Tuesday 26 July 2011 at 2:02 pm
I don't like to say "no." However, there are others...not sure how many, who like to say no. I knew a colleague whose nickname was Dr. No, not to be confused with the James Bond movie entitled Dr. No. Don't think that while I may not like to say no that means I don't say no.
A significant part of my career in human resources required negotiating with unions, agents, employees, management, cable operators, vendors, etc. There are instinctive aspects to negotiating however, contrary to what most people believe you can learn to negotiate. You can even be a less skilled negotiator and get a good deal. Just ask a three year old. Kids are some of the best negotiators.
I was fortunate to learn from some of the best negotiators. I learned early on that the most important aspect of negotiation is preparation. You do not want to go into a negotiation and fly by your instincts alone. Flying is easier when the sky is clear but in most negotiations, the weather is cloudy, foggy, and full of turbulence.
In every negotiation, there comes a time to say "no." Some like to start out with "no" but no one believes you and if you are serious there is no point in negotiating. However, the skilled exhaust every effort to achieve a mutually agreeable settlement. Notice the word "mutually" it means win-win. Each side achieves something that is acceptable to them. A win-lose is short-term and a lose-lose makes no sense.
The majority of my negotiations involved money. Simply put, the company had it and other people wanted it. So it came down to how much the company was willing to give. The other side always felt the company had more to give. Maybe yes, but at some point I would have to say "no."
Most negotiations begin with unreasonable demands and as you negotiate the gap generally narrows. However, in every negotiation each side has a walk away point. It is best to determine yours before you begin to negotiate. If you don't you may spend too much or not enough.
There is a skill to saying no. There are those who like to pound the table and shout expletives. I even witnessed the opposite where a negotiator said, "oh, gee wiz fella's why can't we agree." That last one caused some confusion.
In my opinion, the best no's are the ones where you build to it as though you are closing a door. No one likes to have a door slammed in their face, so close it slowly. The other side sees it happening and of course, tries to keep it open. But you continue to close it. Eventually, they realize the door is being closed. That is when they will do everything they can to keep it open. No need to panic, shout expletives or struggle with them to push the door shut. You simply say no and close the door.
Wednesday 20 July 2011 at 6:46 pm
One of the frustrating things recruiters experience is not finding qualified applicants. An equally frustrating thing for qualified candidates is not getting their resume into the hands of a hiring manager. Who is to blame for this situation? In my opinion, the recruiter it to blame and the system or process they use to find candidates.
Most companies pass resumes through a series of filters. Fine, the filters are designed to find that one gold nugget among hundreds and perhaps thousands of applicants. However, what often happens is the filter produces more gold dust than gold nuggets.
The problem with electronic filters is they pan for candidates. What’s wrong with that? Well, if you really want to find gold, you need to locate a larger vein. I know, the electronic filter is working overtime and now I want to add more. No, that is not what I am suggesting. Too often, recruiters are passive, waiting for the ideal candidate to land in their pan.
I find it ludicrous that recruiters can't find qualified candidates. The key word is "find." They have the best panning technology available but they still can't find qualified candidates. There must be at least one nugget among those thousands of resumes. Electronic filters screen out more candidates than they screen in. Think about that for a moment. They screen out more candidates than they screen in. Oh, that's because those applicants are not qualified. Really, I know many qualified applicants and you do too, that never made it past the first filter. Is that a problem with their resume or the filter? It could be both but I believe it is the filter.
It may be costly, unproductive, and anti-technology to have recruiters review every resume but how much is a gold nugget worth to the hiring organization. As a senior human resource executive, my team and I combed through hundreds of resumes to find one or two candidates to hire for our executive training program. These hires would be our future leaders. The first time we did it we found four and hired them. The next time we received even more resumes and we hired six. Was this the best use of my time and my team? That depends on how much a gold nugget is it worth to your organization. Could an electronic system have helped? Certainly, would we have hired the same number of nuggets? I can honestly tell you we would have missed a couple.
There is a lesson here for job seekers as well. Don’t send your resume down stream hoping it will land in the pan. Make sure you use in your resume some of the key words and phrases contained in the employer’s description of the job and the qualifications they are seeking. Remember gold weighs more than stones and other debris. Translation, your resume needs to have some weight to it.
Sunday 17 July 2011 at 3:31 pm
When I was a kid we used to play Kick the Can. It is a game of tag that is played with an empty can. The can is placed in a central location on the ground. The person who is "it" then chases the other kids attempting to tag them. The kid being chased is "safe" if they can outrun their pursuer or can kick the can before they are tagged.
I did not realize how popular this game is and that big people like to play it as well, namely politicians. We have heard countless times we can't afford to kick the can down the road. Yet, that is the only game politicians seem to know how to play and I am starting to feel bad for the can. In the game of tag, the can is a good thing. In decision-making, kicking the can is a bad thing.
Politicians are not the only ones guilty of kicking the can. Business leaders do it too. However, they don't call it that they simply ask for more information. Everyone knows this delaying tactic as analysis paralysis. In politics, it is appointing a commission to investigate.
Why do leaders delay making difficult decisions?
The honest answer is because a wrong decision could result in a significant negative outcome. Okay, everyone agrees but why keep kicking the poor can. There is a fine line between delaying a decision and avoiding it. I know there are leaders who will tell you they never avoided making a tough decision. That's because they were kicked by the can.
Thursday 14 July 2011 at 12:33 pm
Just about, everyone knows the lyrics to The Gambler made famous by singer Kenny Rogers.
"You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done"
However, in my opinion the wisdom of the song is in the next stanza. As follows:
"Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
'Cause every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser..."
Most people think that negotiation is a game and there is one winner and one loser. Unfortunately, that is only true in cards and sports but not for most negotiations.
For example, I may want to buy a car but the car dealer can refuse to sell the car at the price I am willing to pay. Who wins or loses? Technically, we both win and lose. How is that possible? Well, I win because I get to keep my money and the dealer keeps the car. However, I lose because I now have to find another car and the car dealer has to find another buyer. That is something we are both willing to accept. But, wouldn't everyone be happier if the car dealer accepted my offer or vice versa.
Negotiating is not about winning and losing it is about achieving a result where everyone benefits. Unfortunately, the detail is in how you define "everyone benefits." Believe it or not, I have paid full price for some items. I have also bought things where I thought it was a steal. I was happy with both circumstances because I wanted the product or service. Most people think you can force someone to accept your position. Maybe, except you need to remember every hand is a winner and a loser.
Tuesday 05 July 2011 at 2:58 pm
As I watched Joey Chestnut win his fifth Mustard Belt at the annual 4th of July Nathan's hot dog eating contest on Coney Island, New York. I realized this contest is the official start of diēs caniculārēs. Diēs caniculārēs is latin for "dog days" and comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, called the Dog Star, is responsible for hot weather because of its close proximity to the Sun. Thus, we get the "dog days of summer."
Chestnut, a Professional Competitive Eater competes in Major League Eating events. He holds world records for eating the most pork ribs, steak, chicken wings, Krystal burgers, hot dogs (disputed), asparagus (yes he eats his veggies) and my favorite matzoh balls. Before you think this is a glamorous sport, consider what he does to train. He fasts and stretches his stomach with milk, water, and protein supplements.
Back to the dog days of summer. The dog days are defined as a period of time where things are hot, dull, stagnant, or marked by a lack of progress. Sounds like job search where there are times when things are hot and full of activity. Other times job search stalls and there is a lack of progress. Everyone experiences the dog days of job search. What should you do when that happens? You could consider becoming a Professional Competitive Eater but that may not be practical. As much as I might like pizza, burrito's, chicken wings, hot dogs, etc., I want to enjoy them not inhale them.
Job search slows down in the summer as people take vacations. In fact, if you are searching for a job you may want to take a break as well. However, don't take the summer off as job search is a 24/7 activity. While some of the people you may need to contact may not be available now they will be availabe some time in the future. The key is to keep your name warm (no pun intended). How can this be done best? Simply pick up your cellphone and check in with them. If you don't get them, leave a message. Send an email wishing them a great summer and ask for the best time to reconnect. Let them know where you will be and how they can reach you. Go to the library and research people and companies. It is always quite and cool at the library.
You should also try to connect with people you think are difficult to reach. You never know there may be a lull in people trying to connect with them. Lastly, though strange, consider buying a dog.
I was walking the other day when two people passed me walking their dogs. I heard one woman say. I spent a year at home and as soon as I bought this dog I was back to work in four weeks.