Career coaches and consultants regularly deal with clients who have had a disappointing, perhaps painful experience with their employment situation. While it is not always practical to prevent such difficulties, there is a simple formula available which can help to significantly decrease the likelihood of this happening.
Put another way, the premise of this article is based on the general desirability of an employment relationship being genuinely enabling to the employee and a serious value-add to the employer, not the employee exploiting the employer or vice versa. The “Six Yeses” formula can provide a radical reduction in the probability of pain to both parties and can provide an increase in the probability of a mutually rewarding and successful engagement over the medium to long term.
While it is true that the needs and interests of an employer are not the same and can be in conflict with the needs and interests of an applicant, the questions both parties have in common include the quality of fit between them and the sense to both that the longer term relationship will be satisfactory or better to both parties.
This formula is deceptively simple. When it is described to a client or employer, its value is appreciated almost immediately. As if by magic, the client and the employer have a new tool for self-protection and assurance that when they agree to enter a new employment relationship, it has all the markers of being highly beneficial for both parties. Or, if the decision is made to proceed in offering or accepting a job offer with less than six yeses, both parties are much more aware of the risk issues, and have the opportunity to manage and mitigate them so they do not blossom into really bad news in the future.
Employers, during the recruiting and interview process typically ask many questions. Reducing all these questions into three categories, the employer needs to be satisfied about each applicant:
It is generally understood that more often than not, if a dysfunctional relationship develops between an employee and his/her immediate manager, the employee may resign, may slip into “presenteeism” (at their desk but not actually working) or may become disruptive.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) practice and research inform us that an unhappy/distracted/disengaged employee generally becomes a significant problem for his/her boss, colleagues, subordinates and others who rely on their successful performance. Therefore prior to making the hiring decision, employers have an obligation to ensure, if possible, that the manager and the prospective employee will get along well and will develop a mutually enabling relationship.
From the employer’s perspective: The employer has at least three methods of gathering information about the answers to the above questions: They can ask their questions during the interviews, can do their due diligence, including taking up references supplied by the applicant, and can conduct a broader search -- social media, information gathering from the employer’s network, and checking around without declaring it to the applicant.
The employer should be cautious about making a job offer until they are satisfied that the applicant has the skills to do the work, is sufficiently motivated, enthusiastic and keen to actually do the work, and that the applicant, if hired, will work well with their new manager and align themself with the employer’s general themes, mission and priorities. In brief, once the employer has three yeses, it is reasonable for them to make the job offer.
From the applicant’s perspective: The applicant likewise asks similar questions from his/her point of view, although in my experience, it is common for these questions to be bypassed substantially if not completely, since many job seekers are anxious to become employed, even if the fit with the new job, manager and employer is marginal.
Some of the answers to these questions may be revealed in the interviews, but other information may be missing. The alert applicant needs to recognize that despite his or her best social sense in “reading between the lines”, what happens in an interview is frequently influenced by the employer’s interest in attracting and recruiting the applicant, not necessarily in talking about things that may be difficult to explain.
Missing information may include the immediate manager’s actual managerial style, crisis response style, record of anger management, adherence to ethical practices, accessibility and responsiveness to the new employee’s requests for information, decisions and advice.
Employers can be highly reassuring and apparently sincere in interviews, and it is the applicant’s responsibility to come to an understanding about what the true situation is. The prospective manager may be one of the best, or perhaps not. If the applicant has taken the boss’ comments at face value, he or she is at risk of believing the manager’s story line about what a wonderful manager he/she is, when it may not be entirely true.
Therefore there is an obligation on the applicant to do his or her own “due diligence,” checking about the prospective manager’s behaviour in the workplace and the general reputation of the employer from individuals who have worked there or had meaningful interaction with the organization.
Unfortunately, many, perhaps most applicants stop themselves from making the due diligence calls and this is a strategic mistake. Not investigating means that the applicant has incomplete information about their next and most important reporting relationship and is relying entirely on what was perceived, assumed, learned and inferred from the face-to-face interviews. This represents a massive gap in the applicant’s analysis.
Once the applicant is satisfied that he/she has the skills required, and is motivated and keen to do the work, questions one and two are answered positively. Assuming that the applicant has done the appropriate due diligence and has gathered opinions and facts about the corporate culture and how the manager actually behaves on the job, and has found that the reports are not troublesome, the third question becomes answered in the affirmative. Once the applicant has three yeses, he or she can be as confident as possible that acceptance of the offer will lead to a mutually rewarding, productive and stable employment experience.
At this point, the employer has arrived at three yeses, and makes the employment offer. The applicant has three yeses and is fully ready to negotiate and accept the offer. While nothing is certain, and situations can change, the likelihood is strong that the applicant, now the new employee, will be using the skills they have, will have high motivation to work hard and smart, and has accepted a new manager who will be delighted to have found a new employee. This is the win-win conclusion that most of us would wish.
In summary, this deceptively simple formula provides a framework enabling wise decisions to be made by the employer and the applicant, which work to the advantage of both parties, and to the disadvantage of neither.
Donald M. Smith, M.S.W., CMF
Secretary of Ontario Association of Career Management
Career Coach & Consultant
Members and supporters of the Ontario Association of Career Management (OACM) have asked several questions about:
Since these are all reasonable questions, this Blog will provide our reasoning and the process that we pursued in creating our new branding name. Together they describe the steps taken since the Annual General Meeting in June 2015 when Zana Dragovic (Past Chair) and Kristina Sammut (Chair) announced that the association would cease being a subsidiary network of the Association of Career Professionals International and, as an independent organization, would create a new name and identity for future programming in support of career professionals in Toronto and Ontario.
The story starts with the concept of “name infringement”, as a source of litigation which, unfortunately has become a popular distraction in the Not-For-Profit zone. Clearly identified brand messaging is important in any commercial or professional sector, so that members and supporters can differentiate at a glance the prospective benefits (and limitations) which any given association can provide.
Our way to establish a new association name is through incorporation with the Ontario Government. Our Board identified a number of potential names which were not arguably or apparently confusable with any other NFP association names and secured approval to identify ourselves as the Ontario Association of Career Management. This made it possible to secure incorporation (“Letters Patent”) from the Ministry of Government Services.
Why the change from Association of Career Professionals International (Toronto Network) to Ontario Association of Career Management?
At the ACPI (Toronto Network) AGM on 9 June 2015 Zana Dragovic (outgoing Chair) and Kristina Sammut (incoming Chair) made announcements that the organization was separating from ACP International. As an independent association, it would be establishing a new name that would be unique to our function and could not arguably be confused with the ACP International branding or the branding of any other professional support association.
Of the numerous names considered, OACM was the only one which met four key criteria. The criteria are (1) clearly distinctive from other associations, (2) describing the kind of work our Members do, (3) approvable within the NUANS name search and (4) consistent with our history; prior to adopting the name ACP International, the association was branded as International Association of Career Management Professionals.
Why the focus on Ontario rather than Toronto?
Historically, the largest group of members in the association was living or working within reach of the Greater Toronto Area, although there was always interest and participation from professionals from elsewhere in the province of Ontario. It is likely that on an ongoing basis the majority of our members will continue to be GTA based, but by broadening our reach to Ontario, this provides a platform for the non-GTA Members to feel fully legitimized and welcome to participate in the networking, information sharing and professional development activities that the OACM offers. This also opens the door to other delivery channels for professional development, for example by developing virtual presentations using GoToMeeting or other modalities.
Why did we select Career Management as an umbrella concept rather than something broader or narrower?
The intention of selecting “Career Management” as our scope of interest is to attract leaders and professionals from within the spectrum of distinctive, yet related practices, so that together we can learn from each other and generate a broader appreciation of the interrelatedness of these different fields. These leaders and professionals provide, purchase and organize career services; we found that the name of the association was too tightly focused just on career service professionals. There is great benefit to be gained by attracting members from broader fields, since they are all to some extent cousins (or at least close relatives) of ours in that their mandate overlaps with ours in positive ways.
Here are three examples:
Although the following list of fields is not exhaustive, we plan to provide Event programming that includes leading-edge dialogue and professional development to our Members including:
Don Smith, Secretary of the Board
Ontario Association of Career Management
“Success comes from standing out, not fitting in.” Don Draper, Mad Men
“The interview process is broken,” so says Eric P. Kramer, author of the hot new interview process book “Active Interviewing: Branding Selling and Presenting Yourself to Win Your Next Job.” Hiring managers are not good interviewers and candidates make a lot of interview mistakes even after expert training and lots of practice. The interview needs fixing and using Active Interviewing strategies fixes interviews!
When teaching a class on Interviewing Skills or working one on one with a client they would have to be a top level interviewer, with lots of confidence and a strong sense of self to pull off this advanced level of interviewing.
A structured sales approach and a well delivered interview presentation fixes job interviews for both the candidate and the hiring manager, says Kramer. If a candidate is comfortable taking bold new approaches to fix broken processes and they aren’t landing their dream job then you might take them to AI. If clients are uncomfortable with change and they are a more traditional candidate then this bold approach probably isn’t what you should work with them on.
Fixing a Broken Interview from the Interviewee’s Perspective
Tell your clients to adapt these thoughts and behaviors:
Most interviewees should take more control of the interview than they currently do. Strangely enough, hiring managers are usually happy to share that control if only the interviewee would quit worrying about answering questions so correctly and concentrate more on actively selling themselves.
For more on Active Interviewing, go to www.activeinterviewing.com.