What do you do when Reference Checks throw up two diametrically opposed assessments?

Project ManagementThis happened to a global resource company client of mine a couple of years ago. They had advertised for a senior engineer to fulfil the role of Project Manager for all of their major feasibility studies that were in the pipeline. The person they had shortlisted had all of the right experience and qualifications, and had recently been employed in a role at another company that involved major project oversight. Prior to that, this candidate had a succession of business development type roles which relied on his engineering experience and training. According to my client he seemed like the right person for the job. Certainly he seemed to ‘tick all the right boxes,’ but there was something that didn’t quite seem to gel in their due diligence and so they asked me for my assessment. It concerned the fact that the two reference checks they had undertaken were throwing up anomalies that they could not reconcile and they wanted to know why. Here is what I discovered…
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Australia’s Election is over and our outgoing PM gives a Victory Speech!

Kevin Rudd on Election nightSo at last the election is over and we can get on with our lives. We have a new conservative government  and a new Prime Minister, Mr Tony Abbott. Once again I would like to draw your attention to the language used by our outgoing Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, as he delivered his 30 minute concession speech. From what the pundits are saying, it seems I may not be the only one who wondered whether he had achieved a marvellous victory, rather than a resounding defeat. It seems to me that Mr Rudd was attempting to “reframe” the loss as a victory of sorts, but in my opinion it falls short for a number of reasons. [Read more...]

The Broken Window Theory and how Context defines Meaning and Motivation

Two Fish SwimmingTwo young fish were swimming in one direction when they happened to meet an older fish heading the other way. The older fish nods at them and says… “Morning boys. How’s the water?” The younger fish swim on for a bit and eventually one of them turns to the other and says… “What the hell is water?”  Even though this story told by award-winning novelist David Foster Wallace is all about ‘missing the obvious’ it also a salutary lesson about context and how it defines meaning. Fish are defined by their water environment. Without it they wouldn’t exist, but as the story goes, it is so pervasive in their lives that they remain blissfully unaware of it even though they exist only because of it. And so it is with people. We are who we are because of the context in which we find ourselves, and that can have a huge impact on the type of profiling assessments organisations use in recruitment, and why I believe it is wise to steer clear of ‘personality profiles.’ [Read more...]

It’s Halfway through the Election Campaign and have you noticed the Subtle Shift in the Language of our PM?

Kevin RuddMany commentators are now talking about the negative shift in advertising by the incumbent Labor Government towards a fear-mongering campaign. This comes as Mr Rudd departs from his pledge for kinder politics and launches into a negative advertising campaign attacking the opposition leader. There is no coincidence that this shift in campaign focus follows the latest opinion polls indicating that Labor’s primary vote is falling away dramatically. However I want to draw your attention to another far more subtle indication that the personal focus of our Prime Minister has shifted considerably in the past 48 hours. [Read more...]

Do those ‘Approval Seekers’ at work really need their egos stroked or confidence boosted… or are they just plain misunderstood?

Risk Management Flow ChartBill was a highly accomplished and effective risk manager of many years standing for a global company. He was thorough; he was methodical and he had a sixth sense for detecting potential risks in obscure transactions. You would describe Bill as being ‘on top of his game,’ so why did he always seem to need reassurance? [Read more...]

How to Avoid the costly Mistake of having Square Pegs in Round Holes

In my previous blog I asked the question whether your job is a good ‘fit’ for you I and shared with you some great questions to ask yourself if you are not sure. Here is an example of what happens when a highly qualified and fully committed executive is a poor match for his role, even though he has all of the skills and experience needed. Hopefully this is not your or your company’s experience. [Read more...]

Is Your Job a Good Fit, or are you a Square Peg in a Round Hole?

So much of what I do is to help companies select the right candidate for the role… or right ‘fit’ for the task… or right person for the promotion. Unfortunately, I have lost count of the number of times that I have been called in to assist with performance issues, when in actual fact the problem wasn’t the person, but the system used to hire, place, or promote him or her in the first place.

I am a strong believer in uncovering the talent and desire in people and leveraging that in a role for the benefit of them and the organisation. So often I see evidence of people being expected to perform in areas that are just ‘not them,’ and then being coached or mentored to change when the only thing such intervention achieves is the development of strong weaknesses. My preference is for organisations to find the right motivational fit for each role and then build teams of people with complementary talents and patterns of thinking.

It was particularly interesting for me to read these set of questions that were forwarded to me by Maggie Kelly, CEO of Successful Executive, a company devoted to helping businesses find and develop workplace champions. I believe the original source was the Australian Financial Review, 22-23 January 2011 edition, so I thank both Maggie and the AFR for some of these gems I share with you. You may find these questions useful in assessing your own current career situation. [Read more...]