Are you thinking of expanding your family through adoption?
If so, check out the adoption benefits at your company or at any company you are considering as a future employer. Do this early on, even before you start tackling the mountains of adoption paperwork, so you can lobby for change if your company doesn’t smile on adoptive families.
Adoption-friendly workplaces treat adoptive mothers the same as women who give birth, by allowing paid maternity leave to bond with the new family member. Some companies at least allow partially paid leave or make it easy for employees to use accrued vacation and sick time to bond with their adopted child. An adoption-what’s-that-never-heard-of-it workplace, and unfortunately there are a lot of them out there, does not recognize mothers who bring an adopted child into the family as mothers at all, offering no paid leave or unpaid leave beyond FMLA.
If you love your job, don’t read this.
Are you thinking of expanding your family through adoption?
Let’s be straight; most people do not like meetings. When asked why meetings are so distasteful, the typical worker’s response often goes like this, “Don’t get me started with meetings. Our company’s meetings are a complete waste of time.” Indeed Roger Mosvick and Robert Nelson (1987) found that employees commonly dislike meetings for a variety of reasons; these reasons include the leader was not prepared, the meeting was irrelevant, and a certain group of people kept getting off the subject.
Since meetings are a must for successful companies, it is helpful to periodically review the principles of high-quality meetings. These principles include: First, the effective manager masters time. John Cragan, David Wright, and Chris Kasch (2004) recommend that meetings are purposeful and take no more time than necessary. To ensure this, a manager should distribute an agenda in advance so that employees know what to anticipate in the meeting and can prepare to participate in it.
Second, the effective manager gives attention to employee satisfaction. Meetings are excellent opportunities to boost morale. Managers should take the time to recognize employee accomplishments and seek feedback. Once a meeting has finished, a manager should send a short email reiterating what was accomplished in the meeting to reinforce its value. This is especially important for groups that meet once a week or less.
Third, the effective manager seeks consensus. Consensus occurs when employees arrive at a decision that everyone can support. Research indicates that employees are more productive when they’ve been a part of the decision making process (Keyton, 2002). Consensus works best when it develops from group interaction and is not forced by a manager. Moreover, consensus tends to encourage future collaboration. Keep these principles in mind, and your employees will benefit from, and recognize the importance of, company meetings.
Mark was satisfied with his senior management job in the telecom industry, but when an opportunity came to interview with another company, he couldn’t pass up the possibility of a salary bump.
He researched the company and liked what he saw. Even though the company had struggled, it had a sound business plan and a new team of heavy hitters to turn things around. His interview with the CFO went well. He returned for a second interview. The company wanted James, and James wanted to make the move. The offer represented a 10 percent raise. Or so it seemed. The base salary was 10 percent higher.
The offer came on Friday, giving Mark the weekend to think it over. He told the recruiter he needed to run some numbers and talk to his wife, but he was pretty sure he would accept.
On Saturday, he set up a spreadsheet that looked his current compensation as well as the offer: base salary, bonus, healthcare, 401K, options, restricted stock, commuting and parking.
The tally left Mark disappointed.
by Rick Houcek
Had a thrilling experience last Thursday. My wife and I were in Nashville attending an annual marketing and business-building conference … and met Gene Simmons, the ‘god of Rock ‘n Roll’ and founder of KISS.
He spoke to an audience of 1200, and to put it mildly, I was stunned, shocked, and amazed.
I love rock music. Always have. And like many people, I’ve got my favorite bands. KISS, though, has never been among them. I don’t dislike them, they’re just not my style.
But I’ve respected their longevity and success immensely.
What blew me away, though, was Gene Simmons the man … and Gene Simmons the entrepreneur. Both threw me for a loop.
He was invited to speak on the success of KISS and impart his savvy wisdom in business. What I was expecting, to be blunt — and in true rock star stereotype — was an egotistical, wacky, incoherent speech from an aging, drugged-out rock star who has a popular band, made millions in concert revenues, probably blew most of it, has an attitude that he’s too good for us common folk, and who may have a few good ideas to share, but not many.
What I got instead was … well, the dead opposite on all counts. And frankly, blown away to boot.
First, Simmons the man.
He immigrated to the U.S. from Israel at age 8, knew no English, and spent his early teen years in stupefied wonderment over the freedoms, the possibilities, and the success potential that every American possessed. “I could be anything I wanted here. There are no barriers,” he came to realize. He was mesmerized by American culture, TV shows, comic book heroes, Walt Disney characters, and later the Beatles and their following.
In recent years the internet has dramatically changed the dating industry. Whereas match-making services once had candidates pick-a-date from a photo album, companies now have clients complete a lengthy questionnaire to determine actual—rather than perceived—compatibility. A client is then paired with someone of similar test results. As different as successful online dating and job-seeking may seem, they have one noteworthy commonality: value matching is central to both processes.
Social psychologist Milton Rokeach (1973) defines values as core human beliefs. For example, you may value creativity more than money or prioritize job security over personal recognition. In short, your value system makes you unique. Interestingly, companies also possess distinct value systems. Not surprisingly, when an employee’s values match a company’s values, the employee tends to be productive and happy. Conversely, when an employee’s values do not match a company’s values, the opposite is true (Morley & Shockley-Zalabak, 1991) .
This information is valuable if you put it to use when seeking employment. Here is how to do so: First, know yourself. Determine your values. Better yet, rank them. Prioritizing your values is useful since it influences how you respond to an interviewer (or your recruiter). Second, know your potential employer. Ask the interviewer questions that clarify what a target company considers important. These questions show a sincere interest in the company and help you gain crucial information for making the best decision regarding employment. Third, determine if your values and the company’s values are similar. If they are, you’ve got a match; you need only say yes to the impending job offer.
by Rick Houcek
Two big news items emerged from my fair city in the last 48 hours. Both have dramatic implications and lessons for leaders everywhere.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin has announced a $140 million budget shortfall, resulting in expense cuts that include the termination of about 440 government jobs. The first wave of dismissals was announced yesterday; the second wave comes later today.
And Atlanta-based Home Depot has announced 15 store closings nationwide, due to lagging performance. 1300 jobs will be lost. It’s the first time the retailer has ever closed even one flagship store, let alone 15.
Layoffs and store closings are nothing new in business. Been happening forever.
Nor are the backlash and criticism leaders get when they occur.
It’s understandable. Heck, if you’re an employee facing a layoff, it would be human nature for you to throw accusations of “mismanagement” at those in senior positions — primarily at the top dog.
And at times, it’s dead-on accurate.
Take Enron. When that story broke, and news crews started interviewing employees for their reaction, turns out they were
To va-cay or not to va-cay, that is the dilemma my friend Ellen faced when her husband was deep in the trenches of a job search. On one hand, the idea of going off to the beach for a week seemed crazy. Peter was job-hunting. He was considering a career change or even a location change that would require them to sell their house and send her into the job market. Their lives were on hold.
But on the other hand … my friend put it this way: “WE NEED TO GET AWAY.”
They needed to get away - not run away - from the stress and uncertainty. So she booked a weeklong vacation. She felt guilty and had a hard time pulling the trigger on the nonrefundable reservation. She bought travel insurance just in case.
When her friend questioned her wisdom of making travel plans, Ellen shared a few good reasons to va-cay during times of uncertainty and upheaval:
We in the recruiting industry have officially entered the busiest time of the year! I am constantly seeing more information on-line and from colleagues that share vital information on how to be successful in my industry. I have taken part in discussions on how to deal with a window shopping client or how to turn a weaker client into a long term partner that will consistently be a part of a recruiter’s success. There are numerous articles and thoughts on how to negotiate fees, close your deals, or how to coach candidates from the initial phone interview to the close of your specific search in order to maximize your send-out to close ratio. There is a wealth of information available to us today that even ten years ago was difficult to obtain. I would highly suggest taking the time to listen to other successful industry leaders because we as recruiters are only as good as those around us.
There is however something that I do not hear a lot of talk about that I believe is absolutely vital to the success of a recruiter. The candidate’s ability to effectively “work with” a recruiter. Many candidates often feel they can fire off an email with an updated resume and the recruiter will then magically take care of everything. The recruiter candidate-relationship is a dynamic one and is a very definitive two way street. We must not be afraid to ask a candidate to be a partner in their own job search and we must make them participate in the process. What are some of the things that we should ask candidates to do and what can a candidate do to help their recruiter help them? Here are three things that will make your player coach very happy.
- Pick up the phone and call your recruiter! Often times, candidates rely too heavily on email. There is no way to build rapport with your recruiter via email and let’s face it, if you are unwilling to pick up the phone and call your recruiter they are going to be less willing to call their client and pitch your strengths and skill set in a positive light. You always want the recruiter in your corner and building that initial relationship is the key. If you are working with a recruiter to secure a new position and the ball is in your court to give him or her a call, do promptly, as this will make the recruiter feel their efforts are appreciated. The bottom line is, create your own urgency!
- Research the company thoroughly during the initial stages of the interview process. Once you have established contact with the recruiter and they have pitched you an opportunity, take some time to perform a web engine search on the company. Go to Google.com and look for information on the company that will empower you to do well on the initial interview and possibly attempt to gain a feel for the company’s culture. Any information you can obtain on your own will greatly increase your chances of a successful interview and ultimately help put you in a position to beat out the competition.
- Last but certainly not least….Be honest and upfront about your feelings in regards to an opportunity. Recruiters deal with the human element and all of us are known to have a change in heart. If you feel yourself unexcited or really unwilling to move forward in a process you will be doing yourself and the recruiter a favor by just walking away. It is extremely difficult for a recruiter to bring a candidate to offer stage and then have a candidate turn an offer down for a very arbitrary reason. It is OK to pull out of the process, but it is not OK to walk away once a recruiter has gotten a reasonable offer that you have agreed would be acceptable. Most recruiter’s I know will not get their nose burnt twice!
As a corporate consultant, I am often asked the following question by company presidents and managers: “I have an employee who asks lots questions on the job. What should I do?” My immediate response is, “Count your blessings. You have a great thing going.” Here is why: effective decision making is marked by meaningful questions. Numerous studies support this.
For example, Irving Janis’ (1982) analysis of events leading up to the Bay of Pigs fiasco established that too few questions were asked in cabinet sessions prior to John Kennedy’s order to invade Cuba. Later, Richard Nixon gave the go ahead for the Watergate break-in based on staff meetings where too few questions were raised. More recently, Randy Hirokawa and Dennis Gouran’s (1988) examination of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster revealed that Morton Thiokol engineers and NASA managers posed too few purposeful questions prior to approving the shuttle’s launch. The result was catastrophic.
If you are a company leader, and you have an employee who asks lots of questions, especially questions that challenge the status quo—permit this behavior. As long as the questions focus on the task, your employee is playing a vital role for your company. If, by chance, questions are noticeably absent when making company decisions, encourage your employees to ask them. By the way, research also establishes that question asking is a prime indicator of an employee’s leadership potential.
After toiling for hours and subjecting your résumé to peer review, you’re ready to get it out to prospective employers. Great. Now it’s time to work on your Googlemé. Your Googlemé is what potential bosses learn when they type your name into Google.
I’m not fond of my Googlemé. The search engine’s algorithm is a mystery, and the links that pop up when I search for my name are random. A profile of a construction worker. A feature I wrote many moons ago about recess. A story about leaky pipes. They do not reflect my best work. Yet, I have no control over how Google operates. At least, because I write for a living, there are some links that do give a little insight into my professional capabilities.
You don’t have to be a professional writer to have a Googlemé that reflects who you are at work. Here are some tips for beefing up your Googlemé:
- Offer to write an article for a trade journal that makes its content available online. Propose a topic that will show off your expertise. It’s nice to get paid, but be willing to write the story for free. You’re building your Googlemé.