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The key to finding new employment
By John Withenshaw

Use of the internet by Canadians is growing at one of the fastest rates in the world according to research by eMarketer, a leading source of data about internet, e-business and emerging technologies. But when it comes to finding a new job, Canadians continue to rely on good old-fashioned networking.

Independent research by DBM shows that 12% 7400 unemployed Canadians surveyed in 2002 found new employment by using various internet-based resources. This statistic compared to 3% worldwide and 6% in the US, making Canadians among the world’s most prolific users of the internet to find new employment.

Despite this growing use of internet-based recruiting and other online tools in Canada, 68% of the study group reported that they found new employment by networking compared to 42% worldwide and 61% in the US. Clearly, networking remains the number one tool to find new employment wherever you live and work.

Networking is far more than merely passing your resume to friends and business associates you know and asking them for a job. It involves much more such as information, advice, a review of your resume, telephone numbers to call and a long-term relationship or connection with your contacts.

Speaking with confidence, energy and commitment are attractive to people and will encourage them to refer you to others and cause them to remember you for the future. Doing your homework is also vital to effective networking. Get to know your contacts, their organizations and their industries to establish a substantive connection. For every ten minutes of time you spend with a networking contact, support it with ninety minutes of research and background on them, their organization and their industry.

Understand through practice what you want to accomplish with each person, list questions to ask and identify in advance what you want to learn from them. Listen intently, keep good notes and be punctual.

Remember to follow up with a thank you note. You want to leave behind a friend who will remember more than just your name. Most networking occurs on the telephone so speak with confidence, get to the point quickly and don’t dance around the issue of meeting face-to-face with your contact or soliciting referrals. Networking is done at your contact’s convenience, not yours so remain flexible to their needs and schedule.

Most jobs are not filled by search firms or by recruitment advertising. People prefer to hire people they know or a candidate referred to them by someone they know and trust. This is sometimes referred to as the “hidden job market” when, in reality, it is the real job market plain and simple.

John Withenshaw is Senior Vice-President, Operations, DBM Canada.

Dealing with Difficult Issues

Proactively dealing with difficult issues in the workplace can be energizing. Moving through and solving problems is good for us as individuals, and benefits our teams and organizations.

Often leaders delay this type of activity because of their inexperience in effectively handling difficult situations. The result is that these difficult situations get worse instead of being resolved.

Dealing with Performance Issues:

Leaders often delay addressing performance issues thinking that the situation will get better on its own however it just gets worse.

Determining what your own work standard is in the situation in question and then comparing that to the individual or teams’ standard is important in determining what should be discussed in a performance meeting.

It is important to state the difference in the performance standard and be willing to ask questions of the individual regarding their lack of performance. There may be a legitimate reason for the lower performance standard. If we are not able to hear the viewpoint of the employee we are contributing to a lowered morale for this employee. Employees are closer to their work than we are as leaders and we need to respect this or risk the resulting lowered performance rather than the desired heightened performance.

When we speak about the lowered performance standard it is important to talk about the specific situation and the behaviors of the person or team that result in lowered performance. We want to separate the employee themselves from the behavior that results in lowered performance. In this way we are acting in a hopeful way in that behavior can always change and not labeling the employee as a poor performer who has no hope of changing.

Then we need to challenge the employee to raise their performance standard and brainstorm with them ways they could do this. We should request that the employee choose a way to raise their performance out of the many ways that have been brainstormed. When the employee chooses their way to work and resolve issues they will be more empowered than if the leader chooses for them.

We should set a date with the employee to circle back and check with them on their progress. We need to ensure we circle back otherwise we would be abdicating our responsibility instead of delegating responsibility.

Dealing with Conflict:

As coaches and managers how we deal with conflict is very important. Employees care about their views, ideas and projects. Not all employees agree with each other. Conflict is inevitable in the workplace because we are different from each other and we care.

How does one best handle conflict, so that relationships are not irreparably damaged and differences are brought out into the open? It is energizing for the differences to be aired. If we repress our thoughts, feelings and emotions this leads to lowered energy. Many new coaches and managers shy away from conflict out of fear or an inability to deal with it effectively. We need to take risks in this area so that employees are energized by being able to air their views and we move through issues rather than staying stuck in them.

Respecting ourselves and other people when we have differences is important so that interpersonal relationships are kept intact. When we own our statements, opinions and feelings in a discussion there is ownership of our perspective. The other person then has room to say what they think and feel. That is why in assertiveness (mutual respect) training individuals are taught to say I feel, I perceive, I think and then state their perspective. This gives room and respect for the other in the situation.

Another factor involved in our ability to handle conflict well is how competitive versus cooperative we are. If we are highly competitive we may want to pit ourselves against our co-workers. If we are more cooperative we will be more willing to give in a situation. When we cooperate we are willing or able to work with others. When we compete we want to keep ahead of, be rivals with or compete with others.

The combination of assertive, respecting both ourselves and others and cooperating to enable a win-win or compromise to occur is what we ideally want as a result when conflict occurs. In this way the situation gets dealt with, we understand the other person’s perspective, we have a win-win result and we are energized by moving through this situation.

If we could reframe conflict by thinking that is it two people who care and that when it is moved through both parties are energized we are more likely to come up with the energy to learn more about conflict, assertiveness and cooperation. What often happens is that we think about conflict and we close to the opportunity of it, we think of the negative side of it only.

Organizational Issues:

Employees in organizations may not be aware of their performance issues. If carried to an extreme the result can be that they are terminated without knowing the proper reason for the termination because their leader has not made them aware of performance issues.

Teams can be very low energy and under performing where the leader is not able to hear differing views or tolerate conflict and the resolution of performance issues. Team meetings occur where participants are unwilling to speak out and contribute. Team members are complying with their leader’s wishes rather than cooperating because they feel unacknowledged or feel if they contributed a differing view it would not be respected or they may be made to feel wrong because of their view.

Mary-Ann Owens is an Executive Coach and Leadership Development Facilitator and maybe reached at (403) 220-1240


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