A Good Boss

What is the primary hallmark of a good boss?  Trust.  If you have a boss that you can trust, consider yourself lucky.  50% of employees in a recent survey said they have a “bad” boss or one that doesn’t “help”. Don’t assume the other 50% are “good” bosses.  My experience? 10%.

Really good bosses have the following attributes.  If you’re a boss, how many do you have?  You might want to leave this article for your current boss to read (anonymously of course):

1. CLEAR MISSION, GOALS AND OBJECTIVES – Employees can perform at their highest level when the mission, goals and objectives are clear.  If the boss doesn’t know the answer, you’ll be wandering in the wilderness, reflecting badly on everyone.

2. PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS ARE DEFINED AND SUPPORTED – When you know what’s expected of you, getting results is much easier.  You can anticipate required levels of performance and understand how to approach results.  You can also get the bosses support when needed.

3. COMMUNICATIONS ARE OPEN AND INTERACTIVE – You need to ask questions and interactively solve potential problems.  You should mutually develop the strategy for achieving the goals of a project with your boss involved.  Make the boss part of the solution.

4. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND EQUAL TREATMENT – The boss should never have favorites, but more importantly, the workforce should view the boss as consistent and even-handed.  Nothing will kill morale quicker than favoritism.  It breeds festering resentment.

5. SHARE POSITIVE FEEDBACK – Bosses need to provide positive feedback to individuals and groups.  Shared success will reinforce a sense of “teamwork” and add value to the shared experience of working together for the common good.

6. GETS ACTIVELY INVOLVED WHEN NEEDED – The boss needs to get personally involved at times, when it’s needed.  The “hands on” approach demonstrates the boss’s commitment to the individual or group results.  The boss should never be viewed as disinterested.

7. DEVELOP EMPLOYEES AND HELP THEM GET AHEAD – Helping employees to reach their career goals is always an objective of a good boss.  The boss should develop all employees to their full potential, reward performance and support them up the ladder.

Does this list seem obvious to you?  It is, but my experience is that very few bosses understand or actually have the skills to install these attributes in their organizations.  Why?  Only the better companies actually train their manager’s in how to achieve these skills.  That’s why they are considered to be the best companies for which to work.

Contact Bill Kaufmann with questions or comments: mygreenerfuture1@cox.net

Panel Interviews

Most everyone dislikes panel or group interviews.  It feels like your being ganged-up upon by 6, 8 or 10 people who are trying to ask you questions that you may not have answers.

In some ways panel interviews could mean the difference between getting the job or not.  Why?  If you’re better prepared and practiced, you will come out better than all the other candidates.  So what is it you need to know?  Here are a few inside tips:

There are basically two types of panel interviews:

  1. A peer group of homogenous functions like all scientists or all marketing people
  2. A mix of functions from different disciplines, like sales, finance, operations, HR, and so on

Peer group member concerns:  Is this candidate technically competent in their field of expertise; will they fit into our community of experts; and will they work well together with us.  These are people who have successfully worked together and want to know if the new person will “fit in” and advance their efforts.

With a mixed panel of different functions, the questions are:  “Will you add value to the organization, interface and help me with my issues?” and “Will you be as good as, or better than, the person you are replacing?”  The comparison to the prior incumbent is normal.  Finding out their history can be very important.

How do you handle the panel interview?  Your preparation and research is imperative.

First, request the name of each participant, his or her title, function and reporting relationship.  This information should be readily available to you.  You want to make sure you get it all correct so you don’t embarrass them or you.

Next, Google each individual to obtain information that will be helpful to you during the interview:  Prior history, education, level of responsibilities and anything else you can learn.  Why?  Many times this information will help you understand the nature and reason for their questions, issues they may have or their specific interest in this function.

Most people will ask questions that relate to their own job and how you may or may not affect their performance, results or future needs.  Their quest for information is basically driven by the question, “What is this person going to do for me?”  The exceptions are senior management and your potential boss. Senior management is looking longer term at your potential for greater contribution to the organization.  Your potential boss is looking at the questions, “Can this person help me solve my current issues?” and “Will this person make me look good over the longer term?”

A successful panel interview can accelerate your candidacy.  Plan to meet the challenge.

Contact Bill Kaufmann with questions or comments: mygreenerfuture1@cox.net

No-No’s of Networking

A full job search strategy is made up of a number of separate pieces.  Networking is one of the most important in order to find out what’s going on in the marketplace, the location of open positions, who might be able to help you and how to best approach the organization.  You need to sharpen your networking skills to be a major presence.

There are certain things to avoid or do better.  Here are some do’s and don’ts:

  • Don’t market yourself based on what you want, but rather what the organizations needs
  • Don’t use the electronic medium exclusively.  It‘s impersonal and mechanical.  The Internet should be no more than 40% of your effort.  Balance it with face-to-face meetings, phone contacts, referrals and group participation. The human touch will always trump the robotic.
  • Prioritize your contacts list:  High, medium and low potential.  The highest priorities are those who can help you the most either by their level, contacts, knowledge or influence
  • Broaden out your search focus with a mix of sectors:  For-profit, non-profit, and public.  There are very attractive jobs that can give you expanded experiences in all sectors, not just one
  • Seek out tangent functions to your primary search target.  Identify functions that are a derivative of your primary search area.
  • Use indirect contacts from friends and acquaintances. Friends-of-friends increase your reach and can expand your contacts three-fold.  Ask your friends who they know that can help you.
  • Associations, school alumni and organizations are excellent connections, especially in your field of expertise.  School mates in the same business will know of opportunities
  • If you can’t list at least 100 contacts, you’re not looking hard enough.  Start with high school and college, friends, neighbors and past work associates.  Those that know you best are in the most influential position to help.  Sometimes the parents of a friend are good conduits.

When making contact through your networks, don’t lead off with a request for a job.  Ask about their industry trends and what’s going on.  Lead with your interest in their industry and not about your needs.  The conversation will drift to your situation.  Start out by indicating that you’re researching different industries to find the greatest opportunities in your field of expertise.

Keep the discussion broad and don’t discard any opportunity.  To say you’re only looking into accounts payable is too limiting.  Rather, say you’re. “…an accounting professional who likes to problem-solve financial solutions to business issues”.   People you haven’t seen in 20 years may know of the perfect job for you but may not be aware that you’re available.  Reconnect and let them help you.  Someday you may be able to help them.

Contact Bill Kaufmann with questions, comments or resume review: mygreenerfuture1@cox.net

Show Off Your Best Stuff

“What the heck do they want from me?”  That’s the question on the mind of job candidates.  You want to know what hiring managers are looking for in an applicant and how to demonstrate your best qualities.

Here are some general guidelines to consider:

  • During an economic slowdown, hiring companies are looking for ways to save money
  • During an upturn, new revenue, customers and performance improvement are key
  • Companies want their requirements met, but at the lowest cost
  • Some overqualified candidates will apply, which means stiffer competition
  • The supply/demand equation is currently at work, tilted against applicants
  • Electronic resumes are receiving less attention because of the overwhelming volume
  • Other approaches have become more advantageous

Some information you may need:

  • Recruiters work for the companies, not the applicants
  • Companies want applicants to provide results beyond the basic requirements
  • Applicants must articulate clearly what they have accomplished and how they apply
  • Companies want people to learn and add value quickly without too much training
  • Candidates need to “bond” quickly and establish a positive working relationship
  • Applicants must show integrity and honesty in their past work history
  • Employers want to see the “metrics” behind the “activities”.  Saying you implemented a cost saving plan isn’t enough.  Saying you “decreased cost by 8%” is better. Saying you, “reduced cost by 8% through a detailed plan within 15 months” is best.
  • Be able to succinctly define how you accomplished your results in the past.  Hiring managers are interested in not only the “what”, but also in the “how”.  Communicate the alternatives, pro’s and con’s, cost/benefits, and method of implementation.
  • They want to know if you’re a team player, a loner or a group contributor?
  • You’ll need to “fit” the culture and the organizational style

So, how do you show your best stuff?  Present yourself in a way that is compelling:  Resume, cover letter, telephone interview and in-company interviews.  Demonstrate results not just a list of responsibilities.  Be a team player.  Establish a positive persona and relationship with everyone. Fit the culture and management style.

In short, be more than what they are looking for, with measurable results to show them.

Send for a free resume review to Bill Kaufmann:  mygreenerfuture1@cox.net

Older Worker’s Secret

 

How can a 30 year old have 20 years of high performance experiences?  It’s not possible, of course.  So how can a hiring manager interview a younger candidate and expect a depth of quality experience equal to an individual who has been successful with demonstrated results?  For the hiring manager, the risk is too high to bring on board an unproven candidate.  Most managers are not willing to “roll the dice”.  Your secret weapon as an older candidate is the fear of a wrong hire on the part of the manager.

When making a hiring decision, a manager has to play the percentages between three factors:  Potential, cost and performance.  Potential is leveraged from past results; the marketplace determines cost; and performance is predicated on success in a similar situation.  It’s a game of percentages, but older more experienced candidates have the edge if they know how to position themselves in the marketplace.  Here are some thoughts:

Demonstrate value:  The hiring decision is made from actions that have worked other places that are applicable here.  Show measureable results: Revenue, cost reduction, and projects.

Achievements: Advanced degrees, certifications, association leadership, teaching, and professional recognition.  Write an article or speak to groups.

Organizational Culture:  You know how to get things done no matter the situation.

Leading, Following and Mentoring – You have led by example, set the professional tone, rarely get surprised, and have managed crisis.  You know how to mentor subordinates.

How things work:  You know how to get results and maneuver within a new organization

Communications and politics:  You know how to help the boss get recognition through your efforts.  Always share the recognition within the team and especially the boss.

Expert in your function:  You’ve passed through the rank of apprentice and journeyman.  You’re now a master performer.  Show the hiring manager the difference.

Productivity:  More experienced workers bring more productivity to the organization.

Make your boss look good:  Give examples of successes and how you made your boss look good in past companies (without being boastful).  What can you do that others can’t?  Never, ever compete with the boss.  Always help the boss with alternatives not considered before.

The older candidate should focus on what they are capable of doing, based on what they have done in the past.  Make sure it’s prominently displayed on your resume, conveyed during your telephone screen and highlighted during your face-to-face interviews.  It’s what makes you so marketable over all the other younger candidates.

Bill Kaufmann is a coach.  Send your questions/resume to:  mygreenerfuture1@cox.net