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Hiring Employees – With an Attitude!

By Dr. Ben A. Carlsen

With the employment market tightening and jobs scarce, employers seek employees with the “right” attitude. Identifying these candidates can be a little “tricky,” as the selection process is almost invariably not designed to measure these attributes.

Before discussing the hiring matter, we need to examine the underlying reasons for the hiring need in the first place, along with a framework for dealing with them.


Employers hate employee turnover. If the turnover rate is high the company will notice a negative impact on the “bottom line.”   The costs of recruitment, selection, hiring and training new employees are high.  And, depending on the complexity of the job, lower productivity, while new employees gain necessary experience, is another costly factor. Experienced employees lost to the competition are an even greater threat.  These employees may know business philosophies, practices, techniques, trade secrets, and strategies which could strengthen your competition. Considering all of these negatives, savvy management does its best to retain their valued staff.


Experienced, qualified and productive employees are an asset, but keeping them can be challenging. Loyalty to employers hasn’t been the norm for many years. Of course companies can do a number of things to keep the good ones.

Many years ago a researcher named Frederick Herzberg (The Motivation to Work, 1959) developed a theory that divided job satisfaction into two major components: Motivational factors and Hygiene factors; with the motivational factors such as interesting work, challenge, recognition, and variety being, by far, the more powerful. On the other hand, the job features we all expect, such as pay and benefits or working conditions are nowhere near as important, except to serve as potential causes for dissatisfaction.    These findings may be counter-intuitive, but as we all know, we will spend hours doing the things we like to do, with people we like to do them with. Conversely, unchallenging tasks, or work performed in a non-supportive, or uninteresting environment, will typically not evoke our best efforts

So making your workplace a challenging, exciting, and supportive place will greatly help in reducing or limiting avoidable turnover. As an important added benefit the customers will have a better relationship with a motivated, helpful, satisfied workforce.

Now that we’ve examined the background, let’s look at hiring new employees. While it’s obvious that it is best to retain employees, turnover will occur, and businesses may grow. This being the case, a superior recruitment plan is essential, as it will help accomplish several things:  hire the “best,” have a good fit between employee and job, lessen the need for discipline or discharge, reduce turnover, and provide a competitive edge.


Employers tell us that the most important characteristic to look for in a new employee is the “right” attitude. What is the right attitude and how do we hire people with it?   The right attitude, according to most employers, consists of several qualities:

–  Positivity (doesn’t focus on negatives)

– Open-mindedness

–  Flexibility

–  Superior interpersonal skills / a liking of people

–  Desire to learn

–  Willingness to work, (and work hard)

–  Dependability – Desire to accept challenges

–  Team player

With these characteristics the employee should exhibit a “good attitude” toward his employer, fellow employees and your customers.


Considering  the above attributes, be serious about your hiring process, as you know the headaches resulting from poor decisions.   Here are some suggestions:

–Identify the essential characteristics required for success on the job.

–Incorporate behavioral and attitudinal qualities into your selection criteria.

–Include these requirements in your job bulletins, advertising, employment agency  requisitions, etc.

–Carefully examine employment, educational and personal history (to the extent permitted by the law).

–Conduct a background check on candidates.

–At the interview, observe the candidate’s behavior, general attitude and demeanor, body language, posture, facial expressions, eye contact, etc. (You may want to try an interview panel to guard against subjectivity and “blind spots”).

–Consider using role-playing, situational questions (e.g., “What would you do if?), and performance simulations.

–Make sure the candidate is someone you will be comfortable around, as you may spend more time with him/her than with your spouse.

–Look for a “smile.”

Copyright ©, 2008, Dr. Ben A. Carlsen, MBA. All Rights Reserved Worldwide for all Media. You may reprint this article in your ezine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, leave my name and bio box intact, and you follow all of the EzineArticles Terms of Service for Publishers.

Ben A. Carlsen, Ed.D, MBA, is an experienced CEO and manager. Dr. Carlsen has over 30 years experience in management, consulting, and teaching. Currently the Head of the Business Department at Everest Institute, Hialeah, FL., he was Chairman of the Los Angeles County Productivity Managers Network and President of the Association for Systems Management (So. Calif. Chapter). Additional information can be obtained at

Is That Legal? Facebook, Background Checks & Drug Tests

By Kim Ann Zimmermann, ITTechNewsDaily Contributor

“Bill” was the go-to guy at work who got along well with his colleagues and earned a promotion. But when his co-workers Googled him, they found out he had been convicted of domestic violence, and no one wanted to work with him.

“Jane” was a mild-mannered office worker by day, but when her co-workers friended her on Facebook, they found she was a party girl. When they shared what they found with management she was denied a raise.

These kinds of revelations — and worse — are all too common in the wake of the development of social media. Figuring out what information is public and, therefore, allowed to be used in hiring and employment decisions is not as simple as it may seem.

Legal vs. available

“It is not necessarily illegal for employers and co-workers to discover this type of information online or through other means, but employers can’t use protected information such as age, race, gender, disabilities and sexual orientation when making hiring decisions or employment decisions once the person is working at the company,” said Roy L. Cohen, New York-based career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide” (FT Press, 2010).

While many of those protections are a result of civil rights laws from the 1960s, today’s employers don’t need to go very far to find out a lot of things about their employees and job candidates that would have remained unknown before the digital age.

“The law trails the technology here and employers can easily find out things that they couldn’t easily find out before, and people often walk into an interview with a potential employer and the person they’re interviewing with already knows what they look like from their picture on Facebook, along with their age, race and marital status,” said Mark Neuberger, of counsel in the Miami office of Foley & Lardner LLP. “Employers can find out a lot of information that may or may not be relevant to making a good personnel decision.”

Here are some of the common methods employers use to research the background of employees and potential employees and a legal reality check as well.

Social media: Legal

As long as employers are not using information they discovered about protected subjects such as a person’s age, race or marital status, it is perfectly legal to check out someone’s social media pages. In fact, job candidates and employees being considered for promotions should expect employers to take their social media activities into consideration.

“While the law in this area is evolving and continues to evolve, it may be unrealistic to expect meaningful privacy regardless of the privacy settings placed on a social media page,” said Lawrence D. Bernfeld, a partner in the New York law firm Graubard Miller. “An executive recruiter, for example, may be a friend of a friend. Also, even someone who is a direct friend has the ability to capture a screen image and forward it to others.”

Representing both companies and executives, Bernfeld said that employers may view a person’s social media profile to verify information on résumés and to assess communication skills, among other proper uses. If employers discover Web-based information that the law protects against discriminatory use, they must not use such information in the decision-making process.

Employers and prospective employees are making use of social media sites before an in-person meeting. “More and more employees are using social media as a screening method,” said Jason Maxwell, president of MassPay, a human resources and payroll services company based in Beverly, Mass.

He said the one thing employers cannot do is create a false identity to lure someone into sharing information.

“But I’ve seen instances where someone called in sick and posted pictures of themselves at a Red Sox game,” and since the pictures were not obtained using a false Facebook page or other deceptive method, they were fair game for the employer to look at and use in making personnel decisions.

Melissa Giovagnoli Wilson, founder and CEO of Networlding, a Chicago-based consulting firm, said employers should establish rules of conduct for social media usage. “It should include information such as what would be cause for dismissal, such as sharing sensitive company information or using profanity.”

Contacting previous employers: Legal

“In many cases, you’re not going to get more than name, rank and serial number, but it is perfectly legal to check references,” Neuberger said. “Most employers are not going to share much more than that based on the advice of their lawyers.”

Background checks: Legal, with restrictions

In today’s economy, there are a lot of people with bad credit and superior job skills. While background checks, including credit checks, are legal, it is important to get the consent of job candidates and employees.

“The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Fair Credit Reporting Act come into play when you’re talking about credit checks, as the EEOC in particular is making the argument that using credit reports as a condition of employment can be discriminatory toward minorities,” Neuberger said.

Neuberger said the use of some information discovered during a background check can be tricky.

“Again, the EEOC is concerned about the adverse impact on minorities,” Neuberger said. While criminal background is not off limits, he said some states are placing limitations on the use of this information. “Employers generally look at the recentness of the conviction and the age of the individual at the time,” he said. “A marijuana conviction 20 years ago is generally viewed differently than being convicted of embezzlement a year ago when you’re looking for work in the financial field.”

Drug/alcohol testing: Legal, with restrictions

While many companies have policies against drug and alcohol use on the job and require employees to submit to periodic testing, it is important that potential and existing employees be aware of the policies. “There should be procedures in place, employees should be made aware of those procedures and those procedures should be strictly and consistently followed,” Neuberger said.

Employment Matchmaking

by Patricia Guerzo 

So you’ve finally decided to take the plunge, and add a new person to your team.  This is an area where how you go about it – process – makes a big difference in finding and retaining the right person.

In a small business, recruiting is one activity that happens so infrequently that it’s unlikely the owner will be good at it.  Plus, the multitude of steps required to find, screen, interview, and orient them can be overwhelming.

If you choose to do it yourself, here are some steps that will save time, weed out poor fits, and increase the likelihood that your chosen candidate will be a long-term contributor to your business.

Know what you want.  This is obvious, right?  Not really.  Most times, an owner will think of every trait they want, creating a superhuman expectation that cannot be fulfilled.  Write down what you want, and see if you know anyone with all those skills.  Separate the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.

Create an ad to match those must-have needs.  You will get the highest number of qualified applicants if you “bait your hook” with the right bait.  Your bait is the words in the ad.

If the person will be expected to take orders or support others, you may not want someone who responds to “self-motivated” or “self-starter.”  Try using “team player” and “diplomatic” instead.

If you need a business development “hunter,” skip the references to a team environment.  Your ideal candidate will identify with “highly driven,” “excellent opportunity,” and “growing company looking for new markets.”

Match the recruiting process with the job.  Do you want someone to make cold calls?  Then have them respond by calling you.  If you want someone to follow instructions, create a process that requires them to follow instructions.  This is a sure-fire way to weed out people who don’t have the personality for the job, even before they interview.

Prepare interview questions in advance.  The stakes are too high to rely on a resume’ or to use a gut feel to make a decision.  People can hire professional resume’ writers, and unfortunately, desperate people might be less than truthful.

Questions should produce a SOAR response:  Situation, Obstacles, Actions, Results.  Keep this acronym in mind during the interview, and prompt the candidate for missing pieces.

Have an orientation plan.  After you find the right person, make them successful.  Too often, owners believe that “the right person” will know what to do.  Give your new employee the best chance to succeed, by painting a picture of what they need to learn and do within their probationary period.

If you have other employees, make sure they know how to support the new hire.  Set the expectation that they will help them succeed, and find unique ways each person can contribute.  Is there a role for a mentor, resource for questions, or even a schedule to take the new person to lunch?  These things can keep internal dynamics on track.

Remember, increased staff is necessary to grow.  By focusing on the hiring process, you will find and then create your winning team.

To use this article in your newsletter or blog- you must include the following: Patricia Guerzo, President of GBSC, is an accomplished business executive with a proven record of enhancing bottom line results.

How to Break Up With a Business Partner

by  Dawn Reiss

Break-ups are always difficult. Some are more amicable than others. When it comes to the legalities of a divorce, be it personal or a business relationship, most people run to an attorney and prepare for battle.

It may become necessary, but there’s another route that should be tried first: mediation.

Before you groan and roll your eyes, consider this: if a separation can’t be decided in court, a judge can send two people, already represented by lawyers, into mediation before they can settle in court. Why? Because at its core, mediation is about using counseling so you can break up and sever that relationship in the friendliest and fairest way — or at least come to a mutual agreement that can then become a legal document.

 John Hassey Mediation.

John Hassey

“I don’t think people realize money is the physical manifestation of emotion,” says John Hassey, 35, of Chicago-based John Hassey Mediation. Money represents the time, effort, hard work and the “I deserve this monetary compensation factor” which is the emotional value of the relationship. “It’s healthy, even in a business divorce, to acknowledge those emotions in the process,” Hassey says. “Mediation isn’t removing the emotion from the process; it is acknowledging the emotion so you can come to a logical and fair agreement.”

That’s something that can be lost in the traditional legal process.

Nicole Brucker

Nicole Brucker

“Most business people aren’t as comfortable with someone called a mediator and assume an attorney will have their best interest,” says Nicole Brucker, 32, a divorce mediator who runs The Sapient Solution Advisor and is a registered investment adviser with her Series 7 license. “But lawyers aren’t trained in the long-term emotional implications of that, which is where a skilled mediator can come in.”

For example, Brucker says she knows a CEO who retired after he was bought out by his business partner. Years later, when that former CEO became a client of Brucker’s, he still feels like he wasn’t given a fair deal; not because the financial compensation wasn’t correct or substantial, but because there wasn’t any closure. He no longer talks to his former business partner of 15 years because he feels like the company was taken away from him, Brucker says. “When you are an entrepreneur, an owner, that company becomes a representative of you, an appendage, and when you hand it over, you have to grieve that loss, which can be very difficult for some people,” Brucker says. “A lot of people just want to be heard or validated in how they feel. If you have these resentments they are going to lead to regret. Everyone still needs time to grieve that loss, because the process is hard and it’s about finding a mutual solution that doesn’t give anyone everything you want.”

 Here’s How:

Recognize that like any divorce, usually one person wants to get things over with and the other person is a little further behind.

 Forget Myth No. 1: Counseling is Only About Keeping the Relationship Together

That’s just not true, says Hassey. “The goal of mediation is to help people get the most informed and fairest choices for them and their divorces,” he says.

 Forget Myth No. 2: Break-ups are Always Bad

Depending on what happens, it can end up being the most positive thing you do and give you a new lease on life, personally, financially and emotionally.

Say Any Idea

One of the most important things to do, says Hassey, is to discuss every possible idea, no matter how many times it has been discussed before, how ridiculous it sounds, because when you squash ideas, it wipes out the creative process rather than pulling pieces of every idea to create a viable solution.

 List the Reasons for the Dissolution

Include both business-related issues as well as emotional ones, says Brucker.

 Want more tips on working with a business partner? Check these out:

Slow Down the Communication Process and Become an Active Listener

Simply put: shut up, listen, and then verbally repeat everything that was just said. “While one person is talking, the other is thinking about what they want to say next,” Hassey says. “It’s no wonder that the conflict is happening because they are just talking at each other.” Hassey only allows one client to talk and the other can’t respond; the only thing they can do is paraphrase what the other person just said. When they are done, the counterpart gets the chance to do the same. “I force my clients to do this and at first they get annoyed,” Hassey says. “But it slows down the communication process, to stop rapid-fire disagreements, where everyone is shooting. The beautiful bi-product is it creates empathy between people.”

Talk about the Taboo Topics

What are your biggest concerns? What are your fears? Discuss the topics everyone has been avoiding, that usually include infidelity. Just like a marriage, business infidelity can mean addressing the unethical behavior of one business partner who is using the partnership to benefit that person individually or hiding a business connection from the other partner, instead of sharing the resources to benefit the entire company.

Plan for the Future

Think about where you will be five years from now. Discuss non-compete, non-disclosure clauses, and think about how much or how little you each will interfere with each other’s businesses in the future.

 Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist and a former St. Petersburg Times and Dallas Morning News staff writer who writes for a variety of outlets including: TIME magazine/ and the Chicago Tribune.

Finding Help in Difficult Business Times

When was the last time you asked yourself, “What do I want?”

Business owners may begin by asking that question, but it soon gets replaced by others – That bill is due already?  Sally called in sick?  Our insurance premium went up again? Over time, “what I want” turns into “what I am left with.” 

This thinking hurts the precious optimism and bravery necessary for the owner to overcome the noise and hassles of running a business.  Like household dust, it can’t be seen, but over time, covers every aspect of the business.  Pessimism easily recalls the reasons why it didn’t work before, even if the attempt was done poorly.  Any attempt to change is shot down as foolish – just wait until the economy improves; no one is spending.

And the worst part is, the owner doesn’t see it coming.  He/She started the business, or bought it, because he was optimistic that it would be a success. 

 What is an owner to do?

Accept that no person is an island, and find someone to help you.  Sometimes, an owner can benefit from someone to listen to the problems, and shed new light on them.  That someone should meet a few criteria to ensure the advice is trustworthy.

The most important quality of this person is their objectivity.  You need to be free to share your dreams and fears without them coming up at Thanksgiving or the company holiday party. If the listener has a financial interest in the company’s outcome, the listener cannot be objective.  This rules out employees and most spouses. 

The next quality is experience.  It is important that any advice you act on comes from someone who has experience, and who stands behind it later.  I once heard an owner tell of someone they met on a bus whose comment changed their whole strategy.  She did not remember his name, or know his business background.

The last is chemistry.  If you don’t like someone in the first hour, chances are that in two months you will feel the same way.  The right confidante will make you more confident.  Your fears will take a back seat to goals and optimism.  And the owner who started the business will see their vision come to pass. 

 Or, you can remain an island, and wait until the government fixes everything for us.   

 Here is a commentary about change.  While change can be easy (usually when it’s intended for others), or difficult (ourselves), it is most definitely fragile.  Read on:

It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system.  For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones. 


The hesitation of the latter arises in part from the fear of their adversaries, who have the laws on their side, and in part from the general skepticism of mankind which does not really believe in an innovation until experience proves its value.


So it happens that whenever his enemies have occasion to attack the innovator they do so with the passion of partisans while the others defend him sluggishly so that the innovator and his party are alike vulnerable. 

 This was written in 1513 by Niccolo Machiavelli.

To use this article in your newsletter or blog- you must include the following: Patricia Guerzo, President of GBSC, is an accomplished business executive with a proven record of enhancing bottom line results.

Transform your Space, Transform your Life in 2011

A local organization expert shares some tips with Evanston Patch readers.

Many people resolve to “Get More Organized” in January. Is this one of your New Year’s resolutions year after year?

Working with my clients, I witness the struggles people have to get and stay organized. Many people just can’t do it alone and need a professional organizer to work with them. But many others just need some simple tips to jump-start the process.

In my opinion, being disorganized takes a toll on our health and well being, both at home and at the office. I believe our personal space should be a sanctuary from life’s chaos, not a repository for its artifacts.

Clearing out the physical clutter allows us to have more space, more time and more positive energy in our lives. The average American spends 55 minutes a day looking for something they know they have but can’t find. Wouldn’t you prefer to use that time for yourself and your family?

I believe disorganization comes from deferred decision-making and clutter is the physical manifestation of indecision. So be the “decider!!”

Do you keep too much paper? 80 percent of what we file is never looked at again. And we tend to wear 20 percent of the clothes in our closet. The other 80 percent just takes up space and gets dusty. 

Do your kids have too many toys and complain they can’t find anything to do? As a former teacher, I know how to help people set up their homes to maximize the educational value of toys. Toy rotation is one method. Museums rotate their collections rather than putting every item on display at the same time.  So you don’t need every toy, game, or puzzle out at the same time either.

If you resolve to start out the year getting more organized, here are some tips that may help you:

  • Start with a vision of your ideal space (home or office) Are you going for a “Zen” look? Or do you like to have things in sight that give you pleasure to look at? Use magazines to help you if you aren’t good at visualizing.
  • Be realistic: Don’t say, “I’m going to organize my entire house today.” Start one piece at a time: with one drawer or one shelf of a closet.
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes and see how you feel when it rings. Can you keep going or have you done enough for one session? This helps people who feel that it’s not worth starting if you can’t organize your whole project in one sitting!
  • Use sticky notes to sort into piles/stacks as you go along (keep, trash, recycle, donate).
  • Keep like things together and use containers to bring order to chaos. Smaller items can be put into small plastic bins, or small boxes.
  • Avoid Zig Zag organizing. This means stay on task in one room and don’t run all over the house putting stuff away in different rooms. Use your labels for that. For example, make a label that says “Put in Basement later,” or “Put in Garage later.” Then do it later, not now!
  • Use the 2-3 second rule for keeping the momentum going: If you need more than 2-3 seconds to decide on a item or piece of paper, put it in a “sort later” or “read later” pile.
  • In general, remember the simpler the system is, the better it is. Also, store items closest to their point of use.
  • Keep in mind your “public” and “private” spaces when making organizing decisions, as well as “in season” or “out of season.”
  • Keep the things around you that you like to look at and that have meaning for you.
  • Don’t hold on to things that someone else can use: Donate, donate, donate! Or use

And finally, here is a  “mind trick” to help you clarify what you really want to keep. Pretend you are moving in one week to a much smaller space, and hiring really expensive movers! This helps you to identify the relative value of your things. Remember, if everything has equal importance/value then nothing has value or importance to you.

So get rid of your clutter, free your space and enjoy an organized, healthy 2011!

 Cindy Levitt is the owner of Peace by Piece Professional Organizing and Design in Evanston. You can learn more about her business by visiting its website: and you can find her on Facebook at

Make Time to Accomplish Your Goals Now

Make Time to Accomplish Your Goals Now

Ali Brown

Have you ever had one of those days when you are busy working on your business all day, but at the end of the day you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing? You’re not alone. In today’s competitive environment, it’s not enough to be busy — you need to be productive, working toward your goals and your bottom line, or your business won’t thrive. 

Your most important skill is being able to make TIME for your money-making business visions. That’s the difference between being a “hamster on a wheel” versus finishing that information product, starting that membership program, or hosting the live event of your dreams.

So, if you need some strategies to get your day moving in the right direction, read on for a few helpful tips:

Know your most productive time. Are you the type who jumps out of bed full of energy and your highest level of creativity, or do you not hit your stride till the afternoon or evening? Know when you hit your peak and schedule your most important tasks then.

Block your time for designated tasks. Your most vital appointment to keep is with yourself. Schedule time for getting your important goals accomplished each day and don’t let another week, month, or year go by without achieving your business visions.

Delegate your distracters. That email needs answering, and you need to update your social media accounts, and that invoice needs to get sent out. Life needs attention, but delegate everything you can to your virtual assistant to clear your decks and your mind for productive work.

Create a Zen workplace. You won’t get your best work done if the TV is blaring, the phone is ringing off the hook, and a pile of overdue bills is staring you in the face. Make your workspace a place where you love to be that is tidy, comfortable, and beautiful and that promotes your creativity.

Take breaks. It’s tempting when you are under a deadline to power through your lunch and not get up from your chair. But getting up, moving around, and getting the blood flowing will help reenergize and refocus your mind. So take 10 or 15 minutes to revitalize, and then get back to it.

Fend off the time zappers. Whether it’s your smart phone alerting you to a post on your Facebook account or your friend down the street who drops by, you need to guard your productive time. Turn off the smart phone and let your friend know you’ll touch base later and get back to work.

Keep it simple. You know how you decide to recover a chair and pretty soon you’re remodeling your entire home? It’s easy to complicate things and then they become overwhelming. Keep your goals in front of you and when you go off on tangents, gently guide yourself back to the essential task at hand.

Let go of what doesn’t matter.  You can waste time obsessing about some of the little details that can be highly distracting. Step back, get some perspective, and stay focused on the big, money-making picture.

Schedule downtime. It’s tempting when your overloaded to work the weekend, but don’t do it. You need your time off to rest, recharge, and play so that you won’t get burned out. It’s amazing how much creativity emerges during these restful times. Sleep is essential as well (and recent studies reveal how important sleep is for weight loss too!).

Work on one thing at a time. In case you haven’t heard, multitasking doesn’t work. You’re less efficient at each task you try to do at the same time. Focus on your one essential objective and you’ll get it done faster and better.

© 2011 Ali International, LLC

Millionaire entrepreneur mentor Ali Brown teaches women around the world how to start and grow profitable businesses that make a positive impact. Get her FREE CD and articles at


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