Hang In There……

Have you ever noticed that when you are at a loss for words to say in response to someone telling you about their bad situation that we often respond with “Hang in there”as a way to make them feel better?

Yesterday someone emailed me a thank you for sending them a job posting they had not seen.  He then asked how the business was doing.  I had responded that summer is always slow, but this year it has been really slow.  He responds back “hang in there.”

Although it was meant as words of support and encouragement that things won’t stay slow forever, today I started to wonder if it wasn’t more than that.  Could hang in there be a way of avoiding the issue?  Could hang in there simply mean do nothing and eventually things will change?

I’ve never been the kind of person to just wait anything out patiently.  I usually am trying to change my circumstances rather than live through them.  I know I have limited patience, and that I need to learn to live and work better within other people’s time frames.  However, I also think we need to do all we can to advance ourselves as far as possible before we “hang in there” waiting it out.

Now although I have used the phrase hang in there with others, I took a second look at the circumstances that prompted my friend to offer those words of comfort.  I decided that when I said business was slow, I really meant it was just not as busy as I wanted it to be.  It hasn’t stopped, so I gave thanks for what I was doing, and decided to look at different ways of obtaining new business.

So rather than just hang in there, I acted on an email I had been saving about LinkedIn advertising.  Who knows if it will work for my consulting work, but it was a trial period with a $50 credit.  What could I lose, and what could I gain?  It is worth trying out, and so we shall see if it produces a new lead.

So if life seems to be getting you down, don’t let it.  Reframe your point of view.  and in the mean time, hang in there……………

Over Qualified Candidates

It is no secret that unemployment in the country is high, and record numbers of people are applying for every single opening listed.  So it amazed me when I was told that I was “over qualified” for a position I applied for.  “Is that a problem?” I asked.

It would appear that employers are still trying to weed out people who may be able to step in and assume the responsibilities quickly.  I believe the phrase is called “hit the ground running.”  Heavens, I guess we don’t want people with more skills than are in the job description!

I reached out to a friend of mine who has been a corporate recruiter forever and asked him why people use the words “over qualified” and was horrified at his response.  First, over qualified is a term for “too old to work here” but age discrimination is against the law.

Second, over qualified is seen as someone who will not stay long and will be gone as soon as greener grass is found.  I can see this point, but if you are not going to provide a “yard” that is healthy and people want to play in, they will leave for greener pastures even if they are unqualified!

His third reason was the most chilling.  Often the words over qualified are used to keep people from applying that may have a stronger set of skills than the manager they would report to.  Either the hiring manager has made it clear they will not be interested in any candidate with more skills than they have, or HR is directing the recruitment process to keep superior candidates away from an under performing manager.

I’ve always thought that when a company has decided to weed out candidates as over qualified, they actually are trying to source under qualified candidates.  You don’t have to pay them as much, and they are apt to be grateful for the job and be easier to retain.  Sure the collect a salary and may not be able to perform their responsibilities well, but in some companies that is the culture.

I open this discussion up to all of you.  If you have ever been told you are “over qualified” for a position you applied for and could perform well, why do you think they used that as an excuse not to hire you?

Salary versus Commission

Have you ever noticed that the hardest working people seem to be either self-employed or working on a commission?  These folks have learned that very simple truth that a lack of productivity means a lack of income.  What would happen to the productivity of our workforce if we changed everyone to a commission status?

I posed this question to a friend of mine that is an HR Director, and she laughed out loud.  She said, “think of all the money we would save if we only paid productive people!”

As we talked, we determined that unemployment would go down because we could afford to employ more people.  Heck, since payroll would drop if we are only paying productive people, the company could save a ton of expense each month.

Yet, what would happen once people caught on to the concept of getting paid when they actually work?  Hum, would we see an increase in personal productivity and workflow?  Oh my, we just might witness a first hand economic recovery never before seen!

I saw this process first hand this week when I witnessed trees being trimmed down our street this year.  In past years the county has come out and blocked the street for a week to trim and remove tree branches.  They started about 10:00am everyday and end around 3:00pm.  The process will last 4-5 days.

This year, the county decided to outsource the work to a local tree services.  They arrived yesterday morning at 9:00am, and by 4:30pm they were completely finished, in ONE DAY!

The neighborhood was all commenting about how quickly the work was done, that there were fewer people working, but that they were actually working!!!!  We as tax payers got our money’s worth because we paid people for a job well done.

I know this idea is far-fetched, and the lobby of people who want a salary no matter what they accomplish all day is a very large majority, but my hope is that it inspires a few leaders to ask why they pay people every week that are not returning on that investment?

Is Friendship A Leadership Quality?

If you had asked me ten years ago if “Friendship” was a Leadership Quality, I doubt I would have given it more than a second before declaring that it is not and should not be part of leadership.  In fact, being friends with people you work with can often cause more heartaches and headaches than it ever does any good.

However, this last week I discovered through personal experience that I believe that friendship is a quality of leadership that is rare and yet extremely powerful in professional relationships.  Before I share that experience, I would like to explore the concept of friendship, and hopefully bring you the reader with me in this personal discovery.


What is Friendship?

As defined by Wikipedia, Friendship is a form of interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association.  The value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and Empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion
  • Trust in one another”

Although I could have gone to a number of sources for a definition of friendship, I found this one particularly interesting as it could describe to your best friend and your manager.  Although we are quick to see the connections between best friends, how bad would this kind of relationship be if it were between the CEO and employees?


Leadership Qualities Worth Considering

“The tendency to desire what is best for the other” person is a win-win situation by which the employee is seeking to perform at the best possible rate to make the manager look good.  At the same time the manager is clearing a path and removing obstacles.

“Empathy” in the workplace is so often missing or is a one-way street, that can you imagine what would happen if more people could empathize with the issues, restrictions and conflicts that others are going through?  Sure the manager wins big when they can empathize with an employee, but think about how much less the typical employee needs to struggle with a new set of rules if they can empathize with management and their reasoning for implementation of new processes.

“Trust in one another” could build and repair so many bridges within an organization once developed.  There is more distrust in business relationships than in personal friendships.  How wonderful would it be if we trusted each other more at work?


Observing Friendship in Leadership

For the past five years I’ve been an independent performance consultant, trying to earn a living outside of an internal corporate environment.  Originally this was my choosing, but the poor economy kept me busy as most organizations seek to reduce full-time staff replacing them with contractors.  However, in the past year the work has been getting much more difficult to find.

I routinely keep in touch with a long list of contacts from past employment, and last week I received an email from a former boss who has also been struggling in the past year.  In response to an email I sent him a few weeks ago, he was telling me that he had turned a corner and was doing much better.  Like most people, he ended his email with“how is your business doing?”

For some odd reason, I like to think it was a combination of the above friendship qualities, I answered truthfully.  I really didn’t think much about it until I got a return email that just said – “Are you available for lunch?”

I read my email response again, and realized that I had bluntly said, “I’m not sure my talents are good enough to make this work” and now he wants to take me to lunch.  Oh great, this must be some kind of pity lunch for poor little me.


Lunch was the Ah Ha Moment!

So we set a date and time for lunch, and all along I’m wondering how to save face when I meet with this guy now that I let my guard down and told him I think I’m worthless.  I’ve always admired this guy, and although I never reported directly to him, I was one of his supporters as he rose to the rank of CEO.  So why on earth are we going to lunch?

Although we moved the date 3 times with his very busy schedule it seemed very important to him that we keep a lunch date on the calendar.   After the small talk was over, he looked at me and said he was sorry to hear I was having a “slow spot” in my work.  (That’s putting is mildly)  He went on to remind me of everything I had done for the company we had once worked together at and told me point-blank, “in all the companies I’ve worked for I’ve never seen anyone in the training role lead us like you did, it was like magic!”

I left that lunch feeling like a million bucks.  Did this guy really need to go out of his way to lift my spirits?  Not at all!  Yet, this gesture of friendship was to me more of a factor of his leadership abilities.  I mean, we are not buddies or pals, and this is the first social engagement I’ve ever had with him.  Yet, this single act and his reason behind it demonstrated leadership I will follow anywhere he wants to lead. 

[ Originally Posted August 2, 2011 at www.linked2leadership.com ]