They’ll Take Work off Your Plate…For Free. Don’t Blow It.

Nothing makes me crazier then seeing companies completely blow it when it comes to internship programs.

My annoyance started when I was an over-achieving, straight A, kick ass and take names, willing to work for free, college intern. Every week was the same: I’d show up, they’d have an ‘oh shit she’s back. I completely forgot and have nothing for her to do’ moment, and they’d banish me to a corner where I’d sit and do my homework.

Such a waste…for them. I still got to put it on my resume and I used that worthless internship to get this sucker to hire me for  my next internship.

And boy did he get it. Starting my very first day I had serious projects to work on. He’d looked at all the stuff overflowing off his plate and said, ‘Hm…which of these projects can I give Marisa that she can’t possibly screw up enough for me to lose clients?’ Then he’d give me the project to run with…and guess what, even though I was a young, inexperienced intern that might have screwed up a few times I never screwed up bad enough for him to lose any clients AND I was able to take work off his plate…for free (or almost free).

Let me tell you, even though you might not want to go through two thousand employee folders to find out which ones are missing an updated tax form…there’s an intern out there happily willing to do it…for free!

So stop blowing it!

Editors Note: Marisa is a leadership coach, management trainer, and motivational speaker on all things Culture and Engagement.  She has helped lead the culture and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. Today Marisa consults, coaches, and leads seminars for organizations looking to increase productivity by focusing on management training and employee engagement.

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Are You Interviewing For Culture Fit?

When I talk to employees about creating interview questions I’m always surprised at how many of them shy away from asking culture fit and personality types of questions. They either worry that they’re going to inadvertently ask an illegal question or they feel like it’s just not appropriate to dig into someones values and personality in an interview.

If your employees are not asking value, culture, and fit questions in an interview then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to ensure you’re hiring the right employees for your organization. This is, of course, only true if your company knows its values, culture, etc. 

There are two ways to dig into the culture/values aspect of an interview. You can have each employee trained and educated on crafting and asking questions to find out how well candidates match up with your organizations culture or you can have a specific person doing a ‘fit’ interview. This is typically your culture maven or HR person but it can be someone else within your organization as well.

Does your organization interview for culture and fit? If you don’t, why not?

Marisa is an HR consultant, leadership coach, and trainer all things Culture and Engagement.  She has helped develop the HR policies and procedures as well as lead the culture and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. Today Marisa consults, coaches, and leads seminars for organizations looking to increase productivity by focusing on management training and employee engagement.

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Good Leaders Go Away

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Get Over Getting Credit

Too often companies foster the kind of culture that rewards employees who will stop at nothing to climb the corporate ladder. Employees are more engaged and more work gets done in organizations where employees are working towards the same goals and are rewarded for being strong team players.

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Interviewing for Culture Fit – All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

I am always being asked about the hiring process at Beryl and how we recruit and screen for culture.  Compassion is the number one competency that we look for.  This can be a challenge since there isn’t a test that magically tells us how compassionate a person is.  Beryl has an extensive recruiting process that has been developed over the years.  Usually, I am the last person to interview a candidate.  I can’t imagine what candidates think when they hear that they are interviewing with “The Queen of Fun and Laughter”!  I do know that most of them assume that they have to come in here ready to cheer in a pep rally or run through the hallway with their hair on fire.  True, I do love those candidates but that is not what I am looking for in an interview.

In my short time in an interview I am looking for the true heart of a person.  I want to know what their values are.  I want to know how they will fit in with the Beryl values and caring culture.  The one question that I always start with is, “Without using the words ‘culture’ or ‘people’ tell me why you want to work here”?  I don’t want to hear a response that they have concocted based on what they think I want to hear, which is probably what most of them came up with the night before.  I want to really know why they want to work at Beryl.  Why Beryl?  After the initial shock wears off from this question, I usually get a more honest and in depth answer as to what attracted them to us in the first place.  I then tell the candidate what our five core values are.  I ask them to tell me the one they relate to the most and a time that it was compromised in another position.  You can see where I am going here.  I don’t ask for them to tell me a time that they turned an angry customer into a happy one.  Sure that question is fine, but it isn’t going to show you the integrity of the person.  Questions that strike an emotional chord will bring out more valuable clues about how someone thinks when it comes to others.  Another favorite at Beryl is, “Tell me about a time that you helped someone although you didn’t necessarily think they deserved it”.

Years ago, five to be exact, a gentleman walked in here to interview with me for a training manager position.  It was mid-December and he strolled in wearing a Santa Claus Hawaiian shirt and shorts.  His hair and beard were similar to Santa himself so he was quite the funny sight to see.  He told me that he thought he’d just go for it and show me the true side of himself. (Now keep in mind this was his 7th interview in the process!  I don’t recommend this for a first interview!)  I knew then that he would be a perfect fit.  Not because he wore a funny costume and had the guts to do it, but because it was genuinely who he was.  He wasn’t trying to pretend to be someone he wasn’t.  It was very real.  Bob is still here and he still makes a huge impact in our culture and community outreach efforts.

The moral of this story is that you must find the true character of a candidate during the interview process with questions that fit the culture of your organization.  There are times where the character is one that you don’t want to hire and you find that out much too late.  Now that is a whole other blog!

Editors Note: For the past 12 years Lara Morrow has been The Queen of Fun & Laughter at The Beryl Companies, a title accidentally appointed due to her wacky personality.  She spearheads their internal communication, recognition, employee relations, leadership training and culture strategy. Her efforts have led to Beryl being recognized nine different times as a best place to work including being voted the #2 Best Medium Sized Company to work for in America. She is a co-author of Smile Guide, Employee Perspectives on Culture, Loyalty and Profit. After hours, Lara “releases steam” through her passion for cooking, blogging and reviewing local restaurants.

 

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Good Leaders Can Handle The Truth

It’s not always easy to hear the truth – especially when it’s about ourselves…and our shortcomings. But if you’re serious about becoming a better leader try this exercise out.

Find one of your direct reports.

If you’re new at this whole “I’m going to work on my leadership skills by being vulnerable and completely open to hearing things that might hurt” thing then pick someone you already have a good relationship with.

Bring them to coffee.

Make sure they know that the meeting is for you to learn more about yourself so they aren’t shakin’ in their boots thinking they’re going to lose their job because they have a meeting with the Boss (Wo)Man.

Ask them for feedback.

 By asking them the following question:

What is one thing I can do differently to be a better leader?

It might take some finesse, some tweaking of the question, etc but you get the point, right? Follow it up by asking for examples of times where this ‘new thing’ would have been helpful for that employee.

Start a conversation, ask for more feedback, and listen. Don’t feel like you have to defend yourself, just absorb the information being shared with you.

Follow up.

Send that person a note thanking them for their time and their honesty. Invite them to coffee again a few weeks later to see if they have noticed a difference. Continue the conversation and continue building the relationship.

Marisa is a leadership coach, management trainer, and motivational speaker on all things Culture and Engagement.  She has helped lead the culture and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. Today Marisa consults, coaches, and leads seminars for organizations looking to increase productivity by focusing on management training and employee engagement.

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You Say “Working From Home” I Say “Couch Surfing”

There’s a lot of pressure these days to be the coolest kid on the block from a culture perspective. After all, if you’re vying for the best talent you’ve got to compete against the big dogs who are going to great lengths to attract employees with their fancy kitchens, crazy perks, margarita machines…and flexible-work-from-anywhere attitudes.

It’s enough to make any leader feel like they should adopt a relaxed attitude about when and where employees work. But don’t go jumping on the bandwagon just yet.

First, you might be happy to know that there are a LOT of amazing companies to work for who do not have employees meandering in and out at all hours of the day/night. They have set office hours. This is especially true in the (software as a) service space where employees need to be available for customers. However, these companies tend to make it really easy for employees to find coverage or leave the office to do ‘life’ stuff.

Second, and more importantly, if you have a deep rooted feeling that employees who say they are working from home aren’t actually working as hard/efficiently as they would be in the office then BACK AWAY FROM THIS IDEA.

You telling employees they can work wherever/whenever but always being a skeptic will absolutely crush your culture. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen. Kevin says he’s working from home, you don’t believe him. You get annoyed because you think he’s actually watching TV but you have no real process in place to tell if he’s actually working or what he’s working on so you just stew. Other people see you stewing over Kevin and his TV-watching-lack-of-working and they start to question if you’re doing the same thing when they stay at home to meet the repair man. Now everyone is confused and they start to resent you for your stupid policy. At that point you’re worse off then you would have been if you’d just skipped the change in the first place.

I’m a huge fan of letting people work remotely but only if you’re the kind of leader who is truly okay with it. There are processes you can set up to casually track what people are getting done and ways to use it as a privilege for employees who deserve it. If done properly it can be a great perk but it’s just as okay to have set hours and places for work to be done.

Marisa is a leadership coach, management trainer, and motivational speaker on all things Culture and Engagement.  She has helped lead the culture and engagement initiatives at two nationally recognized great places to work; Rackspace as Culture Maven and Modea as Talent Manger. Today Marisa consults, coaches, and leads seminars for organizations looking to increase productivity by focusing on management training and employee engagement.

Posted in Culture, Marisa Keegan | 2 Comments