Do you want to see better? Take off your glasses!

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About 5 years ago, I had an injury to my eye, and the eye doctor said that I could never wear contacts again. What a shock! I wasn’t happy about it, but the diagnosis was very clear. I had no choice. I bought a pair of glasses that I really liked, and I never looked back. Then, at my annual eye exam last week, my doctor suggested contacts. I couldn’t believe it. Apparently, contacts have dramatically improved, and there was a healthy option for me to now use. I was ecstatic!

eyeglasses_medicalSo, imagine my surprise when I began wearing my new set of eyes, and I felt like something was missing. I would walk by a mirror and think “Who is THAT?” I noticed that I pushed my no-longer-existing glasses higher on my face several times a day and even poked myself in the eye. I smeared my mascara multiple times, and one time, I put my glasses on AFTER I put my contacts in. OOPS!

The adjustment period for me after I ditched my spectacles was at best unexpected, and at its worst, really uncomfortable. However, now that I am through the transition, I am loving life and seeing clearly!

In business, we often expect an adjustment period after an employee leaves. But honestly, the bigger adjustment happens when a new employee starts. Adding someone new to your team is a big change that can be awkward, even when you have hired the ideal A-list employee. The adjustment period not only affects you, but also the new employee, the other employees, clients and vendors. Now you may walk by their desk and think “Who is that?” or even poke yourself in the proverbial eye a few times while you all adjust, but as the employer it is your job to make that transition easier for all parties involved. Be patient with yourself and your team. As a result, you will all be able to see more clearly.

Grammar, Boys and Resumes

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grammar-390029_1920My daughter, Katy, received a text from a potential suitor that said “Your so pretty!” She showed me the text with a horrified look on her face and said “I’m sorry. If he doesn’t know the difference between your/you’re and to/two/too, then I am not interested!”

In my business, we receive hundreds of resumes for jobs per week and at least half of them have some sort of grammar and/or spelling error. Sometimes we interview them anyway because they have the experience that we are looking for, they wrote a “nice” cover letter or we decide to forgive that “one tiny mistake.” But here is the hard and fast truth: The easiest way to determine if the candidate is serious about the position is whether or not they took the extra 2 minutes to run spell check and proof their work. It really isn’t hard. It really doesn’t take much time. It really does make a difference.

So for those candidates that are continuously asking me for interviewing help, my best advice to get the interview is to please do a review of your materials before you send them. Better yet, have your neighbor, friend, significant other read your resume and cover letter, just for that extra set of eyes. And for my clients who ask, Yes! Grammar counts! Just ask my beloved teenage daughter!

P.S. May all boys within dating age of my daughter make grammatical errors like these. Amen.

Time To Clean House

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janitor-99814_1280Traditionally in January, people start thinking about cleaning house, both literally and figuratively. Articles pop up online about how to deep clean your dishwasher (is that a thing?!), how often to wash your comforter and, of course, a myriad of content about how to be a better self in the New Year. At our house, we are cleaning out closets, attacking dust mites with a vengeance, and even getting the carpets cleaned. We have replaced pillows, bought new rugs for the hallway, and scrubbed the floor tile until it shines! Personally, we want to clean out the old to make room for the new!

In addition, we are also helping companies’ clean house at work. Now is the time that we often hear from organizations who want to ramp up during the next few months and know that staffing will be critical. Along with replacing the last year’s files with this year’s in the filing cabinet, many companies also begin to hire for open and new positions. The downfall is that we often do not move into a new space with new tools. We read the article on deep cleaning the dishwasher, then fail to make the steps to actually clean it. We examine the people on our teams and clearly see improvements, yet we fail to move into action. This year, we encourage you to review your interview and hiring process. Revamp job descriptions and determine ideal profiles for your positions.

The power of refreshment is invigorating as we are often making space for something new. It just feels so good to clean up! Our mantra has always been that you can’t move forward until you clean up the past, and you can’t create something new until you make room for it.

Here’s to a cleaner, more streamlined 2016!

Do You Hear What I Hear?

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katy_bethOver the Thanksgiving holiday, my daughter and I were listening to the radio. A song came on that we both love. I began belting out the tune at the top of my lungs and sang along to the chorus of the Zac Brown Band song. I sang “Long Gone” along in perfect pitch (to me at least).  My kid laughed uproariously. “MOM”, she yelled, “Those aren’t the words!” I said, “Yes they are!” She giggled “No, really. It’s not ‘Long Gone’. It’s ‘Home Grown’!” She had to google it for me to believe her.

This misunderstanding happens in interviews for new employees all the time. Someone on the interview team will recount what the candidate said and someone else will have heard the words from the person completely differently. The very first step in the analysis of an interview for the hiring team is to agree to what the candidate actually said. The actual choice of words that they used are very important. For example, “My boss is really great to work with”. Did they really say “with”? Are you sure they didn’t say “My boss is really great to work ‘for'”? That simple word changes the entire meaning of the sentence as well as the intent of the comment. The word “with” denotes that the candidate doesn’t acknowledge their bosses’ authority, and if they don’t acknowledge it in the interview, they really won’t when they have direct deposit.

I talk about listening to the exact words all the time to my clients to ensure they get to hire someone who will fit with the company culture, leadership style and even the position itself. If you are not paying attention, you can miss something really important in an interview which can lead to a bad hire. You can also really embarrass yourself in front of your teenage daughter.

Your Strength Comes From the Struggle

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woman pushup

My personal trainer is Christine Neff, (a.k.a. Marquis de Sade). She has this wicked sense of humor as she gleefully kicks my butt all across the gym. I looked at her with this evil stare and she yells “Now there is that ‘I love you, Christine’ look!” Last week, she made me do push-ups. I hate push-ups! The reason that I hate push-ups is because I really struggle with them. They do not come easy to me. So, she says to me one day that the push up that I only ½ do is the very best one… Huh? “Your strength comes from the struggle,” she replied.

Finding the right person to hire is always a struggle, which is why my clients have difficulty with interviewing. You cannot just go online and place a special order for the right fit. You especially cannot get any deals or shortcuts when it comes to finding the right employee. You have to go through the 7 step interview process fully and completely, and yes, you may struggle. The person that you hire out of desperation, out of fear or out of panic will never work out for you. You have to complete the interview process in order to hire the brightest and the best; then when you finally do hire, it is SO satisfying!

When I met with Christine before Thanksgiving, I was able to finish 4½ whole push ups! The ½ push up was by far the hardest. But with arms shaking and sweating profusely, I struggled and I continue to get stronger.

Fist bump!

Thank you!

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There are some days when I help my clients with interviewing where we speak to people all day only to find no one qualified to move to the next interview. This can be really discouraging, but when we understand the importance of finding the right person for the job, we also understand that having no one to move forward is inherent to the process.

After a particularly difficult interview day where this exact scenario occurred, my client turned to me and said “I just want to thank you for your hard work and for hanging in there with me. I am really grateful for having you here.” WOW! It is wonderful to work with people that understand we do not always find the right person immediately. I am even more grateful that when this happens, they still see the value of the A-list Interviews process. As I drove home from the session, I had such a warm glow in my heart and it got me thinking…

Do I say “thank you” often enough, even in the face of adversity? I certainly hope so. If you have not heard “thank you” from me recently, I want to express my gratitude now. Some of you on this distribution list are amazing clients; some of you are incredible network partners or even people I have only met once at an event; some of you are people I perhaps have never met. Regardless, I sincerely appreciate your readership, partnership, trust and support over the years for myself and A-list Each and every one of you have contributed to my success in some way.

During the month of November, I find it timely to remind you all of my gratitude: gratitude for my clients, my vendors, my employee, my family and my friends. Quite simply, thank you.

And just as my client reminded me earlier this month that a simple thank you speaks volumes, I now pass it along to you and yours, and please know that I am eternally grateful for you all.

Muchas gracias! Merci! Thank you!


Beth Smith

Interviewing again? BLAH!!!

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personal-791361_1920Yesterday I was interviewing with a client who turned to me and said “Beth, I am so sick of interviewing people!” I responded “Well, you better learn to love it.” He looked horrified, and asked “WHY?” I replied, “Because if you are going to grow and evolve as a company, you will be constantly interviewing people.” He looked a little sick from my answer.

This mindset of hating interviewing is common among many of my clients. They HATE interviewing. They HATE spending all day sitting in a room with a steady stream of people coming through the building. They HATE “wasting time” and not being able to do their “real job”.

Here is the truth: when you run a company or department, your job is to create the vision for your area and hire the people to implement that vision. If you approach this valuable activity with any other intention, then you ARE wasting your time. Instead of coming to the table hating the interviewing process, shift to learning how to LOVE finding new employees. Begin by getting in touch with the end goal, which is to find an amazing candidate who comes in and knocks the ball out of the park. THAT person will let you go back to doing the rest of what you love to do. Hiring the very best fit means that you spend some time interviewing candidates to find employees who love what they do. Then you get to spend more time doing things that you love. You cannot find a better way to spend your time than that.

Don’t be a hater.

Zombies in the Workplace

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zombie-156138_1280Do you walk into your office and see Zombies disguised as employees? Those lifeless bodies that wander around thoughtlessly in packs? Have you ever thought about how they got that way?

New employees are so always excited to start their new job. I have heard many new hires talk about their first day on the job just like they talk about their first day of school… with excitement and a lot of awe. So how is it that years or even months into their employment with a company, they lose their passion for the job?

Because we suck the life out of them with too many constraints and not enough direction. We make it hard for them to do their jobs with petty rules. We don’t spend enough time training our new people, and we really don’t take the time to explain our expectations to them. All of the sudden, we have a lifeless body of the previously excited employee.

If you look around and see zombies on your staff, it is time to take stock in your interviewing process, your training program and your employee handbook. If you are dictating when someone can go to the bathroom, you are running a daycare, not a professional office. It is time for a re-do.

And if that doesn’t work, try chocolate.

Do NOT Hire Good People!

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hand-65688_1280The question that every client invariably will ask me when we begin to develop their interviewing process is, “Why can’t I hire good people?” My poor clients are often doing their full time jobs and the full time jobs of other employees. My clients are tired, burned out, and are starting to hate the work they do because they need good help and are feeling overwhelmed. One client confessed to me that he hated going into the office every day because his direct reports will have put piles of work on his desk that ultimately belonged on their own desks. And his question to me is, “Beth, why can’t I hire good people?”

My answer? Because you don’t need good people. You need good employees. There is a big difference.

Think of it this way: I consider myself a good person. I vote, I recycle, I save dogs, I take good care of my clients. I hold the doors open for people, and I honestly care about our planet. Like I said, a good person. But if you put me in front of a computer for 50 hours a week with a set of headphones doing internet research, I would lose my mind! I would become a lunatic with a road rage problem! A good person, but a terrible employee, because I am in the wrong job. I need to be with people, working with people, talking to people, or I am not happy or productive.

Hiring good employees means that you hire people because they are in the right job. Hiring good people and putting them in a job they hate makes them bad employees. So my advice? Do not hire good people – hire good employees.

Excuse the Mess

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vacuum-cleaner-657719_1280Back in the 1950’s, many vacuum cleaners were sold door-to-door; in other words, a salesman would come to the home, be invited in, and he would stage a demonstration of the vacuum’s effectiveness. Usually, that demonstration involved dumping dirt and debris on the carpet and then using the vacuum to remove it.

But what happened if the vacuum didn’t suck up the dirt? The homeowners were left with a mess in the middle of their living room. (And of course, they did not buy the vacuum.)

Surprisingly, people today often use the job interview as an opportunity to dump unwanted “dirt and debris” all over the conference table. Candidates report how awful their past employers were, how horrible their last job was and how impossible the boss was to please. Last week, a candidate complained to me that he had “embellished” his skills when applying for his previous position and was subsequently fired. His exact quote was “if they had just TRAINED me on those skills (that he already told the boss he had), then I could have been successful!”

Just like with non-working vacuums, if there is a big pile of “dirt and debris” sitting on the conference table after an interview, then the candidate isn’t working and you need to keep searching for the right one.

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