than a petulant candidate stating a requirement with no inside knowledge of the company, its structure or the people involved.

The alternatives are to become a freelance, self-employed contractor which is not without downsides. Or target companies with a published flex policy. When companies start missing out on the level talent they need, market-forces will kick in and they will be obliged to respond to flex requests more generously. That is already happening, but possibly not fast enough for some candidates.

If your organisation wants to attract and retain the right talent contact me now! 

 

10 Steps to Onboarding Success

New hires perform best when they feel integrated into a company and are relaxed, stimulated and having fun.  Onboarding success occurs when new arrivals are in a supportive but structured background. All research indicates that employees who are successfully onboarded are likely to be more highly engaged and stay with an organization for longer periods. Effective onboarding saves companies as much as 3 x the annual employee salary as well as hiring costs.

Read “Why onboarding is vital”

The first 90 days are critical to your success in a new role. Here are some exercise to complete to help you or your employees succeed.

1. Attentive listening

The number one tip from any HR professional or coach for the first 90 days is to listen and observe and ask the right questions.

2. Create solid relationships

Building new relationships is also key to success in a new organization. While there are various relationships that are important to build, the priority focus should be on:

  • Bosses
  • PeersAttentive listening
  • Direct Reports
  • Colleagues

These relationships are critical to anchoring the foundations for success especially for anyone joining a new organisation in a leadership role.  It is particularly important to establish the preferred communication style of the people around you in today’s working environment of complex and multiple communication channels. Do they like F2F, text, intranet, IM, phone, weekly report?

3.Learn about the existing culture 

You might have been hired as a disruptor but before you can make any changes you have to understand the existing culture. Showing respect for existing systems will be important to getting everyone on side. Talk to people to see what they think works and what they would tweak and what they would throw away all together. Lose the words “in my old company….” from your vocabulary. Use the traffic light exercise to structure your questions. traffic lights

4. Be open and approachable

It’s important to be open and accessible from the outset. In the early days introductions communicate how excited you are to be joining the company and suggest meeting people for coffee. If you inherit a team you will want to meet them individually as well as together as a group. Prepare your introduction in advance so you keep it short and to the point.

5. Manage expectations

From the beginning it’s important to set and receive clear ideas, both for your team and your boss. See the previous questions so you know what questions to ask.

  • What is your day-to-day role?
  • What are your objectives short, medium and long-term.
  • How will they measure success? Who will do that and when?signpost

This is especially important if it is linked to your compensation.

7. Be relaxed and yourself

Starting a new job is always stressful and you can be nervous. It’s always best to be your best confident self. If you don’t feel that and can’t fake it ‘til you make it (within reason) invest in a coach. There is a difference between feeling the fear and doing it anyway and coming over as false and inauthentic. Creating an atmosphere of trust is important and being true to yourself will play a key role.

8. Create alliances

Creating strategic alliances is key to any onboarding process. Finding your way around the sub text of any new organisational culture is important. Very often there are back door ways of doing things that as a newbie you won’t know. So whether it’s how to get a jump on office supplies,  IT issues solved quickly, or key decisions made, then forming alliances with others will be useful. This can be from knowing who the janitor is to accepting help and support from Businessman-introducing-t-007reports and colleagues.

Additionally cultivate a mentor either officially or unofficially, someone who can show you the ropes. Maybe invest in a coach which can be privately supported or by your company. This will depend on your seniority. Some new hires have strong support networks in their sector or general friendship groups or networks. Others rely on family members.

8. Go for small early wins

In the movies new hires come up with dramatic solutions early on.  My experience suggests that this rarely happens in the real world. When you are in onboarding mode the listening element is vital. If you can address some minor but highly visible niggles to give you some early wins, that would be a good place to start.  At this stage building trust is more important than dramatic show boating which may carry risk.

9. Build or strengthen your team

Building your team or strengthening it will be important. Here are some questions you can ask your reports to cement those relationships.

  • What does success look like to them?
  • What do they expect from a manager?
  • What do they expect from team members?
  • What do they want their colleagues to think about them? Name 3 qualities or characteristics.
  • What are their key 5 strengths with a story to illustrate and an object that show cases each team leaderone?
  • Who is their Chief Doubting Officer – the little voice in their head that holds them back? Who does he or she look like? When is he or she present?
  • What do they need to work on for their personal development?
  • What value do people get from working with them?
  • What are the top 5 experiences they feel when working with together?
  • What makes them special?
  • How do they prefer to handle conflict?

10. Create a mission statement

Many new hires they need to arrive at a company with a vision already in mind or compelled to make a big announcement quickly following their arrival. Generally new hires who indicate their first role will be to listen make the greatest progress. You can’t always promise to implement what the people around you want, but you can guarantee to give thoughtful consideration to their input. At that point you can make a collaborative mission statement in line with departmental objectives against which you will all be measured.

To produce a mission statement that truly motivates and excites all stakeholders take time to get full buy-in.

Identify attract and Retain top talent  – contact us now!  

 

 

Why your candidate experience is good for business

The link between candidate experience and your talent pipeline

Fuelled by decreased unemployment, retiring baby boomers and different workforce expectations and behaviour, the skirmish for the very best top talent is intensifying. Many organisations pay no or very little attention, to their candidate experience process. It’s either outsourced or automated, with varying degrees of success and efficiency. Ads frequently display clauses “If you haven’t heard from us in 6 weeks, you are not successful”. 

Clearly that side of outsourced automation passed them by. But what that line flags up, is that the company needs to place an ad.

They don’t have a talent pipeline.

Succession planning is critical yet the reality is that apart from the largest organisations, many companies have only the vaguest idea who should cover the gaps when they arise. Oftentimes it’s based on workaround solution which are far from ideal.  They look for the “right now” candidate, rather than the right one.  This is when all companies need to have a strong talent pipeline in place.

Shorter time to hire

Guaranteeing the shortest time to hire has assumed a new significance. Companies need reserves of potential and good candidates, who can be brought in at short notice. That process relies on a flawless candidate experience history offered by your company, which should be second to none, and certainly better than your competitors. Poor candidate experience is now just bad for business.

Research from Career Builder shows that it is “high-touch, not high-tech” that guarantees a successful experience: 61% of job seekers reported speed of response as being critical, while another 58% cited regular updates  No news  a.k.a. the “slow no”  is now old school. Read: How a slow no damages your employer brand

Recruitment specialist Bill Boorman references a talent tipping point which is “the number of connections an organisation needs to reach the point of having all the message points they need to fill all of their future hiring needs.”  This doesn’t have to be formal recruitment contact, but could any other network interaction, including social media. When forums such as Glassdoor gives employees the opportunity to make comments about their experiences, companies are easy to search. See the comments on Shopify.

All of these contribute to a positive candidate experience and expectations, even indirectly.

Opportunity Cost

Many hiring managers don’t understand the real cost to their company of an open assignment and what that means in daily lost revenue, which can be calculated per employee. Unless the open assignment is a cost center role (and even they add some value), then there is direct revenue loss associated with it being open for a lengthy period. With P & L positions such as senior management roles, sales, cash collection, and production, the costs will be even higher.

The recruitment process then becomes part of the company’s marketing process and the pipeline takes on increased significance.

Why is that?

Your recruitment process is marketing

Every candidate who interacts with your organisation has a first hand experience of how you do business and the quality and professionalism of your employees. It’s a bird’s-eye view of the culture. Getting that right, will spill over to your marketing feedback. Although some companies get away with it, especially in  any “cool” sector or function,  great product, crappy company can come back to bite, as we saw with Amazon.

Candidates are your brand evangelists 

If the candidate loves you and your company, even though she was not successful, she will sing your praises. Candidates will forgive rejection, if you treat them with integrity. Think of the companies who have candidates lining up at their doors just to get a chance of joining.

Reaching passive candidates

Top candidates, are busy people. If they are happy in their jobs, they are not active on the job market, casting around for new opportunities. What they do is network strategically to drive traffic to them, especially from the hidden job market. Letting them know they that they are on your radar is good policy, so that when an opening does arise, all it takes is a quick phone call.

Candidates today have increased power and reach

The ability to share information is available with the click of a mouse or the swipe of a Smart Phone. The slightest doubt shared by any candidate in his/her network, is likely to be seen by more people than the recipient.

Recruitment develops relationships

A transparent process, conducted correctly, creates long-term relationships for your talent pipeline. If the candidate is not on target this time, perhaps it will work in the future. If they are not right at all, maybe they can refer you to someone in their network.

Reject with empathy

No one likes to be cut from a job search process, especially if they are almost “at the altar.”  How this is handled will be their last memory of you and your company. Make sure it’s a positive one.

You would be surprised how many hiring managers do not know the basic maths underlying their own processes. Do you?

If your company needs to strengthen its talent pipeline contact DDTM Now

Hire for both attitude AND aptitude

Finding the balance between attitude and aptitude

The adage “Hire for attitude, train for skill” is frequently bandied around social media. Yet the reality is that this doesn’t frequently happen as part of a conscious, strategic hiring decision-making process, at least in ones that I’ve ever seen.

The question is would it be the right move anyway?

New hire failure

Research from the Leadership IQ’s Global Talent Management Survey, reports a very low percentage (19%) of new hires onboard successfully into their new positions. The study confirms what most head hunters already know.  81% fail. Researching 5,000 hiring managers, it indicated that interviews tend to focus on hard skills, even though a deficit of the necessary hard skills accounts for a lack of success in only 11% of cases.

So the success rate rests on a failure to correctly match the soft skills required to do the job or the fit with organisational culture.

Impact

With only 19% of new hires going on to achieve success, companies see high turnover of personnel which leads to low morale and engagement. In senior leadership roles, high levels of churn, impact whole teams or companies, with a huge impact on shareholder value.

Cultural fit tends to be assessed on interview performance, with a “hire the smile” approach often winning out. We also see PLU decisions (People Like Us) coming to the fore, as the benchmark for defining fit. Same school, same background, same gender or ethnicity, same economic demographic and even same golf club, can all be part of the final decision-making process, especially at a subconscious level. Read: PLU, who do you judge?

Research from Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy tells us that first impressions are centred around trust. This means that:

“If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get very far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative,”   

The high achieving specialist, who lacks soft skills can easily be overlooked. We are also more likely to trust someone in the PLU category, because they seem familiar, but they may not have the necessary hard skills. Although it might  at the time, that they have the right attitude, more often than not, that attitude lacks longevity and they don’t last the course.

Balance between attitude and aptitude

Hiring managers need to find a balance between hiring for both attitude and aptitude. Yet at the same time we have seen a corresponding decrease in skill availability. This means that companies need to search for indications of fast learning, flexibility and coach-ability.

This brings us to another sand trap. The demographic that fits the bill nicely are the portfolio careerists. Although there is a shift, many hiring managers are not open to candidates with a non-linear career path, seeing this as synonymous with restlessness and lack of commitment.

The growth of the gig economy is opening minds somewhat. But the role of any organisation and HR function is surely to foster that engagement and commitment and not expect it to come in-built.

If you need to identify and attract the best candidates for your company – contact Dorothy Dalton

 

 

 

 

How a “slow no” damages your employer brand

What is  a “slow no?”

A “slow no” is a communication device used by hiring managers or recruiters for keeping short listed candidates warm as a back-up plan. It involves indirect and opaque communication, which is a death knell to any search carried out with integrity. It might involve no communication at all, or fluff about delays. Sometimes it’s intentional. Sometimes it’s about incompetence, lack of knowledge, training , experience and confidence.  Frequently, it’s about all of the above.

Either way the candidate knows that he or she is not the preferred candidate, but doesn’t know why. No direct feedback is given.

Three of  the most frustrating experiences candidates report relate to the quality and regularity of communication with the head hunter or hiring manager.

1. No updates

Candidates get more upset by not having a status update than being told they are unsuccessful or if there is a delay.  Avoidance strategies damage the employer brand. This is especially true if the candidate is aware of a prescribed process within a certain time frame and they are not included. If second stage interviews are to be held in London in March and it’s now April – they know there is a problem. This is a failed slow no.

Candidate feedback

“Lack of communication is a real problem. I get really annoyed when my emails and calls are unanswered, especially if the head hunter contacted me in the first instance.

2. Delays

Hiring processes are actually becoming slower and longer than ever. As the chain of decision-making becomes extended, multiple interviews are increasingly common. In senior level jobs, candidates commonly report 6 or even 10 interviews as the process (risk responsibility?) is diffused. Read: Why too many interviews is bad hiring practise. To deal with this, candidates need to take vacation days to meet all the necessary stakeholders. This makes the hiring manager seem indecisive and disorganised and clearly impacts the brand.

Candidate feedback

“There are obviously always extenuating circumstances but the hiring process should have a  streamlined time effective process and milestones, which  wherever possible should be adhered to”

3. Evasive responses

Nothing makes candidates more annoyed than evasive responses from the head hunter. This could be because they don’t know the job or client well enough, or they don’t have the information themselves. At that point you have to say you don’t know, but will get back to them. Candidates appreciate transparency and see evasion as part of the “slow no” process.

Candidate feedback

I’m a grown up! Just tell me how it is and allow me to make a decision. You are more likely to lose me as a candidate by being evasive than by being straight”

At the root of this is also, and perhaps more worrying, is a lack of understanding of the cost of an open position to the business.