Friday, August 27, 2010

Selective tolerance

I really hate when people say this in interviews:

“I get along with everyone.”

That’s just not realistic.

I would like to consider myself a tolerant and patient person, particularly since I’m in HR, and I am. Just not with everyone.

I don’t like everyone, I don’t tolerate everyone and I’m certainly not patient with everyone. Just ask the new admin assistant who moved into the cubicle next to me.

And really, why should I be?

Why should I be tolerant of employees that aren’t cutting it? Why should I be patient with someone who disregards the obvious and won’t take accountability, and quite frankly annoys the crap out of me?

I realize this says much more about me than the person draining my energy, but what it says is that I’m not willing to put up with poor performance and irritating habits.

You telling me that “you get along with everyone” implies that you may not be willing to challenge people that need to be challenged and that you are willing to overlook poor behaviour in others.

Either that or you are a liar.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Recruiter Droppings

I had lunch with a recruiter yesterday and even though I knew it would be painful, I was still surprised at HOW painful it was.


The woman spent the entire time name-dropping. She went out of her way to show that she had memorized our spaghetti-like org chart and then proceeded to list off how she knew them, where they first met, and what they were wearing. Okay, that last one isn't true.

It didn't matter which company, topic, city, socioeconomic issues, or television show we discussed. She knew someone. In fact, she knew someone who knew someone. And she wanted to make sure I knew this.

On the surface seems like a great quality for a recruiter: large network, exceptional memory, loves to share info...

The problem I have is what her lack of a filter. Or how I did I put it in my head yesterday..."shut the fuck up". Seriously.

Use your powers for good, not to try and impress me. And beyond impressing me - I knew for a fact that many of the facts and links in the web she was creating were incorrect.

Recruiters - there is a fine line between sales and bullshit. Walk it carefully.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Life lessons: Getting the answer you want & not necessarily the one you need

Lately I've realized that my kids inspire many of my musings. Something happens with them at home and I can generally apply the situation to work or life in general.

Yesterday my son came up to me and proudly announced that he has discovered how to climb up on the roof of the garage without a ladder. No problemo AND Dad is okay with it.

I have learned over the years to question this last statement. It's not (entirely) because I don't trust my husband's judgement, but this is the same parental figure that thought it was okay to teach my son how to build the proper bonfire using a gas-oil mix as ignition.

So, I asked for clarification: "Dad is okay with you going on the roof?"

And my son said, "yes".

I asked for further clarification: "Dad specifically said it was okay for you to go on the roof?"

And my son (who is honest to a fault), answered: "Well, he didn't say it was okay, but he didn't say I couldn't."

A-ha. Okay then.

My son, in addition to discovering his spider-monkey skills, has learned the art of asking the right person at the right time. In other words, ask dad something when he is busy working in the garage and isn't really focusing on the question and apt to answer "That's cool" to whatever you tell him.

Getting the answer you want, and knowing who to ask for it, is an important skill - it requires persuasion, it requires perception, and it requires knowledge of the power infrastructure.

How much time is wasted by people that ask stupid questions (and YES, there is such a thing as a stupid question) to the right people or conversely, asking the right questions, but to the wrong people.

I'm glad my son is off to a good start in this respect.

I'm also glad that the hasn't discovered the fine art of humility and keeping his mouth shut, which allows me to step in and provide the answer he needs. Call it whatever you want...perspective, common sense, or in this instance (as per my son)"over-reaction".

Having that last point of contact before you jump is an important step. Being able to bounce an idea off of someone can save you a whole lot of grief. That is what I see myself doing in HR - no, not being a mother to the employees - but rather someone who can play devil's advocate and ask whether your current course of action is based on a need or a want.

Sometimes the difference between the two is as fine as a hairline fracture in your arm.