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Some Managers Don’t Like Questions a Story in Miscommunication!

Some Managers Don’t Like Questions a Story in Miscommunication!

It has been sometime since I have written and I realized I never actually published this post from before the new year. It is interesting to let things sit for a spell. The one example I used in this post actually resolved itself extremely well, but I will save that for the end.

I have been talking a great deal to people in various stages of their career, one in interview stage, another just starting their job and a 3rd well established, yet the theme is the same don’t ask. Maybe I have been spoiled in my career in that I have always asked questions of my employer or potential employer, sometimes maybe even too many questions, but they are what I felt were good questions at the time. I would even go so far to say that it is my style that has allowed me to grow and help my company and those around me grow, change, be nimble, creative, etc… The list goes on. I would also be courageous enough to say that I have been supportive to my employees questions. That I created a safe environment for them to ask questions and make mistakes, I truly hope that I did this. More about that in a bit, back to the examples.

Someone I know has been interviewing for a high level almost director level position with a very well established and large organization for quite some time. There have been several phone interviews, and face to face interviews and the potential new hire had questions in regards to the structure of the organization to better understand where they would fit and how they would make the most impact. What did the hiring committee hear these questions as, uncertainty about the quick-moving pace of the environment, needing more clear direction and that the person would need a more structured, concrete role. Interestingly enough the potential employee had said, prior to getting this feedback, when discussing how they felt it went, “I am just not sure that they are clear and can all agree on what they want.” The irony in this situation blows me away! Not only did this candidate have the hiring committee pegged, they were probably the best for the environment, if they wanted someone who could understand and read them and the way they make decisions. On the other hand, they may have either just wanted a “Yes” person or someone who would never question the group.

I will save the middle story for another day and skip to the 3rd. Long term manager level employee who tries to work with their very intense power lusting boss. This is the type of boss that just shouldn’t exist anymore, I thought this type went out in the 60’s but they still exist and they are still breeding… ughh. The dictator is completely freaked out by anyone who threatens them, they don’t know how to actually communicate what they need from you and because you are not a mind reader you are an insubordinate and incompetent employee. So after a number of reviews by this new boss that all are leading to the unemployment line the employee finally decides they have tried reasoning, pleasing, pleading, anything they could think of and it is now time to go over their head. Unfortunately 8 out of 10 times this never ends well for the employee.

So why does this not end well for the employee? Well, the manager hired that person in question, or at least manages them and they wouldn’t make a poor decision. Another reason why this typically does not end well for the employee? The employee is nervous and intimidated to dredge all of the issues up to the manager and the bosses boss, they are uncertain, they may sound accusatory, lack confidence, etc… This means that when they are communicating, they are most likely not doing it to the best of their ability.

What to learn from all of this? Awareness. I am not saying that we shouldn’t ask questions or that we can’t. Here is what I would like you to take from this, you can use it in a number of aspects in your life:

What do I want the outcome to be?

That’s right, start with where you would like to see this end up, whatever the situation. Then work backwards. I may have to create an entire post on this… but it should get you started.

So the ending: that power lusting boss I had mentioned – they were actually fired recently after several other employees complained and when the habits of under performing employees began to show a pattern that this may have been more closely tied to the boss than the employees!

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Leaves Change and So Can You

I am not an expert on change management but I do happen to believe people, teams and organizations can and do change (sometimes in directions we are not interested in). It could be the change of seasons, it could be the people who have been entering my life or where I am in my current state, I am sure it is a culmination of all 3, I have been writing of growth, change and expansion quite a bit lately.

There is a process to change and when you are in an organization where you are looking to create and motivate change that process should be more structured. Some initiatives you may be looking to change:

  • Mission changes
  • Strategic changes
  • Operational/Structural changes
  • Technological changes
  • Changing the attitudes and behaviors of personnel
Businesses, their plans and the people who support them and make them work are all living, breathing, moving parts therefore it could be assumed that as all living things change occurs. There are also times when we want to initiate change in order to move ourselves, our department, our business forward.
  • We first must review what is our current status and how has it changed and adapted to this point?
  • Why did “it” change in that particular way and what were the driving forces?
  • If we put a plan of action together to implement and manage change what are 1-2 core areas of focus?
  • Who are the leaders to promote this change?
  • What are the top 2-3 results we are looking for?
  • Create benchmarks to judge successes and stress points and be able to continue to ADAPT your plan to move towards desired results
Change is exciting and invigorating to some while for others it can literally freeze them or make them panic. Recognize that not all people react well to change if the plan is uncertain for them. You cannot always share the long term plan and each and every detail with your entire team or group but you can share the vision and direction and what or why you need this to be successful.

I relate it to when you go on a diet but you don’t tell anyone because you are the type of person who needs to  have success on your own and privately first. So you may share with your friends and your family over time that you are really just looking to create a healthier lifestyle for yourself rather than your goal of loosing 25 pounds.

Getting people on board and having support is important but who and how you incorporate different individuals will depend on what you are looking to change, your timeline and what the plan looks like. Like anything, it can be done, but the more invested you are in a plan or outline and setting goals and checking in with various benchmarks the more likely you will see your desired results and with less bumps in the road.

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

It Takes a Village: Employee Engagement; Is it Important?

Poor HR, employee engagement is their responsibility, yet it is definitely one of those things that cannot be done alone. Employee Engagement is one of those things that companies really struggle with when it comes to prioritizing, surveying, implementing and monitoring effectiveness; why? Well it is overwhelming. When we think about engaging our employees and our teams we want to be sure that we have all of the pieces together, we want it to be successful and repeatable and there are a lot of employees.

Let’s start with the survey, you must have a benchmark to judge from right? There are incredible companies out there that manage this process so if you have a serious problem in service, attendance, sales, operations, etc… you may want to engage someone. If you are going to attempt to build this on your own reach out to your networks, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Your survey should ask questions like:

  • People in my work group/team work resolve conflict as soon as it arises
  • I feel that I am recognized for the work that I do
  • I feel personal satisfaction from the work that I do
  • Team meetings are informative and efficient
So you have this series of questions (and please ensure that your process allows for complete confidentiality) but what are you measuring for? Well before you implement anything let’s look at what you are trying to impact:
  • What is your current turnover rate? Can you break this out by sector?
  • What is your absenteeism? By sector?
  • What are your sales numbers? What is the % to sales goal?
  • What do your customer satisfaction surveys look like?
  • What is your quality error number?
Alright, we are starting to get some where. We need to really move towards what to do with the survey. Employee engagement is when an employee feels that they are valued and appreciated, believe in what they do/who they do it for, is intellectually committed to their work and has a sense of satisfaction from their work.
Do you, as an employer care if your employees are engaged (satisfied, feel valued, appreciated, etc…) Don’t answer that, let’s ask it another way:
Do you as an employer care if your employees close more deals, increase your customer satisfaction, grow the business, show up so you can run a line, decrease rework and quality errors?
Then the answer is plain and simple: YES, you as an employer feel that employee engagement is powerful, important and a priority in your organization. Why? Not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it impacts your bottom line.
There are studies out there, DDI did a great one, that show that the difference in an employee engaged workforce vs unengaged had the following stats:
  • 14.5% vs 4.1% turnover (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)
  • 8% vs 4.8% absenteeism
  • 91% vs 99% of their sales goals
  • 5,678 vs 52 quality errors (Fortune 100 manufacturing company)

Employee engagement starts with hiring the right people

  • managers who are innovative, empowering and motivating
  • employees who have the innate characteristics you are looking for to be engaged in the work you do and the culture you offer
  • putting the right people in the right jobs
  • getting rid of dead weight
  • removing an unsuccessful manager to another position for the betterment of the entire team
Employee engagement is one of those banks that you have to make deposits in to in order to see the rewards being withdrawn. When you provide and create a high performing organization with supportive leadership that motivates you will reap the rewards of increased customer satisfaction, profitability and a decrease in turnover. It may sound like a great deal of work, but the more people that are on board and assisting with the process the more seamless the process will be and your return on investment will be that much greater.

Hillis Takes Medical Advice From His Agent, Who Do You Take Advice From?

I am following football a bit more this year because of my fantasy football team (I am 3-2-0 right now) and one of my players is Peyton Hillis, the Running Back for the Browns. So leading up to week 3 he didn’t practice because he wasn’t feeling well, I thought for sure he would start. I mean as a recruiter I have had people call out of work for a paper cut but a 6 foot whatever 250lb NFL player, he was playing… or not.  When Hillis didn’t take the field on Sunday, first of all it was a good thing I did not start him, but more importantly, I was quite shocked that he did not play. Don’t we teach even the most elementary employees that they should show up to work and then be sent home or to sit on the bench?

The story continues with something that has recently come about. Hillis was questioned about being ill and he made the following statement:

“By the way I was feeling, I just needed somebody else’s opinion,” said Hillis. “If [agent Kenneard Maguire] would have said, ‘Peyton, you probably can do your thing,’ I’d have listened to that. But he is my agent and he does help me out and I think we made the right choice, because I was definitely not healthy enough to play.”

Who takes medical advice from their agent? Would you go to your dentist and ask the best way to get a promotion? We all have advisors, mentors, coaches, judge, guides, referees, friends, etc… but they each have a role. Let’s be honest, if we need love and support we go to our family or friends, if we need a critique, we go to our advisor or mentor, each person has a different point of  view and knows us differently than others.

Peyton Hillis has just slapped his team in the face in public with his statement. Most people mean well with their advice, but we have to remember that everyone has a motivation. Some are motivated emotionally or financially to see us succeed while others feel threatened by another’s success and then there is another group, the naysayer.

There is a big difference between a naysayer: someone who is negative offering minimal to no advice or guidance but plenty of negativity surrounding an idea. Then there is the person who makes what sound like negative statements but offer an alternative to help you succeed at what you are inquiring. The person could be a naysayer because they are not equipped to assist in this particular area.

Next time you are met with a naysayer?

  • ask them what they would do – typically naysayers like their ideas better than yours and it doesn’t mean you have to go with it but it does turn the conversation in to something a bit more positive and you may take a tip or 2 away
  • challenge them politely and ask why they are thinking the way that they are
  • ask if they have seen this before and what was their experience
  • ask if they have any ideas that they can share that might help you move to a next step or in a good direction
The bottom line, when we are making decisions, we do want to ask for others opinions, thoughts, take, suggestions, etc… We do this because it is good to brainstorm but we must be mindful when we are searching for acceptance or even worse, when we are looking for someone, anyone to tell us that they aren’t sure of our idea. Be mindful of not only whom you are asking for advice but what your motivations are behind your questioning.

What to Do If You Have No One

It isn’t something we really think about in this information age when we have 500 friends on Facebook and can text 30 people at once to make plans for the weekend, but it is a reality for many. The family unit just isn’t what it used to be; families are sprawled out across the country, some purposefully and others are based on necessity. Not everyone has the same tight-knit group of friends they once had, etc… many people feel alone even when they are surrounded by a group.

I have been extremely blessed to have been surrounded by friends, family and colleagues who appear to enjoy my company, for my entire life. Although I did not grow up in the generation where everyone gets a trophy, I was involved and am still involved in a number of different things that have helped me to meet new people and make new acquaintances. I have realized recently that this isn’t the case for everyone which got me curious, what would I do if I didn’t really have any one to lean on, a support system, a family?

You can’t just create a family from thin air, a family is something that has to be cultivated and is built over time based on a great deal of trust, forgiveness, concessions and understandings. But you can start with building relationships with those you have something in common with. So let’s say you are not overly athletic, you can barely walk a mile let alone go to the gym, go to the gym and take a class – I don’t care if you are male or female, take a class and go at least 3 times within a two week period; trust me there are plenty of courageous people at the gym just like you. Maybe you have thought about taking up running, I know a woman who runs 5k and 10ks and couldn’t finish a 15 minute mile a year ago. Every city/town should have some sort of running club and please know that the majority of these clubs are for the slow runners so NO intimidation; support only.

Enough about exercising, not really in to talking to people or taking a ceramics course? I get it, volunteer to  build a house for habitat for humanity and swing your hammer. No touchy feely stuff, just hard work. Join a support group: AA, divorced mothers/fathers, maybe even a job search club.  Don’t like any of those? Take a class on Microsoft Excel, Planning for Retirement, Building an Arch… whatever you might be interested in. Most of the classes are about $60 and are usually one night a week for a few weeks. Did you read my last post? Take dancing lessons!

Even though trying something new is intimidating but the quicker you get out and do it the faster you will reap the rewards (kind of like ripping off a band-aid, it only hurts for a moment). Take your time and don’t push yourself but recognize that what you are doing is not easy and that you should be proud.

On the complete polar opposite of this, if you are always surrounded by people, take an hour out of each day or at least 30 minutes and be by yourself. No TV, no Ipod, no distractions. Take a walk, meditate, write. Just pull yourself out of the grind and refresh.

Make One Goal

We love lists, lots of them but it has been a bit overwhelming lately. What I ask is for you to set one goal today. Something that you can complete or make a strong movement towards by Friday.

If your goal is to find a job here are some ideas:

  • Apply to 3 jobs that I rate an 8 of 10 or higher that my skills and experience match 85% or more to
  • Research 3 companies, write down 3 facts that I can turn in to impact statements and find 2 connections and request connections
  • Have lunch with your mentor, job coach or other support person
  • Attend a networking event
Goal: Get promoted at work:
  • Assist a struggling co-worker with what they are working on
  • Email your boss bulleted ideas you have been brainstorming re: saving the company $ or improving a process (Thursday is a good day for this)
  • Ask questions to help you learn more about new aspects of the business
  • Excel in your own area of expertise
Motivate your team:
  • 1/2 day impromptu day out of the office to brainstorm a problem, create think tank teams
  • run a one day contest and the winner comes in late Monday or goes home early Friday
  • Volunteer: collect coats, hats, gloves by Friday and go as a group to drop them off to an organization in need
  • order out, get sandwiches, etc… and go to the park for a late lunch maybe even a pick up game of kickball?
  • go visit clients, send people who don’t typically get to get out with your standard sales people
There are lots more but this should get you started!

Recruiters & Managers Working Together: It is Possible, You Have the Same Goal… well, you should

Recruiters & Managers Working Together: It is Possible, You Have the Same Goal… well, you should

Whether corporate or agency there are times during the recruitment process where a recruiter and a manager are not always communicating clearly. These should only be mere blips on the communication radar screen rather than long gaps of silence and disconnect. Unfortunately, these 2 professionals can sometimes appear as if they are standing on opposite sides of a very tall fence with barbed wire on the top. This is something I never understood as neither should be looked at as necessary evils to an end result (making an offer to a new hire).

Let’s talk about the frustrations of each side and through this confrontation maybe you can draw some conclusions. Each organization is different in the way the approach their solution, I happen to have some of my own.

Managers issues with Recruiters:

  1. they ask too many questions (read not the right type of questions or in the right format)
  2. they don’t react quickly enough (read no clear expectations were defined)
  3. they try to sell me on candidates (read push back or scrambling – there is a difference)
  4. they waste my time (read complete communication breakdown need to start with and continue to tweak and share the recruitment plan)
  5.  they don’t understand the intricacies of my department (read lack of trust)
Recruiters issues with Managers
  1. they are too tight-lipped; I can’t get any more information (read you are asking the wrong questions or you have no trust)
  2. the description keeps changing every time I give them a resume (read you didn’t qualify the job description)
  3. they won’t make time to interview (read no set boundaries & expectations of the process)
  4. I can’t get any detailed feedback (read ask better questions & set up a system)
  5. they have no idea how much time this takes (read- it is your job and they don’t need to… BUT they do need to see the value)
I know you are scratching your head right now and had more ah ha moments than you thought you might. This happens in most relationships between a recruiter and a manager and it typically has less to do with the skills on either side than the systems and set up of the relationship. Email me d e powers at g mail . c om if I can help shed some light and share some of my systems with you and your team. I created them because, as usual, I was tired of stating the obvious but seeing the same result: frustrated recruiters and managers. It is painful for me to watch and I knew that if I could put things down in black and white and work with people on how to communicate throughout the process the frustration would dissipate.
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