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Category: Career Management (Page 1 of 2)

Circled Myth text, with Reality text and red pencil

5 Myths About Summer Job Hunting

One of the great pieces of bad job search advice: “You might as well take the summer off.”

Really? The misconception that the summer is a job search “dead zone” is common, but nothing could be further from the truth!

Summer job search myths have been around for a long time and are repeated like mantras. Like other myths, they’re fantasies that shatter when scrutinized.

Myth #1: Nobody hires in the summer.
Myth #2: Nothing ever happens after July 1st, so you might as well leave town and stop networking.
Myth #3: Even if an employer has an opening, the hiring manager won’t have time to meet you.
Myth #4: You won’t find the job you really want in the summer.
Myth #5: You will have a better chance of landing a job if you wait until September.

The reality is that in today’s highly-competitive business world, no company or organization can afford today to go to sleep for the summer.

  • There is too much change.
  • Too much new technology to absorb and launch.
  • The volatility of change is accelerating every day.
  • New competitors, big and small on a global basis are looking to seize the day, disrupt markets, steal customers, and grow.

Winners Come To Play – Get Out Front – Get An Advantage

Myth #1: Nobody hires in the summer.

There are 4 reasons companies may hire in July and August:

  1. The summer months don’t affect much of a change in most businesses. There may be more employees on vacation, but activities roll along just like any other time of the year. Few vacations are more than a week or two.
  2. Many companies have fiscal years that start in late summer or fall. This means they have new budgets, new growth plans, or new process-improvement initiatives and they will need resources in place to get the next fiscal year off to a solid start.
  3. Contract positions to cover for employees who experience immediate changes in their lives can open up at any time. And these contract positions, can lead to full-time employment.
  4. This is often a time to finally make resource changes to enable searches to build management or front line strength. That creates job opportunities for you.

Myth #2: Nothing ever happens after July 1st, so you might as well leave town and stop networking.

  1. Surprise! If you continue your job search throughout the summer, you won’t have as much competition. Because so many people believe in the myths, it’s a perfect time to be out there. And It is often a good time to meet with a recruiter.
  2. Active job seekers know the opportunities are there and go in with a positive attitude.
  3. We often hear that the summer atmosphere makes people more relaxed so when you do get in to see someone, they tend to be more open and available.
  4. The summer months create social opportunities to network: neighbourhood BBQs, sporting events, and cottage parties. Don’t let those opportunities slip away.

Myth #3: Even if an employer has an opening, the hiring manager won’t have time to meet you.

Scheduling networking opportunities may be slower during the summer due to periodic vacations, but even if the process slows, it doesn’t stop.

The interviewing process may also take a bit longer with hiring managers in and out of the office. And you may have to meet with the different company representatives at different times in order to meet all of the players involved in the decision-making process. But the process does not stop. If there is a sense of urgency to hire and on-board new hires, it may not slow at all.

Avoid “time anxiety”. It will only unsettle you and cause you to prematurely shut your search down. The old adage is true, patience can be a virtue.

Myth #4: You won’t find the job you really want in the summer.

Really? You’re just as likely to find the job you really want in the summer as in any other month. Our experience with clients over many years proves this.

Myth #5: You will have a better chance of landing a job if you wait until September.

If employers have a need, they don’t care if it’s March, July, December, or January. Hiring isn’t focused on the time of year – it’s focused on the business need.

Early summer is the perfect time to get ready, research, prepare SOAR stories, and do on site reviews. Then no matter what happens or when it happens, you are prepared.

During the summer, job candidates need to make sure they are available. The thought that someone will come in on Friday of a long weekend if need be will tell potential employers a lot about who you are. It happens.

SuccessFinder and Your Behavioural DNA

From Pathfinder to SuccessFinder

It’s in each and every one of us to be successful in the work world.  For individuals the question comes down to what type of work will speak to our potential, offering an engaging and rewarding career?   For organizations, the question is how to source, develop and coach their human potential into profitability?  The answer to both these questions is SuccessFinder!

DNAman-2

SuccessFinder is the premier psychological assessment that interprets an individual’s behavioural traits against over 500 job roles to determine that success and engagement.   Learn more about your behavioural DNA and predicting career and organizational success from our colleagues at SuccessFinder.

Diversity equals profitability

Shareholders! Are too many male Canadian board members costing you money?

This post is co-authored with Normand Coté.

Is the homogeneity of Canadian corporate boards costing shareholders money?

On September 28 the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) issued a report indicating that women board membership on TSX listed companies had increase by 1% from last year to 12% in 2016.

That’s pretty underwhelming, but unfortunately not surprising. For over 25 years there’s been talk about women advancing into senior executive and board roles, but it’s largely talk. There appears to be a self-fulfilling prophesy that ensures women of skill, ability and endurance are held back.

“Again this year, the most common explanation given by issuers that do not consider the representation of women in executive officer appointments was that their selection is based on merit.” (p 8)

Selection based on merit seems to be a stumbling block for corporations. Women are being left out of consideration for high potential development and succession planning. In our experience they are under-represented in the selection process and consequently corporate Canada isn’t growing enough women leaders. This behaviour extends to other under-represented groups as well.

There’s enough research indicating that boards offering diversity, and by this we mean broader perspectives, innovative approaches and richer discussion, result in better financial performance. While boards are conservative by design these short-sited hiring and development practices can no longer be considered a viable pretext for the status quo. So why is corporate Canada short-changing itself and its investors? Is it possible that the biases which excluded women from becoming magistrates and senators found a cozy home in Canada’s boardrooms?

The key to overcoming this limitation is to confront the biases and the egos maintaining the status quo. Begin by acknowledging that they exist: in the corporate environment, in the boardroom and in the board members themselves. Diversity in the leadership and succession planning pipelines needs to be tied not only to the “merit” boards say they are seeking, but also in seeing the “people potential” within their organizations. Tools and external objectivity provide meaningful interventions that focus on clear data and rational decision-making – in other words they eliminate the unconscious biases that the people involved in the selection process poses. For example, external consultants who understand board and industry contexts can ask tough questions designed to illuminate how members think about key issues such as merit. They can also help to establish clear criteria for sourcing candidates based on merit and diversity. Rigorous psychometric assessments target behavioural traits that mitigate stereotypes formed over a life-time of professionally biased leadership perceptions.

The key function of a board member is to balance stewardship safeguarding the prosperity of the company with shareholder interests. This job cannot be done effectively if existing board members are afraid of working with and for women.

High potential leaders

You Must Diagnose Before You Can Prescribe

You’ve hired the best people for your organization. Now it’s time to identify the high-potentials that can take on leadership roles. This is a fundamental business investment designed to sustain your organization’s profitability now, but most importantly into the future. Essentially you are determining who can lead while you can mentor them; who will lead when you’ve moved on. Before the selection process can begin, it’s crucial that company leaders identify the unique skills and assets that each person can bring to your team.

This entails defining the set of activities that will accelerate future leaders’ development and get each ready to lead by developing their self-awareness. Just as a physician evaluating a new patient performs a diagnostic exam before prescribing a course of treatment, you must assess high-potential leaders. Performing a diagnostic assessment enables you to select proper development solutions.
To ensure a proper assessment, your diagnostic tools should include:

  • A 360-degree surveys or simulations
  • Validated personality traits inventories
  • A tailored knowledge and experience review interview or questionnaire

These three methodologies will generate a wholesome view of the high-potential leaders’ strengths and development needs.

Having collected meaningful information you can now ask the vital question that target your high-potential candidates’ self-awareness:
“What is it that one is aware of when one is self-aware?” In a nutshell, there are two answers:

  1. On the one hand, you can be aware of your identity: how you think about and evaluate yourself.
  2. On the other hand, you can be aware of your reputation: how others think about and evaluate your behaviours.

It is critical that a leader, particularly one who is part of a development process, is aware of both the impact of his or her behaviours and his or her reputation as a leader.

Self-awareness is particularly critical if there is a gap between the self-view and the reputation. When both are aligned it is considered self-accuracy.

Leaders who are highly self-aware and “honest with themselves” will recognize their challenges and gaps in order to maximize their strengths. The higher the self-awareness, the more likely the leader will improve.

Performing a good diagnostic before the prescription avoids wasting time, energy, and money. It is the right way to accelerate leadership development, for your high potential candidates and the people they will lead to sustain your organization in the future.

Diversity on Corporate Boards

Board diversity: Why what you see is what you get

Do you want the best person for the job? Perhaps subconsciously what you really want is the person who makes you feel the best about yourself, someone who reflects well on you. The type of person who will reinforce what success looks like, sounds like and most importantly, manages like. Since you are successful and you are in the hiring seat, this person will look a lot like you. Welcome to the very special tribe called Status Quo.

According to a recent article in Canadian Business, there continue to be too many corporate boards that have diversity issues. This is puzzling as there seem to be a number of reports that show board diversity has a direct impact on profitability:

Don’t corporations exist for the pure economic purpose of making money? Don’t they want to be more profitable? Or perhaps the better to ask is what these boards and their members have to lose? No matter how flat corporations become, they’re still hierarchical. Hierarchies allow some people to engage in assigning relative values to others based on perceived status and power. When you derive your self-worth from your corporate status then you’ve fixed the ‘ideal candidate’ for similar roles very narrowly.

In cases where board members are blind to how their power and influence place limitations on hiring and consequently profit-making abilities, corrective action in recruitment practices might be the key. According to Stefanie Johnson, David Hekman and Elsa Chan if there’s only one woman in your candidate pool, there’s statistically no chance she’ll be hired! Apparently when “one thing is not like the others” it signals that you’re different from the norm, that you’re different from the tribe. Instead the board needs a new norm, one in which a different candidate cannot be discriminated against so easily. This quick video explains how inclusive hiring can be facilitated:

So what do the boards of companies in which you hold shares look like, sound like, and manage like? Is there room for more diversity and consequently more profit?

Business Growth

Nothing Grows in the State of Perfection

Nothing can grow in a state of perfection.  Perfection simply does not allow it. It is already perfect, complete.

Now, the problem with perfection is in fact, its’ completeness.  Once perfected, it remains the same, never growing, never changing.  This pushes  against the nature of life itself, whose drive seems to be to forever grow or cease to be.  And like life, organizations and the people within them ideally move continually towards growth.

Working with clients as a career coach, I see first hand how the desire for perfection constrains achievement, fulfillment, decisions and action.  If one can’t do it perfectly, there is a tendency to stop or never begin.

Leadership that demands perfection, too, constrains the growth of an organization. Risk-taking stops, everyone is afraid of making a mistake and the impending consequences.

Progress - Perfection - Concept

Stop striving for perfection, and stop looking for it.  For if you find it, you have found completion. And completion can be a dead end.

If you or your organization has “room for growth”, celebrate it, for it has the space within its’ corporate walls where things can happen.

The Black Hole in Your Talent Engagement Strategy

Employee EngagementMeetingThis post has been co-authored by Fran Sardone and Catherine Lyons-Bozzo. Catherine is a recruitment veteran with over 20 years’ experience in hiring applicants your firm already knew about.

From the get-go, companies are missing the point of engaging employees, beginning with the job posting.   Let’s talk for a moment about the wonderful experience your new talented employees have with your applicant tracking system or ATS.  Outside of HR, this expensive tool is commonly known as the black hole.

The black hole is about filtering people out and that’s the way your talent pool first experiences your company.  When posting a job do you share your filtering criteria to ensure job seekers have correct information to make informed choices or are you gaming the applicants?

  • Location limitations – do you only want people in specified commuting range? What’s the range?
  • Years of experience – why do you need the applicant to have 3-5, 5-10 years of experience, please explain!
  • Education – are you biased toward big name institutions? Do you really need every certification under the sun? Which ones are actually required and why?
  • Keywords – “must be a team player”.  All the time?  In every situation? Introverts need not apply?
  • Follow up. Yes, the machine acknowledged receipt of the application…then what? The application is somewhere in the database. Guess what? If the applicant is filtered out 1st, or 2nd round, you can let them know. The courtesy of an email is simply a matter of setting up a bulk reply email.

Now that you’ve turned your potential shiny new human being into a ‘resource’, have you noticed how many times this person has actually applied to your company either through your own organization’s ATS or recruitment personnel? They’re making a big effort to figure out how to engage with you. In the meantime your recruitment arm has engaged a search firm to fill this very role, which is now costing you lots of money. You’ve filtered them out, now you’re paying to filter them back in – Kaching! So if engagement is really Corporate Canada’s #1 concern, then it’s time to rethink business as usual. Engagement means having consideration for your future colleagues and a quality touch mind-set.  It’s past time to put the human back into your resources management.

There are ways to do this right and campus recruiters have the right tactical mindset. How can you take your efforts out into the community?

  • Sponsoring sporting events
  • Host a job fair, local public library or community centres are good choices
  • Summertime: target concert venues and fairs
  • Know the demographics of your community outreach: StatCan can help!

If employee engagement is truly on your agenda, then give your recruitment staff a new mandate focusing on job clarity, justification of your criteria and the means to opt in to your company.

index

Performance Management and a Growth Mindset

This post has been co-authored by Carlos Davidovich and Fran Sardone

Carlos Davidovich, Optimum Talent’s Neuromanagement Coach, and I have been discussing the upcoming event Reinventing Performance Management on June 21. We’ve been reading some of Deloitte’s publications and swapping performance review stories – misery loves company!

For Carlos, whose first career was as a medical doctor, this topic gives him a chuckle:

I studied medicine at a public university in Argentina, surrounded by scores of students in each class and almost no contact with the professors. The only chance to succeed and progress was passing the yearly exam. We were very curious about how other educational models were dealing with this situation (Harvard, etc.). As students we heard that Ivy League medical schools started with 100 students and finished with 100 students! Then we were told that in those schools, in those models, there were no exams. The professor/student contact was so high that a final yearly exam was not needed. When the learner was having difficulties, the issues were addressed immediately, so that learning could advance and the stu-dent could progress.

This ‘leave no learner behind’ philosophy reminded me of my past job at a university teaching and learning department.

Fran: Deloitte seems to be making the distinction between summative and formative feedback, concepts well known in education.

• Summative feedback is quantitative:
Your assignment is graded as B- or 73%. It’s a judgement about a past event fixed in time (like an exam), consequently the stakes are high.

• Formative feedback is qualitative:
Your assignment strengths and weaknesses are reviewed and discussed. It’s an appreciation of the ongoing situation by both parties. Since feedback gives the opportunity to improve perfor-mance, the stakes are low.

Josh Bersin of Deloitte does a great job of explaining the myth of the bell curve approach to performance management. Like the 100% final medical exam, force ranking doesn’t do anything to help people grow and perform better.

So here’s the question I have for Carlos:

Fran: In a higher education setting, I’m willing to receive feedback from a professor because she’s an expert in the subject I’m studying. Why am I willing to accept feed-back from a manager who might be senior to me in hierarchy, but not necessarily in professional or technical expertise?

Carlos: One of the key components of a performance feedback process is trust, in both directions. The manager needs to trust that the employee is right for the role. The employee needs to trust that the manager is competent and supportive. They have to believe in one another and cultivate a growth mind-set. Together they can work on the potential inherent in the employee to get the job done on behalf of the organization. The way to provoke this is by leaving the ball in the employee’s court – the work belongs to him. But the only way the employee succeeds organizationally is through regular, continuous, supportive dialogue so that he stays on course.

Can organizations actually change gears sufficiently to cultivate this type of environment? Time will tell.

Judges Or Auctioneer Gavel And Money On The Wooden Table

Reinventing Performance Management

When I was training leaders on the topic of feedback, we always joked about that day when you received the email, with many attachments from HR: Performance Assessment day is coming! It was universally viewed as a burden, one more thing to do. It was done quickly to get back to real work. The prevailing sentiment was, ‘Oh brother, I’ve got so many other important things to do right now’. This experience was consistent across 10-15 countries, different cultures and different sectors. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘what a great opportunity to work on my team’s development’.

One of the responsibilities of any leader is to support people in their performance and their development, and this activity is a continuous process. The good news is that when you get used to performance feedback as a continuous process, it becomes easier, quicker and definitely effective. You don’t wait until the next year for results, the results come daily.

Let’s call things by their real names.

In one of my classes, students were asked to role-play a performance review. The student playing the employee was arguing and debating every comment and point issued by his ‘manager’. I didn’t understand what was going on so I stopped the role-play and asked the ‘employee’ why he took this approach. The ‘employee’ explained that in his company, everyone knew how much money was assigned to a particular rating. So he was placed in the position of defending his salary. The performance review had transformed from a discussion to a negotiation.

What is a performance review?

There is a universally implicit belief that the performance review is an evaluation, and being evaluated results in negative psychological and emotional triggers. Traditionally these evaluations have been a judgement about past performance. The performance review process should really be about the future and about improvement. Consequently this means that the manager must transform from a judge to a mirror. In this way you create the right scenario, which is:

  • the employee is accountable for their ongoing performance
  • the manager is supportive of the employee in their role while keeping the employee performance aligned with organizational needs.

In short, the manager maintains the organizational context in which the employee performs and improves in their role.

 

Red Pencil Standing Out From Crowd

You’ll Never Survive Working for a Narcissistic Leader – Here’s Why

Last month I took issue with the Harvard Business Review (HBR) blog post entitled “How to Work for a Narcissist”. This month I look for perspectives and insights from colleagues here at Optimum Talent to address this issue. In this post you’ll hear from:

When speaking to Larry, Carlos and Jocelyn they all began with the same question. ‘Are we truly talking about a Narcissist, which means a person with a mental disorder? Or are we talking about a self-centred person?’ Terms are important because they define the approach to the issue under discussion.

Larry who has over 40 years of experience in clinical psychology as well as coaching offers the following insights.

Narcissism is a clinical diagnosis. This means the narcissist is dysfunctional and that their behaviour is dysfunctional in a significant way.

The only reason for hiring a narcissist is because the hiring manager believes they need this specific person in the role, typically for a high stakes initiative or project. The hiring manager is dependent on the narcissist to achieve something she/he cannot.  Narcissists, who are extremely talented individuals, are the means to this end. The hiring manager will tolerate the narcissist as long as possible in order to achieve a goal. The cost will be that the most competent people will begin to leave the organization.

In reality narcissists are very unhappy people. In fact, they are incapable of being happy, have no self-respect and think they are losers because no one can stick with them for long. Yet, everyone experiences the narcissist as arrogant, intimidating and a person keen to make others feel incompetent and inadequate.

When coaching a person reporting to a narcissist Larry offers three possible outcomes:  leave, get fired, stay and become ill. Do you really need this particular job?  The best course of action for employees is to stand up for themselves. The narcissist will either fire you or respect you enough to tolerate you.  The employee is taking a 50/50 chance. If the narcissist needs the employee then there will be no leadership as the relationship will be one of indifference.   Essentially the employee will be ignored and will have to get on with the job the best they can.  In Larry’s experience narcissists don’t remain in their roles for more than a couple of years as the organizational cost is too high.

Symbol Of A Narcissist Without Head And With Pawns In The Hands

Carlos
, whose first career was as a medical doctor and is now following developments in neuroscience, reinforces Larry’s perspective with insights for the employee.

The advice in the HBC post is too simplistic and therefore not realistic. This is a bandage solution and any bandage is fragile. It doesn’t fix the problem, just covers it.

The psychological impact of a narcissists is profound. The narcissist garners results from an organizational point of view, so why change what works? A person who works for a narcissist must have a very strongly developed personality. People need validation for what they think. The narcissist gets this from others who benefit from them and want to be like them. No one can work for a narcissist without damage to their self-esteem.  A narcissist will never provide any validating feedback and the employee will be psychologically affected.

In order to cope the employee needs supporters within the organization, including HR.  We are always checking ourselves (consciously or unconsciously) through others. The problem is that a healthy person will be in a power relationship with a narcissist, creating a Catch 22 situation for the employee.  If the employee stays then they will be damaged or their career will be damaged.  In either case their life is no longer a reflection of reality.  If they leave then they often feel like a failure because narcissists can deceive many people.

A person needs to be mentally healthy enough to say that, while the boss is a high performer the boss is also a narcissist, therefore the only positive outcome in this situation is for one of us to leave. Ultimately an employee must be mentally healthy enough to self-validate their decision to leave.


Jocelyn offers a different perspective. As a narcissist is incapable of being coached, his advice is based on an individual with narcissistic characteristics.

The HBR post is missing a big component regarding the role of leadership and HR in the organization.

Some senior leaders can also report to leaders with narcissistic tendencies, we all report to someone – but where is this person’s leader and where is HR in this scenario? A person with narcissist tendencies is a personality derailer. What can appear to be strengths or attractive ‘high performance’ qualities can be too much of a good thing. It’s essential that HR and leadership recognize that this person needs help.  HBR has forgotten that someone has to intervene because this behaviour results in negative consequences.

What needs to be done to address narcissistic tendencies?

A problem can only be fixed if it is recognized as such. Narcissistic personality traits have an impact on others. While people recognize this person’s positive characteristics, it can’t be all about “Joe”.  There are other people who need to be recognized too.  Derailers in this case can lead to attention-seeking and it’s their self-awareness that needs to be increased in relation to the resulting negative consequences. A method of raising self-awareness is with a powerful/rigorous psychometric assessment, paired with feed-back from others, such as a 360 assessment.  The goal is to ensure that perceptions and consequences are clearly understood and articulated.

What can we do?

This is about changing a person’s behaviour and that’s not easy.  The person needs to do things differently.  In this case examples of behavioural change might include:

  • Not speaking first in meetings, letting others talk
  • Including others by praising them, highlighting their contributions and accomplishments
  • Asking more questions, getting input, thoughts, etc.

This feedback and coaching must be limited to a few key behaviours so that the person isn’t overwhelmed or becomes frustrated.  This has to be achievable.

This person needs constant and consistent encouragement and feedback in order for this program to work.  It also requires ongoing recognition of derailing behaviours and their consequences in order to reinforce good behaviours.

Can you work for a Narcissist? No you can’t. No one can and remain healthy.

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