Merge's Blog

Tag Archives: employee recruitment

Separating true leaders from narcissists

NarcissistLast year, I was a featured expert in a story about narcissists in the workplace, and how one can function effectively with (or despite) them, no matter whether they are your co-workers or your boss.  And certainly, if you follow American politics, there is a lot of conversation about whether a certain head of state is a prime example of a narcissist.  So it isn’t surprising that this topic continues to be front and centre in the news.  One question that often comes up in my leadership development practice is about how to separate leaders from narcissists, particularly during hiring, as the outcome of hiring one over the other can be enormous.  Ironically of course, on the surface, narcissists look suspiciously like leaders; it isn’t until later that the truth comes out.

Last week, CNN Business News put out an article titled How narcissistic CEOs put companies at risk, explaining how narcissist leaders create long-lasting negative consequences for their companies.  From a leadership perspective, a couple of points in particular caught my attention.   Continue reading

Garbage in, garbage out: poor inputs result in poor outputs

garbage in, garbage outGarbage 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

Hire for attitude, not skills

hire for attitudeWhen 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

A social media success story that leaders can learn from

socialmediaI 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

Why new hires can be a huge advantage to your team

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

Getting the best from your interns

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Hiring for a job? Don’t settle for less

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?

Leadership is NOT about managing people!

Effective leadership is like tending a garden. Assume that it’s a large garden, so you can’t do it on your own; you need to hire a gardener or two. Never forget that your objective is to manage the garden – you can decide what you want to plant, where and when – and you can make arrangements to get the right tools –spades and hoes and rakes and wheelbarrows – but don’t lose sight that your goal is to manage the garden, and not the gardeners. You see, the gardeners manage themselves! Sure, you need to tell them what you want done and make certain they understand, but they are the ones who actually dig and plant and weed and prune. There’s no point in standing over the gardeners while they dig holes and plant bushes and weed beds and prune trees; it’s not going to make the plants grow any faster. In fact, when you think about it, the gardeners don’t actually grow anything either, the plants grow on their own. So your gardeners are really your assistants, people you can trust and rely on to help you get your garden to where it needs to be. Sure, you might check in often to ensure that they don’t need clarification or your help in obtaining the required tools, but your time is really best spent on long-term strategy – envisioning the overall layout of the garden, planning for the next season, and going through the seed catalogues. But … the key in making all this happen lies in ensuring that you get right gardeners in the first place.

So when you think about it, effective leadership is about managing situations, processes, events, strategies (and even outcomes), but it’s not about managing people. Because people manage themselves! Your job is to focus on the big picture, tell them what needs to be done, get them the tools they need, and to check in periodically to support and encourage. But you can’t do this unless you get the right people on your team. So put your energy into building your team and then trust them to get on with it.

Do you agree?  If not, why not?  Share your perspective please by adding your Comment below.