Sunday, July 29, 2007

Life lessons from a young Marine

I normally don't let too much of my personal life bleed into this blog, but this is a different case. My family is mourning the loss of my nephew, Corporal James Mazza Jr. Jimmy was a great kid who grew up to be an outstanding young man and a proud Marine. In his passing, I have come to realize some of the great lessons I can learn from him.

  1. Don't cry because it's over, smile because is happened - Jimmy loved that line, and I can now understand how well it truly fits. Life is way to short to spend it in regret. Enjoy the gift you have today fully - consume all the adventure and joy around you....
  2. If you are going to do something, do it all the way. Jimmy took every new challenge as an opportunity to kick it up a notch. He applied this in sport, study and service - every day. That is a view most of the best and brightest share and it is what makes them so successful.
  3. The bonds we form with those who share our struggle and adversity are stronger than any challenge. While Jimmy served only a few years with his unit, his Marine buddies were as close a family as the one he left at home. His buddies all came up here for his funeral and, as hard as it is for a former Army guy to say, these were some of the finest young men I have ever had the privilege to meet.
  4. The seeds we sow can bring a huge return, IF we sow and tend them well. Jimmy was a great person and he truly had a positive impact on just about every life he touched. His Dad is a Police Officer and his Mom is a Teacher. Together, the three of them have touched and saved or improved countless lives. When Jimmy died, the community responded in a way that can best be described as heroic. Sort of like the folks of Bedford Falls all chipping in to help George Bailey, the community delivered a crop of compassion from the seeds of service they planted.
  5. Organizations are only as strong as the devotion they show to their people. The Marines are an extraordinarily tough organization and they draw all the dirtiest and most dangerous missions, yet they are still viewed as elite and membership in their ranks is considered to be an privilege - hard to earn and with you for life if you get it. In seeing the respect, dignity and compassion with which they treat their fallen comrades and the families they leave behind, I now understand how the bonds of this fraternity are formed and the loyalty they share amongst themselves is a reward in itself.
So, with these lessons added to our arsenal and a long road of healing ahead, let's salute this exceptional Marine and try to continue the good fight.

Semper Fi

Monday, July 16, 2007

A good old fashioned rant!

Frequent readers will know that I normally grouse about bad management practices and then whip out a little bit of advice to overcome the bad behavior.... well today is going to be a bit off that track. Today I am going to take a few pot-shots at Job Seekers!

We've all been job seekers before, but there are some ALARMING new trends I see among those who want to work for my company, and many of my fellow HR trolls tell similar tales around the cauldron, so I figured it was time to act.

First, if you want to get a job selling widgets at my company, you better know a lot about my company; exactly what type of widgets we sell, to whom we sell them to and why our widgets are better than the competition's. Honestly, this doesn't require a lot of work on your part - just read our flipping website and you can articulate all that pretty well - even if you don't really understand it. As simple as this sounds I am appalled at the number of candidates who don't even know what our widgets do! Kind of like me applying for a job running a cruise ship and not knowing it's name, size or even where it sails!

Second - I am the HR geek trying to help the Manager identify, qualify, assess and potentially hire you - treating me like a bellhop ain't such a good idea. If you treat me like crud I might imagine you'd treat colleagues and {gasp} even customers that way! There's NO quicker way to earn the dreaded "Thanks, but....NO thanks" letter from me.

Third - Be realistic. You'd be blown away by some of the unrealistic expectations candidates can have. YES - we do want to woo you, but we are NOT going to give you the keys to the castle on the first date. For example, remember that we are in business to make money - demanding half the profits from a new product is not realistic and will set you apart in a VERY BAD WAY! A corollary to that is, if this is your first or second job, please dont expect to make as much as that 20 year vet sitting next to you - we are not paying for longevity, we are paying for experience, not attitude.

Yes, this was a grand old rant, but it's needed!


As and when you start interviewing - remember these basics:
  1. Be prepared - Know all you can know about the company
  2. Treat everyone you deal with in the process as you'd like to be treated. Remember, the HR person you crap on in the interview process may well handle your payroll record some day!
  3. Be realistic about the company, the role and yourself - you may be good, but you are NOT the only person who can do the job - understand that no matter how sexy that job looks, somebody has to do the dirty work..... you will likely get your share of that along the way.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Who can you trust?

I recently blogged about how non-HR folks can be greatly effective recruiters IF you company has a well designed and executed Employee Referral plan. Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership commented on that post about how he hears that folks feel there are not getting the truth from recruiters. Let me get this straight - is Wally saying that recruiters might actually lie? You betcha they do! Especially those for whom there is a payday hanging on your decision to take on that new role.

Let's be clear here - I AM a recruiter and I know how the game is played - we convince ourselves that we are not lying.... maybe we call it "optimistic view-shaping", or "tactical fact withholding" or some other euphemistic term - all of those variants are lying in my book. And while I confess to having done such things at points in my past, I have long since realized the benefits of just being candid, so as a reformed recruiter, I have earned the right to this soap box.

Put aside for a moment the basic fact that such behavior is possibly illegal, is surely unethical, immoral and probably going to cost them some Karma points... beyond all that - It's just plain STUPID!

Your reputation is a critical asset to manage and protect. If you, as a recruiter, treat people well, honor your word and commitments and generally look out for your candidates and prospects, you will gain much more than the momentary rush (and potential payday) of the quick win. If that "win" is achieved by selling the candidate a bill of goods, they will figure it out, quit the job and your name will become three levels lower than pond scum! No candidate with talking to will be willing to speak with you or anyone at your company if the word gets out that you mislead candidates.

Great candidates are in short supply, so it's extremely important to be honest with them. Treat them as you would want to be treated and they will respect you AND your organization. No, you probably wont enjoy such a stellar batting average and some great talent will go for other opportunities, but the folks you do hire will be happier in the near and long term because you will not have held back on them and they will know exactly what they are getting into from the word go! Your personal and organizational reputation will be enhanced and the folks you hire will tell folks about the refreshingly honest approach you have afforded them.


Do you know what your HR friends are telling your candidates? What are YOU telling your candidates. If you are being any less than open with them, shame on you. Bad Manager! No Donut for you! Now... sin no more and go tell the truth!