The Desk

April 13, 2018

Over 50 and Counting

Filed under: Affirmative Action,Diversity,Hiring,Recruiting — Yvonne LaRose @ 1:26 PM
Tags: , , ,
Experience-based Knowledge

Experience-based Qualification

One of the things I’m an advocate about is inclusive employment for those over 50. They bring to the table a wealth of experience and knowledge that can be crossed over to other matters. It’s because of the awareness.

These are people who, actuarially speaking, have a lot more and a lot longer to making the social and business milieu better and we should avail ourselves of those benefits rather than shove them into a space and make them vegetate. Practice keeps abilities sharp and honed. Think of tools that rust and deteriorate from lack of use and maintenance.

Mental and physical practice are also tools that deserve to be kept sharp. Like a well-seasoned cooking vessel, they get better with time and continued use. Here’s evidence of one such person – who also realized there was “another door” that could be opened.

Resources:

Additional Resources:

March 30, 2018

Recommended Reading – March 2018

Filed under: Books and Papers,Education and Training — Yvonne LaRose @ 8:15 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A Wealth of Resources

A Wealth of Resources

There’s no two ways about it. I love books. They hold information. They tell stories. They provide Life lessons in various ways. They entertain. They bring comfort. They provide distraction from the tedious two-hour (or more) commute.

These days, they can be consumed in a whole array of media. There’s the traditional hard back, succeeded and supplemented with the paperback. Then came audio books for those who are visually impaired or like to read on the go. And now we have digital books that can be read on any type of mobile device. In fact, because of mobile devices, we can now have a vast library contained in the compact dimensions of a cell phone or tablet.

During my law school days, I commuted for an hour to get to school on the BART. During those rides, I challenged myself to read The New Yorker from cover to cover. Trying to get in last minute studying on the BART just wasn’t realistic, although I encountered a classmate who appeared to be successful at doing so.

When the hours away from BART were part of my life, there was the need to read and understand the text and case books. That led to an intensified addiction to reading. It didn’t matter what the content was, just so there was content to read. When classes weren’t in session, I busied myself with visiting the local library to borrow hard bound or paperback books along with several audiotapes to keep me satisfied while commuting on the bus or just walking from one destination to another. And then there was the filler reading done while doing housework or gardening.

Yes, I was addicted to books. I literally read about ten books per week. In fact, it got to the point that I began to fret that I would borrow nearly all of the adult reading content from the library and would be left with nothing more than the children’s section.

Those were wonderful days. I miss them – a lot. So AARP’s newsletter arrived a few days ago. The header was like pheromones to my eyes. “12 of the Best New Books for Spring” was what it promised to discuss and list. Although not on my business reading list, all of the titles are tempting in some way. With that statement, the practice of sharing book recommendations is being revived.

Reading Recommendations:

Recommended from Amazon.com:

March 28, 2018

There’s Going to Be a Little Pinch

Places Where You Can Ask

Places Where You Can Ask


There are different venues to reach the destination for a job search or seeking an opportunity It’s about finding the opening to get inside the door and reap the rewards of having made that milestone.

As we move along one path or another, there will be times when we need to ask for something. There are four aspects to this. The first is knowing how to ask. The other is the willingness to accept the answer you don’t want to hear. The third is having the fortitude to say “no” – in a tactful but understandable way. And the last is having sufficient emotional intelligence (also referred to as EQ) to realize “no” does not mean resorting to some type of negative behavior. Oh, and there’s a fifth aspect to this picture which should actually be first. It’s knowing who to ask or getting leads to where the answer can be found.

Who to Ask

Who you ask for a reference or for a lead is dependent on several factors. The most significant is whether you admire some talent they have as well as whether you believe they respect you and the talents you have to offer. If they have neither, it isn’t worth your while to seek their assistance in getting an introduction or even a recommendation. The unspoken assumption here is that the person knows who you are. If they’re merely a stranger, one will question the validity and value of their recommendation.

A person has increased significance as a reference when they have some type of expertise, knowledge of the industry or profession. It’s a plus if they hold a respectable position in their industry or have a good reputation. What they say in regard to advice is positively received and rarely is flawed. They are thorough and ask good questions in order to reach solid conclusions. Likewise, they know good sources to get the right, most up to date answers.

Another way of evaluating who to ask is how much they know of your work ethic and the caliber of your work or the caliber of the content you provide. That content may be input in conversations during meetings, in various exchanges, diligence in making certain of the facts and understanding of the subject matter before speaking (or writing), and attention to details.

Can they vouch for your character? Are you one way today and another the next? People with equivocal records tend to not be very reliable. That’s a two-way street.

How to Ask

Asking for a reference takes some tact. Few relish the thought of being put in the center of the bull’s eye so an outright “I need a reference for a job and I’d like for you to be one,” is not going to go over very well. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why LinkedIn no longer creates additions to the “Skills & Endorsements” and “Recommendations” sections of one’s profile.

The Endorsements did not require solicitation. If someone was aware of you and respected some aspect of your work, all they needed to do was click a link that added their name to the collection of endorsers.

The need for a recommendation can arise for any number of reasons, in addition to finding employment. Perhaps a recommendation is needed for admission to a school or some type of fraternal organization. A direct approach is appropriate for these types of needs. Still, it’s important that the person is familiar with you, your work, and your style.

In these situations, it is all right to let them know that (1) you’re seeking admission to a program (or consideration for an opportunity with one) and (2) you need a recommendation from someone who can speak to the value you can add to the program. The next part is where sensitivity is required.

As I said before, it isn’t wise to put the person into an uncomfortable position. Here, however, it is appropriate (now that the opportunity is revealed and your motivation for pursuing it is disclosed) that you ask if they would be willing to be a reference for you. Frame it in terms of the fact that you’ve known one another in a professional capacity and you believe their endorsement would add value (it’s appropriate to briefly outline why). If not, Ask if they can suggest someone who may be able to serve as a reference.

Sometimes the reference is needed for an application. The endorsement needs to be verified by the organization hosting the event. Once the commitment is made, the evaluator needs to be made aware that their email address, and sometimes a phone number, will need to be disclosed. Find out what contact information they prefer to have used. Be certain they realize this information is for verifying the recommendation.

Accepting the Answer

“No,” is a difficult word to say. There are times when it’s appropriate to do so. Therefore, rather than give a false impression that the answer is a genuine “Yes,” it’s far better to learn how to say “No” in a clear and unequivocal way so that later, there will be no misunderstandings and confusion. Learning how to say “No” applies to not only the one petitioned for a reference (or permission) but also for the one who does not want to accept a generosity or gift.

Sometimes the response can be couched in an explanation; sometimes the reasoning will remain private. No matter which, it’s important to be willing to hear “No” and abide by it. Retaliation is not an appropriate response. Lashing out also shows lack of maturity.

While working for a boutique executive placement firm, we had an uncomfortable situation arise. The applicant gladly gave a list of references. Some were represented as extremely good, reliable friends. The time for reference checks arrived and people were called to do that step of the screening. Unfortunately, one of the references gave less than a milquetoast reference. To say that left everyone in an uncomfortable state is understatement. Some type of explanation for the rejection needed to be formulated and then contact the applicant to tell them their candidacy was being dropped.

Was there a misrepresentation on the applicant’s part? No. But on face value and from the standpoint of a potential employer who didn’t do enough screening, there was a misrepresentation. Saying “No” can make a huge difference in whether someone’s quest for gaining a foothold is successful or not.

Be Brave

Asking for a reference can be a daunting experience for some. It’s necessary to muster up the courage to ask. On the other side of the coin, it’s necessary to muster up the fortitude to either say “Yes” or “No.”

Sometimes the evaluator is an extremely busy person. They encounter many people in a day. Keeping a mental record of what experience they’ve had with a person can be difficult, especially when the pressures of business are upon them. They may ask that a rough draft of the letter of recommendation be created so that they can edit it. This will also help them know what things to highlight for that particular venue. Not every situation is looking for the same qualities. The standout moments in the relationship – expert advice, superior knowledge of a particular subject, quick and accurate research, ability to explain complex concepts in an understandable way – are some examples of what is needed.

Life Goes On

It may be a disappointment to hear “No” when a request for a reference is rejected. That isn’t the only person in Life’s track of relationships where someone can offer an evaluation. Consider that it’s typical to request at least three references whenever someone is applying for a situation. So there was one who said “No.” That doesn’t mean everyone on the list of co-workers, acquaintances, colleagues, and associates will have the same answer. It also doesn’t mean that the door is forever sealed shut. Move on to whoever may be the next best.

The advantage of asking is learning the answer. It may be music to one’s ears, “Yes.” On the other hand, there may be a little pinch. The good thing about that pinch is that it doesn’t last forever.

Resources:

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February 13, 2018

Oh, the World of Job Search

Filed under: Job Search — Yvonne LaRose @ 10:24 PM
Tags: , ,

Places Where You Can Ask

Places Where You Can Ask

During the past six months, we’ve gone on an exploration of the world of applying for jobs. We looked at using a temp agency and how to get in the door. We also considered the use of job search communities and whether or not to pay the application fee. Many revelations began to surface. So much so that I began curating my findings about what each site offers and its characteristics.

Now that some of the job lead and job search communities have been identified, it’s time to start sorting through the messages that say, “[employer site] is interested in you.” Some are actual job leads, some are simply directing you to one of the virtual job posting sites. Some will have leads but those leads are not for positions you’re qualified to do work. For example, there are a number of leads for medical practitioner positions. When I say “medical practitioner,” I mean a licensed medical doctor who practices in a particular specialty. These types of leads are typically from EveryJobForMe. How they determined that I am a licensed physician is a mystery. As they announce the position, they say, “We wanted to let you know that we have just posted an open position within the last day for a job in your area. Based on your profile and previous searches on our site, it appears that you may be a great fit! Please review this opportunity by clicking on the URL below.” Rather than have you leave and never come back, they share this insight, “If you feel that this isn’t the job for you, search through millions of job listings on the EveryJobForMe site by clicking on the following link.”

Some other leads are for “sales associate.” Those are understandable. The site is simply phishing for job seekers and sending leads on the most popular and most generic of opportunities. What’s needed in that case is to simply go to the site and give it instructions to fine tune the job alerts that are sent.

Many of the leads are for opportunities that are more than 25 miles away. Again, the filter needs to be fine tuned so that it’s sending alerts for the proper radius.

Are these types of leads a waste of time? Well, in a way they are. On the other hand, they bring awareness of opportunities that you hadn’t even considered. That being true, they’re useful for helping to see not-yet-considered options.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep sharing what I’ve learned about these sites.

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January 4, 2018

Job Search and Job Application Fees

August 25, 2017

Making the Right Choice

Making the Right Choice

It was May 23, 2017, the day I embarked on applying for temporary jobs and researching temporary agencies. It was also the day I started applying for online work. Finally, it was the day I was greeted by an onslaught of mail from various sources holding out information about open positions or interviews ready for me to attend. (Many of those messages are still in several of my email Inboxes.)

Not to be outdone and with the recollection about some very disappointing experiences with another virtual gigs site from a year before, I decided to explore some of those notices. Alerts for the type of work that would be suitable for me and my talents were created. A new onslaught of notifications began to arrive. I finally picked through a few of them, read the description, and decided on one or two that seemed to be a good match.

On the very first one where I was about to submit my resume, I was greeted by a notice that an application fee would be required in order for my resume and application to be accepted. (No guarantee they would be reviewed, just accepted.) Just a minute. Somewhere in the recesses of my legal memory lay a recollection of research that said an agency cannot charge a fee for making an application for work. There was something curious about that particular website. I withdrew my resume and application. I also forgot to take note of which site had that requirement. What I do remember is the only thing they offered was a menu of new openings as well as a submission portal. There were no additional services offered.

The experience made me remember a site that no longer exists and was known as “Sologig” which was an outgrowth of “Hot Gigs”, that became CareerBuilder, and (like Dr. Who) has experienced several re-generations. The freelancing side of its operations is completely different these days. Circa 2006 and ’07, a freelancer seeking work would pay a subscription or membership fee in order to be found for work.

This protocol was very similar to the one eventually used by Remote.com. To justify charging a fee to be hired, the cost was considered a subscription to a community that offered additional services and enhancements. Additionally (you’re going to like this news), the subscription fee was tax deductible as a job search expense. (Please don’t ask me how that type of fee will be treated under the newly-inked tax bill. It’s too soon to have analyzed and comprehended the 10,000-page document.) However, in January 2006, Sologig advised in its newsletter:

Your Sologig membership is tax deductible

The tax season is upon us and, as with other business expenses, your Sologig.com membership fees are tax deductible. The IRS has many valuable resources available to independent contractors. You can find more information about filing, deductions as well as other tips to save you time and money. Read the Sologig News article on filing your taxes as an independent contractor. (The archived link takes the reader to this article.)

So that may be the key to determining whether the job search site is a scam. Is the fee for registering to be found by potential employers as well as apply for work include special services such as training, resume services, skills testing and certification, and so on? Then perhaps this is a legitimate fee-for-services site.

But if you’re paying for the privilege of submitting your application and resume to the company’s website ATS (applicant tracking system) where the only human eyes that will eventually see them are pretty far down the road, you’d best move on to a more robust site with more than artificial intelligence examining what’s been submitted with no fee for your diligence and effort.

Resources:

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October 22, 2017

Screening: How Much Experience

It’s an awakening time – again. But this time in another area.

Mistake One: Need-based Promotion

The first awakening was in the mid 1980s when I was a supervisor saddled with several rather mindless tasks that were also time consuming. One of them could be easily delegated. The receptionist wanted to grow out of her position and into something more responsible. She politicked. She told me about her endeavors in paralegal self study and how much she was reading. It seemed putting her into that administrative role could be helpful to both her and me as well as do the firm a service. I petitioned my supervising attorney who asked me to create a job description. He cautioned that her training and supervision was my responsibility. Accepted.

Her job description was written. It was given to her and she liked it. She accepted it. I thought she was doing well because her questions became scarce and she seemed busy. I was mistaken.

I was also responsible for training the securities paralegal and our new lawyers on handling corporate matters, especially forming a corporation. In the long run, I learned the receptionist who became the keeper of the library of corporate kits, was going to the securities paralegal (a 25-year-old, chauvinistic Bostonian man) for guidance and knowledge and then began considering him as her supervisor. She forgot that she reported to me. He felt he was superior to me and he had the support of a very popular securities lawyer.

Knowledge based on training

There were many issues that brewed in the office. So many that I forgot to monitor the growth of the corporate kit keeper’s knowledge and the depth of it. I should have kept better track of her work – even though there were many times when I found myself needing to work deal miracles. Perhaps I should have done a better job of teaching her new aspects of the work. But I definitely needed to help her realize that merely reading the book was not the same as being qualified to do the work. Perhaps more of an open-door policy with regard to learning opportunities would have resulted in a better outcome.

Doomed Destiny

There were other ethical issues that plagued all of the offices of that firm. The writing was on the walls and there were no erasers. The practices fed on themselves. One example was the lateral hire who was being interviewed from one office to another while carrying his plate lunch with him. Interviews continued as the firm’s convulsed its way toward its demise. Prudence dictated that interviewing stop, but it didn’t.

I was able to get out several months ahead of the collapse. Like a scorpion, the firm killed itself. But the collapse was because of the practices of many of the lawyers. There was also too much competitiveness and too many hidden agendas. There was also an enormous number of those who (like me with the corporate kit keeper) shirked their responsibilities in deference to billable hours and trying to hold down the fort.

We all should have been paying attention to the most important things. We should have been screening for experience and had a willingness to train if there was budget to do so.

Translatable Lessons

Screening for experience is something we do in many professions. The plumber brings their apprentice with them in order to train the learner about the proper way to use their tools and to identify what the issue is. The apprentice is not set loose on a project with no supervision until the trainer is certain of the skill that is going to be applied to the job.

The learner has seen the right way to do things. The conditions are explained to them. Also explained are the consequences and outcomes of taking a wrong step or making a bad turn. Terminology is explained so that both the learner and the teacher are conversing about the same thing. In that way, they can adequately talk to the client about the job, provide an estimate, form a contract for services, and then complete the job so that the bill is paid. Communication is a very critical element in screening.

Examples

How much experience does this potential worker have? Where are their references or testimonials? How many similar projects of this type have they done? Is this the first one? (Maybe they’re a volunteer who’s in transition and building a new portfolio.) Perhaps they have lateral experience that translates to what is needed for the job that’s open. Find out. Evaluate. Have them explain why this is a valid example of the type of work that can be expected from them. At the same time, you’ll be able to evaluate their ability to communicate, comprehend instructions, convey their appreciation and assessment of a situation, and depth of knowledge.

If they’ve merely been reading a book or simply talking (networking) with others in their target career option, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have the qualifications to be considered anything more than a newcomer.

Careful Evaluation

It’s one thing to read the book. That exercise provides the foundation for the knowledge. There’s more to learning than the mere visual intake of words. Learning comes in three ways: visual, auditory, and manual. Some people learn by using only one of those modalities. Others use two, and still other learners require all three.

Cementing the knowledge means actually using it. It’s best to practice the discipline before attempting to execute in the real environment. That’s why athletes and musicians practice and do drills. That why actors rehearse and block scenes. It’s why doctors and lawyers go through various stages of preparing for their discipline and developing their body of knowledge.

The motivation for getting into that career path and opportunity is evidenced by not just the portfolio of past accomplishments. That shows a history of experience. And that experience could have met with unexpected detours and interruptions. But the focused endeavors to practice the craft, science, art will have examples and work product. Where can those be found? If they’ve been deleted by some unethical hand, it’s a loss for everyone except those who actually saw or experienced it and can attest to its value. Another witness to experience is how well the candidate can discuss the project in detail. Perhaps there were no external evaluations that contained constructive critiques. Then evaluate how well the candidate did a self assessment and grew from that self counseling.

The amount of experience a person has is also evidenced in whether they’re capable of coming up with adaptations. Whether they’re successful or not is not the initial consideration as much as they have sufficient appreciation of the circumstances to enable them to come up with alternative methods of attack in order to reach the desired goal – ethically. It’s because they have a deep appreciation of the foundation principles that they will be able to identify a reasonable facsimile or substitute if the proper tool simply isn’t in the toolbox. They’re almost like MacGyver. Even if there are no longer work samples available, the knowledge (even long unused) is still there to benefit those who need and want it.

Enhancements, such as continuing education or next grade level training, will make the candidate even more valuable. Age is not so much a factor as is adaptability and depth of knowledge, as ability to move with change – or cause it because of that underlying experience.

Also keep in mind that now that we are a global society, we still use different terms (or labels) for things depending on where we are. What is call “The Plough” in the United Kingdom is known as Ursa Major elsewhere. So it’s important that the terminology or jargon is matching up between the parties.

How Much Experience Do You Have?

It would be nice to find credibility and proof of ability on the store shelf. Unfortunately, it takes time and practice to properly evaluate a candidate. Application of knowledge in projects directly related to the present goal or indirectly via a similar or lateral endeavor can prove to have enduring benefits. Repeated practice, with successes, build on the portfolio. Sending your employees off to a training and then never having them put into practice what they learned at the training is money thrown out the window three times over. There was the cost of the training, the cost of the personnel who covered the absence, and the wages paid while the employee was attending the training but left with no way to use it. Make that thrown out the window four times.

I’m not certain how a candidate can adequately convey knowledge and experience gained from being in the trenches. That type of insight provides a very deep awareness and appreciation of what the customer/audience wants and needs. It also gives a deeper appreciation of why one tactic will work compared with what the textbook said. Being in the trenches gives the practitioner more genuineness. When you pull out of the trenches, the landscape may still look the way it did when you entered it. But there have been changes on both sides of the picture.

Epiphanies

Incidentally, I’m finally about to embark on a long delayed step in my professional endeavors (which has spawned some of this writing). The handouts for a talk I’m doing later this month will be created as digital content. I’m learning about creating and publishing an ebook. The simple act of talking about “front matter” became a six-hour exercise of following instructions based on old technology and obsolete protocols. The updated information is now available. Meanwhile, there’s been searching for what was discussed under the old protocols. There’s been applying the principles to test runs. And there’s been time to recognize distractions and time management issues – in addition to the need for trial runs.

The term “front matter” is not the same in every genre. Which brings me back to terminology and jargon. Make certain you’re talking about the same thing as the experience is being discussed or described. Also be certain of what is considered proficient and standard in that part of the world compared with where the work is to be performed. Avoid throwing out the proverbial baby.

Resources:

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September 11, 2017

Getting in the Temp Agency Door

The New Workforce

The New Workforce

At one point in time, getting formal temporary work was simply a matter of finding an agency. Well, actually, a little more than that. It was necessary to actually go in and fill out an employment application so that you could become a registered candidate. Then there were screening tests followed by an interview with the agency recruiter. Finally, you were asked about your availability and walked out with (1) a couple of time sheets in order to keep track of the hours you worked for (2) the job you were going to start doing the next business day.

In the Last Century

No, it wasn’t necessary to make an appointment. Having a resume was a nice thing to have. It showed a modicum of professionalism but more importantly, it showed you were prepared to work and show your work history.

Things changed a bit, but not drastically. The industry had little bearing on the protocol. It didn’t matter if it was office, labor, construction, nursing, or care giving. The routine was still the same. Labor agencies were even less formal. Simply go in, register, if the drop-in was not for the first time, simply put your name on the sign-in sheet, then sit and wait to be called for the next job.

Client Priority Changes

Some clients strove to streamline and formalize their operations. Their usual mode was to use their informal registration of applying to work via referral or emailing a resume and cover letter. They contacted their database of past workers to learn whether they were available for the next regular project and then did an new orientation. There was outreach for new workers who were sought by small advertisements and solicited referrals. But some decided to remove the paperwork and management from their workload. They turned to temp agencies to handle the administrative side of the employment issues. So the cadre of workers were required to register with the contracted agency during a registration period. The rest of the steps were the same.

New Game Plan

Sometime between 2008 and May 2017, the manner of working with an agency (from the worker’s side of the picture) changed. No more drop in, complete the application, go through testing, and walk out with a time sheet. Instead, applicants are now discouraged from even going into the agency office.

Instead, the applicant goes to the agency’s website and completes an application that’s accompanied by the applicant’s uploaded resume. In July, Joe Cummings, CEO, President, and owner of Royal Staffing, posted to LinkedIn by encouraging those who were seeking work to do so through his agency. The campaign was very similar to a current one that says, “Looking for a job? If so, we’re looking for you. Make your life easier and visit http://www.royalstaffing.com Look at the great opportunities we have waiting for you or someone you know.” What a great opportunity to find out how to be found. So I asked him to explain the new intake process used for registering temporary candidates.

“What we have our candidates do is fill out the online application. We reach out to each and every one of them once the applications received… If the applying candidate has the skills and a good work history for our niche market, we schedule an appointment for them to come in and interview. Prior to them coming in we do send them the assessment tests online and they complete them at home before they come into the office.”

This is now the protocol used by all agencies. Joe added some cautionary advice here. “[T]he job seeker is also responsible for following up on his or her application submittals to potential employers. The old adage still is very much alive today, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

But, What About?

There are still unanswered questions. This also begs the question of how the application / resume needs to be constructed in order to get temporary work – not gig work, just the fill-in stuff that used to be “easy-peasy”, walk in, take a test and complete forms, walk out with a time sheet and an assignment for the next day (and a paycheck the next week!).

Since there was no response by the end of June, I turned to the American Staffing Association to seek information. I explained my association and standing with the organization and asked for clarification about the change in protocol for registering with an agency. The burning questions were, “When did this practice begin and what is the reasoning for it?” Well, there’s been no response.

Digital and Modernization

Perhaps the reason for the change has to do with cost containment as well as the fact that we now do so much in a digital format. As each year since September 11, 2001 has passed, the need for security increases. Perhaps this manner of applying for work via the Internet has a small amount of attention to security issues. There is less need for office space and equipment so overhead is also reduced. Does that in turn mean that the contract workers can enjoy a small pay increase? It’s hard to say.

In the past, workers would choose an agency that was geographically easy to reach. At the end of the week, they could leave the work site and go directly to the agency office to drop off the verified time sheet. That also meant the previous week’s check could be held for them (not mailed) so they could personally receive it and handle it in whatever manner was necessary for their needs. Are checks now done via direct deposit? Security, as mentioned before, is growing to more than just physical site issues. Cybersecurity is now an important business concern. So perhaps that modicum of pay increase because of reduced overhead got absorbed by the expense of shoring up the vulnerabilities from the different weak spots. More open issues with no explanations.

The Same but Different

What remains is applying to work for more than a quick project now requires greater amount of formality. Yes, people do take vacations, go into hospital or take a leave of absence. Some employers manage the contingency by hiring one or two extra staff who have flexible skills. (That can become expensive over the long run.) And contingency work is still a great way to try out the talent before extending an offer of employment (also known as “temp to hire”) to get a 360, in-house evaluation of the talent. If the situation isn’t a good match, at least the “supply chain” of work continued without the usual interviewing / screening / onboarding interruptions created by traditional hiring methods.

And perhaps this is why the gig economy is not only growing but thriving today.

Resources:

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July 15, 2017

Evaluating Character

There are candidates who present themselves and proclaim that they have a passion about a particular cause that makes them uniquely qualified because of the insights that passion caused them to discover. For the most part, this is a very real facet of gaining knowledge and expertise. It supplements knowledge of the primary discipline that, in turn, creates the ability to forecast consequences of one act compared with another on future outcomes.

Sometimes the interview will aid in discovering the candidate’s growing interest in their passion and how it’s applicable to the work they seek. Some will be insightful and bring this interest into the conversation at some strategic time. Caution needs to be used if the added awareness and qualification for the position is couched on this passion and not direct experience.

Sometimes this “passion” is fleeting; it exists only for the sake of gaining a better position over the competition. One sign of a fleeting passion is the inability to have a detailed conversation about it as it relates to the position, the work, the overall direction of the company and its target. Or there may be detailed knowledge. The false passion is more like a moving target as discussion of it evolves in relation to the position – or anything else. Scrutiny comes into play to discern whether the knowledge is tantamount to merely parroting marketplace rhetoric. One with real passion will be able to offer unique insights; they have ideas that are more than the typical hyperbole.

We all have biases of one type or another. It’s important to be aware of them and to admit to them so that those biases can be put aside when making critical decisions, especially about hiring qualified talent. That’s why evaluating a candidate who professes a special interest that makes them more qualified than others needs special care.

Melania Trump’s passion about children, especially abused children, became a matter for closer scrutiny and an example of necessary care when evaluating a candidate. Because of her association with an unpopular, high-profile figure (not to mention some very public gaffes), she does not have the usual adoring audience. In fact, her background shows behavior that’s been quite the opposite of the reaction that is usually expected of someone in her position.

We look at the woman who is noted as having a favorable university education. A rare quality is that she speaks seven foreign languages. She is noted as having a strong interest in art, architecture, and design. On paper, it’s expected that she would be the one making decisions about her destiny and being very outspoken in that area. Yet, the public gaffes that follow and haunt her show she has poor discretion and depends on others to do her speech writing.

She has declared FLOTUS causes that are vogue since the late days of the campaign only to abandon one for something else that seems to be taking public attention by storm and then abandoning that cause as well. Does this FLOTUS have a cause, a passion?

There is a consistency in her behavior. Using recent audio clips of statements she’s made, we find she is noted for her defense of her controversial husband with the averment, “while her husband is fair and treats everyone equally, he will ‘punch back ten times harder’ if he is attacked.” Perhaps that defense was pulled from a statement her husband made a year earlier.

Those who speculated about her refusal to move into the White House in January. She made a campaign declaration that she wears the color of the place where she lives. Many thought that meant she eagerly looked forward living in the White House. After hearing one fabricated-sounding excuse after another for keeping her distance from her husband’s new domicile for five months, speculation rose that she may be suffering from abuse and wanted to keep the distance for whatever reason could be manufactured.

In May, the President and his wife took their first official trip outside of the United States. In the initial days of the trip, the relationship showed strain. It wasn’t until the flight that brought the couple home to the White House that the tension dissipated. Uncharacteristic of previous behavior, she seemed animated and happy, even in the presence of her husband. That was also the day when Melania’s interest in fostering her FLOTUS cause was announced, care for children of abuse.

Attention to children of abuse seems like a legitimate cause. The speculation about the atmosphere in the First Family home points to the possibility that this is the cause that will endure. However, the reasoning for her absence from the home evaporated when it was reported that she had Secret Service escort her son to and from school while she stayed in the Trump Tower penthouse alone. Yet she seemed to blossom when in the company of abused children in foreign countries.

The legitimacy of her cause to support abuse victims also wears thin when we hear that campaign support of her husband repeated in speeches after the inauguration and as more damaging headlines emerge about the leadership abilities of her husband. “. . . he will ‘punch back ten times harder’ if he is attacked.” Has Melania developed Stockholm Syndrome and it’s being evidenced by way of this repeated statement in his defense?

This candidate is stellar on paper. But once the background investigation begins, the visage falls apart. Perhaps the abused children cause is yet another cause du jour.

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June 27, 2017

Revised Healthcare Legislation

In May, the revised healthcare bill was presented to the House – and was approved. It was then sent to the Senate for approval and enactment.

We talk about the importance of transparency in business in order to gain trust and support. Apparently no one had that conversation with the crafters of the Senate’s version of the healthcare bill. The revisions were taken into a Star Chamber environment where the details were kept under strict secrecy.

We talk about the importance of diversity in creating product that appeals to a broader cross section of customers. That diversity provides for more input from different perspectives that result in a stronger product. It seems those conversations were also forgotten by mentors of Senate members. No women were included in the committee that hammered out the details of the bill.

Many have voiced concerns about matters such as women’s health issues (which present in a different manner than men’s), reproductive rights for women, pre-existing health conditions and coverage for them. Our veterans are concerned about coverage for disabilities acquired during warfare and military service. PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) is on the minds of many because of how that condition is growing. We need to be mindful of the fact that PTSD affects more than just military and veteran populations. Those who are survivors of major traumas and abuse are also prone to suffer from various forms of PTSD. However, that could now be considered a non-covered, pre-existing condition.

The House version of the healthcare bill had some major difficulties. Citizens raised their voices. The Senate version of the bill was modified but there have been many white knuckle days while the arcane revisions were crafted. The revisions did not satisfy the tastes of the entire Senate. Probably to the relief of many HR and benefits administrators, the vote on the revised healthcare bill has been delayed.

The costs associated with gaining coverage are skewed against the middle and lower classes of our population. According to an analysis on CBS This Morning, costs for those two income levels will eventually be four times greater than they are now while those in the upper class will enjoy tax breaks and premium increases that are not as draconian.

AARP published an article about the House version of the bill. It raised concerns and cited flaws in the bill. However flawed, the bill passed over to the Senate for review and approval; that is what brought us to this juncture in our review of things reaching The Desk today. The Senate version of the bill (formally called “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017”) has problems. So many, in fact, that even the partisan support that was expected for it failed. There was simply too much secrecy. The bill failed to address the concerns of the greatest boss of the Legislative branch – The People.

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May 14, 2017

Conflict: Metrics cf. Performance

Filed under: Ethics,Management,Morale — Yvonne LaRose @ 1:57 PM
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The idea for it was probably spawned by fitness tracking appliances. Whether it becomes a standard practice embraced by employees remains to be seen. Right now electronic badges worn by employees can track their physiology and provide information about their performance and engagement in the workplace. The badges are also equipped with two speakers that track the quality of vocalizations (not the words) in order to detect tension. The only time the speakers aren’t in operation is when an employee enters the bathroom.

Employers and managers use the data provided by these trackers in order to determine who is performing and at what level. The question is whether these badges are then useful for determining who needs additional training or coaching or maybe even a transfer to a different department where the employee skills are better used.

What the trackers do provide is feedback to the employees who elected to use them. The data also provides them with information about what may have contributed to a good, productive day compared with one of those days when their performance wasn’t as stellar.

What are the ethics in using this type of tracked information? One argument is the badges are only issued to employees who are willing to use them. That is the PR statement. It doesn’t address the matter of how many employees submit to using the badges because they fear retaliation or negative consequences if they refuse.

Another thing to consider with regard to performance is the degree to which outside factors, such as family stresses, influence a worker’s performance or reaction to various stimuli. Health conditions can also figure into how people manage situations, health conditions that were previously a private matter. Still another critical issue is the level of ethical practices an employee uses in executing their job. An aggressive sales person will use many questionable tactics in order to close the deal. Concerns about consequences after the fact are negligible, if they exist at all. Obviously, those more aggressive tactics are not going to be reported to the supervisor or manager. And it may be that the manager is the one who set the example for the strategy.

Still, we are told it’s the data that is the payload for the founder of Humanyze. So there’s little incentive to make these badges a pricey item to add to the management toolbox and increases its desirability for increasing productivity, engagement, and more informed management strategies. It provides more information, metrics, insight into what makes the worker tick.

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