The Hindre™ – A Secret Force of Exclusion

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The Hindre™ is a person whose purpose is to keep you down, drain your confidence, stunt your growth, hold you back, and prevent you from moving forward. They will hinder you from realizing your potential and living up to your expectations. They are stationed in households and organizations to thwart progress and stymie success by discouraging siblings and offspring from achieving their dreams. The Hindre™ will disillusion people who have the ability and talent to make a positive difference. (The illustration of the Hindre™ is provided by United Press syndicated cartoonist Charles Boyce, creator of “Compu-toon”).

We encounter this nemesis of negativity at various stages of our lives. This individual is responsible for creating a hostile environment of exclusion that says we are not invited, we are not good enough and we are not wanted. The Hindre™ are in businesses and other organizations prepared to sabotage individuals viewed as a threat. They are active when difference enters an organization, so that the status quo is maintained. They are people who place fear in your heart by making you believe you are inadequate and do not have the skills to succeed, unless given special accommodations.

A first encounter with the Hindre™ is during your youth. Exposure is at school or in the home. They may lash out against you in the form of a bully, to hurt your feelings. The experience may have left you angry, embarrassed or ashamed. As you grow in age and maturity they show up in school, relationships, family, and activities and on the job. They are sometimes subtle or bold, undercover or out in the open, covert or overt in their actions. However, they may seem to support you, while discouraging you from taking a risk and disparaging you behind your back to diminish what others think of you.

The Hindre™ show up when people and ideas are the weakest and most vulnerable. In school when you are forming your dreams and goals for the future, they bring their brand of sarcasm, laughter, cynicism and ridicule to shake your confidence, break your spirit and damage self-esteem.

At work they appear in many forms. They may seem harmless, objective and well meaning. But they use their credibility to tear down your ideas and cast suspicion and doubt on your performance. If you are highly regarded, they may use language behind your back such as, “you would think with their education and experience they would know better or perform at a higher rate.” These secret attacks are pervasive, persuasive and slowly reduce your standings in the eyes of peers and supervisors.

Talent will bring the Hindre™ to the surface. Talent activates their discouragement mechanism to hinder high performance. If you are silent and under performing they are dormant and content. But when you flex your creative muscles and express your skills, abilities and talent, they are pressed into action.

Exclusion at Work

In business the Hindre™ lurks in the hallways, meeting rooms and work stations. They are dormant until someone threatens the status quo with new ideas, especially if these new ideas come from the wrong people. The Hindre™ always looks for reasons why ideas will not work and how the ideas of others may work better. They allegedly have the interests of business at heart, when they shift focus and direct their critique to the flaws in your perspectives.

The Hindre™ is sometimes driven by unconscious and conscious biases and prejudices. They restrict access to employment opportunities, neighborhoods, certain groups, membership to exclusive clubs for women and resources to complete a project or proposal.

The work of the Hindre™ has cost companies and countries billions of dollars annually in lost engagement and productivity, revenue and innovation. New ideas are suppressed. People are not fulfilled. Opportunities are passed or missed as the company is deprived of the full richness of its talent pool. On a larger scale entire neighborhoods and countries are deprived of entrepreneurs, leaders and positive role models. The Hindre™ is the ultimate Devil’s Advocate, running unrestrained throughout our lives.

In meetings they shadow your comments. They come to life when their target begins to speak. When others speak they are relatively quiet, but when you talk, they are on the edge of their seats, ready to launch a counter offensive to pounce on your ideas. Many times, they will submarine your ideas as irrelevant and inappropriate, only to repackage as their own at a later date.  Therefore, you should keep track of your ideas, so that when they resurface you can claim credit for them.

When you are aware of the existence of the Hindre™, they are very predictable. Your mindset will to prepare excessively to ensure that your comments are well thought out, yet open for constructive challenge. You can use the presence of the Hindre™ to make you stronger.

The Hindre™ is known for discrediting groups of people and diminishing their accomplishments by saying that they are in over their head, they only got here through a special program and alluding that they may not be qualified.

In Talent Management and succession planning meetings the Hindre™ is present. They shoot down candidates with little objective information, but with a plethora of subjective innuendos. They have done their homework and will twist the facts or limit the admission of positive information that could benefit talent to the organization. The Hindre™ want to restrict your movement and limit and deny access to people, assignments and information that will make you successful.

What can you do?

We must develop the vision to spot them in a crowd and to know that they exist even though we are not sure of their location. Being hidden may give them power if they can catch you by surprise. Sometimes exposure and the knowledge that you know who they are can rob them of their strength. You can develop techniques to question their comments or answer them in a thoughtful intelligent manner. When you are skilled you can cast doubt on their motives, which can be risky, without the audience support. If rendered ineffective, they may go away, go underground and try to discourage others or think of an alternative way to stunt your development.

You must build confidence and surround yourself with people who are supportive, mentors, coaches, true friends and trusted allies. If you do not place this fundamental fortress of protection in place, they will cause you to doubt yourself, especially if no one is coming to your assistance. You must develop effective allies who have your back and will alert you to attacks from unsuspected Hindre™. Occasionally, someone may ask two questions which you should take seriously.

  1. How well do you know a particular person?
  2. What does this person have against you?

This may be a warning advising you to be careful around a particular person. Listen carefully to these comments as they are trying to tell you something significant about the Hindre™ in your midst.

Not every critical person or critique is from a Hindre™. You must subject the comments to a qualifying test. If they are instructive and productive, you would accept them. If their comments mean well and will make you better, you should welcome them. Try to determine the intent and motives of the person, the value and benefits of the comments and the potential consequences of action and inaction.

The Hindre™ may be powerful. We need to resist, but we may not be strong enough individually to withstand their fury. We need advocates and allies to jump to our defense. We need to cultivate teams of believers who will stand next to us when we are challenged inappropriately.

The Hindre™ is active, damaging dreams, poisoning relationships, restricting productivity and stifling the growth of communities, countries and continents. The Hindre™ undermine the joy we could experience without the persistent nay saying, negative nemesis that seeks to deprive us of our greatness. We must be aware of their existence, their presence in our environment and their mission to undermine our effectiveness. They are among the secret forces of inclusion in our environment. Therefore, we must develop tools to nullify their impact and cultivate allies to support us and fortify our positions.

Copyright © 2009 Orlando Ceaser

 

 

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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).

 

 

 

Loyalty – To be or not to be?

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Loyalty is an awkward discussion topic within organizations. The relationship with our jobs is complicated. Layoffs, reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, plant/store closings, and outsourcing jobs overseas have a negative impact on employers/employee relations and more row. Managers in some organizations think, “Why should I be loyal to my employees, after all this is business.” Company survival trumps loyalty is their current mindset. Employees wonder if they should stick around.

Additionally, employees who were loyal to their companies find themselves out of work and feel betrayed and used by their former employers.

Loyalty can be defined as allegiance to something or someone. Loyalty is earned and its compliance is given by consent. We are speaking of loyalty in terms of fidelity to your company. We may also view loyalty on several different levels: loyal to your manager, coworkers and team

Loyalty is an intriguing concept. We know what it is and the circumstances where it should be exercised. It is emotional and enhances the value of a relationship. Relationships have expectations. If these expectations are not met or are threatened, loyalty is affected. When loyalty is coerced or forced, people will stay on the job until the right opportunity arrives to ease their conscience as they leave the organization.

We are loyal when someone or something is worthy of our trust. However, when there is a breach of trust, loyalty is retracted.

Loyalty Demonstration

Loyalty must be discussed in the context of equality and reciprocity. After all, reciprocity is a part of the transactional currency of loyalty. The company is providing something to the individual and the individual performs the work commensurate with the salary and the environment. Loyalty involves fairness and keeping your promises. The employee’s level of engagement reflects their level of appreciation for the services rendered. If the employee is treated fairly, allegedly, they will work hard, speak highly and positively about the company and remain a part of the organization. Loyalty is given as long as both parties fulfill their part of the obligation.

A leader who is loyal to their people may fight hard to justify retaining good people at the expense of others. An organization/leader that has a reputation of doing everything to minimize layoffs and retain employees can influence the number of loyal employees who choose to stay and speak highly of the company. Some companies may take less profit, in the short term, and minimize turnover in their organization.

What do you do to develop loyalty within your people? Some may argue that loyalty is not something that you develop, but like trust, is something that is earned. What steps can you implement that will save your business and earn loyalty from your employees? Do you show that you truly value their contributions? Do you adopt strategies that protect your people during the hard times until profit improves? Do you honor your promises and meet their expectations? Discuss the big picture to keep employees apprised of company challenges and performance, where appropriate.

Seeds of defection

Organizations will frequently make decisions and state that they were made in the best interests of the company. Budgets are cut; people are reassigned or displaced in order to improve the bottom line. Some leaders will not search for an alternative view that would spare jobs and careers. Leadership will quickly reduce headcount. This plants the seeds of defection, as people realize they are only a number, a statistic, headcount and a line item on a budget.

A selfish organization risk creating a selfish, culture where people stay or jump based on their individual needs being met. Therefore, everyone is treated as expendable. People respond by acting as mercenaries or hired guns. This removes the stability that people like to experience.

If a company reduces staff, so they can bring them back later, employees become stressed. They are constantly performing emotional gymnastics in a toxic environment. Conversely, if the company goes out of its way to inform and retain people and they know it, they may go out of their way to stay or deliver higher levels of engagement, retention and overall performance, to protect the company and their jobs.

Loyalty used to be defined in the context of fidelity, as it related to staying with an organization long-term. However, there’ve been countless instances where people passed up job offers from other organizations, only to be terminated by their own company. Individuals are angry at themselves for being loyal to a company and then the company does not show the same kind of loyalty to them. When did these stories circulate around an organization, people vow to never let that happen to them if they can help it.

Mindset in Today’s market

What kind of mindset should you have in today’s precarious job market? Should you keep your head down and not worry and everything will be alright and work itself out? Should you be open-minded to the flirtations from other companies promising a better deal? Should you put the word out that you are interested and seeking a different long term relationship? When people approach work with the mindset of the, “it’s just a job,” loyalty can be compromised.

Some people strategically interview internally and externally to keep their interviewing skills sharp. Their rationale is that it keeps them sharp for jobs inside and outside of the company. Other employees interview for ego and the self worth to see if they still have the skills desired by another organization. Others want to test their market value to benchmark for raises.

Loyalty Risks

People are hired who have demonstrated the propensity to jump frequently from job to job. Their track record is firmly stated on the resume. They are hired hands or have a mercenary mentality. They have an unspoken understanding with management that they are there to fulfill an assignment or until they can’t get something better. This may ultimately become a disadvantage.

I was impressed by a young man who fits the above the description. We met between sales calls and he asked if my company was hiring? He was very impressive; He went on to say that he was always looking for a better job. He made a very elaborate presentation of his thought process of always looking out for something better. As a hiring manager, I pondered the risk of recommending or hiring someone like him who was always looking to leave for greener pastures. Loyalty with him would be misplaced and could be detrimental to the survival of the new organization.

Loyalty is a learned trait. It is generally observed and imitated. Individuals learn from an environment where loyalty is practiced. They learn the components and the guiding principles and foundation regarding its use. Both parties in the employer/employee relationship are evaluating the value of the arrangement. Both groups are under enormous pressure to behave in a manner that is considerate of each other.

If a company lays off employees as a last resort, it may be the nature of the business that is the business required it. Employees may not like it, but ultimately will understand.

If an employee receives an outstanding offer from another company that could benefit them and their families, it may be the right decision to take the job. In some industries, it is the nature of the business to change jobs frequently to build a resume of different experiences. In each situation, the ideal objective is to be respectful of each other and perform in the best interests of all parties involved.

Loyalty also mandates that you honor your decisions, whether they are to work for the company, leave the company, hire or release employees; act in a manner that shows you are respectful and deliver the best you can in the relationship. You can always show loyalty by working as hard as you can, as long as you are on the job. An organization may have to reduce staff, as a last option to remain viable as a company. An individual may be faced with the tough decision to leave a job that has good to them; in today’s turbulent times we should respond to these difficult situations with dignity and respect in all roles and for all employees. Loyalty must continue to be an important value for us. However, loyalty is strained and tested; we must combine it with trust to build stronger organizations and relationships that benefits all participants.

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

 

Itemize Individual Contributions to Team Results

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An interview is an excellent opportunity to blow your own horn, trumpet individual performance and brag about your accomplishments in a politically correct environment. However, in our team oriented culture, we sometimes forget that individual accomplishment is important. Frequently in an interview, candidates answer questions highlighting team accomplishments. They falsely believe the interview is a place only to celebrate team achievement. After all, we are constantly immersed in the value of effectively utilizing teams to reach corporate objectives. It seems only logical to use team vernacular in the interview to respond to the behaviorally based interview questions.

Candidates may fail to realize, that it is difficult for the interviewer, especially one who lacks a lot of interview experience, to extract an individual’s role in team centered answers. Therefore it is incumbent upon you as a candidate to isolate and itemize your contributions to the overall success of the team. The interview therefore, becomes a safe place for you to clarify and celebrate your individual accomplishments.

As a member of the team, you are expected to use team specific language while working on the job. We know it is important for you to coordinate your activities and collaborate with others to achieve a synergistic effect. But in the midst of daily activities, it is important for you to keep a record of your unique input to the overall project. This may involve questions asked, suggestions made and challenges delivered to accepted practices or ideas. In a team oriented department / organization, it is sometimes difficult to separate individual results from team performance. However, a strategic approach is necessary to isolate and itemize your contributions, as you climb the corporate ladder or interview for a job in another organization.

You must develop a “We / I” mentality. State that “We achieved a certain result and I was able to contribute in this achievement;” Then specifically itemize your contributions. The “We / I” based orientation is hard to do at first, but with practice and training, it will become a natural part of your conversation. The conversation that helps you develop an up-to-date resume, examples to be used in an interview and information necessary to grow your skills and abilities. It is critical to have an accurate perception of your strengths and weaknesses, so that you will know where they need to be enhanced. If you know your strengths, competencies, abilities, skills and talents, you can utilize them to effectively and accurately assess results and explain your actions.

The objective of “We / I” is not to put yourself in competition with your team members. It is not an opportunity to tell how you are more important to the team than your teammates. Part of the success of the team is the collective contributions of each member and the synergy created to get results. The idea of working in order to get credit for your actions can be counterproductive to the smooth working of the group. I believe the old adage that states,” consider the amount of work that can be done if we didn’t worry about who got credit for the results.” It is important in a team setting for everyone to work for the betterment and efficiency of the team to succeed as a unit.

Many organizations will tout the value of their teams. Some of these organizations will design their incentive programs to reward team performance. However, they will also assess individual performance. They will breakout or itemize individual performance through concentrating on particular behaviors. Recognizing these individual behaviors and distinctions are important when deciding career growth, promotions and succession planning.

Interviewers ask follow-up questions to determine the candidate’s role in their department’s success. When the candidates language and examples are structured in the context of what “we accomplished” the interviewer has to work too hard to obtain information. Many may not be patient enough and place the candidate in the” Not Interested” pile.  not interested”

Do not want the interview to incur the extra effort required to probe for individual contributions. You should provide concrete examples of your ideas; strategies and challenges that helped the team become better. You do not want to make it difficult for them to determine if you were an active member of the team or a member hiding behind the team’s reputation with very few ideas of your own. Interviewers look for the leadership role played in achieving results, rather than someone who just served as a follower or implementer of the ideas of others.

Candidates are frustrated by a perceived inconsistency between a team oriented culture and individualistic specific questions in an interview. When they receive the feedback that they did not specifically itemize their contributions to the team, they are confused. They feel as if the organization is sending mixed messages. Therefore, organizations need to clarify and ask people working in a team environment to track their individual contributions to the team and the reasons behind the request. We can compare this to team performances in other areas of our lives, whether in the field of athletics, academia, music or community activities. Success may be measured by the overall group achieving a goal, but there may be individual statistics, ideas, questions or actions that help the group reach its objectives.

If you’re working in a group where team performance is paramount, undoubtedly you are constantly thinking about achieving team objectives. These thoughts about achieving objectives will lead to actions that will inspire, challenge or push the team toward success, however it is measured. There will come a time when this project, job or assignment is over and you decide to move on to a different role. When you arrive at the different role, at some point in the interview, they will want to know the success of your team and your role in helping that team excel. The more clarity they can gain around your contributions, the better they will be able to determine if you are a person they need to fill the vacant position. Protect your career, assess your contributions and establish a system to itemize your contributions to the overall success of your group, team, Department or organization.  This will lead to better interviews and pave the way for a successful career through clearly stating the scope of your performance.

 

Copyright © 2016 Orlando Ceaser

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

Overqualified! Is this a real concern or a convenient excuse?

Lack-of-Vision

Many companies do not give interview feedback to external candidates? But, when feedback is delivered, many of the applicants will hear these dreaded words, “You are an excellent candidate, but I am afraid you are overqualified for the position.” These words, intended to placate the candidate, often leave them frustrated and disillusioned.

There are a tremendous number of talented people in search of a new job. In many instances they are willing to work in jobs that are below their educational level, income history or experience. They want to work. They want to take care of their families, pay their bills and be productive contributors to society.

There are two attitudes about people that come into play in workplace scenarios. First, everybody likes to get added value, purchase something on sale or receive a bonus and a gift that is unexpected. They want to consider themselves lucky. This also applies to personal relationships. If a potential mate is interested in them and they are more attractive, with assets beyond their imagination, they consider themselves very fortunate. They are ecstatic when they gain something that exceeds their needs and expectations.

Second, no one likes to be tricked, used, manipulated, taken advantage of, fooled or exploited. If they hire someone and before they can give them a satisfactory return on investment, they leave the organization, people are left feeling they wasted their time and resources. If people invest time in a relationship and it is severed prematurely, they are disappointed and possibly angry.

Both of these philosophical dynamics come into play when companies are interviewing to fill vacant positions.

Overqualified people

There are facts that are known prior to the interview. Interviewers know whether or not a person’s qualifications match the needs of their assignment. If the person is overqualified, they know it before the interview. If being overqualified is a knockout factor for the assignment, the person should not be invited to the interview. It is wasting their time and company time. If they are brought to the interview, the assumption is that the organization is open-minded to consider them as a temporary or permanent fit for the job.

If they are invited to the interview and rejected, here are some of the potential real concerns and convenient excuses.

Real concerns

  • They have too much experience, but it is the wrong experience for today and for the future
  • They wanted them to perform well, but they bombed the interview
  • They did not convince the interviewer that they really wanted to work for their organization
  • They could not transfer their skills and experience to the job
  • The amount of time necessary to train them would slow down the work teams
  • They told the interviewer, in so many words, they would leave the company if something else became available With real concerns, interviewers have serious doubts about the person’s interest in the assignment. The organization knows, they are only available because a job that matches their background is not ready. They want the person to be happy and productive, but they are skeptical. They do not believe the candidate is ready for the lower paying job. They don’t want to take the risk to see if they could handle it. The interviewer wanted to be sold on the fact that they were capable of making the adjustment to the new job.

Convenient excuses

  •  The interviewer is reluctant or prohibited from giving the candidate the real reason for not selecting them
  • The overqualified line was given because it is the easiest explanation.
  • The candidate was so impressive in the interview that they were seen as a potential threat to vulnerable careers in the organization.
  • They like the candidate, but are afraid they would be frustrated and unhappy

Convenient excuses are used to hide the real reason for not giving someone a job. The excuses could indicate that someone was interviewed to meet a federal regulation to include certain individuals in a candidate pool. Company personnel have to be consistent when offering this explanation to candidates after the interview. When a candidate finds out that they were rejected as overqualified and other individuals with similar experiences were hired, they could cause problems.

Candidate – Overqualified Mindset

The candidate must understand the current predicament of the hiring manager. They are wrestling with the two dynamics discussed earlier; the struggle between obtaining extra value and the risk of being used by a desperate job seeker. They must recognize that the hiring manager has the following issues;

  • They are gauging seriousness as to whether the person really wants the job and would really stick around for a while.
  • The company feels the overqualified person is only interested in them because their real interests is not available.
  • Ask, “What do they need to hear from me, to make them comfortable enough to give me the job?”
  • They want to know that the job will be stimulating enough. They want them engaged and not disruptive to the team.
  • How can they make them feel that it is their lucky day that they are available to benefit the organization?
  • Convince them that they are hopeful that this opportunity will lead to something to benefit their career.
  • They may wonder if they are patient enough to stay with them and learn the job and contribute at a very high level.
  • Show them how they can add value to the organization, while broadening their skills
  • Demonstrate that this is a calculated move to strengthen their portfolio
  • Display belief in their ability to make it work, that they have thought it through and it is more than a desperate ploy, but an opportunity to show their humility while using their skills and work ethic to make a difference.

As discussed earlier, people like it when they can obtain greater value. If an organization can bring someone in the workforce that has skills above and beyond what is expected of the job and they are willing to accept the money offered and can hire them on a trial basis and groom them for greater things, it may be a risk worth taking. The hiring decision can be fraught with risk. Many times hiring a candidate who is not overqualified, can result in, them leaving shortly after being hired.

There isn’t a problem getting someone or being someone that is overqualified. The company, under the right circumstances, could use the person’s skills and experiences to enhance their organization. They could use their leadership to develop their peers. They could ideally be someone they would like to groom to fill other positions in the company down the road.

In this competitive work environment, people who are overqualified are constantly being hired, while others are being turned away. It is important for candidates to continue interviewing for the right job, and to be strategic and look at other positions to determine and how they can add value broaden their portfolio.

When individuals are told they were overqualified, this may mean they were unable to address the real concerns potentially posed by their resume. It could also be an indication that the interviewer took the easy way out and resorted to a convenient excuse.

Copyright © 2015 Orlando Ceaser