THE NEW GLOBAL WE.

Dealing With The Jerk At Work

Posted in Big Thought, Pulpit, TOOBs by Harsha on November 27, 2007

Mary Lorenz of Careerbuilder.com has an article on CNN about jerks in the office. You know what I say about this, right?

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Playing Well With Others

Posted in Big Thought, People, Pulpit by Harsha on November 8, 2007

Imagine you’re waiting in the lobby area of a company that builds playgrounds and you find yourself in in a faux-playground with play stuff lying around. Would you pick try to use the slide or sit on the merry-go-round? Interesting way to understand a person. If it were me, I’d probably just look around and smirk.

Oops, I won’t be getting that job.

Apparently, a non-profit called KaBoom does this to check out how interviewees would react. Though I probably won’t make it, I think this technique is pretty solid.

Another company called LindBlad Expeditions doesn’t do the idiotic trick-and-pony show that employers usually do, by showing their prospective employeess a super scary DVD that has quote “two shots of a crew member cleaning toilets. A dishwasher talks about washing 5,000 dishes in one day”. Now there is a sure-fire way of figuring out if you (as a prospective employee) have the chops and guts and desperation (aka ambition) to put yourself through the grinder.

These are some examples on the Associated Press article on CNN. All this is done to figure out if you are a “team player”. Can you get along with other people who are working at the company you want to work at. Do you play well with others; how are your interpersonal skills. See, technical skills are teachable. I can learn how to create Pivot Tables in Excel if I have to, it is easy. What is harder, is how I present these tables to others, how I talk with my cohorts and explain the data to them. THAT is the real deal. You’re sick of hearing this, aren’t you?

Keep this in mind the next time you step into an interview. Keep this in mind next time you subscribe to status quo in interviewing techniques. If you work for a large company, then good luck to you. If you’re a small business person, then really, really spend time thinking about this issue. It is tougher than you think. I have always felt that interviews are nothing more than a total waste of time and don’t let any consultant tell you otherwise. You can ask ALL the dodgy questions you can think of and yet hire a sociopath. I know someone who did.

I believe that behavioral interviewing is the best way to find out if a person is worth their words in reality. Put them to the test. Make them do the job as is, under the pressure, under the gun. If they are that interested in your position, then they’d commit to the process. True, you may leave out some good people out in the wild but what you’re looking for is a passionate person. And this is a good way to put the pedal to the metal, to put your money where you mouth is.

On the flip side, what if you’re one of those “good” people and do a job for a job’s sake and are not particularly passionate about the job or any company’s job for that matter? You can use this tactic to figure out if the prospective employer has it’s head screwed on the right way. The article states, quote: “In the mating dance of job interviews, employers traditionally put their best feet forward, too, trumpeting their wonderful benefits packages while leaving out the bit about working late, eating cold pizza”. So if this company makes you do the job as part of the interview process, they are probably TOO intense for you. They probably do have a ton of cold pizza eaten by their employees at midnight.

At the end of the day, it is about and only about a fit. Try putting a round peg in a square hole to see how hard it is to fit into a place or a clique where you just don’t feel like you belong.

Here is the AP article on CNN.

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Bad Employees

Posted in Big Thought by Harsha on November 7, 2007

Let me begin with a philosophical question.

Are people really bad by birth or is it their environment that makes them so? Someone who appears “bad” to you is actually someone else’s husband or wife or best friend. I’ve touched this idea many times in the past. It really gets confusing because there is no right answer.

When you apply this to the goons overseas like the perpetrators of all genocidal cleansing like in Darfur or the Nazi regime. You’d say that they were REALLY bad people because they did these horrible things but it still does not answer my question as to what made them a bad person (birth or environment). But I digress.

This article on CNN contributed by Careerbuilder.com is pretty interesting. The author Tag Goulet lists 10 reasons (we love those lists don’t we?) why these “bad employees” probably don’t get fired.

1. The employee has a relationship with someone higher up.
2. The boss relies on the employee.
3. The employee brings more value to the company than he or she costs.
4. The boss thinks it could be worse.
5. The boss is afraid of the employee.
6. The boss feels sorry for the employee.
7. The boss doesn’t want to go through the hiring process.
8. The employee knows something.
9. The employee has everybody fooled.
10. He or she is not really a bad employee.

These are all valid reasons and their explanations are pretty good as well. That got me thinking about two concepts: is someone really “bad” and how did this situation arise in the first place. How did the manager or hirer put himself/herself in this situation? Really, I don’t know what to think of when someone tells me so-and-so is a bad person. Trust me, I’ve encountered some really nasty people (like the one I wrote about last year – link at the end of this post). But that still doesn’t make that person bad because he has a wife (and now a child) and he is someone’s loved one. I don’t like him but that is pretty much the sphere of influence of his “badness”. The same applies to good people. They may appear good to some folks but bad to others; it is possible.

Back to the question of how this happened in the first place. If you look at the list of 10 above, you can pick a corollary for each and I think it gives us guidelines to prevent viewing someone as bad or unsavory. If you took a guy that was a mover for 5 years and put him in a corporate environment (small business type), then you’re bound to have sparks fly.

Before you hire someone, think of these things:

1. The employee has a relationship with someone higher up.
Is this person related to you?

2. The boss relies on the employee.
Can you still do your job after you hire this person?

3. The employee brings more value to the company than he or she costs.
Also known as a “superstar”, can you instead train a rookie to succeed?

4. The boss thinks it could be worse.
STATUS QUO IS UNACCEPTABLE!!!

5. The boss is afraid of the employee.
Stop calling yourself a boss in that case, unless you have a meddling superior yourself who frequently dips down to “manage” your direct reports himself.

6. The boss feels sorry for the employee.
I’ve felt this for some of my reports, but if that person is so concerned about their wellbeing, then they’d do their job, don’t you think?

7. The boss doesn’t want to go through the hiring process.
It is possible that you went into this mode when you hired this “bad” employee so maybe you need some counseling to pull your socks up?

8. The employee knows something.
Also known as “blackmail”, which is also illegal, no matter the consequences.

9. The employee has everybody fooled.
You can fool one person all the time or fool everyone once, but that is it. If this person has been “fooling everyone” and you’re the boss, then chances are you just missed it. No one can fool everyone all the time.

10. He or she is not really a bad employee.
NOW you’re thinking better. Question your hypothesis if the person is “bad” or just not a fit with your organization.

Let us not confuse “bad” with “not a fit”. Your trash is someone else’s treasure so you should be happy that if you let someone go because they don’t fit, then they might have a chance at finding a job that fits and makes them happy. At the end of the day, if you’re not a megalomaniac, a dictator, a sadist or a masochist, you’re just like the rest of us – seeking happiness. So is this “bad” employee.

Please let them go.

Here is the Careerbuilder.com article on CNN.com.