Archive for October, 2011

How would you respond?

Posted on October 8, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In a recent email newsletter, HC Magazine raised a great question: would you hire an ex offender for a job?  (the article link is here http://www.hcamag.com/newsletter/content/118313/) The essence of the article related to what issues get raised if a candidate discloses information relating to a past offence that may not be discoverable in terms of court records.

What does that mean?  Some information relating to activity history may not be identified by an authorised police check and would not be reported to you, however some people tell you more than what is formally recorded. Once you have been made aware of those facts, how would it affect your hiring decision, and then the question arises of whether that decision is fair or discriminatory.

Overall it means that you need to be conscious of how you conduct reference and character checks, and perhaps more importantly how you respond to them.

Many organisations consider the need to conduct police checks, yet do we equally consider the impact of what we discover?  What if you find a highly suitable candidate who generates a clear police check yet discloses to you an indiscretion?  What would you do:

– ignore it and hire them anyway – because the police check shows no criminal record

– refuse to hire them on that ground alone

– hire them but keep  a close eye on them?

Sadly – these are too generic as questions to be answered effectively.  It will depend on the situation, however I believe that we really need to focus on a candiate’s suitability for the role (in terms of skill and culture fit) and be conscious of how we reference check.  Would I hire someone with a “history”? Yes, if they were the best candidate and if the history was not relevant to the role.

If a candidate has been honest enough to divulge something negative about their past without having to do so, surely this is an indication of a good character?  Some would say it may be a tactic also – if I tell you, then you know and are compelled to not discriminate, and I guess there will always be a small percentage of people who act so as to manipulate a situation.  However on the whole, honesty is something we tend to appreciate.

It is the relevance to the role of the disclosure which I think is the critical component – and perhaps the hardest one to respond to, especially with all the talk about hiring for culture fit as well as skills. If a candidate advises that they have taken money and the vacancy is a cash handling one then that is a very different situation to one where the vacancy is not involved with cash handling or money management.

The question also picks up on how truly we believe that people are rehabilitated after committing an offence.  And I guess it in the end reminds us all that hiring a new staff member is never going to be an exact or precise science.  There will always be some room for judgement and potentially error.

One question I routinely ask is whether a police (or medical) check is really essential to the role – as sometimes this becomes a mechanism for discovering information about a candidate that will affect the hiring decision yet may not be truly relevant to the role.

At the end of the day, we need to be aware of how we respond to what people tell us – whether it is in the context of an interview or in any interaction.  Our anti discrimination laws may have been the catalyst for this article in HC Magazine, however there is also a deeper theme here about how we judge people and on what basis we do so.  Awareness is the first step.

Any thoughts or comments?  This is intended to be a thought provoking post – your feedback will let me know how well and in what fashion I have provoked you, if at all.

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Are your expectations whales or mermaids – or neither?

Posted on October 8, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

During the week I saw a great post on facebook – yes there can be some positive comments and posts! – and I think it’s relevant to my blog. Thanks to Delphine Fieberg I am going to re-post it here.

A while back at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was “This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?”

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way
Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.
They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.
They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on cds. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.
Mermaids do not exist.
But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?
They would have no sex life and could not bear children.
Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.
And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side
Without a doubt, I’d rather be a whale.
At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I orefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.
We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn’t enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.
We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.
Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself “How amazing am I?”

The girl in the picture is a French model by the name of Tara Lynn.

This post is neither putting down thin women nor encouraging unhelathy weight levels- either too big or too thin.
This post was prompted by two things:
1) the wisdom of the wording
2) a friend’s response to a tweet/facebook update of mine from a couple of weeks ago about calm leadership and setting of expectations. Her observation was that this is workable as long as the expectations are realistic.
You see I assumed that expectations would be – and we all know what assumptions do! Thanks to my friend for picking that up. And the facebook post above reminded me – many times we have an “ideal outcome” in mind – yet is it really ideal?
Who wants to be a mermaid…….in that queue at the psychologist office?
A better question is who wants to be in good shape for their body, feeling fit and healthy, with the energy to do the things you love (including have fun, eat and drink with family and friends).
Sure there might be some extra words needed in those expectations for them to become clear and positive and encouraging. And I believe those extra words are worth it. Striving for and achieving a realistic expectation is far more satisfying than striving for one that has a whole host of unintended and unhelpful connotations and side effects.

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