Naughty or Nice?

Naughty or Nice?

Let’s face it, we all have favorite employees and coworkers and regardless of whether we want to admit it or not, we all have certain biases, as unconscious as they may be. Once we start recognizing that we are always going to be inclined to like certain individuals more than others, we can start overcoming the biases that come along with it.

Especially with the holidays looming, now is a perfect time for us as managers and leaders to take an honest look at our own biases and how they affect our day-to-day interactions. This reflection should include identifying why we get along with some of our coworkers/employees and not others. Additionally, we should take a hard look as to why we don’t have a natural affinity for certain individuals. Finally, in our self-evaluation we need to take a cold, hard look at those biases and ensure they are not influencing our interactions.

I believe we have all been on the other side of the coin in that we have had less than ideal interactions with those in authority over us and we can’t seem to ever get anything right. Now take those same feelings and compare them to some of your direct reports or coworkers. Is it possible that your biases are causing them to fail or at the very least are limiting their chances for success?

During this holiday season and in the upcoming new year, take the time to self-evaluate and think about what you can do differently to ensure that everyone you interact with has a positive experience. Ensure that you are providing all of your employees with equal treatment and the same opportunities to succeed. To summarize, eliminate your naughty or nice list and focus on true objective evaluations while recognizing your own biases.

Effective Interviews – The Do’s and Do Not’s

Once you get past the initial review of applicants who have responded to your job posting (reviewing their resume and cover letter, conducting an initial phone screening, etc.), it is time to whittle down the group who made that first pass even more and invite your top picks to come in for their first in-person interview.

Interviewing the “right way” can be daunting for many employers. There are so many things to keep in mind when interviewing appropriately, but all of the best tips seem to surround what to do/not to do when it comes to the questions asked. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind as you prepare for the interviewing process:

Asking the Right Questions

The whole point of an interview is to get more information. To allow the applicant to fill in any gaps and to get clarification on some points that caught your attention when reviewing the documents they provided. To ensure you get the most applicable information from your candidates, ask questions that are open-ended and probing in nature which will give them a chance to provide you with scenarios and examples that paint a picture into what type of employee they will be and how they will fit into your organization and team.

Avoiding the Wrong Questions

On the flip side, avoid asking questions that are telegraphed (closed ended) and would result in a “yes” or “no” answer. These types of questions often give the candidate some insight as to what answer you are seeking which you certainly want to steer clear of; honest responses, even those that may result in the applicant being rejected after the interview, are always what you want.

A huge point of anxiety for the interviewer, especially if this task is something they are unfamiliar with, is the fear of asking a question that will come back to bite them. While a lot of this is common sense, it is easy to unintentionally ask a question the wrong way or to ask a question in an attempt to build camaraderie only to find later that the question you asked may have not been legal to ask.

Avoid any questions that pertain to anything personal or those that are in no way pertinent to the job. Things like race or national origin, religion or lack thereof, family or marital status, pregnancy or children/childcare, citizenship or birthplace, or questions regarding illness or disability are all strong “don’t’s.” When in doubt as to whether the question is alright to ask or not – don’t.

In our next post we will dig into our archives and will address one of the components to the recruiting process that is just as important as the tips we have shared with you already: how to ensure the candidate is the “right fit.” An applicant can look great on paper, and can answer each question perfectly, but there are other things that can make or break the decision to hire such as whether or not they will be a good cultural match for your organization and established team.

Recruitment 101 – Substance or Shine?

The COO of a rapidly growing construction company was in dire need of an Executive Assistant. After posting the position requirements through a number of recruiting outlets, two applicants were filtered out and selected for interviews. The first was a young woman who had roughly 2 years of applicable experience under her belt in addition to her Master’s in Administration and Leadership. Though a bit more on the reserved side, she was driven and expressed a strong desire to excel in her position while pursuing opportunities for professional growth. The second was a gentleman fresh out of college who had far less experience, but met the educational requirements. The young man seemed to be a better “cultural fit” based on his sparkling personality which the COO felt would be a strong asset to the organization with regards to community outreach and involvement.

The COO decided to hire the young man, who ended up being terminated after six months as his outgoing personality also applied to his social life, resulting in countless call ins and no shows due to the partying lifestyle he hadn’t seemed to leave behind in college. The COO reached out to the young woman he had rejected, but she had since received a job offer from a local marketing firm and was very satisfied and excelling in her position, having already been given additional job duties working with the organization’s Board of Directors.

First impressions are important, but should never be the sole reason for making a hiring decision. In fact, heavily weighing such a decision on a factor can result in unintentional biases or discrimination, which you of course want to avoid at all costs. With turnover rates in certain positions and industries being relatively high, you simply cannot trust your gut when hiring and have to focus on substance versus shine when it comes to recruiting and interviewing in a non-subjective manner.

A recent top priority and primary occupational focus of many of our clients has been recruitment. It is easy to post a simple add and hire an individual, but when it comes to needing the right fit for a position the process can be very in depth and intensive. Whether the necessary factors required for the applicant be education, experience and skills in particular areas, certain personality traits or characteristics, or simply the right cultural fit, there are a number of “dos” and “don’ts” to keep in mind when you tackle this necessary role of human resources management.

Over the next few months we will be delving into the often overwhelming world of recruiting and new hire training, discussing top tips of how to efficiently advertise to recruit top applicants, how to interview and screen objectively, top tips for a smooth and effective hiring process, and how to conduct a productive and mutually beneficial onboarding process.

Summer Slackin’

With the World Cup in full swing and the season of summertime vacations and trips starting up with a fervor, you may experience the occasional wayward employee. Some industries have a rougher time at this than others (e.g., retail or food service), but when it comes to employee attendance, particularly in peak time off season, it is vital to be proactive in preventing issues with excessive absences and tardies before it becomes a problem.

In our last post, we discussed some ways to help keep your employees motivated and engaged, particularly with summertime distractions such as sporting events and upcoming vacations. While this is incredibly important, it is equally essential to communicate expectations, provide flexibility, and keep employees engaged by implementing summertime activities.

When it comes to communication, remind all employees of what is expected of them with regards to attendance. Provide them with a copy of your attendance policy (via email or in person) so there they are fully aware of what your expectations are and what the consequences may be should they violate this policy.

Try to work with your employees when it comes to workloads and providing flexibility to ensure a balance in the job getting done and your employees staying sane (because we all need a break from time to time!). If the position and business needs warrant it, consider allowing telecommuting during slower times or when the days are incredibly warm and uncomfortable.

Rather than fighting the potential chaos that summer can create (think 5 employees wanting the same week off, but you can only approve 2 of those vacation requests), embrace it and try to implement some fun summer activities to keep your employees happy and motivated. Company picnics, mixers, team sporting events, or simply giving out ice cream bars on the hot summer days encourages camaraderie and boosts spirits.

It is natural to want to be outside when the weather is nice versus cooped up in an office, working away in front of a computer screen (for managers and employees alike). Working with your employees to come up with mutually beneficial solutions will help ensure that production needs are met and that the morale of your employees stays high.

The World Cup and Wayward Employees

Today marks the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, soccer’s biggest event which occurs only once every four years. The most popular sport in the world, there will likely be a few football (soccer) fans throughout your office that may be somewhat distracted over the next month. Especially with matches occurring in the wee hours of the morning in the States, employees may be sleep deprived coming to work, or sneaking in a match or two on their computer.

We are all human and all have days that are more productive than others, but a great employee knows how to balance those days where your nose is to the grindstone with those that are a bit more low key and relaxing and may be riddled with distractions. Whether the distraction be a large sporting event, a vacation or leave of absence, or family drama, we will all experience disturbances to our normal routine from time to time. Employees who once produced exceptional work and were motivated and engaged may go through a spell of being a “skater,” doing the bare minimum to make it to the next payday unnoticed.

June also marks the start of summer, a season that is notorious for a rise in call ins and absences, and nonchalant employees have mentally checked out. Whether it is World Cup frenzy that has your employees itching to be in a pub with a beer in hand, or an individual whose mind is already swinging in a hammock at the beach, making sure that your employees stay on track is vital.

When you know there will be factors that may contribute to the attention and engagement of your employees, prepare accordingly by communicating expectations and implementing means for flexibility. Communicating expectations is a crucial component in any successful relationship, and informing your employees of what you need from them on a regular basis is key in ensuring production standards are met, and levels of employee morale and motivation remain high.

Work with your employees on effective time management techniques to ensure deadlines don’t land on the day before an employee is scheduled to be gone for a week. Encourage them to schedule tasks appropriately so when they return, they aren’t overwhelmed with a long list of time-sensitive tasks when bouncing back from vacation can be a challenge.

Follow along in our next post when we delve further into a primary cause for distracted employees, summer fever, and how managers can effectively prevent this common occurrence before it becomes an issue that affects production and morale.

Hot Button Employee Issue #2: The “Know it All”

Scott and Peter have been working together in the risk management department at their software company for the past few years. As the “go to” guys when it comes to any questions pertaining to security or technology, the two of them are expected to work together as a team as each brings a unique set of skills to the group. However, Scott who had been working at the organization for a few years before Peter came on board has a bit of an ego. Scott is what can be described as the “know it all” employee. He is always the first to jump in to answer questions or emails (obnoxiously so) and gets incredibly upset when Peter makes discretionary decisions without asking or consulting with him first, even though there is no supervisory relationship. Scott frequently talks over Peter, interrupts him in team meetings, and is very territorial over “his domain.” The building tension in the department has started to affect other employees and creates uncomfortable and awkward situations on a daily basis.

We all know a Scott. The “one upper,” the “know it all.” Individuals with this kind of personality are prevalent in grade school and in the professional workforce. How do you deal with an employee who interacts with others in such a way? How do you nip this behavior in the bud before it creates a hostile environment?

Mentoring and Coaching – As a manager, giving ongoing feedback is part of your job. If their behavior is creating an uncomfortable work atmosphere and is negatively affecting their coworkers and colleagues, it is your responsibility to let them know that their actions need to change. Encourage camaraderie with teammates and reiterate that their individual success relies on the success of the group, requiring a willingness on their part to consider and hear the views and suggestions of their peers.

Let the Issue Go – If the problem employee is being possessive or territorial over something that isn’t critical or imperative to the successful operation of your team/department, consider letting the issue go (e.g., pick your battles). Often times this type of individual has either a blown-up ego, so not playing into their antics and ignoring their behavior can be the best course of action.

Persuade Alternatives – In situations in which your know it all is completely in the wrong, ignoring their behavior is not the route you want to go. A way to effectively manage their behavior in such a way that doesn’t create animosity is to present alternatives to the problem by asking questions such as “Have you ever considered…” or “What if…” which allows them buy in to a more efficient and correct solution.

Employees who truly believe that they know everything and are in the right 100% of the time are some of the most challenging to deal with. It may seem that no matter how or how often you try to persuade them otherwise, they just aren’t hearing it. Approach them in a non-confrontational manner, in private, encourage positive and genuine communication, and remind them of the end goal to create and sustain a welcoming and inclusive work environment where everyone is given the opportunity to shine.