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because there are two sides to every story

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of service

Who provides service?

Our military and every single individual who enlists serves our country, each and every one of us, all of us. Our churches and clergy serve our communities, our faith and our spirits. We are served by educators and their entire support system of internal service. We are served wellness and healing by our medical professionals, our insurance programs, our local health clubs – and all those who build the buildings that we enter; the dealers who sell us the cars and their ‘service’ departments who fix them and the gas stations that supply the gas albeit self-service. We reach out to professionals to help us plan trips (Kayak, Rick Steves), choose service providers (think Angie’s List). Of course, we reach out to funeral homes to help us plan those dreaded ‘services’.

We have the Internet to provide us access to information and more ‘services’ that were unimaginable when most of us were born. Of course, there are the cable and Internet and telecommunications companies that help us gain and maintain access to such a service. It takes a village.

We have professional services that some of us can’t live without: cosmetologists, landscapers, massage therapists, clinical therapists, dog groomers, mechanics and the list will never end, as our need for such services continues and evolves. And it will. Who knew Amazon would replace our shopping experiences to the extent that it has and who knew (maybe Bezos did) that it would make the impact on our daily shopping needs that it may be planning on? We probably don’t have a clue as of yet how we will be impacted, or we may already be impacted and not even know it. On a larger scale – we serve our planet. By doing whatever we can as individuals, as homeowners, as tree huggers – to contribute to clean air, green spaces and hopefully retaining what the EPA has been put in place for. A service we won’t be able to live with out.

There’s community service. Some may be assigned for legal reasons; most performed by people who are seriously dedicated to public service, whether in administrative roles or in beautifying their neighborhoods.

Writers write, editors modify and publishers publish and booksellers promote and sell. Truck makers design and build the trucks that the trucking companies buy in order to deliver the goods that are sold to us in all sorts of places, by the truck drivers who get it to those places far and wide. It takes a village.

In the workplace, many don’t often realize the service that they provide unless it is spelled out for them – in a job description or by assumption. There are those who serve customers in restaurants or banks, or retail stores and there is another never-ending list. Public service, private service, customer service. What does it mean to serve? Perform, provide, deliver; a cook can perform and create, the clerk can provide the checkpoints and the driver can deliver the food to you, or the wait staff can ‘serve’ your dinner to you. In a restaurant, you provide tips as a standard of thanks. A gratuity that can range from mediocre to outstanding, depending on the level of service. Wait staff most often rely on these tips for a living. What may go wrong in the kitchen does not necessarily reflect the abilities of the ‘server’ unless they are mindlessly going about their job; not paying attention to a delayed order, a wrong order, etc. The gratuity most often reflects the level of service, the timely attention, the friendliness, and the manner in which one is served. And in those places where gratuities are not a standard practice – service good or bad, is still recognized. The gratitude may be passed along in the form of a recommendation, or not.

I could ramble on about service, which I think I already have. What my point was intended to be – is to acknowledge all those factors that/who contribute to the end product or the end service. Technology has become a factor in everything we do or buy. But someone, a human, has created, trained, maintained whatever type of technology that is. Within an organization, there is an IT service department. These are people whose jobs require them to analyze or service the systems that other ‘people’ need to utilize to perform the specifics of their jobs. So internally, this is just one example of service within the same organization, who has customers inside and out of the scope of maybe what their job descriptions have spelled out for them.

We all provide a service. Most of us get paid for the services we provide to others. There are those who do not get paid – the under appreciated and under rated volunteers of the world. Volunteers can donate hours, days or weeks or longer to causes that have meaning to them (animal shelters), to organizations they want to give back to (hospice agency), to pay forward in a matter of education or empathy. There are so many ways to serve. Most volunteers will tell you, they get more out of their service than they think they give.

On a personal level – we provide friendship and support, when others need us. At work, we don’t (or shouldn’t) spit back the phrase ‘it’s not my job’ when we don’t feel like doing something. It takes a village. A village of do-gooders sometimes and a village of family; to be sure that our lives and our work impacts others in ways we don’t even realize yet. A good impact, an everlasting impact. You will be remembered for acts of compassion, kindness and generosity large and small. You will also be remembered for those times you could have, you should have, but you didn’t.

What are you doing for others?











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BIG little MiS tAkEs, Etc.

Some additional points – important ones.

Let's Talk Work

See Etc. Below

On my soapbox today…as I am spending a small part of this holiday weekend reviewing resumes received in response to a recent posting.

Candidates, there are a few golden rules to submitting your resumes online. Please consider the following so you don’t fall into that ‘black hole’ or get ‘lost in the shuffle’:

  1. ALWAYS name and save your documentwith your name or at least your initials. At least 1/3 of resumes just received are named as resume.doc or myupdatedresume.doc or similar. This makes it much easier for us hiring authorities to look through a long list of applicants and sort them by name, maybe alpha, in order to review them. Resumes that don’t have an identifier as their saved document name can indeed get lost in a shuffle of dozens if not hundreds more that do have some identifier.
  2. When you decide to use the template of…

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BIG little MiS tAkEs, Etc.

See Etc. Below

On my soapbox today…as I am spending a small part of this holiday weekend reviewing resumes received in response to a recent posting.

Candidates, there are a few golden rules to submitting your resumes online. Please consider the following so you don’t fall into that ‘black hole’ or get ‘lost in the shuffle’:

  1. ALWAYS name and save your document with your name or at least your initials. At least 1/3 of resumes just received are named as resume.doc or myupdatedresume.doc or similar. This makes it much easier for us hiring authorities to look through a long list of applicants and sort them by name, maybe alpha, in order to review them. Resumes that don’t have an identifier as their saved document name can indeed get lost in a shuffle of dozens if not hundreds more that do have some identifier.
  2. When you decide to use the template of someone else’s resume in order to copy and paste your own information – don’t forget to RENAME the resume and document to your own. Nothing raises the  red flag at the hiring company like two different names associated with one resume. Most likely, that is all the company will then read.
  3. Don’t associate your resume with a glaring or inappropriate email address for response. Just another Triancular_red_flagto the company about one’s professionalism.
  4. When submitting your resume, seriously, for a job, be sure that you meet some if not most of the qualifications listed. When you don’t, that sends yet another Triancular_red_flag that you probably didn’t even read the posting in full. And, if you take such shortcuts in your own career search endeavors, then what might you do on the job if hired?
  5. Always, email a copy of your resume as both your document as well as a .PDF version. Occasionally, employers will get resumes that have notes entered all over, or have some form of code or template lines on top of the content that was intended. This may say to an employer – he/she doesn’t proofread their own personal work, so we probably can’t trust them to be responsible for any workplace documentation that would be tasked with.
  6. Triancular_red_flag There are often red flags when resumes are submitted through various recruitment websites and aggregators and the intended targets (being the company) may not actually see what you intended them to see.
  7. Consider the level of the position you are applying to. Have you shown, through your own resume format, content, grammar and spelling, that you even meet the qualities required for the job?

And then some…

8.  Always be sure to place your name on each page of your resume.

9. It’s helpful to insert page numbers when your resume is more than one page.

10. There is no need to waste space on your resume with ‘references upon request’ as that is a given. If you don’t provide them ‘when asked’ you probably won’t go further in the process.

10+. Don’t even place the names and numbers of your references on your resume. Most people don’t want their contact information out there on the global resume/job search market – and wouldn’t be comfortable if this got in the wrong hands. On the other hand, have that list available to share (in person) when and if they are requested, most likely during an interview.

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Several years ago (2002) I met an author – Giovinella Gontheir: RUDE Awakenings. I was first attracted to the title of her book simply because it sounded like the name of a business I once wanted to start (Brewed Awakenings) a coffee and wine bar. I met her during a workshop I was attending on Civility in the workplace, and was able to continue a relationship for a bit of time afterwards.

Gontheir spoke of a systemic change that was required throughout an organization; from the way performance was measured and appraisals conducted; to policies on conduct in the workplace.

Civility is imperative in any business environment: or workplace. Employee and customer retention, productivity and morale – all being impacted by so much Incivility.

Too often, the impact of incivility is felt through many threads of contact rarely thought as being uncivil: one being too casual of a dress code. Now, how can that be in the same vein as being civil? One way is determining what is too casual for a workplace. When could ‘casual dress’ be confusing? Well, beyond suggestive clothing (too provocative or slogans on T-shirts), there is a lack of specificity on such policies in the workplace. Casual ‘Day’ in some organizations may revolve around a theme (such as Hawaiian shirts or support of a local sports team). That actually contributes to camaraderie. However, when the clothing in the office can become too casual without some guidelines. Basically, respect for each other, for the organization and the customers it serves, is often reflected in the attire worn by employees.

Other opportunities that civility is challenged:

  • Meetings. Being civil in meetings starts with being on time. Proper decorum. Balancing your own contributions with that of others, instead of monopolizing the time and effort.
  • Communications. From basic telephone calls to speaker phones to voice mail messages to cell phones to emails; all can be easily misinterpreted or ill-conceived.
  • Body language. How one sits at a meeting or training session: slouching or nodding off of course is disrespectful and shows a lack of interest. Rolling eyes and folded arms and convey other messages, even unintentionally.

Yet systemic change doesn’t happen from the ground up; it happens from the top down – and then it takes a real effort. Leaders need to ‘Walk the Talk’; put things in writing, be an example to others. Beyond dress codes or expectations, it’s in the manner in which we speak to each other. Are we abrupt or attacking when talking with one another? Or, are we addressing someone as they are a brand new contact and we want to make a good impression and give the benefit of the doubt? Can there be a happy medium?

We wonder what your organization has done, at least internally, to promote civility in the workplace. We often talk about improving customer relations and service levels. Why not start from within?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs implemented an organization-wide cultural change initiative more than 10 years ago. After receiving feedback from employees that low levels of  employee feedback that low levels of civility affected their level of job satisfaction, it has since been utilized by over 1,200 VA workgroups to establish a culture of respect and civility throughout their entire organization.

Civility  is an essential behavior of all employees in all organizations. These are the interpersonal “rules of engagement” for how we relate to each other, our customers, and our stakeholders; the fundamentals of courtesy, politeness, and consideration.

Respect connects us at a personal level. It reflects an attitude developed from deep listening and understanding, cultural and personal sensitivity, and compassion. It honors all the participants in an interaction by creating a safe place to have difficult conversations and leads to an environment of honesty and mutual trust.

Engagement is the result of respectful relationships within an atmosphere of trust. It provides all staff with the charge, the parameters, the training and the support to make decisions “on the spot” in the best interest of the veteran.

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Refer to References…

people under magnifying glass

First, a note to those looking for and interviewing for jobs. Presume that your references will be verified, and maybe some others uncovered in the process. Read this article to learn more. Red flags are raised when individuals document one thing on their resume and another on their job application form. Your signature is the claim that ‘everything’ you’ve written is absolutely true. Remember that.

Employment Background Checks – Legal Rights

Employers – you must do your due diligence before making any job offers. Don’t rely on just a personal reference or recommendation. When someone is in your employ – you, and your company, are now responsible for their actions, in particular – those that could be found illegal (i.e. theft, harassment, violence).

Read this publication on negligent hiring

At home, you may take your time evaluating a painter, a housekeeping service, a landscapers or others you hire to help you with your responsibilities as a homeowner. Not only do you evaluate costs, but you may look at reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List and other resources that track satisfaction rates and help buyers to beware.

So, if you are in a position of authority in your organization to hire people – due diligence needs to take place there as well.

There’s a term ‘backdoor references’ which I became all too familiar with many years ago – when a manager was screening people through mutual connections, without the individual even knowing they were a ‘candidate’ for the job. This is absolutely wrong.

Never check someone’s references without their prior consent. Always look at their documented authorization on their application to allow you (or not) to contact their ‘current’ employer. Imagine the predicament you could put someone in with their current position/company when this is a surprise inquiry. Worse, if you do not hire that individual (for any reason) and now they are seen in a different light in their current work situation.

Never ask for information that could be used to discriminate. If you don’t know what type of information that might be, you shouldn’t be in a position to make hiring decisions.

Always dig deeper on a negative reference. Could this have been a cultural or more in relation to performance?

In those cases where a negative history may overshadow a current more positive history – be sure to ask more clarifying questions…and don’t assume people stay the same. They can improve; life circumstances may impact their past performance – as well as their future.

As found through solid interview and recruiting practices – past behavior usually predicts future behavior.

And a look at a recent event, spurred by a lack of references conducted which translates to negligent hiring.

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April, Busy times

Tis the seasons. Tax season. Election season. Yard work. Spring cleaning. More hiring going on, temporary or otherwise. People and businesses have enjoyed the extra hour of daylight in recent weeks as it perks us up and energizes most of us.

Much is going on in today’s workplaces. Even if you are not in the accounting business or working for a government agency, somehow this high energy, overly busy time of those professionals may be impacting you as well.

Accounting professionals may or many not welcome extensions by their clients. It just delays the work and the payment. We’d like to hear from them on their reluctance to process extensions – how and if it really matters to them one way or another. But we know that through April 15th, not a whole lot of personal time is on the calendar for those who do tax work.

Then it is local election season as well in so many communities. People waiting on decisions to be made, that might be on hold – until new officials are in place, or not. Projects nearing completion may need final approvals in the workplace of these environments yet, the focus is on the future, not so much the now. While that ‘future’ could be the same as the ‘now’, a lot of uncertainty remains.

Landscaping businesses. Should they get a running head start because of all the mild weather the Chicago area has enjoyed this winter; or should they ‘wait and see’ in case there just may be one more big snow? Should they hire more people today, or delay that until needed? However, back to the west coast – this is a year round business in warm climates so steady-as-they go.

Spring breaks bring R&R to families but hectic times in the hospitality industry. Car sales may increase as people who filed their taxes early, may use their refunds to purchase another vehicle, or two.

Other businesses/industries pick up during these weeks: the big box stores with gardening centers; retail stores with spring clothes; and at home – some spring cleaning with or without the help of a 3rd party.

On the west coast, they are known for eating healthier all year-long, than those of us in the Midwest. We seem to wait until ‘salad season’ is upon us, and where the comfort food of the past few months are now showing their true colors.

So, we have a little patience and understand the stressed that occur in some workplaces and industries during these months as the 1st quarter of the year is now behind us.