The candidate experience is not only about emotions…

You often hear about the importance of the candidate experience. The candidate experience refers to the dynamics related to the candidate’s journey during a recruiting process; the “journey” involves a few actors (interviewers, recruiter) and interactions (the steps of the interview process, email exchanges etc..).

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Many companies try to understand, analyse and talk about the emotional side of the candidate experience, considering the involvement of different actors (recruiters and candidates for example). In addition to that, they tend to associate the candidate experience with the customer experience; the latter is the result of actions or planned actions/interactions between a customer and a company. Do the candidates need to be considered customers? Yes, twice; they are using a service (= your recruiting process) and they are prospects or already customers for the service(s) your company provides to the market.

Is your company really treating candidates as customers? Or are they doing just an emotions check? There is much more than the emotional side when we talk about the candidate experience. Does your company assess the points of contacts with the candidates (social media, company website, news etc), their tone of voice and the quality of the interactions? If not, they should start looking at the complete candidate journey and not only at the emotional experience.

Want to work better? Block your calendar!

In most organizations, we manage our own working time around meetings.  In order to make our time effective we try to match our tasks with the meetings requests that we receive; unfortunately, we often end up with the so-called “back to back“.

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We need to find time for ourselves. To do what? Several things. It is true that attending many meetings gives you visibility and allow you to proceed with your work tasks (well, not always) …. however, in order to complete your work, to grow and develop you have to think about what’s really important. You need to dedicate time to training, networking or sorting out your work admin.

 What is an easy solution to reduce your back to back?

Block your calendar! It allows you to handle also any last-minute requests without having to worry too much.  Try it out and you will notice that you’d manage better your work priorities and your needs (=training and work tasks).

No respect for your time? Your organization has a problem.

We work in ecosystems where people and processes create unique and not replicable dynamics. The culture of an organisation is unique.  In order to understand the work environment, you need to balance your efforts between different dimensions. These dimensions are technical (skills, tasks to be completed, your career progression), social (your team, the relationships with the business) and political ones (the relationship between teams, your manager). You need to find your balance while you manage your time. Your time is critical to complete your tasks and matching your job’s responsibilities: you need to invest time in thinking about your career and your competencies Time for yourself  . 

Your time is a dimension that you cannot completely manage.  Why? Your time is managed and influenced by the business’ priorities, the demands of your manager, unexpected events and your team’s needs. Let’s say that in most cases you do not manage your time, you try to optimise it. You have to learn to respect the time that you have. It is fundamental to think about the quality of your work and the time that it is needed for your job.

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One of the biggest organisational problem is that often there is a lack of respect of other people time. Are organisations ready to facilitate the balance between personal, team and process time management? I do not think so. How many times happens to you to work with a colleague who asks for a meeting that ends with a 5 minutes chat? Or, when a process could be optimised but due to the logic of “we have always done like this” you waste precious time? In how many meetings you sit that are actually the update of last meeting and work to program the next one? Our time is threatened by the lack initiative, autonomy and entrepreneurship of other people or the organisation setup.

When organisations and individuals will begin to be include as one of the main values the respect of the time, your organisation will mature.

Time for yourself? No, you do not need to quit.

Taking time for yourself is not exactly what you are thinking of. No, I’m not saying that you need time off or you have to quit... well, that’s not a bad idea if you hate your job.

I often write about career management, career’s choices and which competencies you should have to be more effective at work. I have always been passionate about these topics and the ones related to the personal development and growth (learning, organisation’s support and psychological concepts). In order understand your career you need to invest time in a self-reflection exercise. You need to be consistent and organised; you can’t improvise.

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You need to schedule time for yourself. If you do not do it, you might end up thinking about your career when you are stressed or when you have done something wrong at work; if it is the case, the negative thoughts about yourself will distract you from having an objective evaluation and you will end up being over critical with yourself. Being constant and focused on this exercise will improve your approach to self-reflection, even if at the beginning it is going to be difficult and painful.

As mentioned before you can’t improvise. Why? You need quiet time and you need to be ready also at the emotional level.  You can’t rush it for 10 minutes in a middle of a busy day at work.  Your emotions, the stress and the lack of time could lead to hasty conclusions.  It is important to create your “lab” when you are alone with your thoughts.  Let’s say, you need at least 30 minutes a week; 30 minutes when you slow down and think. As I said in a recent post about curiosity, you should spend some time researching, studying and understanding. Give space to the curiosity about yourself. Give yourself time to think about it.

This self-reflection time is very important. More than you think. Try and let me know.

Being curious? Do not forget about it!

We often read articles about the skills and the competencies that each professionals should have. It is clearly important to have good analytical skills, being able to communicate well and navigate the politics of your organisation.

We should consider the programming skills, not only for software development roles. Steve Jobs was used to say that everyone should be able to program. Why? Not because we need to be developers; we need to be able to program and writing software because it “will teach us how to think”. He was used to say the same thing about studying Law as different approach to reasoning. In other words, you should train yourself to think with a different mind-set.  To be honest, it reminded me what my high school teacher was used to say about Latin language. However,  I’d really like to invite all to watch Steve Jobs’ interview with Robert Cringely in 1995 … impressive accuracy in presenting scenarios that will happen 20 years later.

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The interview made me think how is important to have curiosity. Our curiosity is the engine of many of our actions and it is the energy that boosts our knowledge. You do not need only to show curiosity, you need to be curious. Why is curiosity so important?  We discover something new thanks to our curiosity. If we are not curious, we’d never discover our areas of development. Doing research, the stress (or pleasure) of learning new things, reading, researching… These are the results of our curiosity.  Curiosity is the mechanism that pushes you into difficult situations and it is also what pushes us to travel and discover new places. Curiosity is also the desire to know other people. Understand them, do not understand them and try to understand why we are not understanding them.

Being curious comes for free… let me think about a MBA….

Swearing while presenting? I will not listen

I’ve attended a talk about tricks we can adopt in order to engage other people and having a focused audience. Considering that having the attention of colleagues or other stakeholders is fundamental in any jobs, I was very interested in listening to the presenter. He was talking and I was listening. As the presentation continued, I started becoming too “familiar” with the concepts that he was explaining. The tricks and the examples used resonated too familiar. How? Why? The presentation was very similar to one that I’ve listened to almost 5 years ago. Fine with it. Being original is not always easy (well, hard to say which of the two presentations was inspired by the other).

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Among the tricks presented in order to keep the attention of your audience, he suggested swearing. The reason? You catch the attention of the audience and you break the status quo.  Let’s say that the goal is understandable, particularly if it is a lengthy presentation; however, in my opinion, it is not the way. The focus falls naturally. There are several work psychology studies that measure the so-called attention span; on average, our attention span ranges between 45 minutes and 75 minutes. As said, after 5 years, I still do not agree with swearing just to keep the audience focused. Call me old fashioned on this; however, I prefer techniques that are more intelligent, simple and refined. If you are not presenting exciting subjects, use images, examples or ask questions to the audience. Do not forget to create an interactive environment.

Asking questions? It does not hurt you (much).

Making mistakes is a normal step with respect to the growth of any professional. There are many examples of entrepreneurs that have begun with a career or business plan, but then they have changed their paths.   Making mistakes allows you to make experience and realizing that there is another way or opportunity.

When you work into a positive organizational environment, your mistakes are interpreted as the chances for improvement or just a sign of commitment; there are other contexts where a mistake is stigmatized and who made the mistake is punished in some way.

In both cases, making mistakes affects our self-esteem. In other words, a mistake brings us to feel embarrassed and it is accompanied by stress which is of course not pleasant. We can feel down and inadequate. As I said before it is essential to experiment and make mistakes.  However there’s something we can do in order to try to avoid mistakes if we are not sure about a task/situation.

 

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The self-esteem is the powerful psychological aspect which allows us creating our personality and our status within our organization. In order to defend our status we do not want to show weaknesses to other members of the organization (or even to our colleagues). If this is the case, especially into very competitive environments, we tend to do not ask advice or guidance. It happens because the psychological mechanisms related to our self-esteem stop us in a self-defensive process. Of course, it would be good to ask for help or support before making a mistake.

In other words, it would be better to lower our defensive mind-set (ask for advice) in order to avoid the “destruction” of those (making a mistake). The mistakes have a stronger effect on our psychological well-being than asking questions. Again, making mistakes helps our growth; however, sometimes, you can ask without thinking of being judged.

This is not another post about time management!

Our behaviour at work is the result of the perceptions of the reality around us. For example,  the perceptions related to a particular work environment are different amongst the employees of the same organization. There are employees who find the work environment very enjoyable and other ones who hate it.

One important perception is the one related to “time”. Let’s start with a simple example. We usually feel that the time is flying while we’re doing something that we like. On the contrary, we have a completely different experience when we are part of something (task, project, activity) that does not stimulate us and/or does not boost our creativity. As a consequence,  it is difficult for a manager to interpret the individuals’ perception of time. Why? We interpret our roles/task/activities in a complete different ways.

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However, the managerial role is not tricky as for what I am going to describe now. Specifically, what is the perception of time with respect to success or failure?

Well, the whole thing becomes even more complicated and less generalizable than what said about the interesting (or not) tasks . The reaction towards the time spent to a complete an activity can be positive if you have completed something quickly; however, it can be perceived also positive if you have finally completed a task after a lot of time; why? you feel relieved.

 

Moreover, how much time we dedicate to the celebration of success or thinking about failures? Again, another perception and interpretation which depends on personality, attitude and also the work environment.

Yes. lt is very complicated. There are cases, such as in sales departments, where the achievements ( for example new deals) are celebrated. But, as the group celebrates, what is the achiever thinking? Is that celebration perceived as enough? Or is it needed more time for an individual (personal) self-reflection?  

Yes. It is complicated.  Your perception of the time is simply a fundamental dimension of your relationship with your job.

 

What’s the simplest thing to do for creating a collaborative team?

What’s the simplest thing to do for creating a collaborative team? I will tell you in a minute.

It happens often to read several articles about team building and collaboration; the fundamental elements which are usually presented as fundamental to create the “chemistry” are:trust, clear communication , clear goals and having an inspiring manager. In order to achieve this framework, organisations usually invest money for programs or specific initiatives. I imagine that it is happened to most of us to participate in offsites, social events or simple team meetings where your manager defines (or redefines) the team goals and/or the way of working.

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But, are these official occasions enough? Do they really create that needed chemistry? Probably they do, but not completely. The first reason is due to the fact that not all the organisations invest in this kind of initiatives . Secondly, even if they do,  there is a lack of continuous development which follows these events; in other words, there are not initiatives which follows the official event.
So, which is the simplest thing to do? Creating a culture of gratitude. Saying “thank you” when someone is working with you, saying “thanks” to your boss for the opportunities and supports are just few example. Recognition is fundamental in order to creating a good teamwork atmosphere and a needed collaboration…

Do you usually thanks people only when they have done something for you? Better to open up your horizon to create a better work framework.

Lifelong learning.. why is so important?

Lifelong learning is one of the most fascinating topic for HR professionals. Why? It is the mix of the will to grow as professional which is accompanied by “self motivation”. In other words, lifelong learning is the voluntary search for improvement. It is very important to underline that it is not the research of perfection but it is the research of improvement… continuous improvement.

Diapositiva1Many people think that their learning efforts end when they’ve completed a degree or when they participate in official training on the job. That’s exactly how you can stop your growth. With the lifelong learning mindset you can customize your learning goals and your learning curve; for sure, this kind of customization is not possible to do with an official training on the job or at university.

In order to grow and improve your skills, you need constantly to reflect on what is important for you in order to improve your way of doing things (for example: soft skills vs technical knowledge). It is fundamental to understand where your learning efforts need to be directed. Clearly, being passionate about something will hep your learning; however, many times, your learning need to be directed to something that you do not like to do or about something that you are struggling with. It is not easy, but this continue reflection and work is what you need to improve.