Monday, April 26, 2010

Culture Club

Being the dedicated employee that I am, I have managed to book my final week with numerous interviews for positions we are recruiting. What better way to end my employment relationship with my employer than by bringing on-board people that I will have absolutely nothing to do with.

Today I had two positive and productive interviews - one which will most likely lead to a hire. The other, while still good, will not; however, I should point out thaat she was quite prepared to ask me questions and one stuck with me.

She asked, "what is the culture like in the office?"

This is hardly a show-stopping and unique question, but surprisingly few people ask it (or some variation on it). It's a good question because although you will likely not get a 100% honest answer, you do get a good sense of how the company will promote itself.

With the question on the table, the manager turned to me with a look of desperation. Clearly she wasn't prepared to articulate who were were. Maybe that was for the best. It would have likely been something along the lines of - 'we all get along'.

I was more prepared to handle this one and while it may have seemed that I was spinning off in sales mode, I was being truthful. I rather think that it is what I do not say that means more.

I do not say we are like a big family. My experience with family includes heavy doses of dysfunctional, so I certainly don't want to promote that as a core value.

I do not say everyone gets along. Pu-leeze. As if.

I do not say that we are a very flexible organization. Yes, there are some options, but the flexible ones - they are exceptions. Our organization is comfortably behind in this respect.

Instead, I speak more of a community atmosphere, which captures the idea that there is representation from different walks of life - from the professional, to the not so professional. From the lifer to the employee that is just bidding time until the next job offer comes in.

I point out the open concept which means that we don't have the "silo" syndrome going on. Of course, it also means you have absolutely no privacy.

I know I do a good job of promoting our company culture and it's not because I make it so appealing, but because one month after someone starts with us, after the haze starts to wear off, they aren't surprised to find out where they are.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Internal issues - like jobs and heartburn

This blog entry is in response to a comment on my last post regarding my personal decision of resigning (and how people take it personally).

My response became too long-winded for a mere comment and really, I had nothing else to blog about.

Congratulations on your new job! I too am looking for a new position - mostly within my current company - so I hope to be experiencing some of your pain (and excitement) in the near future. Any advice on moving one within the company?

Caveat: I like to tell people what to do, but please don't see this as an 'official guide' or an exhaustive list. I'm just happy to share my insight.

First, thank you very much.

My recent experience was outside of my current company (hence the branding of traitor). Without knowing the details about your company, your current job, and your goals - the best advice I can give is that you treat an internal job move the same way that you would an external.

That means:

1. Be discrete: don't talk about this with your coworkers. Sure there's a chance they will figure it out or hear about it, but at least you were professional about it. Besides, you don't know who else might have applied.

2. Research the department and/or role you are looking for; you have every advantage of knowing the company, the culture, and the business challenges - use this!

3. Prepare for the interviews as if they don't know you (nothing is worse than hearing, "well you know what I do..." in an interview)- don't assume the interviewers will fill in the blanks

4. Acknowledge any elephants in the room. This doesn't mean treat the interview like a confessional, but the reality is that supervisors/managers talk amongst each other, so there's a good chance they know about your recent job error or attendance issue. You need to assure the new manager that you are committed to improving.

5. Dress the part. I don't care if you get comments from your co-workers - show that you want this. The external candidates are.

6. Avoid giving the impression you are trying to escape your current role. You need to demonstrate you are looking to move forward, not away.

7. Depending on your company, there may be (and likely is) political manoeuvring going on that has nothing to do with you personally - you may not get the job and it has NOTHING to do with your skills and fit.

Now - if you are successful.

1 - Congratulations - you obviously followed my advice above to a "T"

2 - If you are prone to heartburn or stomach-wrenching bouts of guilt, load up on Xantac, you are going to need it.

3- Be prepared for the fallout from your current boss/group - not everyone is going to be thrilled about your new move, especially when they realize they will have to pick up the slack for the short (or possibly long) term.

4- Be prepared to work your ass off to prove yourself in your new role - internal transfers don't always get the leeway that new hires do - you will be expected to know more than you may;

5- Do. Not. Burn. Your. Bridges. Ever. No matter how much you may have hated your former colleagues and/or boss.

6- Don't apologize for getting the job. (refer to #3)

7- Make sure you get a deadline for a transfer. Going externally means the luxury of giving a firm notice period. Internally, departments tend to blur this and will have you work dual roles...sometimes for an indefinite period of time or until the replace you (which often time is synonymous).

Like any kind of change, there are positive and negative aspects. Remember why you are doing this - hopefully it's for career advancement and new challenges.Ultimately you go to work to do your work; it's not your responsibility to ensure that everyone's auras are glowing.

Good luck with your the potential move.

(Oh and if anyone else would like to add any other advice, since I'm certainly not an expert on this, please feel free).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The post in which I make the decision to tell you it's not about you

A wise man once told me there is no such thing as coincidence. I agreed with him then and still do.

I was prepared to sit down and blog out my experiences of the past few days, but checked into my email before doing so. Why? Because I'm addicted to checking my gmail.

Interestingly enough a former colleague (and wise guy) wrote to me this afternoon about the fallout of an employee's recent resignation and the manager's handling of the situation. To sum it up - it was ALL about him.

Why this is coincidental for me is that I resigned from my job yesterday and since that time, I have been on the receiving end of some expected and unexpected responses, but the common thread among them was how my departure was about THEM.

I suppose it's human nature to try and relate to any situation by first applying how it will impact our self. How will this affect me? Now, who will do this for me? What does this say about me? How could you do this to me?

The reality is that my decision to resign has little to nothing to do with you. It's about me and my desire to move on to new challenges, to make more money, and to change things up. This is very hard for people to accept.

First off all, it's considered selfish. How can you place your needs above those of the greater good (read: us)? And yes, I was told this.

Secondly, it makes people question their own situation. Why am I still here? I wish I could make a change, but I can't? Again, this was said to me.

Thirdly, it's a change that the other person had no say in and god knows, most people aren't big on change. People that hardly acknowledged me (other than to avert their eyes as I passed), have declared that this is devastating to them - they were comfortable with me and now they have to get use to someone new.

Fourthly, and this is for the supervisors and managers out there. There is often a sense of panic that sets in when they realize that they need to replace someone and they remember that they never got that back-filling training plan going and now they are going to have to get their hands dirty. And for those lacking cnfidence, there's the thought that maybe people will assume it's because of their inadequacy as a manager that the person resigned. This panic can often manifest as anger.

For many, this is personal. I have betrayed them. I am a traitor. One of my VPs has not spoken to me since I advised them. Unless there is an audience, I don't expect him to change this behaviour.

I'm sure enough of myself and my decisions that I can handle this. I am aware that people's acceptance of change often has to go through stages before they can truly accept it. I can ride it out for the next few days and if it doesn't improve, I'll move on.

After all, it was my decision.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Twist of fate

Rarely are things as simple and straightforward as I would like them to be.

In a strange twist of events, on the same day that I get the job offer I have been waiting for, my colleague calls me to tell me that she's leaving in a few weeks.

This means that I will be the pourer of salt , instead of the initial wounder. And you know what a bad rap salt has these days.

The situation has become bittersweet for me and for a short time, made me reconsider my next move. I respect my manager and don't want to create an even more difficult situation, but is that truly a good reason to decline an offer?

Like the route on the sign above, I am determined to avoid taking the easy route (my usual modus operandi) may be easier to manage, but it's probably not as interesting.

I will take the new job, I will leave in 2 weeks, and I will likely feel like a shmuck in the meantime.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

My poker face may not give me away, but the fact that I'm curled up in the fetal position might...

I could never be a double-agent. My stomach lining just couldn't handle it.

Although currently employed with a good company, I am seeking new opportunities. I like to consider this while things are going well and not wait until I've hit the wall of desperation.

So, I talk to people, I watch the postings, and from time to time I apply for a position that I believe I am qualified for and that I'm interested in. I state these seemingly obvious reasons for an application, because not everyone meets these two checks, as evidenced by the pile of CVs I've rejected.

So, last week I had an interview. More of a meet and greet, but an interview none the less. I've been called back for a second one and I'm very eager about the opportunity. The rub is that now I'm starting to get a wee bit panicky about the whole "how do I explain I'm heading out again". I start to wonder whether management has become suspicious, I worry about staying focused at work, and I start imagining all the things that I need to take care of should I resign.

When I'm very nervous I get hives. When I'm anxious, my stomach and all its contents are in constant motion. So combine this with the family get-together and Easter chocolate this past weekend and I'm in fine form.

I am hoping that I can keep up the calm demeanour and hide the telltale signs that I see in employees that I suspect of being part of the same mission I am.

It's an odd feeling to be back on the other side of the desk and vulnerable to all the weaknesses of mere employees.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Patience my dear...patience

Recruiting has increased significantly in the past few weeks around here and along with the extra work comes the increase in supervisors' stress level and a decrease in their patience level.

A supervisor came to me yesterday to advise that an key employee has resigned and given just under 2 weeks notice. My mind automatically started making a to-do list for posting, potential candidates, interview times, etc....

The supervisor then looked at me, very seriously, and said - ideally they want someone in the role by this Monday so that the existing employee can train her.

I reminded the supervisor that Friday is a holiday and for many (although not us) so is Monday. Although it typically takes 4 weeks to fill a role (assuming the candidate we hire is already working and needs to give some notice), we may be able to pull this off sooner.

The supervisor understood, but asked if we could skip the whole posting/ screening/ interview thing and just hire someone.

I looked at the supervisor, very seriously, and asked - does the body I put in the chair still have be warm or are you flexible on this?