Are Flexible Work Arrangements a Fad or a Trend?


What if there were no set work hours for employees or no specific places they had to be to do their work?  Would the result be extra “vacation time” for many employees?

Perhaps not.  Bill Gates said that the most important perk companies could give their employees is flexible work arrangements.

Bill Murphy, Jr., columnist for Inc.com, reports on several studies were productivity and efficiency actually increased when employees were allowed to work anywhere.   And there could be a savings in costly office space as well.

Many companies (Dell, Apple, Jet Blue, American Express, Amazon and others) currently allow some of their employees to work from anywhere at any time.

Still, I do not believe the work-from-anywhere option will spread like wildfire throughout the workforce.  Employees who work in factories, retail establishments, transportation, food service and the like have to be at specific places at specific times to do their jobs.

Further, even with our robust technical tools, teams that require collaboration may need to work in close proximity.  Reliable, individual performance metrics also help.

I’m sure many employees prefer flexible work arrangements–count me in this group–and I think we will see more companies embracing this practice.

Do You Promote on Merit?


“I think we should promote Ethan,” a manager said.  “He has been here the longest and he gets along with everyone.”

“What about Angela?” asked another manager.

“She does good work but she is not certified.”

“What do you mean?”

“After training, she chose not to take the exam.  She only has a junior college degree and she has been with us for just two years.”

When evaluating persons for promotion, discussions often center around a mishmash of issues such as:  length of service, college degrees, licenses, certifications and even popularity among co-workers.

The major criteria for promotion, I believe, should evolve from the answers to two questions. What skills does the position require?   Which candidate best demonstrates these skills?

We have all known highly-certified and advance-degreed individuals who still did not possess the skills for performance excellence.  And there are countless examples of individuals with few, or no degrees, who are extremely talented and skilled.  Remember, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Mark Zuckerberg are college drop outs.

I understand there may be social and media pressure to promote on factors other than merit.  I also understand that the most successful organizations, just like sports teams, strive to put their best players on the field.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Get Good Information from References


“Given the information on his job application and his performance during interviews, you would have thought he could leap tall buildings in a single bound,” a manager said about a recent hire.  “I called his references.  All parties reinforced our assessment.”

Three months into the job, the employee’s good spirits morphed into mood swings.  Bad habits sprung up like weeds after a spring rain.  Whining seemed to be in his DNA.

To get better information from references, you have to dig deeper and go beyond the candidate’s hand-picked supporters.  Say to the applicant, “When I call your references, I will ask each of them for two or three other names of people who knew you.  You don’t mind if I do that do you?”

Most candidates will say, “Sure, go ahead.”  But if a candidate hesitates to give permission, a serious red flag emerges in my mind.

With cooperative applicants, I have nine to twelve potential references, most of which have not been screened.  Although it is tedious and time consuming, information from second-tier references is much more revealing.

Getting the right people on the bus is critical and reference checking is no place to take short cuts.