How to Detect Rudeness in Applicants

The baby cries and calls mom from a bed

I had been standing in the pharmacy line for about ten minutes and was next to be served. Just as I stepped up, a middle-aged woman slipped in front of me and said to the pharmacy tech, “I just need to drop this off,” handing him a prescription.

“This gentleman is next in line,” said the tech.

“I know,” said the woman, “but I just need to drop this off.”

“I can’t accept this prescription without checking to see if you’re in the system,” explained the tech.

“I know,” insisted the woman, but I’m in a hurry and I just need to drop this off.”

The tech gave me that pleading look that said, “Would you mind if I dealt with this rude woman?”

I nodded and he checked her in. “Thank you,” he said after she was out of range. “That happens a couple of times a day.”

Outside of wanting to rant about those who lack courtesy, this incident reminded be of something I’ve taught employers for years: How applicants behave and what they do once hired can be considerably different things. All the interviews and assessments in the world will not reveal this. When the person’s in a rush, how is she going to treat those around her? When she’s feeling pressured, how will she treat the customer? When she’s in the last ten minutes of her shift, what will she say to that person who’s going to delay her departure?

So what do you do? Here are three suggestions:

First, arrange to have applicants come in contact with strangers. This can be as simple as having the receptionist try to chat them up. Does the applicant respond with understanding? Does she empathize? Perhaps instead she treats the receptionist with a dismissive, “I’m better than you,” attitude. Those are the ones to watch out for.

Second, keep them waiting. No one likes to be kept waiting. But some of us deal with it better than others. Does the applicant grow impatient? How does he deal with the delay? Does he chat up the receptionist, find something to read or review information about the company? Maybe he sits there and stews or asks what’s going on every five minutes. Who would you rather have on your team?

Third, place them in a situation where they have to perform. This strategy requires the most time and effort. But it is also the most effective. Have applicants go on a “scavenger hunt” by collecting documents or information from several people within the firm. This will force them to establish a brief rapport with each one. Place them in an office with an in-basket exercise and have people call and interrupt them with questions and requests that range from the informative to the inane. After an hour of this, you’ll get a feel for how they handle distractions, irritations, confusion and the like.

Notice that all of these strategies deal with nuance. But it’s the nuanced behaviors of others that can get under our skin and can cost us money. Is all this worth the investment? You decide. You’re making a thirty- to fifty-thousand dollar decision by hiring someone.

Are these ideas fool-proof? Of course not. But they will go to some length in revealing the potential behaviors of those upon whom you will relay once they’re on the job. After all, most people don’t get fired for a lack of competence. They are released because of the attitudes and behaviors that those around them consider unacceptable.

How to Get People to “Just make a decision!”

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After a recent presentation, I was asked, “How do I get my people to just make a decision?” When I queried for more detail, the manager told me he’s grown weary of employees who “need to be pushed when there’s the slightest hint of ambiguity.” While it’s impossible to provide a specific prescription for situations like these, allow me to offer a few strategies gleaned from those who successfully navigate this challenge.

Begin with two questions when approaching those who are hesitant. Ask first, “What is your desired outcome?” Don’t be surprised if they are less than clear on the actual decision to be made. Rather than telling them what they should be deciding, take a minute to talk it through together. Don’t be impatient. After all, you want them to do this on their own over time.

Second, ask, “What’s holding you back from acting?” The reasons may be more complex than you think. Is this fear based on past experiences? Do they think the organization’s culture is intolerant of failure? Have they grown up with parents or other adults who criticized their decisions and way of thinking? Perhaps it’s a bit of all of these. You can’t psychoanalyze them. But it is important they account for these issues.

Compel them to determine a course of action. This usually requires a series of questions that presses them to consider the context, identify options, and choose the most appropriate action. I have mentioned “think-alouds” in a previous blog post. This would be a good time to use this strategy.

Confirm they will act and when. Once they have decided on a course of action, ask them to commit to a time frame. This is the moment of truth, so don’t end the conversation without obtaining a promise to act. There may be additional input needed or perhaps a sub-task needs to be completed. Work through these steps with them. Then get a commitment.

Provide encouragement. For some, making the decision may be more of a significant step than you imagine. Some may lack experience solving problems. Some may be fearful because of past failures. Some may be apprehensive about making a mistake because of job security. If you suspect these concerns, attempt to draw them out. The relationship has to be built on trust – them trusting you and trusting themselves.

Connect about the result. Assure them that you will circle back to see what happened. Explain that this is not about checking up. Get them to view it as an opportunity to process the outcome and scaffold this experience to other decisions they will face.

Continue this process until you see a change in behavior. Some of the hesitancy to act may be deep-seated. Patience is required. Obviously, every situation is different, but these steps provide a framework for fostering action. Act and then make the adjustments necessary.

Making Faster Decisions Takes Discipline

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In a recent blog post entitled How to Go Faster, Seth Godin lists five elements for making faster decisions. But the unwritten message is to have the discipline to decide. How often do we rationalize the delay of everyday choices for fear of getting a less-than-perfect outcome. Let’s admit it, there’s no such thing as the perfect decision. We are led to that conclusion by the plethora of advertising messages that infer that if we just go with their product or service, our lives will be perfect. Hah!

Making decisions that achieve desired outcomes requires preparation and calculated risk. But once you’ve prepared and calculated, make the decision and act! Delaying just wastes time and resources. How much discipline do you have around this?

Decisions and the Bureaucratic Food Chain

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Once upon a time there was a large California-based bank. It was very concerned about the security of its data and the data of its customers. So someone in the bank’s bureaucracy decided block cell phones from being able to call the toll-free international customer assistance number from Europe, just to be on the safe side.

Now during this same time, there was a college student studying abroad in Germany who had her wallet stolen. She called the toll-free international customer assistance number on the bank’s website and it didn’t work. She asked a few friends to try on their cell phones and it didn’t work for them either.

Her father was able to get her credit and travel debit cards cancelled by calling from inside the US, but was told she would have to call personally to get her cards replaced. Since she couldn’t connect from Europe, her father sent her the debit card she had left at home so she would be able to access some cash. She tried to use it and found that the pin did not work. She called the international customer assistance number on the back of that card, still not knowing that her cell phone was blocked from using it. Since the bank requires that debit cards be brought to a branch in order to reset a pin number, the college student became frightened that she’d be marooned in Germany with no money.

When her father went to a local bank branch to get this problem solved, five bank employees spent more than an hour trying to figure out how to work around this obstacle. They could not understand why cell phones were blocked from calling the international customer assistance number, especially since more than half of those in Europe rely exclusively on cell phones. Finally, one creative personal banker named Eddie decided to take things into his own hands. He ordered a new debit card, had it rushed to the student. Problem solved. But this cost five hours of employee time, two hours of the father’s time, several hours of the student’s time, the considerable expense of overnighting a new debit card to Europe, not to mention the student’s business when she returns from Europe.

The father thought of sending Eddie a thank you note since it was he who figured out how to work around his bank’s Byzantine policies. But he worried that the bank would find out about it and thwart that strategy with another “fix.” He does hope, however, that those further up the food chain consider how their decisions affect so many others before acting.

Decision Making and Reading Deep

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Talk to those in publishing and they’ll tell you that the number of people who purchase books dwarfs the number of people who actually read them. The exceptions to this are fantasy novels, all things Harry Potter and so-called “mommy porn.” Sadly, teachers will tell you that most students struggle to read more than 300 words at a time.

Over the past 20 years, we have witnessed an evolution in print media from 1500 word analyses to 200 word summaries. A substantial portion of Millennials admit that they get their news from The Daily Show, the evening monologues, Facebook and Twitter. TV news producers have learned that stories need to be reported in 90 seconds or less, regardless of the topic’s complexity. The result? Shallow thinking. And when we do it everywhere else, we can’t help but do it at work.

So, you want to put a sharper edge on your workplace decision making? Here’s the challenge, read long and deep. Ignore the distractions. Set aside some time every day to read something about your industry, a thought-provoking editorial, perhaps current affairs. Ever meet someone who expresses a strong opinion but shows little, if any, recognition of the complexities involved? You might have thought to yourself, “Gee, they have the same vote I do.” This is due to a lack of reading. Talk radio, TV and trending Twitter stories will not make up for this deficit.

The best decision makers in any environment have developed the habit of reading and reviewing a diversity of publications and viewpoints. By doing so, they remain up-to-date and accepting of a wide range of approaches to solving problems. Want to be a smarter decision maker? Make a practice of reading long and deep.

Would You Want Austin on Your Team?

Austin is a shift manager at my local McDonalds. Over the past few months, I have watched with a bit of fascination as he deftly supervises a wide range of ages and personalities. Employees accept his instructions with good nature and will own up to a mistake when he calls them on it. It is very evident that he is in charge, yet fair and professional. He knows how to give both compliments and criticisms with positive effect.

But here’s the thing — Austin is 18! He’s a senior in high school! Last week, I pulled him aside for a few minutes and asked where he learned all this. “My parents, mostly,” he said. “And I’ve had some good coaching from the owners.” I asked him to explain further. “From my parents, I’ve gotten a good work ethic and set of values about contributing to the organization,” he said. “My manager has been good about giving me specific instructions on how to handle people . . what to do, what not to do and how to avoid being manipulated by those who are just clocking hours. It took some time, but I’ve gotten the hang of it.”

I asked him about dealing with people three times his age. “I make a point of getting to know them and showing I care,” he said. They’re just here to make some money and keep busy. There’s nobody on a power trip. I think they’re even a little fascinated that I’m so young. The people my age are more likely to challenge me, but we’re work it through and I stick to my expectations. I make mistakes, but I’m learning.”

How refreshing! As much as we lament the lazy distracted ways of some Millennials, Austin is a great example of how bright the future can be. Whether he chooses a career with McDonalds or someplace else, he’s going to be successful. Interestingly, he attributes his work ethic and values to parenting. We can certainly use more of that in today’s disparate society. After all, the members of every emerging generation learn from the environments in which they come of age.

Crossing the Generational Divide Keynote Presentation

 

Get the Most Out of Your
Generational Groups at Work

 Generation Next: Managing Today's Talent Transition

 

 

Watch a preview

 

Ask about this presentation

Sure, we know all about the generations in the workplace. The Boomers are hanging around. The Millennials are pushing hard to advance. The Xers are squeezed in between. The generational transition is here to stay.

What can you do to manage the generational groups today?

Crossing the Generational Divide: Managing Today’s Talent Transition is an entertaining and interactive session that will help you resolve conflicting expectations and approaches to work. Learn how to develop mentoring relationships between digital immigrants and digital natives.  Discover how top workplaces engage veteran contributors and enhance productivity among their newest hires. Loaded with practical illustrations of how to manage a cross-generational team, you’ll take away simple but powerful strategies for integrating the most diverse workforce the nation has ever seen.

  • Establish a communication protocol that meets everyone’s needs.

     

  • Foster smart decision making across all the generations. 
     
  • Improve the productivity of cross generational teams.
     
  • Help your “sandwich managers” connect with people of all ages. 
     
  • Bridge the technology gap between digital immigrants and digital natives.
     
  • Make the next generation of contributors productive from day one. 
     
  • Reduce retirement on the job among long-timers.
     
  • Establish a culture of succession planning and knowledge transfer from one generation to another.

To ask about this presentation for your next event, call 800-227-5510 or complete an event form.

What they’re saying about Bob Wendover . . .

“Bob really knows his stuff and can communicate it in an engaging the actionable way. APQC audiences love his talks and point of view.”

Carla O’Dell
President, APQC

“Bob worked with our staff to develop presentations that would the specific needs of our college. He was extremely easy to work with and I would highly recommend him to other institutions.”

Wendy Del Bello
Assistant to the President, Alvin Community College

"Your program not only caused people to learn and to think, but to discuss with each other important and relevant takeaways.”

Rick Johnson
Assistant Dean, Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado

“We needed to look at our Association from the outside and Bob gave us that ability. His approach of the generations was excellent. We laughed and learned all at the same time.”
Judy Garber
Executive Director, National Assn of Oil Heating Service Managers

“Bob spoke at our industry convention and we were so intrigued that we hired him to speak to our company at our annual manager’s meeting. Bob has a fresh approach that is informative and entertaining. We are a better company because of his help.”

Tommy Sedler
Owner, Home City Ice

 

Call 800-227-5510 or complete an event form to check availability for your next event.

 


 

 

 


     

 

GenTrends 153 : Office Parade May 2013


 May 2013 Issue #153   

Greetings,

Questions, questions, questions. Some are necessary, others are not. The fact is, many people use them to avoid the hard work of thinking things through for themselves.  Scroll to read or click here to hear how you can stop the parade of questions from strolling through your office (2 minutes, 19 seconds).

To your success!

Managing Director
The Center for Generational Studies
800.227.5510
www.generationaldiversity.com
                       

35% Off ANY Resource! 

The year is nearly half over . . .how’s your training going?

Before you set your "out on vacation" e-mail reply, take action and order your training materials today. If you do before the end of May, you’ll save 35% off ANY training resource!

Train your entire staff with the funny and impactful Generation Next keynote, or any one of the online programs! Use coupon code Spring2013 when checking out and save anywhere from $7 – $70 on one item.

Visit the store before May 31 and rest easier while you’re out of the office this summer. 


Do You Have a Parade in Your Office?

Do you know what I mean? The constant flow of people who wander, or sometimes walk with a purpose, into your office to ask for specific instructions?

"What do I do next?" one asks.

"I know you told me what to do," another says, "but I need more specifics."

"Maybe we should collaborate on this project since you know what to do," says a third.

"Why did we hire some of these people," you wonder, "if they want me to do all the thinking? I’m never going to get my own work done with all these questions."

So what to do? Allow me to suggest three solutions:

First, throw it back to them. Just because they ask you what to do doesn’t mean you have to give them an answer. I know that sometimes it’s just easier, but that invites abuse your time. Instead ask them, "What do you think you should do?" Then wait . . . a while. You may see a momentary look of panic in their eyes, or frustration, or bewilderment. But silence is a powerful thing. When feeling pressured, everyone will come up with an idea. Unless it is totally off the mark, you should say, "Good, that’s a start. What comes next?" Do this a few times and pretty much everybody will catch on. The few who don’t shouldn’t be working for you. But that’s a different discussion.

Second, try think-alouds. When presented with a problem, say, "How about you think it through out loud in front of me." Than watch what happens. They might be hesitant at first, especially in front of the boss. No one wants to look dumb. But this is not about that and you can reassure then that you simply want them to become a more independent thinker. As with the first strategy, they’ll catch on after a few experiences with this.

Finally, draw a line in the sand. Many of those coming into the workforce have an eighteen to twenty-two year history of asking endless questions and having the answers given to them. Let them know that this is not acceptable in your workplace. Given the opportunity and a few weeks or months, they’ll all develop the capacity and courage to think things through on their own. You’re not doing them any favors by continuing to enable them.  

If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. 
C
opyright © 2013 The Center for Generational Studies.  

Two Minute Motivation Keynote Presentation

 

What Does it Take to Motivate
Today’s Work Team?

 

Ask about this presentation

 

Two Minutes is all you’ll need to re-energize your  organization’s top talent!

Two Minute Motivation: How to Inspire Superior Performance is a session that will provide you with practical ways to jump-start your team’s energy and focus. Hailed by Fortune 500 managers as an easy-to-follow, commonsense approach, you’ll return to the job with a simple, but effective plan of action for inspiring the best in everyone that you manage. 

  • Establish a communication protocol that meets everyone’s needs.

  • Uncover the self-talk of those on your team and use it to motivate them on the job.

  • Overcome competitive listening and really connect with individual contributors. 

  • Use the power of face-to-face contact to motivate instantly.

  • Use two minute profiles to develop plans for inspiring individual team members. 

  • Use two simple strategies for making inspiration immediate.

  • Tie individual motivation to real outcomes. 

  • Use “send-it-home” messages to reinforce two-minute motivation efforts.

To ask about this presentation, call 800-227-5510 or complete an event form.

You’ll learn how to motivate your team in meaningful and lasting ways!

Just one of many examples of a 2-minute motivation effort

What they’re saying about Bob Wendover .  .  .

“Bob spoke to our Young Executives and did a very nice job facilitating group discussion, interpreting body language, and feeling out the needs of the audience.”


Kim Fitzpatrick
Marketing Coordinator, Network Services Company

I’ll bet I had 15 people come up to me and express appreciation for what you shared.”

Harry Norris
Convention Chair, National Confectioner’s Logistics Council

"Bob really knows his stuff and can communicate it in an engaging the actionable way. APQC audiences love his talks and point of view.”

Carla O’Dell
President, APQC

“We needed to look at our Association from the outside and Bob gave us that ability. His approach of the generations was excellent. We laughed and learned all at the same time.”
 
Judy Garber
Executive Director, National Assn of Oil Heating Service Managers

 
Call us at 800-227-5510 or complete an event form to check availability for your next event.

 


 

 

 


     

 

Generation Next Keynote Presentation

 

Stop the Generational Drama at Work!

 Generation Next: Managing Today's Talent Transition

Generation Next in Action 

Ask about this presentation

Sure, we know all about the generations in the workplace. The Boomers are hanging around. The Millennials are pushing hard to advance. The Xers are squeezed in between. The generational transition is here to stay.

What can you do TODAY to better manage the generational groups at work?

Generation Next: Managing Today’s Talent Transition is an entertaining and interactive session that will help you discover how to resolve conflicting expectations and approaches to work. Learn what to do when the digital immigrants and digital natives start stepping on each others’ toes.  Discover how top workplaces foster engagement and enhance productivity. Loaded with practical illustrations of how to manage a cross-generational team, you’ll take away simple but powerful strategies for integrating the most diverse workforce the nation has ever seen.

  • Establish a communication protocol that meets everyone’s needs.

     

  • Foster smart decision making across all the generations. 
     
  • Improve the productivity of cross generational teams.
     
  • Help your “sandwich managers” connect with people of all ages. 
     
  • Bridge the technology gap between digital immigrants and digital natives.
     
  • Make the next generation of contributors productive from day one. 
     
  • Reduce retirement on the job among long-timers.
     
  • Establish a culture of succession planning and knowledge transfer from one generation to another.

To ask about this presentation for your next training or kick-off event, call 800-227-5510, or complete an event form.

What they’re saying about Bob Wendover . . .

“Bob really knows his stuff and can communicate it in an engaging the actionable way. APQC audiences love his talks and point of view.”

Carla O’Dell
President, APQC

“Bob worked with our staff to develop presentations that would the specific needs of our college. He was extremely easy to work with and I would highly recommend him to other institutions.”

Wendy Del Bello
Assistant to the President, Alvin Community College

"Your program not only caused people to learn and to think, but to discuss with each other important and relevant takeaways.”

Rick Johnson
Assistant Dean, Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado

“We needed to look at our Association from the outside and Bob gave us that ability. His approach of the generations was excellent. We laughed and learned all at the same time.”
Judy Garber
Executive Director, National Assn of Oil Heating Service Managers

“Bob spoke at our industry convention and we were so intrigued that we hired him to speak to our company at our annual manager’s meeting. Bob has a fresh approach that is informative and entertaining. We are a better company because of his help.”

Tommy Sedler
Owner, Home City Ice

 

Call us at 800-227-5510 or complete an event form to ask about this presentation or to check availability for your next event.