Monthly Archives: September 2010

Difficult Qualities for New HR Professionals To Grasp

A recent post on another blog contemplated “Qualities To Look For In Hiring an HR Professional.”  This set me to pondering a few qualities that often are most difficult for new HR professionals to grasp as part of their role.

Two qualities that come to mind most immediately are:

1.  Ability to balance the needs of the organization (management) and employees

2.  Ability to influence without authority

Balancing the needs of the organization and employees

In a sense, HR’s toughest job may be finding ways to counter the wise admonition, “No man can serve two masters.”  An effective HR person needs to walk a fine line, being a valued part of the management team — while at the same time, being a trusted “ear” for employees.  Continue reading

The Value of Checking References: Light-Hearted Tales


As the summer comes to a close and hiring season traditionally picks up again (or, let’s hope so, anyway, given the economy and all), I thought it might be nice to ease back into the swing of things with a light-hearted anecdote or two about checking references.  My HR career didn’t exactly start off on an auspicious note in this regard; I learned the value of checking references right away.  We “live and learn,” as they say . . . and gaining a story or two along the way is never a bad thing, right?!?

Ignoring All The Evidence (Really, She Can’t Cook At All?)
My first “HR” assignment came in my senior year of college.  I was the catering manager at our fraternity house that year, responsible for getting 50 guys fed three meals a day, five days a week.  Unfortunately, our stalwart cook (a carbon copy of the Marlboro Man, but that’s a story for another day) had retired, so we were scrambling to find a full-time cook that summer.  The economy was strong at the time, and despite weeks of advertising, we were only able to come up with two real candidates: a 40-year old man who had to ask his mother for permission to come to the interview, and Hilda.

Continue reading

Gut Feel: Taking a Flyer on a Diamond in the Rough

I spend a lot of time training managers on hiring practices — preaching the “gospel” of identifying the job’s key skills, experience, and characteristics, and then designing the interview and selection process to systematically address these issues.  It’s all very good advice — except when it’s not.  This story is about one of those times.

Standing Out

In conducting  training for a client recently, one of their managers (Devon, an African-American man in his early 30’s*) stood out over the course of the two day session.  As I was chatting with the client’s senior manager after the training wrapped up, I said commented about the young manager that ” he’s someone I would hire on gut reaction.”

“It’s funny you should say that,” the client replied.  Then, he went on to tell me Devon’s story.  Here it is  (n.b., names and minor facts changed to protect privacy).  Continue reading