Value Unfiltered

March 2021

Lost Your Job? How To Discuss Getting Fired With A Potential New Employer

Entrepreneurs by Expert Panel, Forbes Councils Member Many professionals have been fired from positions in the past. Getting fired from a job can be embarrassing and anxiety-inducing, especially when you have to explain the reason why you were let go to a potential new employer. While some employers won’t bother to broach the subject, others could view the termination as a questionable part of a candidate’s work history unless the issue is brought out into the open and discussed with transparency and honesty. So how should a candidate approach this topic? Below, eight professionals from Young Entrepreneur Council offer some advice about how to discuss your previous job loss so that you won’t dissuade a potential new employer from hiring you.   Young Entrepreneur Council members discuss how to talk about getting fired during an interview.  PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS. 1. Address The Issue Head-On Honesty is always the best policy and a savvy employer will be able to find out if you are lying. Avoiding questions about your past employment also raises suspicions. Whatever the reason things didn’t work out, acknowledge it, talk about it directly and provide a reasonable explanation. Be candid, but there is no reason for a detailed account. Instead, speak about the experience and then move on. Employers typically want to know what you can do for them, so emphasize why your skills are the right fit for this job and emphasize all the ways you will be an asset for the new employer. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan 2. Make Sure You Don’t Over-Explain When explaining getting fired during an interview, make sure not to over-explain. Sometimes, you can get so worked up that you overindulge to the point of sharing so much that you make a bad impression. Everyone makes mistakes and getting fired is nothing to be ashamed of. You’re looking for a new opportunity and that’s great. State your reasoning and answer the recruiter’s questions as straightforwardly as possible. Don’t feel pressured to overshare because you could end up accidentally presenting yourself in a negative light. Be confident and share with the recruiter how you’ve grown since then. – Jared Atchison, WPForms 3. Think About The Positives Ideally, you should not wait for the new employer to ask what happened with your former employer. Just tell the truth, but use positive words. Instead of “I got fired,” say “I parted ways with my previous company because…” As much as possible, don’t play the blame game. Focus more on the positive experiences. Bringing the issue up first tells your interviewer that you are transparent and trustworthy. Being fired doesn’t mean the employee is at fault all the time. As long as the reasons are valid and truthful, I don’t see any reason why an employer shouldn’t consider them if they are qualified for the job. – Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck   If you have been fired from a job and an interviewer asks about that job, I would focus on what value you provided there and what you accomplished. Don’t speak poorly about the company, but you can mention if something was lacking, such as support from your manager (Typically when someone gets fired they are already disconnected from that role and should have been looking for a new job anyway). Keep it positive. Keep the attention away from leaving and more on what you added while you were there. – Daniel Robbins, IBH Media, Bintana Sa Paraiso, His skincare 5. Don’t Badmouth Your Previous Employer I believe in honesty and transparency. If someone is honest with me and tells me what happened with their ex-employer without bashing them, that goes a long way. I think it’s always best to take the high road, be professional and not talk negatively about where you worked or who you worked with. I recently interviewed someone who wasn’t honest about their last job and I found out they were fired. If they had just said it wasn’t a fit for them and they weren’t performing due to X,Y and Z, I would have looked at them differently. Instead, they bashed multiple employers and weren’t honest. It was a red flag and, needless to say, I did not hire them. – Jennifer A Barnes, Optima Office, Inc 6. Own Your Shortcomings Admit the failure and don’t be afraid to show your shortcomings. It’s very easy for people to become defensive when talking about their termination. They may project blame on their former co-workers, employer or the situation in general. Many times though, that’s just misdirection and a red flag. When we recruit new talent who have been terminated in the past, we expect them to be candid but also painfully self-aware about what they did wrong and how they would address the situation in the future. Sometimes your peers or manager make a job harder, but how can you overcome that and still succeed? Life isn’t always fair. The best candidates acknowledge that and find ways to break through those hurdles instead of blaming everyone around them. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress 7. Share What You Would Do Differently Be super honest and open. Also, share what you would do differently now. Sometimes getting fired is about you and sometimes it’s about the situation. I had to fire someone in the past because they were ineffective in their role. Upon reflection, I realized they would do well in a company where they had a manager with a similar role so they could have very specific coaching. They needed peers around them with similar jobs so they could thrive on the camaraderie. Other people thrive on reporting to someone who’s more of a generalist. They love having creative space to work. Most hiring managers know that what works for each person can be different. If someone gets fired because it’s not a good fit, it can be a huge step in them learning what environment they need. – Cody Candee, Bounce 8. Focus On The Future Keep it short and focus on the future. Don’t drag an interviewer through your horrible,

How Leaders Can Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity

Grow Your Business by Angela Kambouri Image credit: Luis Alvarez | Getty Images Companies need to continue developing a positive culture that embodies both individual and organizational wellbeing. HOW businesses do this will define their reputation for years to come.  The Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2021 report reinforced how brands need to re-imagine their strategies on employee wellness as the centerpiece of their decision-making. Offices need to reset strategies, modify policies and reinvigorate return-to-the workplace plans.  Here are several practical tips for organizations to maintain balance and boost productivity. An inclusive approach Wellbeing embraces the social, financial, community and physical aspects of our lives.  Companies must amplify the message that they care and Microsoft Daily Pulse creates a space for HR to do just that. The program acts as a conduit in creating a continuous dialogue between leaders and the workforce to drive performance. Cyber wellness Over recent years, cyber wellness has become a pillar of total wellbeing. People are working from home and experience added pressure to manage technology. Cyber wellness can evaluate security awareness and mitigate risks. Companies have the responsibility to play an active role in creating adept digital citizens. Organizations must also consider security settings to protect their online meetings while being mindful about the importance of digital detox.  Workers want to be heard   Headspace 2020 Mental Health Trends Report recently highlighted the fact that 25% of all American employees are losing an hour of work a day due to stress. Indeed a poll of 2,000 Americans commissioned on behalf of the Danish cheese brand, Castello, found that 89% have been trying to bring themselves daily joy to combat stress with various degrees of success.  Worker concerns about finances, health and personal relationships have always existed and are rarely acknowledged in the office. Since COVID-19 reared its super ugly head, they have been struggling with the shift to homeschooling, anxiety about financial insecurity and personal health. To that end, a national survey done by telehealth provider MDLIVE titled “Worried Sick: U.S. Workers and the Burden of Sick Day Stress,” polled 2,000 employed Americans and found a full 42 percent reported they were more stressed about taking a sick day in 2020 than in previous years. People cannot leave their emotions at home. Now, more than ever, employees need easy access to evidence-based mental health tools and resources to help them deal with the demands of today’s fast-changing world.  COVID-19 created an urgency among employers to invest in diverse mental wellbeing offerings – from virtual meditation to online counseling – through wellness coaches. Companies would do well to invest in preventative support with digital mental health platforms, mindfulness programs or onsite yoga.  Work versus personal life Stress in personal relationships can impact focus. Headspace research shows 51% of employees observe workplace stress hemorrhaging into their personal space. The same survey found 89% of employees wanted their organizations to offer mental health benefits to staff and their dependents while embedding resources into all aspects of their lives. Caregivers at home could benefit from receiving digital tools from organizations such as self-care videos or mindful exercise and games where their kids can assist in managing daily routines. Knowing vulnerability is not a weakness The combination of in-person and digital tools provides people with a range of options to make sure they can access the right support at the right time. Companies like BP invest in actions (like free access to Headspace) to help deal with personal stress management. They implemented other support services including podcasts, written materials and “health moments” where co-workers can share their experiences. BP’s EAP service offers 24/7 confidential counseling, a life management service and coaching for managers. During 2020 World Mental Health Day, BP colleagues shared their stories in a video entitled ‘This is me’ to shine a light on the struggles that individuals have experienced amid COVID-19 and the importance of asking for help. Building new skills The demand for social skills like communication, entrepreneurship or leadership will skyrocket in the coming years. Patty McCord, former Chief Talent Officer Netflix would ask managers to imagine a documentary about their employees that asked the following questions: What would the team be accomplishing six months from now? What specific results would you experience individually and as a team? How would the work be different from what the team was doing today? What skills would you need to make the images in the movie become a reality? A recent survey conducted by The Vitamin Shoppe in partnership with WW (formerly Weight Watchers), on the country’s 2021 goals found that 49% of those polled wanted to focus more on science-backed approaches to health and well-being, with 41% desiring more “me time” and 37% were actively trying to remember to be more in the moment (37%). All food for thought as entrepreneurs continue figuring how to best engage (and better) their employees in a post-pandemic world. This article was first published in Entrepreneur Leadership.    

Productivity & Peak Performance

How To Achieve Improved Productivity And Peak Performance At Work   When you find yourself counting the hours to the end of the day, you are probably not making the most of your day. And one thing we can all admit is that every minute of the day is precious. That said, being more productive translates to improved performance, and it demands a deliberated approach to time management. Here are some strategies on how you can improve productivity and achieve peak performance at work. Make your workflows fun Work is work, but who says you can’t have fun while doing it. If you enjoy an activity, you will barely watch the time. While it is necessary to treat every activity with the seriousness it requires, not finding things to look up to in a task or work, in general, will likely kill your morale. This will show in reduced productivity and performance. Set clear goals and give yourself self-imposed deadlines When you know what you are expected to achieve, you will have a standard to pursue. This means that if you set clear goals, you have a vision of what the results of any activity ought to look like. Likewise, setting personal short-term and long-term goals besides those you are mandated to meet will help you attain productivity. It also pays when you need to correct a deliverable because you have enough time to consult and sort it out before deadlines. Take regular breaks from your activity. Back to the point of making everything enjoyable. Since work demands concentration, taking regular breaks improves concentration and also allows time to reflect on activities to get new perspectives. Having some time off long processes helps maintain peak performance, contrary to continually working where productivity wanes.               The bottom line is, workplace productivity is crucial to staying ahead in today’s highly competitive market. Hence if you find your productivity dwindling, take the time to reassess your processes and procedures to find what works for you.    

5 Ways To Maximize Online Work Interactions

Forbes – Leadership by Jack Zenger, Contributor Office culture has changed more in one year than in the last few decades. A few years ago, I shared some research on maximizing brief interactions between managers and team members. Today, my emphasis is much different because the challenges managers face in a virtual environment are much different. Back then, I was searching for ways to make interactions more efficient—and brief. Today, my emphasis is on making interactions more engaging and personal. In 1980, Henry Mintzberg authored a book called The Nature of Managerial Work. He noted that managerial activity was characterized by its enormous variety, that it consisted of a series of relatively brief interactions, and that it was incredibly fragmented. He observed that phone calls averaged less than 6 minutes. Typical “one-on-one” meetings averaged 12 minutes.  If Mintzberg were to repeat that research today, most of us would guess that phone calls and meetings have grown more frequent, conversations are even shorter, and the pace has become more hectic still. I doubt most leaders can find half-hours of uninterrupted time in their day. Interactions at the Workplace are Briefer Than Ever Before The hectic pace would have the potential to work if being a good collaborator and team player didn’t present the need for frequent interactions with others, but it does. And being a good boss means that people have access to you.   Our current situation is exposing several pitfalls.  One is that it can have the manager or leader revert to their old ways, often being an individual contributor. They are doing the work rather than managing the work. Another challenge is that subordinates are often reluctant to call their boss unless it is a really urgent or extremely important issue. That means that the boss must largely initiate the casual or informal connections, that used to occur in the lunchroom or hallway, or they won’t happen. Yet, the fundamental bedrock of leadership has not changed. Your influence is directly proportional to the quality and frequency of the connections you make throughout the day. So what can you do? Here are a few of the ideas I recommend: 1. Define the pace and purpose when you initiate the conversation. In normal times, when you drop by someone’s office, you can remain standing, and after exchanging a couple of remarks, you might express appreciation or note some of the recent efforts they have put into their work. That conversation needn’t take long, but it can go a long way in building strong relationships.  That same approach can be used on a telephone or Zoom call. But the purpose of interactions is not solely to answer a question or solve a problem but to stay connected with the other person.  “What good things are happening with your family?”. “What are you doing for fun in these challenging days.” Our research clearly shows that the best leaders are connecting on a human level with their colleagues.  Another meaningful conversation you could have with others involves staying informed about the organization. It used to be that you could stop by someone’s office and say, “ I would like to hear what good things are happening in your area,” or you can ask, ” Tell me something you think I don’t know and maybe don’t want to hear.” These conversations don’t have to belong, and if you are in the driver’s seat, you can make them happen at a relatively brisk pace. In today’s “working remotely world,” you need to stay connected and informed, but it is now more difficult. 2. Others’ conversations can be softly guided. Again, during normal times there are occasions when someone will come to your office and want to have a laid-back chat, and you can respectively hasten the pace of that conversation. One approach is standing up and, therefore, signaling you are short on time. Better still is honestly informing them that you have a time constraint and let them know at the beginning of the conversation how much time you have to talk or whether it should be scheduled later. Most of the time, these interactions can last one or two minutes, and the meeting is over. Help others get to the heart of the matter and let them know you respect their time and you want them to respect yours. But, especially in today’s COVID circumstances, make certain that every interaction has a positive outcome.  3. Set expectations with your workforce. Employees appreciate consistency. Whatever way you consistently choose to push conversations forward will help them to be better prepared. For example, if they drop by your office with a question or a problem, and the first question out of your mouth is going to be, “What do you think? What have you considered? What strikes you as the best way to go?” That will accelerate a conversation. If they know you will ask for a very clear statement of what they need and want from you, it won’t take many such conversations for them to realize they should come with a proposed solution in mind. 4. Even very short scheduled meetings can be very effective. Work expands to fill the time available for its completion. This is one of C. Northcote Parkinson’s famous laws. Typically, we find if we say a project is going to take two weeks, that is how long it takes. Something will get done early on a rare occasion, but usually, we take the full amount of time allotted. The same principle of Parkinson’s can be applied to meetings. A meeting will expand to fill the time allocated for it. Try scheduling shorter meetings and see how much can be achieved in a shorter time. Even a 5 min meeting can be effective when people come prepared. But again, in our pandemic world, meetings seem to serve a dual purpose of being a vehicle to get things accomplished and as a time for people to connect on a human level. 5. Improve meeting effectiveness. One of the most frequent written