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May the “Force” be With You…

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

When you get that long awaited job, there is hope and anticipation. You will be able to hold your head up. You will be able to pay your bills. You will be.. an indentured servant? It may well feel that way, all too soon.

Sir Richard Branson, a well known and successful business man thinks poorly of American attitudes toward our workforce, (and I agree with him!) “Sir Richard Branson, the British entrepreneur who has started about 300 companies, doesn’t think much of American policies regarding flextime and vacations. He calls the amount of holidays “horrendous…. Branson says that in the U.S, companies seem to believe that employees should work for them full-time or not at all. But many employees would love to have a job where they can job share, work part-time, or take 6 months of leave. Employees are too scared to ask, he says… American vacation policies stink, Branson says. Branson believes that employees need time to see their children, to reenergize.” (HR Daily Advisor, September 14, 2011)  What a concept. Life outside work. (No more 30 days paid leave in civilian life, you know.)

And these lovely managers use emotional force to get the obedience they think they deserve:  check this out: “What ‘job leveling’ means, in plain English, and how it’s applied to align employees’ actions and behaviors across the workforce”. I don’t know about you  but I feel this describes a bull dozer. ..leveling all in  its path.

A”s the U.S. economy improves, complaints about pay compression (employees drawing similar salaries despite big differences in their experience, skills, and seniority) will simmer out of control in many workplaces. “BLR®—Business & Legal Resources 9-12-11 More happy thoughts! Simmering resentment. I wonder why?

There are American companies that have the human friendly attitude Branson has, where both customers and employees are happy. Find one! So again… the trick is the fit.  You may miss the sense of mission you had in the military, but you can be happy—with the right fit.

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Values Really are Good Business

September 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, boys and girls, I took a brief break from this one sided conversation… to have some fun. Then today I had the opportunity to take my own advice. I went on a job interview. It was ALL about values. And it was a blast.

But don’t take my word for it: this from the Zappos CEO: “Hsieh revealed that the company hires for culture. Applicants go through two interview processes, one for “the normal things,” like skills and abilities and experience, and one for “cultural fit.” If applicants don’t pass the cultural fit interview, they won’t be hired, no matter how good their skills or how great their ability to contribute technically.” HR Daily Advisor, August 31, 2011.

In fact Zappos is so committed to the culture that once the possible hiree has been trained they are offered $3,000 to move on. “Bonus to Quit”

“Once people complete the 4-week training period, they are offered a $3,000 bonus to quit. It’s Zappos’ way of saying we only want people who really want to work here. Two or three percent of trainees take the bonus and leave, Hsieh says. Zappos believes that this is money well-spent as these are people who probably wouldn’t have lasted long anyway.

Hsieh says there’s also a positive effect on the trainees who stay. They’re just that much more committed for having rejected the departure bonus.”

HR Daily Advisor, August 31, 2011.

So I suggest you hang tough even if you are feeling that “I will never find the right job”—I sure had to but… I think I have hit pay dirt. I job I can LOVE and where I can be appreciated. Doing WHAT I DO BEST.

 

Stay tuned.

Should I Say Or Should I Go?

There have been further discussions on Linkmen abut staying in then USAF or getting lot. Here are  a few hard cold thoughts on that score:

 

“In more and more businesses, the tasks and responsibilities are being piled up on smaller staffs and overworked employees, many of whom find themselves increasingly fed up with top-down management that doesn’t appreciate them.” http://www.greenforall.org/blog/a-cooperative-economy-the-time-is-now

 

Annie Leonard pointed out at the New York Times that Americans work longer hours than people in any other industrialized nation. We work nearly nine weeks more than Western Europeans, and we get far fewer vacations.:… (A recent article in Canadian magazine MacLeans also pointed out that Dutch workers, women in particular, often only work part-time to spend m, ore time with their families—and that the Netherlands consistently ranks as one of the happiest nations on earth.)\http://www.alternet.org/story/152130/longer_weekends_and_higher_wages_5_surprising_ways_that_would_help_improve_the_economy?page=1

 

It occurs to me many military members or recent retires may not realize what the civilian workforce is like these days. (Outside civilian contract work for the military.)

So, (unpleasant as my take on this is) it may be well to think carefully if you have  not yet separated. If you do—heed what I have already written in seeking a job that is a fit. And, again… it is a very good idea to have an exit strategy. I’m just saying…

Hiring our Heroes

Reading one of my discussions on LinkedIn and having been asked if I knew any disabled vets, I am reminded that being a vet with a service connected disability can get you a job—for anyone who wants to bid on government contracts.  So I Googled “”hiring” and found this:

“On March 24, 2011, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched its Hiring our Heroes program, a year-long nationwide effort to help veterans and their spouses find meaningful employment. The Chamber started the program in partnership with the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS), to improve public-private sector coordination in local communities, where veterans and their families are returning every day.” http://www.uschamber.com/

“Over the next year, Hiring Our Heroes will work with local chambers of commerce, the administration, and the National Guard and Reserve to connect 100,000 veterans with more than 1,000 different employers during 100 hiring fairs across the country. The first hiring fair took place in Chicago, bringing together more than 125 employers and 1,200 veterans and their spouses. About 150 of them will end up with new jobs.” http://www.uschambermagazine.com/article/hiring-our-heroes

You probably don’t want to do the math on this… 100 veterans per employer. And I don’t suppose it would do for me to address the pretty rhetoric—“valiant men and women…” I am veteran—I am not valiant. I am just a human being doing the best I can. Probably most of us are. I am sorry, but that happy talk rings hollow to me. And how easily they overlook the fact that a huge number of these (admittedly newer) vets have been badly scarred by the long deployments and the asymmetrical wars they have fought.

I am perhaps cynical—this looks like PR to me.

But if you get a job at ne of these “hiring fairs” I hope it is the right one. Remember… these employers, should they hire you, are NOT doing you a favor. They NEED good employees. No company can operate with just bosses. So do your due diligence if you get a job offer. Check on  the company and its culture. If it is a culture of fear—either pass on the job (OK, not realistic!)  or have an exit strategy—I think that is legitimate in this climate. Build a resume but keep an eye out.

And good luck.

Interviews: How to Tell What The Values Of The Company Are

This gleaned from an HR publication: “The interviewing process is rife with opportunities for problems. For example, it’s important to avoid certain subjects, such as conversations about the applicant’s spouse or children. Some brief “small talk” at the beginning of an interview about the applicant’s child playing in the local soccer league may seem harmless, but it can quickly turn into evidence that you didn’t hire the applicant because you were worried she would need to leave work early because of her child’s extracurricular activities. “

(BTW, for the same reason using Facebook to research a candidate is legally dangerous.)

“Another danger spot is interview notes. Remember that any notes you take during the interview could become evidence at trial if the applicant files a lawsuit over your decision not to hire. Therefore, you must be cautious about the types of notes you take and how they relate to the applicant. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take notes. It simply means you should make notes with the understanding that they could appear in letters six inches high in front of a jury.” http://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/archive/2011//15/HR_Policies_Procedures_Discrimination_Smoking_Gun.aspx?source=HAD&effort=114

Note that the emphasis hear is fear and defensiveness. If you are looking for a job that matches your values you may wish to avoid this company… unfortunately this is the received wisdom” in HR—which is where I got this information! As I mentioned previously, if your interviewer seems preoccupied with their agenda… beware!  Sorry to be so alarmist but this IS the gestalt of Human Resources.

Look for a company that is NOT afraid. A company that is afraid of who will sue them next is NOT lookg for the real values of their “human capital. They are looking  for tier hid oarts– and probably because they have somethig to look out for.

You can do better.

Random Thoughts-Nice Guys Or Girls) Finish Last

I was reading the online ABA Journal (and comments) today. There was an article about salary negotiation tactics. “[the pundit quoted[ offers this example. You are talking to a human resources representative who offers you $75,000. Respond by saying, “I see. So you’re saying that the salary for this position would be $75,000.” Then pause. Sometimes the person who made the salary offer will rush to fill in the silence and offer a higher amount.” http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/to_get_a_higher_salary_try_using_hostage_negotiator_tactics/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email

This advice drew scathing scorn from the legal community. My thoughts are, I guess you could follow up with “does that include any stock options” if you think this sounded dumb and the ploy didn’t work. But should you negotiate at all?

A possibly little known fact—studies show men negotiate or a higher salary.. women don’t. “Women working full time earn about 77 percent of the salaries of men working full time, Babcock said. That figure does not take differing professions and educational levels into account, but when those and other factors are controlled for, women who work full time and have never taken time off to have children earn about 11 percent less than men with equivalent education and experience…. In one early study, Babcock brought 74 volunteers into a laboratory to play a word game called Boggle. The volunteers were told they would be paid anywhere from $3 to $10 for their time. After playing the game, each student was given $3 and asked if the sum was okay. Eight times more men than women asked for more money.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/29/AR2007072900827.html

Also, “Both men and women were more likely to subtly penalize women who asked for more — the perception was that women who asked for more were “less nice”. (supra)

So take care—negotiating may well be a bad idea.

Non Toxic Management

I seem to be off a tear about workplace culture. I suspect it is in part because it has been so very long since I was in a good one! I became a lawyer in the 80s when there was still a shred of civility and honor in the profession. Of course, my first job I was pretty thrilled—I had worked VERY hard to get there. But it was nit a bad place to work, although our offices were cramped. The form was three women friends and me and a few secretaries. It was more like a family than most law offices. I learned a lot.

 

Then I heard that this firm in Los Angeles was hiring. (I got all my jobs through people I knew—often opponents who thought well of me.) I had been doing plaintiff work and this was an insurance defense form—what is now called “captive counsel.” We had a separate office from the insurance side but did not have billable hours. The other attorneys were pretty decent, the hours were reasonable and the location was good. Looking back it seems almost idyllic. (I left for more money and a shorter commute.. and HATED my new job.)

Since then I have not had a law job that was not toxic. So maybe I am prejudices or jaded. But my non law jobs (teaching) have been pretty awful, too. I see corporations placing profit above both employees and customers routinely. So… I think NON toxic workplaces may be the exception. (Anyone reading this who disagrees feel free to chime in.)

Here’s an opinion found on the web: “Meaningful work and a sense of value within the organization are indeed powerful elements of employee engagement. All work is meaningful and valuable (otherwise, why would you be paying people to do it). The trick is for management to help employees see that meaningfulness and personal value, especially during this tough economy and often stressful workplace environment.” http://www.tlnt.com/2011/08/09/a-key-to-better-employee-engagement-having-meaningful-work/

I agree with this chap—but I wonder how many managers do? I know a lot of my military students were in the medical corps, and happy taking care of people. They did not have to worry there about billing or profits, what will they find when they seek employment in the civilian for profit world?

I wonder.