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Hiring the right person is an important process and takes both time and skill. It is the first step in creating mutual success.

I have always subscribed to the theory that you hire for cultural fit over experience. My belief is that with the appropriate knowledge base and skill set, anyone can be taught how to do a particular job. Maybe it is the trainer in me, or the fact that on-the-job training is the way I learned how to perform the duties of my very first job (this is what you do, and this is how you do it). Granted, I was in high school and it was working at a restaurant, but I was doing the very same job as adults who had worked in the restaurant industry for years.

From a hiring perspective, I personally would prefer to spend time teaching a person their job, rather than managing someone’s work performance. Early on in my career, I was assigned to train someone who had no direct experience. However, she had a strong work ethic and wanted to succeed in her role. She asked for feedback on her performance, she watched how other successful representatives made presentations, and took notes. She also spent time practicing her presentation skills and getting comfortable with the material she presented. She did quite well and eventually was able to move on to more senior role in another company. 

I was also asked to train my successor, who the company hired to manage a particular group of clients, including several major accounts. She had direct experience and knew what was needed to accomplish the job, but work was not her priority. I knew from the very beginning she was not the right person for the job and not just because our styles of client management were different. I could tell she was not willing to put in the time and effort it took to consistently maintain client satisfaction. Although she did not report to me, it became quite evident that managing expectations of her work performance was an ongoing issue for her manager. She was eventually exited from the company.

Those experiences as well as many others have taught me you can not necessarily “teach” strong character.

Desirable Work Ethic Characteristics:

  • Cooperation
  • Dedication
  • Discipline
  • Integrity
  • Productivity
  • Professionalism
  • Reliability
  • Responsibility

A resume may not necessarily reveal an applicant’s character.  Asking the right questions in an interview, and of references, might help to uncover their true nature. When evaluating an individual in a hiring situation, here is what I look for: 

  • A team player, with a respectful attitude, able to take direction.  
  • Focused on their work tasks, responds in a timely fashion, and complete their assignments with little error.
  • Someone who exceeds expectations by seeking out opportunities to learn and improve.
  • Conducts themselves in an honest and ethical manner.  
  • Someone who is reliable and takes pride in finishing their work on time.

Selecting the right person for the job should be more than just a gut feeling. A bad hire can be a costly mistake, and counterproductive to the existing team dynamic or company culture. 

Choosing the right person for the job

My recommendation is having multiple employees interview candidates.  Involve the applicant’s potential peers in the selection process to discuss actual job tasks and ensure compatibility within the team. Access cultural fit by involving employees from different departments and at various levels of seniority in the interview process.  Compare both the questions the asked and answers given in each discussion. Pay close attention to what a candidate does not say or ask, that would normally be discussed during the interview process.

The hiring manager should be sure to share the company’s culture and clear about what is expected of an employee.  This will give the potential hire a better understanding of the overall job requirements.  Having the right resume does not automatically make an individual the right hire.  Check both professional (work) and volunteer references. How someone performs in an unpaid volunteer role is indicator of an individual’s true work ethic. Someone who is reliable and passionate about their volunteer work and is respected by their fellow volunteers tells volumes about what it is like to work a person.  Spending the time to thoroughly screen and evaluate candidates will pay off in the long run. 

Lessons Learned in 2020

2020 has taught us so much about ourselves and those around us! As a servant leader, I have always tired to lead by example, and follow the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” However, the circumstances of 2020 have required more of us…we learned that we need to do for others as we would do for ourselves. Caring about others is what has enabled us to survive the isolation of sheltering in place. Reaching out to our friends and asking how “to be of help” has brought us closer together while remaining further apart. On the other hand, politics has created an even greater divide in friendships and family. The Covid-19 Pandemic has brought much loss of life and loss of livelihood.

As I try to make sense of 2020 and justify all that has occurred in our lives…I can only surmise that it was meant to be a life lesson for the world; to learn what is truly important by bringing out the best and unfortunately the worst in us.  Throughout my life I have learned from those around me…what to do and most importantly what NOT to do. Taking the high road is often the road less travelled, while it can be lonely, it does give you time to stop and think along the way. What would you do differently, better, or more efficiently? One important take away from 2020…your true friends, allies, and those you can trust have been revealed in many ways.  What you do with that revelation defines how you choose to live your life in 2021 and beyond.   

As I make my way through the coming year, I have decided to focus on the things that bring me the most fulfillment in life; like, spending time with true friends, who are like minded in their beliefs and values. (Not that differing opinions aren’t a good thing-I just believe I get my fair share of those in the world around me.) Taking care of me, so that I have the energy to continue give back and make a difference in the lives of others.  My plan for 2021, is simple-live each day to its fullest, make a difference where I can, take the high road on my life’s travels and leave a trail of acts of kindness along my way.     

In today’s volatile environment, we are being tasked with leading through the worst of circumstances.  The fear of uncertainty has become a daily occurrence in both our personal and professional lives.

shutterstock_243217471 question mark

Most industries are being disrupted by new operating models and regulations. How businesses react and adapt to the “New Normal” will determine their continued success and for most their livelihood. In the past, leaders have made the best decisions by creating a strong framework to evaluate the unknown. Because of the severity of our current crisis, leaders do not have the luxury of taking the time to fully identify all options, therefore managing the unknown is even more challenging. There is no proven road-map to guide us through a global crisis of this magnitude.  While most leaders would prefer to make decisions based on creditable or proven data, they are now faced with having to instinctively select a course of action that “feels” like the right thing to do. What we do know…those organizations who are navigating through change with an innovative mindset are remaining viable entities. The use of innovation and technology that allow for quick responses have become the default mechanism for survival.

Managing the unknown has become an integral part of our daily existence.  As Global citizens, the onus is on all of us to not only think creatively but also strategically in a time of vast uncertainly. We need to determine what is important to society as a whole and how that factors into our own decision-making process.  As leaders we need to make informed decisions based on information from reliable sources. We need to consider our capabilities when assessing options to better predict a successful outcome. In a time of crisis, we can no longer think independently. We must think collectively so that we can obtain a comprehensive understanding of the situation.  We need to look at the current circumstances through a varying lens from all angles to ensure that we evaluate all perspectives; without allowing a single point of view to dominate the decision-making process. By thinking collectively and developing a new vision we will find more effective ways to plan for the future.

According to Wikapedia, Business networking is defined as a socioeconomic activity by which groups of like-minded businesspeople recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities.

So why is it that when you go to a networking event everyone is trying to sell you something?  When did networking become a cold call?  Or for that matter an opportunity to ask, “so what is that you do,” when you know darn well no one is really interested in what you do.

Networking should be about making connections, learning about opportunities for collaboration and supporting each other’s ideas for mutually successful outcome.  Easier said than done; why-because it takes time, not only to gather information and act in good faith, but to build trust.

handshake dogs

Here are some ways you can build trust quickly.

  • Lead with what you can do for someone else first, as trust builds so does the networking and collaboration:
  • Get to know them-invite them to an event you are hosting and offer them a comp ticket.
  • Test their collaborative nature-introduce them to someone you know, whether it is a person who needs their product or service doesn’t matter it’s another connection for them.
  • Get to know who they know-send them a LinkedIn invite.
  • Wait to see if they reciprocate-what to they give in return to build a relationship with you.
  • If you have checked their references and you feel confident they are capable and reliable-make a direct referral.
  • Ask for help-once you have given, it’s ok to receive, ask for an introduction or referral.

Many years ago a woman, who was in her 90’s said, I don’t believe you can pay a person too many compliments.  If you think a person looks nice, tell them. If someone helps you, say thank you very much.  Use a person’s name to address them when they wait on you and if you like the food pay them a compliment and give them a good tip.

-These are words to live by.

In this fast paced world of email, texting and the other entire photo sharing apps; people rarely pick up pen and paper and say thank you.  A hand written note goes along way especially when well thought out, original and sincere.  When you say thank you-you need to mean it. Take the time to be original and if you can’t craft the words yourself, leave it to Hallmark.  Be sincere; don’t use words you don’t really feel expresses your appreciation.  People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice their kindness, they’re more likely to continue. A sincere thank you demonstrates that you have an interest in fostering an ongoing relationship and that you appreciate the time and consideration that you have been given.

Saying thank you in a written note allows you to extend the conversation beyond thanks. Share how their kindness has affected your life, tell them not only how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness, but also what it means to you or how it has benefited you.

There are many ways you can say thank you, far beyond thanks, much appreciated and any other 140 character sound bite you can cleverly craft like you rock and awesome.

thank you languages

Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to leave a comment.  I know how busy you are and how much email and how many Facebook messages you must get in a day.  The fact you took time to spend a few minutes reading my words, tells me that you are someone who believes in supporting those around you.  I am grateful to have you as a reader.

According to a recent article, (July 2012) in CNN Money by Anne Fisher:

When Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas set out to analyze government employment data by age group, going back to January 2010, researchers made an interesting discovery. Of the 4,319,000 jobs created in the U.S. over the past two-and-a-half years, about 70% (2,998,000 jobs) went to people aged 55 or older.

Overall unemployment for this group fell from 7.1% in May 2010 to a current level of 6.5% — well below the 8.2% rate for the workforce as a whole, and far lower than the 10.2% unemployment rate for workers between the ages of 20 and 34 in the same time period.

Have all the 50+ slots been taken by 55+ year olds?

There are a lot of people 50+ seeking employment, resumes flow in and out of email boxes every day with someone who is “looking.”   Linkedin contact groups are full of people who are “looking or consulting.”  Could it be that all the 50+ slots are now full and the rest of the job seekers will just have to wait in line for an opening?  Or, is it more likely that those who are in 55+ group just took a job in the last 2-3 years to have an income to support themselves and their families and not moving on in their career path?  Perhaps it’s the spouse who’s now gone back to work to make ends meet that bumped up the number of people 55+ who gainfully employed.

You used to read a lot about being fulfilled in your work, finding work that is meaningful, building your career and taking the next step…Now you hear people say at least I have a job with a decent income.  But, it’s not all doom and gloom out there.  People 50+ know how important a good reference is; now more than ever, you see people reaching out for a former colleague, sharing job postings, reviewing a résumé, forwarded information on a potential employer who may be looking for someone.  


What Makes a Good Reference:

  • Vouching for someone’s character and work ethic-what are they really like to work with.
  • Validating their work history and accomplishments throughout their career, not just recently.
  • Attesting to their loyalty and trustworthiness-who are they as a person.
  • Describing your success, because of having them as a supportive co-worker.
  • Credibility, what skills or abilities do they have that may not be easily explained in a résumé.  

The best time to collect actual reference letters in before you need them!  Fill in your Linked in profile with endorsements for your expertise.  Get copies of certificates of completion, annual reviews and company newsletters that show case your achievements.

After all, aren’t we supposed to all be different given that no two people are alike?  The simple answer is-cultural bias is deeply rooted into the body and soul of a human being.    

So is it simply a formula of mind over matter that will solve the equation of diversity=differences? 

One solution is to utilize your business mind to obtain the competitive edge you need to succeed in business by going beyond the back and white of diversity to address the gray areas.  This requires an in-depth understanding and appreciation for the differences in people to extract their full potential as a contributing member of team or society.

For many years addressing diversity meant taking into account an individual’s race/ethnicity and religion/creed.  But, in recent years diversity sensitivity has also taken into consideration a person’s mental and physical abilities or disabilities as well as their gender and sexual orientation. 

Addressing the gray area of diversity is more than just recognizing the difference in individuals because of age, education and family status.  It also means delving deeper into their person al background to understand their diverse perspectives such as first language, country of origin and nationality which now, more than ever, are the real differences we find in today’s society.  Other more subtle differences include military experience, communication style and household income.

So what would it look like in an algebraic equation?

Mind/Matter x (understanding + appreciation 2 ) = diversity is to differences= (race + religion) x √first language + country of origin-nationality ÷ (military experience + house income) – communication style (x + y)

Solution Set:  If reciprocal of the golden mean, Φ that exists in all of nature could equal the golden rule then accepting differences would be as easy as pie.

Business Mind: Body & Soul

Finding the time to nurture your soul and create balance in your life as a successful business woman can be both challenging and rewarding.  Most accomplished women find great reward in the challenges of their work, yet, they strive to find balance in their lives.  The more time they spend on nurturing their career the less time they have to devote to their mind, body and soul. Finding balance as a busy professional is much like trying to hold a pendulum steady by trying to countermand the restoring force of gravity, the key element of nature that allows a pendulum to swing  perpetually.

“You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.” Galileo Galilei

It is said that for positive change to really take place there must be passion behind it and in order to find your true passion in life you must first have inspiration-which can come to us in many different forms.   Nurturing one’s soul can come from simply taking the time to truly enjoy the surroundings of nature, being attentive to your body and feeding your mind’s positive, healing thoughts.

Taking a new direction in your personal life or career can not only be risky but also very stressful. Thinking through “a leap of faith” and evaluating the risks/downside versus the potential benefits/upside is how I have approached critical changes.

One Thing to consider is the financial ramifications including: added expenses, short-term cash flow constraints versus long-term gains. Planning ahead and saving up for a huge investment can help alleviate, what otherwise would be a burden. Looking at financing options for capital investments is another way to evaluate the best course of action.

I can’t tell you how many people I know who have left the corporate world to start a new business or consulting practice, without having planned for a temporary loss of income. Unless you have a signed contract or a ready-made clientele starting a new business takes both time and money. There are also those who have chosen to take money out of their 401K account “temporarily” thinking they will pay it back within a year; only to find out later when they couldn’t pay it all back, that it would have been much cheaper to have taken out a conventional business loan and writing off the interest expense. Creating a budget and cutting out all the extra’s may not be enough to off-set a temporary decrease in earnings either. I have found, looking at a comprehensive set of financial options is usually the best approach. I would also recommend taking a hard look at your potential financial future and decide if you are up for challenge.

The same can be said of taking a new job that requires relocating. Even with moving assistance and a cost of living adjustment it may not equal what you had. Finding new doctors, service providers and acclimating to a new community also have both real and opportunity costs associated with a change in location, that drive up the cost of living.

Another important factor is quality of life considerations including: doing what you love most as your life’s work versus making sacrifices in your life style-home, car, social life, free time, vacations. If doing what you love is more important than where or how you live and what you have to spend on vacations and socializing-then the change may be worth it. Some women I know have chosen to teach part-time at a university or work in a non-profit that offer more time off to spend with family and a less stressful work environment along with the added benefit of doing something that felt good. Having “meaning in life” may be more rewarding than having the means to do whatever you wish.

However, I’m not sure I completely agree with money doesn’t buy happiness-I can tell you there are a lot of people whom I have given money to and are quite happy because of it. For the most part I am generous yet frugal. I think you can apply that strategy to business and be successful as well. I know several people who have left the corporate world with a staff and a corner office to go into business for themselves only end up making their own copies and having to clean the office bathroom to keep within their budget and ensure their financial well-being.

In weighing the Pro-Cons how would you choose in these comparisons?

• No Frills versus Freedom

• Quality of Life verses Quantity of Cash

• Family versus Fame

• Happiness versus Having it All

• Peace of Mind versus Possessions

• Security versus Social Life

• Vacation versus Valuable Life Lessons

I couldn’t have said it better myself!   It’s very much in keeping with my personal favorite…“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.   

 A few years back, an individual I was working with needed a résumé for a job application.  She searched high and low for a good resume writer.  The résumé that came back from the “professional resume writer,” was clearly was just a chronological listing of past jobs of which there were many and varied positions.  It looked like a history of everything the person had done work wise, but did little to translate the skills and knowledge she possessed.  So-much to my surprise, I said down and wrote my first client resume.  I created what I call a “skills-based” resume rather than a historical listing of positions held.  We submitted it online for consideration and in less than half-hour, received a reply requesting a phone interview, which ultimately lead to an in-person interview and a new job for my client.  Little did I know that I would become a résumé writer.  Since then I have written and re-written dozens of resumes for all kinds of positions and promotions.  What amazes me most is that everyone has gotten that I have written a résumé for has gotten their new job. 

I have come to realize that writing a résumé is very similar to a 1-2 page product sale sheet.  And, most importantly it’s just as through you were telling a story about person seeking employment.  Where they went to school, what they have done and accomplished, what knowledge and expertise they have.  What the company can expect from them as an employee and what they would be like to work with. 

It wasn’t until I received an unsolicited comment about an awards application I had written, stating, “As I was reading the words on the page the person “came to life” and I felt as though I was sitting there talking to them rather than just reading about them.”     

Coming from a blogger, it seems a little less likely that I came off my track to write, but it also comes from someone with both the Webster’s and Oxford’s dictionary/thesaurus and both the 6th addition St. Martins Handbook as well as a copy of the 2001 APA updated version sitting on her desk.  Punctuation and grammar have never been my strong suit, so between reference books and Google searches I have managed to education myself on a few of the rules of writing.  I consider this my life-long work-in-progress self-improvement plan.  

For me writing has indeed taken me off my track and definitely put me on one that has opened up a whole new world for me. 

Taking an Alternative Track!

Taking a leap of faith requires not only the courage to try something new but the willingness to openly fail too.  Trying the unknown can also require  some research and added learning, which to say-the-least, can be a little overwhelming and time-consuming.  

Coming Up Next:  Evaluating opportunities and weighing the pro/cons that warrant “jumping-off-track” for an unplanned opportunity.