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Posts Tagged ‘Mindset’

diversity is a lot more than just what’s easy to see

March 9th, 2018 No comments

 

Last week, I overheard a discussion where someone was complaining about too many assholes joining their team. As I listened, it became very apparent that the person was complaining about behaviors and perspectives that where different from their own. When I pointed out to them that different mindsets, opinions and behaviors was diversity, he became very belligerent telling me that diversity was either race or sex. Well Simon, yes, those are glaringly obvious and don’t require any thought which make them easy to spot. We were interrupted and this interchange got me thinking. I started to write this post highlighting how travel, our past, mindset’s and attitudes all impact diversity when I realized that I was missing the point.

No matter how we define diversity, the key is to respect the differences. To ask questions, to understand them and learn about them. While we can decide to return some perspectives to their owners, the key is respect. Respect their perspectives, especially if our’s are different.

 

This Job Description sucks…

March 6th, 2018 No comments

There is research that our language is a reflection of our perspectives and biases. As such, the terms and language that we use can negatively affect people when they are reading our job descriptions.  Here are some of the highlights that I learned researching this topic and how we now approach the creation of job descriptions.

Key Lessons Learned

  1. Most men in the USA will read the job description and when they see 3 or 4 items that they can do, they apply for the position. This is not true with many other cultures and mindsets where they will read and evaluate the job description numerous times, determining which criteria they don’t meet. Simply put, they self exclude. an example of this is listing a looooong list of desired skills in the required skills section.
  2. Some labels or terms can be perceived by the reader to indicate a culture that is aggressive, comfortable with conflict or that a teammate has to fail in order for someone else to succeed. e.g. ninja, rockstar, cowboy, crush competition, dominate, work hard – play hard
  3. For folks that are in the early stages of their careers and others that are blessed with a learning mindset, the workplace needs to be a safe environment where people can make mistakes and learn from them. For these folks, a learning environment is key and so they will be looking for keywords that indicates safety. Safety is a key aspect of a healthy culture too!
  4. Focus less on the title and more on the role and don’t list all of the levels that HR has associated with the roles. Why lose a talented candidate because they don’t like a cookie cutter title?
  5. Ten plus years of experience doing something really doesn’t equal competence and excludes people who are talented and deliver the results needed but meet the number of the years experience. Quite honestly, this is how the recruiting team leverage the resume automation to exclude unqualified applicants.

 

How we’ve implemented the lessons learned:

  1. Tell a story of that what the company is like; describe what a day in the life of this role is like. Potential candidates can then easily visualize themselves in that role and determine if it’s a  fit for them or not.
  2. The job description is not a wish list of skills – if there are two or three skills that you cannot live without, list those but resist the urge to publish a wish list.
  3. Focus in on the what the candidate can learn, how they can learn, how they can collaborate with teammates & customers. Learning is a massive part of our life journey and as such people that want to grow are looking for indicator of a safe culture.
  4. Have one name for the role. The level and associated compensation can be addressed with the successful candidates based on their capabilities. That is in internal stuff and shouldn’t complicate the hiring and recruiting process. In our world where we value deliverables that delight our customers, we have learned that ego and compensation is not in the top decision criteria.
  5. Experience solving the following types of challenges in a collaborative manner: ……… People that are excited about the problems that need to be fixed based on their life experiences.

So did this work?

The short answer is: YES!!

We saw a much larger percentage of women apply and the majority of people applied were in our target audience. There were the normal percentage of under qualified or SPAM submissions. The candidates who made it to the short list and were looped for interviews were all exceptional candidates and we had difficult choices on our hands.

We develop software service leveraging an agile-methodology in a disciplined, collaborative environment where creativity & learning is valued; we are sensitive to our customers needs and invest in developing warm relationships with our customers. This approach to writing job descriptions definitely helps us find people that fit right in and thrive in our culture.

 

Additional reading:

FastCompany article on how job description wording affects people – https://www.fastcompany.com/3044094/how-changing-one-word-in-job-descriptions-can-lead-to-more-diverse-candid

 

Online tools to evaluate your job descriptions

Free tool:  http://gender-decoder.katmatfield.com

Paid tool: https://textio.com/

 

 

Who is your Customer?

February 19th, 2018 No comments

SparkPilot.com_man_with_moneyOver the years I have received a number of calls from sales people; in this case, one of our sales people was demanding that I give away services as part of a deal that she was working on. I listened to her rant and accuse people of not providing customer service and it got me thinking and I asked her the following questions:

  1. in her mind, who is her customer?
  2. who does she believe is my customer?
  3. what is more important to her? her client, our employer or her commission?

The answers blew me away:

  1. her client
  2. her
  3. her client because her credibility is on the line and she has already promised the discount to them so that she could get her commission – she was a single mother and wanted to upgrade her Tesla

…..and so we come to the root of the problem….she believed that she was my customer. She did not want to hear that I believed that it was her job to represent our company and generate revenue from the services that we provided to the customer. So I politely listened to her rants and accusations until she tired of speaking to me and hung up.

Since then, I’ve discussed the “who is your customer?” with a plethora of people, from VC’s & board members, software engineers to sales, and very few people agree right out of the gate. If logic prevails, we always seem to land up in a similar place:

The customer is the entity / people that is paying your bill.

 

Partners that have staked their credibility by reselling your product or service are collaborators and not customers. 

For organizations that are getting their funding from other internal fellow-employee organizations, this is a more complex question and tends to be a more of a company culture item.

 

Categories: Behavior, Mindset, People Tags:

Mother Hen at Work

June 14th, 2012 No comments

I recently received a call from an ex-colleague, whom with I hadn’t spoken with in almost a year.  She wanted to talk about an open position on my team, which surprised me because she did not have the skills that we were looking for.  However, she wanted to talk about someone else who she knew had applied for the position and was hoping to get an offer, let’s call him Joe.  I was floored when she then started to tell me that Joe was part of her brood and she just wanted to make sure that this was the right thing for him.  This went on for quite a while with me scheming about I could get off the call ASAP.   Then she started to tell me that I needed to treat him right or the Mama Bear in her would come out.  Wow!  At first, I was ready to hangup but then I realized that she did not mean this as threat and it was just her expressing her concern.  Nice but…………..

SparkPilot.com Mother Hen Image

This made me think back about a similar situation a couple of years back where a where Jane, was irritating her workmates.  They felt that she was constantly trying to tell them what to do.  In their opinion, it was always about what she wanted to do and she would not respect their opinions.  Jane was not happy either and spoke to me about it.  Here is where we landed.  She was a single mother of three and therefore at home she had to be “the strong one”.  This meant that she was so used to issuing instructions to her kids and not listening their responses. It was the only way that she was able to keep control of them. When questioned by the kids, her response was:  “because I say so”.  In the work environment, she often saw questions from her colleagues as personal attacks and that they did not listen to her.  During our discussions, she realized that listening was very different from them doing what she said.  She also realized that she just wanted to be heard but her home role had skewed what she wanted and she was expecting her colleagues to do what she said.  She changed her expectations and things flourished from then on.

So, based on these two situations, I might be coming across as anti-Mother Hen.  This is not true, all I ask is that the Mother Hen identify first whether the person/people that they are communicating with recognize them in the role of Mother Hen.

Let’s contrast these two environments

Home

  • It is the parent that generally provides the leadership and guidance.
  • The parent role equals total authority and the de facto leader so it acceptable to make unilateral decisions that affect them.
  • Because I say so, can be an age appropriate response, especially in a crisis or where confusion prevails.
  • We are parents by birth.
  • Parents define the acceptable behavior boundaries in the home.

Work

  • The leadership and guidance could be anyone, peer, manager….
  • Our colleagues choose to follow our leadership or not.  It is their choice not ours.
  • We are appointed to our roles, either because that is our role or because someone else says that we have the qualifications.  Generally the role is formal.  i.e. engineer, nurse, manager?  I don’t think the mother hen role exists.
  • A formal span of control exists.  Do you have the authority to make decisions on their behalf?
  • Laws, corporates guidance, people’s culture and their expectations of us define the acceptable behavior boundaries in the office.

 

So before you assume the Mother Hen role outside the home, please think of the following:

  • That person that you mothering / herding, did they ask you to mother or herd them?
  • The person that you are interacting with, do they recognize the Mother Hen role in the office?  Do they see you as the Mother Hen?  And more importantly, how do they judge you as the Mother Hen?
  • Is it appropriate for you to play this role now with me?
  • Know your limits and the person’s boundaries and do not overstep them and just to make sure, ask.

 

 

PATIENCE

May 18th, 2011 No comments

P A T I E N C E

  • P=Positivity
  • A=Attitude
  • T=Tenderness
  • I=Intuition
  • E=Example
  • N=No Negativity
  • C=Caring
  • E=Everlasting hugs

 

Thanks for sharing this Jolene.

Categories: Behavior, Mindset Tags: ,

Optimistic Mindset

January 13th, 2010 No comments

I was born and raised in Africa and like most places in the developing world (politically correct term for 3rd world) , culturally, we looked to the 1st world countries for leadership and guidance. As a teenager, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to a number of visitors from various 1st world countries. This exposure allowed me to see, firsthand, some of the cultural generalizations.

Working with American, the first thing I noticed was how they increased the volume of their voice when they perceived that someone did not understand them.

The second thing I noticed was their optimistic mindset.  They were always willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt and listened to their input, ideas and feedback in a non-judgmental manner. I watched in amazement how these people responded very well to this behavior. They changed from being interested parties to involved participants. It was awesome to see how the energy levels increased and how the folks cooperated together.  Needless to say, the goals were achieved quickly and with little fanfare.

I believe that one of the biggest advantages that the Americans have, is their optimistic mindset.

Over time, I have come to realize that the behavior that I was exposed to as a teenager was a combination of the optimistic mindset and also an ability to listen.  Listening is a skill that all managers should have in their arsenal and constantly practice.  For some of us, this does not come easily, but for the sake of your people please continue to work on it.

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