Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

Hiring Graduates Based on Personality Skills

HR professionals within organizations have given personality assessments to potential employees for many years. I was asked to take a personality assessment for a pharmaceutical sales job in 1987.  The changes I have noticed since that time include the type and frequency of personality tests given.  What also may be trending is the fact that leaders of schools have become more interested in personality assessments. In the Wall Street Journal article Business Schools Know How You Think, but How Do You Feel, author Melissa Korn explained, “Prospective MBA students need to shine by showing emotional traits like empathy, motivation, resilience, and dozens of others.”  Schools may be interested in these traits because organizations value these traits.  Korn also explained, “Measuring EQ-or emotional intelligence quotient-is the latest attempt by business schools to identify future stars.”

I find this trend to be particularly interesting because I teach business, I am a qualified Myers Briggs instructor, a certified EQ-i instructor, and I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I have also witnessed that online schools have placed more importance on personality assessments. Many of my first-year students must take a Jung-like personality test.  Many of my undergraduate and graduate business students have to assess their EQ.

I think it is important for these personality preference and emotional intelligence issues to be addressed in online courses.  Some of the things that may hurt a graduate’s chance of obtaining is job include having poor self-assessment skills, poor interpersonal skills, and a lack of concern for how they are perceived by others.

When I was in pharmaceutical sales, they rated us each year on our concern for impact.  It was such an important part of what they believed made us successful in the field, that there were consequences to poor judgment and rude behavior.  In the book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, there is a chapter regarding concern for impact, as well as one for Myers Briggs MBTI, Emotional Intelligence, DISC, and many other personality assessments that may help young adults in the workplace. One of the universities for which I teach requires students to read this book in a foresight course.

It is important for online students to learn about these assessments because employers use them.  Some personality traits stay with us throughout our lives.  The MBTI is an example of an assessment that determines preferences that may not change.  This assessment may be helpful to students who are not sure about career paths.  Other assessments like the EQ-i determine emotional intelligence levels.  The good news about emotional intelligence is that it may be improved. Marcia Hughes has written several books about how to improve EQ in the workplace.  The savvy online students will work on developing their EQ and understanding personality preferences before they graduate.  By being proactive, students may have a better chance of being successful in a career that matches their personality preferences.

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Famous Entrepreneurs Provide Inspiration

There are plenty of examples of entrepreneurs who failed before they became successful.  Some of them even explain that failure has taught them their most valuable lessons.  While this may be true, many prospective entrepreneurs fear failure.  One way to avoid problems is to learn from those who have experienced negative issues and still managed to succeed.

Entrepreneur.com recently published the article 10 Inspirational Leaders Who Turned Around Their Companies.  In this article, author Stephanie Vozza explained, “From Apple’s Steve Jobs’ demanding personality to Marvel’s Isaac Perlmutter’s frugal methods, these sometimes-controversial CEOs weren’t always popular with employees, but they earned the respect of shareholders.”

For some unusual entrepreneurial examples, check out the VentureVillage article The Top Ten Startup Founder Blogs Every Entrepreneur Should Follow.  These entrepreneurs offer a different perspective and update their blogs on a regular basis.

For more information for how to be a successful entrepreneur check out:

Linkedin Endorsements Poorly Utilized

 

Linkedin has provided an opportunity for networkers to endorse the skills of people with whom they are connected.  This was meant to be a time saver for people who normally wrote full recommendations. The idea had promise.  However, it is not being utilized well.  When users sign onto their Linkedin profile, they are given a list of people in their network and asked if they want to endorse them for a particular skill. There is the option of being able to endorse all of the people that pop up as choices.  The problem is, many people are doing that.  People may receive many endorsements from people who have not witnessed some of the skills they have endorsed.  At that point, the Linkedin endorsements become meaningless.

It is far too easy to choose the option of endorsing people as it is currently configured.  If the point was to make recommendations easier, it is understandable that there should be some way to do that.  However, if everyone is endorsing everyone for everything, there is no value to the endorsement.

To find out more about Linkedin’s Endorsements check out the following articles

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Top Links for Employee Onboarding

 

New employees go through a process that is referred to onboarding.  This is the time that the company can make employees feel welcome.  It is also a time when they can begin to work on things like creating open communication, sharing a corporate vision, and defining goals. In the article Employee Onboarding, the following list contains high-level objectives of onboarding:

  • Helping the employee to identify with their new employer.
  • Allowing the employee to understand some of the company’s values and priorities.
  • Building an optimistic attitude towards the company.
  • Avoiding misunderstandings.
  • Helping the employee feel valued.
  • Encouraging socialization and creating a sense of belonging.
  • Reducing new employee anxiety.
  • Setting of performance expectations.
  • Decreasing the learning curve.

For more information about how employers and employees can have a successful onboarding process, check out the following articles:

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Update Your Resume for the New Year

 

One New Year’s resolution to consider is to update your resume.  Whether you are in job-search mode or have been with a job for a while, it is always good to be prepared.  The job market is constantly changing and people sometimes lose jobs that they had considered solid.

I recommend checking out the Ragan article 10 Words or Phrases That Shouldn’t be on Your Résumé. I like that the author mentioned the importance of not simply listing the word experienced. “Although you may have many years working in a certain field, don’t sell yourself short by using a word as vague and general as “experienced.” Get specific. Make a note of how long you’ve worked in a certain industry, how many clients you’ve had, what your sales were, and how much you increased profitability. Employers want to see results, not fluff.”

I have had to review many resumes that were sloppy, complicated, and just difficult to decipher. Due to a wealth of information on the Internet, there is no excuse for having a poor resume.

I recommend checking out some of the following links:

It is also simple to create a resume within a Word document.  To find templates, go to the file dropdown menu and pick new.  In the search bar, type in the word: resume.  This will bring up a list of free templates that can be easily modified.

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When Employers Utilize Employee Background Checks

 

Employers have no shortage of prospective employees in this economy.  In order to determine the best candidates, it is not uncommon for employers to run background checks.   Employeescreen.com reported that there may be some debate over the impact of these checks:  “it’s argued by employers that conducting criminal background checks assists in ultimately ensuring a safer work environment for everyone, reducing negligent hiring and criminal activity in the workplace. From the EEOC’s perspective the increase in criminal background checks for employment could cause discrimination in the hiring process.”

Background checks are in the news right now due to The Supreme Court Case of Vance v. Ball State University.

According to the EEOC, the following shows the likelihood of a job candidate to receive a background check:

  • 91% of financial jobs (banking, etc.) with fiduciary responsibility
  • 46% of senior executive positions
  • 34% of positions that require accessing confidential information (medical, salary, etc.)
  • 30% of positions where there is access to property
  • 11% of positions where state law requires it (day care, medical practitioner)
  • 9% of positions with security responsibilities (security guards)
  • 8% of positions involving national defense
  • 5% of positions that involve safety (transportation operation)
  • 3% of positions that involve contact with children and elderly

When Michael Eastman, (Executive Director of the Labor Law Policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce) was asked about when credit checks were performed, he explained, “Different components of applicant background checks occur at different stages in the hiring process. Some employers may check references before an initial interview, some may do so afterward but before creating a final list of candidates. However, as I understand, most employers do not request credit history until the last stage of the hiring process. In other words, employers are not using credit history to compare the credit worthiness of several possible applicants. Instead, they are requesting credit history and potentially other information, on individuals that they are otherwise prepared to hire.”

For more information check out Michael Eastman’s Statement that includes the following issues regarding background checks:

  • Frequency in Use
  • Credit Scores and Information Utilized
  • Dialogue with Applicants
  • Can Credit History Ever be Job Related

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Data Reveals What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur

 

The Wall Street Journal recently listed some interesting statistics regarding entrepreneurs.  Ewing Marion Kauffman’s data was used to create an infographic.  According to the article By the Numbers:  Taking the Measure of Entrepreneurs, the following gives more insight as to who becomes an entrepreneur:

  • Age – The average age for an entrepreneur is 40 years old.
  • Education – Over 95% of entrepreneurs hold a bachelor’s degree or higher and over 47% have advanced degrees.
  • Background – Over 71% came from the middle-class and 1% came from extremely rich or extremely poor backgrounds.
  • Funding – For 70% of entrepreneurs, the main source of funding came from savings.
  • Family – First borns accounted for over 42% of entrepreneurs. They had an average of 3 siblings.  Just over half of them were the first in their family to start a business.  Nearly 70% were married and nearly 60% had at least one child.
  • Success – When asked what entrepreneurs felt was important for success, 73% listed luck as an important factor.
  • Location – The highest numbers of entrepreneurs are in Arizona, Texas and California. The lowest numbers are in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii.

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Companies Interested in Supertemps

 

Welcome to the ever-changing corporate environment.  As virtual jobs become popular, so have other non-traditional job types.  The supertemp is gaining popularity in the business world.  What is a supertemp? According to The Harvard Business Review article The Rise of the Supertemp, “Supertemps are top managers and professionals—from lawyers to CFOs to consultants—who’ve been trained at top schools and companies and choose to pursue project-based careers independent of any major firm.”

Entrepreneurial people may find the life of a supertemp to be appealing.  The author of the Forbes article Are You Ready for the Supertemp, explained that Supertemps may “now pick and choose from among many cool, well-paying projects, sometimes obtained through agencies that work with these high-end independents.

What type of people become supertemps? According to the Darton Equation article What is a Supertemp and Why Should You Care , “Supertemps are refugees from big corporations, law firms and consulting firms. Supertemps value the autonomy and flexibility of project-based work. Supertemps find that the compensation is comparable to what they earned in full-time jobs (sometimes even better). Supertemps leave behind endless internal meetings and corporate politics. Supertemps find any stigma on temporary jobs, and the people who chose them, as laughably dated.”

For those interested in becoming a supertemp, check out the CBS article: How to Become a $600K Per Year Supertemp.

Some job sites are now listing Supertemp in their job descriptions.  Check out this University of Virginia Supertemp opening.

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Do Job Candidates Lie on Personality Tests?

 

Companies often use personality tests like the Myers Briggs MBTI, emotional intelligence EQ-i, or others like the DISC to determine if potential employees’ personalities are a good fit for jobs.  I noticed a conversation about whether companies should use personality tests for screening employees. It seemed that many of the responses indicated that people will just lie to get the job.

There is the possibility that any subjective, self-administered test could be manipulated.  However, many of the tests have built-in detectors that try to catch inconsistent responses.  For those of you who have taken these tests, you may have noticed that it seemed like they asked the same kind of questions more than once.  Many of these tests reword things several different ways to determine consistency.

I took a personality test for a job as a pharmaceutical representative in the early 80’s.  Because it was a sales job, I knew that they were looking for sales-related qualities.  It was common sense to figure out that since I was applying for a sales position, I should use appropriate adjectives like motivated or driven to describe my personality.

The problem with lying on the personality tests is that in the end, you will end up with a job that does not really fit with what makes you happy.  Also the company will end up with an employee that is not the best match for the job.  In this economy, many people are willing to do whatever it takes to get any job.  However, the experienced HR professional should do more than just use a personality test to determine a good candidate.  These tests can be useful tools if used correctly.  However, they are just one of many tools.

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