The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Hiring Process

Doing a search for talent involves a timeline with some conflicting factors. It also involves a process, generally known as a recruitment process. What's desired is to hire the best talent available. That takes time in order to find them, evaluate their fit for the culture, determine whether their skills and abilities match the client's needs, and then find a way to induce them to consider the opportunity.

That's just the up-front work. There's still the factor of arranging the interviews and actually having them. And then there are the other phases.

Meanwhile, the hiring clock is ticking. Although the candidate seems to be passive, that may not be the case. There may be other inducements extended to them that the candidate is keeping private. Depending on where they are in the process of evaluating those other inducements, the one who is your prime goal may get snatched up by a competitor or simply by some other company. A great example of such a scenario was recently shared on LinkedIn as a recruiter informed a client that their desired candidate was no longer available - three weeks after the interview.

The economy is no longer a soft cushion where people have a huge luxury of time. There are obligations that require attention. There may be changes in conditions that require adjustments and change of employment situation. There are many factors in addition to someone else was able to pull their act together in a more timely manner and extend the offer.

Candidates don't want to appear desperate because that devalues them and the potential offer they can attract; the status gives the appearance that they'll accept anything, no matter how ridiculous. Although they appear to be a passive candidate, they may have privately made a decision that it's time to make a change. So it is wise to be prepared for that state of affairs. While it would be good to make the change early on (for example, their present employer isn't going to close shop in two weeks), they still have the time to do a reasonable search for the right fit. If the candidate is of the quality that is sought, the chances that they'll be in the market and available are slim. Recruiting and hiring process is a two-way street. Fit is a consideration for either side of the picture.

Discretion is the better part of valor when it comes to deciding to change jobs. There is a possibility that the situation can be improved, or not. But there's no need to be overt about the growing interest in making a change. If this is a first job, timing is also critical. Expenses of one's livelihood become factors when the process becomes protracted. But all of this discussion is from the candidate's perspective. Perhaps that's what we should be doing as we go through developing and executing our own process.

The other thing is that when the process takes too long it's a signal that the client is not as motivated as was initially indicated. Worse, there's the possibility that the delay indicates low regard for the candidate which in turn becomes a deterrent to making the client's situation the candidate's new employment home. It's important that the candidate feels valued and respected.

Communication is critical to creating a healthy recruiting and hiring process. It is vital to have the right job description worked out before the search is started. A determination of what skills are must have should be in place so that all are clear about what the person's role will be. If they have additional skills and knowledge to bring to bear, how can they be used to benefit the role? Perhaps the candidate is being under-utilized in the current search and deserves to be considered for something that is more of a challenge. But the candidate needs to become aware of that concern.

Sometimes recruiters (and clients) forget that candidates are humans. They all deserve respect and that respect includes regard for time, resources, timely responses, courtesy, and a valid awareness of the company culture. They also deserve to know about the company ceiling and whether there is access to some part of the roof garden, if that's what they eventually want to be involved with or occupy.

To encourage companies to keep the process goals uppermost in their efforts, The Talent Board, in collaboration with recruiting industry experts, developed the CandE Awards in 2010 and held its first recognition in 2011. Of it, founder Elaine Orler says, "Only companies that had a true positive candidate experience defined by the candidates, and proven by the candidates would be recognized. All other organizations would have access to their benchmark data to make decisions on how they can improve, . . ." She goes on to say, "[w]e recognized 25 companies that demonstrated a positive candidate experience, defined by the 11,000+ candidates that responded that year."

Where is the awards program today? Reports Orler, "As of last year the program had expanded to three major regions of the world, over 400 companies participated, and over 220,000 candidates shared their experiences, in seven languages. The data that now exists on what defines a positive, neutral, negative candidate experience is validated 10x over."

Incidentally, the ability to pull one's act together in a timely manner is also an indicator of the company culture, the company leadership, and whether the company is a desirable place to work. It's an indicator of how innovative and responsive the client is. It's also a factor in how innovative the recruiter is in developing ways to help their client remain focused on keeping the process moving forward. The recruiter provides a service to the client to keep the process moving so that the collateral and tangential losses are minimized while the brand continues to grow.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Duly Elected and Qualified

Being a corporate transactional paralegal put me into the interesting responsibility of creating businesses for my clients and installing directors and officers to run them. In fact, among my responsibilities were creating the formation and governing documents for the entities.

No matter whether it was a director of the corporation or an officer, no matter whether it was a for profit or a not for profit entity, installation of the ones who had the power of governance over it were the same. They needed to be duly elected in addition to being found qualified to serve.

There comes a time when a corporate officer, or even a corporate director, does things that reflect so poorly on the organization that they need to be asked to step down. It's good to have the right protocols in place to start the conversations about leaving voluntarily or face removal.

Michael Peregrine considered such an instance when he wrote about removal of an 'unfit' officer in 2012.

Removal isn't always an easy task. Some of the directors may go into their roles with open minds and self sufficiency. But there are times when many who serve on the Board are of the same ilk as the one who needs to be removed or are receiving favors from that "governor" that tend to cloud their judgment and motivation to act in the best interests of the corporation. The requirements for making the move - the red flag situations - get clouded by these background "noises." They should not. Action needs to be taken. If it needs to be done on a one-by-one basis (as far as more than one of the officials of the entity), so be it.

How is removal of an officer or director done? Well, the first place to look is sometimes the most obvious. Check the bylaws. As with creating the formation documents, corporate rules are pretty universal. The rules governing removal are also essentially universal.

What constitutes incapacity or being unfit to serve becomes one of the compelling issues when making the determination to remove a person from office. Sometimes it's a simple matter of their violating the rules of the organization. Sometimes we can exercise some leniency and allow them to retain their position after there's been some counseling and a warning. But if the behavior continues, there aren't too many options left except removal.

Presidential Qualification

During the last ten years, the matter of being qualified to run for (and hold) office was raised a number of times. Details of what it takes to have the qualification to run for and hold the office of President can be found in the U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1. It says,
Qualifications for the Office of President

Age and Citizenship requirements - US Constitution, Article II, Section 1

No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.
After FDR ran for a third term, the Constitution was amended to put in place term limits under the 22d Amendment.
Term limit amendment - US Constitution, Amendment XXII, Section 1 - ratified February 27, 1951

No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.
One writer explains the concept of being eligible to run for the office of President in layman's terms.

So we have two rules with regard to being qualified to hold office. But that still brings us back to the question of whether or not a President can, like a corporate officer, be removed and what constitutes grounds for removal. The answer, just as with the corporate bylaws, is contained in the Constitution.

Just as a court of law does not decide whether an official of a corporation is qualified for office, so it is with a President. It is not a legal question for the office of President; it does not go to the Judicial branch for adjudication. The checks and balances provide for the Electoral College with is part of the Legislative branch. It is Congress that determines eligibility for office. It is Congress that determines if the President is unfit to serve.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected. ARTICLE 2, SECTION 1, CLAUSE 6
This election season has been very vicious. It's difficult at this writing to find U.S. authority or enlightenment on what constitutes "unfit to hold office" or what would be considered misconduct while in public office. However, just as with corporate law, it appears the issue of fitness for office is also close to being universal. And because we derive much of our law based on British jurisprudence, perhaps for this writing we should look to Crown Prosecution Service for their interpretation of misconduct in public office.

We can simplify this analysis. If the person violates the rules of the Constitution, the law of the land, there is misconduct. Creating situations that tip the scales of Justice toward finding conflicts of interest (causing undue debt for the citizens while the one or the one and their close allies benefit from being exempt from the burdens is one example). Failure to pay debts, or to pay them in a timely fashion. Exhibiting consistent behavior that signifies lack of discretion and reasonableness; in need of rational response to situations would also call into question whether a high office holder is fit to continue in office.

Some argue that President Wilson should have been removed from office because of his stroke. His wife protected him from removal. However, a compelling health issue would also be grounds for having the Vice President step into the shoes of President, or whoever the Congress determines should hold the office instead of the sitting President.

There are several books that cover this country's history with Presidents being impeached as well as actions for their removal. To name a few, consider: The Impeachment of George W. Bush: A Practical Guide for Concerned Citizens or The History, Law, and Politics of Federal Impeachment, Second Edition.

For now, know who the people are who you propose to run your business. If they show they aren't the right fit or are veering toward taking the ship in the wrong direction, step in to take corrective actions early on, before there's drastic damage that could sink the ship.

Consider signing and sharing a petition to evaluate the fitness to serve before confirmation of the President-elect.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

OD Cautionary Lessons

There are times when teachable moments happen in a spontaneous way. You're not looking for them but they sort of leap in front of you as though challenging you to see whether you'll speak up or let them continue to fester. There are many risks when these situations arise.
  • The company brand suffers
  • Customers become annoyed and abandon the store or even the entire company
  • Customers take their business to the competition
  • Lack of training becomes obvious, causing further deterioration in credibility
  • Your business looks ridiculous
In an effort to avert these and other consequences of poor development initiatives and poor hiring strategies, here are a few cautionary lessons.

Cautionary lesson 1: Assign personnel to areas where they are most effective and then train them to learn and take on gradually increasing duties.

Cautionary lesson 2: Make certain a customer is treated with respect at every phase of contact. If they do not receive immediate attention because of high traffic, let them know that they are part of a queue and will be attended within the next [insert reasonable number] minutes.

Cautionary lesson 3: Don't put the customer through a chain of referrals that exceeds 2 unless it is absolutely mandatory. If the referrals are necessary, provide some reasonable explanation.

Cautionary lesson 4: Don't allow the wait time between referrals to amount to more than 2 minutes if at all possible. If the wait is longer, provide a reasonable expectation of when service will be provided.

Cautionary lesson 5: The customer will not be impressed when attending to their needs is put off by allowing the associate tell the customer they cannot be served because the associate is too busy doing something else that's more important. Don't be surprised if the customer responds that they have something else to do as well.

Cautionary lesson 6: When the employee is falling down on customer service, back office reprimands don't help rebuild brand. Asking the employee in the presence of the customer if the employee has knowledge about the service that was supposed to be delivered helps in the understanding on both sides of the equation. Immediately begin serving the customer while the employee watches and learns.

Cautionary lesson 7: Sometimes the customer who's being put on hold and referred around the store to all the personnel until they're back to the original is actually some type of expert who could be a consultant for your office. Refer to Cautionary lesson 2. Consider the image of the company that begins to form in the customer's mind as these types of scenarios evolve.

Chaos is one way to describe it. Is that what was intended?

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Prudent Safety Screening

As screening and background checks are done, there is probably a thought going through the hiring manager's mind about the candidate if they are of color. Some may wonder about elements of responsible hires cf. negligent hires.

Background checks should be conducted but those who could be classified as a threat to the workplace may or may not have a criminal background. Immigration status is one screening concern. We have statutes and agencies that address work eligibility for non-citizens.

Recent events have called into question how one's citizenship status colors classification as a "terrorist suspect" compared with some other designation. Is it proper to decline to hire a person because someone feels they may prove to be a jihad terrorist? What about concern regarding instigation of workplace violence? In fact, how are these terms defined?

PolitiFact addresses some of these issues in an updated article that questions how a person's citizenship status affects classifying them as a "terrorist suspect." In the seven scenarios they examine that are U.S.-based incidents, we discover only three involved individuals who did not enjoy U.S. citizenship in some form. The article then segues into considering the different types of conditions that call attention to the need for care.

Terms that come into scrutiny in the PolitiFact article are:
  • racially motivated violence
  • domestic terrorism
  • naturalized citizen
  • U.S.-born citizen
  • immigrant
  • legal immigrant
  • workplace violence
  • terrorism
Do you need a policy regarding these considerations or should you be making hiring decisions based on the candidates qualifications, skills, and work status (when it comes to immigrants)? Have a conversation with your managers about diversity and inclusion while allowing these buzz words to be addressed as they surface. Another prudent step is to have your in-house or retained employment law lawyer in attendance in order to address the legal ramifications of some moves compared to others while also discussing best practices. During that session, definitions of the terms that people are using can be discussed. An agreement can be reached about how those terms are used in your culture once the definitions are nailed down. Better to have every person talking about the same thing and with knowledge and awareness of what they're talking about.

Be certain these terms are included in a glossary of your work policies or employee handbook (or both). We are now focused on matters related to terrorism and active shooter incidents. Now that the incidents are becoming overwhelmingly frequent, thoughts about preparation are finally percolating into management consciousness. However, there is the more (literally) home grown danger that demands attention and protocols developed for the sake of safety protocols. Domestic violence and workplace abuse are also related to these types of situations. It is highly likely that the disgruntled spouse, the recently terminated employee, the over stressed worker or customer will reach their breaking point in the workplace and resort to violence in order to make their previous demands for respect and requests for cessation of abuse heard.

There are many facets to the safety picture, especially for the workplace. Violence and terrorism are merely two aspects of it. Domestic violence is the one that is routinely overlooked or considered not important. Prudent screening and background checks before hiring is important. Putting safety protocols and practices for non-routine situations should be included in them.


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Monday, June 29, 2015

Maslow and Retention Strategies

Abraham Maslow introduced his hierarchy of needs circa 1940s. The validity of his theory took hold and has grown in the scope of dynamics it covers. The chart can be found in quite a number of places on the Web.

Tim Vandevall's printable version comes in both color and black and white. Some of you may be interested in something that's a little more straightforward in presentation. In that case, consider one of these versions.

The theory is explained in more detail on other sites. However, one thing becomes very apparent as each level is examined: the principles can be applied to essentially any type of organization or social unit.

What characteristics does a person who is self actualized exhibit? You know, the more I read and re-read McLeod's discussion of those 15 traits, the more I realize there are many people who have them. Unfortunately, they tend to be free spirits in relation to where they go and the people with whom they associate and interact. Many are labelled as crazy or odd while others are simply called fun. The label that's applied has many aspects for its interpretation. And many times the insecurity of the one doing the labeling plays into that. If the one doing the labeling carries some amount of authority, others will do little to make their own, independent evaluation and will simply rely on the faulty characterization.

Wikipedia traces even more of the theory, its challenges, and its expansion to seven tiers. In the 1960s and '70s, an eighth tier was added wherein a person who has reached a certain level of their own actualization turns to others in order to help them in their growth and fulfillment. It's a bit like paying it forward by becoming the teacher or mentor.

Still, the level at which we approach self actualization is what workers strive to achieve when they become employed for an organization. They want to be respected; they want to feel as though they are genuinely growing in their knowledge and abilities. They want to feel their talents are growing and they are serving the needs of customers and colleagues. It's like engagement but it's also more than mere engagement. It begins to pay in value because of loyalty - customer and employee - and referrals. It becomes expansive because the reach grows as the organization's reputation does so. It's a healthy place to be.

So I ask you who are managers, governing executives, HR professionals: What are you doing to create an environment that feeds the eight levels of needs? What are you doing to retain your valued workforce? As you map your designs for growth, you want to find yourself providing more than the basics and survival needs. It would be good to supersede the belonging level and start banging your head at versions past esteem. Perhaps qualifying for that growth entails having your people outline not only their plans for self actualization but also how to achieve it economically and so that the costs can be recouped in some way.

And now I turn to those who are employees or job seekers. As you do your research about a company, are you keeping Maslow's hierarchy in mind when it comes to finding an employer who can fulfill at least most of your needs and desires?

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ACA Reaches Five Years

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reached its fifth anniversary. Publisher Wolters Kluwer published a strategic perspective for its subscribers last week.

To provide benefit widers to others who use their publications, they have also developed a white paper on the subject. They say:

Committed to ongoing ACA analysis

To mark the anniversary, we sent three Strategic Perspectives to our Health Reform WK-Edge subscribers last week, highlighting the top five ACA impacts on Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, and looking forward to changes in 2015 and beyond.

With regard to the white paper, Wolters Kluwer also says:

To give you insight into the kinds of analysis available on WK-Edge News Service, also available within the Health Reform KnowlEDGE™ Center, we have combined all three Strategic Perspectives into one, “The Affordable Care Act at Age Five: A Look Back and a Look Ahead,” for you to download now.

The download is a three-part strategic analysis "The Affordable Care Act at Age Five: A Look Back and a Look Ahead". Please also note that downloaders will qualify to participate in a free trial of WK-Edge or the Health Reform Knowledge Center! Trial information will be sent in a separate email to the registrant.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Elements of Employee Engagement

A new concept in HR lingo is "employee engagement." At Entrances (360 employment networking group on LinkedIn), we're considering what goes into considering how much and what constitutes being "engaged."

The first thing that comes to mind about this term is what it means. That's an essential first step so that everyone is talking about the same thing and so more meaning can be added to the conversation and the discoveries that arise from it.

No, I don't think the employee is getting married to anyone in the company or even to the company. (Although an argument could be made that once you've applied for the job and started the interview process, you're essentially "engaged to" the company. But I digress.) So back to defining the concept. William Kahn is the one we can blame for this and the date is 1990.

It isn't about making employees happy, according to Kevin Kruse. It's more about the buy-in that employees have to the vision and mission of the company. It's about their investment in making the company a place that provides value and encourages not only return business but also business growth.

Proof of that concept proved to be a very happy surprise was the day I had a conversation with a Starbucks Customer Service representative. The call started because of a small matter - their generic reusable cups and what to do in order to have one recognized as a legitimate purchase, not a previously used cup during the normal stream of commerce and simply found in a trash bin. In addition to becoming incensed when he grasped the breadth of the disservice, he started talking about why it's important to provide the customer with a great Starbucks experience. He went to great lengths to describe why the customer should feel they are welcome to be there and want to return because of the memory of their experiences with the personnel, the store, the quality of the goods.

The Starbucks representative didn't go into discussing the elements of engagement. However it's important to note that this employment dynamic has components that can be measured. It's also important to know which are the more important components so that the correct measurements, benchmarks, can be gained to measure how well the organization is doing.

How far into doing your job does the examination of employee engagement go? For that matter, does the standard of engagement change depending on the type of employee you are? A temporary employee slaves away the entire time they're at the job (except for the 10-minute break and 30-minute lunch period) whereas the regular employee can count "thinking time" as work. Is organizing your desk or work area or making your "to-do" list for the day (or week) considered being engaged? To what extent do those activities make your customer feel they're getting your full attention and the best you have to offer? Perhaps you should question whether even you become engaged?

So that's what we've come up with so far. Why not join us and keep this, and the other conversations, going.

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