Author Archives: Vrushali
What is recession?
This Story is about a man who once upon a time was selling Hotdogs by the roadside.
He was illiterate, so he never read newspapers. He was hard of hearing, so he never listened to the radio.
His eyes were weak, so he never watched television.
But enthusiastically, he sold lots of hotdogs.
He was smart enough to offer some attractive schemes to increase his sales.
His sales and profit went up.
He ordered more a more raw material and buns and use to sale more.
He recruited few more supporting staff to serve more customers.
He started offering home deliveries. Eventually he got himself a bigger and better stove.
As his business was growing, the son, who had recently graduated from College, joined his father.
Then something strange happened.
The son asked, “Dad, aren’t you aware of the great recession that is coming our way?”
The father replied, “No, but tell me about it.” The son said, “The international situation is terrible.
The domestic situation is even worse. We should be prepared for the coming bad times.” The man thought that since his son had been to college, read the papers, listened to the radio and watched TV.
He ought to know and his advice should not be taken lightly.
So the next day onwards, the father cut down the his raw material order and buns, took down the colourful signboard, removed all the special schemes he was offering to the customers and was no longer as enthusiastic. He reduced his staff strength by giving layoffs.
Very soon, fewer and fewer people bothered to stop at his hotdog stand.
And his sales started coming down rapidly, same is the profit.
The father said to his son, “Son, you were right”. “We are in the middle of a recession and crisis. I am glad you warned me ahead of time.”
Moral of The Story: It’s all in your MIND! And we actually FUEL this recession much more than we think we do!!!!!!!!!!!!
What can we take away from this story??
1. How many times we confuse intelligence with good judgment?
2. Choose your advisors carefully but use your own judgment
3. A person or an organization will survive forever, if they have the 5 Cs
The tragedy today is that there are many walking encyclopaedias that are living failures.
The More practical and appropriate views on this economic recession is:
“This is the time to reunite together for any small or a big organization,
this is the time to motivate and retain people which are the biggest asset,
this is the time to show more commitments to the customers,
this is the time show values of our company to the world,
and this is the time to stand by our Nation”.
The recent market recession has led firms to curtail costs wherever possible including cost on human capital. This, in turn, has led many to stop hiring and derive maximum value out of the existing employee base
On one hand, the recession is forcing firms to be conservative in every possible manner. On the other hand, it is also making them re-look at their workforce and optimise their efficiencies. “In a growth market, the focus is on achieving scale and market share. Quite often, managers tend to neglect the focus on productivity and performance,” feels Vardhman Jain, MD, Perot Systems Insurance and Business Process Solutions, India and Manila.
A silver lining
“Organisations are now revisiting these fundamentals and applying the time tested practices to new age businesses,” – Vardhman Jain, MD, Perot Systems
This indeed is then a silver lining in the dark clouds as most firms are now paying closer attention to boosting employee productivity. After all, good business is all about producing goods and delivering services in the most efficient and cost effective manner. “Organisations are now revisiting these fundamentals and applying the time tested practices to new age businesses,” notes Jain.
Nikhil Indrasenan, business head, Ma Foi Academy feels this is a trend being witnessed across sectors and not just those hit by the recession. “Sectors which have been hit are focussing a lot more on fostering employee efficiency. But even sectors like Telecom which are still growing are paying close attention to this,” he points out.
Firms across sectors are now investing in cross-training and multi-training their staff. “For some which have been hit by the recession, this is a preventive action as they need to weather this storm,” explains Indrasenan. Thus, they have to configure a way out and manage with fixed human capital base. “For others like the Telecom, they need to focus on employee efficiency to ensure the growth wheels move faster,” adds Indrasenan.
‘IT’s the need of the hour
For a host of IT firms, this has also become the need of the hour as their clients are demanding more out of one single project lead. “Clients are asking us to reduce the number of project managers,” informs Anand Pillai, head, talent transformation HCL. “They want to have multi-skilled people who can manage more projects,” he adds.
HCL is one such example of an IT firm which heavily focuses on continuous employee training and development. “We have an employee development mechanism called Gold Metrics which focuses on productivity instead of increasing revenue and decreasing expenses,” adds Pillai. High on employee development, HCL has made employee training an internal function unlike other firms which usually outsource this function. “Over 2,600 managers in our firm dedicate at least four hours in a week in imparting training including our CEO,” Pillai points out.
Thus, even in the current recession, where some firms have to curb on their training costs, HCL is still investing as much. Perot is another such example of a firm which high on employee development to boost work efficiency. “Our quality and innovation teams work closely to identify opportunities for productivity and performance improvement within a client program,” says Jain. “A good example of this would be a recent ‘Quality Improvement Program’ which helped us reduce the time to deploy a new associate on a life insurance program by examining our learning system and removing duplicate sessions,” Jain adds.
The best part about employee training is that there’s a spin-off benefit. Even those who train remain updated and up to the mark. “The more I teach, the more I learn,” comments Pillai.
Thus, there’s a strong motivation for firms to focus on training as it boosts employee productivity and knowledge. That’s what sets any firm apart and lend a competitive edge.
Reference : Ruchi Challu (Times Ascent)
The current global recession may be a source of woes for most of us in the Indian corporate world. But the smarter ones are seeing this as an opportunity to dig deep and discover what they really want to do
For 25-year-old Utkarsh Khandelwal the recession has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It has given him a chance to mull over his career and the time to hone himself as a professional. A B.tech engineer from IIT-Chennai, this small town boy from Indore is now preparing himself for an MBA. “I am just a Bio-tech engineer and the kind of profession I am in, I need to back myself up with an MBA,” says Khandelwal.
Khandelwal who’s now been working as an Investment banker for the last three years feels this is the best time to halt and reflect on what one really wants to do. “I consider myself lucky to have realised what I need to do,” says a relieved Khandelwal. “Since I have a fair amount of work experience behind me, going for an MBA right now would be ideal,” says Khandelwal, who is currently working as an analyst with Avendus Capital, a Mumbai based Investment Bank.
“This is a time to look within and see what aspects we need to improve on to have a rewarding career,” – Ajay Soni, business leader – talent & organisation consulting, Hewitt
On the right track
Many like him are seeing this time as a golden opportunity for self-introspection. “This is a time to look within and see what aspects we need to improve on to have a rewarding career,” explains Ajay Soni, business leader – talent & organisation consulting, Hewitt.
For many like Khandelwal, the recession is nothing but a chance to up-skill and re-tool themselves. “The number of applications for our one year long, regular MBA programs has shot up by 20 per cent,” informs V K Menon, director of career advancement services, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. “I feel this is a direct result of the current recession,” he adds. He further reasons this trend, “In a recessionary market, professionals want to up-tool themselves through such programs and catch the market at a positive swing.”
Agreeing with Menon, Khandelwal feels, “I don’t think the job market will revive before a year or so.” Khandelwal plans to go in for a two year long MBA program and is looking at prestigious institutes like the IIMs and FMS. “I want to get back in the job market once it revives and so I am looking at a regular MBA instead of short term executive MBA programs.”
Interestingly, people like Khandelwal who would in usual circumstances have considered doing an MBA from the USA, are now opting for Indian institutes. “Apart from the lack of job opportunities in the US, there is also the additional bane of financial load,” opines Khandelwal. “Given the current money crunch in the US, getting an educational loan will be a Herculean task,” he explains.
For Indian academic institutes this is definitely not an issue. “Loan based funding is still continuing. There’s no sweat at all getting an educational loan here,” informs Menon.
Apart from professionals going for further education, there are a few who are even turning entrepreneurial or changing industries. “This is time to take the ownership of where one is going and where one is more likely to succeed,” asserts Soni.
While for most of us the slowdown has translated into slowdown of opportunities, there are a few who are actually seeing galore of opportunities. From changing industries to going for further education to setting up ventures, the true survivors are seeking these options.
Reference : Ruchi Challu (Times Ascent)
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“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them. They make the impossible happen.” Dr Robert Jarvik
Synopsis: Managers often unwittingly de-motivate their employees, even in the midst of attempts to do the exact opposite. In this special report, Sid Smith, Chief Attitude Enhancer for Achieve Coaching, outlines the Ten most common ways employee morale is stifled, and how you, the manager, can reverse the process. Learn the 10 best ways to move everyone towards a more positive, productive attitude.
A Serious Misconception
There exists in today´s business world a serious misconception. It´s an idea that came into being in the 19th century, and for some reason is still prevalent in our Internet, Information-based world. Strange as it may seem, there are still a lot of business managers who believe that employee morale is something that can actually be managed.
Blasphemy! You say. Of course employee morale can be managed.
Ever try to herd a bunch of cats or predict the stock market? Most people don´t realize that attempting to manage employee morale is no easier, or predictable. I know my comments go against years of studies and research on motivation, stress, and morale – studies that have proven, unequivocally that morale and motivation can be managed by following a few simple guidelines. If this is true, then why do these guidelines keep changing?
No, it´s not that the processes or techniques experts on motivation have advocated are flawed. Quite the opposite is true – programs that are intended to recognize employees for their good, hard work are to be applauded for their successes. They work when implemented consistently, and at the right time. Hence, the misconception that employee morale is something that can be managed, like a shopping list or your pet hamster.
Studies have concluded, and books have been written that certain things can be done to insure employees stay committed and motivated; that is, they maintain a high level of morale. I just pulled out my book by the Harvard Business Review on Motivating People to get a sense of what the experts are saying. They say in the introduction that “We live in a knowledge economy. The core assets of the modern business enterprise aren´t its buildings, machinery, and real estate, but the intelligence, understanding, skills, and experience of its employees.” How true.
The authors speak of participatory structures and communal values. They suggest pulling solutions out of employees instead of pushing solutions onto them. Some still recommend the old kick in the pants form of motivation, but in a “positive” way. Are you old enough to remember Managing by Objectives, which eventually became Management by walking around? These, too, were techniques managers used to motivate employees.
I want to repeat what I said earlier. There is nothing wrong with these techniques and ideas about motivation. They are all (even the kick in the pants) valuable and viable ways to motivate employees. The problem is that they are simply techniques, not solutions, and certainly not answers to the age-old question of how do you motivate employees. They are like the affirmation you tape to your bathroom mirror – within a week you´ll no longer see it. Whenever something new (a new incentive program, for example) is introduced, there is excitement and anticipation over how it will work. Then, within a period of time (sometimes a very short period of time), this program falls into the category of “ho-hum”. It becomes the norm – something expected – and eventually is no longer an incentive, but a requirement.
What most people fail to evaluate is the underlying reasons why a particular program or methodology works when it works. They simply read that, for example, if a manager gives employees the freedom to choose their attitude, then all will be well and morale will improve. But WHY does this particular technique work, and when? Those are the real questions, and the answers will vary according to the time and place of the question.
Motivation is a broad subject, with thousands of theories and as many techniques and methodologies to motivate people. What I propose is not a technique, or even a series of methodologies. I propose a way of being that is true to the nature of being human. Every day is different, and as such it is more a matter of who the manager is being (a leader, a manager, a friend, an ally, an authority figure) than what she or he is doing that matters. There are plenty of examples of organizations who offer no special programs or incentives that have very high employee morale. Why? Because the leaders of the organization promote commitment, dedication, and a high degree of ownership through their behaviors and actions. If you get nothing else from this report, I want you to understand that who you are has more to do with generating a high degree of employee morale than what you do.
Employees aren´t dumb, and they´ll see right through any incentive program. If they believe that you´re trying to manipulate them into doing more work for less pay, they´ll figure out a way around the system, and probably gripe about it in the mean time. Be respectful, and you will engender respect. It´s a simple formula that isn´t so easily carried out. The challenge is that there is no magic formula, or silver bullet that will kill the downward spiral of motivation or morale, or stabilize morale once employees are feeling good. It´s a moving target. That´s why last decade´s theories can be this decade´s nightmares.
The purpose of this special report isn´t to scare you into thinking there is NO solution, or that you may as well throw your hands up and give up any hope motivating your employees. It is possible… and there is also a catch. Being a leader who motivates employees and keeps morale high requires diligence, persistence, and ever watchful eye for the inevitable shifts and changes that take place in the workplace. Nothing is static. Nothing! Everything is in a constant state of change and movement, and if you´re really interested in motivating your employees, you´ll keep this in mind.
As you read this report, I invite you to reflect on how and why your employees are motivated – not just in the past, but in the present moment. While one person may have been motivated by money or financial incentives last year, a recent death of someone close could have completely shifted his or her perspective on life and work. That same person may now be more motivated by interpersonal connection, and if you miss this change you might inadvertently cause them to become disillusioned or distant.
I´m going to lay out ten of the most common ways that employee morale is destroyed, but with a caveat. The ten I list today may be significantly different from the ten I list a year from now. Some may remain on the list, and some may be replaced by other well-intentioned, but ill-timed management actions. As I said, the key is in staying diligent and aware, noticing the changes that take place daily in people´s lives. With each one, watch for themes or patterns that are present in your organization, and approach each with an open mind.
The Top 10 Ways to Destroy Employee Morale
1. Blessed Ignorance.
I know this is a harsh statement, but many managers manage through the art of blessed ignorance. That is, what they don´t communicate won´t hurt them. Call it communication by omission, or maintaining control – not talking to your employees is one of the fastest ways to lose control. There are ample reasons for keeping your employees in the dark:
- You want to promote their independent thinking. Why, after all, should you hold their hands at every turn?
- They don´t need to know every reason behind every decision. Do you want them questioning your authority? Besides, it would take far too much of your time.
- You´re busy with your own projects. It´s OK if you don´t acknowledge every little thing your employees do.
Blessed ignorance takes many forms. It may be in something as simple as a missed birthday or anniversary, or as harsh as giving an assignment without sufficient background information. Managers believe that all employees need is a little direction – tell them what to do, and they´ll go off and do it. Unfortunately this doesn´t take into account people´s natural curiosity and desire to make a difference. Give them just a little more information, such as why this assignment is important, and you might have them completing the assignment ahead of schedule. Keeping your employees in the dark about the purpose of the work you´re asking them to do will surely kill any motivation they have to do a good job.
Successful managers are truly interested in their employees. They care about what´s going on in the employees lives because they know it does effect their performance. They care about what the employees are doing, and they ask the employees what they want, as well as telling the employee what they, as the manager want. I have one client who rarely receives any feedback or direction from her manager, and constantly wonders if she´s going to have a job next month. She doesn´t know if her assignment is really very important, and the attitude she sees in her manager is that it probably isn´t. So, other than to keep her job, what´s her motivation for doing an outstanding job?
A great manager will make sure her employees understand the vital importance of their jobs, and she won´t fake this in her behavior. She will act as if each employee were essential to the success of her organization because she believes it is true. Then, she will have open, honest, and frequent communication with her employees to insure nobody walks around in blessed ignorance.
The antidote to blessed ignorance is compassion, first for oneself, and second for one´s employees. Compassion breaks down any barriers of communication because it requires an understanding of people´s desires and needs. It is a genuine concern for and care of self and others. Cultivate compassion by taking actions that move you as a manager and your employees forward. Even a kick in the pants can be one of the most compassionate actions you can take if it serves to move your employee forward.
2. Faking it.
Have you ever encountered someone who´s so wired they can´t sit still for five minutes? How about when that same person tells you to “settle down”. Not very compelling, is it? It´s like going to a dentist who has really bad teeth. You might feel inspired to take care of your teeth, but not for the best of reasons.
If you, as a manager, don´t believe in the projects or assignments you´re handing your employees, don´t expect them to be all that motivated. If you´re stressed out, unfocused, and unable to keep track of what´s going on in your organization, then why would you expect your employees to be any different? How many managers try to fake having it together, when inside they´re ready to burst out the door and scream at the top of their lungs?
Another example of faking it is one that may seem all too familiar. It´s the manager (real life example) who is a strong proponent of pride of ownership and “empowerment”. Unfortunately, if he sees something he doesn´t like, he pounces on the poor unsuspecting employee as if the entire structural fabric of the universe would dissolve if the employee proceeded according to their own ideas. It´s the manager who says, “go ahead and do your best… but not like that, like this.”
You can´t fake authenticity, and you can´t fake sincerity. You also can´t fake motivation. If the manager isn´t feeling very motivated, he´ll have one heck of a time motivating his staff. Employees will see right through the latest motivational trend if the managers aren´t motivated or excited themselves. Burnt-out managers will create burnt-out employees.
The best leaders don´t fake their enthusiasm, drive, ambition, or attitudes. They have a positive attitude because they believe in what they´re doing, and if they don´t they won´t tray to fake it – they´ll adjust their attitudes, or change their direction until they do believe in what they´re doing.
The antidote to faking it isn´t being authentic, which is what one might expect. Being authentic is the result of being honest. One must first be honest with oneself – about the situation, one´s feelings, beliefs, and one´s attitudes. Honesty – knowing what you actually feel and what you think – create the environment for authentic behavior and actions. Once you cultivate the capacity to be honest with yourself, it isn´t that difficult to be authentic. You will generate more respect than you can imagine through your self-honesty and authenticity.
Many managers were at one time the “technicians”. They had the jobs that they are now managing, and by golly they know that job inside and out. If something is broken, they´ll be sure to know the solution. Unfortunately, fixing problems was how they got promoted into management, and it´s all they know. Their ability to fix and solve problems is what motivates them as managers because it is how they got the attention and recognition they sought.
The problem with this is that it soon becomes an unconscious way of finding faults with others. What if your employees did everything perfectly, and didn´t need any of your advice or help to do their jobs well? How would you get your recognition then? Would one of these people replace you because they´ve proven themselves better at problem solving? It´s a common fear, and one that creates far more problems than it resolves. These managers look for problems. They seek out faults, mistakes, and errors of their employees like heat seeking missiles. Under the guise of “effectiveness” or “quality control”, they´re on a witch hunt for problems to fix.
It´s all wrong, and it will destroy employee morale faster than you can say “total quality management”. Managers who understand this don´t look for problems or faults, but will lead the way through their focus on being the best. They look for the best qualities in their staff, the best actions, the best behaviors, processes, procedures, and methodologies. They encourage each of their team members to also look for the best, and to focus their attention on getting better. They know that by focusing their attention in this way, employees will naturally uncover things that can be improved and will endeavor to find even better ways to do things.
Part of this motivation for improvement is that people naturally want to do well in whatever they´re doing. Another part, and this is where the manager can help, is that when people are at their best, they are also able to work much more efficiently. They can´t be at their best if they´re always focused on problems, or are looking over their shoulders to make sure the boss doesn´t find fault in what they´re doing.
The antidote for fault-finding is to not sweat the small stuff. Focus on the goal, the target, the big compelling reason for the existence of your team or company. What´s your mission, vision and purpose for being in business? What are your values, and how can you align your team with these values? These are what compels people to quality – it´s a pride of ownership that comes from a unified desire to reach a stated goal. If everyone in your group wants to show that they are by far the best in the industry, then quality will take care of itself. Sure, you´ll still want to implement quality procedures, but it is the vision that drives people forward, not fixing problems.
4. Micro Managing.
I know you´ve heard this one before, but you´d be amazed at how often I still see micro-management of employees. It´s tough to be under so much pressure to meet deadlines and still turn out quality products. Everyone is being asked to do more work with fewer resources, and it´s the manager´s job to make sure everything gets done on time and is a quality job.
Micro-managing is sweating the small stuff. It´s paying attention to details that are beyond your control as a manager, and it serves to de-motivate employees and actually slow them down. Ever had someone standing over your shoulder as you´re ready to tap in that 15 foot put? Not only that, but they´re giving you tips about your grip and stroke before you even take the put. Chances are, you´ll miss the put, and not take responsibility for having missed it.
If you can tell me all the details of what your employees are doing, you´re probably micro-managing. If, however, you can tell me each employee´s state of mind, and your expectations of them given the tasks they´re doing and what´s going on in their lives, you´re probably not micro-managing. You definitely need to know how they are doing, but not necessarily what they are doing. Leave the details up to them, and provide all the resources they´ll need so that you won´t have to worry whether or not they´ll get the job done. Sometimes an intervention is necessary, but you can know when to intervene by watching their attitude and behavior. You don´t have to follow them around and watch their every move!
The most effective managers will provide coaching, guidance, mentoring, and resources. They´ll have a vision, and will articulate that vision to their employees. He/she will insure employees understand their roles, and the importance of those roles. He/she will create an environment that promotes collaboration and sharing of ideas. Then, they´ll get out of the way and let their employees do what they were hired to do.
The antidote to micro-managing is trust. Cultivate trust in yourself first. Do you trust that you are a good enough manager to let go of micro-managing? If not, work on your trust and confidence in yourself as a manager. If you don´t´ trust yourself, how can you expect them to trust you? Then, cultivate an environment of trust by being trustworthy. Do what you say you´ll do, and do it when you´ll say you´ll do it. Help them to trust themselves as well by allowing failure to occur naturally, and encouraging them to move past the failures on their own (or with guidance, not by doing it for them).
5. Leaving out the details
This is closely aligned with item number 1 – Blessed Ignorance. However, these are the managers who are in constant communication with employees, but happen to leave out certain details. For example, they´ll meet with an employee to discuss all the goals and objectives of a study that the employee is undertaking. Once they become clear on the goals and objectives, the employee is sent off to complete the project.
The employee has worked long and hard on the report, and returns to the boss with a 60-page, spiral-bound gem. The boss looks it over, and says, “this is all wrong. It will never work. You´ll need to revisit this and correct these errors because you´ve made incorrect assumptions.”
What happened? The boss left out some important details, assuming that the employee would figure it out on her own. After all, the goals and objectives were clear, right? Managers will leave out the details because they already have the specifications of the end product in their heads. They know what that report is supposed to contain, and if it doesn´t contain the specific details they´ve identified, then it must be in error. They´re not sharing the details of the product they are expecting.
Managers who understand this don´t necessarily have to share every little piece of information with their employees. But, what they ideally will share will be their expectations and assumptions. They´ll share the details of what they think the end result of the study or project will be.
Better yet, and here´s the real kick in the pants, these managers who understand motivation will let go of their preconceived ideas of what the ultimate solution will be. They´ll provide the resources and information their employee needs to come up with a very good solution, and be open to the possibility that they may have an even better idea than the manager. Fancy that! It´s a tough one for all the managers who know better than their employees, but if they can manage to provide the details the employee needs, then step out of the way, they might see an even better solution than what they´d come up with.
The antidote to leaving out the details is faith. Faith is something that is built over time through experience. You develop faith in your own ability to think through a situation sufficiently, communicate it to your employees, and then to allow them to proceed. You develop the faith that they just might come up with a better solution by allowing them to do just that, and experiencing the results.
6. Not following through
Do you play any sports? If you´ve played tennis, basketball, baseball, or even golf, you´ll understand the importance of follow through. Say you want to toss a ball from the pitcher´s mound to home plate, but you stop the movement of your arm the moment you release the ball. The ball will never reach home plate, and will plop down only a few feet from where you´re standing.
The same applies to follow through in business. If you tell an employee you´re going to do something, you´d better follow through with what you´ve said you´ll do. Don´t and you´ll lose their trust in what you say. Don´t follow through consistently, and you should expect the same kind of behavior from them. Follow through isn´t that difficult, but it sure seems to be because it is becoming more rampant. I see it again and again because people have too much to do and not enough time (a great excuse for not following through). Rather than admit that they´ll have to delay certain items, they´ll wait until the last minute to apologize, thinking the apology will make it all OK. It doesn´t.
The challenge occurs because of committing to dates that are entirely unreasonable. We all do it, and are left apologizing for missing the deadline or doing less of a job than we´d like. As a manager, it is even more important that your commitments to your employees be followed through to completion, and on time. It is far better to admit early on that you didn´t calculate the timeframe correctly and to set a new schedule than it is to put your employee off. In fact, many managers consider their commitments to employees to be a lower priority than commitments to their own managers. This is a mistake, because they are of equal importance and must be handled as such.
The antidote to not following through is integrity. Integrity is also defined as wholeness, and is highly applicable to this situation. By being in integrity – with your words, actions, and behaviors, you send a strong signal to your employees. They, too, will act with higher levels of integrity.
7. Being well-meaning
This is a tough one. We want our managers and supervisors to be well-meaning; that is, to care for and be concerned about their staff. Unfortunately this can at times backfire, especially when a well-meaning manager steps into a difficult situation. For example, an organization has been beset with multiple lay-offs, downsizing, restructuring, and one of a number of resolutions to rectify problems with the bottom line.
The old manager is dismissed and replaced by a very successful, and well-intentioned person who´s got a lot of ideas on how to turn things around. He´s all pumped up and raring to go with new initiatives, incentives, team building exercises, and the like. So, he naturally gets going as soon as possible.
In the mean time, the employees are still scared, worried, and frustrated (or angry) as all get out, and the last thing they´re ready to do is trust some wing nut who comes storming in with ideas on how to “fix” them. They don´t need fixing, and as far as they´re concerned, it´s not them who´s broken – it´s that stupid management team who can´t seem to figure out how to run a business.
Get the point?
It doesn´t matter how well-meaning or well-intentioned you are as a manager. If you don´t build rapport and trust with the employees, all your good efforts will be wasted, and may even cause further damage to the morale of the employees. It might behoove you to take a few steps back and find out what they actually want before you come in with your solutions that worked like a charm in your last business. This isn´t your last business, and it may actually require a little imagination on your part. Which brings me to the antidote.
The antidote for being well-meaning is curiosity. Get curious about what people want and need before you offer your well-intentioned solutions. It may be that you´re headed in exactly the opposite direction of where you want to go. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it can save a business. Ask questions. Probe. Explore options and alternatives. Then, go with your gut, with what you know based on information and experience what will work. It still might fail, but you´ll know you´ve done all you could.
I´m a very competitive person, so I know this particular trait well. Your friend tells a story about hiking to the top of an 8,000 foot mountain. You talk about paragliding off that same mountain. She says she did the last 1,000 feet with swollen ankles, and you describe how you had a broken leg.
It´s called one-upping. It happens all the time in business, and it can be disastrous to employee morale. The employee comes in with the solution to a problem, and the boss is excited. He listens intently, and profusely thanks the employee for his hard work and dedication. He compliments the employee for such a great solution, and encourages the employee to do more of the same on the next project.
Good so far, right?
That´s when the one-upping steps in, and like the well-meaning manager above, it can cause serious, but unconscious repercussions. The manager sees his suggestions as a form of brainstorming, and the employee sees it as one-upping. Not content with the employee´s solution, he´ll say something like, “That´s wonderful. I love it. And you know what might make it even better…” While this sounds like a really good idea, it can do quite a bit to undermine and de-motivate employees. What you´re saying is that they might have some good ideas, but their ideas are never good enough, and yours are better.
As an alternative, how about allowing them to begin implementing their ideas. As they progress, you can coach them to seek out even better methods, approaches, or processes that will improve what they´d come up with originally. Coaching is a far better approach for a manager than outright suggestions or even brainstorming, although both of these are useful within the scope of coaching. Ideally, you want to coach your employees to anticipate obstacles, think about contingencies, and evaluate alternative approaches that would be an improvement. In the end you´ll have better ideas, and a much stronger staff who can make your job as manager much easier.
The antidote to one-upping is cultivating a strong self-image. I know this sounds strange, but managers who have a very strong self image do not have a need to have a better idea than their employees. They´re OK with coaching their employees because they have nothing to prove. They don´t need to show how much they know, or demonstrate their wisdom. The best thing you can do for yourself and your staff is to do what you can to build a very strong self-image for yourself.
9. Justifiable anger
Anger is a normal, healthy, and reasonable response to situations in which you or someone close to you has been harmed. The harm can come in the form of a physical action, comments, or even with body language or looks. Something occurs that causes emotional or physical pain, and one will quite naturally respond with feelings of surprise, possibly denial, and then anger.
It´s natural to feel angry from time to time, even as a manager. However, when anger is allowed to be examined and felt within the context of what one is wanting, its life is relatively short. What unfortunately happens all too often is that the anger becomes justifiable anger. We tell the story over and over, embellishing and summarizing all the many reasons we are justified in feeling angry. It builds and builds, and by the time we´re ready to confront the source of the anger (your employee), there is absolutely no room for resolution or solution.
Part of the solution lies in open and honest communication as soon as possible after the incident. Even then, it is in the best interest of the manager to come to terms with his or her feelings of anger before confronting the employee. This is accomplished by carefully evaluating the situation in terms of what happened, why did it happen, and most importantly, clarifying to yourself the final outcome you´re seeking that will be best for both the company and the individuals involved. Once you start looking in the direction of what you really want to be happening (product gets delivered on schedule, client is 100% satisfied), the anger naturally fades. The more you focus on justifying your anger, coming up with all the reasons you´re anger is within reason, the less likely you´ll be able to resolve the situation to anyone´s satisfaction.
The antidote to justifiable anger is gratitude. No, it´s not forgiveness, and it´s not suppression of or ignoring the anger. Look for everything for which you are grateful in the situation, the people involved, and your business. Within the realm of gratitude lies forgiveness, and within forgiveness lies possibilities for solutions that you can only dream about now. Gratitude is perhaps the most powerful force in the universe to combat negative emotions and to instill a strong motivation in everyone.
You know the old phrase, “to assume is to make an ass out of ´u´ and me”? Our challenge today is to hold off on assumptions, yet still get as much done with as few resources as we can. As a manager, you need to understand the difference between an assumption and an expectation.
An assumption is to “take for granted”, while an expectation is “something expected, or the eager anticipation” of something. Notice the difference? You can (and should) have expectations that your employees will be trustworthy, honest, diligent, and will do exceedingly good jobs. On the other hand, it is not helpful to assume (take for granted) they will have all these qualities. To expect is to await with eager anticipation. There is an energy of excitement and joy that comes with an expectation, while an assumption only comes with disappointment when the assumed outcome does not arrive.
Assumptions show up as disappointment. The employee didn´t do as good a job as you had hoped, so you´re disappointed and express that disappointment. Nowhere along the path did you express any expectation that they´d do a great job, because you assumed it. If you expect a great job, you´ll be more likely to express your expectation (“I know that you will do an outstanding job on this report”), and will be excited to receive their results. Then, if the outcome isn´t up to your expectations, you can coach the employee to set their own goals that will meet or even exceed your expectations.
Having a high expectation of an employee helps them to grow into that expectation, while making assumptions does nothing but create disappointment and resentment.
The antidote for assuming is to expect the best. Expect the best of yourself, and expect the best of your employees. Whatever you most expect is what you will get, so be careful with what you expect. Expect the worse and that´s what you´ll probably get. Expect the best, and you stand a greater chance of getting exactly the best.
Cultivating and maintaining a high level of motivation in employees requires more than implementing a few new procedures or incentive plans from the Human Resources department. It requires managers and leaders to be different, and to cultivate in themselves the qualities they want in their employees. In summary, the 10 antidotes, or ways of being that managers can adopt in order to promote high morale in their employees are:
1. Compassion for self and others.
2. Honesty with oneself.
3. Focusing on the goal, not the small stuff.
4. Cultivating trust first in oneself, then in others.
5. Faith in oneself and others through experience.
6. Displaying a high degree of Integrity.
7. Being curious – about the situation, about yourself, and about others.
8. Cultivating a strong self-image.
9. Gratitude for all that is in your life today.
10. Expecting the best of yourself and others.
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.
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
3) 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.
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.
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.
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…..
‘ASK WHAT WE CAN DO FOR INDIA AND DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE TO MAKE INDIA WHAT AMERICA AND OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES ARE TODAY’
Lets do what India needs from us.
Dr. Abdul Kalam