Friday, February 15, 2013

The Worth of an Honest Mechanic

We’ve all had the duplicitous experience of finally getting our car back from a garage, hoping this latest fix means it’s going to run well for the next ten years without any problems, and praying there was no big change between the quoted price and the pick-up price. You don’t want to think, "Which organ do I have to sell to get my car out of here?" Quote in mind, you still have a hard pit in your stomach, as you get a ride from a friend/family member, to the garage wondering if this is going to hurt.

You walk up to the cashier and sure enough – the moment of truth – it’s not the $125.00 that they told you when you brought it in, it’s now $625.00 because once they got the old part off they discovered that the rest of the (insert your part name here) was also worn out and it had to be replaced as well. Without the extra $500, your car would be unsafe and not drive-able – GASP! What do you mean I can’t have my car, I need my car, it’s my key to independence, to the open road, to get to my grandmother’s house, my kid’s soccer game, dinner with my wife, a weekend getaway, the ball game, the chance to GET AWAY FROM – - – THIS GARAGE! Of course you begrudgingly fork over the cash, mumble a few choice words about the guy who ripped you off, get into your car and drive away.

This happened to me less than a few weeks ago.  I saw the great marketing ad – "buy two tires – get two free" – what a deal – I’m going to jump on that one.  But low and behold, instead of the anticipated $300 for a set of four tires, I asked a few questions and discover it’s $600+ because they’ve got to do a four wheel alignment.  "Oh didn’t I tell you, that’s the only way you get the two free tires." I turned around and left the shop immediately. The sales person couldn’t believe I was walking away from the deal – and I wasn’t. I was walking away from their dishonesty.

I have a fleet of cars, not new cars; cars that my large contingent of dependents motors around in. Not one has less than 100,000 miles, they were all bought new, and then as each child passed their driver’s test, we handed them over a set of keys – to the oldest car in the fleet, while the next one got the next oldest vehicle, and so on up the line.  My wife has the esteemed distinction of having driven her Dodge Caravan 287,000 miles, until the third transmission died.  We left it in the church parking lot where the transmission failed, without notice, and called a junkyard to come and tow it away.  They gave us $200 for it – hardly a fair trade for all the memories that car gave us on family vacations, but fair enough to get it out of our church parking lot.

As a former gear head (I used to drag race a Chevy El Camino with my brother in Salem, Ohio back in the day), I know my fair share about cars, the problem now is I don’t have the time, and my passion for cars has waned over the years as well. Three sports cars don’t really fit with a family of six, even if you try to connect them with tow bars. I traded them in, moved on to mini-vans and SUV’s and haven’t looked back.
Which brings me to an unbelievable find. An honest mechanic. I can tell you, they do exist. I found one, a referral from my brother-in-law. My wife’s latest minivan, this one now with over 190,000 miles, is a workhorse – a 2001 Honda Odyssey – we love, but has long since outlasted any warranty, and is hardly worth the outrageous cost of the last dealer who serviced it.

One of those "Armageddon lights" came on a couple of weeks ago.  "Service engine immediately!"  Frightened, my wife calls me from her office and tells me I need to come and pick her up and have the car towed to the nearest garage before all the wheels fall off and the engine blows up. I asked her if it sounded bad, smelled like something was burning, or was making a strange sound. No, the DANGER light came on, she needed rescued. I told her, "I’m sure it’s ok, drive it home and I’ll get it serviced the next day at our new mechanic."

I’m sure the motorists following her home on Interstate 79 were none too pleased, her cruising at barely above the minimum speed limit of 40 mph.  I took it to our new mechanic the next day, he put it onto his electronic diagnostic machine. It was a fuel flow electronic sensor that was on the blink – total cost, including labor under $100.00.  It took thirty minutes and I was back on the road.  Ever since meeting him, all our vehicles have been serviced at his shop, and I’ve referred every person seeking a mechanic to him.  Why? He’s honest.  He did a great job at fixing my problem, charged me a fair price, eliminated that pit in the stomach feeling I always got from the unethical garages, and for that – he’s bought my loyalty forever.  Honesty in business, what a novel idea!  Must be a new marketing technique someone is trying out.  It sure works for me.

Here’s to all the honest mechanics we find and keep forever!

P.S. Searching for a mechanic? Drop me an email and I’ll pass along our treasure.

Resumes: To Lie or Not to Lie – it’s not even a question you should ask!

Have you ever wondered why people lie on their resumes – Check Yahoo’s former CEO Scott Thompson?  How prevalent is it anyway?

1. Salary (27%).  Many candidates believe this is an easy lie to get away with. What happens when your potential new employer asks you to produce—and this is not an out-of-the-norm-request–a W2 or your last paystub as a contingency of employment? Wouldn’t it be hard to back out of that one, don’t you think?

2. Credentials (12%).  This lie has caught more candidates, especially high profile candidates, than almost any other falsification. As a result most employers have come to make verification a matter of course: I’m going to hire a background check verification company to confirm your facts, including education, criminal and employment history and other items. If you, as a potential applicant-turned candidate, can’t be trusted because of this “little lie,” how can I trust you when you have to confess to something BIG? As a smart employer, I’d rather not take the chance. Had Yahoo, and their recruitment firm, done their due diligence, the current fall out could have been avoided. Success means never putting your integrity to question.

3. Job performance (15%).  So you start to run down this slope assuming credit for everything from saving the company from bankruptcy to inventing the best new product that they ever took to market. I suggest you have both the facts to back up your claims and the references to support those statements. At Human Capital Advisors, when we complete reference checks for clients we always do a “one off.” Meaning we ask one other person besides those listed on your reference list, to check the facts against. If the facts stick and at the very least corroborate, you’re safe. If they don’t we’ll keep digging until we’re satisfied, including coming back to you for additional references who can confirm your statements.  If we can’t validate your claims, your candidacy will evaporate quicker than dew off the 18th green on a hot summer day in August.

4. Job responsibilities (19%).  About 1/5th of all job seekers claim that they played a larger role in some great achievement than they actually did or they held responsibilities that were actually those of a co-worker or even better–their supervisor. If a company is using the behavioral interviewing model, those claims will be quickly exposed. You see a lie is like the icing on a cake to an experienced interviewer; the really good stuff is underneath.  If we get suspicious during an interview, certain bells and whistles go off and when they do we put on our diving gear and go deep to discover what’s under the surface.  One of the most uncomfortable things you can do to an experienced and trained behavioral interviewer is lie.  To us you’ve just become game and we can’t wait to filet you.  It’s the only way to teach some people this is something that should never be done – ever.

5. Job skills (17%).  So you really did run the server farm and kept the billion-dollar division running during the last 72-hour blackout caused by some recent natural disaster? Rarely do we see the skills exaggerated to that extreme (and hey, to brag for a moment, one my sons HAS done this!), but if you haven’t done something that you say you’re an expert at, how quickly do you think we can clean your office out for you when we realize you can’t do the job we hired you to do? Yes, that’s right. We’ll escort you to the door and cut your last check. Be honest with your skillsets, it will make the new job easier on you and will immediately garner the trust of the people you work with.

The truth is that most people who lie on their resumes eventually get discovered and are either demoted, relegated to some other less important or irrelevant role, or the wisest course of action, terminated the way the Yahoo board chose to terminate Thompson.  Stick to the truth about your experience, abilities, desire to learn, and present those in the most positive lights possible. We don’t think that every candidate is perfect; great recruiters are looking for the most qualified individual to do a job, and assuredly, the most honest.

The statistics? Quoted from Yahoo!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How Weak Human Resources failed Joe Paterno

The Importance of Strong HR
How Weak Human Resources failed Joe Paterno

For the past few months we’ve been barraged by the tragedy that unfolded in State College, Pennsylvania. A legendary icon, a man noted for his integrity and honest and true concern for everyone he met--most of all the young men playing football for him—was dismissed by a trigger-happy board trying to run a defensive PR campaign--all because of bad human resource management. 

Where did this start? Not in the waning months of 2011. This began more than 20 years ago when a misaligned, weakly led HR team failed to institute policies and procedures to address and resolve issues and concerns like those surrounding the actions of the assistant coaches. HR either neglected to create a system for addressing these types of concerns, or worse, created them but was remiss to act on the issues that were brought to their attention. It appears to be the latter.

Ask yourself this question. You are the HR leader of a world-renowned organization. A Grand Jury investigation is being conducted (this is not a research project being conducted by a graduate student) regarding the practices of your institution related to allegations regarding inappropriate behavior of a few members of your management team. It’s a GRAND JURY investigation! Why wasn’t action taken without delay to develop an internal as well as external process for immediately and confidentially addressing any and all issues discovered during the original investigation?

Your answer?

HR failed. 

Processes should have immediately been implemented to ensure that if there was ever a case such as this brought to the attention of any member of management, they would know exactly who to report it to and what steps to follow.

Had this happened, a good HR department would have conducted an investigation, the perpetrator would have been discharged, and--due to the criminal nature of the event--the legal authorities would have been notified and the justice system would have taken over the process.

With how the situation unfolded, we assume that this institution has a very weak HR department; HR is not respected when it comes to protecting the company, and HR has no position or connection as counsel to the Board of Directors. HR failed to take action when they became aware of the allegations, or perhaps even worse, were apathetic to the situation. Of course there is another potential answer: HR was not informed of the allegations nor circumstances and as such could not have taken appropriate corrective action with the university employees that would have ultimately protected the children.

This university could have easily lessened their vulnerability. They could have maintained what is now a scarred piece of their otherwise stellar history by ensuring that they had a world class HR leader who was constantly on guard protecting the customers (i.e. students, parents and anyone who used the university for service, learning, or professional development) while professionally training the managers of their responsibility to be diligent. 

Had professional HR expertise been in place and operating as the strategic partner to the university, none of the ensuing events would have happened after the first Grand Jury investigation.  Potentially dozens of children would have been protected, a legendary coach would have finished out his career with the grace and honor that was due him, and this once exceptional institution would have maintained it’s hallowed reputation.

What caused this tragedy?  The failure of HR to manage.  As a result HR managed to fail.    

by Dave Baker, SPHR

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Realizing The Potential of Every Player

I’m a football fan. Some might say a rabid football fan. And I’m a native Pittsburgher. Given the combo of those two things and my penchant for enjoying the Black & Gold stomping on another team at Heinz Field, you may wonder why I use Notre Dame’s colors for my company.

My Steeler enthusiasm runs deep. I’ve been there from the Steel Curtain days to Polamalu’s wild hair days. I love you; you’re my professional team of choice. But there’s something about the collegiate power of the Fighting Irish that revs up my heart and gets me looking toward the fall like nothing else does.

When I attended my first Notre Dame game, it was because my son was in college there and pleaded, “Dad, you and Mom have to come up the night before for the pep rally. It will be worth it. I promise!”

“Pep rally?” Really? I thought my son had gone off the deep end with this request. Knowing him to be a truly stable person—he’s an engineer after all—we took his advice and went the day before to attend the pre-game festivities.

He wasn’t kidding.

This was no ordinary, rah rah event like I remember from my high school days. No way. The gym was packed, the rafters were thumping with band music and the key note speaker was WAYNE GRETSKY.

I was starting to get a big sense of the power that a focused group of people can have. How they can expend and expand energy to create something unique in the world around them. Prior to this, I thought it was all about the football players, the coaches, even the kind of turf the team was playing on. I thought us fans were icing on the cake.

This experience…seeing and being a part of the absolute engagement of the fans taught me that realizing a goal, winning a game, is about more than the super stars. It’s about realizing the potential of every player who touches the game with extraordinary effort on game day—from the fans, to the support staff, the marching band, the cheerleaders, and the players on the field. Put everyone together, energize them to meet a goal, defeat an opponent and Pow! You’ve just seen the power of people…realized.