Friday, November 6, 2009

What's Wrong With the Boss?

Managers already have their hands full leading their teams through uncertain and turbulent times. Even worse, more than a quarter of employees would like to see them get fired.

This was the key finding of a recent Adecco survey. The underlying factor prompting this level of employee contempt is frustration and feelings of demoralization and being out of the loop as a result of the recession.

"It's obviously a tough time for everyone," said Rich Thompson, vice president of training and development at Adecco North America. "When you're in a recession period and decisions have to be made, the lines of communication seem to be less open simply because the level of strategic information increases."

More than half of all respondents went so far as to say they didn't think their bosses were honest. 

"What happens is you've got these managers or leaders who will say, 'I think we're going to be OK' [while] all along strategic conversations are happening that they're not in [and the] next day they wind up downsizing 10 percent or 5 percent or whatever the case," Thompson said. "So there's this tinge of dishonesty - this belief that 'well, he knew all along' - [when in fact] they didn't. Any time people are directly effected, personally [or] professionally, by changes - whether it's pay cuts, layoffs, decreased benefits and flexibility - there's this idea that it's 'them versus us' and 'I can't trust them.'"

Needless to say, the recession has greatly affected the dynamics of the relationship between managers and employees.
"In times like these, employees want to know more about their status and it promotes the 'Where do I stand and how does this affect me?' [type of] questions," Thompson said.  "Slow markets force managers and leaders to have more of these tough conversations. Unfortunately, they may not be equipped [and will likely] take the path of least resistance - and that really causes a lot of turmoil and dishonesty."

The recession has created the need for more conversations regarding employee status, Thompson explained.

"The good managers are saying, 'If we're going to be in a recovery sometime soon, I need to make sure my A-players know they're my A-players, and that I'm providing them with career development opportunities to make sure they're ready for the recovery," he said.

Progressive organizations realize talent is their greatest asset, and the best managers set their sights on long-term retention of talent, he explained.

"The [managers] that are going to get ahead of the curve are the ones who are saying, 'We have to make sure to mend the relationship with those who are still with us - especially the ones we want to keep," Thompson said.

There are two fundamental steps bosses can take to improve their reputation and win back their employees' trust.

"The most important thing is to communicate with A-players - make sure the future talent of the organization knows they're the future talent of the organization," Thompson said. "Secondly, [managers] need to do some sort of talent assessment and identify gaps or deficiencies they have and [determine] how to help them ready themselves for the recovery so they're not just surviving, but they're put into situations where they can be successful. A lot of that comes with training, leadership development, etc."

While there is much to be gained by investing in individuals, it doesn't always have to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Thompson explained.

 "Investment can be time, attention and development; it can be making someone a mentor; it can mean including somebody on a task force; it can be taking somebody to lunch," he said. 

Thanks to Deanna Hartley / Talent Management Perspectives

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Can You Handle the Truth?

Managers have gotten into some bad habits. In the name of getting along, they've coated information in whitewash and obscured the hard facts. Instead of being open, honest and transparent, they encourage anonymous feedback and hide behind 360 assessments.

Susan Scott, author of Fierce Leadership, argues that many of today's management best practices are actually holding us back. Worse yet, there's a fundamental disconnect between what managers say and what they believe.

"Our practices include not only what we do, but what we believe, because it's our belief that drives our behavior that produces results," Scott said. "It's very difficult for them to behave differently and to sustain that behavior if what they believe underneath doesn't support it."

Moving forward requires awareness, honesty and the courage to act, what Scott calls fierce leadership. The first step is to develop "squid eye" — the ability to spot signals that foretell potential problems.

Scott co-opted the term from divers who scour the sea floor in search of squid. Beginning divers often have difficulty spotting the creatures because of their camouflage, but soon develop "squid eye" — the ability to identify the signs of their presence.

"I want people … to be able to spot the 'tells' that indicate we're headed in a good direction or a bad direction," Scott said.

The ability to spot these corporate "tells" will allow companies to adjust their practices in order to operate more effectively individually and in teams and drive performance. Scott identified six "worst" best practices that are key tells that a company is headed in the wrong direction, including hiring for smarts, legislated optimism and anonymous 360-degree feedback.

Scott said the way 360s are used in most organizations fails to provide meaningful feedback that improves individual and organizational results. Anonymous feedback indicates an organizational belief that it's risky to disclose what you are thinking or feeling or that people can't handle delivering or receiving the truth.

"When an organization gives the message quite overtly that we are unable to give one another feedback candidly face to face … then you have to ask where else in the company does anonymity live," Scott said. "Where else in the organization are people withholding what they think and feel, and what price are we paying for that?"

On an individual level, anonymous feedback lacks context and meaning. The person receiving the feedback often struggles to understand what to do with the results because he or she has no idea where it is coming from. More importantly, Scott said people lose the opportunity to build meaningful relationships.

"The language of anonymous feedback is colorless and soul-killing, and I just don't see any life or intimacy or humanity [in it] that could truly enrich a relationship," Scott said.

That failure to establish and enrich relationships is what costs organizations in the long run. The inability to have a candid conversation about performance leads to a tendency for relationships to flatline and fail, Scott said.

"A key premise of fierce conversations is that our careers and our companies and our relationships succeed or fail gradually, then suddenly, one conversation at a time, and secondly, the conversation is the relationship," she said.

Rather than anonymous 360-degree feedback, Scott suggested that companies practice face-to-face feedback, 365 days a year.

"Unfortunately, we don't care enough to do the hard things that also happen to be the right things because we are not connected with people at a deep level," Scott said. "If you want to become a great leader — or a great human being, a great parent — you must gain the capacity to connect with your colleagues, with your customers, with your community at a deep level, or lower you aim."

Scott said that those relationships — our emotional capital — are our most valuable currency. Executive suites are littered with the corpses of brilliant people who flamed out because they failed to recognize the importance of human connectivity.

"We might be technically proficient and very smart and very well-intentioned and bomb if we don't know how to connect with our colleagues and our customers at a deep level, if we don't know how to have the conversations that need to take place," Scott said.

Those authentic conversations tackle reality, provoke learning, resolve tough challenges and enrich, rather than devalue, relationships. But Scott cautioned against immediately pulling the plug on anonymous feedback. While it's not difficult, having a conversation that tackles these challenges requires preparation and training.

"You just need to be shown how to do it and then practice doing it on real issues," Scott said.

The ultimate goal of eliminating anonymous 360 feedback, and the other "worst" best practices, is to create a transparent, authentic performance-driven culture.

"Leaders need to examine their practices and look at the results their practices are producing," Scott said. "Where they love the results, then obviously their practices are working. Where they're not getting the results they want, perhaps … it's time to clear the windshield."

By Mike Prokopeak /

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Groups Cannot Be Homogeneous

No group can be defined as homogeneous with regard to values, attitudes, and lifestyles. Consequently, advertisers have segmented this massive market in a variety of ways.

1) Grey Advertising splits them into two groups: those with family oriented values and those seeking fulfillment more through personal experiences than, for example, owning a house and car.

2) Lowe Marshalk agency characteristics three groups: the "leading edge" (born in the 1940s) the "middle group" (born in the 1950s) and the "laggards" (born after 1960). The middle group is self directed, almost selfish in its purchasing behavior and other activities, because of its large size and the intensely competitive school and job conditions that its members experience.

3) N W Ayer agency describes boomers as: satisfied selves (well educated, optimistic, enjoy traveling, open to new ideas), contented traditionalists (conservative, home oriented, upset about the impact of the women's movement) worried traditionalists (poor self image, fret about losing jobs and being crime victims, slow to try new products) and sixties in the eighties (aimless left over flower children relatively low standard of living)

Another way of viewing this group relates the socioeconomic conditions (whether scale or downscale) under which they were raised and those in which they presently find themselves. Each group's consumer behavior may be described briefly as follows:

Realized (were raised upscale, still upscale).Prefer high the toys to traditional luxury goods but expensive durables as professional necessities. Trendy buyers of whatever brand is currently in.

Gratified (were downscale, now upscale) A split shopping style. As economic shoppers they wait for sales and shop at out-class outlets, warehouse membership, clubs, and factory. As upscale shoppers, they buy durables that match their own image rather than just what's popular.

Satisfied (were downscale, still downscale). Scrimp and save to splurge on some luxuries for home. Buy high line, small ticket goodies that offer cheap thrills. Wait for sales.

Agonized (were upscale, now downscale) Compensatory buyers of high-line furniture appliances, accessories, and personal effects rather than prestige home and automobile. Buy experiences they deserve to break the routine, buy "socially visible" name brand goods, but in membership warehouse clubs or factory outlets.

Baby Busters: The number of children born to the average woman of childbearing age (age 15 to 44) has varied from 2.1 during the great depression to 3.7 in 1957 during the height of the baby boom to 1.8 in the mid 1970s to 2.1 in 1990, thus the characterization of the current period as the baby bust. Marketers are concentrating on the new generation of "baby busters" who are also known as "after boomers" and "flyers" (fun loving youth en route to success). They were born between 1965 and 1974, and although younger than the boomers, they have plenty of discretionary income. The following traits typify these groups: (1) they value tradition, religion, and formal rituals, such as proms and lavish weddings; (2) they are preoccupied with success in school and careers; and (3) they are materialistic.

For the US population to level off and reach zero population growth (ZPG), ,the birthrate would have to remain at a rate of 2.1 or less for several decades. One forecast for US population shows an increase until 2035 to 291 million, followed by a decline to approximately the present level by the year 2150.

Although low fertility seems here to stay according to most demographers, marketers can expect to see a new baby boom even with current fertility rates. This will be due to the increased number of annual births from the large pool of baby boom women who have deferred childbearing and because some women are having children earlier, in their twenties.

Thanks to Citeman Network Business Management Articles

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Am Not Your Friend If.....

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Have To Think Before You Speak To Me!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
My Presence Ever Makes You Feel Uncomfortable!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Have To Thank Me For Everything I Do For You!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Have To Say Sorry For Everything That You Don't Do!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Have To Ask Me For Favors!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Think I Would Not Be Curious To Know Your New Philosophy Of Life!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Go By What I Say And Do Not Understand What I Don't Say!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Think That Listening To Your Dreams Would Put Me To Sleep!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Think That Seeing You In Pain, Would Not Bring A Tear To Me!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Think I Do Not Remember The First Time We Met!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Don't See The Thousand Ways I Try To Make You Happy!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Don't Realize How Your Smile Brightens Up My Day!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Would Rather Keep Quiet When You Really Wana Talk!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Hesitate To Ask Me To Stay Back When You Think We Should Be Together!

I Am Not Your Friend If.....
You Take Too Much Time To Tell Me What I Mean To You!

Am I Your Friend????

Monday, November 2, 2009

Why Cost Per Hire Is A Dumb Metric & Quality Of Hire Is Not

In all the brouhaha about great new sourcing initiatives and Web 2.0 tools, how much have your recruiters and hiring managers improved their ability to hire great people, not average people?

In my opinion, we've downplayed what it really takes to be successful in our profession — recruiting, counseling, and closing top people who have multiple opportunities, and making sure our hiring manager clients don't blow it.

To start refocusing on the right stuff, I'd like to nominate quality of hire as the metric to assess recruiting department performance, and relegate cost per hire to the second page.

I believe cost per hire is a misguided means to judge recruiting department performance. For one, it rewards the wrong things and ignores quality of candidate and quality of hire. For another, it's far too tactical and narrowly focused. Worse, improving costs could degrade quality.

This is a strategic mistake of huge proportions that too many HR and recruiting managers miss entirely.

These problems go away if the focus is on measuring quality of hire first and quality of candidate as a subset. Even if recruiting is reluctant to take on the responsibility of maximizing quality of hire, it must be responsible for setting up a system to measure it. While important, measuring quality of hire is not straightforward.

Here are some ideas on how to get started on thinking about how to do it:

Yves Lermusi, the CEO of Checkster, believes good reference checking before (external) and after the hire (internal 360°) might be the best way to measure, monitor, and improve quality. He might be right, but from what I've seen, if the measure of candidate quality pre-hire is different than after the hire, you're not measuring the same thing. Regardless, Yves' point of measuring candidate quality post hire and monitoring are absolutely essential. So you should check out Checkster as a means to do this.

Here's another perspective. I was speaking with a senior recruiting manager with a Fortune 100 company the other day. She told me her company conducted exhaustive post-hire performance reviews at the 90-day, 6-month, and 9-month time periods for new hires. These reviews were based on comparing the new hire's performance against the performance objectives of the job. If the person fell short here, the review was expanded to include an in-depth competency evaluation. This approach seemed spot on to me. However, the recruiting manager told me under-performance was generally attributed to lack of understanding of real job needs before accepting the offer and problems with culture, especially with the working relationship with the hiring manager, once on the job. This strengthens the argument of measuring pre- and post-hire quality on the same performance standard.

However, some differ on this view. For example, after a recent ERE article I wrote on a related quality of hire article, someone sent me a detailed LinkedIn message describing his company's approach to measuring the quality of their candidates by sourcing channel. It consisted of a detailed scorecard examining a set of criteria that mapped to the traditional job description. This included things like quality of the academic background, quality of the experience, depth of industry knowledge, and the like. This is probably not too bad, but I suspect that this was not the focus of the interview. But none of this gets at the issues involved in a post-hire quality assessment. For example, the person could be a fine person with all of the experience and academic requirements noted, but someone who was no longer motivated to do the type of work required, or someone whose style was not compatible with the hiring manager's.

From a pre-hire standpoint, some might argue that the traditional competency or behavioral-based interview is a great way to measure pre-hire quality. My 30-year concern with this is that it still ignores job performance and managerial fit. Being competent to do the work doesn't mean being motivated to do the work. Nor does competency or behavior measure a person's ability to prioritize the work, handle too much work, work under pressure, work with different resources, work with comparable teams in similar situations, or work with a weak manager.

For me, it's pretty easy to conclude that if you want quality of hire to become a useful measurement tool, you must start by measuring pre- and post-hire on the same basis. Further, the measurement standard you should use must be made on some comparison to real job needs. (Send me an email if you'd like a copy of a performance-based talent scorecard from my book, Hire With Your Head (Wiley, 2007).) This means candidates need to be measured before they're hired on their ability and motivation to perform the actual work required, including fit with the hiring manager.

If pre- and post-hire quality measures are different (up or down) it means that the assessment process is flawed. So it's important to use feedback from the post-hire quality assessment to change how candidates are assessed. I suspect that few companies do this; regardless, that's a major reason and benefit for measuring post-hire quality. Then once pre- and post-hire quality assessment are the same and you have a good system for tracking quality of candidate and quality of hire, you can then move on to the more strategic quest of maximizing quality of hire. This includes improving your recruiting and sourcing skills in tandem, and tracking quality by sourcing channels, recruiters, and even hiring managers.

The whole point of this article is to suggest that quality of hire is a much more important measure than cost per hire in measuring recruiting department performance. While cost is important to track, it shouldn't come at the expense of quality.

Focusing on the internal budget of the recruiting department is insignificant in comparison to the impact the thousands of people the recruiting department hires has on their company. What's more exciting is that the tools are now available to actually measure and maximize hires, rather than just talk about it.

By Lou Adler

Is Interpersonal Attraction A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

The mystical-sounding 'acceptance prophecy' is simply this: when we think other people are going to like us, we behave more warmly towards them and consequently they like us more. When we think other people aren't going to like us, we behave more coldly and they don't like us as much.

It's a self-fulfilling prophecy because if we predict acceptance we get it, if not we don't. It's also an intuitively appealing explanation for how people come to like (or dislike) each other. But the question for psychologists is whether it is really true or just a neat fairy story.

The waters are, of course, muddied by all the usual individual and cultural differences—some people care more about other's acceptance and some people are naturally more accepting—but let's set those aside for a moment and just imagine two people who are identical except that one expects others to accept her and one expects others to reject her.

What the research has found, according to a new paper just published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, is that one part of the acceptance prophecy has strong evidence to support it, while the other part does not. Until now.

The first part, in a model put forward by Dr Danu Anthony Stinson at the University of Waterloo and colleagues, is that the interpersonal warmth people project predicts how much others like them (Stinson et al., 2009). For psychologists this is uncontroversial; people take better to others who are genuinely warm with accurate judgements about their warmth made in only 30 seconds (Ambady et al., 2000).

Pleased to Meet You

What has proved more controversial is whether anticipating acceptance really does increase the interpersonal warmth that people project towards others. It's this question that Stinson et al. (2009) set out to test by manipulated people's expectations about a person they were about to meet for the first time.

They told 14 of 28 men recruited for their study that the attractive woman they were going to meet was nervous and worried about how she would be perceived by them. Quite naturally when these men found that the woman was nervous and insecure it made them feel better in comparison. This had the effect of making the men much less anxious about the interaction (actually about half as nervous as judged by independent observers) and consequently much warmer.

In comparison the other 14 sweaty-palmed participants were only given basic demographic information about the woman they were going to talk to, nothing that would calm their fears of rejection. This manipulation created two groups, then, one that was anticipating acceptance more than the other.

What the results showed was that when the risk of rejection was lower, men acted more warmly towards the woman to whom they were talking. This extra warmth also lead to a panel of observers liking them more in comparison with those who were more fearful of risk and therefore interpersonally colder.

So this provides evidence that the acceptance prophecy holds true. In this experiment people who expected to be accepted did act more warmly towards a stranger and consequently they were perceived as more likeable.

Social Optimist Or Pessimist?

There was an exception, though, to the results of this study. One sub-group were not affected by the experimental manipulation to increase how much they expected to be accepted. That's because they already expected to be accepted. These are the social optimists (or at least people who think rather a lot of themselves!).

Social optimists, of course, are in the happy position of expecting to be accepted and finding that, generally speaking, they are. Social pessimists, though, face the dark side of what sociologist Robert K. Merton—who coined the expression 'self-fulfilling prophecy'—has called a 'reign of error'. Expectation of rejection leads to the projection of colder, more defensive behaviour towards others, and this leads to actual rejection. "Uh-huh," mutters the social pessimist, "I knew they wouldn't like me".

And so it goes.

Thanks to Spring Org Uk / Psy Blog

An Excercise In Compassion

"When I worked in a busy office, most of my co-workers kept jars of candy on their desks to enjoy and share with others. Constantly battling the "bulge," I hated these temptations, but nevertheless often gave in to them. I decided to put out a jar of my own "feel good" stuff, with no calories. I bought a beautiful jar with a lid and spent one whole weekend at home cutting up colorful strips of paper and writing down inspiring quotes.
I filled the jar and put it on my desk. It took a while to catch on, but soon, everyone was stopping by my "food for thought" jar daily to fill up on something much better than empty calories. They would take one out, read it, smile knowingly, and then fold it up and replace it for the next co-worker. It's something that never needed to be replenished unless, I saw a new quote I wanted to add. If you work in an office environment, try this out and see how much everyone loves it." 
Thanks to