Monthly Archives: October 2008

Managing a Difficult Boss – Part I

How big is the problem?

A difficult boss is the greatest obstacle most workers will encounter in their professional life. The unmanaged impact of a daily encounter with him or her can be devastating to a person’s career, worth, health and overall well-being.

A short article such as this is insufficient for exploring the range of impact a difficult boss can have on an individual or organization. So we will explore only two aspects: health and financial impacts.

There is hardly a more potent and pervasive workplace stressor than a difficult supervisor. Arecent survey by Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental HealthAssociation) identified employment issues as the third main source of stress in American life.

2 SkillSoft, a leading online learning provider, commissioned a third party to examine the top ten stressors and irritants in the workplace. Six of the ten irritants–managers changing their minds about what they want, lack of support from managers, pressure from managers, feeling put upon by managers, interruptions by managers and bullying behavior by managers–are related to the boss’s action or behavior.

3 All of these issues could be managed in a healthy relationship with an effective boss.

Consider the following health impacts of stress from an MHA fact sheet:
• Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress, and stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
• Chronic stress may double the risk of heart attack.
• Chronic stress weakens the immune system and makes people vulnerable to a host of
• Fifty to eighty percent of all medical illnesses reported to physicians have a strong emotional or stress-related component.4

Bottom line: a difficult boss is a source of high stress, and years or even months of ineffectively managing the relationship with him or her can take a significant toll on a person’s health.

The impact of a difficult boss on an organization is equally significant. In their analysis of two extensive Gallup Organization studies, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman suggest that organizations look first to their managers if they have a turnover problem.5 The relationship with a difficult boss is the foremost reason that workers leave their employers.6
Turnover costs are estimated to be 20 to 50 percent of the total compensation for a position. This gives organizations a way to measure the direct impact of a difficult boss on the bottom line.

Among other factors, stress is a causal and catalytic factor in mental illness. Neuroscientists from Harvard Medical School and Mclean Hospital have shown that long-term exposure to stress hormones, such as cortisol and corticotropin-releasing hormones, results in the anxiety that often comes with depression.7 The MHA reports that mental health illnesses cost the United States $150 billion in lost productivity each year, and US businesses foot up to $44 billion of this bill. The American Institute of Stress adds that workplace stress causes about one million employees to miss work each day.8 The American Hospital Association (AHA) reports that employers lose 26 days per year to employees affected by stress and mental health illness. By comparison,
average lost workdays for other conditions include cancer (17 percent), respiratory disorders (15 percent), and migraine headaches (11 percent). The AHA notes that mental illness is the most costly health benefit category for employers.9

The toxicity exuded by a difficult boss is to a business culture what cancer is to the human body. As it metastasizes it destroys the labyrinth of trust, hope, fairness and justice.

In spite of the foregoing facts, there is nary a mention of the impact of difficult managers in
many organizations. While there are literally thousands of seminars on how to deal with
disruptive employees, you will be hard pressed to find an effective program on dealing with a difficult boss. Does this mean we should ignore the ugliness and its consequences?

What category of difficulty does your boss fall into?

Much has been written about types of difficult bosses. Deceptive, deviant, abusive, insatiable, prejudiced, aggressive, manipulative, vindictive, compulsive, rigid and narcissistic types come to mind. Just about every worker can add to the list based on personal experience or observation.

Every supervisor will exhibit a dysfunctional or toxic behavior at some point. The focus here is on bosses who repeatedly exhibit a dysfunctional behavior or a pattern of dysfunctional
behaviors. What is germane to understand is the intentionality factor in your boss’s difficult
tendencies. You need to know if your boss is being intentionally unreasonable in his or her
dealings with you. This knowledge will enable you to determine an approach that will be
effective in managing your relationship with him or her.

Although human intentions are usually difficult to pin down, you can most likely determine if
your manager is being intentionally difficult either through direct communication or by
observation and objective analysis of your circumstance.

Some bosses will be open and direct in their resentment toward a subordinate. Here are a few statements that managers have made to their employees: “Stop trying. As long as I am here, you’re not going anywhere fast.” “No matter what you do I’ll still hate your guts. I guess it’s a chemistry thing.” “You bought a Mercedes? I always thought we paid you too much. Well, the party is over.” “What are you trying to do? Show you’re better than me? I wouldn’t be in this position if I didn’t know how to manage people like you.” These statements would not be memorable except for the fact that the managers backed up their words with unmistakably negative actions and behavior.

In an increasingly litigious age, most bosses are guarded in their pronouncements. But their actions, over time, will reveal how much resentment they harbor toward those under their authority. Although they may never admit it (a tendency we will explore when we address personal values), some bosses manipulate a subordinate’s work scope, schedule, deadlines or outcomes to a malicious end. Others make a point of reprimanding their people publicly. Some employees experience the silent treatment whenever they make a point in meetings. However, as soon as someone else in the same meeting repeats the same idea, the manager breaks out in praise. Difficult bosses will take a magnifying glass to the smallest errors, avoid giving credit when it is due, reassign lucrative or high-profile assignments, choke off financial incentives, make up horror stories, etc. If your boss repeatedly exhibits these types of behavior toward you, especially if you observe that same boss treating others differently, you should be concerned about your boss’s intent.

In Part II of this article we will examine how to identify and manage bosses who do not intend to be difficult but frequently come off that way.

The purposefully difficult boss

A purposefully difficult boss will spend the time and energy to create a hostile, if not intolerable, environment. The coworker who once reliably supplied the input you need on ongoing assignments stops returning your calls. The guy in the office next door with whom you regularly had lunch goes out of his way to avoid you during lunch. The office you have occupied for two years is suddenly reassigned to a junior member of your team while you are reseated in a less favorable space. People who utilized your work product for years without question now subject it to forensic examination. For reasons you do not understand, unusually strong and negative reactions pervade the atmosphere when you present a new idea. You are abruptly dropped from meetings you had attended for years. Malicious bosses can be quite effective in recruiting colleagues and other coworkers in their onslaught. If only they harnessed that influence in developing and promoting their staff.

Confused and frustrated, employees often wonder what their boss might have told these colluders to elicit such reactions. This is where labels and stories come into play. “He is not a team player.” “She is a saboteur.” “He is a spy.” “She is a walking time bomb.” “She hates men.” “He is a misogynist.” “She’s a rabble rouser.” These labels often take on a life of their own, particularly if they originate from a manager in a fairly influential position. Behind every label is a story. Often, however, such stories are outright falsehood or a distortion of facts to create a desired reality.

Consider this true story as told by the late Dr. Robert A. Cook, author and educator. A woman who had four children sought to lease an apartment for her family. She discovered the leasing agent had stopped leasing to families with children. Before she went to the leasing office, she dropped all four of her children at a nearby cemetery. When the leasing agent asked if she had any children, she pulled out a napkin as tears welled up in her eyes. After a few tense moments, she announced that her four children were in the nearby cemetery. Moved with compassion, the agent approved her application. She picked up her children afterward and moved in.10 Although the woman relayed facts to the agent, she was being intentionally deceitful. You may be able to imagine your boss with his or her game face on, seriously relaying a contrived story about you. However, unlike the woman in this story, who told a falsehood in order to get a good home for her children, your boss is not looking to earn you any favors.

Some bosses do whatever it takes to achieve their end and cover their tracks, even if that means staging reality, coaxing others to accept it as truth and defending it at all cost. A legend is told among the Calabari people of West Africa. Sometime in the eighteenth century, shortly before Mary Slessor (1848-1915) facilitated the abrogation of the killing of twins in a neighboring tribe, a feud ensued between two Calabari families. Large and powerful, one of the feuding families produced most of the elders of the land. The other family, made up of mostly albinos, was economically prosperous. Its prosperity was the source of the dispute, as albinos were an anomaly and not the type of people the elders wanted to see atop the food chain.

As bad blood grew, some of the elders arranged to have an albino drowned. The body was found floating in the river. That year, the Calabaris reaped a tremendous harvest. The ruling family purported that the drowned albino brought prosperity to the land, and from that story the practice of casting an albino’s corpse into a river began. Afterward, albinos died more frequently. Though some of the people knew that many of the albinos were murdered, prosperity fever gripped them, and the passing of albinos meant great celebrations throughout the land. Some albinos participated in the celebrations.

When the king heard reports of the killings, he disguised his son as an albino and sent him out among the people. Shortly thereafter, the king’s son was murdered. Soon news came to him of another prosperity-engendering albino tossing. This time, though, it was his son. This experience caused him to take a stand and put an end to the albino-tossing practice.
To this day, some Calabari people still fear that the albinos will avenge the way they were

A staged reality happens when coworkers are sent to harass you and subsequently accuse you of harassment; when critical personnel on a project are reassigned shortly before you need their input; when key software you need to complete a project is disabled just days before the project is due and you are hounded for tardiness; when pieces of electronic surveillance are stitched together to create an impression that is far from truth. The cumulative damage from events such as these results in dire consequences for individual workers and the employer. Under the aforementioned circumstances, the average coworker can decipher that the boss has crossed ethical lines. Yet, for reasons we will explore, these coworkers continue to serve as instruments of perversion.

Where do you begin?

Why did the Calabari elders go as far as killing albinos? Why did the people who knew the truth keep mute? Why did those who suspected foul play not seek the truth? Why would a boss throw caution to the wind in the quest to humiliate, emasculate, demoralize or ruin someone else’s career or life? Why do others wittingly support him or her in that process? Why do senior leaders enable or ignore such behavior? Why are these behaviors so prevalent?

Answers to these questions are rooted in two simple words: personal values. Your values are at the core of who you are. They are the beliefs, principles and experiences that inform your decisions. Personal values are often defined as the guide to achieving your highest priorities. This definition is somewhat incomplete, as your values are in fact your highest priorities. Your personal values are not only a means to an end, they are the ultimate end.
Say your lifelong dream, your so-called highest priority, was to own a Rolls Royce. However,
when someone offered you a stolen RR at an incredibly low price with no possibility of the car being traced, you declined. Your reason is that the offer violated your value of honesty. You value honesty more than the luxury of being cuddled in one of the finest automobiles in the world. Ethical boundaries are set within the confines of personal values. If you accepted the offer, you would have declared by your actions that owning that car trumps your ethos of
honesty, honor and integrity. Greed and personal aggrandizement might be keywords in your personal values list.

What are your personal values? Whether you have suffered at the hands of a mendacious
manager or you are a spectator or an enabler, the answer to that question is germane to how you respond to an intentionally difficult boss. What people do is often remarkably inconsistent with what they would identify, either to themselves or publicly, as their personal values. One reason for this is that most people do not take the time to identify their values and then sincerely assess their actions and behavior in light of those values.

Hyrum Smith, author and developer of the Franklin Day Planner®, tells a story in his seminars that can help you identify your personal values. Titled “Crossing the “I” Beam,” the story begins with a 120-foot-long I-beam placed in the street in front of your house. (An I-beam is a steel beam used in construction. It looks like an H when you turn it on its side.) Your neighbors are gawking at it, wondering what kind of person just moved into their neighborhood.

Smith then promises to give you one hundred dollars if you will walk across the beam in two minutes without stepping off either side. Typically, everyone agrees to cross the beam.
The beam is then moved to Manhattan and placed 1,360 feet above the ground between two high-rise buildings. It is raining and windy. This time Smith offers you one million dollars to cross the beam. Through dozens of seminars, no one took this offer. They all valued life more than the money.

Smith then stops being a nice guy. Now you have a two-year-old daughter, and he is holding her by the hair over the edge on the far side of the beam. He says if you do not cross in two minutes he will drop her. Smith reports that at this point in his seminars, a sobering reality sets in. People realize that they value their lives to the point where there are few reasons they would cross the beam. A two-year old son or daughter is one of those reasons. Almost all participants instantaneously choose to cross the beam to rescue their child. One day, however, Smith met a woman who hesitated. She hesitated for so long that other participants started to feel uncomfortable. Some wanted to answer for her by screaming, “Yes!” But she said no, that she would not cross the beam for her two-year-old son. Feeling that an explanation was necessary, she offered that she had eleven other children. If she gave her life for the one child, who would care for the rest? At this point, the tension in the room eased a bit as some people thought her explanation was reasonable.

Devastated by the experience, this woman wept silently through most of the seminar. At the end, she approach Smith and said, “I need to share something with you that I have had to face here for the first time. You need to understand, Hyrum, that the two-year-old child you were going to drop over the edge is a Down’s syndrome baby. You made me face the fact that I don’t love that child as much as I love my other children. That has devastated me.” She added, “I think I would have come across immediately for any of my other children.”
This woman came face to face with her core values and she did not like what she saw. Although she would most likely have denied it before this experience, she realized one of her personal values was that she loved her other eleven children more than the Down’s syndrome child. As Smith astutely pointed out, this principle had been operating at the subconscious level before it was unearthed in that seminar.11 Becoming aware of it, however, empowered her to modify her behavior accordingly.

When I challenge employees about why they enable, suppress or endure misconduct by
management, they frequently respond in these terms: “I have a kid in college and a mortgage.” “I don’t want to burn my bridges.” “She deserves what she is getting.” “It’s outside of my control.” “Senior management says it’s okay.” My intent here is not to judge anyone. That would be inappropriate. However, since these responses reflect our deepest values, I encourage you to critically evaluate them to determine whether or not they truly represent what you want your values to be.

There are a few fallacies inherent in the above statements (excuses).

First is argumentum ad baculum, or the argument that if C does not accept D as right, then E. Since E is a punishment on C, D is true. In other words, if I do not go along with what my boss says, or if I challenge my boss’s behavior, I will be punished. Therefore, what my boss says and does is right. Although honesty, integrity or fairness are part of my personal values, they have meaning only as long as my job is not at risk. One’s true values quickly surface when the stakes are high.

The next fallacy is argumentum ad hominen, or the argument that counters a substantive issue by attacking a person or his or her beliefs. Let’s say an employee, Sally, accuses her manager of inappropriate discriminatory behavior. Instead of responding to the specific issue, the manager attacks Sally, calling her arrogant and disrespectful. The label spreads quickly throughout the organization. Others, without having the facts, help to establish Sally’s reputation as arrogant and disrespectful.

Then there is the all-too-common argumentum ad verecundiam, or an argument based on
authority. “The Grand Puba said…”; therefore, it must be right. The fact that the evidence before you suggests otherwise is immaterial.

I am sure you can identify other fallacies. The point being underscored is that it is critical to
understand the basis of your decisions, actions and behavior. If they are based on false
assumptions or lies, you owe it to yourself to establish that fact, and determine whether or not it is in line with what you would describe as your true values. If it is out of kilter with whom you thought you were, like the woman in Smiths story, you have a tremendous opportunity to self correct by changing the way you think and act. Once you have ascertained your true values, you are ready to identify an appropriate option for managing your difficult boss. These options will be examined in Part II.



Managing Recruiting During an Economic Downturn

The Top 10 Action Steps to Take

Editor’s note: Dr. John Sullivan will present “Strategic Recruiting During an Economic Downturn” at ERE Expo at 10:30 am on Thursday, October 30. This article is based on his upcoming presentation.

A key question in every recruiting manager’s mind these days is “how will recruiting and talent management be impacted by the economic downturn?”

If you are a regular reader of my articles, you know that I warned of the upcoming downturn as early as August 2007. However, if you missed that “heads up” and have been in recruiting for more than a few years, you already realize that there are periodic economic downturns. These downturns quite often negatively impact the recruiting function through hiring freezes and dramatic budget cuts in recruiting as organizations seek to “contain costs.”

However, this economic downturn is different. Traditionally, when the economic cycle peaks and starts its cycle downwards, everything related to business and recruiting declines; events are consistent and relatively predictable.

Instead of recruiting heading straight down, it will be volatile. The demand for talent management services will go radically down, then back up again in short spurts, and then down again. This volatility will require more planning than ever before from the recruiting function.

Instead of planning for one consistent, long, downward spiral with associated layoffs and hiring freezes, organizations will need to prepare for spurts of growth and continuous hiring in some areas while layoffs occur in others. Some might call these actions “right-sizing” the workforce, but that would imply that organizations are much better at forecasting and workforce planning than most actually are.

There are several reasons why hiring will continue:
1) The volatility in credit markets
The need by organizations to continually innovate

The first and perhaps most important cause of volatility will be the chaotic availability of credit and capital. The continued uncertainty related to financial markets will cause oscillations or “spurts” during which capital will be easier and then harder to get. This volatility will cause firms to grow and to hire in spurts.

A second cause of volatility is globalization. In a truly global business world, there will almost always be some degree of economic growth in emerging economies scattered around the world. Because many major US companies now book a majority of their revenues abroad, pressure to keep corporate functions fully staffed will continue despite possible layoffs in production and client service groups.

A third reason volatility will plague the recruiting function is relentless consumer demand for new innovative products. Despite the downturn, consumer demand remains high. When negative news erupts, those in Western societies go shopping!

Because the rate of innovation among competitive firms is unlikely to slow down, firms will still need to rapidly innovate in their products and business processes.

The demand for relentless innovation will continuously alter the skills needed by a firm at any particular point in time. Firms will need to learn how to continuously hire workers with new skills, while simultaneously releasing workers with obsolete skills with surgical precision. Truly strategic firms see economic downturns as an opportunity, in part because it’s now faster and cheaper to “buy” talent rather than to “develop” existing talent.

The Top 10 Advantages of Recruiting During Tough Times

It’s quite common during periods of economic turmoil for CFOs to assume and declare that robust recruiting functions will not be necessary due to a surplus of talent becoming available as more and more firms engage in layoffs, consolidations, and the ceasing of operations.

Well-known and respected firms like Deloitte have already partially downsized recruiting using this failed logic. Despite this negative perspective, there are some positive things that routinely happen during bad economic times:

1) Less competition from other firms. If your firm isn’t well known or doesn’t have a strong employment brand, you will face less head-to-head competition for talent during this time. As other firms reduce recruiting budgets, the recruiting effectiveness of your competitors will decrease dramatically also, giving your firm a competitive advantage. Candidates will be easier to sell because they will have fewer options and counter offers to choose from.

2) More high quality candidates will be available. Not only are more candidates available during times of high unemployment, but higher-quality candidates are also available. Not only will laid off individuals be on the market but you should also target individuals that “survived” the layoffs and mergers because they will have reduced company loyalty as a result of all of the trauma. Taken together this means that innovators and top-performing individuals that could never be “drawn away” from their current jobs are now available and interested in lesser known firms. This surplus along with little competition makes “counter cycle” recruiting a great strategy for “loading up” with great talent, especially in the college market.

3) Weakened employment brands. As competitor firms make the mistake of conducting large-scale “public” layoffs, their employment brand and external image will be dramatically weakened. Thus providing increased opportunities for firms that have maintained or intelligently strengthened their employment brand during this period.

4) Turnover and retirement rates will decrease. As the downturn increases your employees desire for job security, fewer will even consider leaving their current jobs for firms where their lack of tenure will mean little security. This means that it’ll be easier to retain your top talent (and recruiting won’t have to work so hard to find replacements). Conversely, it will be more difficult to draw away top talent working at other firms. The downturn in the stock market and the dramatic reduction in the value of their 401(k)’s will also mean that fewer of your employees will opt to retire as soon as they are eligible, easing any baby boom retirement concerns.

5) Higher quality recruiters will be available. Tough times means that some excellent recruiters will be available for those firms planning for the long-term.

6) The dollar is stronger. The newly strengthened U.S. dollar makes recruiting international candidates much easier.

7) New recruiting technology is available. The availability of social networking and other web-based technologies now makes effective recruiting possible with little or no budget.

8 ) Capability to explode out of the box. If you successfully defend your recruiting budget, your firm will have the capability of “exploding out of the box” immediately after the downturn is over. This capability will put you far ahead of other firms that have decimated their recruiting capabilities during this time. In order to have that advantage, you will need to calculate and then report the negative impacts of “disassembling the recruiting function” to your executives. That includes costs related to the delays in being able to resume hiring, the increased risk of losing top applicants, the lower quality of hires and the increased startup costs related to reassembling the recruiting function.

9) Tight times make you stronger. A tight budget forces you to focus more on metrics and a strong business case. Both of these should allow you to better identify the most effective recruiting tools and approaches. By eliminating the deadwood, streamlining processes and focusing on the best approaches, you will eventually strengthen the function over-all.

10) Workforce planning will be encouraged. While it’s often a “fight” to convince executives to invest in workforce planning, economic volatility and the pain of laying off talent they fought so hard to acquire almost always convinces senior managers of the need for a strong workforce planning function. Use this “lull” to develop an effective forecasting capability and a “flexible” recruiting strategy that “shifts” during the different economic cycles. Both can help you prepare your firm for the next imminent up or down cycle.

Even if you successfully defend your recruiting budget during these volatile times, it’s critical that you focus your resources on talent-management approaches that are both low-cost and effective:

Using Other People’s Resources

1) Employee referrals. The key practice for recruiting during economic volatility should be “recruit using other people’s money.” As a result, employee referrals need to be your number-one focus, because they shift a great deal of the recruiting “work” away from recruiters and on to your firm’s employees. Referrals produce high volume and high quality but during tight budget times, the cost of referral bonuses needs to be reduced. Shift to a drawing approach; instead of giving individual cash bonuses, employees get an opportunity to win trips, vacation time, lunch with the CEO, or other non-cash yet compelling prizes. Some firms like Edward Jones have produced over 50% of their hires from referrals without offering any cash incentives; granted, they have a great brand. You can also make customers, employees’ families, suppliers, and consultants who work with your firm eligible for the referral program. Finally, proactively approaching your firm’s top performers individually and asking them for “names” is another effective referral approach to re-emphasize.

2) Recruiting at professional events. Recruiting at local and national professional events again “utilizes other people’s money” because the travel and expenses of the attending employee are covered by their business unit. Develop the expectation that each employee attending these events will bring back “three names” of individuals that would be outstanding recruits. Encourage your executives and superstars to speak at these events, because that exposure might result in some immediate candidates, as well as improving your overall employment brand.

3) Social networks. There is a high probability that your employees currently utilize one or more social networks (i.e., Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace) both on and off the job. So why not take advantage of that fact and use it to supplement your recruiting. Start by encouraging your employees to include in their profiles compelling facts and stories about the firm. Next, encourage them to proactively make group connections and to provide you with names of potential recruits.

4) Blogs. Many of your top employees probably already write blogs in their technical field. If so, encourage them to talk about the positive aspects of your firm and to actively recruit on their blogs. Encourage other employees that read blogs to use them to also identify top talent.

5) Videos. Videos are powerful recruiting tools because they allow you to more effectively “show the passion” at your firm. Consider holding a video contest where employees compete to put together short compelling videos about why your firm is a great place to work. Post the best ones on your own corporate website or on YouTube.

Low-Cost Approaches to Consider

1) Boomerangs. The best way to ensure a high-quality hire that perfectly “fits” your culture is to focus on recruiting boomerangs (individuals that previously worked at your firm). During tough economic times, many of these individuals might regret their decision to leave. A simple phone call reassuring them that they would be welcomed back might be all it would take to land proven talent.

2) Cut back on full service agency fees and utilize names research firms. It’s always wise to increase the percentage of contingent or contract workers during volatile times. Unfortunately, the agencies that generally provide contingent workers are expensive and their fees are certainly noticeable within a reduced budget. By bringing these services in-house, you can both keep your recruiters busy and maybe even generate a profit by externally “renting out” surplus talent to other firms. Incidentally, if your firm excels at “selling” candidates but needs help in identifying them, now is an excellent time to utilize “research firms” to provide you with the “names” of top talent at competitors. “Names research” firms (i.e., RW Stearns, Technames etc.) provide a relatively inexpensive service when compared to full-service third-party recruiting.

3) Utilize interns. College interns are not counted as headcount and are easy to land and many will work for free during tough economic times. They excel at metrics, Internet research, research on best practices, assessing software, and beginning projects that few others are interested in. Focus on HR and management students from local business schools.

4) Conduct Google searches. It’s almost impossible for anyone with any professional status to “hide” these days. Key people always have high visibility on the Internet, so utilize low-cost recruiters or interns to identify well-known individuals by running their “Google score.” Names can be found by searching using major technical terms or job titles, along with a firm name.

5) Develop a flex plan. Research previous downturns in order to identify whether there are “precursors” within your firm which occur immediately before a growth or cut in recruiting. Also examine the broad industry to see if there are firms which routinely “lead the way” in recruiting related actions. By identifying and tracking these “early mover firms” in recruiting, managers can get a good idea of what will likely happen to you (because your firm has historically been a lagging or follower firm in the industry). Your recruiting plan should also include “labor arbitrage” options that might include geographically shifting the work to where labor is cheaper, outsourcing the work, or replacing work done by people with machines and technology.

10 Recruiting Problems You Might Face During Tough Economic Times

During volatile economic times, some things that used to be easy in recruiting and Talent Management become much more difficult. As a result, it’s important to identify and then focus on these new problem areas:

1) Hiring freezes. One of the first knee-jerk reactions during tough times are company-wide freezes. Although salary, promotion, and budget freezes negatively impact retention, hiring freezes can decimate a recruiting function. Some tips on fighting hiring freezes can be found in my recent article.

2) Stock options are no longer a major motivator. With the stock market constantly going up and down, stock options become less valuable as a motivator both for current employees and for candidates. As a result, you need to shift your sales approach to candidates to emphasize exciting work, flexible work, better benefits, more security, or to focus on cash performance bonuses.

3) Job security is king. Economic volatility makes both employees and candidates nervous about their future. This fear among potential candidates causes them to increase their emphasis on security, which will definitely make “drawing away” the currently employed top performer from their current firm much harder. Recruiting needs to re-examine the information that it provides on job security on its website, in position descriptions and in its offers in order to make it more compelling.

4) An increased volume of traffic. Normally, all great recruiters focus on the employed candidate (the so-called passive candidates). However, layoffs and high unemployment may mean that some high-quality people are now available among the ranks of the unemployed. Unfortunately, if you actively recruit during tough times, the volume of mediocre but enthusiastic unemployed people who will apply for your jobs will also increase dramatically. This high-volume, low-quality flow means that your screeners will be strained and that your selection process has to be more precise to ensure that you don’t mistakenly hire highly enthusiastic people who turn out to be low performers.

5) Relocation issues. Moving people between regions becomes nearly impossible when individuals can’t get new mortgages or sell their existing homes. This problem affects both internal transfers and new hires. Alternatives to consider include focusing on recent college grads who generally rent or consider “narrowing” your recruiting area to a reasonable commuting distance.

6) A loss of trust and confidence. Although your firm might not have been involved, the general mistrust of business that has resulted from the economic turmoil means that both your employees and your candidates will likely now have less trust and confidence in anything that you say. In recruiting, this means that your website must be more objective and believable, your interviews need to be more credible and your offers will need to be stronger, if you expect to convince the cynical.

7) Managers will focus less on recruiting. Few managers have ever really enjoyed recruiting. But their interest in it will likely even decrease further during tough times as the stress from their business workload increases, while their available staff decreases. Their interest in recruiting will decrease because they certainly won’t be doing it as often but also because of the increased frustration that invariably occurs when many of their “active searches” are never be completed because of frequent “surprise” hiring or budget freezes. Their lack of interest in reading resumes and interviews will invariably mean a dramatically slower average “time to fill” at your firm.

8 ) Layoffs. Although you probably can’t stop layoffs from happening, you should certainly fight to minimize their impact on your employment brand image. Work with PR to ensure that layoffs by your firm don’t become front-page news for potential applicants to see and worry over.

9) Technology budgets. Almost invariably during tight economic times, any budget resources available for buying new technology (ATS systems or new software) are likely to disappear. So either make your purchases immediately or be prepared to live with what you have for a while.

10) Recruiting budget cuts. Almost everyone gets their budget cut during business downturns but there’s no reason for recruiting’s budget to be cut any deeper than others. The key to maintaining your budget is to build a strong business case demonstrating that cutting recruiting has more negative business impacts than the limited cost savings that these cuts generate. Also utilize split samples to demonstrate your impact. When possible, work with powerful executives in growth businesses to get them to “champion” your cause or to directly fund recruiting initiatives that impact their business unit. Also, work with the CFO’s office to quantify the dollar impact of low quality and bad hires, as well as the revenues lost as a result of position vacancies in revenue-generating and revenue impact positions. In finally, focus on winning external recruiting and “Best Place To Work” awards to increase your visibility and credibility among executives.

Final Thoughts

Rather than letting “fear” rule the day, now is the time to anticipate problems and to prioritize your activities in order to maximize your impact.

Volatility in the business also means that recruiting must be flexible and expand its capabilities into areas that increase in importance during tough times. This might mean that recruiters now need to aid in the internal redeployment of employees, in retention, in employment branding, or even helping with layoffs and outplacements. Now is the time to plan ahead and to begin turning “lemons into lemonade.




*Your life – your likes – you decide!!!*

A long time ago, there was an Emperor who told his horseman that if he
could ride on his horse and cover as much land area as he likes, then the Emperor would give him the area of land he has covered.

Sure enough, the horseman quickly jumped onto his horse and rode as fast as possible to cover as much land area as he could. He kept on riding and riding, whipping the horse to go as fast as possible. When he was hungry or tired, he did not stop because he wanted to cover as much area as possible.

Came to a point when he had covered a substantial area and he was exhausted and was dying. Then he asked himself, “Why did I push myself so hard to cover so much land area? Now I am dying and I only need a very small area to bury myself.”

The above story is similar with the journey of our Life. We push very hard everyday to make more money, to gain power and recognition. We neglect our health , time with our family and to appreciate the surrounding beauty and the hobbies we love.

One day when we look back , we will realize that we don’t really need that much, but then we cannot turn back time for what we have missed.

Life is not about making money, acquiring power or recognition . Life is definitely not about work! Work is only necessary to keep us living so as to enjoy the beauty and pleasures of life. Life is a balance of Work and Play , Family and Personal time . You have to decide how you want to balance your Life. Define your priorities, realize what you are able to compromise but always let some of your decisions be based on your instincts. Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of Life, the whole aim of human existence.

So, take it easy, do what you want to do and appreciate nature. Life is fragile, Life is short. Do not take Life for granted. Live a balanced lifestyle and enjoy Life!

Watch your thoughts ; they become words.

Watch your words ; they become actions.

Watch your actions ; they become habits.

Watch your habits; they become character .

Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.


Vrushali 🙂

Lotus Touts

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

THREE. Don’t believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

FOUR. When you say, ‘I love you,’ mean it.

FIVE. When you say, ‘I’m sorry,’ look the person in the eye.

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it’s the only way to live life completely.

TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

ELEVEN. Don’t judge people by their relatives.

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.

THIRTEEN! .. When someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer, smile and ask, ‘Why do you want to know?’

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

FIFTEEN. Say ‘bless you’ when you hear someone sneeze.

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R’s: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

EIGHTEEN. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

NINETEEN. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.


Vrushali 🙂

Happy Diwali

Send this eCard !

The festival of lights…

Victory of Good over Evil…

Happy Diwali…

Research Analyst

Company- Leading KPO

Location- MBP Navi Mumbai

Designation- Research Analyst


The role involves sourcing information from various search engines on the internet about ICT Strategies of Public sector organizations in Europe, and uploading the same on the client systems.

> Extracting information regarding various products using secondary research (product profiling)
> Industry profiling (collecting news articles on specific industries)
> People profiling
> Company profiling (fair amount of knowledge)
> Data Mining


Minimum Graduates, excellent written Communication skills,

Should be meticulous and should possess attention to details

Person should have good Internet Mining skills.

Contact us for more information- 65931551/52


People Capability maturity Model was conceptualized at the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, USA and belongs to the family of Capability maturity Model those have primarily guided the information technology industry. Primary among them is Software-CM. The principal architect of People-CMM is Dr Bill Curtis and its first version was released in 1995 and subsequently in 2001 the latest version was released in India.


To continuously improve and optimize our people processes by aligning and benchmarking them to a world class global paradigm, People Capability maturity Model [Curtis 95], developed by the Software Engineering Institute of Carnegie Mellon University, USA.

Conceptual background of SEI-People-CMM:

The primary objective of People-CMM is to improve the capability of the workforce. Workforce capability can be defined as the level of knowledge, skill and process abilities available for performing an organization’s business activities:
· Readiness for performing its critical business activities,
· Likely result from performing these business activities, and
· Potential for benefiting from investments in process improvement or advanced technology.
The People CMM describes an evolutionary improvement path from ad hoc, inconsistently performed workforce practices, to mature infrastructure of practices for continuously elevating workforce capability. It guides organizations in selecting high priority improvement actions based on the current maturity of their workforce practices. The benefit of the People CMM is narrowing the scope of improvement activities to those vital few practices that provide the next foundational layer for developing an organization’s workforce. By concentrating on a focused set of practices and working aggressively to install them, organizations can steadily improve their workforce and make lasting gains in their performance and competitiveness.
People-CMM is an organizational change model. It is designed on the premise that
Improvement in workforce practices will not survive unless an organization’s behavior changes, to support them. It provides a roadmap for transforming an organization by steady improving its workforce practice. People-CMM

  • Characterizes the maturity of the people practices,
  • Provides process orientation to people program,
  • Improves the capability of organizations by increasing the capability of the workforce.
  • Helps an organization to become and ”Employer of Choice”

SEI-People-CMM as shown in figure I has five levels of maturity through which organization’s progress and establishes systems and processes. These five levels have 22 process areas distributed among them. The relationships between these process areas across the five levels are the threads of People-CMM that are Developing Individual Capability, Managing and Motivating performance, Shaping the Workforce, Building Workgroups and Culture. Figure II depicts the entire model. The People-CMM has 86 process goals that are to be achieved and 496 process area practices.

Characteristics of Organizations at Different maturity Levels:

Initial Level: Level I

Organization at the initial level of maturity usually has difficulty retaining talented individuals. Even though many low maturity organizations complain about a talent shortage, the inconsistency of their actions belies whether they actually believe it. Low maturity organizations are poorly equipped to response to talent shortages with anything other than slogans and exhortations. Despite the importance of talent, workforce practices in low maturity organizations are often ad hoc and inconsistent. In some areas, the organization has not trained responsible individuals to perform the practices that exist. The organization may typically provide forms for guiding workforce activities such as performance appraisals or position requisitions. Consequently, managers are left to their own devices in most areas of workforce management.

Managed Level: Level II

The workforce practices implemented at the Managed Level focus on activities at unit level. The first step toward improving the capability of the workforce is to get managers to take workforce activities as high priority responsibilities of their job. They must accept personal responsibility for the performance and development of those who perform the unit’s work. The practices implemented at maturity Level 2 focus a manager’s attention on unit level issues such as staffing, coordinating commitment, providing resources, managing performance, developing skills, and making compensation decisions. Building a solid foundation of workforce practices within each unit provides the bedrock on which more sophisticated workforce practices can be implemented at higher levels of maturity.

One of the benefits organizations experience when they implemented guided by the People-CMM is a reduction in voluntary turnover. At Maturity level 2, the People-CMM addresses on e of the most frequent causes of turnover, poor relations with their boss. When people begin to see a more rational work environment emerge in their unit, their motivation to stay with the organization is enhanced. As their development needs are addressed, they begin to see the organization as a vehicle through which they can achieve their career objectives.

Defined level: Level III

At the defined level, the organizations adapts its workforce practices to its business needs by focusing them on motivation and enabling development in its workforce competencies. Once workforce competencies are defined, training and development practices can be more systematically focused on developing the knowledge, skills and process abilities that compose them. Further, the existing experience in the workforce can be organized to accelerate the development of workforce competencies in those with less skill and experience. Graduate career opportunities are defined around increasing levels of capability in workforce competencies. The graduate career opportunities motivate and guide individual development. The organization’s staffing, performance management, compensation, and other workforce practices are adapted to motivate and support development in workforce competencies.

Predictable Level: Level IV

At the Predictable level, the organization manages and exploits the capability created by its framework of workforce competencies. The organization is now able to manage its capability and performance quantitatively. The organization is able to predict its capability for performing work because it can quantify the capability its workforce and of the competency-base processes they use in performing their assignment.

Optimizing Level: Level V

At the optimizing level, the entire organization is focused on continual improvement. These improvements are made to the capability of individuals and workgroups, to the performance of competency-based process, and to workforce practice and activities. The organization uses the results of the quantitative management activities established at maturity Level 4 to guide improvements at maturity Level 5. Maturity Level5 organizations treat change management as an ordinary business process to be performed in an ordinary business to be process to be performed in an orderly way on a regular basis.

One of the important features of the People-CMM is that it encourages and makes ir compulsory to have a measures and metrication program. These help in providing the status and effectiveness of the people processes in the organization. The measurements quantitatively demonstrate the HR Health of the organization. Verification process like audits and mini assessment support all the measures. It also introduces a culture difference from the management perspective as data collection from employee interview is in a fledgling state and requires high degree of openness from people and management point of view to respect the view of each other.

Jet Airways Lay Off

One thing that was on the mind of every indian the past week… 900 employees sacked by Jet. Youngsters who dreamt of flying just experienced a crash land! Too many questions to be answered. Did Mr.Goyal just change his decision overnight? Is it possible for the Human Resources to sack employees without  the top person’s knowledge? Was it political pressure which forced Jet Airways to take back what they discarded?

I guess, only Mr Goyal can answer that. However I felt like penning my thougths about the entire scene. I felt it was a well planned and well disguised strategy to reduce cost. With the airline industry majorly affected by the slowdown Cost Cutting was the need of the hour. Records suggest that the 900 employees on the bench were new hires. Cutting their salaries was a good way to cut cost.

Had Jet announced a salary cut directly, it would reflect unfair policies along with uncertainties amongst other employees. It may have resulted in the staff under performing or switching over.

I must reiterate that this is only my opinion! Jet manipulated their employees by showing them the worst case scenario. Having faced the heat all the employees readily accepted to rejoin even when offered a lower salary. I know you might be wondering as to why would Jet Take such a drastic step which would in turn wither the companies reputation. They always new that the spoilt reputation would not be such a concern considering the slow down. Having all of them at the bench or reducing the salaries, the effect on the reputation ought to be the same. Above all, in the end Jet still announced and proudly showcased the importance of each of their employees.


I would call it a well planned and well disguised Cost Cutting Strategy. I might have hit the bulls eye or even hit outside the board. Looking forward for all your thoughts. Add to the poll and comments if you feel what I wrote is right or wrong…

A Letter to Every Indian – APJ

Published by uttishthata July 6th, 2007 in APJ Abdul Kalam

The President of India DR. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam ’s Speech in Hyderabad .

Why is the media here so negative?

Why are we in India so embarrassed to recognize our own strengths, our achievements?
We are such a great nation. We have so many amazing success stories but we refuse to acknowledge them. Why?
We are the first in milk production.
We are number one in Remote sensing satellites.
We are the second largest producer of wheat.
We are the second largest producer of rice.
Look at Dr. Sudarshan , he has transferred the tribal village into a self-sustaining, self-driving unit. There are millions of such achievements but our media is only obsessed in the bad news and failures and disasters..

I was in Tel Aviv once and I was reading the Israeli newspaper. It was the day after a lot of attacks and bombardments and deaths had taken place.. The Hamas had struck. But the front page of the newspaper had the picture of a Jewish gentleman who in five years had transformed his desert into an orchid and a granary. It was this inspiring picture that everyone woke up to. The gory details of killings, bombardments, deaths, were inside in the newspaper, buried among other news.

In India we only read about death, sickness, terrorism, crime.. Why are we so NEGATIVE? Another question: Why are we, as a nation so obsessed with foreign things? We want foreign T.Vs, we want foreign shirts. We want foreign technology.

Why this obsession with everything imported. Do we not realize that self-respect comes with self-reliance? I was in Hyderabad giving this lecture, when a 14 year old girl asked me for my autograph. I asked her what her goal in life is. She replied: I want to live in a developed India . For her, you and I will have to build this developed India . You must proclaim. India is not an under-developed nation; it is a highly developed nation.

Do you have 10 minutes? Allow me to come back with a vengeance.

Got 10 minutes for your country? If yes, then read; otherwise, choice is yours.

YOU say that our government is inefficient.
YOU say that our laws are too old.
YOU say that the municipality does not pick up the garbage.
YOU say that the phones don’t work, the railways are a joke. The airline is the worst in the world, mails never reach their destination.
YOU say that our country has been fed to the dogs and is the absolute pits.

YOU say, say and say. What do YOU do about it?

Take a person on his way to Singapore . Give him a name – ‘YOURS’. Give him a face – ‘YOURS’. YOU walk out of the airport and you are at your International best. In Singapore you don’t throw cigarette butts on the roads or eat in the stores. YOU are as proud of their Underground links as they are. You pay $5 (approx. Rs. 60) to drive through Orchard Road (equivalent of Mahim Causeway or Pedder Road) between 5 PM and 8 PM. YOU come back to the parking lot to punch your parking ticket if you have over stayed in a restaurant or a shopping mall irrespective of your status identity… In Singapore you don’t say anything, DO YOU? YOU wouldn’t dare to eat in public during Ramadan, in Dubai . YOU would not dare to go out without your head covered in Jeddah.
YOU would not dare to buy an employee of the telephone exchange in London at 10 pounds (Rs.650) a month to, ’see to it that my STD and ISD calls are billed to someone else.’YOU would not dare to speed beyond 55 mph (88 km/h) in Washington and then tell the traffic cop, ‘Jaanta hai main kaun hoon (Do you know who I am?). I am so and so’s son. Take your two bucks and get lost..’ YOU wouldn’t chuck an empty coconut shell anywhere other than the garbage pail on the beaches in Australia and New Zealand .

Why don’t YOU spit Paan on the streets of Tokyo ? Why don’t YOU use examination jockeys or buy fake certificates in Boston ??? We are still talking of the same YOU. YOU who can respect and conform to a foreign system in other countries but cannot in your own. You who will throw papers and cigarettes on the road the moment you touch Indian ground. If you can be an involved and appreciative citizen in an alien country, why cannot you be the same here in India ?

Once in an interview, the famous Ex-municipal commissioner of Bombay , Mr. Tinaikar, had a point to make. ‘Rich people’s dogs are walked on the streets to leave their affluent droppings all over the place,’ he said. ‘And then the same people turn around to criticize and blame the authorities for inefficiency and dirty pavements. What do they expect the officers to do? Go down with a broom every time their dog feels the pressure in his bowels?
In America every dog owner has to clean up after his pet has done the job. Same in Japan .
Will the Indian citizen do that here?’ He’s right. We go to the polls to choose a government and after that forfeit all responsibility.

We sit back wanting to be pampered and expect the government to do everything for us whilst our contribution is totally negative. We expect the government to clean up but we are not going to stop chucking garbage all over the place nor are we going to stop to pick a up a stray piece of paper and throw it in the bin. We expect the railways to provide clean bathrooms but we are not going to learn the proper use of bathrooms.

We want Indian Airlines and Air India to provide the best of food and toiletries but we are not going to stop pilfering at the least opportunity.
This applies even to the staff who is known not to pass on the service to the public.

When it comes to burning social issues like those related to women, dowry, girl child! and others, we make loud drawing room protestations and continue to do the reverse at home. Our excuse? ‘It’s the whole system which has to change, how will it matter if I alone forego my sons’ rights to a dowry.’ So who’s going to change the system?

What does a system consist of? Very conveniently for us it consists of our neighbours, other households, other cities, other communities and the government. But definitely not me and YOU. When it comes to us actually making a positive contribution to the system we lock ourselves along with our families into a safe cocoon and look into the distance at countries far away and wait for a Mr.Clean to come along & work miracles for us with a majestic sweep of his hand or we leave the country and run away.

Like lazy cowards hounded by our fears we run to America to bask in their glory and praise their system. When New York becomes insecure we run to England . When England experiences unemployment, we take the next flight out to the Gulf. When the Gulf is war struck, we demand to be rescued and brought home by the Indian government. Everybody is out to abuse and rape the country. Nobody thinks of feeding the system. Our conscience is mortgaged to money.

Dear Indians, The article is highly thought inductive, calls for a great deal of introspection and pricks one’s conscience too…. I am echoing J. F. Kennedy’s words to his fellow Americans to relate to Indians…..


Lets do what India needs from us.

Thank you,

Dr. Abdul Kalam

Self Confidence

A business executive was deep in debt and could see no way out. Creditors were closing in on him.Suppliers were demanding payment. He sat on the park bench, head in hands, wondering if anything could save his company from bankruptcy.Suddenly an old man appeared before him.

‘I can see that something is troubling you,’ he said. After listening to the executive’s woes, the old man said, ‘I believe I can help you.’ He asked the man his name, wrote out a check, and pushed it into his hand saying, ‘Take this money. Meet me here exactly one year from today, and you can pay me back at that time.’ Then he turned and
disappeared as quickly as he had come.

The business executive saw in his hand a check for $500,000, signed by John D. Rockefeller, then one of the richest men in the world! ‘I can erase my money worries in an instant!’ he realized.

But instead, the executive decided to put the uncashed check in his safe. Just knowing it was there might give him the strength to work out a way to save his business, he thought. With renewed optimism, he negotiated better deals and extended terms of payment. He closed several big sales.

Within a few months, he was out of debt and making money once again. Exactly one year later, he returned to the park with the uncashed check.

At the agreed-upon time, the old man appeared. But just as the executive was about to hand back the check and share his success story, a nurse came running up and grabbed the old man.’I’m so glad I caught him!’ she cried. ‘I hope he hasn’t been bothering you. He’s always escaping from the rest home and telling people he’s John D. Rockefeller.’

And she led the old man away by the arm. The astonished executive just stood there, stunned.

All year long he’d been wheeling and dealing, buying and selling, convinced he had half a million dollars behind him. Suddenly, he realized that it wasn’t the money, real or imagined, that had turned his life around.

It was his new found self-confidence that gave him the power to achieve anything he went after.

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