Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mindful Minutes: A Simple, Effective Way To Manage Stress At Work (Or Anywhere)

Having written an entire workbook teaching people how to reduce the "frazzle" of life, it always surprises me when I stumble on a new stress management technique that actually works. Sure, there's always some new fangled idea floating around. Unfortunately, more often than not, I find such ideas are full of promise but lack the substance to really make them worthwhile.

This is why I'm so excited to share my latest discovery and how it came about. Here's the story:

I caught a radio interview with Goldie Hawn the other day. Yes, she's the stunningly beautiful blond actress who appears to be aging backwards in a Benjamin Button kind of way. But she wasn't sharing beauty tips. Instead, she was talking about a new children's education program her foundation is supporting called Mind Up.

This program seeks to incorporate mindfulness strategies into traditional classroom education. The research of positive psychology shows that teaching children strategies for focusing their attention and monitoring experience without immediately reacting has the potential to impact brain function as well as improve social and emotional well-being and balance.

During the interview, the actress-turned-advocate discussed one aspect of the program that particularly caught my interest. Among other activities, children in the Mind Up program enjoy "Mindful Minutes," where they simply sit quietly and reflect. This gives them a few short meditative breaks during the otherwise chaotic school day in which they are given the space and freedom to decompress and wind down. They're finding that children in the program are experiencing less stress, have better concentration, and feel more optimistic in general.

So, this got me thinking. What if we all took Mindful Minutes throughout the day? What if, every few hours, we just shut the door or stepped away from the computer for just five minutes and let silence wash over us? How would that impact our stress throughout the workday?

I've been trying out the technique for the past few weeks since I heard this interview. And, though it's been somewhat difficult to get into the rhythm, I've definitely noticed a significant impact on days when I make Mindful Minutes a priority.

My final verdict? Mindful Minutes are a great addition to any stress management program.

Here's why:

Strength of Body and Mind

It only takes a few minutes to re-energize your body and mind. Energy levels stay remarkably higher when you aren't camped out at your desk all day. Mindful Minutes will force you to get up and step away from your groove. If possible, go outside and enjoy a little sunshine and fresh air in the process. Physically, you'll feel less tense and mentally, you'll be more alert when you return.

Improved Creativity and Enthusiasm

Even if you're totally absorbed in a project, breaking your stride is actually a really GOOD thing. It gives you a chance to take a step back, shift your perspective and gain clarity. Sometimes, we get so deeply focused on the details; we lose sight of the bigger goals. A few minutes to reflect and mentally reorganize can do wonders for creativity and enthusiasm.

More Rational Decision-making

When emotions are running high or you're feeling anxious and stressed, it can be tempting to make snap decisions. This is especially dangerous in the workplace. A few minutes spent relaxing in a quiet environment can help put things back in perspective and inspire you to handle frustration in a more rational, professional way.

How to Use Mindful Minutes

If you're interested in using the Mindful Minutes technique, here's what I would recommend:

  • Make a schedule and follow it. Every two to three hours worked well for me, but you might want to play around with it. Just don't let yourself do it "whenever you feel like it" because, chances are, you'll get distracted and won't follow through. Plus, part of the impact comes from the routine. When you don't think you need to do it, you often have the most powerful experiences.
  • Keep the breaks short. Don't dawdle and waste time. This isn't a real "break". It's a brain break. Five minutes is really ideal.
  • Have an established place to go where it's quiet and you won't be bothered. If possible, go outside and stand in a ray of sunshine.
  • Don't DO anything. This isn't a break to run an errand, pick up lunch or chat with a co-worker. Resist the urge to multi-task. Your only responsibility for these five minutes is to yourself.

I know how hard it is to manage stress, whether at work, at home or on the road. Even with all the research I've done and all the techniques I've used, I still have trouble on some days. I know regularly incorporating the Mindful Minutes strategy into my regular routine will have a profound effect. I hope you'll try it as well and report back.

Chrissy Scivicque (pronounced "Civic"), founder of Eat Your Career, is an award-winning freelance writer/editor with a passion for two things: food and helping others.

Thanks to Chrissy Scivicque / Careerealism

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When You Become Your Friends' Boss

Find out how to keep your friends when you become their boss.

Sure, a promotion is a cause for celebration. But if your advancement up the corporate ladder puts you a rung above your former peers, don't be surprised if their words of congratulations are tinged with anger, envy, or even mistrust.

How should you handle it when your new position turns your office mates into your underlings? According to Val Arnold, senior vice president of the Minneapolis consulting firm Personnel Decisions International, begin by recognizing that relationships with coworkers will inevitably change. And keep in mind that your colleagues' reactions--whether jealousy or joy--may have less to do with you than with the new role you're taking on.

While your work friendships won't quite be the same, you can and should try to preserve them. Organizational psychologist Harry Levinson, Ph.D., strongly encourages new bosses to extend a hand to employees. "A simple thing to do is bring your colleagues together and tell them that although you're pleased to be promoted, you don't want to lose old friends," Levinson says. Describing the duties of your new position and privately explaining what you expect of each person can prevent misunderstandings and alleviate tension.

But rather than rule with an iron fist, new bosses should assert their authority gradually. Asking employees for their input when problems arise will help them respect you, and your increased authority, more easily.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

3 Worst Mistakes Managers And Supervisors Make

They say the perfect business has no managers, no supervisors, and no employees. Unfortunately, your business isn't perfect, and you have to deal with managers and supervisors who will make today's "worst mistakes" if you don't train them.

Here are the worst mistakes managers make:

Worst #1 — Failure to Be Honest in Performance Management

Supervisors and managers don't like to deliver bad news, so they just avoid it. They observe bad behavior, they accept poor performance, and they say nothing, then it's time to complete the performance appraisal. Since they've said nothing about the poor performance, instead of hitting the employee with the truth, the supervisor or manager simply awards a "satisfactory."

The manager thinks that he or she is sending a message, because "satisfactory" is considered a low rating.

This creates a double edged problem. First of all, nothing's being done about the poor performance, so it will just continue as a productivity drag.

Second, you're setting yourself up to lose a lawsuit—already, the manager's thinking doesn't match the written record.

And things are only going to get worse. Eventually, the poor performance is going to cause the managers or supervisor to take action.

The manager fires the employee, but, unfortunately, once again, the manager doesn't tell the truth. The manager says, "Sorry, due to budgetary restrictions, we had to let someone go."

Later, the employee sues, saying, "I found out there are no budgetary restrictions. The firing was because I am in a protected group."

Now the manager backpedals—"Well actually, the reason for the termination was poor performance."

Boom. The framework for the successful lawsuit is in place.

An employee with demonstrably "satisfactory" performance (as documented by his appraisal forms signed by the manager), was officially terminated for "budgetary restrictions." Now the manager is saying the real reason was poor performance.  Clearly the manager was untruthful at some point.

And unfortunately, the poor performance is not documented. The jury is going to side with the employee. Or, more likely, this case is going to settle.

Worst #2 — Making Snap Decisions When Responding to Employee Requests and Complaints

Certainly, many employee requests are annoying, or unreasonable, or even outrageous, but that doesn't mean that you can ignore them, or refuse them, or even react angrily to them.

That's not easy when, for instance, a key worker asks for FMLA leave with the busy season coming up. Or you had a very good shot at getting a proposal out on deadline and then the writer needs "bonding time." Or his "back is acting up" or her "migraines are getting worse."

Whatever the situation, managers and supervisors need to be trained to "keep their cool" and give the request due respect. Training managers to deal with these situations is relatively easy—Tell managers "If this kind of situation arises, say 'I'll get back to you,' and head to HR."

Complaints are similar in that they can be upsetting (especially if directed at the manager or supervisor in question) but must be dealt with respectfully. For example:

  • Allegations of discrimination, retaliation, or illegal practices
  • Questions about safety or a refusal to do a job because it is viewed as unsafe
  • A report of an illegal act or refusal to perform an act perceived to be illegal
  • Questions about wages, hours, overtime, etc.
  • Requests for workers' compensation
  • Requests for accommodation on the basis of disability or religion

Employees have rights in these areas, and they must be respected. In addition, be aware that your denying these rights will rarely look good in court. ("Even after being informed that the action was unsafe, you tried to force the employee to do it?")

As one expert says, "Don't let your managers and supervisors deal with these situations—they'll mess it up for sure."

Worst Mistake #3 — Basic Wage/Hour Stumbles

Employees will tolerate a lot, but start messing with their paychecks, and there will be trouble, guaranteed. Many wage/hour problems seem relatively small, but they can be magnified dramatically as class actions.

For example, say you fail to pay 5 hours of overtime per week to an employee. Call it 250 hours in a year, with a $10 an hour premium, and it's $2500. No big deal. Now multiply by 200 employees. Whoops, that's half a million. Double it and add in attorney's fees—yours and the employee's—and you've got a big number.

Here are the most common wage/hour failures:

Failing to Pay All Hours Worked

One common scenario is employees who put in unpaid hours willingly ("Don't worry, I'll finish that up at home."). That's thoughtful, but it doesn't relieve you of the obligation to pay. The other common scenario is when people are expected to do setup before clocking in (filling cash register, setting up tables) or do cleanup after clocking out. ("Do you mind just prepping for tomorrow after you clock out?")

Another increasingly common scenario is employees who are expected to take calls or answer e-mail on their phones or Blackberries (or home computers) off hours. If it's more then de minimis, it's probably hours worked.

Making Special Arrangements

Another wage/hour problem that crops up is that managers and supervisors make special arrangements with employees. For example:

Offering comp time in private sector. There's no such thing as comp time in the private sector. If employees work, they get paid. (Hours may be exchanged during a work week, however; a non-exempt employee can leave work early and make up the time the next day with no problem as long as both days are within the same work week.)
Lesser or no overtime rate. No matter what employees agree to, or even ask for, they must be paid time and one half their regular rate for overtime hours.
After clocking out. Before clocking in. Employees may want to "help out" and work some hours off the clock, but that is not permitted. If they work, they have to be paid.

Failing to Properly Calculate the 'Regular Rate'

The regular rate, the amount on which overtime is calculated, includes non-discretionary bonuses, shift differentials, etc. If such bonuses are awarded after the pay period closes, you have to go back and recalculate.

Wage and hour, one of what, 20 things you need to train managers and supervisors on? Training is critical, but it's tough to fit it in. To train effectively, you need a program that's easy for you to deliver and that requires little time from busy schedules. Also, if you're like most companies in these tight budget days, you need a program that's reasonable in cost.

Thanks to Steve Bruce / HR Daily Advisor BLR / BLR Business & Legal Reports

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

3 Things We Can Learn about Compensation Communications from the News

The news is always a great place to learn about communications skills and methodology. How to keep things positive while you deflect charges like a "Teflon" president. What happens (or doesn't) when you don't build consensus. The list could go on and on.

Oddly enough, the teachable moments for me in the last few weeks have come from the Occupy Wall Street movement. I keep thinking that their words can teach people in our business a lot about compensation communications. After all, participants in Occupy Wall Street have a message to send that they hope will change behaviors in large groups of people, especially those in organizations. See what I mean?

Let's take a look.

  • Describing their purpose. They have told news sources that they are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed and corruption. The words make their efforts sound straightforward. But I've also been thinking about the impact on the listener. Even as you hear their philosophy, you may be thinking, "But it's not that simple." Or you may be thinking as I did, "Do they mean me?" As in, since I work in and around corporations, does your criticism apply to me, too?

Lesson? Neither of these reactions will encourage me to listen or act. I'm pointing this out to show that words really do have power and that there's a communications lesson here for us. If your audience doesn't "get it" the way you think they should, you have spoken but you have not influenced their opinion. This can easily (and regularly) happen if you don't audience-test your compensation communications. You can create communications that have no impact, or barely the impact that you want, because your audience doesn't get it the way you assumed they would.

  • Explaining how. As the audience for Occupy Wall Street over the last few weeks, have you learned how they would go about the change they are promoting? Any idea what they think your role should be? What the world will look like after they have achieved success?

Lesson? If Occupy Wall Street's representatives have talked about these things, the information has gotten lost. But we need these details to be vibrant and compelling if we are going to react in any way that would lead to change. We need to be able to envision what the changed world would look like, what we would be doing in it and what's in it for us to make the effort to get there.

  • Communicating best when something goes wrong. I live across a bridge from Oakland, so I have heard a lot about that location's story. If they weren't having problems, I would have heard a lot less even though I am in the neighborhood. We all may be the 99%, but we feel most comfortable talking to the guy next to us who is probably on the same wavelength.

Lesson? It's a nuisance to struggle to be  understood. It takes a lot more effort to speak clearly and understandably to those outside of HR and we put it off a lot. As a result we wait until we can't avoid it, like the end-of-year performance management and compensation activities. Then, we talk to those outside the department but rush back inside our own group -- where we can speak among friends -- as soon as we can. We've got to get out there more often if we want to be understood and achieve change.

It seems like such an complex and interesting time in our world. Interesting, I think, because there so much to learn from watching and listening. (As soon as I stop hyperventilating and get my fingers out of my ears!)

Margaret O'Hanlon is founder and principal of re:Think Consulting. She has decades of experience teaming up with clients to ensure great Human Resource ideas deliver valuable business results.  Margaret brings deep expertise in total rewards communications and change management to the dialog at the Café. Before founding re:Think Consulting, she was a Principal in Total Rewards Communications and Change Management with Towers Perrin. Margaret is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Pacific Plains Region. She earned her M.S. and Ed.S. in Instructional Technology at Indiana University. Creative writing is one of her outside passions, along with Masters Swimming.

Thanks to Margaret O'Hanlon / Compensation Café

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Monday, June 2, 2014

5 Common Pitfalls Of Work Friendships

How not to end up fired and friendless.

She's your boss-- and your friend (at least when she can actually loosen up and act like a normal human being). As the lines between professional and personal life become increasingly blurred, and people spend more hours of the day working (or at least pretending to), it's unrealistic to think that work can't-- or shouldn't-- engender true friendships. Nonetheless, there are six common missteps that can spell doom for the ever-tenuous dance between colleague and friend:

Drawing Inadequate Boundaries: You need not put Saran Wrap around your cube, but you must find a way not to violate the first tenet of professionalism: maintaining adequate boundaries. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time to let your team members know about your blog, or confide to that intern about that you went through a bit of a hallucinogenic phase in high school. Tread carefully. Whether it's too loud of personal phone calls or having a bright-pink email signature listing every last one of your favorite movie quotes, it can be quite tempting to reveal too much-- greatly damaging your professional identity in the process.

Creating an All-for-One and One-for-All Partnership: If you and your closer-than-close work buddy are virtually indistinguishable from each other (it's a bad sign if your bladders are in sync because of all the dual coffee and bathroom breaks), then you're denying yourself the opportunity to shine as an individual. And you're also entrusting your professional identity-- and future opportunities-- to someone else, who might be a fabulous friend but a less-than-stellar worker. If a natural, genuine friendship develops with a coworker, by all means, enjoy it. But don't let your bosom-buddyhood keep you from being seen as your own person.

Overindulging in Gossip: What would a workplace be without a little dirt? The answer is hard-- and quite boring-- to imagine. It's a natural human instinct to discuss other people, and it makes sense that in a self-contained community such as a workplace, occasional gossip-- just like passive-aggressive kitchen notes-- will happen. But becoming known as the office snarker, or being indiscreet or hurtful in your discussions, will only lose you trust-- and keep you from moving forward, both personally and professionally.

Letting Your Work Friends Be Your Only Circle: If your office is particularly close-knit, or you work grueling hours in a particularly emotional environment, you might truly feel like your coworkers understand you even better than your family does. In fact, the concept of the "work spouse"-- that partner-in-crime who gets you through the day-- is just beginning to get attention. But just as we all need relationships outside our family, so too do we need friends outside of our workplace. Outside friends might not know a thing about your TPS reports, but they'll be more able to provide you stress relief and distraction-- and better able to ring the the alarm bells if your work seems to be leading you down an unhealthy path.

Expecting To Be Treated as a Friend Instead of a Coworker: You might have the best boss in town. You're close, it's comfortable, and you count her among the people you care most for in life. That's wonderful! But it can easily come back to bite you if you forget that she's still your boss. Sometimes when you've got such a great rapport, it's easy to start expecting to be treated a bit better than everyone else, or to be surprised when special consideration doesn't come your way. Don't fall for this. Your boss expects you to follow the same procedures and rules as everyone else, whether your kids have playdates together-- or you share a shoe-shopping obsession-- or not.

Adapted from "The Friendship Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Keeping Up With Your Friends" (St. Martin's Press), by Andrea Bonior, Ph.D.

Thanks to Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. / Psychology Today

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

10 Things To Remove From Your Resume

20 Seconds.

That's the average amount of time that an employer will spend scanning your resume. The phrase "Less is more" has often been used for design purposes, but it can apply just as well to your resume. The point is to keep only information on your resume that is clear, simple and that supports your brand/message. It is a balance of having just enough information to draw the interest of an employer, while leaving room for you to further explain during an interview. The more irrelevant information you add to your resume, the more it dilutes your key message. Employers today also look right through fluff words and are rather annoyed by them.

So, you ask, "How can I power up my resume and make sure it contains the precise balance of information?" Consider the following:

  1. Replace the "Objective" statement on your resume with "Professional Profile." Employers today are not that interested in what you want. Your opening paragraph needs to be a strong message that summarizes your background and indicates what you are best at. That creates a theme that is then followed by your 'proving' that you are great at these things by showcasing supporting accomplishments in each job.
  2. Eliminate superfluous, or "fluff" words. I can't tell you how many resumes start with "Dynamic visionary…" I call these fluff statements as anyone can make them and they add no real value to your resume. Keep your message on point and stick to the facts. If you want to express these traits, demonstrate it with what you have achieved or accomplished.
  3. Watch your grammar. Sentences in resumes are written like headlines and are in the first person. In other words, the statement "I am known for consistently exceeding my sales quotas" becomes "Known for consistently exceeding sales quotas." Another one of the biggest mistakes when writing a resume is when people mix first person and third person. For example, although "Easily learns new software" sounds right, that is the third-person ("she learns") and should really be "Easily learn" ("I learn"). Small but important point, as you do want your resume to be grammatically correct.
  4. Include one telephone number rather than multiple numbers. If you must list more than one number, make sure to specify under what conditions the other numbers should be used.
  5. Do not include discriminating information. Avoid information that can lead one to discriminate against you, including age, sex, religion, marital status, and ethnicity. This includes the use of photos that should never be on a resume unless your face is an important part of your job (e.g. modeling, TV, etc.). In fact, some employers are forced to ignore your resume if it contains such information because of the chance that they may be accused of discrimination later in the process.
  6. Keep information on your education specific to the degree received, major, institution attended, and if appropriate, your GPA. You do not need to reveal your graduating year, the institution(s) you transferred out of or high school attended.
  7. Include only experiences that are relevant to the job. Employers are not interested in achievements or abilities that are not applicable to the job. If you are in sales and you helped develop an Access database to track supplies, that's nice, but not relevant. Also be cautious about listing your associations or volunteer work that is irrelevant or may be in conflict with the potential employer.
  8. Eliminate technical skills for basic software programs. Most employers today expect you to be familiar with the basic computer programs, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  9. Do not include references unless requested. Employers today expect you to offer references when requested, which is typically during the latter part of the interview process. A top five Peeve of recruiters is seeing "References available upon request" on the resume. Do you really know anyone who would refuse to give references?
  10. Maintain a reasonable length for your resume. If you are a recent graduate, most employers do not expect your resume to be more than one page. However, if you have had considerable professional experience that your resume should be two to three pages. Note the notion all resumes should be one page is not true especially in this market. Resumes need to have enough detail to support your positioning so a two to three page resume is acceptable. I always tell my clients a resume has to have a compelling message and be easy to read, so after you have tightened up your content, format it to have a decent amount of white space.

Finding the right balance of information for your resume can make it impactful. It's not about how long or short your resume is or how many employers you've worked for, but finding the right information and words to present it in the best light to demonstrate that you have the specific experiences and skills the employer is seeking. So, keep in mind the phrase, "Less is more" when creating or updating your resume.

Don Goodman, president of Resume Writing Service – About Jobs is a nationally recognized career expert.

Thanks to Don Goodman / Careerealism

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

4 Roles Every Project Team Needs

Over at the HBR Blog Network author Michael Schrage says that CEO's should assign their top creative thinkers to fix up the organization's most boring and ineffective processes. He says that this shift in thinking—putting the brightest employees on the "most trivial/scut work" projects will send a powerful signal to the organization: "Improving efficiency and effectiveness for the entire organization — for everybody — should be a top management and top talent priority, too."

OK, I'm on board with the premise. But here's where this idea could potentially break down: many of those "top talent" types that Schrage is talking about abhor the mundane. My experience tells me that many creative types aren't wired for perfecting processes. Even if an executive could convince the high-performers of the project's merits, the daily grind of ferreting out the inefficiencies of the process would probably drive most "idea people" insane.

For a "put your top talent on your worst business processes" strategy to work, a leader needs to understand that there are four basic project roles* that people enjoy. The key is, not all people enjoy the same roles in equal measure and not all people are equally good at all four roles. Here's a rundown of the 4 roles every process improvement project needs:

Create – this role is about ideation. People who naturally "create" love coming up with ideas (some of them outlandish) and then handing these off to people who will organize their copious and somewhat random stuff into a workable solution.

Advance – creating connections is this role's strength. A person who loves the role of "advancer" loves to bring people together, create coalitions and ensure that all stakeholders' voices are heard.

Refine – think of this role as the "red pen" editor. People who naturally gravitate toward this role are able to take an existing idea and make it better. They can easily spot the gaps or inefficiencies in a process.

Execute – "Get 'er done" is this role's motto. Milestones and action plans are this role's sweet spot. People who are skilled in execution can keep the project moving along, and will deliver on time and under budget.

Here's my caution to a leader considering Schrage's recommendation to put the "top talent" on clean-up duty for messy company processes: be sure that the talent you select not only can create, but can advance, refine and execute. Most likely, this is going to require a diverse project team, because most Creators love ideation but abhor refinement. Likewise, most Refiners love to edit the process, but find ideation tedious. And so on.

All of these roles must be fulfilled if an organization is to succeed in shedding what Schrage calls the "computational crap and digital detritus that inevitably occur when organizations try to keep going and growing fast."

Thanks to Jennifer Miller / People-Equation / The People Equation blog by Jennifer V. Miller On Workplace Dynamics

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Why Do We Always Pick On The New Guy?

As the child of a military man, we were always on the move. Every one or two years from the ages of 5 to 18 we moved from one military base to the next. We moved so much that after a while I stopped saying goodbye to my friends before I would leave. I would just 'split.'

My adult life hasn't been much different, as I have transferred quite a few times for jobs. At the college where I am currently employed I have only worked there for two years.

Which means I am quite familiar with the role of the new guy. As a child this always meant new friendships and sometimes exciting new environments. It also meant new bullies and as a teenage male always having to prove myself to different sets of testosterone filled adolescents.

As an adult being the new guy (or gal) takes on a different meaning. The craziness of school yard childhood bullying goes away and is often replaced by passive aggressive workplace behavior from workmates/colleagues and the occasional office tyrant.

Many of you may already know what I'm talking about, but there are a few who may have been lucky enough to have no or very pleasant 'new guy' experiences. Yet, regardless of the severity or pleasantness of the 'new guy' experience the back and forth dance must take place.

Robert Sommers in his book Personal Space: The Basis of Behavioral Design (2008), talks about two things that affect people's behavior when first meeting each other. Those things are "territoriality" and "dominance." Sommers asserts that most people avoid trouble because they are fully aware of areas that are 'safe' territories (usually their own) and avoid those that aren't. Further, because they are intimately familiar with the power hierarchies that exist between them and other people within their own environment there is usually no need for conflict (dominance) because arrangements, whether conscious or not, have already been determined.

Now imagine the 'new guy' entering the new work environment. The people within the organization already have their arrangements in place. They know their roles, who is in charge, their general standing in the scheme of things and written and unwritten protocols of the organization. The new person upsets this balance and the balance has to be restored, albeit in a different way than before.

The established members of the group only have to deal with the new person once in establishing a relationship, regardless if the outcome is positive or negative. The new person has to negotiate terms with everyone in the organization.

As Sommers expressed in his research, established members use territorial claims in negotiating with newcomers and let them know immediately where they stand. These types of claims are often verbal and serve as gentle warnings. For instance, an established member may say, "Don't worry about these invoices, I always handle these." Usually, the new person (without rank) would respond to such statements with deference until they learn where their own boundaries begin and end.

However, if that fails then 'dominance' techniques will be used, depending of course, on the level of aggressiveness the established members are willing to display. But, since the workplace is not designed or tolerates such behavior, newcomers are usually at the receiving end of passive aggressive activity.

Examples of the treatment handed out to 'new guys' in the workplace include being called a "newbie" or "rookie;" being told an inappropriate joke to see how they will respond; being ignored by someone in the hallway even after being properly introduced; having to listen to rants such as "you young people are all over the place;" and being subjected to the "stick with me and I'll show you the ropes" conversations. In severe cases, established members try to assert themselves by yelling or using threats.

What can be done?

Well, one major way to lessen 'new guy' woes is to make sure you learn as much as you can about your new environment and the role you will serve before accepting a position.Unwritten rules and informal codes always play a role in any job and sometimes can only be learned on the job, but knowing your rights, responsibilities and duties can go a long way in avoiding hassles and 'stepping on toes.'

Is there a cure-all to avoid some of the pinch of being the new guy? Not really, because people can applaud, resent or be indifferent to your arrival for the same reasons. But knowing that friction can and will occur and that its most likely not you, but the circumstance, will help you deal with situations more calmly as they arise.

Bakari Akil II, Ph.D. is the author of Pop Psychology - The Psychology of Pop Culture and Everyday Life! 






Thanks to Bakari Akil II, Ph.D. / Psychology Today


How To Set Better Goals: Avoid Four Common Mistakes

Badly Set Goals Can Degrade Performance, Motivate Unethical Behavior And Damage Organization's.

It's no accident that goal-setting pervades so many areas of modern life.

There are hundreds of research studies going back decades showing that setting goals can increase people's performance.

Most have heard the goal-setting mantra that goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-targeted (S.M.A.R.T.); but few recognise the dangers of poor goal-setting and the unintended consequences that can follow.

Here's how to avoid four common problems with goal-setting, which are highlighted by Ordonez et al. (2009) at the Harvard Business School.

1. Too Specific

The problem with setting goals that are too specific is that they can bias people's behaviour in unintended ways.  For example:

  • If you use goals to effectively tell a university professor that all that's important is publishing articles, then what is going to happen to her teaching?
  • If you tell call-center staff that the main thing is how quickly they answer the phone, what's going to happen to how they deal with the call?

Very specific goals can degrade overall performance by warping the way people view their jobs.

Better goals: keep them somewhat vague. This gives people control and choice over how they do their jobs. When people are given vaguer goals they can take into account more factors: in short it makes them think for themselves. It's no wonder that having control is strongly linked with job satisfaction.

2. Too Many Goals

Perhaps the answer, then, is to set loads of goals which cover all aspects of a person's work? Not necessarily, as that introduces its own problems.

For one thing people tend to concentrate on the easiest goal to the exclusion of the others. For example, in one study participants were given both quality and quantity goals related to a task. When quantity goals were easier to achieve than quality, they focused mostly on quantity.

This study is showing how a well-meaning goal can warp people's behaviour in unintended directions.

Better goals: limit the total number of goals. Apart from anything else, who can remember 10 or 20 goals they are supposed to be working towards?

3. Short-Termism

Why is it so hard to get a cab on a rainy day?

The answer isn't just that more people are hailing cabs; it's also that the cab drivers go home earlier because they hit their targets earlier for the day. So Camerer et al., (1997) found in their study of New York cab drivers.

This is a prime example of short-termism: goals can make people believe that when they hit their target, they can take the rest of the day (or month!) off.

This works at an organizational level as well: if an organization is continually working to meet short-term goals, it can neglect the long-term importance of innovation and evolution.

Better goals: Make sure short-term goals don't interfere with the long-term vision, otherwise they can be corrosive for the organization.

4. Too Hard

When goals are too hard, they encourage people to do anything in order to meet them; that includes unethical behaviour.

One example of unethical behaviour prompted by poor goals was in the hard disk manufacturer, MiniScribe. Back in 1989, in order to meet financial targets, they began shipping bricks instead of hard drives. The bricks sat unopened for a few weeks in a Singapore warehouse, while Miniscribe successfully invoiced for them. The company soon went into bankruptcy.

Miniscribe's story is also a brilliant example of short-term thinking. What did they think was going to happen when the bricks were discovered, as they surely would be?

Similarly, research has also shown that when people are set more difficult goals, they are more willing to take risks. In some circumstances this may be acceptable, but often it is not.

Not only that, but goals that are too hard are simply demotivating. How come almost reaching your target feels like failure, even when you're 99% there?

Better goals: Set genuinely achievable goals rather than so-called 'stretch' goals. These will avoid encouraging people to behave unethically.

New Rules Of Goal-Setting

All of these problems are further exaggerated by larger the incentives. When there are huge amounts of money at stake, then badly set goals can distort human behaviour even more.

So, use these warnings as ways to set better goals, and be careful of unintended consequences.

Ordonez et al. (2009) conclude by saying:

"Rather than dispensing goal setting as a benign, over-the-counter treatment for students of management, experts need to conceptualize goal setting as a prescription-strength medication that requires careful dosing, consideration of harmful side effects, and close supervision."

With that warning in mind, here are some new rules of goal-setting

  • Goals should be somewhat abstract.
  • Goals should be set with an eye on the long-term.
  • Goals should be relatively limited in number.
  • Goals should not be too hard to achieve.

(Oh, and unless they've ordered them, never ship bricks.)

Thanks to Spring Org UK / PsyBlog


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Trouble With Hanging On To Workplace Misfits

It would be ideal if recruiting worked perfectly and all new hires were perfect assets to your specific workplace culture. But that's not ever going to be the case. We humans are a widely varied bunch and every process — recruiting, onboarding, and management — is dictated by the uniqueness of the people involved.

So there are always going to be some new hires that in due time reveal themselves as inappropriate to the requirements and spirit of your workplace culture. And typically, all too often, these people are kept on and on and on until the inevitable has to happen. They must be let go. But usually this follows months and even years of team upheaval, manager distress and disappointment, and of course inadequate work ethic and output.

What's the problem? Why is it so hard to pull the plug on these folks early on?

Three Key Management Traps:

1 - False Hope

You believed in the person when you agreed to hire him/her, so you want to give that person as much time and freedom to get acclimated and prove you were correct in your decision. You know it's often challenging at first when someone joins an existing team or takes over for a leader that has now left the company or been promoted to new stature and greater responsibilities.

So you continue to hope that all will be well — in due time — even when the signals start to appear that it won't. After all, you are terrifically busy and you don't want to believe that you made a mistake and now have to let this person go and hire someone new. After all, that's going to be a drag on your time AND on your ego AND on your professional reputation. 

2 - Not Wanting To Hurt Anyone's Feelings

Most people would prefer to never hurt anyone's feelings or upset the status quo. And business managers and supervisors are no different. So rather than bring up the evidence that someone is having a difficult time, or is acting out their dissatisfaction by coming late to meetings, refusing to be present in team meetings by monkeying around in their iphone, or routinely turning in their work after the deadline you wait, you put off the "big talk for small boys/girls."

And it just gets worse. And worse. And even worse. Until you absolutely have to take action or your entire team or company will be all over you to do something.

3 - Hating To Admit The Mistake In Hiring

It's not just that you have to face having confrontational conversations with the misfit in question, you also have to come to terms with the fact tat you got it wrong during the recruiting process. And even if you inherited the person when their former manager left the company or got promoted, you still had faith that everything would work out.

But now there's no room for turning a blind eye, hoping against hope that you will be redeemed as having made a good decision in bringing the person on and/or having hoped they will turn themselves around and become reformed. You must accept defeat and it feels terrible.

So what to do the next time!?

Three Management Misfit Musts

1 - Address Issues Immediately

The biggest mistake managers make is to wait to bring up problems. It gives both people a false sense of optimism that everything will be alright when it isn't now and may never be. Nip problems in the bud, as they say, and you'll be way ahead of the game when the person does step up to the plate OR they continue to spiral downhill making their exit a foregone conclusion.

2 - Allow Only One Second Chance

The second biggest mistake we see is managers waffling about what to do. They announce one thing ("You have to meet the next deadline or we'll need to meet with HR.") and then do something else ("I appreciate that there was some difficulty in your family this past month, perhaps you can get everything on track now.") leaving the managee to believe they have many more options and/or chances going forward and therefore making the task of letting them go more prolonged and more painful—for both of you.

3 - Cut The Connection ASAP

We've seldom seen a PIP (performance improvement program) lead to someone turning it around and being able to stay on the job. We're not saying never do it, but it's cleaner and more in keeping with fair treatment to let the person go, allowing HR to take care of the specific details, so that the person can get on with their professional life and you can move on to recruit a more appropriate replacement. The sooner you can come to the conclusion that the person will not ever be a good culture fit, the better for everyone involved.

The key to moving forward with less pain and considerably reduced use of your precious time is to remember that almost never do people change their stripes in order to fit in where they don't actually belong in the first place.

I look forward to hearing about your experiences with having to let misfits go.

Thanks to Judith Sherven, PhD / LinkedIn

Friday, February 14, 2014

Designing The Smart Organization: How Breakthrough Corporate Learning Initiatives Drive Strategic Change And Innovation By Roland Deiser

Designing the Smart Organization: How Breakthrough Corporate Learning Initiatives Drive Strategic Change and Innovation

Designing The Smart Organization: How Breakthrough Corporate Learning Initiatives Drive Strategic Change And Innovation By Roland Deiser

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Filling a gap in the literature, this book offers an innovative interdisciplinary approach to learning for corporate strategic development, linking the domains of strategy, organizational design, and learning. To demonstrate how this process drives the boundaries of the practice way beyond the established notion of simple training and management education, the book is filled with detailed case studies from leading global organizations, including Siemens, ABB, BASF, the US Army, PricewaterhouseCoopers, EADS, Novartis, and more. These studies reveal how large-scale corporations are using the power of dynamic corporate learning approaches to drive innovation, enhance cultural values, master post-merger integration, transform business models, enhance leadership culture, build technological expertise, foster strategic change processes, and ultimately increase bottom line results.

For any company that wants to compete in the 21st century, Designing the Smart Organization offers inspiring perspectives for integrating corporate learning as a core business practice that will create sustainable strategic and organizational capabilities.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #715458 in eBooks
  • Published on: 2009-10-01
  • Released on: 2009-10-01
  • Format: Kindle eBook
Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Designing the Smart Organization

Increased competition in the international marketplace and the volatile and ever-changing economic landscape have put the spotlight on corporate learning as a business function that can help determine and sustain long-term business success.

Written by Roland Deiser—an internationally acclaimed expert on building strategic capabilities into large-scale systems—Designing the Smart Organization outlines an innovative paradigm of corporate learning that can help any organization achieve remarkable results. In this groundbreaking book, Deiser abandons the traditional thinking about corporate learning and redefines it as the core engine for building sustainable "strategic competence" into the DNA of a firm. Thus corporate learning becomes an indispensable enabler of continuous strategic innovation and change.

Designing the Smart Organization provides a framework for a more comprehensive and strategic perspective of the corporate learning agenda that puts special emphasis on integrating learning interventions with the strategic process of the firm. To demonstrate how this process drives the boundaries of the practice way beyond the established notion of simple training and management education, the book is filled with case studies from leading companies and organizations including ABB, EADS, Siemens, Novartis, BASF, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, and the U.S. Army. These studies reveal how leading large-scale and cutting-edge global corporations are using the power of dynamic corporate learning approaches to drive innovation, enhance cultural values, master post-merger integration, transform business models, build technological expertise, foster strategic change processes, and ultimately increase bottom-line results.

For any company that wants to compete in the twenty-first century, Designing the Smart Organization offers inspiring perspectives for integrating corporate learning as a core business practice that will create sustainable strategic and organizational capabilities.

From the Back Cover

Designing the Smart Organization

How breakthrough corporate learning initiatives drive strategic change and innovation

Roland Deiser

Praise for Designing the Smart Organization

"Without any qualification and only with heartfelt enthusiasm, this book should be read immediately by every leader in every institution. My excitement is based on three profound contributions that Deiser's book offers: 1) the single best argument and summary of 'organizational learning' and its significance, 2) ten brilliant and powerful case studies which illustrate his concepts and tremendously practical action steps, 3) this book is especially useful right now in these times when all organizations are facing uncertainty, chaos, and crises. What could be more important to organizational systems and their leaders than to learn, adapt, and recover from these setbacks!"
—Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business at the University of Southern California, author of On Becoming a Leader, and coauthor of Transparency and Judgment

"A smart, useful book; but it is more than just that. With logic and examples, Roland helps us realize just how much we must regrind our lenses for seeing how deep learning can naturally happen in an organization if we just move beyond traditional notions of corporate training and re-conceive learning as a strategic imperative. I highly recommend this book for any corporate leader who wants to succeed in a rapidly changing world."
—John Seely Brown, independent co-chairman, Deloitte Center for the Edge; former chief scientist of Xerox Corp and director of its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC); and coauthor, The Social Life of Information and The Only Sustainable Edge

"[This book is] filled with knowledge and insight about the challenges learning organizations face in the transition from a traditionalist mindset to a forward-looking perspective on learning strategy. If learning organizations can't make this leap they are likely to be relegated to the back office."
—Michelle Marquard, director, corporate learning, Cisco Systems, Inc.

About the Author

Roland Deiser is the founder and executive chairman of the European Corporate Learning Forum (ECLF) and serves as a senior fellow at the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication. He is an internationally recognized expert on strategy, organizational design, and innovation, with a focus on building strategic capabilities into large-scale systems. His professional work is strongly rooted both in both academia and practice.



The Essential Guide For Hiring & Getting Hired By Lou Adler

The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired

The Essential Guide For Hiring & Getting Hired By Lou Adler

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This book is written for everyone involved in the hiring process.
It will help hiring managers and recruiters find and hire more top-notch people for any job, from entry-level to senior executive. Using the two-question Performance-based Interview, anyone who is involved in assessing candidates will quickly be more effective and more accurate.
Just as important, it will help job-seekers find better jobs by giving them an inside view of how most companies look for, assess and hire new employees. Hiring top talent starts by clarifying expectations up front. This has been shown to be the primary reason people perform at peak levels. This book is based on the Performance-based Hiring process Lou Adler introduced in his Amazon bestseller, Hire With Your Head.
Performance-based Hiring is now used around the world in small and large organizations and companies. However, it is a non-traditional hiring process. Performance-based job descriptions--which we call performance profiles--replace the commonly used skills- and experience-based job descriptions. Instead of emotions, feelings and biases, evidence is used to assess competency and fit within the organization. Rather than weed out people who don't posses some arbitrary list of prerequisites, compelling career messages are used to excite and attract the best.
Due to this unconventional but commonsense approach, David Goldstein of Littler Mendelson, the largest labor firm in the U.S., was asked to review Performance-based Hiring and provide a general statement of validity. Here's his summary:
"Because the Performance-based Hiring system does differ from traditional recruiting and hiring processes, questions arise as to whether employers can adopt Performance-based Hiring and still comply with the complex array of statutes, regulations, and common law principals that regulate the workplace. The answer is yes.
In particular: 

  • A properly prepared performance profile can identify and document the essential functions of a job better than traditional position descriptions, facilitating the reasonable accommodation of disabilities and making it easier to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws.
  • Even employers that maintain more traditional job descriptions may still use performance profiles or summaries of performance profiles to advertise job openings. Employers are not legally required to post their internal job descriptions when advertising an open position. Nor is there any legal obligation to (or advantage in) posting boring ads.
  • Focusing on Year 1 and Beyond criteria may open the door to more minority, military, and disabled candidates who have a less 'traditional' mix of experiences, thereby supporting affirmative action or diversity efforts.
  • Conducting performance-based interviews ensures that the interviews will be structured and properly focused and minimizes the risk of an interviewer inquiring into protected characteristic. Moreover, since the performance-based interviews are conducted pursuant to a common methodology, one is assured that the candidates are being fairly compared.
  • Performance-based interviewing promotes fair consideration of the different skills and experiences that each candidate has to offer--which is essential to promoting diversity."
Performance-based Hiring can help companies find and hire the best talent available. On the other hand, understanding how companies make these critical decisions can help job-seekers navigate these tricky waters, the poorly designed hiring processes still in use. But no matter which side of the hiring desk you are on, hiring the right person or getting the right job will increase satisfaction, performance and motivation. All it takes is a little common sense, which surprisingly seems in short abundance in the world of hiring.

Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #11199 in Books
  • Published on: 2013-04-24
  • Original language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 280 pages
Editorial Reviews

About the Author
Lou Adler is the president of The Adler Group (www.louadlergroup.com), an international training and consulting firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring. He is the Amazon bestselling author of "Hire With Your Head" (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007), the Nightingale-Conant audio program "Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Hire Top Talent" (2007) and "The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired" (Workbench 2013). Adler is a noted recruiting industry expert, international speaker, and columnist for a number of major recruiting and HR organization sites including SHRM, HRPA, SMA, ERE, LinkedIn, Kennedy Information and HR.com. He holds an MBA from UCLA and a BS in Engineering from Clarkson University.