HR Articles

Tue, 2012-04-17 15:45

By Carol Kinsey Goman

Your boss tells you that “this change is for the best,” but as she speaks, you notice her stiff body posture and forced smile. Is she being honest with you?

Your co-worker says he’d be happy to help you with your project, but he seems to pause a long time before answering – and while talking, his eyes stay focused on his computer monitor. Can you trust what he says?

Wouldn’t it be great to know when we’re being lied to? And, wouldn’t it be nice if exposing falsehoods were as easy as it is portrayed on television shows like Lie to Me and The Mentalist? But of course, those are entertaining fantasies. In real life, human beings are more complex than that. And, as commonplace as deception is, deception detection remains an inexact science.

For the vast majority of the individuals you work with, the act of lying triggers a heightened stress response. And these signs of stress and anxiety are obvious, if you know where to look. Basically, what we’re finding is that the mind has to work a lot harder to generate a false response. One theory – posed by Daniel Langleben, a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania – is that, in order to tell a lie, the brain first has to stop itself from telling the truth and then create the deception, and then deal with the accompanying emotions of guilt, anxiety, and the fear of being caught.

Spotting deception begins with observing a person’s baseline behaviour under relaxed or generally stress-free conditions so that you can detect meaningful deviations. One of the strategies that experienced police interrogators use is to ask a series of non-threatening questions while observing how the subject behaves when there is no reason to lie. Then, when the more difficult issues get addressed, the officers watch for changes in nonverbal behaviour that indicate deception around key points.

In business dealings, the best way to understand someone’s baseline behaviour is to observe her over an extended period of time. Note her speech tone, gestures, blinking patterns, etc. Once you’ve assessed what is “normal” for a co-worker, you will be able to detect shifts, when her body language is “out of character.” Just remember (and this is key), that the atypical signals you detect may be signs of lying – or a state of heightened anxiety caused by many other factors.

One of the biggest body language myths about liars is that they avoid eye contact. In fact, many liars, especial the most brazen, may actually overcompensate (to prove that they are not lying) by making too much eye contact and holding it too long.

My best advice is not to rely on any one signal. You’ll be more successful if you look for clusters of behaviours (three or four body language cues that reinforce one another). To increase your chances of spotting a falsehood, watch for a cluster of body language cues that include:

1. A fake smile. It’s hard for liars to give a real smile while seeking to deceive. (Real smiles crinkle the corners of the eyes and change the entire face. Faked smiles involve the mouth only.)

2. Unusual response time. When the lie is planned (and rehearsed), deceivers start their answers more quickly than truth-tellers. If taken by surprise, however, the liar takes longer to respond – as the process of inhibiting the truth and creating a lie takes extra time.

3. Verbal cues. When lying, a person’s vocal tone will rise to a higher pitch. Other verbal cues include rambling, selective wording (in which one avoids answering the question exactly as asked), stammering, and the use of qualifiers (“To the best of my knowledge.” “I could be wrong . . . ”). It’s also been noted that liars use fewer ‘contractions: “I did not have sex with that woman . . .” rather than “I didn’t . . .”

4. Under or over production of saliva. Watch for sudden swallowing in gulps or the increased need to drink water or moisten lips.

5. Pupil dilation. One nonverbal signal that is almost impossible to fake is pupil dilation. The larger pupil size that most people experience when telling a lie can be attributed to an increased amount of tension and concentration.

6. Change in blink rate. A person’s blink rate slows down as she decides to lie and stays low through the lie. Then it increases rapidly (sometimes up to eight times normal rate) after the lie.

7. Foot movements. When lying, people will often display nervousness and anxiety through increased foot movements. Feet will fidget, shuffle and wind around each other or around the furniture. They will stretch and curl to relieve tension, or even kick out in a miniaturized attempt to run away.

8. Face touching. A person’s nose may not grow when he tells a lie, but watch closely and you’ll notice that when someone is about to lie or make an outrageous statement, he’ll often unconsciously rub his nose. (This is most likely because a rush of adrenaline opens the capillaries and makes his nose itch.) Mouth covering is another common gesture of people who are being untruthful, as is covering the eyes.

9. Incongruence. When a person believes what she is saying her gestures and expressions are in alignment with her words. When you see a mismatch – where gestures contradict words – such as a side-to-side head shake while saying “yes” or a person frowning and staring at the ground while telling you she is happy, it’s a sign of deceit or at least an inner conflict between what that person is thinking and saying.

10. Changes in gestures. Often times, in the effort not to let their gestures “give away” the lie, deceivers will hold their bodies unnaturally still. At other times, especially after being asked a searching question, you may notice liars accelerate pacifying gestures — biting their lips, rubbing their hands together, fidgeting with jewelry, touching their hair.

11. Micro-expressions. Difficult to catch, but if you ever spot a fleeting expression that contradicts a verbal statement, believe what you see and not what you hear.

12. The quick-check glance. This may follow a less-than-truthful response: Liars will immediately look down and away, then back at you again in a brief glimpse to see if you bought the falsehood.

One final caveat: If a person really believes the lie, there is no way that they can detect the falsehood. But, unless you are dealing with a pathological liar or a superb actor, I know you can become better at spotting those who try to deceive you!

Troy Media columnist Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is a leadership communications coach and international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. She’s an expert contributor for The Washington Post’s “On Leadership” column, a leadership blogger on, a business body language columnist for “the Market” magazine, and the author of “THE SILENT LANGUAGE OF LEADERS: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead.”

SOURCE: Troy Media

Tue, 2012-02-28 14:09

According to a survey of 1100 recruiters across North America by Talent Technology, the No. 1 recruitment challenge is finding good candidates.The more specific and higher skills needed for the position, the greater the challenge becomes.

Here are the top 6 recruiting challenges in order (out of scale of 3 = most difficult):

1. Finding good candidates 2.49
2. Filling positions  2.32
3. Dedicated hiring managers  1.82
4. Managing applicants  1.68
5. Sub-par job descriptions  1.56
6. Negotiating job offers  1.51

Some other interesting findings
Average number of days needed to fill position: 45 days
Average number of hours per week sourcing candidates: 15 hours
Average number of minutes reading each resume: 4.5 minutes
Job boards remain the No. 1 source for talent, substantially surpassing corporate websites and social networking


Wed, 2011-11-30 18:43

By Dr. Richard Davis

In the military, they call them “Mustangs” – personnel who have advanced from the enlisted ranks to positions of leadership. Some of them have gone all the way to the top, winning general’s stars and recognition as history’s finest leaders. The same thing can happen in the business world. Outstanding men and women, rewarded for extraordinary efforts with promotion to a management role, have worked their way right up to the C-suite.

You’re a manager – now what?

The military recognizes that a gap exists in the behaviours needed to succeed in the ranks and those required as a leader of others. Newly commissioned officers are often sent to OCS (Officers Candidate School), which is essentially a development program designed to teach basic leadership skills. If you are lucky, your organization may have a similar program to help you get started as you move up.

However, depending on the size of your company and the current need, you may be thrown into “combat” immediately with the hope that your innate personal style and life experience is all that is required. This may or may not be the case. We’ve all heard of the “born leader” who people seem to rally around automatically. But for most of us, the frontier between follower and leader is a minefield that can quickly cause failure.

Unfamiliar terrain

One attribute all “Mustangs” possess that makes them stand out in the first place is a keen knowledge of the realities of their workplace, whether it is the battlefield, a factory line, a retail position or an administrative staff posting. This often gives them an edge when dealing with a crisis situation or the need to increase productivity.

But research from RHR International shows that internal leadership transitions are far more complex and challenging than one might realize. A significant number of those promoted within the same company will encounter difficulty and be at risk of failing. This is especially true when moving upward through a social layer.

Key challenges include understanding exactly what is expected of you in the new role, re-negotiating relationships with former co-workers, establishing influence with a new peer group, quickly justifying upper management’s confidence in you, rapidly acquiring new knowledge, and closing skill and experience gaps.

You’re not the same!

Our research suggests that relationships are the most difficult thing to deal with. When a leader’s position changes relative to others (as when former peers become direct reports or former superiors are now peers) condescension, jealousy and resentment may occur. The reality is relationships are complicated. New leaders most often struggle to assume authority over a group of former peers. There may be relationships within this group that need forming, strengthening, re-defining, or repairing.

This is important to address because relationships are critical for getting things done. Persons promoted internally often have pre-existing associations with their new boss, peers, and direct reports and can leverage these to accelerate their integration. One potential danger is assuming that “knowing someone” equals a “relationship.” New leaders can overestimate the strength of a relationship or over-rely on their reputation to establish credibility with peers and others.

For those promoted to a higher level, adapting to a new political structure is also very important. While most executives in our study said they understood the politics, they still struggled to navigate them. Leaders who advance to a new echelon can underestimate how difficult it is to persuade others to support their goals and plans.

Don’t try to tough it out

Many organizations have very effective processes for recruiting, selecting and integrating talent from outside the organization. Applying these proven procedures to internal promotions should also help the success rate of these transitions and accelerate the performance of promoted executives. The first thing Mustangs should do is ask their HR department to consider making these new hire programs available to them. If possible, assignment of an outside consultant or coach would be extremely helpful in making these valuable freshly appointed leaders make a mark quickly in their new role and continue the upward climb to the top.

Richard Davis (author of The Intangibles of Leadership: 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance is licensed as an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. As a management psychologist and partner with the Toronto office of RHR International, he helps senior leaders execute their business strategy through smart decisions about people. He can be reached at

SOURCE: Troy Media

Tue, 2011-11-22 13:56

By Gregg McLachlan

In a world where sending your resume and cover letter by email is now the norm, it's time to take stock of the email address you use for this type of professional correspondence in seeking environmental jobs in Canada.

Never forget, the first thing most people in HR see when your email arrives is your email address. It can make a big (or bad) first impression.

Here are a few tips:

1. If at all possible, have an email address that is your name (ie. Mark(at) This instantly adds a touch of professionalism. You can buy a domain name for $10 or cheaper. If you buy it through a hosting provider, some offer hosting accounts as low as $6 per month that includes an email address. It's a small investment to send the right message. These types of email addresses are usually much more memorable too.

2. Avoid the inappropriate email address. Having an email address like I_like_to_party_on_weekends@gmail or beerkegger21@hotmail will almost certainly hurt your odds of getting an interview. If you can't be professional in your correspondence, can an environmental employer expect you'll be professional on the job?

3. Avoid using your current workplace email address. It sends the signal that you're not doing your work, and instead applying for a job on your current employer's timeclock. That's not a good sign. And it is common for it to come to your current employer's attention that you're applying for environmental jobs at work. All around, it's just a bad approach.

Gregg McLachlan is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches

Tue, 2011-11-08 17:14

By Gregg McLachlan

We’ve all seen managers who struggle. Once, a manager asked me why employees were not embracing her, or talking to her. My advice, as a fellow manager, “you’re coming on too hard too fast.” The response to that: “I’m not going to change who I am.”

OK. Fine. Take your chances, then.

The best managers are able to adapt to their environments and adjust leadership styles. This isn’t the military. Being a manager isn’t about breaking down your team, literally, and then training them for war.

Here are 10 mistakes managers make that alienate employees:

1. Keeping people out of the loop. Don't restrict communications to only a limited few, thereby keeping everyone else out of the loop. All those people categorized as "everyone else" quickly identify you as being disconnected and out of touch. They quickly perceive you to be an Us vs Them manager. (Them = employees)

2. Trying too hard to be a quick change artist. Too many managers make change for change sake. They rationalize making changes as being necessary. “I have to put my stamp on things!” they say. That’s a crock. Good managers are able to identify what needs fixing and what is working well. Leave well enough alone. Workers aren’t stupid. They know what things are being changed just because you want to change things.

3. Coming on too hard too fast. This is a classic fail, especially among new managers. Rather than integrate themselves into a workplace, they come onboard like a tornado swirling through an office. These types of managers are obsessed with showing everyone that there’s a new sheriff in town. (This is odd because I’m sure employees read the memo about your appointment.) They’re loud. Sometimes obnoxious. And they want everyone to conform to their quirks.

4. Failing to talk about the craft/industry you are all engaged in. Your experience means zilch if you cannot connect and talk with the people around you about your industry. If your industry is about making widgets, talk about what makes a better widget, recognize when widget-making is successful, and so on. You won’t build credibility by only talking about last night’s NHL scores.

5. Being a Blackberry faker. Managers who are constantly messaging or looking at their Blackberry when supposedly in conversation with a worker are quickly identified as a) not being interested in what workers have to say, or b) being a Blackberry faker (someone who uses a Blackberry as a crutch to appear to be super busy all the time).

6. All talk, not action. We’ve all encountered the manager who talks a good game. He/she can sit in a boardroom or staff meeting and appear intelligent by words alone. But his/her inability to transfer words into action at the worker level is always apparent. Eventually people figure these managers out. In other words, they’re soon called blowhards.

7. Surrounding yourself with weakness. To avoid feeling threatened by skilled people who are stronger, weak managers often surround and insulate themselves with other weak managers who can be easily manipulated and will rarely ever say ‘no’. Weak leaders want subordinate managers who will agree with everything they say. But your employees will easily see through it. They’ll see you as being weak.
8. Ignoring how to be a regular person. Some managers are so stiff and regimented that you’d like to tap them on the head and ask, “Hello, are you human, do you have any interests beyond just work?” OK, OK, I mentioned about talking about NHL scores in #4. Actually, effective leaders who get to know their employees will engage in non-work related conversation. This is a nice break from the work talk all day.

9. Being afraid to ask employees for their advice. Almost everyone wants to be part of the process of making a workplace a successful and enjoyable place. Managers who think they have all the solutions are living in a fantasy world. Your staff have great ideas too. Tap into those thoughts!

10. Being paranoid and not trusting of anyone. Managers who commit this sin are always paranoid about everyone. Who’s on board? Who’s not? Who’s talking behind my back? Who’s leaking memos? Their actions (see #s 1 through 9 above) clearly show staff that there is no trust. When you don’t put your trust in your staff, your staff will feel like you have no confidence in them. That creates an unhappy workplace.

Gregg McLachlan is the founder of He is also a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

Mon, 2011-10-24 17:36

The latest career headlines:

Before leaving a job, read the contract fine print (Read article) Globe and Mail

Seven traits that managers find irresistible (Read article) Bnet

How to find a job when no one wants to hire you (Read article) National Post

Fri, 2011-09-23 17:42

By Michael Stewart

Leadership coaching isn’t about teaching a leader to do the things they already know, but done better. It is about putting the ball in the hands of his teammates and guiding them to victory.

The recent movie, The Kings Speech, was about the man who became King George VI and how his speech therapist, Lionel Logue, helped him overcome a severe stutter. But it was also about how the therapist (coach) helped King George VI believe in himself so he could overcome his limitations. Through coaching, King George VI learned to trust himself, thereby overcoming his stutter.

Hundreds of King George’s out there

King George VI wasn’t a poor leader. He just lacked the confidence to be a leader because everyone doubted him and it manifested itself through a speech impediment.

Within any corporate environment, there are hundreds of King George VIs just waiting to emerge: all it will take is the proper coaching. Yet, too often, organizations simply assign an internal manager to an employee to coax them into doing their job better. This isn’t coaching but skills training.

Effective leadership coaching starts with the right culture and a supportive upper management that believes that it brings value to the organization. It also requires that coaching not be limited to senior executives only, but be pushed downward throughout the organization. That is the only way to create a coaching culture.

According to the UK-based Institute of Leadership and Management study Creating a Coaching Culture, “coaching is a particularly powerful tool in the modern workplace – one that has proven to be a highly effective way of developing individual and organizational performance by unlocking capability.”

Coaching for leadership is about creating a culture that, through its leaders, will achieve a high level of performance. It is not about job training, skills development or getting a new certification. It is about helping a leader be a better motivator, mentor and change leader.

Too often an organization’s goals trump an individual’s goals, leaving the individual to fend for him/herself. Although an organization’s goals are quite important, leadership development coaching focuses on individual development, and in turn, organizational development.

To facilitate a coaching culture an organization must help the individual leader improve in some very important areas: as communicators, in conflict resolution, interpersonal skills, and management abilities. In other words, it must build confidence.

It’s about the individual, not the organization

What isn’t a focus in leadership development coaching are organizational priorities like productivity and profitability. These are indirectly achieved through an individual’s improved leadership abilities.

In 2009, the International Coach Federation Global Coaching Client Study found that “the vast majority (86 per cent) of those (clients) able to calculate company ROI (Return on Investment) indicated that their company had at least made their money back . . .and the median company return was 700 per cent”.

The biblical adage “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime” is quite apt even in the workplace. An effective coach, working within a coaching culture, will help a leader achieve far more than if the leader was left to learn it from a book. In the elusive search for better ROI, a leadership coaching culture will go a long way to achieving an organization’s objectives.

Michael Stewart is the managing partner of Work Effects, a Minneapolis, MN based human resources and management consultancy that helps organizations build better leaders and more trustworthy organizations through unique training, coaching and assessment programs. He can be reached at:

SOURCE: Troy Media

Mon, 2011-09-19 18:46

By Dr Richard Davis

As the economy continues the slow process of recovery, a lot of space in magazines, blogs and websites is devoted to speculation on when hiring will return to more normal levels. In truth, no one has a credible estimation as to when companies will feel secure enough to add headcount. But behind the headlines are real flesh and blood people who are tasked with filling the workload gaps and keeping organizations productive without the luxury of ramping up staffing levels.

The stress is felt both by managers, who must keep the workforce motivated and engaged, and the employees themselves, who are often asked to achieve the same volume of output done by many more people in the past. The question is: Can “the few” continue to do the work of “the many” without burning out?

Part of the problem is uncertainty. It is easier psychologically to endure intense periods of stress when they are short in duration and an end is in view. Open ended stress takes its toll emotionally and physically. Over time, this kind of stress leads to what psychologists call, “learned helplessness” – a kind of stressful malaise in which people feel powerless to change themselves or their situation. It can be quite difficult to emerge from such a state, and I suspect a great number of “Hiring Freeze Survivors” are stuck there at this very moment.

Try some of the following methods for dealing with the pressure:

Beware the hassles

Most people think of big life events as the major sources of stress, but in fact it is the small, daily hassles that create real tension. Losing your keys, having someone cut in front of you at the cafeteria, waiting too long for a slow elevator, not being able to find a pen when you need it – these are the constant irritations that will really cause one to burn out. When trying to reduce the inevitable stress of a hiring freeze, don’t think in terms of the big issues; think about how you can remove the subtle hassles in your life that never fail to drive you crazy.

Be an optimist

It may sound facile, but many studies show that optimists are best able to cope with stress and are the most resilient in the face of ambiguity. So, look for the bright side – it will serve you well. Think about the future and your goals. Create a set of objectives for the year and think about how you are going to achieve them. Above all, think up a plan and look ahead as much as possible.

Know when to worry

Differentiate between productive and unproductive worrying. Worrying can sometimes allow us to come up with solutions to challenges as we dwell on them and tease the answers from our brain. Thinking about a project while running or working out often produces an insight previously overlooked. Worrying unceasingly about circumstances over which we have no control over is frustrating and counterproductive. If you are going to worry, do it about the stuff you can control and try your hardest to block out all the rest of it.

Keep healthy

Speaking of running – watch out for your health. Don’t forget to allow time for exercise. Not only does it reduce stress levels by burning off excess adrenaline, it also relaxes muscles and promotes better sleeping habits. If you only have time for a 15 minute walk, take it. Find opportunities throughout the day to burn a few calories – take the stairs, park your car away from the entrance or review a document while standing up. Try to keep to a regular bedtime and start winding down an hour ahead of time by reading or listening to your favorite music.

Use your social network

No, I don’t mean go on Facebook and commiserate! I mean your real social network – the people around you may be your best defense against work-related stress. Individuals with healthy relationships at home, with friends, and with colleagues are much more able to handle stress than those who have negative or non-existent social support systems. Be careful not to over-share your pain, but instead rely on the people around you to make life fun and interesting. Your workdays will seem better as a result.

While these suggestions are mostly common sense, it is important to be aware of what the stress in doing to you and find something in your life that can break the cycle, even if it is just for a short period of time.

Richard Davis (author of The Intangibles of Leadership: 10 Qualities of Superior Executive Performance is licensed as an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. As a management psychologist and partner with the Toronto office of RHR International, he helps senior leaders execute their business strategy through smart decisions about people. He can be reached at

SOURCE: Troy Media

Thu, 2011-08-18 16:22

By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

First, pre-employment tests can tell you if a job applicant has qualities similar to your best employees.  If the applicant’s pre-employment test results look good, then you can feel comfortable spending time interviewing the applicant.  When you evaluate job applicants, you can learn a lot about them . . . if you listen to how they talk.

In my third book – “Hire the Best – and Avoid the Rest(tm)” – the most frequently quoted phrase I wrote goes something like this:  “The behavior you see from a job applicant during your screening process is likely to be the very, very best behavior you ever will see from that person.”

Isn’t that the truth?

For example, let’s say you want to hire a mannerly person.  Well, if Applicant A is mannerly during your screening process, that person probably will act that mannerly or worse if you hire Applicant A.  But, if Applicant B acts unmannerly during your screening process, then you may expect that person to act that unmannerly – or even worse – if you hire Applicant B.


Imagine the atmosphere you want in your workplace.  Most managers desire a professional and friendly atmosphere.  That means your employees must act professional – so they represent you and your company well.  Pre-employment tests will tell you is the applicant will ‘fit in’ your corporate culture in terms of interpersonal skills, personality, motivations, and intelligence.

Unfortunately, some job applicants talk at work the same way they do off-the-job.  This often creates a monstrous problem – if you want your employees to convey a professional demeanor to your clients, prospects, and co-workers.  Since pre-employment tests cannot hear how job applicants express themselves, you must conduct in-depth job interviews in which you observe how the applicants act and talk.


Give pre-employment tests and job interviews and reference check job applicants.

And also, carefully listen.  Hear if they talk in the professional manner you want your company to display.

Here are seven (7) phrases applicants may say that can give you an awful lot of useful insights into the person you might hire.

1 & 2 & 3 = “KNOW” PHRASES

Examples include

-  “… you know?”

-  “I don’t know.”

-  “Do you know what I’m saying?”

When someone makes a totally clear statement, but ends it with the question, “… you know?,” I always wonder why they are asking me.  Doesn’t the person realize s/he made a perfectly clear statement?

Next, resourceful people do not say, “I don’t know.”  Instead, they say, “I’ll find out” or “I’ll ask someone who knows, and then I’ll tell you.”  Beware of job applicants who fantasizes you feel impressed when they utter, “I don’t know.”

Finally, “Do you know what I’m saying?” can feel unnerving.  On the cartoon show “South Park,” one of the characters – named Butters – starts a business.  To speed up his learning curve, he attends a convention of people from across North America who operate similar businesses.  Those people end almost every sentence by asking, “Do you know what I’m saying?”  At first, Butters politely answers, “Yes, I know what you are saying.”  Finally, after he hears “Do you know what I’m saying?” for the umpteenth time, Butters replies, “Yes, I know what you are saying – so you don’t need to ask me again.”

Important = You do not want to hire an someone who sounds dim, because they uncontrollably keep spouting “know” phrases, such as “…you know?” or “I don’t know” or “Do you know what I’m saying?”

You crave to hire employees who are productive, dependable, and speak in a manner that represents your company well.  Do you know what I’m saying?


Imagine a restaurant waitperson did something for you.  You said, “Thank you.”  Then, the waitperson said, “No problem.”

“No problem” is not a simple, innocent phrase.  It clearly tells you the employee provided the service which was “no problem” to provide.  You reasonably can wonder:  If it was a “problem” for that employee to do, would the employee have done it?

When one of your customers pays for something, your customer expects your company to provide the service or product.  But, if your employee says, “No problem” to the customer that implies the employee did his or her job only because it was “no problem” to do their job.

Is that the impression you want to give your customers?

Or, if an employee helps a co-worker, and then says providing the help was “no problem,” that co-worker reasonably could wonder, “If I asked my colleague to do something he considered a ‘problem,’ would he have done it?  It sounds like that employee may prefer work that is ‘no problem’ to do.”

Result = Saying, “no problem” instantly makes the person seem lazy and uninterested in doing work s/he might consider a difficult or a “problem” to do.

I bet you want to hire job applicants who will do their job duties – even if it includes work they feel is a “problem” to do.


This is one of the most bizarre statements your employees might say to a customer.”

Reason:  Your customers do not care if your employees get any “pleasure” from serving them.

Important:  Someone pointed out to me that when an employee does something for a customer and then says doing that deed was “My pleasure,” that could imply something highly inappropriate.

[No, I will not explain this inappropriateness any further.  Use your imagination.  Do you know what I am saying?]

Also, what if the employee did not take “pleasure” in serving your company’s customers?  Would the employee do his job if s/he did not experience “pleasure”?

Aspects of any job are not a “pleasure” to do.  In fact, that often is why your customers pay your company to do it.  Your customers do not care if your employees experience “pleasure” doing what they are paid to do.

So, watch out if a job applicant gets carried away spouting “My pleasure.”

6 = “OH, REALLY?”     

When you say something, and the person you talked to does not believe you, that person might feel like saying, “I don’t believe what you just said” or “I question the accuracy of what you said.”

But, rather than appear rude, some people will listen to you, and then say, “Oh, really?”

Everyone knows the person actually means to say, “I don’t believe you” or “You said something stupid.”

You need to hire job applicants who diplomatically respond to your customers and employees who say something the applicant does not believe is true or accurate.  Really.

7 = “TRY”

You might seriously consider throwing any applicant out the door if the person says, “try” to you.  Using the word “try” is a terribly bad sign.

For example, I handed a copy shop employee one of my brochures to make photocopies and staple.  I stood next to the employee as he stapled one brochure without making sure all pages were neatly stacked.  The horrible result:  That brochure was unusable, because the page edges were uneven and sloppy.

I nicely said to that copy shop employee, “The brochure you made looks sloppy, and I cannot use it.  Please staple every brochure so it looks neat and professional.

That employee replied, “I’ll try.”

I responded, “’Try’ is not good enough.  You actually need to do it correctly.”

I suspect no one ever told him he never should “try.”  Instead, he actually was hired to do quality work.

When someone says, “Try,” it is their sneaky way to weasel out of actually doing something.

For instance, if you tell an employee to finish a project by a certain day and time, and the employee says, “I’ll try,” you should say to that employee, “I do not want you to ‘try’ to finish by the deadline I gave you.  I want and expect you actually to finish by that deadline.”

Saying “try” is somewhat like saying someone is “a little bit pregnant.”  Either you are or you are not pregnant.  Likewise, either you actually do – or you do not do something.

So, be aware and beware when applicants tell you they “try” to do their work assignments.    Their “try” statement is a huge red warning flag waving in front of your face.

Remember:  Try not to hire applicants who proudly say they “try.”


Certain phrases uttered by job applicants speak volumes about how they will talk and act – if you hire them.  After all, the way job applicants act during your screening process often shows you how they will act if they work for you.  Pre-employment test results will reveal if an applicant possesses personality, people skills and motivations similar to your superstar employees.  But you also need to listen carefully during job interviews.

So, be aware – and beware – when an applicant says:

1.  “… you know?”

2.  “I don’t know.”

3.  “Do you know what I’m saying?”

4.  “No problem”

5.  “My pleasure”

6.  “Oh, really?”

7.  “Try”

Use pre-employment tests, reference and background checks, and other job applicant evaluation methods.  Plus remember:  You can learn a lot about job applicants . . . by listening to phrases they use, you know?  So, try to listen for these horrible phrases, you know?.  Do you know what I’m saying?  And congratulations . . . take pleasure when you observe these warning flags.


Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is a speaker and management psychologist.  His 5 books include “Hire the Best – & Avoid the Rest(tm)” and also “Absolutely Fabulous Organizational Change.”  He created all 3 “Forecaster(tm) Tests” – pre-employment tests companies use to select productive employees.  Dr. Mercer delivers speeches and seminars at companies and conferences.  You can contact him – and get no-cost subscription to his management newsletter – at

Source: Free Articles from

Thu, 2011-08-18 16:20

By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.

Managers make 4 mistakes that result in hiring losers. This Article helps you avoid making these four blunders.

I repeatedly notice managers do make four mistakes that result in hiring losers – employees they wish they never hired.  I will help you avoid making these four blunders.  Plus, I will reveal to you three guidelines that will help you hire fantastic employees.


1st Reason = Applicant Acts Charming

Managers feel mesmerized by applicants who act charming.  Such applicants act friendly, smile at you, look into your eyes, compliment you, and display other make-you-feel-good charm.

Such applicants would earn an “A” grade in charm school.

The problem is managers who hire lousy employees tend to feel overly swayed by applicants’ charm.  Resist the temptation – don’t let yourself get swept away by a smooth operator who charms you.

2nd Reason = Applicant Has Seemingly Relevant Work Experience

Many managers get carried away by applicants whose work experience appears relevant.

However, many applicants might have seemingly relevant experience.  Also, just because an applicant has relevant experience in one organization never means that person will do well working for you.  What it takes to succeed in one organization – or for one manager – never is exactly the same in your company or working for you.

So, do not fall in love with an applicant just because the person has semi-pseudo-relevant work experience.

3rd Reason = Manager Feel Desperate to Hire Someone Fast

I jokingly say that some managers feel a horrible compulsion to hire someone ‘yesterday.”  That means they have an open position, and they feel pressure to hire somebody right away.

That is a recipe for disaster.

Of course, sometimes you have an open position, plus you have a need to fill it ultra-soon.  But, hiring with such desperation often results in hiring people you later regret hiring.

Remember:  Each time you hire someone you are betting.  You are betting your (a) career and (b) company.  If you hire enough losers you injure your career, and may even get de-employed.  Also, if you hire enough underachievers, you hurt your company – harming productivity and profits.

4th Reason = Manager Is Too Lazy to Find More Applicants

Managers who hire lousy employees frequently are lazy – and will hire almost anyone to avoid spending time finding more and better applicants.  Such managers have a “To-Do List” with, for example, 10 action items to do.  Regrettably, finding better applicants is not among their 10 action items.


Here are solutions to help you hire the best:

  • Never get swept away by applicants who act charming and/or have semi-pseudo-relevant work experience.
  • Never rush to hire someone fast and/or be too lazy to find more and better applicants.
  • Use pre-employment tests.  Well-researched pre-employment tests – that you can get custom-tailored for specific jobs in your company – give you an objective, scientific evaluation of each job applicant.

Three pre-employment tests can be used to assess applicants.  First, a personality test forecasts an applicant’s interpersonal skills, personality, and motivations – and the test is not swayed by an applicant who acts charming.  Second, cognitive ability tests measure up to five key brainpower factors – and never get affected by an applicant who may have seemingly relevant work experiences.  Third, a dependability test helps you uncover an applicant’s work ethic, safety, and if the applicant may steal or be a substance abuser.

Importantly, pre-employment tests that you get custom-tailored for specific jobs in your company give you the huge advantage of being able to find out if the applicant has the most important qualities needed to succeed in your organization.


Managers sometimes call and tell me they hired a lousy employee.  When I question how they decided to hire that lousy employee, I overwhelmingly find they (a) hired based on applicant’s charm and work experience or (b) felt desperate compulsion to hire fast or (c) was too lazy to find better applicants..

Also, managers who hired losers usually made these mistakes:  Either they (a) did not test the applicant, or (b) ignored glaring warning signs pre-employment tests revealed about the applicant – warning signs indicating they should not put that person on their payroll.

As I hear their distress, I want to comfort them, so I point out, “Well, you learned from this experience.”

Then, the managers always say something like this:  “Yes, I learned from the hiring mistake I made – but it was a terribly expensive lesson.”


Simply follow three guidelines to help you hire productive, dependable employees:

A.  Stop getting carried away – by applicants’ charm and work experiences.

B.  Never hire fast – in your desperate rush to fill a position ASAP.

C.  Use pre-employment tests – and pay close attention to applicants’ test scores


Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is a speaker and management psychologist.  His 5 books include “Hire the Best - & Avoid the Rest(tm)” and also “Absolutely Fabulous Organizational Change.”  He created all 3 “Forecaster(tm) Tests” - pre-employment tests companies use to select productive employees.  Dr. Mercer delivers speeches and seminars at companies and conferences.  You can contact him - and get no-cost subscription to his management newsletter - at

Source: Free Articles from