Tag Archives: career development

How to Simplify and Maximize Your Video Interviews

By Jeremy Eskenazi

Jeremy Eskenazi-video interview

Interview practices have come a long way over the last few years. With it has come to some huge benefits like video interviews! It has saved candidates hours in anxious commuting time as one standout benefit. The flip side is that video interviews that are not well set up can create even more anxiety and a poor candidate experience.

A simple way to mitigate this risk is to put some guard-rails around your video (and phone) interviewing practices. This will improve the experience and make sure you’re not missing out on great talent for your organization. Many of the higher cost platforms now include some of these practices, but it doesn’t mean you can’t build your own success practices with a lower cost option. The key is keeping the candidate experience front and center.

Most people now carry a mobile phone with a decent camera. Many will also have access to a laptop or tablet with a camera embedded, so this takes care of the hardware portion of the equation. When approaching video interviews, there are two main methods, and both require the proper set up and expectation setting for the candidate. One way to maximize what you’ll get out of both approaches is to share a checklist to help candidates prepare and know exactly what to expect. It could include the following:

  1. The type of questions you’ll ask 
  2. The process they can expect as they move through the questions
  3. The follow-up practices they can expect after the interview

With these expectations set, candidates will not be surprised, and this helps most people prepare to focus on the questions, not the medium of the interview. The two methods to consider as you think about video interviewing are:

Regardless of which type of video interview you choose, remember that you have a have a responsibility to respond after the interview! Click To Tweet

The two-way live video interview

This method is more approachable and more accepted by most people. It involves the recruiter or hiring manager joining a live video session at the same time as the candidate. The interaction is in real-time making it feel very similar to an in-person interview. Some tips that help set candidates up for success for this specific type of interview include:

  • Make sure you’re in spot with good lighting and minimal background noise
  • Test your audio and video before the interview
  • Coach the candidate to think about their answers, even if it creates a pause. Let them know it will not be awkward at all! 
  • Let the candidate know if you have multiple people joining the call (yes, you can do online panel-style interviews!)

We’ve all been on personal and professional video calls that waste the first few minutes with “I can’t hear you”, “What is that in the background?”, and “Are you wearing pants?” With proper expectation setting, your video interviews can be very productive, and quite smooth. Having someone to interact with live allows non-verbal communication to take place. Real-time feedback and the opportunity to ask questions have been staples of interviews for a long time and it is a comfortable approach for most candidates, even if they are not used to being on video. 

Using this type of video interview is helpful as an initial screen to get a better sense of a candidate or through first-round interviews. 

The second more common type of video interviews can produce a very polarizing reaction for candidates. 

Pre-recorded video interviews

This type of interview is newer and rapidly growing in popularity. There are many vendors to choose from at various price points and tiered offerings worth exploring. This type of interview is not as popular with candidates because you are not offering an engaging conversation, but rather the candidate sees a question within the portal and then their responses are recorded (and sometimes timed!). The video is then sent back to the recruiter for review and assessment. While the tips offered above to set up for two-way live interviews still apply, there are some additional tips and expectations that should be set with candidates in advance of you sharing this pre-recorded video interview style. 

  • Set the stage to make it clear that there is no live interaction and that the questions will be provided during the interview and cannot be re-recorded
  • Keep the questions specific so clarification is not likely needed 
  • Be clear about the timelines and don’t expect candidates to record in the same day you reach out to them, nor should they expect your follow up the day they submit their video 
  • Send your own video message to kick things off so there is a real person explaining that the recording is timed, but is not a test

This type of video interview is helpful for a role that produces a lot of candidates, for example, hiring for a call center role or home-based roles. It will give you a faster way to select the candidates you want to move ahead because you don’t need to watch all the questions. 

Regardless of which type of video interview you choose, remember that you have a responsibility to respond after the interview! A personalized email, phone call, or video message sent via weblink are all ways to accomplish this. You appreciate their effort and interest in your company and don’t want them walking away feeling that they jumped through hoops and got no response. This can impact your employer brand that is so important to your ability to attract top talent.

Jeremy Eskenazi is an internationally recognized speaker, author of RecruitConsult! Leadership, and founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique Recruitment/Talent Acquisition Management and Optimization Consulting Firm. Jeremy is not a headhunter, but a specialized training and consulting professional, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent at some of the world’s most recognized companies. For more information on Jeremy Eskenazi, please visit: www.RivieraAdvisors.com.

Positive Thinking at Work: Not Being a “Glass Half-Fool”

By: Steve Yacovelli, Ed.D.

Steve Yacovelli-Be Positive

So many people in the modern workplace try to operate from a glass-half-full mindset. But these days it’s getting tougher to see that glass of (insert your beverage of choice) as being half-full versus half-empty. There’s so much negativity in the world today, so much polarization, so many 24/7 news outlets that need something to pull our eyeballs and get our clicks. It gets exhausting looking at your Twitter feed, Facebook wall, your Instagram pics, or tuning into the evening news and seeing/hearing so much “downer fodder.”

There’s a heap of studies out in the world that show that negativity—specifically negative thoughts—can greatly impact your physical and mental well-being. From lowering your immune system to impacting your ability to focus to creating severe depression, chronic negativity can be a disaster for us humans. Studies show time and again that those who have a more positive view of the world tend to be more resilient or “bounce back” in the face of changing times—especially negative times.

Even in those more terrible-horrible-no good-very bad-days (the title of a great children’s book, FYI), if you force yourself to see the good things that happened (“I had good luck driving home today!” “My co-workers acknowledged I did awesome on that project!” “They had pork roll in the office cafeteria today!”) you tend to see the broader world in a more “silver lining” kinda way (more on this later).

So, what can you do to remain a bit more positive at work, and not just build up your Teflon-coating to the negativity in the world but combat it by sending out some good ol’ positive vibes? Here are five ideas you can apply today to help shape your view of the world to be a bit more positive:

1. Keep a “What-Went-Well” Journal

At the end of your day, open up a note app on your phone and identify five things that went well for you during that day and why. This could be things big (“promotion!”) or small (“found a parking spot!”), but force yourself to think of five. Why? On some days it’s pretty easy to find the things that went well.

However, when you have that rough day at work, but still force yourself to find five good things, that’s when the magic happens. Neuroscientists have found that—by doing this exercise over the course of about 2-3 months—you actually begin to rewire your brain to see things more positively. Try it and see if it works for you.

2. Notice the Negative and Positive People in Your Professional Life

Become more aware of the types of energy that coworkers around you tend to emit. Sure: everyone has those “off” days where they’re teetering on the more negative side, but for most folks, their true disposition is pretty consistent. Listen to what your colleagues say, watch what they do, and see what they post on social media. Then, try to be around those who are more “sunny” versus more “cloudy.” Emotions are contagious, so choose your company wisely so you’re catching the good rays versus the clouds.

You cannot control everything that happens to you in this crazy world, but you can indeed control how you react to it. Click To Tweet

3. Limit Your Daily Exposure to Social Media and News

Similar to #2, reflect on how much social media you’re being exposed to and what types. Also, be aware of the news stations / programs you tend to listen to or watch and understand their own bias level or level of objectivity (on both sides of the spectrum). Be mindful of the concept of “confirmation bias” (where we tend to surround ourselves with those who support our world view, adding fuel to our personal flames), and honestly reflect on how you consume those Tweets, Facebook, and Instagram posts.

Have an addiction to social media? Look for apps or built-in smartphone features that limit the number of minutes you can socialize online.

4. Understand Control vs. Influence vs. No Control

In any situation at work, think about the actions you can control, what you can’t directly control but can influence, and those things where you have zero control or influence over. It’s like a three-ring bullseye (where the center is your control area and the outer ring is what you have no control over, the middle the influence part).

Where are you spending the vast amount of your energy? The middle? The outer ring? Too many people dump their energy into that “control” ring when really they have no control, thus wasting their time and energy.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to stay positive is to pull an Elsa from “Frozen” and “let it go,” which is easier said than done for some but much more helpful to your physical and mental health in the long run.

5. Ask Yourself: “What’s the Worst that Can Happen?”

In any stressful situation: stop, take a breath, and put things into a greater context. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen if …” and insert your current focus here (like, “… if I’m late for work this morning”). This helps put situations in the right perspective and context, helps avoid negativity, and allows you to embrace the positive of what you’re doing. Chances are you get yourself worked up even when “the worst that can happen” really isn’t all that bad.

Being more positive takes practice for many people. And yes: acknowledge that things can get crummy at times. Ultimately, you cannot control everything that happens to you in this crazy world, but you can indeed control how you react to it. Take the challenge to be that glass-half-full kinda person (and not a half-fool), and help others be a little more half-full, too.

Dr. Steve Yacovelli, (“The Gay Leadership Dude”) is Owner & Principal of TopDog Learning Group, LLC, a learning and development, leadership, change management, and diversity and consulting firm based in Orlando, FL, USA, with affiliates across the globe. With over twenty-five years’ experience, Steve is a rare breed that understands the power of using academic theory and applying it to the “real” world for better results. His latest book, Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of their Jungle came out June 2019. www.topdoglearning.biz.

Identifying and Mitigating Unconscious Bias in Yourself and in Your Workplace

By Dr. Steve Yacovelli

Steve Yacovelli- Unconscious Bias in your workplace

Three fun facts: First, studies show that resumes with “white” sounding names (like “Greg”) were 50 percent more likely to get a callback for an interview by potential employers than a more stereotypically African-American sounding names (like “Jamal”), even when the resumes were identical aside from the name. Second, brunette and redhead women’s salaries are approximately 7 percent less than their blonde counterparts. And third, most 60 percent of corporate CEOs are over six-foot-tall; a large disproportion compared to the fact that less than 15 percent of American men are over this height.  In a popular political television show, one character says, “Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln. Tall men make great presidents.”

What do these three factoids have in common? They are examples of what is called “unconscious bias,” and actions are taken because of those unconscious or hidden biases. But what specifically are these hidden or unconscious biases, and more importantly how can you start to manage them so you’re making the right decisions in your workplace and our world? Let’s explore… 

What is “Unconscious Bias”?

Hidden or unconscious bias is the preference for or against a person, thing, or group held at an unconscious level. This means you don’t even realize your mind is holding onto this bias of, say, that person on the phone who is speaking English as a second language, or that effeminate man in front of you at the restaurant who isn’t what you were taught as “masculine.” In contrast, an overt—or explicit—bias is an attitude or prejudice that one endorses at a conscious level; it’s obvious and blatant.

Research on hidden bias shows that, regardless of the best intentions, most people hold deep-seated resistance to the “difference” of others, whether that difference is defined by evident factors as race, gender, ethnicity, age, or physical characteristics, or more subtle ones such as background, personality type, experiences, or even sexual orientation. But bias can also exist in a positive sense: you may favor your family, your community, and people with whom you feel a connection based on shared characteristics or experiences (like people who work for the same company or went to the same university as you).

These hidden biases aren’t purposely or consciously created; they are products of your brain’s self-generated definition of normal, acceptable or positive, and they are shaped by many factors: from past experiences to your local or cultural environment, to the influence of social community and the impressions from media. You don’t consciously create these definitions of “normal” versus “different,” “good” versus “bad,” or “acceptable” versus “unacceptable.” In fact, conscious and unconscious biases are often divergent; your hidden biases may exist in spite of our sincere desire to be bias-free and in direct contradiction of the attitudes you believe you have.

Why Do We Have These Biases?

Well, we can blame having an unconscious bias on our cave-ancestors. Back in the day, a cave-person had to quickly decide if the big-furry-sharp-toothed-animal at the cave-door was friend or foe; and those quick ascertains of safety were processed in their cave-brains. Science has shown that we receive 11 million bits of information every moment, but we can only consciously process forty bits of data at any time. How do we manage that 99.9999996 percent gap? Through our unconscious brains. So, as humans, it is perfectly natural for us to create these “cognitive shortcuts” to help us be safe and survive and manage all this data input.

But in 2019 we aren’t cave-folk, and that wiring sometimes goes against what we want our “auto systems” to work for the most part. Think about you at work: do you want your cave-wiring impulsively taking over who you should work with, the feelings you have toward hiring someone, or defining how you act towards a new co-worker or customer? No, you don’t. You want to have your conscious brains be prevalent, and that’s not always easy to do. But it’s something you should do.

Working on your unconscious base won’t just make your workplace more inclusive and successful, but it will go far to personally build trust between you and others, and that makes the world just a little bit better. Click To Tweet

“Micro inequities” & Why They Matter in our Workplace

OK: you’re at work and someone says to you, “For a woman, I’m really surprised how well you accomplished that task. Nice job.” Some would call this a back-handed compliment: a compliment that’s really an insult. The better term for this is a “micro inequity.” These are unconscious biases that come to life where people act or say things that “tip the hand” on their respective (most likely unconscious) biases. 

Why does it matter for you to identify and mitigate these microinequities in your workplace? For several reasons actually:

  • Micro inequities are a form of punishment for being different and occur in the context of work without regard to performance or merit.
  • Micro inequities undermine the effectiveness of the recipient.
  • Micro inequities take up workplace time and energy and undermine interpersonal trust and relationships.

Studies have found that over 71 percent of the workforce has experienced some form of workplace incivility or microinequity in the last five years. Incivility is evidenced by disrespectful behavior (Zauderer, 2002). What happened to these folks? According to this study:

  • 28 percent lost work time avoiding the instigator of the incivility/microinequity
  • 53 percent lost time worrying about the incident/future interactions
  • 37 percent believed their commitment at work declined
  • 22 percent have decreased their effort at work
  • 10 percent decreased the amount of time that they spent at work
  • 12 percent actually changed jobs to avoid the instigator

How Can We Start to Mitigate our Hidden Biases and Limit our “Micro inequities”? 

So, what do you do about this managing this unconscious, cave-selves? The first step is accepting that you DO have unconscious bias and become aware of the ones you specifically hold. One of the best ways you can start to explore what unconscious biases you have is through Project Implicit, or the Implicit-Association Test (IAT). The IAT is a free online assessment that will measure the strength of your hidden bias between various groups. Check it out—in a safe and judgment-free way—see what hidden biases you may have. https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/

Second, share and discuss the concept of “unconscious bias” with others in your workplace. Share the Project Implicit website with them. Talk (if you’re comfortable) what the results you had on the site. Encourage co-workers to hold each other accountable when those unconscious biases turn into microinequities.

Third, look at the bigger picture within your workplace. What are the biases that exist within your organization, and how can you start to challenge them. For example, look at your organization’s hiring practices. Does it tend to hire the same types of people or recruit from the same places? Are your marketing messages pretty non-inclusive? Are your customers or clients similar in demographic make-up? Think about your typically business practices and think as a team to ensure your collective unconscious biases aren’t impacting your business success.

Closing

So, we all harbor and exhibit an unconscious bias to some extent. And that’s OK; that simply means we’re human. But it’s taking that step to identify which biases we have, take steps to “debias” ourselves, share that action with others, and really look at how we do business that is the key to change. Doing this won’t just make your workplace more inclusive and successful, but it will go far to personally build trust between you and others, and that makes the world just a little bit better.

(source: Zauderer, D. (2002). “Workplace Incivility and the Management of Human Capital.” Public Manager, Vol. 31, p.36-43.)

Dr. Steve Yacovelli (“The Gay Leadership Dude”) is the Owner & Principal of TopDog Learning Group, LLC, a learning and development, leadership, change management, and diversity and consulting firm based in Orlando, FL, USA, with affiliates across the globe. With over twenty-five years’ experience, Steve is a rare breed that understands the power of using academic theory and applying it to the “real” world for better results. His latest book, Pride Leadership: Strategies for the LGBTQ+ Leader to be the King or Queen of their Jungle came out June 2019. www.topdoglearnign.biz .

The Truth about College: It May Not Matter as Much As You Think

By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan

It amuses me to tell people I went to college for 40 years. Their reactions vary from shock to admiration, from pity to surprise.

As a high school sophomore, I learned the local community college would admit select high school seniors. Acting partly out of youthful arrogance and partly from moxie, I met with an admissions counselor, hoping to be admitted the following year. The advisor never asked my age or my grade as he mechanically pulled my high school transcript. Mathematically challenged, he struggled to convert my school’s quarterly grades into the semester credits he was accustomed to. “Well,” he concluded, “it sure looks like you have enough credits.”

I completed my first college class before I started my junior year in high school. I took at least one class a semester for the next two years. College offered a challenge that high school lacked. Though I earned high marks in high school, I excelled in my college courses.

As my senior year in high school wound down, classmates announced their college plans. My best friend was headed to a private school to study a new field called computer science. It seemed an interesting and promising choice, and I decided to follow her there. However, despite my parents having sacrificed to make weekly deposits into my college fund since the day I was born, the amount they accumulated fell short. This reality, coupled with frequent media reports of college graduates being under-employed in entry-level positions, led me to a more practical decision. I enrolled in electronic technical school where I could quickly learn practical job skills and enter the work force at a fraction of the cost. Upon graduation, I grabbed the first job that came along: repairing copy machines.

Pursue a Practical Education

It quickly became apparent this was not the job for me. My electronic school credential read, “electronic engineering technician,” and though I fancied myself an engineer, prospective employers viewed me as a technician. To make the career change I wanted, I needed more education. I reapplied to the community college and earned a pre-engineering degree.

I transferred to a local university and enrolled in its electrical engineering program. Well before graduation, a job change took me out of state. I established residency there and resumed my education. During this time, I responded to a help wanted ad. The stated salary was three times what I currently made. I met every qualification and dashed off my resume, fully expecting to be hired. But they didn’t even interview me. I later learned the company was deluged with applications, and it summarily rejected every applicant without a four-year college degree. I resolved to never let that happen again.

A College Degree Can Be More Than an Attendance Certificate

Now being cynically convinced that a college degree was little more than an attendance certificate, I sought the shortest path to a four-year degree. I found the perfect solution. It was geared for full-time employees who had at least two years of college. By attending evening classes, in an intense one-year program, I could parlay my various college credits with documented experiential learning into a bachelor’s degree. I didn’t care what the degree was in; I just wanted that piece of paper. As the school year wound down, however, I met with a surprise at work. In my annual review, my boss told me that my management skills had greatly improved. He rewarded me with a substantial raise. Although I had been striving for an arbitrary credential, I inadvertently ended up improving my job skills.

I shared this news with my professor, thanking him profusely. In what seemed unwarranted humility he dismissed my gratitude. “I don’t deserve any credit,” he said matter-of-factly. “All we did was offer you an opportunity; it was up to you to make something of it. It’s what you have inside that made the difference.” It was years before I would fully comprehend this.

Now seeing a direct connection between education and earning power, I returned for a second major. What I had previously learned were “soft” skills (interpersonal communication, group dynamics, human resources, and so forth). Now I needed to complement this with course work in accounting, business law, and strategic planning. This major, business administration, would enhance my job skills, making me a better and more marketable employee.

It’s what’s inside that makes the difference. Click To Tweet

A Masters and a Doctorate

After a few years, missing the elixir of education and feeling inadequate as a manager, I began considering a master’s degree. Again, I found a program geared for non-traditional students. Their offer was compelling, but even more intriguing was that I could enroll in a joint masters/doctorate program. I did. I anticipated the master’s degree would make me complete as a manager, but I viewed the doctorate more as a personal milestone.

After completing my master’s degree as planned, I immediately began working on the doctorate, which I had two years to complete. Already worn down by the intensity of the master’s, I soon regretted committing to the doctoral program. But stubbornness prevailed and I plodded on, meeting the requirements only a few months before the deadline. I was 42; it was 26 years since I had gotten a jumpstart on college at age 16. There were some diversions along the way, job changes, relocations and even a few breaks, but for the majority of that time, I was attending classes—somewhere.

A Second Doctorate

Fast forward a few more years. I felt a prompting to return to school once again, this time for personal edification, picking a Bible college – again distance learning. I applied for a second doctorate but they didn’t accept me. Not caring about the credential, but the learning opportunity, I accepted placement in their masters program. However, a couple classes into it, during a routine call to the school, I learned they had undergone a change in how they evaluate transfer credits. They bumped me up to their “second doctorate” program, which for me actually required fewer classes then the masters program I was in. I switched. By graduation, I had spent nearly 40 years in college. And that will be enough college for me – unless I want to return to teach.

College has meant many things to me: a challenge, a means to a job, help with a career change, an attendance certificate, an avenue to a better salary, an enhancer of job skills, management training, and personal edification. College can be many things depending on what we need and what we want to accomplish, but it is not a cure-all.

When I worked as a call center consultant, I would do week-long business audits. I would begin the week with an overview of the client’s company and then drill down to uncover weaknesses and opportunities. In doing so, a distressing pattern emerged. On about the third day, I would often find myself in a follow-up meeting with the person who manages the call center. They sharer their common concern in different ways and with various levels of emotion, but it always boiled down to the same sentiment: “I feel inadequate as a manager. I think I need a college degree.”

This broke my heart. I was never sure what to say.

Do You Feel You Need a College Degree?

These were successful, dynamic women, who started at entry-level positions and through hard work, dedication, and a talent for doing what’s nearly impossible, rose to significant positions. These individuals oversaw the majority of their organization’s workforce, controlled about half of its expenses (primarily labor costs), and maintained virtually all of the company revenue, yet they still felt inadequate. They believed a degree would make everything right. This always caught me by surprise because they conducted their work with such great aplomb, confidence, and success.

Here’s what I should have told them: “Yes, college can help you. If you have the opportunity to go and are willing to make the sacrifices of time and money, while putting much of your life on hold, then do it. It will make you a better manager. But it is not a panacea. There will still be times when you will feel overwhelmed, inadequate, or unprepared at work. Most managers have these feelings and a formal education won’t make them go away.”

While my educational choices have, in part, enabled me to get to where I am today, I know that had I gone down a different path, the result would be no less meaningful, because as my college professor said, “It’s what you have inside that makes the difference.”

What If You Don’t Already Have a Career?

These comments about college are strictly for those who have an established career. For the recent high school graduate and those just starting out or without a career path, I always recommend college, provided they can handle the workload. Being a traditional student and going to school full-time allows one to get a degree in the shortest time, but it is not financially possible for everyone. In this case, as for me, intersperse education with vocation. Although this approach takes longer, it enhances the experience as education is magnified by work and work is complemented by education.

What If You Have No Idea What to Study?

If this is the case, be sure to pursue marketable job skills. Don’t focus on skills that will maximize earning potential. Instead look at on what will maximize your enjoyment of life—which is not money. For those who are analytical thinkers, business and computers are good pursuits; for creative minds, consider marketing or graphic arts.

And remember, most college graduates don’t end up working in the field they studied. Instead they use their education as an entry-point to the work force. Once you have successfully proven yourself in full-time employment, work history generally becomes more important than your degree—as long as you have it.

So, if you go to college, study hard, make the most of the opportunity that you are given. Just remember, it’s what’s inside that makes the difference.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is a published author and commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services.

Change Your Mindset or Suffer the Consequences

5 Steps to Thrive in Our Unstable World

By Brad Wolff

Brad Wolff-mindset shift

We live in a world of unpredictable and uncontrollable change. How can we survive and even thrive when our environment turns against us?

Bill Evans was the CEO of Shifting Rocks Corporation, the dominant regional player in providing rocks for road construction. After thirty great years, they suddenly dropped behind two competitors. Due to a combination of unforeseen changes, sales plunged from 50 million dollars to 25 million dollars. They went from 5 million dollars profit to a loss of  2 million dollars only two years. Bill hired a firm that helps companies thrive in a changing environment. After one year of working together, Shifting Rocks reached break-even. In two years, they climbed to a 6 million dollars profit. Their engagement levels are now higher than the “good years,” and Bill enjoys his job more than ever.

Become a Flexible, Adaptive, Learning Organization

The turning point was when Bill’s mindset changed with the realization that what led to success in the past often doesn’t work today.The primary characteristics needed to thrive now are:1.

  1. Flexibility—The willingness to change or compromise.
  2. Adaptability—The ability to utilize flexibility to meet the demands of new conditions.
  3. Learnability—The ability to quickly learn new knowledge and skills that are required to meet the demands of new conditions.

When you implement these traits, you become a Flexible, Adaptive, Learning Organization (FALO). A FALO provides a unique competitive edge in an unstable environment. A key element is the mindset shift to focusing on the things that lie in your area of control rather than constantly reacting to things out of your control. Instead of things getting easier, you get better!

How do you develop a FALO?

Focus on the things that lie in your area of control rather than constantly reacting to things out of your control. Click To Tweet

 Below is a five-step process to creating a FALO:

1. Shift your mindset from solving problems via processes and technologies to solving people problems first.

All business problems (including process and technology problems) are people problems at their root since people select, develop, operate and manage your processes and technologies. The perfect processes and technologies with the wrong people or with people who are not using them properly will never work. A process and technology focus is a convenient distraction away from the more challenging arena of human beings. However, starting with processes and technologies is treating the symptoms, not the cause. Your solutions will always be suboptimal with this approach.

Step 2: Create a personal development mindset as an organizational strategy.

The key to your professional growth is your personal growth and development. We take ourselves with us everywhere we go, and your self-awareness, skills and character traits are your only tools. It’s critical to realize that these elements of personal growth are developed not inborn. Certainly, you have inborn gifts. However, none are very useful until they’ve been developed over time.

History’s most successful CEOs such as Jack Welch of GE, Lou Gerstner of IBM and Ray Dalio of Bridgewater shared a common philosophy. They recognized that as people work on their personal development, they contribute far more productivity, collaboration, and positive energy/engagement as benefits. Each of these benefits enhances the others to create a multiplier effect throughout the organization. As people develop, they also adapt much better to ongoing life challenges. The organization’s knowledge and skills (learning) increase while becoming more flexible and adaptive.

Step 3: Develop a culture that supports ongoing personal development.

Developing a strategy of personal growth requires that you develop a culture that supports this strategy. Organizations frequently fail to execute their strategies due to lacking a culture that supports these strategies. Peter Drucker said that “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”

Google provides one of many examples of an organization that focuses on culture as a key driver of its success. Here are their “three principles for a top-notch culture”:
  1. Mission that matters—A clear mission and vision statement to motivate and unify employees.
  2. Transparency of Leaders—A crucial element to build safety, trust and collaboration that requires openness and vulnerability.
  3. Giving everyone a voice—Aperspective that values everyone’s opinion and point of view.

Do these principles apply to other companies? Yes, in fact, it’s more difficult to apply these principles in large organizations like Google due to increased layers of complexity

Step 4: Starting with upper management, take an open, honest inventory of weaknesses: A weakness is any habitual behavior that impairs your effectiveness, which prevents you from becoming who you want to be. Having weaknesses is an unavoidable part of being human. The key is to deliberately identify and acknowledge these habits rather than trying to hide or cover-up. Your weaknesses are obvious to others anyway, so attempting to deny or hide them impairs our growth and relationships.

The authenticity of leaders about their weaknesses builds trust and respect and creates a culture where people feel safe to do the same. Research and experience consistently demonstrate the importance of people safe feeling safe. People won’t allow themselves to be open about their weaknesses until they feel safe from ridicule or punishment.

Step 5: Commit to a process of ongoing improvement.

The key is that the leaders’ commit with both their hearts (emotions) and minds (thoughts). Developing new habits that serve you better than the old ones requires committed effort over time. Demonstrating this commitment helps develop a culture of people committed to their personal and professional growth.

It’s also important to develop a culture of constructive feedback and encouragement since you often don’t realize when you revert to old habits. Ongoing improvement is difficult without a culture that supports people making a consistent effort.

Developing a FALO is not complicated. It starts with a mindset shift from focusing on the external environment to focusing on the source of your success and power—the ongoing development of human beings. You can try to control your external environment or adapt to meet (or exceed) the demands. Which approach will you choose?

Brad Wolff specializes in workforce and personal optimization. He’s a speaker and author of, People Problems? How to Create People Solutions for a Competitive Advantage. As the managing partner for Atlanta-based PeopleMax, Brad specializes in helping companies maximize the potential and results of their people to make more money with less stress. His passion is empowering people to create the business success they desire, in a deep and lasting way. For more information on Brad Wolff, please visit: www.PeopleMaximizers.com.