Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Comments on Today's Hiring Process and Practices

Years ago, a headhunter called me. He received my name from the OM at a company I was working for as seasonal help. (One day the OM said to me, "I'd never want to have you working for me." Rather than take offense, I asked him, 'why not?' He said, "Because I'd always be afraid you have my job." Okay, I was young and less restrained--Theory X and all that.)

I found out, in talking to the headhunter, that he'd been VP at the company I was working for. He'd set up the operation where I worked. We talked about the "personnel director." He said to me, "When we were in New York, she was not allowed outside the personnel area." To be accurate: 'She was not allowed to leave personnel'.

Today, personnel is called Human Resources. As I research, I check ads for HR directors. Obviously, HR is no longer personnel. It is a separate industry within an industry that is its own product. Call me old fashioned, but I think HR should be separated from personnel--analogous to your primary care physician sending you to a 'medical care facility'. To say that in English, your Doctor is your Doctor. If you need tests, you go to hospital. Personnel should be personnel. If you need the services of HR, you go to HR.

Now, to the subject of hiring. I must have been charming when I was younger. For my first real job, one of the partners took me to lunch, saw I went to Seton Hall and Georgetown, and spent the lunch talking about basketball. The second real job, the same thing. When I decided to "drop out" and write the great American novel, I applied for a job as a security guard. The same thing happened. (The irony is, no one who went to Seton Hall and Georgetown knows less about basketball than I do.) Later on in life, when I gave myself a sabbatical to go back to my novel, I applied for a part-time job in a store where I was a regular customer. The owner hired me. He didn't even know my last name.

To improve hiring, you have to dump the process into the laps of the people the candidate will be working for. That person has to be able to determine if the candidate qualifies. No, that's wrong. The person "...has to be able to determine if the candidate can do the job." Slight difference? No. Big difference.

ps. When I was a security guard (I am incorrigible) I wrote up a management-training programme. I gave it to a co-worker who handed it in to management. They implemented the programme. He was the first candidate. I was happy for him. This was not going to be my career, but it might well have turned out to be his. In addition, it was a good programme. My pride (goeth before the fall) came from having the programme implemented, not in my getting credit for it. As Lord Byron once said, "Fame is the thirst of youth."

Group Norms in the Corporate World--and then some.

Normal

Colloquial:

Normal: of and/or pertaining to the norms.
Norms: prevalent characteristics of a demographic subset.

Take three groups of people, perhaps in a corporate setting--accounting, marketing, or the most affable of all, sales. Your choice. Now, let's look at some of the norms. 

a. In Group A, the group eats in the same restaurant every Friday and splits the check with each person paying his or her own share. (Sounds like the accounting department.) 

b. In Group B, the group never eats in the same restaurant twice. The bill is divided evenly among the members of the group. (Sounds like marketing.)

c. In Group C, each week a different member picks the restaurant and picks up the tab for all. (Sounds like sales.)

Each group, for the purposes of this discussion, has group norms: how to decide where to eat, how to divide the bill. These are the prevalent characteristics of the three demographic subsets. The "norms of the group".

An essential aspect to the cohesion and success of each group is the individuals' embracing the norms of the group.

This is not, nor has it ever been, an objective right or wrong; good or bad; or superiour or inferiour assessment. 

These examples, however, do demonstrate a difference or differences, diversity, if you will. Diversity is a word firmly rooted in the word different.

Moving on.

If one of the employees transfers to a different department, there may be problems arising from the transfer. How does the employee respond to the norms of the new group? There are about five possibilities:

Find a group that embraces the same norms.
Start a new group.
Do not join a lunch group

Change the norms of the new group to accommodate his/her needs.
Conform to the norms of the new group.

I separated the options into two groups. The first three involve personal activity. The remaining two involve the norms: changing the norms or conforming to the norms. How the employee deals with the options is in part a matter of culture.

From the Quotations of Slim Fairview: "Everybody knows what everybody knows." 

Initially it means, "you can talk for a thousand years but you are wasting your time." 

It also means we will be polite when you are speaking. 

The downside to this is that people believe we've accepted and embraced what they have told us. They become upset when they find this not to be the case. This leads to hostility. 

This is one reason why among the most congenial people, whose who evidence little contention, little is said about anything; because "every body knows what everybody knows".

Regards,

Slim



Copyright (c) 2010 Slim Fairview
All rights reserved.

Why Are the Powerful So Rude?? Or Not

Are the powerful rude, or do the rude become powerful? Too often the criticism reflects more than the "behaviour" of the powerful.

I've known a few powerful people. Gracious, charming, helpful. I've also known a few rude people. They do not get better with a little bit of power. Here is where we then move into gratuitous management: "What are you doing? That? I want you to do this." "What are you doing? This? I want you to do that." This is a very real life situation.

Another Why? is the fact that some people (I hate to go all clich├ę, like you know (sic) ) rise to their level of incompetence. Every question elicits i.e.: the reaction--Why? "What time is it?" "Why? Do you have someplace to go?" The rudeness is a defensive posture.

Another revolves around group norms and social norms I've discussed on Linkedin. Some people are convinced that powerful people are rude and become rude (or more rude) with the acquisition of power.

Other people use "rude" as a shield to protect themselves. Be perfectly honest. There are people who simply do not know how to be gracious. Their insecurity causes them to be rude.

Some people are not really rude but extremely aggressive. They've come up through the ranks where they know (it takes on to know one) that being "warm and fuzzy" will make them targets for those who want to exploit the good nature of others. They know that by being aggressive they are complying with one of the norms of the demographic subset. Silly to say? Well, in some situations people view those who are not bully-like as not being strong leaders. Authoritarian does not mean authoritative. Authoritarian is a culture where being submissive to authority is a "norm". Faintly reminiscent of the girl who stood me up twice, when I was 14 (My Mom thought I was too young to date women and insisted I date girls my own age.) When I finally convinced her to explain why, she replied that she wanted to see what I would do. I was nice about it. I failed the test. She needed a boyfriend who would be aggressive--fit into the pack, if you will.

Then, of course, there are all the clich├ęs, slogans, and platitudes about power