Monday, October 28, 2013

The No. 1 Reason Employers Can't Find the Right Talent

There have been many complaints by some companies that they can’t find people to fill positions, despite a 7.3% unemployment rate.
What gives? Are the unemployed a bunch of no-talent, bottom-of-the-barrel drudges who should never be given a job?
Check out Twitter or LinkedIn, and you’ll find experienced, smart, driven people looking for work.  There are currently four million people who are now considered long-term unemployed, meaning they have been looking for work for more than six months. A recent Urban Institute study finds that these long-term jobless are better educated than the other unemployed Americans.
So why do some employers say they can’t find the right talent?
Because they’re lazy.
They let software automatically screen for keywords so they can eliminate hundreds of resumes without even looking at them. Other pre-screening methods eliminate anyone who doesn’t have the exact skills mentioned in the job posting.
Next, they rule out anyone who looks “too old,”  is unemployed (there must be something wrong with them if they don’t have a job, right?) and anything else that gives them an excuse to dump a resume, such as – gasp! – a misspelled word.
When it finally comes time to do interviews, more applicants are rejected because the employer asks basic, uninspired questions that fail to really plumb the depths of what an applicant may have to offer.
So, now the recruitment process by these employers has come down to only a few remaining applicants. But after a quick huddle with human resources, those candidates are determined not to possess “it” (which is never really defined) and so it’s decided the search process needs to begin again.
Now everyone sits around complaining that no qualified talent is available.
But could it be that the problem isn’t the lack of qualified applicants, but a lack of quality recruiting?
If managers were better trained in the hiring process, they could use pre-screening and interview processes that didn’t weed out candidates based on a lack of certain skills. They would understand that employees do best when they are challenged and can see career development in their future. Hiring someone to do the exact same job they left earlier doesn’t make a lot of sense and can lead to job dissatisfaction within the year.
In addition, more employers need to be asking better questions in interviews so that they find people with the skills that often can’t be taught:  a dedication to quality work, a commitment to teamwork; an ability to think strategically and creatively; and an ability to get along with others.
In “Hiring for Attitude,” by Mark Murphy, he says that of the 20,000 new hires he tracked, 46% failed within 18 months because a majority of the time they couldn’t be coached, had low levels of emotional intelligence,  were unmotivated and had the wrong temperament.
If employers want to start hiring smarter, then they need to:
  • Stop writing crappy job postings. Employers need to really understand what an open position needs on a short- and long-term basis. Hiring managers should spend time talking to colleagues and customers to solicit their ideas on the key skills that are needed to really rock the position. If a cool head in a stressful environment is needed, applicants might be asked to tell a story about a time that they faced a crisis and how they dealt with it.
  • Look for referrals.  Other employees often know people within their industry or even have friends who might be a good fit for a job. Always open a position internally first as it can help drive retention, motivation and engagement for employees to know an employer sees them as helping the company be successful.
  • Quit taking the easy route. If you’re looking for an easy way to eliminate the number of people you need to interview and quickly fill the position so you can move on to other things, then you will pay for that slacker attitude when you hire the wrong person.  Department of Labor statistics shows that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the person’s first year of potential earnings. So, dig (read more here)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Here Comes Generation Z

For years employers have been working to better understand how to hire, train and employ young workers known as Generation Y.
But just when they thought they may be making some headway in understanding how best to develop and harness these young employees, along comes Generation Z. Its members are expected to turn the workplace upside down.
Born in the decade from 1990 to 1999, statistics show this generation is already nearly 7% of the American workforce, 11 million people. By 2019, 30 million of them are expected to be employed.
Bruce Tulgan, founder of Rainmaker Thinking, has been studying young people for two decades, and says the Great Recession somewhat muted the effects of Generation Y because the economic doldrums kept many of them from getting jobs and replacing baby boomers.
But as the economy improves and baby boomers decide to retire, Generation Z will lead to profound changes in the workplace, he says. (Tulgan contends that the oft-cited "millenial" generation is really two generations, Generation Y and Generation Z.)
"Generation Z grew up with great uncertainty. They grew up in times of war, and it's much different than Generation Y that grew up with peace and prosperity," he says. "They've come out with radically different prospects of what they need to do in their work lives."
Based on in-depth interviews with young people, Tulgan has put together research that shows Generation Z, whose oldest members are just graduating from college, "grew up way too fast and never grew up at all."
Because they're able to connect with any information at any time via smartphones and other devices, Generation Z never lacks for a constant stream of data. Generations before them might not have been exposed to this information until adulthood or had it filtered from other sources.
But Generation Z's interpersonal skills often are lacking, and they may not have basic manners that were ingrained in other generations at a young age, he says.
"They have tremendous energy and enthusiasm, but there's a big gap in the old-fashioned basics like personal responsibility and work habits," Tulgan says.
Employers need to understand what they will be facing with Generation Z so managers can tap their intelligence and provide the support these young workers going to need as an entire generation.
"It's a mistake for employers to say they'll just find one of the good ones," he says. "You can't hire your way out of the issues you'll be facing. They're (read more here)

Monday, October 21, 2013

How to Have Perfect Timing

Having good timing is often cited as critical to success. For example, if you present a project at the wrong time, it may die a quick death. But if you unveil it at just the right time, then success can be yours. But how do you know when the time is right? Instincts? Luck?
In a new book “When: The Art and Science of Perfect Timing,” author Stuart Albert uses decades of research to explain that having the right timing is really about skill. In an interview with Anita Bruzzese, Albert discusses why timing is more important than ever and how you can improve yours.

AB: Why is the right timing so important in business and in your career?
SA: We often say that ‘timing is everything.’  Take any action – whether it’s selling your home or saying ‘yes’ to a proposal – and if you do it too early or too late, the results will be less than satisfactory.
Speed is not always the right answer. Getting the timing right is.
After all, you don’t want to be first to fail, so early that the market isn’t ready or the conditions aren’t right. My book is filled with stories of individuals and organizations who took action at the wrong time, and suffered as a result – and why those mistakes didn’t have to happen.
AB: In your book, you say that good timing is not just about luck, intuition or past experiences. You say that good timing is really a skill.  What do you mean by that?
SA: Good timing requires that you learn to read the dynamics of your environment. To do that you need to train your eyes to see six elements that are present in every environment. It turns out that these six elements are hidden in plain sight.  This book describes them and tells you how to use information they contain to make better decisions in general.
AB: You say that most of us never notice the sequences, rates, rhythms and other events that can help us make better timing decisions and be more successful. How did you come to hone in on those factors?
SA: The short answer is that I spent 20+ years examining more than 2,000 timing issues and errors, worked with a number of companies in different industries, and I found that the same six elements or factors kept coming up over and over again.
AB: Can you provide an example of someone perhaps losing a promotion or a customer because of bad timing?
SA: There are too many timing mistakes, and all are painful. So let me speed on to another topic rather than take that turnoff because this book describes how to find opportunities as well as avoid mistakes.
Think about the design of consumer products. For example, look at the upside-down ketchup bottle. Before that design we used to pick up the bottle, turn it over, and pound on it to get the ketchup to come out. What the new bottle did is move us one step downstream in the sequence of use. The bottle is already turned over and is ready to pour. An obvious improvement. Why did it take so long to arrive at this design? My book explains why it did (see more here)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Maternity Leave Doesn't Have to be Problem

Having a baby is always an adjustment for new parents, but one strategic communications company found it was going to go through some adjustments of its own when three key employees on its 16-member staff turned up pregnant at nearly the same time.
After seven months of "adjusting, juggling and stretching" to accommodate three maternity leaves, "the truth is it wasn't bad after all," writes Jon Newman, co-founder of The Hodges Partnership, in a blog post titled OOOhhh Baby…(Our three-peat feat).
"In fact, it was an extremely good thing, not only for the moms, but for all of us at Hodges," he wrote.
The change in routine was good for the company because everyone pitched in, learned to stretch their capabilities and skills and be more flexible with their work, Newman says in the post.
One of the moms who was pregnant and now has a 7-month-old baby is Stacey Brucia, an account manager. She says she was telecommuting from home when she heard about the second employee announcing her pregnancy.
"I'm glad no one could see my face because I knew then I was also pregnant," she says. "I knew then it was going to be a stretch (for the company) because it was going to be a revolving door of maternity leaves."
However, Brucia says she wasn't overly concerned because Hodges already had been supportive when she was the first woman in the company to take maternity leave four years previously when her first child was born.
Still, companies don't always have supportive atmospheres. Women often debate about when they should reveal their pregnancies and what will happen to their jobs while they are on maternity leave.
Cheree Aspelin, who writes the Maternity Leave Coach blog, says many women try to hide their pregnancies. She saw one woman wearing a heavy overcoat to work in July in Houston.
"Sweat was just pouring off her," Aspelin says. "She's trying to hide (read more here)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Are You the Scapegoat at Work?

Everyone makes mistakes, but it's often difficult to own up to them at work.

We may fear getting in trouble with the boss, or we may worry that confessing will hurt our reputation or career permanently.
When people make mistakes, the biggest problem is often fear that causes them to try to cover it up, says Daryl Pigat, a branch manager with Robert Half International in New York.
"You have to own it. If you don't admit it, it's going to come back to haunt you," he says. "Take responsibility, say what you've learned from it, be willing to move on and don't harp on it for six months."
What if the mistake wasn't really your fault, but you get the blame?
According to a recent OfficeTeam survey, managers can get caught in this situation.
Thirty percent senior managers say they've accepted blame at work for something that wasn't their fault, according to the survey, based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees. Why? Some 34% report they felt indirectly responsible for the problem; 28% said they didn't want to get someone else in trouble.
While the attitude of taking one for the team may be admirable, Pigat says such a strategy can undermine your career if you're constantly shouldering the blame for mistakes.
"You don't want to become the scapegoat," he says. "You have to walk a fine line because you do need to worry about yourself. While it may be easier to diffuse a situation by accepting blame and moving on, you don't want to be a lackey."
For some workers, it's not easy to avoid becoming scapegoats when the boss constantly blames errors on them.
In that case, document what's really happening and show how you were not responsible for the error, Pigat says. If the situation doesn't improve, it may mean you have to talk to the boss privately about his penchant for heaping unwarranted blame on your shoulders.
When confronting a boss on difficult issues, some basic rules apply, says Renee Evenson, author of "Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People." She has this advice:
• Stay calm. Focus on the facts and offer a positive (read more here)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Real Reasons You're a Terrible Leader

If you’re in any kind of leadership position, chances are you don’t go into work every day telling yourself, “I’m going to be the worst boss I can possibly be. Yes! Today is a new day to truly suck as a leader!”
Yet, somehow, your team believes that is exactly what you must be doing.
You’re one of those kinds of bosses that they gripe about at happy hour. You’re the boss that they equate with Attila the Hun, Nurse Ratched and Dunder Mifflin’s Michael Scott.
You may be discouraged that your team doesn’t hold you in high regard. It may make you angry. It may surprise you. But however you’re feeling, you need to push it aside and figure out what has gone wrong.
Because if you don’t fix it, you can bet that your rotten leadership will eventually hurt your career because a team that doesn’t like the leadership will be less productive, innovative and collaborative.
And who will senior leadership hold responsible for that lackluster performance?
So, let’s look at what you’re doing that makes your team think you are such a ghastly boss and the consequences of your actions:
  1. All you need is a crown. You believe it’s your job to give orders, and the team is there to hustle off to do your bidding. Aren’t they lucky to have a job? They are paid to do what you tell them, right? Then why all the whining and snarky faces? The problem is that your snooty attitude is not only unprofessional, but demeaning.  Your “loyal subjects” will quickly be looking for a way to stage a revolt and won’t offer any new ideas or solutions since you act like such a royal pain in the arse.
  2. You’re a clock watcher. You’re not watching for 5 p.m. to roll around so you can leave. You’re watching closely to see who leaves on time so that you can make them later feel like a slacker for not staying late. You also make a point of noting if someone takes an extra 10 minutes at lunch, expect people to answer your 11 p.m. emails immediately and generally treat your workers like they’re schoolchildren. Your behavior lets them know that you don’t trust them to use their time wisely so they remain guarded in offering any innovative solutions, feeling like they’ll be rebuffed by the belittling boss. Your insulting behavior is demoralizing and has them looking for jobs during their lunch hour.
  3. You believe coaching and feedback are synonymous with criticism.  You believe your job is to point out what an employee is doing wrong. After all, how can the worker improve if you aren’t pointing out his or her mistakes?  While it’s true that workers need to be told when they’re headed in the wrong direction, they also need to be told when they’re doing something right. If your feedback is nothing more than a chance to micromanage, then you’re setting up a negative culture that slows down processes and leads to an inefficient team that feels defeated by your constant harping.
  4. You fix the blame, not the problem. If something goes wrong, you immediately look for who is responsible (or think might be responsible) so you (read more here)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How to Find Your Bliss as a Manager

Are you happy? Such a simple question, and yet often it’s a complex one for managers.
Managers spend much of their time putting out fires, going to meetings, trying to keep a team productive and answering to higher-ups. Asking themselves “am I happy?” isn’t something they may have time to consider or even want to think about.
After all, managers often have worked hard to get where they are, and confronting their own job satisfaction may be like opening a can of worms.  It may force them to consider all kinds of issues, such as their work/life balance, whether their career is on course or whether they feel alone, frustrated and stressed.
What many managers need to realize it that they need to ask themselves the question about their own happiness on a regular basis. If they don’t, they could find themselves in  jobs that make them so miserable and stressed their personal life suffers, or they physically or emotionally break down.
Recently I asked a couple of managers on Twitter to respond to: “I keep myself happy as a manager by….”
Here are the responses:
  • “I keep myself happy as a manager by going for a walk every day. It’s essential for managers to stay clear headed, and it’s very easy to get bogged down in the everyday things we deal with (office politics, client requests, project deadlines, etc.). Personally, going for a brisk walk once per day helps me relieve stress by staying focused. It doesn’t have to be a long walk, as long as it’s brisk, though I shoot for a minimum of 20 minutes or more, time permitting. I’ve also found that going on walks often helps me think about issues in new ways. There’s something about getting a little exercise and fresh air that does wonders for creativity!” — Daniel Waldman, president of Evolve Communications (@danieldubya)
  •  “I keep myself happy as a manager by doing three things:
1.  Focusing on good communication
2.  Focusing on developing potential in people (as important as meeting outcomes)
3.  Focusing on creating loyalty and trust.  With loyalty and trust, you can do about anything.
“When there are communication breakdowns, outcome-driven-only processes, and no loyalty or trust, everything is a struggle.  And struggle does not lend itself to happiness. “ – Tamela Lewis, an entrepreneur  (@MattersofSmart)
So if you’re a manager, how can you find your bliss? How can you keep your spirits up while holding down the fort?
Here are some ideas:
  1. Scrap routine. Meetings, meetings and more meetings are often the bane of every manager’s existence. They can often be boring, but necessary. Before you call another one,  think of a way to make it a little more enjoyable, whether it’s bringing in some healthy snacks, meeting outside on a nice day or setting a timer and rewarding employees with a half hour off early if they conclude the meeting before the timer goes off. The point is to identify even small ways to make your job more enjoyable.
  2. Invest in your career.  Just because you reach the management level doesn’t mean your career development plans should come to an end.  Listen to the latest management book during your commute or attend a seminar (even better if it’s somewhere fun so you can also enjoy a spa day or round of golf.) Think about investing in a leadership coach who can give you positive feedback and help you keep your perspective.
  3. Keep your sense of humor. While most managers don’t want to come off as goof balls, that doesn’t mean you can’t inject some fun into your workday. Have a silly hat day, watch “Who’s Line is It Anyway?” while hosting a pizza gathering for lunch or challenge workers to see who can tell the worst knock-knock joke for a free latte or slushy.
  4. Get moving. As mentioned above, taking a walk or getting some kind of exercise can be one of the easiest ways to keep yourself emotionally fit. Try joining (read more here)
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