Loyalty to Former Employer

In the days of yore, people hardly change jobs. They start from scratch and grow to the pinnacle of their career with one organisation until retirement. This is the meaning people ascribe loyalty to. They breathe and live a particular organisation that they become ambassadors of the brand.

However, ascribing loyalty to longevity in an organisation has often been faulted. The fast paced world we currently live in where skills and knowledge are prized currency has given rise to a war of talent among organisations not only in similar industry but also those with different business orientations. The argument is that all the people changing jobs from one employer cannot be said to be disloyal.

While I do acknowledge that your loyalty should switch to your current employer, some bad-mouth their former employers. Whatever the reason of your changing job is, since you have decided to move on there shouldn’t be any need to disparage your former employer. This to me is being loyal.

A better example of loyalty to me is the ‘no-goal-celebration’ being exhibited by footballers. An unwritten rule where players who score against their former team refuse to celebrate. I saw Cristiano Ronaldo in Madrid’s shirt refusing to celebrate against Manchester United in a Champions League match. Another example is Van Persie respecting his former club, Arsenal when he scored for Manchester United. There are so many players that have displayed this true sense of what I call ‘loyalty’.

Coming back to the business world, I know of people who have helped their former employers in one way or another. Sometimes, the help could be financially rewarding for the former employer. A friend of mine once went to help his former employer on an IT application he had developed while working for them. This was even after the company had given a work reference on him. It was just a way of showing appreciation for being given the opportunity to experiment with his programming skills.

Some would argue otherwise if the circumstances leading to exiting a company were not pleasant. May be that could explain Danny Welbeck’s celebration of a gifted goal against Manchester United last night. Danny is a local lad who rose through the Youth team only to be sold to Arsenal. May be it was a way of making Van Gaal to rue his decision to sell him. I might be wrong though!


What are your areas of weakness?

Being humans, we all have our frailties. There has to be that habit or skills that need development. While it is easy to come up with those strong attributes and excellent work ethics that make up the individual being, the same cannot be said of our weakness. As individuals, we often do not admit our weakness even though a third party would easily identify this. A third party here means that person who relates with us regularly at a close range. This ranges from supervisors, colleagues and even our spouses.

The intriguing question this piece is probing is why it is difficult to individually come up with one’s own weakness. A regular interview question is to ask a candidate his area of strength and weakness. As a HR person, I have heard candidates give ‘not-too-intelligent’ answers when responding to the weakness aspect. The probability of ‘strength and weakness’ question coming up in an interview is almost one. Consequently, It is expected that most post people would rehearse their answers before appearing at interviews. Yet, most answers we get are not genuine and are ‘crappy’ at the same time.

Apart from job candidates, interview experts are also evasive on tips to answering the tricky question. The common advice is for candidates to stress on efforts they are making to correct identified weakness. Whatever that might be! I do share the constraints of coaches and mentors in attempting to render adequate counseling on the ‘weakness question’. Most interviewers are never explicit on the question. Weakness could be in the areas of skill sets or behavioural traits and other psychological competencies.

If interview experts and counselors are evasive on ‘weakness-question’ because of its ambiguity, it is then proper to turn to recruiters and other HR professionals who sit at interview panels. Mostly, the question is being thrown to elicit certain information or reactions that would help the panel in making a sound judgment on suitability or otherwise of a candidate. Are we expecting candidates to be upfront on their weakness? If the answer is yes, then most candidates do not tell the truth on this.

It is imperative we revisit those generic interview questions because candidates are likely not to be truthful with their responses. What we ask at interviews are set of similar and pre-determined questions. It is like a list of commandments which are meant to be stuck to that in so doing we shy away from probing questions and miss out on good fit. It is high time we reviewed our interview strategies.

The title used for this piece is borne out of the need to evoke changes in the way we conduct interview. It is also genuinely aimed at getting an answer to the ‘weakness-question’ as I have always wondered why individuals are never forthcoming on this. If it is also so important for employers to know the weakness of a would-be-employee, it is more important that the question is asked without any form of vagueness. It is only then; career coaches and mentors can give appropriate guidance to their wards.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash

How Gutsy are you in your Job Search?

Desperate times call for desperate measures. This cliché statement is best relevant when you are in the job market. The bills are piling up and your Bank Manager is not ready to grant you additional overdraft. It is like the whole world is going to crash on your head. You have been called up for a couple of interviews but have not succeeded. You are hoping to get some positive feedback from Recruiters.

Rather than live on hope, you need a lot of guts to get out of your predicament. Alfred is a young graduate of Marketing from University of Coventry who advertised himself at the Waterloo Station in London. He did get a job with a Recruiting firm within days of putting himself up. If Alfred had guts, Adam was more daring. He emptied his bank account to put up a bill board ‘begging for a job’. Some people might see this as going to the extreme but I really do not think so.

If you wont tow the line of Adam, have you thought of sending a recruiter an email or adding your interviewer up as a connection on LinkedIn? You can even ask daring questions in an interview. I once did. I was invited for an interview as HR Manager for an NGO that serves as an umbrella body of people with different political persuasions. The pay was good and the working environment serene as I would have loved it but I had my concerns. There were threats to the survival of the organisation which I took up with the panel. The leader of the interview team felt visibly infuriated with my question. The NGO closed shop afterwards.

If you stick to the ground rules of CV writing and other conventional ways of job searching, I wish you the very best. People have sent me unsolicited e-mails to find out if I have a role for them. I have always tried to respond to such e-mails and have even called some for interview. However, other people might find it rude and wont respond to unsolicited mails. It wont hurt a fly, so why not try it.

The job market is a tricky place to be in. Sometimes super credentials are not enough in landing you the dream job. You might have to resort to the use of guts if you have any.

Race against Time in the Job Market

The route leading to the labour market is one which we have all taken and is well familiar to most of us. Our experiences may vary but a common theme which describes the job market is its unsavoury nature.

Depending on which side of the market you are, blames are heaped on the other party. Recruiters are always on the receiving and get a lot of bashing from job seekers on one hand while job seekers are seen as not having the right skills and attitude for available jobs from the recruiters’ perspective.

As the blame game goes back and forth, I discovered a unique factor working for or against the two parties. The factor of time is an essential element of the recruiting process which works for or against the recruiter and the job seeker.

Getting a vacant position filled within a given period is vital to any recruiter while job seekers also compete against time to get their applications out in record time. How the two parties react to the time factor may vary but it has a consequential effect on the outcome. Some job seekers do not wait to understand the role being advertised before sending their applications. Employers or recruiters are often overwhelmed by the number of CVs they receive for advertised positions that they sometime come up with wrong fits.

The two key players in recruitment market have devised different means to beat the constraint of time. Job seekers now have ‘customised’ CVs for numerous job roles. This allows them to apply for more than one job at at given time and more importantly beating the deadline. Recruiters on the other hand, are embracing technology to help in filtering through CVs for qualified candidates. It is also a common practice for recruiters to contact only qualified candidates for the next stage of the process. This is all in a bid to save time.

It is however contestable if these time-saving methods have helped the entire recruitment process. Customised CVs might not indicate specific skills required for some particular roles and could hinder candidate’s chances of proceeding to the next stage. Some job applications are quite extensive and require patience and time to get by them; using a customised CV for such applications could jeorpadise the chances of candidates.

Recruiters and employers are not only in the job market to just recruit anybody but to be able to attract a pool of skilled and qualified hands to select from. This can be achieved if job seekers are treated with respect and dignity. Giving critical feedback to all candidates, whether successful or not, makes employers become ’employers of choice’.

Whichever way one looks at it, time is a tricky element in the job market. Consequently, it is important for all players to strike a balance in the race against time. How they achieve this depends on the industry, immediacy or futuristic role, and other important details of the recruitment industry.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be reached on Twitter @El_De_Bash

The HR Myth

At some pivotal points of our working life, we must have had cause to interact with one HR department or the other. While some would speak well of their interactions with HR, the same cannot be said of a whole lot of people. I might not be able to back up my claim with any statistics but because I work in HR, I can give an informed opinion of how we are perceived by our non-HR colleagues.

There is this ‘myth’ about the HR office in an organisation. People try as best as they can not to visit the HR office and when they have to, it is with trepidation and awe. This is not limited to the employee with the highest record of absenteeism record as highly productive Staff are also not left out. I might never be able to give genuine reasons as being responsible but I will simply call it the ‘HR Myth’.

At a time when businesses are putting employees at the forefront, no HR department will want to be described as egocentric. The main thrust of HR is to align its people-oriented functions with business objectives. It is interested at doing everything in its might to help employees in delivering their job functions. It then does not add up when people paint HR with an ego problem.

I am not oblivious to the fact that some HR pros see themselves as demi-gods. They have a snubbish demeanour because they are in HR. If you are in HR and you fall into this category, you are doing a disservice to our profession. Let me put it quite frankly, you are not needed in HR because you are a direct opposite what the profession stands for.

HR is and should always be people-centred. Some of us are quick at enforcing those punitive areas of Employees Handbook and slow at implementing sundry benefits and allowances beneficial to employees. If you are still the HR pro who only writes policies on disciplinary issues, it would be pertinent to inform you that HR has shifted from that function to a more strategic role.

To a lot of HR pros who have embraced the strategic function, well done! You guys are doing a wonderful job by making your presence felt across various industries. That HR is not listening, it is all myth. We are as approachable as ever. Walk up to your HR department and discuss any challenge you are having. Break that ‘Myth’ today!

Bashir Baba can be reached on Twitter @ El_De_Bash

The Need to Train Your Employees

Spending on improving the capacity of employees is one thing most organisations see as digging a hole in their bottom lines. In a post recession era where businesses are trying to grow back their balance sheets, investing heavily on employee development won’t appear anywhere at the top of their strategic goals.

While I do acknowledge that the business climate has been anything but bright, refusing to build the capacity of employees will only compound the current challenges. Without sounding too simple, Companies that give priorities to learning and development of their workforce should be able to predict risks and also put in place mitigating measures. These companies are still not completely immuned from adverse economic conditions.

What fate then awaits organisations that do not pay attention to learning and development? The answer to this question is better imagined than experienced. There are a whole lot of reasons to not only put employees in the forefront but also to maximize their potentials through development. In a fast changing business environment that is driven by technology and customer focused.

Technology is the prime driver of modern business and companies need to embrace this development to stay competitive. Different software and applications are constantly being developed to suit many businesses across varying industries. Investments in technology will require continuous training of employees if it is to yield returns.

Most of the returns posted by companies are represented in figures which are derived from large amount of data. In arriving at some business decisions, qualitative indicators will have to be converted to numbers. Consequently, organizations will have to develop numerate skills of their employees to the satisfactions of shareholders.

Apart from shareholders, another important member in the mix is your customers. Their needs are ever increasing and changing. Sometimes, companies need to be proactive by preempting these needs through development of innovative products and services. These can only be achieved when employees have adequate and continuous training.

Another benefit of investing in employees’ development is that it is a talent management strategy. Highly skilled prospective candidates are attracted toward companies that give room for employees’ growth and development. Organisations that are able to attract skilled hires have competitive advantage and will remain a major industry player.

Check out industry leaders in any kind of business and try to discover what makes them tick. The answer is not far-fetched; it is because their employees are their most prized asset. They invest in their learning and development.

Connect with me on Twitter via @El_De_Bash


Deserving of a Promotion at Work

Periodic movement to higher levels on a job hierarchy is the wish of every employee. It signifies appreciation to employees’ contribution to the success of organisations. Promotion on the job boosts career development of staffs and prepares them for more challenging roles. More importantly, promotion is a trust being bequeathed to deserving employees by management.

Many will wonder how getting a promotion at work becomes a trust. Promotion comes with greater responsibilities and more strategic roles. It is expected that jobs will be carried out more diligently and clients are attended to in a more professional manner. This is why it is not everyone that gets promoted. A rise in job level is a testament of the trust organisations have in promoted employees. Succinctly, only trusted employees get promoted at work.

“To whom much is given, much is expected” is a common expression most parents say to their wards. In order to justify the huge amount paid in school fees, it is important the children do well in school. As the schoolboy moves into the next class, the Maths’ lessons will transform from a simpler Algebra to the more complex Calculus. Likening the classroom to the workplace, job promotion translates to an increase in income to employees while it puts a dent on organisations’ profit (not in all cases though). It then becomes pertinent that promoted employees justify the additional income by upping the ante.

Apart from career development, employees have their bills to settle and families to cater for. It is imperative for employers to appreciate these important elements in the lives of their staffs by according them duly deserved promotions. One may be quick to cite recessions and dwindling sales as stumbling blocks to job promotion even when it is deserved. However, it is worth reminding business owners that a happy employee is a productive employee. Promotion at work with attendant increase in income makes every employee happy.

Despite derivable benefits, some organisations are apathetic towards staff motivation through job promotion and pay rise. In these companies, promotion exercises are designed across an elongated hierarchy on a tenured basis. A fresh graduate spends like a year on probation, two as a Supervisor and another two as a Management Trainee. The managerial position is divided into Assistant, Deputy and Substantive manager roles. The upper echelon is made up of Senior and Principal Manager. Employees spend an average of four years on each of these job levels.

Having a complex and elongated organisational structure like the one described above deters highly skilled potential employees. Existing staffs will be demotivated and might be forced to get their career back on track elsewhere. Employees that decide to stay will become complacent and resistive to innovation.

It’s a win-win situation for employers and employees if promotion exercise is done regularly and deservingly.

Bashir Mudi Baba can be engaged on Twitter @El_De_Bash