Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tips for Overcoming Degree Requirements in Job Ads

Marlene Sharp gained loads of business development experience working in the animation industry. "However, my degrees -- a master's and a bachelor's -- are in the arts," explains the Los Angeles resident. "Job postings advertise for a person with my marketing, business and legal affairs experience, but the possession of an MBA seems to be the deal-breaker. I've been rejected for at least one job outright because I lack an MBA."

Sharp isn't alone. In today's buyer's market, employers have reason to be picky when it comes to credentials and degrees.

"Companies that do this are usually trying to use the ad as a strong qualifier to cut down the massive number of resumes they receive," explains Bethel, Connecticut-based job coach Judi Perkins. "The company hopes the list of requirements will deter the bulk of the unrealistic submittals."
But if you've truly got everything it takes to do the job except the certification or degree, it's still worth applying. Here's how to increase your chances of landing an interview.

The Job Posting-Resume Match Game

Match as many requirements from the job spec as possible," says Barbara Safani, author of Happy About My Resume: 50 Tips For Building a Better Document to Secure a Brighter Future and owner of the Career Solvers in New York. "If they request that you know a certain software application that you don't have experience in, compare it to something similar that you do know or showcase a success where you had no knowledge of another application but learned it quickly. If you do not have a particular degree, show how you have been successful in your role despite this."

From that, develop talking points to use in
your cover letter and interviews. "These provide examples of how you have on-the-job experience in the various skill areas sought for the position," says Jenny Schade, president of JRS Consulting in Wilmette, Illinois. 

Do You Have a Mole in Your Professional Network?

As with any job search, it pays to have someone on the inside, or with inside information. "Seek out
your network and identify anyone that you may have a direct or indirect connection with who can help you secure an audience with the hiring manager or at minimum the company's corporate recruiter," suggests David Kimmelman, general manager of careers and jobs for CourseAdvisor/Avenue100 Media Solutions, a leading analytics-based performance marketing company in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Being recommended by someone the interviewer trusts can go a long way to establishing your credibility and get you in a door that might otherwise be closed.

While you've got them, review your bona fides with your connections and ask them for suggestions on
how to market yourself. "It's often useful to have someone else read the resume and the job description to see if the two match," says Daisy Swan, owner of Daisy Swan & Associates, a career coaching and consulting firm in Los Angeles. "Is the reader able to get it? If not, changes need to be made to more clearly get the skills and experience on the resume in an easy to digest way."

This done, you can start making contact.

Extreme Career Makeover?

It's also important to showcase your ability to learn new things. "If at any point in your professional life you have
reinvented yourself career-wise and/or made significant changes in the industries you have worked for, make a point to demonstrate it," Kimmelman says.

This helps prospective employers see that you can evolve and expand your skills and knowledge. This shows that even if you don't have the credentials they're looking for, you can quickly pick up what you need. Having references who can speak to your adaptability is also a great idea, again for the third-party credibility.

Project Confidence

Finally, don't underestimate the importance of
your attitude throughout the entire job search process. "Don't feel defensive or fearful that you aren't up to par -- it shows in your behavior, your choice of words and your tone of voice," Perkins says.

"If you have most of the requirements and success stories from your previous jobs, then you have something to contribute," she concludes. "Focus confidently on what you've got rather than worry about what you're missing."

A Succession Planning Exercise

Review your senior leadership positions. You might take the top 2% or 10%; whatever is a logical method to review your organization's top tier talent. It might be that you review all director and above positions, or VP and above. You may wish to review only positions in a certain pay grade and above.
As you review these positions, find out if there is a person or persons in the organization who could take that individual's position should it become vacant. Document who could fill the void, and/or make note if there is no one who could fill the position, should it become vacant. You might also make note of any imminent retirements in any key positions over the next few years as well. Once complete, you will have a clear understanding of which positions you need to plan recruiting for and when that recruiting might be coming online. Make this a subset of your strategic workforce plan.
After you complete this top talent succession planning exercise, compute the following ratio:
Numerator: the number of top-tier positions with at least one fully qualified person who is ready to take the place of the incumbent.
Denominator: the total number of top-tier positions assessed.
This is what Jac Fitz-enz refers to as the "human capital readiness level." According to Fitz-enz, "this is the percentage of key positions with at least one fully qualified (competent) person ready to take over now. Applying the readiness criterion to key positions yields a picture of what he calls the organization's "general human capital health."
As you make plans for succession over time, your ratio will go down. Track and measure this and share with your executives. This is a highly strategic exercise and of great value to your organization. Planning our workforce for the future, especially our key leadership positions, are the most important outcomes recruiting leaders can deliver to our organizations.
Thanks to by John Elliott /

Motivating Without Bonuses

Keeping Your Team Happy Without Cash

The practice of paying bonuses is not dead. In the financial sector, many banks have continued to pay bonuses - they use the somewhat circular argument that they need bonuses to retain good people because their competitors are paying bonuses. But in some companies and industries, bonuses are not an option.

So, if you're a manager in this situation, what are your options for motivating people without cash bonuses?

In this article, we'll look at some creative strategies for motivating and rewarding members of your team in a down economy.

Some jobs attract large bonuses. Others don't. Significant bonuses are usually awarded when an individual's exceptional actions or initiative have a direct impact on the organization's revenue, which is why top salespeople will typically receive large bonuses.

By contrast, even senior managers in machine organizations may receive little in the way of bonuses - the success of the organization comes from people doing their everyday jobs smoothly and efficiently, and is not necessarily attributable to the exceptional initiative or performance of any one individual.

Non-Cash Financial Incentives

One of the most common non-bonus ways to reward and retain star employees is with stock or stock options. So, what's the difference between them?
  • Shares/Stocks - Many companies offer workers a set number of shares as a reward for good performance, or as a sign-on bonus. Workers can do whatever they want with these stocks: sell them, or hold onto them and hope that the value will increase.
  • Stock Options - Stock or share options give workers the right to buy stock in the future at a predetermined price. For instance, a company may promise to sell its people shares at a price of $45 one year from now. If they work hard and the share price is $75 after a year, then those workers can buy the stocks at the lower price - and then immediately sell them for a big profit.
Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to offering shares and options.

One of the biggest advantages has to do with worker motivation. The Employee Ownership Foundation recently conducted its 18th annual Economic Performance Survey. They found that 88.2% of the companies surveyed stated that their employee ownership programs helped the company. And, in a study they conducted with Rutgers University, they found that employee ownership programs increased sales, on average, by 2.3% per year. These programs also helped to increase staff retention compared with companies that did not have such programs. When workers feel they have a stake in the company's future, they're usually willing to work harder and stay in their jobs. This can be a big benefit for organizations.

Also, stocks and stock options are a great way to save money, especially during an economic downturn. Offering shares to workers allows companies to reward their teams without the financial cost of bonuses. This type of reward also helps align personal goals with company goals. After all, people get a bigger reward if the company does better, so it only makes sense that they work harder.

One big disadvantage, though, is that stocks and stock options aren't as attractive in a down economy, simply because people are so unsure of what the market is going to do. After all, what do workers do if the company offering a $45 stock option does poorly later in the year, so that when the team is able buy the shares, they're only worth $25? In that case, no one wins.

Another disadvantage is that existing shareholders - the owners of the company - often profoundly dislike stock grants and stock options. After all, if managers create new shareholders, they're diluting existing shareholdings - i.e. reducing the share of any profit that the existing shareholders will get.

Existing shareholders will only be happy for managers to award stock options if they, the existing shareholders, are likely to receive more as a result than they'd lose were it not done. There are only certain types of business and certain business situations in which this is likely to occur.

If you'd like a more in-depth look at performance management, and how to align team goals with corporate goals, see our members' articles on Performance Management and KPIs and Understanding Strategic Compensation.

Non-Financial Bonuses

If you're in a company that used to pay bonuses but doesn't do so now, there are many other motivational rewards you can offer.

Start by finding out what your team members really value as individuals, because this might not be what you think. By taking the time to determine what's really important to your people, you can offer rewards that really mean something to them.

Here are a few non-financial bonuses that companies can offer their people in this down economy:
  • Flexible Scheduling - Many people, especially those with families, would really appreciate a shorter or more flexible workweek. So, consider offering people within your team the option of working four 10-hour days, or of cutting back on their hours entirely. This might be a welcome reward. Also, letting them leave early on certain days is another possibility.
  • Additional Vacation Time - Many companies offer their people increased vacation time, as well as extended time off (sabbaticals), instead of bonus checks/cheques. People can use this time to spend with family, take a long trip, or even go back to school.
  • Telecommuting Options - If your company doesn't need everyone in the office every day, why not allow trusted team members to work at home? Working from home is often more comfortable, and it can save workers money on gas and lunches out.
  • Additional Training - Some people might really value improving their education or work skills. Offering them classes or extra training might be appreciated.
  • A Relaxed Environment - Some companies are starting to let their team members go without shoes. (No, we're not kidding!) Letting workers walk around in their stocking feet (keeping their shoes at their desks in case clients come in) is not only relaxing, but it also helps them feel more "at home" with one another. You might think about relaxing the dress code as well.
  • Volunteer Time - Many companies offer their team members one or more paid days off each month to volunteer at an organization that really means something to them. This is a great way to raise morale, and help your local community at the same time.
For more ideas on how to motivate your team creatively, read our articles Rewarding Your Team and Managing During a Downturn (members only).

It's important to make your team aware of the financial value of these benefits. For instance, if you offer your team an additional week of vacation, how much is this worth to each of them? Let them know the numbers so they can appreciate how much these benefits are "worth."

When Your Team Wants Cash, But Can't Have It

Inevitably, some team members will be really upset that they can't have a "traditional" financial bonus, particularly if they're depending on it financially. And while you must acknowledge their feelings, it's important to be honest with them.

Make sure workers understand the company's financial situation. The more your team knows about what's going on, the more likely they'll be to make allowances. So, communicate openly.

Work with your staff. If you really want to retain someone, then examine how you can give that person more money without a bonus. For example, could you provide a company phone or car, saving the person money?

If you have to, be totally - and brutally - honest. If people know that their bonuses will cost themselves (or one of their colleagues) their jobs, they might realize that the bonus is not that important after all.

Be aware that you risk losing genuine star performers to your competitors if you stop paying bonuses. You either need to accept this, or you may need to fund an exceptional bonus, recognizing all of the anger and dissatisfaction that this may cause to other people. This can be a painful dilemma for managers!

Key Points

When the economy is struggling, it's even more important to retain your best workers. Make sure they're happy - there are plenty of ways to keep them motivated without a bonus check/cheque.

Stocks or stock options are always a great idea if your company can offer them, but this alternative might be less appealing when the market is down. Other rewards - like flexible scheduling or additional vacation time - might motivate your team more, and they won't cost your company much, particularly if business is slow
Thanks to James Manktelow / Mind Tools

Top Ten Reasons Why Policies and Procedures Don't Work

We always start our Well-Defined Processes Class by asking the participants "what's wrong with your policies and procedures where you work?" and we always get the same answers.  Students come to the class from different industries, companies, and geographies and yet we still get the same answers every time.

People tell us how hard it is to keep their procedures up-to-date.  Information gets stale fast and it is difficult keeping procedures current and relevant without becoming outdated.  One reason for this is that the procedures are too long in the first place.  If you have a 35-page procedure then, yes, it is difficult to keep all 35 pages up-to-date.  Especially, if the procedure is unclear, overly complicated or just too difficult to understand in the first place.

Another reason procedures are not current is because they are not followed.  If your people were using the procedures then they would get updated with the latest information.  An unused procedure is one that is not updated either.  Revisions are an indicator of usage and revisions help to create effective procedures.

Why don't people follow procedures?

Perhaps your people can't find your procedures.  Maybe they don't even know you have a procedure.  And when they go to look for one, if they can't find it on the server where it is supposed to be they figure you don't have one.  That means your configuration management is suspect.  An uncontrolled procedure implies your system is out of control.

I have also seen procedures that were too simple or generic.  If your procedures are not offering helpful information then your employees will not have a reason to use them.  Poorly written procedures are just as bad as a procedure that are too generic.  If your procedures are incorrect or wrong, of course people will not use them.

Sometimes procedures are just poorly designed without a good format to navigate your way around.  An inconsistent format that changes with every department can confuse the readers.  It helps to think about who procedures are written for when designing your procedures.  Procedures are training aids.  So, frequent users don't really need the procedure at all.  Occasional users need a reminder of what needs to get done and novice users need a lot of description.  Perhaps more than you can or will want to put into a procedure.  In this case novices should use the work instruction.

So what are the Top Ten Reasons Why Policies and Procedures Don't Work?

  1. Procedures are out of date.
  2. Procedures are too long and wordy.
  3. Procedures are unclear, complicated or difficult to understand.
  4. Procedures are not used or followed.
  5. Procedures are hard to find or locate.
  6. Procedures are uncontrolled or out of control.
  7. Procedures are too generic, general or simplistic.
  8. Procedures are incorrect, wrong or poorly written.
  9. Procedures are poorly designed or hard to navigate.
  10. Procedures are inconsistent using different formats.

How to make your procedures work for you

I couldn't leave you with just the problem.  To understand how to make your procedures work you need to fix each of the problems.

  1. Develop a system that keeps your procedures current using intranets, social media constructs (blogs, wikis, SharePoint), software, or new knowledge management systems.
  2. Keep your procedures short and succinct so it is easier to update them.
  3. Use pictures, graphics, and examples to illuminate what you expect.
  4. Incorporate your procedures into the job at the point of use.
  5. Develop a system with easy access (see 1 above), make them searchable online, or make them part of the job (see 4 above).
  6. Revision control is required for ISO and must be part of the job (see 1 & 4 above).
  7. Eliminate generic procedures entirely and save paper.
  8. Keep procedures updated and useful and they won't be wrong (see 1 & 4 above).
  9. Create a common format as part of your document control.
  10. Discipline the organization to follow your procedures.  If they are part of the job then they are more likely to be followed (see 4 above).

Now you know the secrets to writing effective policies and procedures and ensuring that they are used.

Thanks to Bizmanualz

Friday, November 20, 2009

Managing the Five Styles of Communication

Your employees need to be able to interact with end users, staff from other departments and members of the executive team not only to solve technical issues but also make a case for investments or projects your group deems critical. However, everyone has a different communication style, which affects their relationships with others and the ability to collaborate.

As a manager, understanding individual approaches to communication can help you maximize staff performance. Here are five common types of communicators and tips for helping them communicate more effectively:

The Over-Communicator - This person shares too much information. For instance, when asked to summarize progress on a project, he or she gives you a whole host of irrelevant details, such as the amount of time it took to install every application on a desktop.

You can help minimize this problem by setting clear guidelines: "Due to time constraints at this meeting, discussion of your requests for the 2010 budget should be limited to three minutes" or "Please keep status reports to between 300 and 400 words."

The Under-Communicator - You're often left confused after communicating with this individual because you are given little information. The key to helping this person become an effective speaker or writer is to set specific objectives. For instance, rather than saying, "Tell me about your discussion with XYZ vendor," try: "After talking to XYZ vendor, e-mail me details about the product, pricing and ease of implementation, as well as your opinion about whether it's a good option for our needs."

Sometimes people give succinct responses to questions because they think you're too busy to want additional information, so explain when you value the finer details.

The Poor Communicator - Not everyone is equally comfortable communicating both verbally and in written form. An IT professional might get extremely nervous when training a large group on a new application but provide a brilliant written document explaining the software instead.

In these situations, try to tap into individual strengths as much as possible while also doing your part to help the person improve the area in which he or she is weak. Small investments in training often can make all the difference in allowing a Poor Communicator to boost his or her skills.

The Aggressive Communicator - You want employees who are passionate about their work, but Aggressive Communicators often take it too far; refusing to listen to other perspectives. Managers need to stay on top of this type of behavior and set limits, especially during brainstorming sessions where all ideas should be encouraged. If the person has a valid suggestion, recommend the individual submit to you a formal proposal in writing. This gives the employee an outlet for sharing ideas while enabling discussions at meetings to move forward.

The Passive Communicator - This staff member is the quiet type, who tends to agree with what is said, doesn't voice his or her opinion, and rarely commits to a strategy or idea. While it may be nice to have someone in your group who doesn't make waves, you also want an active participant in the team's success.

To encourage greater involvement within the group, remind the person of how critical it is to speak up and also make an effort to ask for the person's feedback. Recognize, too, that the person could be nervous offering candid comments in front of others and may become more vocal if allowed to share his or her opinions one-on-one or in writing.

Remember that your employees' communication skills and style reflect on you and your department. If people can't get the information they need from your staff, they are likely to see your group as unhelpful or ineffective. Do your part as a leader by being clear about expectations, working to bring out the best in your staff, and supporting training and mentoring as improvement strategies. At the same time, recognize that much will come down to the individual's desire to succeed, so consider including communication abilities within performance review criteria.

Thanks to Dave Willmer Is Executive Director Of Robert Half Technology / CIOupdate

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Burnt Toast

It is hard to refute that relationships are like glass mirrors that need to be handled with care. A thoughtless word or a careless action can harm a relationship beyond repair.

This reminds me of an incident that happened when I was a little girl. As usual my mom returned from work very tired. Even I was able to understand how hard the day should have been for her. She prepared dinner for us.
After some time my dad joined us for dinner. My mom placed a plate of fruits and very badly burnt toast in front of him. I noticed it and felt bad. I thought my dad would not like it. But he surprised me by reaching for his toast with a smile; he looked at me and kindly asked me how my day was at school. He went on silently smearing butter and jelly on the toast and ate it with relish! I wondered how he could savor it.
I heard my mom apologizing to my dad for burning the toast. His reply was simply, "I love you darling. I liked it."
When I went to kiss him good night, I asked him if he really liked his toast burnt. He embraced me and said, "Dear, How tired your mom should have been to let the toast become burnt? A little burnt toast is not going to hurt me. You know, imperfect things do have their places in life. Am I the best man in the world? Am I in any way better housekeeper or cook than your mom? Perfection is always a target and we should keep on moving towards it. We are always in the midst of imperfection and trying to improve. We should not hate imperfect things and imperfect people, though we should passionately try to become perfect."
That night I lay awake for a long time, pondering over what my dad had said and the truth in his words.
I learnt that sincere and ceaseless attempt to become faultless did not necessarily imply anger and hatred towards imperfection; it is the most important principle to develop and foster healthy and lasting relationships in life. My dad is no more but his words of wisdom guide me for ever. He always said and meant – "Give to the world the best you have and the best will come back to you".
All of us should learn to take the good and bad, the ugly and beautiful, the friendly and inimical factors of our relationships with equanimity; thank God for His Grace, and pray to Him to bless us; to help us progress with love towards perfection. He alone can give us a relationship that is not so fragile as to get broken by a burnt toast. For any relationship, let it be that of parent and child, husband and wife, teacher and student, boss and employer and so on, if we make the foundation of 'understanding' strong, we can definitely move towards perfection and no imperfection can impede us.
Thanks to Sarda Mohan / K S Venkataraman Is the Associate Editor, Dynamic Youth Online Magazine.


1st year students of MBBS were attending their 1st anatomy class. They all gathered around the surgery table with a real dead dog.

The Professor started class by telling two important qualities as a Doctor. The 1st is that Never Be Disgusted By Anything About Body, e.g. He inserted his finger in dog's mouth & on drawing back tasted it in his own mouth.
Then he said them to do the same. The students hesitated for several minutes. But eventually everyone inserted their fingers in dog's mouth & then tasted it.
When everyone finished, the Professor looked at the said: The most important 2nd quality is Observation; I inserted my Middle finger but tasted the Index finger. Now learn to pay attention. 
Life Is Tough But Its A Lot Tougher When You Are Not Paying Attention.