Odd Qualifications for TOO Many Managers These Days


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If you have children in their late teens to mid-twenties in the workforce, you may have heard a few dozen horror stories about their managers and thought they were exaggerated. Unfortunately your ears did not deceive you nor did your kid’s experiences get blown out of proportion. The minimum qualifications to become a Shift Lead, Assistant Manager or even the Manager are nonexistent; unless of course you consider the following requirements as standard guidelines these days.

 

“Managers Wanted For Hire”

We are seeking warm bodies with zero previous supervisory or management experience to lead our retail locations, restaurants, and revolving door enterprises. The following requirements are mandatory unless otherwise stated as preferred:

  • You must have zero knowledge of any Human Resources Policies, Federal or State Employment Laws, and be completely unable to identify Workplace Harassment (even if it happens to you).
  • If your staff members should have the audacity to report your management style to senior members of the company or Human Resources as “Hostile” or “Illegal” you have the assurance that these complaints will be fully ignored until such time as you are able to terminate these staff members.
  • In order to make your sales, service and expense goals, it may be necessary to work staff without paying them regular or overtime wages, skipping meals and breaks, and learning how to trick the time clock.
  • You should understand that your role makes you the superior life form in your location and all staff are considered your subjects and/or slaves and should be treated with very little regard.
  • Giving Directions and Feedback should come from your emotional stability at the time and never from your brain. Ripping an employee’s face off is a sign of a strong manager. If you are referred to as a Witch with a B, consider it a badge of honor and that you are doing things correctly.
  • Experience with Performance Improvement and Team Building is not necessary. If any employee doesn’t perform as expected within the first two days on the job, they should just be fired. You can always hire someone else to replace them.
  • You do need to be a proficient recruiter and interviewer with an emphasis on telling each person what they want to hear so they accept the job. You will not be held accountable for any promises you make as we put nothing in writing. We do not have a written list of prohibitive interview questions either and we discriminate in our hiring process based on each manager’s personal biases.
  • It is vital that you have never received any management or leadership training in previous positions and we make the promise to you never to require any such training nonsense as long as you work for us.

 

NOTE: While this blog was meant to be humorous in nature, unfortunately it is the sad truth that many employees are working for managers with these skill sets. Your friends and family are being subjected to poor management because these issues are allowed to exist up the food chain. If you ever wondered why a company only wants the younger employee and not older ones, it is because the older employee knows the rule of law and will not put up with this nonsense. They also are quick to report bad behavior and hire attorneys if needed to resolve issues. Parent need to be vigilant in their efforts to educate their children on proper workplace behaviors and rules.

 

Hypocritical Leaders


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While you may not like the term hypocritical as a label that describes your favorite political party, at least for that party it works for them. They say one thing and hold others accountable and look the other way when their own members spike the ball. Yet at least in politics it is seen as part of the game. Politicians are always seen as playing to an audience they need for votes instead of doing the right thing for their country.

Yet this blog has spent a lot of words over the years talking about leaders in the workplace. And while you may want to point the finger at a politician for being hypocritical, the problem exists in every industry and way too many of our corporate leaders. People seen as walking a different talk are seen as hypocrites too!

I witnessed first-hand again this week a leader saying one thing and allowing the total opposite to happen. In my world of HR & Training it happens on a regular basis because my peer group is afraid to speak the truth to management. Not always mind you, but those rare individuals that see their roles as problem solvers and not everyone’s friend are hard to find. One such associate told me when she interviewed to be the Director of HR, she warned them that if she “sees a problem, she will be a pain in the ass until it is fixed.” Yes she not only got the job, but she is fulfilling her promise daily!

As I said, this past week I met with a CEO who happens to be an advocate of regular Workplace Harassment training, and since this is in California where we have mandates that include 2-hour versions for managers I was intrigued by the enthusiasm. As is my normal practice before recommending any kind of learning solution, I asked to interview several employees about what they knew about workplace harassment law. My findings were somewhat surprising, and difficult to convey back to the CEO.

I interviewed several people in this small company and it was unanimous that they all knew the laws and procedures well. Except for the training being mandatory again this year, none of those I interviewed really needed to go through the training. However, every single one of them had a story to share about the need for the CEO to learn how NOT to harass. Oh my, what fun I will have telling this person that she is the primary problem.

The hypocritical leader emerged in full force with indignant push back that it was not her actions in question. I spent several minutes making a list of every person she could think of that needed help and she was not on that list. Now no one in their right mind will ever tell this person face to face about her challenges because those that have tried and no longer with the company. So I had both the joy and privilege to share some scenarios and interpretations, being careful to disguise the sources. After an hour I broke through and we agreed to talk again after the training was completed.

While this one situation ended up in the win column, the hypocritical gene (if there really is one) is still very much a part of this CEO’s DNA. Until she is able to point to blame in the right direction, I am afraid that working with her will always come with a challenge to those that have that “pleasure.”

Making Decisions is a Lost Art for Many Leaders


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Too many decisions are not being made in a timely manner and the organization suffers for it on every level. Most delays come from leaders that are afraid of making mistakes and paying dearly for the rest of their career. Politics, even in the corporate workplace, play a significant role in decision making, and all this time waiting causes delays all across the organization.

Let’s look at a few that you may be facing in your workplace:

  • Why does the recruiting process take so long? While many want to put the blame on the recruiter, often they are no more involved in the process than pushing paper along. No one usually asks their opinion, and they also are not empowered to push people into making hiring decisions. The hiring managers are unclear what they want, so even if the “perfect fit” is sitting right in front of them, they don’t engage with an offer. Time slips away, and when a decision is finally made, the applicant has either taken another job or just lost interest in the one you have to offer.

 

  • For the last 15 years straight, the number one competency that management says they want to build in their workforce is leadership. Yet for any one of a thousand reasons, each year passes and not a single person is provided with leadership development. A vision never gets implemented because it requires decisions as to what skills need to be included and how the training will occur. In no time at all, another year passes and the need continues to be a “top priority.”

 

  • Have you ever had to work with someone that has screwed up so many times you have lost count, and yet they are still employed? You know, because they have shared with you that they have been given feedback about the need to change, but nothing ever changes and they still have their job. Terminating employment is often the hardest part of a manager’s job, and yet what happens when they avoid those decisions? Not only does the problem child still exist, but it sends a clear message that performance problems will never lead to anything very severe. So if one doesn’t need to fear getting fired, what is the last resort available to correct performance?

 

Yet have you noticed that when leaders make decisions in a timely manner, it is often criticized as being premature. Honestly, you can’t win! However, if I was to have a choice between people that react quickly and people that procrastinate, I will work for a decision maker any day of the week!

What are other workplace issues that you see a lack of decision making?

 

Voting With Your Feet


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In a world where social media seems to be the only place to post a grievance, I didn’t start there this past week when faced with an action by a company I do business with that I didn’t agree with an action they took. I instead reached out to the humans with this company and voiced my concern.

In a nutshell, a company I have done personal business with for 30+ years decided that their corporate image would be tarnished if they continued to advertise on a network based on allegations being made about a particular personality. I will stop by saying if the allegations are found to be true; I would also abandon my support of this individual. However, without a trial, the media convicted this individual and the advertisers left in enough quantity that the network fired the individual.

I am purposely not naming names here, because I believe if you are following the news you already know what I am talking about, and if not it will make no difference to my point. I also don’t need to name the company that I have been a client of for the past 30 years because my issue with them is just about our relationship.

The company I disagreed with was happy to listen to my concern over them bailing out and agreeing to the allegations before all the truth came out, but their response became so high and mighty, too pure and perfect for my stomach to endure, that I simply said the following when they asked why I called. I said, “I am your customer, and while I can simply move my relationship to any of several other competitors, I felt it was my obligation to inform you as to why I am leaving after 30 years.”

His reply was, “Okay, thanks.”

In just two words he told he told me he cared less about my opinion. He then said he would pass on the information at his next PR meeting with corporate. However, “we are on the right side of this issue!”

Our New America – Guilty Until Proven Innocent!

I am now in the processes of shopping for a line of replacement products that I have not really given the time of day researching for 30 years, all because my opinions are incorrect. So while losing my relationship is not going to hurt this company, it makes me feel better knowing that I am walking my talk too.

Putting Out To Pasture


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Have you ever wondered how people find themselves put out to pasture from a job or career they love?  Was it their choice, or was it something else that caused it to happen?

I’d like to believe that one is put out to pasture when what they provide in the way of skills are no longer current or helpful.  Because these skills became dated and the individual no longer sought development to keep current, they were no longer serving a purpose.  They were no longer useful to their company, or any company for that matter.

Yet, what happens when your skills are applicable and current, but simply not valued?  Now we may be getting to a reason for being put out to pasture through no fault of your own.  Companies that would rather settle for less experience to save money, and roll the dice to see if they can get the same outcomes, put talent out to pasture.

Some 27 years ago when I got into the training development profession, I was working for a major bank that spent a lot of time, attention and money on employee development.  We were no different than any of the big banks when it came to development.  Yet back then even the small to mid-sized banks found ways to develop their employees.

Fast forward, and today the big banks have cut way back, and the small to mid-size train only required compliance to their employees.  When once it was the responsibility of the company to build skills they wanted their employees to have, now it is reversed, and the employee better figure out how life work’s on their own to survive.  Thank goodness for YouTube!

So when it comes time to hire a Training Director, a regular trainer or a really nice person will fill the ticket.  No need to understand how to manage people and processes, or think strategically, or even discuss adult learning principles, just make it look like we have a training function.  And if we have a choice, being a subject matter expert is more important than having a training background at all.

After a year of trying to convince companies that a well run training department can return many times over the investment, I have decided that it is time to put myself out to pasture.  Twice I was told that only female candidates would be considered, and I lost count how many times I was told that industry experience was vital to running a training function.  Then much to my amazement the fact that I had been consulting with various industries over the past 10 years meant “I didn’t know how to work in a corporate environment anymore” (25 year old recruiter) I decided to stop trying to convince people that experience matters.

But while I am going to stop trying to make the world better for learning development, I have not decided to retire either.  I am launching a new adventure in the travel industry.  And if someone ever wants to tap my skills for training, this old horse will come back to the training barn in a heartbeat.

Purple Squirrel Seeks Purple Job


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There is a term used by recruiters when being asked to find candidates that match a long list of requirements and only those that meet every single requirement can move forward. It is a search for a “Purple Squirrel.” The first time I heard it I found it absurd to think that management would put a recruiter through months looking for a perfect fit while the job remains open and unproductive. Yet I am told that it happens a lot.

Managers looking for a “Purple Squirrel” are not concerned with the missing role going without a person for months on end. In other words, either the job duties are insignificant to the operation, or management feels no regret in dumping the extra workload on the remaining people. While it happens that some jobs function well without an employee, most of the time if you are searching for candidates, you also need to hire someone too.

We are all “Purple Squirrels” with a list of talents, skills and experience. The difficult part is finding the “Purple Job!”  It used to be that it was encouraged to apply for a job even if you personally could not check off every single box on the job description. Yet have you noticed that when you do, the automatized system rejects you within second of submitting your application. Sometimes you receive the reject email before you receive the thank you for applying email.

Clerical Recruiters often are the ones that spend their time looking for a “Purple Squirrel” while experienced recruiters will spend more time with the hiring manager resetting expectations. Then they seek a good, but not perfect fit. Good recruiters will remind management that experience allows the job or expectations to change and the new employee will more easily adapt to the new focus.

While I wish the world employed less clerical recruiters that are in their first job themselves a lot of the time, and more recruiters that have had to manage processes and people before, that dream seems to be out of reach at the moment. Hence, this is why this “Purple Squirrel” is looking for his very own “Purple Job.”

Is There a Way to Get a Job Offer and Be Honest?


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I have a reputation for being productive, and I hate spending time on activities that at best only provide window dressing for my function’s work. In fact I am a lousy window dresser because I do very little to show off because I am focused on getting work accomplished and moving the organization forward.

You might think that my brand of employee would be something that a lot of employers would be seeking, but sadly I am still looking for an organization that actually wants to build workplace competencies in their team members and understands the value of a focused learning function. When I meet with people to discuss what kind of potential they have in front of them with the right training leadership, I get these scared to death looks in return.

I’ve been told that to get a job offer, I need to down play my work ethic, and to barely speak of the potential for learning beyond the job description. Once I’m in the job I can work on building out over time bigger expectations. To these recommendations, I am completely at odds with deception and downplaying the benefits of a focused approach. I’m not being true to my own work ethic by playing the part of an underperforming employee.

My opinion is that the interview process should be honest. I know, silly me, right? But shouldn’t the employer know what kind of employee they are getting before they make an offer? So if I am unable to play games with my abilities, I am faced with limited opportunities. There are fewer organizations today than even 10 years ago that understand the purpose of a training function. Many leaders land up creating limitations for the training function because they don’t realize the potential.

My dilemma is that I want to work, and yet I find it challenging to be the perfect fit without being a skill more than is thought to be necessary. The minute I start to stand out I am “over qualified” and when I go in with just enough background I run the risk of “not being as qualified as another applicant.”

Any ideas?