The 4th Monkey – “Do No Evil”

I am reissuing, with a few modifications, my most popular blog post, for your consideration. The universal application of these age-old concepts is a tremendous value that should guide our behavior and interactions with each other.

We grew up with the story of the three monkeys. I imagine that many of us have the same interpretation of what they represent. We were exposed to pictures or statues. One monkey had his hands over his eyes, the second monkey with hands over his ears and the third monkey’s hands were over his mouth. They were see no evil (Mizaru), hear no evil (Kikazura) and speak no evil (Iwazura). There were actions and behaviors demanded of us based on the three monkeys, but nothing was said about the fourth monkey. The fourth monkey was do no evil (Shizaru).

four-wise-monkeys

The stories of the four monkeys were popular in Japan in the 17th century. Their origin is between 2 and 4 BC in China. The Storyologer web-site (www.storyologer.com) has this account of Mahatma Gandhi who carried around a small statue of the three monkeys.  “Gandhi had a statue of three monkeys in three different postures. One was shutting his mouth with his hands, the other was shutting his ears similarly and the third one had put hands on his eyes. A visitor to his house became curious and questioned Gandhi about the various postures of the monkeys. Gandhi politely replied, “The one shutting his mouth tells us that we should not speak ill of anybody. The one shutting his ears tells us that we should not hear the ill of anybody. And the one shutting his eyes tells us that we should not see the ills of anybody. If we do so, we will have all goodness and nothing but goodness.”

Travelers will often find local markets with carved depictions or artwork featuring the three monkeys. My wife was able to purchase an angelic model of the same concept. There are three angels; one was covering her eyes, one was covering her ears and the other was covering her mouth. However, the fourth monkey was not shown. The 4th monkey, when pictured, is usually shown folding his arms (the body language of being closed) or covering his crotch to signify inactivity.

The different interpretations of the four monkeys is fascinating. In Buddhist tradition it meant don’t spend your time preoccupied with evil thoughts. In the West it relates to not facing up to our moral responsibility, for example turning a blind eye. But in my household, the monkeys were presented to us as a model of proper behavior. Our parents wanted us to identify with the images, to supplement our moral code.

See no evil (Mizaru)

We were told to pay attention to people and location(s). The idea was that if we were in the right location, we would minimize seeing trouble develop before our eyes. This was applicable in school and at work. We were instructed against being at the wrong place at the wrong time or the wrong place right. We were also told not to look for bad things in people or in certain situations. There are people who see bad things when they don’t exist, which could explain the manifestations of bias, stereotypes and profiling. We were not taught to be naïve, but to be careful and respectful.

Hear no evil (Kikazaru)

We were told to shield ourselves from bad language and bad intentions. We should stay away from people who spoke ill of others and gossiped. If we were not in the wrong place we could minimize hearing things that we should not hear. We were also instructed not to listen to foul or vulgar language. If we heard people language, especially regarding someone’s evil intentions, we could use the evil information to do good or to help others, that would be permissible.

Speak no evil (Iwazura)

Speak no evil was used to discourage gossiping or speaking ill will about someone. We were told to watch our language and to speak kind words. “If you can’t say anything good about someone, don’t say anything” was a part of this same philosophy. Adults told us that spreading bad news or malicious information could come back to haunt us. We should also, apply this same advice to the workplace.

There is a misconception around the concept about someone. This misconception has led people to adopt a code of silence in the workplace when a person is not pulling their own weight. We would rather silently complain or resign, before talking about an employee who was not working. We would not want to be labeled a snitch or a stool pigeon. In the streets people would say, “snitches get stitches”. To speak evil of someone means telling a lie, varying false witness or defaming their reputation. However, it is our responsibility to find a way to report injustice, illegal behavior and practices that undermine people and the organization. Our intention should be to speak the truth in love without malice or premeditated negative objectives.

One way to break the code of silence is by offering incentives to whistleblowers. These individuals are people who step forward and report unlawful activities in an organization. They are generally paid a 10% bounty if the measure goes to court and fines are levied against the lawbreakers. In neighborhoods where people know the perpetrators of violence, but fail to come forward, there are no such incentives. Residents may be afraid of retribution, as the rationale for their silence. We must also realize that justice requires telling the truth and this should not be regarded as speaking evil of someone.

Do no evil (Shizaru)

The fourth monkey’s actions are truly related to the others. The workplace is a common place for the four monkeys to be used as an operating system. Employee bullying and intimidation, sexual-harassment claims, the presence of racial discrimination, unconscious bias and sexually charged language and actions exists in many organizations. Where improprieties and liberties are taken with people’s rights in the form of disrespectful words and actions, there are laws in place to prevent and punish these actions. Employees, who adopt a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil mindset are not helping to develop a positive company culture or a respectful workplace

Do no evil is a perfect monkey to enforce the values of character and integrity. He reminds us of proper behavior and etiquette. Our choices have consequences and the more we can emphasize a positive corporate culture and a respectful workplace the more effective our organizations will be become. There is conduct and behavior norms which must be identified, emphasized and enforced vigorously. Character will minimize stress in the workplace and reduce the number of lawsuits and discipline related to improper behavior.

The do no evil mindset would influence our participation in the political process. Our dialogue in conversations around those who are different from us or have different opinions would be positively affected. If we operated each day thinking in terms of do no evil, we would be more empathetic in understanding of each other. We would put ourselves in the shoes of our neighbors and seek to understand their point of, listen to their words and lay the foundation for greater chemistry instead of conflict.

How can we create an environment in our workplaces, families and communities, where people are held accountable for their own unlawful actions and the private citizens who come forward can feel safe and protected? If the fourth monkey was modeled, we would have less of a cause to talk about Mizaru (see no evil) and Kikazuru (hear no evil).

Do no evil and speak no evil should be magnified and connected to many of our guiding principles of behavior.  The Golden Rule and its equivalent in many cultures advise us to treat people the way we want to be treated. The Platinum Rule which asks us to treat people the way they want to be treated. The 10 Commandments implores us not to do a series of acts which could be seen as evil, such as murder, stealing, etc. you are instructed to love your neighbor as yourself. If we began from a position of love it is easier to think in terms of speak and do no evil.

We must clearly outline expectations of behavior and the judgment related to them to improve the climate in our organizations, homes and places where people meet. Correct action is essential to achieving healthy results in our relationships.

The imagery and practices espoused by the 4th monkey holds the key to making this possible. I am hopeful that by emphasizing the fourth monkey, we can improve our behaviors, connections, interactions and relationships with everyone.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

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Inclusion: Maximize the POP in Your Culture

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The large corporation recognizes the power of inclusion. They realize the enormous reservoir of residual potential within their employees. Similar companies are establishing practices to capitalize on the diversity within their ranks. Inherent in their approaches is the desire to create an OASIS1 where people can be Open And Share Information Safely; where people can fully express their minds in a culture of trust, where their talents will be developed and appreciated. Where inclusion is successful, there is an increase in energy and engagement.

POP (Potential – Opportunity – Problems)

When companies maximize the POP in their culture, they focus on potential, opportunity and problems. Potential represents the reservoir of thoughts, ideas, resourcefulness and resilience which could fuel innovation and productivity. There is untapped energy that can be used to benefit all constituents. Potential is the pipeline for new ideas and solutions for today and tomorrow.

First, we acknowledge potential as the latent ability to accomplish excellence. It is the sum total of talent, capacity, skills and ability. Potential speaks to the unlimited capacity within us. They are not sure how much power is stored in each individual, but they need to provide the environment to explore their content. The uniqueness and diversity of each individual may be linked to the variety of experiences, exposure and expertise they own.

Secondly, opportunity is defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary as, “a favorable or promising combination of circumstances or a chance for advancement or improvement. There are synergies when engagement and diversity are maximized. Additional value can be gained by minimizing the detrimental effects of unconscious bias and negative micro inequities.

Opportunity is a chance to capitalize on a situation or moments that could lead to new discoveries, customer benefits and hopefully, a competitive advantage. Taking advantage of opportunities requires flexibility that is focused and spontaneous. Agility with the ability for greatness to maneuver the white waters of change is important to leverage opportunity. Responsiveness will allow organizations to master changes in direction by preparation and timing.

Thirdly, problems do and will exist. They may be due to the negative ways people are treated. This could lead to a suboptimal release of talent, skills and abilities. Ultimately, engagement, innovation, employee satisfaction and results are impaired. The problem could represent unproductive conflict or the uncontested unconscious bias and micro-inequities within the culture. Problems may be barriers, a discrepancy between results and expectations, as well as the delta between where they are and where they want to go. The problems may also denote the business challenges encountered which require the entire capacity of their teams to concentrate on the problem for maximum effectiveness.

Many times the problem could be a lack of developmental information. It would be ideal if people are vulnerable and share the areas where they need to improve. Too many times performance management becomes a game of Hide and Seek or Keep away. Individuals are aware of their developmental areas, but are reluctant to be vulnerable and share because of the negative consequences of evaluation and ratings. It could cost them money. Where there is trust people feel comfortable about being authentic and transparent as they dedicate themselves to the individual and group getting better.

SPOT (Strengths – Potential – Opportunity – Threats)

 

Let’s turn our attention to applying energy and resources to the right area, the main thing, as it is often called. Inclusion gives us a strategy to maximize the POP in our culture by encouraging us to set our sights on excellence. When we identify our focus, we may say that X marks the spot. By using another acronym, the SPOT stands for Strengths, Potential, Opportunity and Threats.

The spot allows us to expand self awareness and become inwardly centered on individual skills and abilities. We were hired and promoted mainly for our strengths. These strengths should be harnessed to benefit us and the company. Marcus Buckingham touts the value of increased engagement2, if people feel that every day they can use their strengths at work. The environment for increased engagement stated in the Gallup- Q-12, Marcus was a part of the research, highlighted 12 factors that are favorably addressed in high engagement cultures. The idea is to give strengths the priority while managing and minimizing areas needing further development (weaknesses). The leader must understand these principles and determine how they apply personally.

Potential and opportunity are the same as stated earlier. The leader must also benefit, along with the other members of the team and organization. Opportunities may spring up as trends and openings that can be beneficial, if responded to decisively with excellence. A leader must model the acuity and ingenuity to solve problems and the use results orientation to reach their goals.

Threats are usually evaluated from an external vantage point. We want to answer the question, what are the negative things outside of the organization that can externally impact individuals and the company. Whereas, this is very crucial, there are also internal threats that we must be aware of, so that they do not derail achieving our goals or career objectives. These threats could be systemic, such as the prevalence of unconscious bias and micro inequities in suppressing growth and development.

We must create a culture that minimizes the impact of unconscious bias and micro-inequities.

  • They are structurally held in check by programs
  • Data is accumulated to detect and rectify their presence
  • Individual participants are identified and held accountable for their actions
  • It is safe for people to speak up where the OASIS exists (Open And Share Information Safely)

The threat could also be individuals who may not have our best interests at heart. The threats could be personality issues that need to be corrected, such as difficulties with emotional intelligence which compromises leader effectiveness. These barriers, harmful trends, negative circumstances or individuals could disrupt our path to career excellence.Inclusion will enable organizations to adopt a leadership style that begins with personal self-awareness, self-management and moving onward to others, as we increase social awareness and relationship management.

Inclusion will enable us to maximize the POP in our culture (Potential – Opportunities – Problems). The leader must be an example for direct reports and those who look up to us for guidance and inspiration. We must focus on the organization but personally demonstrate how excellence marks the SPOT; focusing on our particular Strengths, Potential, Opportunities and Threats. Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

References

  1. Orlando Ceaser, Unlock Your Leadership Greatness (Chicago IL: Watchwell Communications Inc., 2014)
  2. Marcus Buckingham, Standout 2.0 (Boston Mass: Harvard Press, 2015)

Unconscious Bias & Micro-inequities – Strategies Using The Know System

Do you want to create the right climate for your employees? Worker satisfaction and operational objectives are influenced by the culture in the workplace. Do you feel your employees are your most important asset? If they feel valued, employees will increase their level of engagement and tap into their discretionary effort to increase productivity. Leaders may have good intentions around workplace climate and culture. However, leadership success may be compromised by factors they may not have considered, such as, unconscious bias and micro-inequities.

Leaders may blunt their effectiveness by shutting out people and creating walls that block the contributions of individuals and groups within their teams. Unconscious bias and micro-inequities may cast a negative cloud over their culture, work environment and work life balance/effectiveness. The Know System™ (TKS™) will help you ask key questions to gather information to solve problems and make decisions. TKS™ is a philosophy to help you develop a strategy to address barriers to success. Leaders, who create a safe environment, are in position to discover and capitalize on the potential in their talent pool.

Unconscious bias

The subconscious mind takes in over 11 million bits of information per second. The conscious mind is only aware of about 40 bits of information per second. Therefore, 99.99% of our thinking is at the subconscious level. The mind uses bias to help us process the sheer volume of information it has to handle. It makes shortcuts to a new in processing the data quickly, but sometimes speed causes it to make mistakes. Additionally, the mind uses past experiences and other bits of information to fill in the gaps where there is missing data. This automatic processing can give rise to misinformation, invalid conclusions and inappropriate decisions.

Tesia T. Marshik, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, in her lecture, Unconscious Bias and the Mind: Challenging the way we think about thinking1 (available on YouTube), mentions four distinct attributes related to our biases.

  1. We don’t always see the world as it actually is
  2. We often see the world differently from other people
  3. When told there is a another perspective, it affects our opinion
  4. How we expect the world to be, changes how we see it

We know that biases are thoughts, ideas or beliefs that cause us to prejudge an individual or group. Sondra Thiederman, PhD, in her book 7 steps for Defeating Bias in the Workplace2, defines bias as an inflexible belief about a particular kinship group. She also says that biases are attitudes not behaviors. When biases are negative, they can cause us to unfairly interact with the target of our bias.

Unconscious bias by definition is bias that is outside of a leader’s awareness. It can undermine the corporate culture and create tension that works against goals and objectives. Therefore, a strategy must be instituted. It must contain a system that minimizes harmful effects on the current culture. This strategy should address unconscious bias and micro-inequities.

Joseph Greeny, et al, in the book Crucial Conversations3 describes the relationship between our thoughts and actions. Initially, we see, hear or experience something which causes us to create a story around it. This story creates feelings that in turn are converted into actions. Unconscious bias affects the stories that we tell ourselves, which ultimately affect our behavior.

There is a large body of evidence to validate the existence, prevalence and effects of unconscious bias. Individuals involved in the studies would have categorically denied that they were biased, yet data conflicts with their impressions. These results may explain why women, people of color, those with age differences and disabilities may be at a disadvantage in some companies.

  • US orchestras – 50% more women selected in first round with the implementation of blind auditions4
  • Resumes with white sounding names received more call backs than ethnic sounding names for interviews5
  • 58% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are six feet or taller compared to 14.5% in the US population6

The Implicit Associate Test, IAT, developed by Professors Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greewald has compiled data on millions of people. The results validate that we are a product of our experiences, conditioning, cultural and societal messaging. Additionally, we have a subconscious tendency to display preference toward or against individuals or groups. The summaries of their research are presented in their book, Blind spot7. You may take the test at Implicit.harvard.edu. Some of the findings are;

  • 76% of us associate male with career and female with family
  • 70% associate male with science and female with arts
  • 75% have an implicit preference for white people over black people
  • 76% have an implicit preference for able bodied people

Micro – inequities

Micro-inequities are the negative micro messages that we communicate to others. They represent the manifestation of unconscious bias. Our conditioning, experiences and advertisements are embedded in our subconscious mind. Our actions are the fruit of our innermost thoughts and feelings.

Micro-inequities was coined by Dr. Mary Rowe8 in the 1970’s to explain behaviors identified while working with female and minority students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Rowe was an ombudsman who noticed many complaints from students that did not fall under the classic definition of discrimination.  She discovered a pattern of behavior of subtle slights which could be verbal or non verbal. The cumulative effect of these devaluing messages affected the student’s self esteem and self confidence. The actions of others made them feel unimportant, devalued and irrelevant.  Micro-inequities is an apt description of their encounters.

Micro-will inequities are the subtle, persistent slights that may be unconscious or conscious9. They make the recipient feel insignificant, not important, not valued the, invisible and inconsequential. Individuals, who experience micro-inequities, may become frustrated, isolated and retaliate by reducing their level of engagement and withholding vital information which, could be necessary for the success of the enterprise. They may feel invisible, like an outsider, unwanted, as if they don’t belong. These individuals do not feel included and may withhold vital information or adopt, what I like to call, an OMDB (Over My Dead Body) mentality about sharing their ideas. A few examples of micro-inequities10,11,12 are listed below;

  • Stealing ideas or not giving credit to the originator
  • Multi-tasking when talking to some individuals
  • Leaving people names off of memos
  • Some are not invited to the meeting before the meeting or the one after
  • Introductions by name only, while others get name / title and a story
  • Constantly checking their watch
  • Avoiding eye contact or rolling their eyes
  • Constantly interrupting in mid sentence
  • Forgetting a person’s name or using the wrong name
  • Don’t listen when some individuals speak
  • Closed to some suggestions but open to others
  • Comments ignored unless voiced by others
  • Selectively withholding praise
  • No small talk – selectively given
  • No time or very little time
  • Look for ways ideas won’t work, while others receive why their ideas may work
  • Communicate low expectations
  • Impatience in interactions
  • Always rushing when certain people want to speak to themUnconscious bias and micro-inequities must be identified and minimized. Systems must be put in place and a language instituted to build commitment and accountability. Unconscious bias and micro-inequities may be addressed using The Know System™.

The Know System™

The Know System™13 is a technique to assist in developing a customized or standard standards method of addressing these issues. Organizations are implementing programs to address unconscious bias and micro-inequities. The Know System™ is a decision-making, problem solving model that can assist individuals and institutions in addressing unconscious bias and micro – inequities. The model can contribute to individual, team and organizational strategies to improve culture. It will allow them to use their creativity to tailor a training program that fits their needs.

The Know System™ can be used to: 

  1. Define evidence of unconscious bias and micro-inequities
  2. Develop strategy and tactics to address them
  3. Set up programs, procedures or structure to minimize
    1. Performance management implications
    2. Interviews for hire or promotion
    3. Customer service
    4. Client and consultant selections
    5. Embed into corporate culture through standalone training programs
    6. Embed into corporate culture by inclusion in all training programs
  4. Establish accountability measures

The Know System™ is an intuitive methodology for gathering crucial information. It can help you create a mind map for data collection for analysis and implementation. Companies can use the creativity of their leaders and other employees to customize programs to address these issues at a local or national level. An opening exercise will familiarize everyone with the decision-making platform.

Opening Exercise

The following is a simple means to become comfortable with the Know System™  

  1. Write the word Know on the top of a sheet of paper or on your tablet or computer screen
  2. Write down words you can pull from the word Know
  3. Use your imagination and include 4, 3 and 2 letter words, which may include a few colloquialismsThe words identified may include the following: Won, Know, Now, No, On, Own, Ow (pain), Wok, Ok, Wonk, KO (Knock Out), Wo (slow down). It is not necessary to use all of the words, but only those pertinent to your situation. Only use the words you feel are related to address the unconscious bias and micro-inequities in your culture.

Write each word at the top of its own page or column and answer the relevant questions. You may review The Know System™ diagram for assistance.

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The Know System™ will have a positive influence on individual reflections and group conversations and discussions. Once you have selected the words, start thinking of how they apply to your situations. I will give you a few examples to get you started.

Won

The first thing you may want to do is to select the word Won. This represents your vision, goal or objective. You want to determine what success or excellence looks like to you? Write this down to guide your thinking.

Know

What do you know and what do you need to know about your organization and employees? What you need to know may be in areas crucial to maximizing our relationship with our employees. The next step is to apply Who, What, Where, When and Why.

Now      

What is the current state of the organization? Describe the climate as seen through the eyes of your employees. How is the client?

No

It is critical to establish priorities and to maintain focus by removing or deflecting assignments that detract from your objective. Employees need to know what is important, so that they can maintain their vigilance on the matters that are truly necessary to achieve your vision and your goals.

WOK

Sometimes you have to stir things up a bit. Just because something is always been that way, does not mean that it always has to be done that way. There are instances when the status quo must be revised. There may be a need to disrupt the traditional way of doing things in favor of something better.

The Know System™ can be applied to strategy development, problem solving and decision-making. This also pertains to unconscious bias and micro-inequities. Additional information can be found in my books The Isle of Knowledge14 and Unlock Your Leadership Greatness15.

Copyright © 2017 Orlando Ceaser

 

Bibliography &  References

  1. Tesia T. Marshik, Unconscious Bias and the Mind: Challenging the way we think about thinking lecture at Learning Technologies Conference, 2016 (available on YouTube).
  2. Sondra Thiederman, PhD, 7 Steps for Defeating Bias in the Workplace (Chicago, IL: Dearborn Trade Publishing, A Kaplan Professional Company, 2003).
  3. Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, Crucial Conversation (New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002).
  4. Cecilia Rouse & Claudia Goldin, Blind Auditions Key to Hiring Musicians, American Economic Review, September – November, 2000.
  5. Marianne Bertran & Sendhil Mullainathan, Employers’ Replies to Racial Names, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2004.
  6. Malcolm Gladwell, Blink, (New York, New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005).
  7. Mahzarin R. Banaji & Anthony G. Greenwald, Blind Spot (New York, New York: Delacorte Press, 2013).
  8. Mary Rowe, “Barriers to Equality, the Power of Subtle Discrimination to Maintain Unequal Opportunity,” 1990.
  9. Brigid Moynahan, Go Ahead: Sweat the Small Stuff, The Conference Board, 2005.
  10. Brigid Moynahan, Go Ahead: Sweat the Small Stuff, The Conference Board, 2005.
  11. Stephen Young, Micro Messaging (New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007).
  12. Janet Crenshaw Smith, 58 little things that have a Big impact – What’s Your MicroTrigger™? (Rockville, Md: Ivy Planning Group, LLC, 2006).
  13. Orlando Ceaser, The Isle of Knowledge (Belleville, Ontario, Canada: Guardian Books, 2009).
  14. Orlando Ceaser, The Isle of Knowledge (Belleville, Ontario, Canada: Guardian Books, 2009).
  15. Orlando Ceaser, Unlock Your Leadership Greatness (Chicago, IL: Watchwell Communications, Inc., 2014).

 

 

 

How to go from an Extra in a job interview to a Starring Role

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Have you discovered that you were an extra in a job interview, when you thought you were auditioning for the lead role? Usually, you do not find out about this reality, but if it is discovered, how do you handle the knowledge? Allow me to use the movie metaphor throughout this article to make a few points that will hopefully be of benefit to you.

When interviewing internal candidates within an organization, there is usually a preferred candidate. This person is the odds on favorite, a person who it is their job to lose, who will get the job unless they are an embarrassment and fall on their face during the interview. Don’t be naïve going to the interview thinking that this is not a reality. What can you do to shift the odds in your favor or set yourself up or your next career move?

Secondly, even when interviews involve candidates from outside the organization, judging by recommendations, review of resumes, and telephone screening, there are still candidates who on paper, the interviewer may feel have an edge. What should be your mindset going into the interview? You should assume that you are interviewing against a pool of talented individuals and securing the job will require your best performance. You cannot be distracted by the competitive field of talent. You should feel thankful for the chance to show the world why you are the person for the job and did deliver a powerful, mind altering performance.

Interview preparation

Prepare yourself for a courageously effective interview, as if you were competing against the most potent candidates in the universe. You must know yourself thoroughly and be ready to present your credentials in the most authentic, persuasive and powerful means possible. Your focus should be on delivering the best audition, reflective of your skills and abilities, to perform the job at a very high level. Your research into the organization should enable you to craft a strategic vision of how you could do the job better than anyone else. You should visualize yourself in the job, performing the job and achieving beyond managerial and company expectations.

It is company policy in many organizations to post a job, even when a person has been identified to fill the position. This may seem like a sham, but it does provide an opportunity for other people to audition for the vacancy. It may feel as if you are going through the motions and it may feel unfair, but it provides an opportunity that would not be there without the Human Resource Department (HR) involvement.

I have been on both sides of the situation. I have had people who were targeted for a specific role as a part of their professional development. When the role became available, I wanted to immediately put them in the job, however I was told by HR that the job needed to be posted and others given the opportunity to pursue the position. In other words, the people had to earn the position. HR wanted people throughout the organization to have a chance to pursue available and appropriate positions. Otherwise, people would leave jobs and be replaced based on favoritism and preferential treatment. It was better for the organization and the rationale made sense to me. However, it was incumbent upon the interviewers to be open-minded. This was a challenge and everyone had to be held accountable, which required challenging the judgment of everyone involved in order to arrive at a fair and equitable decision. There were instances where initial feelings were changed, based on the skills and abilities of a better candidate.

I have experience interviewing for a job when I knew I was a part of a crowd scene. I was an extra, to allegedly give credibility to the interviewing process. I did not want the job, but I was encouraged to interview for the job because it would be beneficial for my career. Interviewing for a job requires preparation time, which I did not want to spend because I wanted a different position. I did not want to deliver a poor interview because it would take me out of consideration for the job I really wanted. The feedback I received, after I did not get the job, was they could tell that my heart was not in the interview. I thought that was amazing, since I told them in the beginning that I did not want to interview for the position. My presence in the interview, gave credibility to the person and the interview process. It also showed my willingness to be a team player.

Initially, I felt they could have given the job to the individual without putting me through the process of preparing and executing multiple interviews. Serving as an interview extra however, ultimately worked in my favor. He was an amazing candidate and ultimately I got the assignment I wanted.

How should you perform when you suspect that you are an extra in the interviewing process? Should you follow through with the interview? Should you complain to those interviewing about your suspicions? Should you withdraw your name from consideration because you view it as a waste of time?

Many managers would suggest you approach the situation from a strategic point of view. They would suggest that you consider the following;

  • The interview process may not be as open-minded as you would like
  • The interview is an opportunity to showcase your talents, skills and abilities
  • The interview allows you to network and expose other individuals to your career aspirations
  • The interview allows you an opportunity to practice your interviewing skills in a manner sanctioned by the organization (receiving interview practice by interviewing for jobs outside the organization would not be smiled upon)
  • You could enter the interview with the mindset of making it very difficult for the interviewers to offer the job to their preferred candidate
  • Your stellar performance could set you up for a recommendation from the interviewers for an even better positionThe moral of the interview process is that even though you may knowingly or unknowingly be an extra in the interview process, it is a golden opportunity to network and showcase your talents. It can be the move that can set you up for an even greater job, building relationships, advocates and individuals anxious to recommend you and potentially bring you onto their team.

 

  • Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

Informants in the workplace

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Information is an essential ingredient in the leader’s decision making arsenal. There are many established, credible resources at their disposal. There is everything from company databases, computer files, the Internet and consultants to the minds of employees. The information available in the minds of employees is critical. However, there may be situations where employees are reluctant to disclose relevant information for a number of reasons.

If the environment is not perceived as safe, people are reticent to step forward with their information. There may be employee surveys and numerous forums within an organization where data is accumulated. But, there is still a need to decipher the data and provide additional perspectives. These translations and interpretations can be provided by informants in the workplace.

An informant is defined by Webster’s New Riverside University dictionary as, “one who discloses information and one who furnishes cultural or linguistic information to a researcher.” Oftentimes, informants volunteer their services. They may be guided by a number of motives. One such motive may be a genuine desire to improve the culture of the workplace or team.

Secondly, informants may be driven by ulterior motives, hoping to be rewarded in some fashion. A pharmaceutical company discontinued their bonus program which disappointed a number of their representatives. A group of employees got together and complained and expressed their dissatisfaction. The most vocal member of the group became an informant and notified leadership of the various opinions expressed. The other members were chastised and eventually the informant was promoted. The moral of this story is to express your opinion in a situation where your insight is appreciated and the person can do something about it.

Thirdly, a leader may ask everyone to be an informant. They would like to create an environment where everyone can step forward and let them know the climate of the team. The leader would like to receive the word on the street regarding a new policy or procedure, directly from the employees.

Fourthly, there are situations where a leader may select a particular person or a small group of people, who have keen insight into the workplace. They may have the ability to articulate the feelings of the team.

Lastly, there are situations where a team may identify someone as a spokesperson, a group sanctioned employee. This person is an approved voice of the people.

There is crucial information that the company must provide to the employees or members of a team, in order for the company or team to be successful. This data is around the vision, mission and the type of organization they are trying to create.

There is also crucial information possessed by the employees. The employees have the perspectives and relevant data obtained by being closest to the customer. They must share or release this information to leadership, in order for leadership to recognize the impact of their programs and strategy. The release of this information from the employee may be through the informant.

There were numerous occasions in my career where I used an informant to improve the success of a strategy, program or my leadership effectiveness. In one situation I did not realize the tension that existed between my District Managers. One manager called me and asked if I noticed the discomfort in the room. Armed with the information from her call, I scheduled a team building session where they were able to play together and resolve their differences.

Additionally, there were another time when individuals were poisoning the environment I was trying to create. There was a time when I served as a healer to address a dysfunction within a team. I brought the team members and their manager into my office for a debriefing session. After the meeting was over, I received a telephone call from one of the participants. She stated that before their drive to their territory, she heard my voice in the back seat of the car. Apparently, one of the representatives had taped my entire session with the team. This informant made me aware of either the insidious nature of the team member for their lack of trust. I was able to satisfactorily handle the situation because of the courage of my informant.

Leaders have told me of situations where members of their team smiled to their face, but tried every effort to undermine their efforts, behind their backs.

The leader must create the environment where people feel comfortable enough to tell management what they think. The manager must create a culture which is an OASIS. The OASIS (Open And Share Information Safely) is an acronym describing a concept that I introduced in my book Unlock Your Leadership Greatness (available at www.OrlandoCeaser.com and www.amazon.com. This environment will have a direct them on the number of formats available in the organization.

Informants are critical in the lives of leaders who are new to an organization or new to the role of leadership. It is comforting to have individuals who can share with you and serve as a barometer for your policies and procedures. They can also let you know how your personality comes across to the group.

Informants do not necessarily have to be spies who infiltrate an organization to gather secrets. They can be legitimate information merchants dedicated to helping leadership make better decisions.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser