Garbage in, garbage out is a phrase I learned in one of my first-year Computer Science classes, back in my university days. It was used to express the important concept that incorrect or poor quality input will always produce faulty output. I learned this phrase in the context of computers, but it’s a phrase that is just as easily applicable to the world of work. Except, in recent times, I think we might have forgotten it.
Whether it’s hiring employees, sourcing out raw materials, or investing in training, I see repeated examples of short-sighted managers focusing only on solving the immediate problem. Staff shortage? Let’s hire the first warm body that seems to have the required modicum of skills. Need to cut costs? Let’s find the cheapest material inputs. New software or processes? Let’s give our people the bare minimum of training and get them back to doing “real work” as soon as possible.
The problem with “Garbage in, garbage out”
The problem of course with all these approaches is what I said earlier – garbage in, garbage out. When you are desperate enough to hire the first applicant simply because he meets the required minimums, you’ll never get off the turnover treadmill. When your entire focus is on trying to find cheaper average inputs, your final product will always be of poor quality. When you shortchange your people on the training they need, you’ll find yourself having to waste time and money doing it again later. Continue reading
As workplace demographics shift, with the boomer and the generation-Xer increasingly leaving the work force and the millennial entering, the common belief is that employees are no longer loyal to their employers. Young people are regularly maligned for being self-absorbed and entitled; not willing to “pay their dues”; and impatient to get the promotions and compensation they feel they deserve. As a result, the unfortunate, widely held sentiment is they cannot be counted on to stick around for the long haul, nor ever be loyal to a company. But this point of view is flawed. And my latest column in The Globe & Mail‘s weekend Management series focuses on why.
The reality is that workplace loyalty is not dead. However, “loyalty” has a different meaning than it might have had 20 or even 10 years ago. You can read Is workplace loyalty dead in the age of the millennial? here. In this column, I offer three proven ideas to successfully attract and keep employees in this new age of loyalty.
As always, I’d love to hear your point of view. What has been your experience? And please, pass the link on to others in your departments and organizations who may find it of interest. When we all dialogue about this subject, we are on our way to finding sustainable and effective solutions. Please comment directly at The Globe’s site, or post your response right here on the blog.
Sometimes, The Globe puts my columns behind their paywall. If that happens and you are unable to access the article directly through the link above, you can read a pdf version at this link.
When it comes to recruiting employees, I always say that I would much rather hire for attitude rather than for skills. You see, for the most part, skills are teachable … but a positive can-do attitude is either there or not. Now of course, I’m not suggesting that you completely ignore a required base-level of skills – if you need an accountant or a lawyer or a doctor, you obviously need someone who’s been accredited as such. But I am saying that, as a hiring manager, you will often face the situation where you’ve got two or three individuals who have similar educational certifications, and you’re wavering between them. One person may have more relevant work experience, but another has a more constructive and optimistic attitude. In this circumstance, always hire for attitude. Always pick the individual who has the upbeat outlook with the glass-is-half-full point of view. Here’s why.
Here’s why you should hire for attitude. Continue reading
I have long advocated that leaders need to stay abreast of evolving technology, and tuned to the impact of social media in today’s workplaces. Something interesting happened last week that brought this message home to me, loud and clear, yet again.
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for employers and employees
A young professional male I know was laid off from his job over a year ago due to the current economic recession occurring in Alberta. For over a year, he has been actively seeking new employment, and while he was getting at least a few interviews in the early days of his job search, recently even those have trickled down to almost nothing. That is until last week. He received a message through LinkedIn (the widely-used social media platform that is primarily business and employment-focused) from someone asking if he was still looking for work, and if he could come into an interview the next day. Of course he agreed. But he thought it was odd that this was not an organization that he had reached out to himself, or for that matter one that he had even come across in his months of job search. Continue reading
I was working with a group of supervisors and managers recently and one of them said something that caught my attention, only because it’s something I don’t hear very often. She said “I just love it when a new employee joins my team!” Usually, new hires (whether recent graduates or experienced hires from another organization) are viewed as an inconvenience – just another person to train and bring up to speed – but this manager’s enthusiasm about bringing a new employee on board made me pause and ask “Why?” Her answer, just as enlightening. Continue reading
Many organizations hire interns, young university or college students eager to take on a job in their area of study so that they can build up their work experience and resumes. It should be a win-win, because the organization gets a budget-friendly way to not only get some work done, but also try out new talent. But if recent conversations I’ve had are any indication, these so-called “win-win” internships don’t always go as well as either party had hoped. The companies discover that training interns is more time-consuming than they realized and not all these young people were as motivated as they’d expected. The interns feel that they just get asked to do work that no one else wants to do and so leave feeling unchallenged and unfulfilled.
This subject has come up often enough in conversations lately that I thought it would be worthwhile to lay out some specific tips on how to make the intern experience much more positive for all concerned. Here is my list of must-do’s.
- Create a specific job description that includes not only the no-one-else-wants-to-do-them tasks, but also responsibilities that will help your intern learn about your industry and expand their skill sets. A specific job description lets your intern know up-front that the job will be a balance of fun stuff and not-so-fun stuff!
- Make a list of training goals for the period that the intern will be with you. It doesn’t have to be long, but it not only establishes the expectations you have for the employee, but also shows them that you’re willing to invest in him or her.
- Keep an eye on your interns. Don’t forget that they’re young and inexperienced which means that they may veer off course without even knowing it. Step in to help as soon as you think they’re going in the wrong direction. Be sure to explain “why” – i.e. “I just want to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your internship experience.”
- Remember that your interns want to learn and build up their work experience, so motivate them by doing exactly that. Give them opportunities to learn, assign them to projects that will look great on their resumes, and offer them face time with company leaders.
- When all is said and done, if they’ve done good work, write them great letters of recommendation, or even better, offer them a job in your company upon graduation.
What do you have to add to this list? Jump in please with your experiences and insights, as a leader in a company, or as an intern.
Sometimes you just need to fill the job! You’re short-staffed, sales or processing volumes are up, and your other staff are running ragged; you just need a warm body, as long as he or she is breathing, to fill the position. So you do. And then … in just a few short weeks, you heartily regret the decision! If this sounds familiar, then you know that effective recruitment is really a matter of pay now or pay later. Either invest the time and effort up front to get the right person for the job, or suffer the consequences in lack of productivity and even profitability later on down the road. Still not convinced? Let me give you my list of reasons why it’s SO SO important to pay now (i.e. make the effort up front) when it comes to recruiting employees for your team.
- The right person will have the skills to do the job and so will be more productive.
- The right person will love the job and will be much less likely to leave. Remember, turnover costs you time, money and aggravation.
- The right person will fit more easily into your department and organization’s culture.
- If the person doesn’t get along with the rest of your team, then there will be stress and conflict, and other team members’ productivity will go down as well.
- Get it done right, and you won’t have to do it again … at least not for a while for this specific job!
The bottom line: making the wrong recruiting decision wastes time, money, and organizational resources, and it can really hold a team back. It pays to put real effort into getting the hiring decision right.
What else do you have to add to the list above? What are other consequences of not getting the right person for the job?
Last week, I attended the annual convention for the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS) in Montreal QC. In addition to being a proud member of this professional association, I also sit on their National Board where I head up the Branding and Visibility portfolio. Much to my surprise and absolute delight, I received a great honour at the awards ceremony on closing night — the highly-coveted President’s Award was given to my committee for some key initiatives we undertook this past year! As hard as it might be for many of you to believe, this tribute left me completely speechless! 🙂 The truth is I had absolutely no idea that our work was so highly-regarded. I just thought that we were doing what we were supposed to do!
Since then, after several conversations with our President and other key players, I think I’ve finally figured it out. Without even realizing how significant and instrumental it was to our ultimate success, I made a key decision early in the year. I went out to our membership of over 450 professional speakers, each one a specialist in their area of expertise, and sought out the four best experts I could find in the fields of marketing and branding — a business marketing expert, a branding expert, a former marketing executive and a university marketing professor — and using my superior persuasive powers :), I convinced them to join my committee. And you know what? It’s totally amazing what a group of people can do when they put their minds and talents to work for the collective good. As a team, bringing a variety of talents and skills together, we made great strides in moving our association forward. And now I get it — that’s exactly why our President recognized us with this distinction.
Good leadership means recognizing the importance of getting the right mix of talent and skills together in order to accomplish a goal. I just love it when I’m a good leader without even thinking about it!! What about you? Have you put this leadership principle to work yet?
Only 30% of skilled immigrants feel that their jobs correspond to their qualifications, and another 30%, although working in their field, feel that they are over-qualified and not able to realize their full potential. So finds a new study released last week at the 7th Annual Internationally Educated Professionals Conference in Toronto. Two-thirds of skilled immigrants also say that they have been advised to obtain further Canadian education to land the professional job they have been educated for, but ironically, the need to send money “back home” and the necessity to hold down two jobs to accomplish this rules out further schooling. The study notes that this is a vicious circle, since obtaining the required education could permit them to earn more in less time.
I was privileged to deliver the opening keynote at this conference in Toronto ON last Friday, and so I also got an opportunity to listen later in the day, first-hand, to the authors of this study. Continue reading