Tuesday 30 March 2010 at 6:32 pm
A former colleague of my wife called to say she might lose her job of 24 years. Obviously, she was upset. However, she was more concerned about what it might do to her medical benefits and pension than the loss of the job itself. Do not get me wrong she liked her job but the potential loss of benefits concerned her more, which is true for most people.
A job loss of any kind is significant as it affects many things. However, assume the medical benefits and pension are secure and you can afford to lose your job, at least for a short period of time (three to six months). Could this be the motivation you needed to do something else, somewhere else? You were unable to seize it but now it has seized you.
Is there life after _______? (Fill in the blank). You bet there is! I can state this with confidence because I have witnessed many go through the trauma of losing their job and for some their dream job. Yes, it was difficult, very difficult. Yet, all landed on their feet and for some they wished it had happened sooner. True, life as you once knew it is over but life after can be better.
We started with the premise that your finances were secure, at least for a period of time. Now, suppose you are like most people and cannot afford to lose your job. You have been seized by the moment and you have no choice but to use it to do something else, somewhere else.
I met someone recently who went back to work after being out for 1 year. He was in his early 30s, married with two small children. His family got used to him being home and it was a big adjustment when he went back to a regular job. He had been home for a year but never without income. He sold stuff on eBay. He has a new perspective on is there life after.
Monday 29 March 2010 at 11:56 am
I recently came across "belief perseverance" used to describe the behavior of investors who lock into an investment and hold on when the key indicators are telling them to let go. I can relate to this. A few years ago, I bought Krispy Kreme at $31 a share. It started going down when customers became carb conscious. I thought that would change but then the company was hurt by poor financial practices and had expanded too quickly. I held on and today the stock is trading between $3 and $4 a share. The signs were there but I chose to believe something would change. I still hope.
Belief perseverance on the surface sounds like a good thing. We need to believe in ourselves, be confident, and not quit, the mantra of many an athlete and CEO. However, at what point does belief perseverance cease to be a positive motivator? Perhaps, the answer is found by another more descriptive term for belief perseverance, which is confirmation bias.
Confirmation bias is preferring information that confirms our preconceptions regardless whether true. That last part is what grabs you for who does not want information that confirms what they believe. We all do. However, a problem arises when that information is not factual or accurate. It has been said you cannot argue with the facts yet, people do. It has also been said that the facts speak for themselves yet, they seldom do.
In order to avoid confirmation bias we need to get the real skinny. We need people around us who will tell us like it is. If we would stop shooting the messenger, the real messages might get through. But, it is so much fun to shoot the messenger and twist the facts.
In his new book, How the Mighty Fall, Jim Collins identifies 5 Stages of organization decline. The first Stage is the hubris born of success, the second undisciplined pursuit of more, and the third the denial of risk and peril. I believe confirmation bias is at work in all three of these stages and an organization norm by the time you reach Stage 3. Once at Stage 3 you do not want to experience Stages 4 or 5.
The good news is according to Jim Collins' research, the signs of decline are recognizable and preventable, or reversible, if you fail to prevent them. The problem is many leaders are so focused on the ride up that they fail to observe and listen to what is really happening until the ride down.
Friday 26 March 2010 at 1:36 pm
"E-mails to Steve Jobs gets replies -- from Steve Jobs!," read the headline in the March 26, 2010, Business Sector of the LA Times. Someone had sent an email to Apple chief Steve Jobs and he replied to them with a one word answer "Yep." People were struck by the fact that Steve Jobs had personally replied to the email and even more amazed at the brevity of his response. But that one-word answer was all the recipient needed to hear. His question had been answered no lengthy explanation needed "Yep" said it all. Obviously, Steve Jobs is from the KISS School of Communication. Keep It Short and Straightforward.
Wednesday 24 March 2010 at 4:35 pm
In the War for Talent, is retention a chink in the armor? I believe it is and organizations are vulnerable.
The focus on retention in organizations for the most part has been on closing the front door once you get talent in, trying to keep them engaged and satisfied. That has been difficult, as many organizations have experienced alarming turnover in talent with less than five years service. That is one problem but at least organizations have started addressing it. However, the real retention issue that has existed for years is the one created by staff reductions and early retirements. The failure to fix this gap will only be exacerbated by the soon to be Retirement Tsunami.
The first wave of retiring baby boomers has not significantly drained talent. Nevertheless, it is only a matter of time before the next wave hits. How far into the organization will it go? I believe further than most people estimate. Why, because organizationís have focused their retention efforts on closing the front door while leaving the back door open. Those organizations have been losing experienced, seasoned, mature talent for years.
Sure, people are expected to retire, nothing you can do about that, except organizations have encouraged talent to leave by offering "severance packages" and "early retirements." This has resulted in a slow drain on talent that will be fully exposed once the real tsunami hits.
A natural Tsunami is the result of a slippage of a boundary between the Earth and the Sea. That slippage can be caused by a volcanic eruption, landslide, or earthquake. You cannot predict these natural occurrences but once they happen a warning can be issued and hopefully, in enough time to get to safety. Very few people ignore a Tsunami warning. A natural Tsunami cannot be avoided but you should have a plan of action once a warning is issued. The same is true for the pending Retirement Tsunami.
Sunday 21 March 2010 at 5:27 pm
Is your job search networking a Symphonic, Marching, or Jazz Band?
If your job search networking is a Symphonic Band, you are engaged in a long and complex process of selecting members to your network. Each member when added is in harmony and collectively the network produces dramatic movements and crescendos.
If your job search networking is a Marching Band, you are engaged in a steady process of targeting members that keep you moving forward towards your end goal. Your network may be larger than a symphonic band but it is uniform, direct and purposeful, organized and orderly. The synchronization of this network is essential to helping you maneuver towards your end goal.
If your job search networking is a Jazz Band, you are engaged in a free flowing process with fewer members, but each with their unique insight and perspective. Your network does not necessarily build on someone elseís insights but somehow they advance the melody. It may be difficult narrowing the options offered by this network. However, this network produces very creative ideas for job search.
All these bands produce great music and you may want to play in all three. If you can do that, do it! However, if you cannot, remember to be successful you want to be in a band that connects you to your audience, otherwise you a merely networking.
Tuesday 16 March 2010 at 1:25 pm
According to a survey in USA Today, 32% of new employee's state that getting acclimated to a new workplace culture/co-workers is the Top Hurdle to re-entering the workforce (source: Office Team Survey). Technology was a distant second. Despite countless examples of best practices of employee orientation programs, apparently something is missing. What is it? I believe it is time and team.
Monday 15 March 2010 at 8:39 pm
Our Iceberg Is Melting is a fable written by Harvard Professor John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber. The book is cleverly illustrated. The two write an entertaining yet challenging story about a colony of Emperor Penguins and how they dealt with change and succeeding under any conditions. The fable is based on the research of Kotter that resulted in an eight-step process for successful change. His book Leading Change is on the bookshelf of most executives.
As most people know, change is not easy and the same is true for Penguins. Yet, Kotter's eight-step process provides a framework for change resulting in a happy-ending to Our Iceberg Is Melting.
You will find yourself cheering for the team of Penguins who are responsible for leading change, which at times seems obvious and easy. However, don't be fooled it takes a serious Penguin to lead change and in the end it took all their imagination and resolve. Much like us.
The moral of the story is "you would be amazed at how many melting or vulnerable to melting iceberg problems exist in our rapidly changing world." As with most icebergs, we tend to see only the tip. The good news is it takes only one Penguin to look below the surface and see what is happening. The bad news is it will take a team of Penguins to move the colony. Kotter's eight-step process tells you how you can do it without leaving a Penguin behind.
Thursday 04 March 2010 at 6:41 pm
I read an article in Business Week entitled The New Generation Leaving Ireland by Kerry Capell. I found the article like something out of a science fiction movie. The subtitle "Some 170,000 jobs vanished last year, and the lack of employment is driving a generation away" was alarming. Ireland could lose a whole generation of college graduates as many Irish graduates are considering emigrating to find employment.
Australia is one destination and that country is very active extolling the benefits of emigrating Down Under where unemployment is low. For the first time in 15 years, more people left Ireland than immigrated. In the United States, our unemployment rate is high but I suspect we are not in danger of losing a whole generation of college graduates or are we?
The fact that U.S. college graduates are not emigrating does not mean our graduates have found work. I believe most have not. However, if they have found work how many are underemployed. I suspect most. The longer the recession continues and hiring remains soft what will be the long-term effect on this generation of college graduates. Will they catch up or give up? This is not to imply this is a generation of quitters. No, the opposite is true and I believe most of them will find meaningful employment. At least that is what I hope.
We live in a global society and emigration is a job search strategy. Perhaps more should consider it. Another option is to join the military. Before you dismiss that, there are benefits to it. Another option is public service. Before you dismiss that, you may want to check out National & Community Service. You may be surprised. Remember adversity is the mother of invention.