Week 5 – Blog Post: Typical vs. Maximal Performance

In the hypothetical situation presented in the blog assignment, I would choose to hire the higher-ceiling candidate, Avery, rather than the consistent Jaime. My thought process here is that we are not often given the opportunity to work with truly high achievers. In fact, these people come around so infrequently that I believe we have begun to erode our standards of what a truly high-achieving candidate really is. In the hiring sense, when we have the opportunity to make a move on a candidate who can possibly be a differentiator for the firm, I believe we need to make that move.

Many times, what separates true high achievers, or “A Players” as the book “Who” would identify, is a lack of coaching or mentoring to make up the gap between good results with high potential to truly outstanding results. If you analyze the known variables in the equation, you understand very quickly that the one key unknown is how our organization, our people, and our culture might affect the potential candidate who maybe has not yet reached that full potential. Why settle on mere consistency when a high-achieving candidate is out there and available?

For someone like Avery, a position where the workload and responsibility can be highly variable could be best suited for him, such as when deliverables require a maximum amount of effort over short periods of time with high pressure. It is reasonable to assume that the high pressure environment would bring out the high achievement in Avery, and the organization could benefit from those short bursts of truly great work. However, this is a high-risk/high-reward proposition. Indeed, if the Avery candidate does not perform under these higher pressure situations, it can put the organization is a much bigger hole than they would otherwise be in with a more consistent person in the role.

A good role for Jaime would be one that remains fairly consistent in terms of workload, expectations, and pressure. In this way, you can budget Jaime’s production versus the known tasks and deliverables, and make sure that you are set up for success at the time of a deliverable. Jaime’s work quality is a known, and it is best to pair this known with a work environment where the needs, responsibilities, and tasks are also known. In this way, you have a low-risk/low-reward atmosphere, where you are successfully able to minimize risk with an employee like Jaime.


Week 4 – Blog Post: Critiquing a Recruitment Ad

My own unique brand as an employee would be characterized as a forward-thinking leader who enjoys the challenge of leading people toward a common goal. I would like for a prospective employer to see that I am warm, personable, and genuine in my communication style, and that I strive to be authentic in the work that I do and the way that I interact with my team. I am goal-oriented and I understand the importance of setting appropriate expectations and then delivering on those expectations, regardless of the scope of task or assignment. However, I also pay attention to culture, and I do not lose sight of the importance of the journey in pursuit of the desired destination.

My working style is collaborative. I enjoy building consensus within a team to achieve a common goal. Joys for me are landing a big project, delivering a complex task, or working with a colleague to achieve a stated goal.

If I were to present myself in a situation wanted ad, I would probably include phrases that outline my culture and describe the kind of person that I am. I would look for ways to tie in compentencies with results. If I could get potential employers to think about what successes the company can achieve by bringing me on board, that would be the goal. So instead of analyzing me as a potential candidate, they are instead thinking about how I can help the company grow into something else altogether. Maybe a list of rhetorical questions, asking if they want to see certain characterics improve at their company, or asking if they want to have better results in ceratin markets.

The wanted ad would have to have a modern and positive look and feel to it. Maybe some pictures of me presenting and conferences or working on the job with previous employers would be helpful in setting the stage. I would close the ad by asking companies what they have to lose in bringing me in for a discussion. If I could plant seed that I wouldn’t hurt to bring me in for just a 30-minute conversation, that would give me hopefully a small opportunity to get my foot in the door.


Week 3 – Blog Post: Job Descriptions

For this exercise, the job that I am referencing is my position at my current organization. I applied for a position with this organization a little under five years ago. The job description for the position that I applied for was significantly different than the position that I ended up taking, which interestingly enough did not have a formal job description developed for it. Then, about three years ago, I was promoted to another position that also did not have an explicit job position in writing. My example is probably similar to that of other folks in the engineering profession.

In my experience, many of the roles we end up taking on in the engineering industry, and specifically in the transportation infrastructure world, are not associated with black and white job descriptions in writing. Sure, there are job descriptions for the initial position when you are hired on at a firm, but your actual tasks, roles, and responsibilities end up varying dramatically, depending on what projects are ongoing at the time, where the unique needs are, or where your own career path tends to take you. For instance, a job description in my industry may include tasks like leading a design team to develop calculations for a transportation infrastructure project, assisting a lead inspector in the field on a site visit, or drafting design plans under the supervision of a senior technician or designer. But the individual tasks that the engineering professional is asked to complete no a day to day basis can vary significantly.

This can be very difficult for entry-level applicants whose experience has been shaped by their studies in college with very finite and specific tasks and assignments. These tasks are not so cut and dried in the real world, which creates some struggle and opportunities for learning when the less experienced staff realize that sometimes they need to define the problems and possible solutions themselves.


Week 2 – Blog Post: Experiences with Discrimination

The hypothetical sitiation to examine here is the case where a favorite company of mine has been accused of discriminatory practices.

A situation like this would have lasting effects on me. Regardless of whether or not the ethnicity, culture, or belief system discriminated against was something that I associated with, the knowledge that a certain group of people were discriminated against would certainly change my assessment of the organization.

First though, it would be important to review the situation from all sides. Many times, cases of discrimination at first appear to be damning for the organization or the particular persons involved, but then once all of the facts are revealed it is shown that a situation may have been blown out of proportion or simply misrepresented. However, once the facts have been reviewed and the discrimination is indeed verified, there are serious implications.

An organization is similar to a living organism in that it has a personality, value system, beliefs, and culture. We tend to favor companies that share values and belief system with ourselves, as this provides an alignment and serves as the backdrop for a matching of individual values with organizational values. When we find that there are stark differences in value systems and culture brought on by organizational discrimination, it creates a chasm between who we proclaim to be and the organization that we have aligned ourselves with. When it becomes clear that this chasm exists, the relationship is doomed.

To me, it can be compared to a similar situation when relationship is being developed between two people. Decisions, preferences, styles, and other somewhat superficial characteristics can reasonably differ, but these differences do not create sharp divides between the two people because they are not core, foundational beliefs and values. When a hidden discrimination surfaces in one person, and those backwards beliefs aren’t shared with the other person, it creates an unbridgeable chasm. This is similar with organizations.


Week 1 – Blog Post: The Case for Recruitment & Selection

Many organizations focus on the “what” rather than the “who”. This can be because of a variety of reasons. Sometimes organizations can only see the main problem or issue in front of them, and are not able to decipher why the issue is occurring. For instance, the marketing information they may be receiving is unreliable, and they do not consider that possibly the people in charge of directing the marketing efforts do not have the necessary experience or understanding. Instead of making a change at the staffing level, they simply work with the marketing manager to implement a new strategy.

Other times, an emphasis can be placed on an outward, client-focused strategy rather than understanding the need or process (and staffing) improvement. In a vacuum, a client-focused strategy is generally the best option for an organization. The firm is able to first understand the unique needs of the potential client before crafting an offering that provides value. However, if this is attempted with the wrong people in place within the organization, the offering has a far greater probability in falling apart.

One possible strength in not prioritizing recruitment and selection in favor of other aspects of the business can be a sharper focus on the product offering, especially in a commodities or basic services market. If all the energy is spent on process improvement, product refinement, and positioning, sometimes this strategy can be successful even when the staffing isn’t right, simply because of the demands of the unique market, offering, or state of economy. However, this strength can vanish quickly when the situation changes and the firm does not have the people in place to react to changing conditions.

Weaknesses inherent in not prioritizing staffing and recruitment are many and varied. In most cases, the ability to reach potential clients, develop and refine the product or service offering, and deliver value for the client is entirely dependent on the quality of the people behind the production. Moreover, in good economic times with heavy competition, the organization that resources itself with the best people will stand above the rest.