YOU are the single most important part of YOUR company

Let’s face it! As much as we think we know all about our employees, we don’t. Well, not entirely at least. We all like to believe ourselves to be experts in employee engagement and being able to create a world class employee experience. However, most of the time this would be catering to the masses and often we find ourselves taking a broad brush approach when it comes to engaging our employees.

I would like to turn the table around on this topic. There is this timeless discussion around “employee development”, on whether it’s the responsibilities of the employer or employee. Let’s take this same argument to the topic of employee experience.

Who is responsible for Employee Experience?

Are you responsible for your own experience in the company? Or, do we all expect that the company have to provide you with a wonderful experience of working with them? We might as well ask the question if we should wake up happy or grumpy? So, is a positive work experience a result of the work culture or a projection on the employee’s outlook?

Interestingly enough, everyone I spoke to feels that it’s the employer/ company/ manager’s responsibilities to create a positive work culture and experience. However, as a manager, do we walk into office every day and say, “You know what, today is the day I will make the life of my employees heaven! Today is positive work culture day!”? That would be priceless.

I honestly don’t think that work culture is something that we would wake up in the morning and have at our top of mind, something that we would deliberately try to create. Yes, we would be aware and try to instil some positive vibes and yes, cultivate the right culture, but it’s a product of how we work and interact with our fellow colleagues. Let’s just be honest, if you’re a “not so nice human being” (you know I can’t swear in my articles), no amount of good culture is going to make you a better person. And this “not so nice human being” is going to mess up the whole workplace and “poison” the whole environment.

This is so messed up! As an employee, I would put the owners on the employer, manager and company to create the best culture there is, but in actual fact, that culture is a product of the behaviour of everyone of us!

You are responsible for your own experience!

Which brings me to the argument that “YOU” are the single most important part of “YOUR” company!  So, if we start to think that way, and start taking ownership over how we bring the best of ourselves to work everyday, we would have a rather utopian work environment! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? [Now, let us all join together and sing that Lego Movie Song – “Everything is awesome!”]

“Team that plays together, Stays together” – Workbond

This is an interesting tagline. I’ve been working with the founders of WorkbondAmir Palmén and Ryan Cohn. Seeing how they’ve assembled a very diverse team across different locations, I asked them the question on how create this amazing work culture at Workbond. Their response was simple. Living by their tagline of “Team that plays together, Stays together”, they create interest-centric groups within the organization and allowed employees to bond over common interests.

I had the opportunity to join the teams on their mobile Workbond platform and it was an amazing experience! Being a San Jose Sharks fan, I was immediately pulled into the San Jose Sharks group and we had a blast as we followed our team’s amazing season to date! GO SHARKS!

I have to say that the bond which the employees created between each other was amazing and when it comes to work, there was a certain level of camaraderie and chemistry which makes working together a joy!

I brought along a piece of “culture” with me

What I’ve also realized was that when I was introduced to the folks within Workbond, I brought along a little piece of “culture” with me. As the team interacts with me, the dynamics evolved and this culture building took on a life of its own. Conversations shifted towards topics about Asia and Singapore, and that cultural exchange was indeed very refreshing. Well, that was until they found out that I was a bit of a San Jose boy, and we ended up talking about where to hang out after work for drinks!

Unintentionally, as I experienced this culture through my engagement with the team, others experienced this culture with me as a part of it. As I sat back and thought about what had just happened, I realized that every employee holds an important piece of the culture puzzle. Everyone to themselves is the most important part of their company, and as they exist within this larger entity, they would bring their emotions and personality into the mix, creating an unique corporate identity.

The sort of interaction and bond between employees defines the organization. Relationships within an organization are form over different forms of interaction. That is also the reason why we see so many organizations over the years invest a great deal of money in team building and bonding experiences.

An important piece of the puzzle

As we come to the end of this article, I want to bring us all back to the very point that I wanted to make. And let us say this again. YOU are the single most important part of YOUR company because only YOU can help create that culture which YOU are a part of! Now, let’s continue singing our song… “Everything is awesome… “ 🙂

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric is also the Advisor for Workbond and currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

You will never find a candidate who is a 100% fit!

Does a 100% fit candidate even exist or are we searching for the purple squirrel? Darn, I hate the analogy of the purple squirrel so much!

My issue with a candidate “fitting” the role is a constant struggle I have with hiring managers. Employers would put in place assessments and tests to gauge candidates’ ability to perform a job, and that’s perfectly fine. At the end of the day, they do need to hire someone that they’re confident of to be able to deliver.

The question is, “Do we really know what we are looking for in a candidate?”

  • Are we measuring the right things?
  • For the things that we are measuring, does it really matter?

We all know that passing the hiring assessment or the interview is not guarantee of performance, and sometimes a rejected candidate could turn out to be a diamond in the rough. And, one of the most famous story in recent time is about Alibaba Founder Jack Ma’s amazing account of how he’s being rejected for the 30 jobs he applied to before starting Alibaba.

What is wrong with the way we do interviews? Is there a fundamental flaw in the system? And, is there such thing as a 100% fit?

There’ll never be a 100% fit!

Let’s face it. Finding a 100% fit is impossible. There’s just no way to tell if a candidate is going to be a perfect fit for the role. Even if this candidate feels like a 100% fit, there’s no guarantee of performance.

Employers not knowing what they’re looking for

This is not in a negative way. Hiring managers usually have an idea of what they’re looking for, but what exactly are they’re looking for?

With most hiring managers, you would find a rather clear picture of what an ideal candidate would look like. However, you will also find that there is a fair bit of flexibility and also a willingness to want to understand what other skill sets the slate of candidates can bring to the team. This is interesting as you would had thought that employers would have pretty much a fix set of requirements for what they’re hiring for, but in actual fact, there is usually a fair amount of tweaking to the roles as the search progresses. This could result in a very different hire from the original requirements.

So, what are we assessing for?

All of us assesses a candidate for a combination of different things with a variety of different techniques. A common approach many us use is to identify a set of “must haves” and assess the candidates against this set of 3 to 5 items. Combined with an idea of of what the role is about, a little bit of gut feel and a lot of assumptions, we derive a hiring decision. As much as we like to feel that there is a lot of consideration and science behind how we hire, a large part of it is very subjective.

And, what is the problem?

The problem with today’s recruitment process is that we try to over complicate it too much. There used to be a model where craftsmen would identify young talents they felt is right for the trade, give them an apprenticeship and eventually they would learn the trade and strike out on their own. While we can argue that all this is impractical in today’s modern age, which I agree by the way. The point in this analogy is that hiring is often based on an assessment of potential, and success comes with the naturing of the talent that’s been brought in to do the job.

The issues we have today in our recruitment process is that we try to assess and measure too many things in a candidate which increases the amount of resources that is required to make a hire. This drives up the rejection rate and increases the time to hire translating to a higher hiring cost and increased opportunity cost of not having the person on the job earlier.

The recommendation?

I would like ask all the recruiters and hiring managers that’s reading this to try a different approach.

Look at the assessment of a candidate from a different angle. Instead of trying to hire for the perfect fit, try to look at it from the angle of assessing for acceptable risk.

What does mean?

All new hires will come with risks. Regardless how successful the candidates had been in their last jobs, that performance came as a result of the conditions and environment at that point in time when they were on that job. With that in mind, consider the following steps:

  • Build a slate of candidates that can do the job based on a clear and concise set of criteria.
  • Instead of assessing the candidates for how well they can do the job (as that was a given – they needed to be able to do the job to get on the list), assess these candidates for the likelihood to fail in the job!
  • Remove the ones that are “high risks”. However, remember that all is are relative to the candidates you have on the slate, so if you find yourself removing everyone from the list, you should re-evaluate the role and how you’ve built the slate.
  • You can use additional rounds of interviews to get this slate to the top 2 or 3 candidates
  • Evaluate this finalist slate of candidates and, and look at what is needed to mitigate the risks of them failing in the job
  • Assess the resources that is needed to be to be put in place and build that into your new hire on-boarding plan

With this, you would have a good hire that can do the job, an idea of what could go wrong, and more importantly a plan on how to mitigate this.

As recruiters and hiring managers, we all need to accept the fact that every hire comes with risks. When we change the way we look at a hiring decision from trying to “buy the result” to “building the structure”, we would naturally look at ways that the new hire can succeed and flourish in the new environment.

This way, you would had made a quality hire that could last longer. If all fails, remember the probation period was put there for a reason. 🙂

Would love to hear what you think about this topic. Share your thoughts and comments below! Happy hiring!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric is also the Advisor for Workbond and currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

Thanks for your time, but you’re overqualified!


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How many times have we heard this? This is such a common reason job seekers get when they were unsuccessful in their job search. I hate this line. Yes, you’ve heard me right. This is one of the laziest way to reject a candidate’s application, and it’s so loosely used these days that is starting to feel insincere and fake.

Let’s take the analogy of a football team. If you’re the manager of a smaller club, and you’ve got a star player knocking on your door asking to play for your team. Whatever the reason may be, if this player is available at the right price point which your club’s resources can accommodate, I don’t think you would tell this player that he/ she’s over qualified and should go try a bigger club.

We often associate qualification with cost, but there’s also an abundance of candidates that may not be entirely driven by a higher salary, who are very willing to do a job for a reasonable rate. In many developed cities where there’s an aging population where there is an abundance of experience candidates in the market who’s still got some mileage left in the tank and wanting to take on roles in different capacities. This is where we often hear the rejection stories around overqualified candidates.

I was having drinks with a very senior candidate at the CXO level who’s going to be out of job really soon due to a restructuring in the company. He’s got an amazing career history, with big US MNCs, been around the world, and held numerous key appointments. He’s reasonably priced if you’re wondering, Naturally, he’s started his process of looking for a new job. You’ve probably figured by now, he’s in his mid-fifties, but I’m very sure you won’t notice unless if you check his ID.

The number of times he’s got “overqualification” as a reason for rejection is astounding! It’s bad, and it can be really damaging for anyone’s confidence to be told that you’re not good enough for a job because you’re too good for it.

As he went on with his stories, I started a list to categorize the “driving” cause of his “overqualification”, and here’s what it looked like:

  • Age discrimination and culture fit
  • Worried about retention/ lack of career progression/ budget
  • Insecure hiring manager

Age Discrimination and culture fit

Despite this candidate’s impeccable fashion sense and trendy outlook, he was told my this young recruiter that he would have issues fitting into the culture where the company’s average employee age is in the low 30s. Ouch! There was another incident where the hiring manager commented that the candidate would have issues keeping up with a “startup” culture. This is really subjective. Culture fit is such an interesting assessment criteria that kind of gave employers a free pass at rejecting any candidate that they don’t want to engage further.

Interestingly, startups should really be in the forefront of hiring a more experience candidate given the general employee mix comprises of a younger generation. Bringing more experience into the company could actually be a good thing for them. A lot of these experienced talents are also open to more flexible or consultant like roles which may help lower the cost of acquiring the skillsets for young startups.

Retention, career progression and budget

I have quite a bit of respect for an employer to give this as a reason to a candidate for not wanting to engage further. For me, this is a genuine concern when dealing with a candidate that’s taking on a smaller role, and it is a constant struggle that employers have to deal with. It’s an open market, and there is just absolutely no way employers can prevent employees from wanting to leave the organization for a “better” role. Regardless how willing or passionate a candidate may sound during an interview, there is little telling to how much of it is truth and how much it is sales pitch. The role could be the best for the candidate at that point in time, and a better one with a bit more something may come the next moment.

This is why it is important for the interview process to be as transparent and honest as possible. It’s a process for both employer and employee to outline the role and deliverables, understand what the bigger picture is and hire for the task. This way, the company would had acquired a strong talent who is committed to delivering an agreed set of deliverables with mutually agreed rewards.

Accidents do happen, and no one can guarantee that expectations were miscommunicated or understood. Nor could anyone foresee the changes in business or personal circumstances, however, if the expectations were set right, I strongly believe that this is the foundation to a rock solid hire.

Hiring Manager’s insecurity

This is a tough one to manage. Personally, I’ve worked with really insecure hiring managers myself and they are only interested in hiring people who they can manage and not as “smart” as they are. There are others who reject strong candidates for fear of losing their own job to who they hire.

This is really dangerous. If we look at a team’s output collectively, having someone who can produce more would allow the team to average up, and hiring someone less capable would pull the team down. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. I’ve made it a rule to hire people who are stronger than me, surrounding myself with people who are much more capable than I am allows me to assemble and build a team that can take on larger and grander projects which I may not otherwise be able to accomplish.

However, we also have to acknowledge that not everyone has the confident in leading a high performance team. There are leadership limitation and to be honest, in my many years as a HR professional, I’ve not seen many individuals move to take on a managerial/ leadership role on the back of a proper development plan. A lot of the people managers I know are promoted into the role either because they’ve done their time or had fantastic performance as an individual contributor and moving up was a way to reward that performance.

Robert De Niro, the Intern

Every time I’m on this topic, this movie would come to mind. For those who haven’t seen it, go watch it. It’s a refreshing look at the topic of age, and I have to say, it’s rather uplifting. The movie’s about a retired 70-year-old widower, Ben (played by Robert De Niro) who is bored with retired life. He applies to a be a senior intern at an online fashion retailer and gets the position. How he navigates working in a firm with employees averaging at half his age creates a nice and heartwarming comedy for all. For employers, this might give you a little inspiration and nudge to want to do something like this. For all the “Robert De Niro”s, who are reading my article, life is just starting for you and I’m sure you’ll find meaning in your current job and the many more to come.

Wrapping this up

I like to end this article with a call to action. I would like everyone who is on the hiring side of the fence to take an extra moment to consider rejecting the candidate that you are about to reject. If the reason is that you feel that the candidate is overqualified, please take an extra moment to think of how this candidate could be good for your firm, and what are the validation you need from the candidate. If at all possible, give the candidate a chance to pick.

It doesn’t have to be a huge effort, and you may not be able to do this for all the candidates, and that’s just fine. Just like the boy picking up starfishes by the beach and throwing the back into the sea, he couldn’t save them all. However, to the starfish that got thrown back and given a new lease of life, it made a whole of difference.

Discrimination is something that happens subconsciously. No one wakes up in the morning feeling the need to discriminate someone and mess up their other person’s life. However, it is happening as we move through the motion of things quickly, and not taking a moment to consider and be sensitive. This is when adding a bit of mindfulness would go a long way. Who knows, you might just hire the next “Robert Di Niro”!

Would love to hear what you think about this topic. Share your thoughts and comments below! Happy job hunting and happy hiring!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

It’s all about the Experience!

Here we go again. Yet another article on company culture and employee experience. Why? Because, it’s important! Really important! I don’t know about you, but for me, the experience I get, the emotions and feelings that comes with that experience is everything.

What are we talking about here? Let’s take a step back and think. Everything we do in life, the experience we get, we feel something about it. Did we like it? Or, did we not? Are we angry? Or, are we sad? From a behavioural perspective, how we channel that emotion and feeling that comes with the experience that you’re having in that moment in time, will have a direct effect on our actions.

While we all can agree that once you take away the “willingness” or “motivation” in anyone, the performance goes down, however trying to decipher the secret behind how an individual experience an organization or even a company’s brand is a complex and multi-dimensional journey.

When you “experience” an organization as an employee, there are many factors at play. Just to name a few:

  • The overall culture, and the department, team culture.
  • The people you work with
  • The physical office space, your work station, the pantry, meeting rooms and maybe even that famous office slide!
  • Technology? Did you get an old cranky laptop or that latest mac or surface pro? Is the network slow? Are there technologies that help enable collaboration?
  • The work itself, too little? Too much? Too easy? Too tough? Does it have meaning? Did you see yourself as the janitor or someone that is helping put a man on the moon?
  • Is everyone treated equal? Or are there certain groups or individuals that are more equal than others?

There are many different things that contributes to how an employee experience an organization. However, that’s not all. There are other dimensions to this. A simple example would be the employment stage in with you are experiencing the organization. Before you became an employee, as a candidate. And even, after you left the organization, and maybe considering rejoining the organization much later in life. At the different stages, you would look and interact with the organization in different ways. As a candidate, you take reference from the interviewers that you’ve met, information from public domains, such as Linkedin, Glassdoor, and social media. After leaving the organization, ex-colleagues and such.

All this contributes to your overall experience of the organization. And it does stop there. Your role at that point in time also influence the way you experience the organization. Were you also a consumer or customer? Were you impressed with the customer service while you were a customer? Did you come to know about the organization during a career fair in school while you were a student. Or were you a vendor that’s providing a service to the organization? What about family and friends? A lot of candidates and employees first experienced the organization hearing about it from family or friends. Don’t underestimate the influence these stories shared over casual dinner conversations. These are usually one of the most powerful impressions you can leave with someone who’s experiencing the organization for the very first time.

I don’t think that there is a magic bullet in solving for experience. Organizations that are committed to creating wonderful experiences all around have something in common. They pay attention to tiny details, listens with an intention to do better. We don’t have to list these organizations out, I’m sure you’ll be able to experience it for yourself as you come by these really wonderful companies.

Here’s one of my recent experience with a team of highly talented and passionate entrepreneurs from WorkbondAmir Palmén and Ryan Cohn. And I thought that they’ve done something really amazing with the platform that they’ve built which might help many organizations create a fun social experience for all their employees.

They’ve approached employee engagement by taking a simple desire in all human beings to want to connect and interact socially and building a platform enabling employees from all over the world to connect with one and other over common interests.

While we can all say, that’s not too hard to do. After all, we all have emails and instant messengers. We know how to talk to one another right? What we often overlook is that these conversations don’t often happen spontaneously in a workplace. Even if it does, it stays as watercooler talks and on the few occasions develop into full blown activities. One of my clients recently wanted to hire someone with part of the job scope to organize employee engagement activates.

What Workbond provided was a platform created with an intention for employees to gather around interest and get together to bond, lowering the barrier to organizing activities. And that’s what many organizations had been doing with the mostly HR led activities created to foster togetherness. I had the privilege to participate and experience the interaction myself, and I have to say, it was fascinating! (I was part of the San Jose Sharks channel – oh boy, it was fun!)

While the focus of a platform like Workbond is around an interest centric platform for employees to bond, and I guess that how many of us would had described it. What we may not had realized is that, with the interaction between employees across departments and regions, comes the benefit of a more tightly knitted organization, allowing an organization to form a strong identity.

An organization’s identity is a direct product of the people that forms that organization, and there is absolutely no way you can “write that identity into a policy”. By creating a social network within an organization might just serve as that large mixing bowl for the different personalities to come together and forge one unique identify.

In my short experience with team from Workbond, I have to say, that I can clearly see a unique organization culture and identity on their internal social network. It felt like being invited to their “virtual workplace online” and feeling the culture real time. If they’re hiring, this would be an organization I would love to be a part of! And that’s the power of creating an amazing experience.

Do you have a story about your experience with your organization? Or an organization that you’ve interacted with that’s left you a deep impression? Do share that via the comments below!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

Considering a career in blockchain? Making cents of cryptocurrency, tokens and a whole bunch of coins

This is a very fascinating topic for many of us. 9 out of 10 people I talk to immediately associate this with Bitcoin, investments and yes, investments scams. I assure you, there are a lot to this than just Bitcoin, investments and scams!

So, why this article today? It’s a bit of an odd choice of topic to write about given that fact that I’ve been rather focused on HR and Talent related topics.

Well, I’ve been working with a couple of startups helping them with their HR/ Talent function, and let me assure you, hiring in the space is a lot more difficult that anyone of us could had imagined.

Take the difficulties of attracting talents to a startup and compound it with the complexities of how these startups are funded. IPOs are so last decade, these firms are looking at doing their own “ICO”, and “STO”. It’s like a scene out of HBO’s series “Silicon Valley” where Gilfoyle proposed an ICO when their plan for a series B kaput!

This is all so fun! Now, try explaining all that to a candidate that’s hearing this this for the first time! I assure you, it will be a long discussion.

What should you do if you’re presented with an opportunity in this space? Do you need to have the risk taking quotient of Indiana Jones to embark on a career in blockchain?

My answer to that is a simple, “Keep your options open. Explore and get more details. Talk to folks that you trust to help guide your decision.”.

You probably heard they saying “Not all that glitter is gold”, but I would say “it doesn’t hurt to check it out to see if it’s not”. While I may had some early engagements with clients that are in this space, and probably understands a little of the industry, I must say, I’m still constantly learning about how this would change the world we’re in.

Just last week, I was privileged to have the opportunity to attend Huobi’s “Elites Fireside Workshop” and meeting some of the smartest folks in this space. (Thanks Kelly Liu, Global User Growth Director, Huobi Group for hosting me).

Here’s some of my observations on how the industry’s evolving.

It’s not just about the investment

While there were a lot of talks about how you would make money trading the tokens/ coins. Yes, cryptocurrency’s also starting to gain popularity as an asset class which some savvy investors had already parked their money in. This is definitely a strong driving force in crypto making mainstream.

Utility vs. Security

This was something that I didn’t really pay much attention to as I took a broad assumption on companies doing an ICO/ STO with the intention of raising funds. I did feel a little foolish after talking to one of the panelists, that I fail to differentiate the between the 2. There’s enough article out there on this, so I’m not going to elaborate on this topic, but it will be interesting to see how the industry evolves and how the nature of the tokens may diverge or converge with clearer legislation. I’ve also realized that as a candidate joining a company that’s embarking on their ICO/ STO, you would be able to gain better insights into their business model and profit share if you managed to get a good understanding in this regard.

The platforms and the exchanges

For me, this is the most fascinating space. Standalone the tokens and coins have limited application and value. However, the ability to trade and move these tokens and coins around makes it a whole lot more attractive. This would also allow you to cash out, take profits or whatever you want to call it. As a candidate, if you’re considering an offer with part of your package in tokens/ coins, you should look at the mechanism on how you can cash out on your digital assets!

A not so bold prediction

Maybe not so bold as there are glimpse of this happening already. On May 22, 2010, a programmer purchased two large Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins, which is worth about US $30 at the time. At its high, bitcoin went up to a whopping $19,783.06, and at time of writing, it’s worth $5,468 and some cents. Just imagine if you’ve had sold some pizzas for 10,000 coins and left it sitting there all this time. With the increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies and the availability of payment gateways, I believe there will be wider acceptance and uses. The question for us today as a candidate and myself as a service provider, are we ready to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment?

While you ponder the question and I am sure more and more jobs will open up in this industry and when that opportunity comes knocking, I hope you will have an answer.

For me? It’s an easy decision. So, let me put this out there. For my existing clients and potential clients to be (especially the new start-ups that’s looking to do your own ICO/ STO), I am open to taking payments in coins/ tokens. Talk to me about how this can be done, and we’ll figure it out.

So, for all those new start ups who’s doing your own ICO/ STO, talk to me about a coin payment option. As long as your ICO/ STO is backed by a sound business/ project plan, we’ve got a deal.

As a disclaimer, I think I’ve just scratched the surface with this article, and I may had just embarrassed myself publicly for my lack of depth in this subject matter. For that, I would apologies, continue to learn and keep writing. 🙂

Do share your thoughts and comments on this topic!

Happy Monday and have a fantastic week ahead!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

I wish I’d known that before I took the job – 5 tips to make sure you make the right decision!

I confess! I “stole” that title from one of Dr. Jane Horan’s book, “I Wish I’d Known That Earlier in My Career: The Power of Positive Workplace Politics”. For those who haven’t read that book, it’s a must read! If only I’ve read it earlier in my career. J

So, why the title? Been in the recruitment for most of my career, we often come across stories from our candidates that never fails to fascinate and amaze me in many different ways. Some of things that they’ve gone through could make for a good reality TV program.

I also promise to give Ajay a shout out if and when I come around to writing this article. Ajay, this one is for you! And while we’re at it, here’s to all the folks that’s shared your grievances with me, Steve, Isabel, Constantine, and a couple others. Although I can’t find all of you new jobs, but I’m sure things will sort itself out.

Of course, other than Jane and my name in this article, I’ve taken the safety precautions to change all the other names. You know, just in case. Things have a funny way of going around.

Numerous surveys shown that employees don’t just quit their jobs, they quit their managers. If you’ve had a candid conversation with employees who had quitted their managers, you would come to a common finding that this is due to the level of toxicity in the workplace that their managers created, making it unbearable to continue.

In many cases, the answer to such attrition would be to backfill the role, and there lies a revolving door in which you would end up with continuous changes to the organization.

No, life and work are not a bed of roses. Don’t for one moment feel that there is utopia in any workplace. There are the usual challenges and things that will not go your way.

This article is written for those job seekers whose about to make the decision. Having helped many candidates take a decision on their career transition, I believe the best you can do is to assess the job offer carefully consider the different angle and make a sound decision. At least you’re going in with your eyes wide open.

And if the article’s making anyone uncomfortable, get help! While I agree that management is not a popularity contest, but if no one wants to work for you/ or with you, I think it’s a good idea to speak with a management coach. More often than now, it might be just one or two small things to take note of, and you would find yourself becoming a more desirable person to work with.

Tip number 1 – Check out Glassdoor

This is of the site that many in house HR folks have a love/hate relationship with. It’s one of the sites that allows employees to leave a review on the company and believe it or not the company cannot have it removed. However, you may also find some rather “angry” comments there as well. You can say that there’s no smoke without fire, but I would recommend using a bit of discretion and judgement to form an impression of the company that you’re considering joining.

Tip number 2 – Understanding the reason for the vacancy

If this question wasn’t covered during the interview process, it’s always a good idea to get an understanding of why the company needed to hire for this role. Most companies would have a good and well thought out reason to why this is open, but you would be able to piece a pretty good picture of what had happened from talking to the various interviewers. Take the chance to validate some of the points that’s raised by earlier interviewers to form your own opinion. You can always circle back to the hiring manager, or your point of contact if you’ve uncovered some “surprises” and wanted additional clarification. Sometimes, by observing how these questions are address can give you a pretty insightful understanding on how “things are handled” in the organization.

Tip number 3 – Talk to the incumbent

Many candidates that I worked with would have the impression that this is “taboo”, but you’ll be surprised that this is a rather common practice. In fact, in one of the roles that I took on, I had the chance to spend a couple of days with the outgoing incumbent. The result was amazing. I went on to build one of the best team and surpassed expectations during my first performance review 6 months into the job. Talking to the outgoing person may also uncover some of the things that would be useful for your decision and navigation of the new role. What if that option is not “open”? I’m sure there are ways that you can get creative on that front!

Tip number 4 – Research the “attrition”

This one is a little tricky to do. It requires a bit of nosing around and a bit of “detective” work. Or you could just ask the question point blank and hope to get an honest answer. Here’s what you can try.

  • Do a search on Linkedin for people working in the company
  • Select “All Filters” to bring up all the options you can filter this by
  • Narrow it down to the region/ department
  • Uncheck the company from “Current company” and check the company under “Past Company”

You should have a sense of who left the company/ department and get an idea of how “good or bad” the situation is.

Some that I spoke to recently told me that he terminated the interview process after talking to the incumbent who’s left the organization, and on checking the “attrition numbers” found out that the department have had massive turnover. In his words, “I would be committing career suicide if I’d joined them”!

Tip number 5 – Take references and additional data points

While it’s common that as candidates, we provide our professional references to companies. I feel that it is ok to ask the same from your future manager to be. I once had the pleasure of working with a very forward-looking HR thought leader and who offered to provide me with references on her leadership style. We were on the topic of leadership and I was very impressed with the direct and transparent offer. (Am not listing her name here, yet – as I don’t have her permission at time of writing this article. May come back and add that on if she gives the nod!)

References can come in different forms. Other than checking with ex-colleagues and staffs on how it’s like working for an individual, I would also encourage candidates to ask for a conversation or additional examples of some of the promises that made during the interview/ offer process.

A good example would be the promise of “Job rotation as part of a development”. Get a little more clarity of what that meant. Is that a hypothetical comment or is that real? In the above example, I’ve had a hiring manager offered a candidate additional contact points to employees that’s gone through job rotation in his organization as an optional conversation for the candidate to consider should that becomes an area of interest in considering the offer. The candidate was blown away!

While it’s exciting and flattering to had gotten that offer, I would always recommend due diligence and care when you’re considering the offer. Take time and communicate clearly what you need to come to a firm decision. Any good organization will allow you that space to deliberate the offer.

For those who are reading this article as preparation to taking that offer, I would like to congratulate you and wish you the best. For those who are in the process of interviewing for a new role, take the chance to collecting all the data that you need, and I’m sure when it comes to the offer stage, you would be well informed to making that decision.

Do share your thoughts and comments below.

Happy Monday and have a fantastic week ahead.

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.

“HR”! Finding the Human Relevance!

Many of the folks that’s spoken with me recently would know that in the last couple months, my life’s been revolving around the word “Relevance”. Yes, I’m searching high and low for search relevance engineers, and for those of you who knows about this very interesting space, it is darn hard finding good candidates.

So, how did the word “Relevance” become the topic of my blog today?

This is all thanks to a group of very interesting individuals. A table full of thought-provoking HR leaders, coming together for lunch and a rather futuristic topic of what tomorrow’s HR would look like. I must say, it was a hugely entertaining conversation, a little depressing, but mostly forward looking.

As we looked at the role of HR in the organizations of today, there was a rather clear definition of what business partnering versus transaction work looked like. So, I guess the whole idea of a Business Partnering (BP)/ Center of Excellence (COE)/ Operations and Transaction model is pretty much the standard in many organizations today.

We took a deeper dive into what does HR really stand for in today’s context and how does technology such as automation, AI and everything that we have yet to comprehend changes that. While there is a strong agreement that at the most basic level, the personnel administration part of HR would still remain, we all agree that the advancement of automation, and AI will drastically change the way employees engages with HR for such transactions.

“Self-service” is definitely becoming a norm, with some organizations moving to the use of chatbots to automate some of their frontend engagements, providing for faster service turnaround, which also in turn reduces the load and need for human intervention.

One may argue that this would lack the personal touch, but with improving technologies in AI and chatbots, that is soon becoming a thing of the past.

So, if the transactional piece of HR can be replaced by technology, surely as HR practitioners, we would need to find relevance in what we do in at a more strategic level and not compete with the robots for transaction work.

Surely, the human brains would be irreplaceable when it comes to decision making, or is that also now threaten by the rise of robots?

One of my favorite phases that I picked up last Friday was, “There is data and there is human. The result is a permutation of which human sees what data!”.

When we look at the emerging trends around big data, and how we’re able to analyze and present data in a way that enables us to predict and make sensible decisions. It becomes increasingly clear that the role of HR from here on is no longer in crunching that data and advising our business leaders on the multiple different outcomes.

The business leaders have a dashboard and a fancy tool for that these days. So, if as business partners, we are advising, and not making those decisions, how fast do you think that function can be replaced by AI?

If we look at the methodologies that we adopt and bring to our business, these are not complicated principals to grasp. Someone commented that “9 boxes are not that complicated, I’ve worked with a business leader that ran an entire exercise on his own!”.

I know of 2 camps of HR practitioners. On one camp, the forward-looking ones that are trying to work themselves out of a job. On the other, the anxious one that fear the day when there’s no longer any value they can bring to table.

I have to be honest. There was a point where I started to get a little depressed with how HR today’s turning out. For me, HR needs to move beyond finding relevance in everyday transactions and understand what drives the business forward.

It will not be with one lunch conversation, we would change the definition of HR and what it stands for. However, for me, it serves as a reminder that the very world of HR that I’ve built my entire career on is changing, and fast.

I read in an article that with industrial revolution, humans are merely the interim solution to what technology couldn’t achieve decades ago. While that’s a depressing thought, and perhaps it will be some time before “Skynet” takes over, we do live in the present and still have a job to do.

If you ask me what is the role of HR tomorrow? My answer is simple. The fundamental role of HR hasn’t changed. It is to integrate the “human” resources as a part of the organization. The thing that’s changed is the world around us, mindset of the new generation, technology, business environment, etc. It’s like making a cake, the cake is still the cake, we just have fancier tools and new ingredients to work with!

What’s your take on the “Role of HR tomorrow?”, do share them in the comments below and have a wonderful week ahead!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.