Keeping Good People: Part 1 – Recognize An Employee’s Contributions And Success.

Thinking Outside The Box Concept

The competition for experienced, qualified, and well connected people is intense.

How do you improve the odds of keeping good people and why do they leave?

This series of blog posts explores some of the main issues that prompt people to seek greener pastures, and what companies can do to prevent this exodus of talented and experienced people.

Employer time and money is invested in the training and development of staff, the development of managers, and the hiring of qualified people.

One of the major frustrations of any hiring manager is finding that a good employee is leaving. There are ways to stop the departure of good people from your organization. We often see the results of frustration with the status quo, boredom, broken relationships, misplaced trust, and the realization that conditions aren’t going to improve. The areas of concern to the majority of employees fall into one of four main categories:


The lack of recognition from superiors for a job well done is one of the most avoidable reasons to lose a good employee. The desire to contribute and to create value is a basic human motivation at any level of responsibility. To feel that your efforts are recognized and appreciated strengthens the bond of loyalty to the employer.

Regular performance reviews are an inexpensive opportunity to provide that recognition. When people feel as though their contribution is meaningless or being taken for granted, they begin to consider their options. People want to think that their work makes a difference. A simple gesture such as taking staff out for a friendly lunch occasionally, or having coffee together to acknowledge a person’s contribution, can do much to build trust and loyalty.

Employees want the recognition of people they look up to. Stop and acknowledge a job well done with authentic praise and you help validate an employee’s efforts. When people feel they are on the right track, they want to achieve more.

Ultimately, the company’s customers benefit by having engaged and dedicated people solving problems and going that extra mile to ensure their satisfaction. This helps forge bonds of trust between the company and its customers—a win-win situation.

What are some of the ways that you have found work well to provide recognition for quality results?

“I have always believed that the way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers, and that people flourish when they are praised.”― Sir Richard Branson


Recognize Manipulators In The Workplace.

conceptual image of the corporate manipulation

Manipulators know that many people are susceptible to flattery. They understand that there’s a universal human need for acceptance and approval.

They actively offer flattery and acceptance to people whom they perceive as being needy or unsure of themselves. They do the same thing with people who are outwardly strong and capable, but in a different way.

With people who are needy and unsure of themselves, they offer moral encouragement and support, to gain trust.

With people who are strong and capable, they express their admiration, and how impressed they are with the target’s accomplishments. They will tell you what they think you want to hear, or need to hear.

They want something from you, and they go to great lengths to obtain what they want.

They work at creating wedges between people to further their objectives.

They will practice subtle forms of character assassination or gossip, to plant seeds of doubt. They will often drop casual hints or remarks about people that they’re trying to supplant in your life. This causes you to question your established relationships and their foundations.

The difference between an honest approach to understanding another person and a dishonest approach is the motive behind it.

An honest person seeks to understand you because they value you as a person. A manipulative person seeks to understand you to determine your weaknesses.

When they find that chink in your armour, then they work themselves into your confidence and trust.

Once a manipulator has gained your confidence and trust, they begin to put into motion their agenda. You’re used as a tool to further their interests, sometimes as an accomplice.

Courses of action are suggested to you, which seem to hold a benefit for you, but in reality only serve to advance the manipulator’s objectives.

You’re asked to perform a task, or say something to somebody, acting as a mouthpiece for the user, who stays safely in the background, manipulating the action behind the scenes.

Even the most honest and upstanding people can be fooled.

Trust your intuition; if it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t.

“One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.” – Machiavelli

There Is No Substitute For Character.

Old oak tree on a green meadow

We have conducted thousands of interviews. Over time, we have learned that highly accomplished professionals, and beginners alike, may share a similar feeling of nervousness, going in to an interview. It isn’t something you do every day.

There are various skills of active listening, practicing empathy, and using open-ended questions as techniques to conduct a successful interview.

Beyond these learned abilities, there is something more important: the character of the person being interviewed.

A person’s genuine character needs to shine through the haze of questions and answers; when it does, there is a different kind of communication happening between the interviewer and the person being interviewed.

Character is a fundamental building block of career progress; it is difficult to counterfeit, and someone looking for evidence of it will readily recognize it in another person.

Key to any successful interview is to be who you are, make the human connection through being friendly, smiling, and engaged, listening actively, being positive, and asking good questions.

Character communicates to others through poise, confidence, empathy, and expressed values and principles.

It is evident in both a candidate’s track record and career accomplishments.

As with leadership, you know it when you see it.

“Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” – Aristotle

Simple Errors In Employment Dates On An Application Affect Your Job Search.

It’s the little things that can trip you up in your job application.

Candidates are derailed in the hiring process due to simple errors that raise concern or suspicion in the employer’s mind.

A case in point is where an employer receives a resume with certain employment dates, then, after doing a casual LinkedIn profile review or Indeed resume search, discovers that the dates on the resume don’t match the time frames on the profile.

For some sticklers for total accuracy, this is enough to halt the review process. Other employers prefer to give the benefit of the doubt. They may check their internal resume bank to see if the candidate has applied before, and then compare notes, to see if any other discrepancies exist.

Accuracy in these resume details is of vital interest to you. You don’t want your application rejected for innocent errors. It takes just a few minutes to check and ensure that any online resume information you have is consistent.

It’s another matter altogether if your resume has different dates or different companies in different versions posted online. In this instance, employers are less likely to give benefit of the doubt and will simply move on.

The other area of a resume is the Education section. Here, you want to avoid any confusion about whether or not you graduated from a program, and if the year noted of graduation agrees with other online profiles.

It’s competitive for all positions that you apply for. Give your resume a fighting chance to be seen and considered.

Do you have accurate and consistent information posted on all of your online resumes?

It’s For You…The Quality Of Your Telephone Voice.

Man giving an old red telephone to a woman

Customer service professionals know that how to project sincerity and interest to the caller creates trust and confidence in the listener.

Value judgments are made within the first 15 to 30 seconds of speaking to someone on the telephone based on attitude, style of the speaker and visualizing the person on the other end.

People have an inner radar which picks up on a person’s sincerity, genuine interest, and spontaneity. Your desire to communicate positively about your experience, skills and abilities projects on the phone.

It doesn’t matter how much experience you have, or how little, making the human connection is a process of the interviewer identifying with the person they are speaking to on a basic level.

The hiring manager pictures how you will sound to their customers, colleagues, and other team members, and your ability to project warmth and what’s referred to as a ‘smile in your voice’ often decides the next step in the hiring process.

Many companies train their front line customer service employees on effective telephone techniques. Rather than talking at the telephone, they are trained to visualize the caller, and create a sense of empathy and willingness to listen and serve.

To see how you sound to others, record yourself and playback, noting your attitude, tone, and the overall quality of your presentation. This is a very helpful exercise to identify where to improve your speaking style, while retaining the essence of who you are.

Don’t Be Rushed Into A Hiring Agreement.

The most important time to exercise patience in the hiring process is in the final stages when an offer of employment has been extended to you. It is easy to rush the process in order to close the deal.

When you receive the offer and hiring agreement, take your time to go through your offer and hiring agreement (they are often two different documents), and consider what you are committing to.

Sometimes pressure is put on you either by a recruiter who is representing the position, the employer who is eager for you to sign off so they can turn their attention to other priorities, or even a family member who wants the security that comes with a signed offer and hiring agreement.

If you receive pressure from the recruiter it is usually because recruiters want to close the deal and move on to the next priority. Some recruiters who are less than concerned with their client’s welfare may try bullying tactics, essentially brushing off your concerns and strongly suggesting that you overlook points that you would like to question or discuss. This can happen if you are between jobs and have expressed a degree of anxiety about being gainfully employed again. Stand your ground and send a message, documenting your way along, explaining what you would like to review.

Verbal agreements cannot be verified in the future because they are words and they are not recorded. Discuss the situation with the recruiter or human resources representative but follow through to clarify your understanding by email.

The Hiring Process Is Often Delayed By Factors Beyond Your (And Our) Control.

A first interview turned out to be very positive, you are looking forward to the second meeting, then everything stops.

Hiring situations have their own individual dynamics. One situation may be resolved in a matter of days, with everything falling into place, effortlessly. People make a connection, meetings are held and a hiring agreement is reached easily.

Other scenarios may involve a longer cycle, with vacations, business trips, other executive involvement and other unforeseen changes in hiring criteria and salary ranges.

It isn’t always easy to understand why some promising opportunities seem to fade after an initial meeting, while others change at the last minute. There are many factors that affect the process. Some are hidden from view.

What are some of these factors that can derail or delay the hiring process?

  • Vacations and business trips of the hiring manager/s:

These are obviously beyond anyone’s control. If a hiring manager is leaving the country hiring decisions are often put on hold until his/her return.

  • Changing corporate priorities:

A previously approved plan to hire may be reconsidered, and the option of moving someone into the position from within the department initiated.

  • Indecision on the part of the hiring manager:

If a hiring manager has two people with almost equal strengths, they may require more time to think about their decision, consult with colleagues and weigh the pros and cons of choosing one candidate over another.

  • Another candidate comes forward from within at the last minute:

Internal candidates can pop up at the last minute and be given serious consideration, or even offered the position, while external candidates are put on hold. Sometimes this is communicated, sometimes not.

  • Another executive’s influence in the background:

The hiring manager’s superior may venture their opinions about the wisdom of hiring one candidate over another after they have reviewed the file. The senior manager may not agree with the hiring manager’s selection, and an internal conference may delay or change the decision.

  • Another resignation in the department:

The priority may shift suddenly to needing to replace someone who resigns in another function, and who may represent a significant loss to the department. This development may slow down or stop a hiring situation in its tracks. Candidates aren’t often made aware of this new and unexpected need to switch focus.

  • A person who resigned may accept a counter offer to stay:

Some companies make counter offers, and others don’t. It can take time for the counter offer to the made or be accepted by the person resigning. We often see these counter offers happening at the last minute. Naturally, this closes the search abruptly.

  • Another candidate introduced at the last minute:

An internal employee may introduce or recommend someone that they vouch for at the last minute as well. If the person introduced is a good fit, the search may be terminated.

Whether you are looking for a job or leaving one, it is frustrating to encounter unexplained or unexpected delays. The above information might be helpful to remember that things happen that are beyond your control and are not a reflection of your value, experience, and abilities.

Changing Jobs? Look Before You Leap.

Gold Fish Jumping to Empty Bowl

It’s tempting to jump to a new opportunity, just make sure you are landing in the right place.

What are some issues to explore when deciding on moving from one job to another?


  • How frequently have they advertised and hired for the position you are considering?
  • What are their thoughts about the person leaving/who left the position?
  • How is their stock doing if they are publicly traded?
  • Have they had any downsizing in key divisions, recently?
  • Have they had frequent management changes at the top tier?
  • Are they targets for takeover, or have they been in the news about being purchased?
  • Have they been purchased by a firm outside of their industry sector?
  • Have they lost major clients in the past year?


  • Are they involved in class-action lawsuits, or high profile individual lawsuits?
  • In discussions with them, what corporate image do they identify strongly with?
  • How are their business practices viewed within their industry sector?
  • What do websites like have in the way of reviews/opinions about the company?


  • How compatible are your skills and experience to the demands of the job?
  • What is the chemistry like between you and your future manager?
  • When you ask them what they look for in people they hire, do you identify with their preferences?
  • Are the time demands of the work compatible with your personal commitments?


  • Is the company growing, and do they discuss future plans for the company’s growth?
  • Have they expanded recently in terms of products or services offered, or into new trade regions?
  • Where and how have they grown in the last two years?
  • What do financial publications say about their numbers, results or projections?


  • What do they say when you ask how long employees typically stay in this job?
  • What do they look at when deciding on future advancement?
  • How are salary increases decided on, and are they merit or performance based?
  • Do they support reimbursement for pursuing relevant industry educations courses?


  • How do they describe their company culture and the people who fit within it?
  • What are their values, community involvement, and causes they support, publicly?
  • What do your interviewers say when you ask them why they like to work there?
  • Are they a collaborative company culture, with a strong team spirit?
  • Is the business philosophy task and process oriented, or is there a strong focus on client service?

A lot of your research can be done through various trade publications that you can find through our 2015 Resources page:

Attitudes in an interview influence a hiring decision.

Hiring managers are alert to signs that a potential employee may harbour inappropriate attitudes. They look for signals indicating a temperament, personality or expectations that are misaligned with the position’s challenges.

What are some of the attitudes that raise red flags in an interview?

  • Entitlement

Entitled candidates project the expectation that employers will accede to their demands and that they can check off a wish list of employment conditions that they have. The reality is that most hiring situations involve negotiating in a spirit of goodwill and compromise.

  • Unrealistic salary expectations

Making quantum leaps in salary from job to job is perceived by most employers as unrealistic. When they see candidates asking for significantly higher than average salary increases, they begin reconsidering. This impression is reinforced if the candidate’s overall experience and knowledge base is out of line with their expectations.

  • Lack of enthusiasm and interest

Employers want to hire motivated people and they stay away from candidates who don’t display interest in the opportunity under discussion. People who show interest, ask relevant questions, show willingness to take on more responsibility, and who have a team player’s mentality will move forward.

  • Inflexibility or lack of cooperation

Inflexibility is broadcast when candidates balk at considering overtime, or extending themselves beyond the core job description. An expressed willingness to do whatever is required to benefit the team or the department is always a positive point to bring up in an interview.

  • Negative comments about past employers

Speaking negatively about past employers always raises red flags. The interview starts wondering about the candidate’s manageability, and whether they will create dissension in the department. If you have negative feelings, make a decision to let go of them, even if they are justified. This is in your best interests.

Positive attitudes make the human connection stronger.

The Importance Of Being Focused—Sharpening The Tools.

In an interview, your focus or lack of it is picked up very quickly by the interviewer.
Many a career opportunity is lost through lapses of attention, or assuming that the
interviewer understands what you are saying.

This is a problem for people who are unaccustomed to interviews. Without practice and mindfulness, which means a heightened degree of awareness of your surroundings, you may miss a question or misunderstand it, and give a response which isn’t well received.

The best way to avoid this situation is to practice being interviewed with a trusted friend who plays the role of the hiring manager. Ask him/her to interject when they feel you are wandering off topic.

Some questions and topics you can expect will be explored are:

▪ So, tell us about yourself.
▪ Describe what you did in your daily duties.
▪ Give us examples of how you met challenges in your previous jobs.
▪ Why are you looking?
▪ Why do you want to work for us?
▪ Why should we hire you?
▪ How would you handle the challenges of this job?
▪ What strengths do you bring?
▪ What are your weaknesses?
▪ What are your salary expectations?
▪ Where do you see yourself in a few years?
▪ How long do you think it will take to get up to speed?
▪ Why did you leave your last employer?

Each one of these questions is a standard open-ended probe to gather information. You cannot answer them with a ‘yes’ or no’; more details must be provided.

Practice these answers until you are comfortable with them and their variations. You don’t want to sound robotic in your responses, you want your presentation to flow smoothly from one topic to another, and repeatedly answering these questions in a practice session helps you accomplish this.

“Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Is The Glass Half-Full, Or Half-Empty?


This is just one optimist’s views. We all see life differently.

See this site for some humor on the subject:

What floats your boat?

Optimists experience the same disappointments and setbacks that pessimists do, but they view the events themselves with a fundamental difference: they believe that regardless of appearances, circumstances and conditions happen to learn and grow stronger from.

An optimist inspires you to hope, dream, and to plan for your goals; the pessimist speaks in terms of fear, doubt, and obstructions.

An optimist strives for achievement; a pessimist hopes to avoid disappointment and failure.

An optimist knows that there will be setbacks and disappointments along the way towards achieving their goals, and accepts the sacrifices necessary to achieve them, willingly; the pessimist is angry at obstacles, fears obstructions, and prefers to conserve energy.

Trust opens more doors of experience, creativity, and growth, whereas fear limits, restricts, and obstructs free progress.

Trust opens you up to the world and its wonders; fear isolates and defines rigid boundaries of experience.

Is the glass half-full, or half-empty?