In human resources, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our interview process in order to hire great talent. And by great talent we don’t just mean qualified candidates, but individuals who provide an addition to our culture that we’d either been looking for or didn’t even realize we were missing.

But maybe the reason we’re not succeeding is because we’re conducting interviews like stuffy questionnaires and expecting to understand the intricacies of a prospect’s personality and previous experiences. Perhaps the answer to our interviewing woes comes through approaching the process like a journalist, rather than a hiring manager or recruiter.

storytelling interview tips

When a journalist sits down with their subject, they are trying to find something that makes them stick out. They want to hear what makes their story unique and different from all the other people they’ve researched before. It’s the same way when we interview a candidate. We want to find something that makes them different, whether in their previous careers, education, or just life experience.

The next time you sit down for an interview, consider the power of storytelling. Use these tips to hear their story and consider whether or not they’d be a good fit for your company and the role in question.

There is no right or wrong answer.

Best-selling author, Cal Fussman, puts it this way: “It’s more like you’re casting a movie and you know the part you need to cast for, and you know the traits that person’s going to need to make that job work for you and for that person. And so, it really isn’t a matter of this person’s bad or this person’s good. If you treat it like a casting director in a movie, you would say that’s the perfect person for that role.” Remember that there are multiple ways a candidate can answer your questions, or at least if you’re asking the right questions, that’s how it should be…

Ask the right questions.

We all know the tried and true “What’s your biggest weakness?”. Candidates have most likely pored over different responses trying to find the perfect one. Instead of asking something that they’ll hear in their other 20 interviews, consider asking questions that cut more to the core of your company culture. For example, if you’re hiring for a sports agency, ask them about the best game they ever played or witnessed. This is a great opportunity to not only gauge their passion for the industry, but to get them to tell a story. You’ll learn so much about their personality not only by the content that they share, but the way they share it.

Think outside the box, or at least, the office.

You might think conducting an interview has to happen within the four walls of your office or conference room, but that just isn’t true. If you conduct a lot of meetings at the nearby coffee shop, why not try it in your interview? Of course, find a place that’s still conducive for conversation, but a cup of coffee will definitely put you and your candidate at ease compared to the glare of fluorescent lights. In this way, they’ll feel more comfortable opening up when it’s time to share their story.

How do you get candidates to share their story? What are some questions you would ask?

An article was posted a few days ago that posed the question: “Can You Teach Work Ethic?”. Whether you are a Talent Management Director, a Human Resources Manager, a CEO, or just starting out in your career, you’ve probably come across employees who lack that special something.

Call it work ethic, gumption, motivation, or engagement. There are plenty of words to describe that characteristic that makes good employees, well… good.

motivating unmotivated employees

So is it possible to instill work ethic in the unmotivated? Is it a question of engagement or is it intrinsic?

Here are a few ways you can motivate even the most unmotivated of employees:

Talk it Out

First things first, you might need to get to the root of the problem. There could be many reasons why an employee is not putting their best foot forward: personal reasons, boredom, unclear expectations, etc. Schedule time to chat with the employee and keep an open mind about what they may be experiencing. Maybe they need more work on their plate or maybe they need a vacation. Figure out what they need from you and see how you can make that happen.

Empower Them Through Goal-Setting

After your conversation, make a plan for you and your employee. Set goals that help your employee feel empowered, not micro-managed. You can do this by making the goals a discussion, not a demand. By empowering them to take ownership of these expectations, they are more likely to stay motivated to follow-through.

Give Them Freedom to Make Mistakes

A lot of employees don’t take initiative because they’re afraid of failure. When setting goals, make sure they’re aware that the expectation is not perfection, but completion. As they work to complete a project or achieve a goal, ask questions along the way that let them know you’re in it together. Mistakes are inevitable and while you don’t want to encourage sloppy work, it’s important to create a forgiving environment for employees to take chances and risk failure.

Rinse and Repeat

Keep in mind that engaging employees should be an ongoing process, not a once a year thing. Schedule a monthly touch-base. Walk around the block for five minutes to get out of the office and help your employee feel comfortable opening up about where they’re struggling. Take this opportunity to point out where they succeeded and where they could improve. For particularly troublesome employees, let them know your expectations for the future if they continue to fall short.

Keeping unmotivated employees engaged is not easy, but it’s essential to cultivating the work culture we all desire. Follow these steps and if you don’t see improvement, it may be an issue of poor culture fit or the wrong position. Again, ask questions to get to the root of the issue. In the end, you’re after what’s best for the company and for the employee and sticking around when they’re unhappy isn’t good for either.

I was chatting with a couple of friends the other day and each were sharing their unique experiences at work. There was one thing they each shared, however, which was their struggle with comparison. Each of the girls have just started new positions in the last year and as they strive to prove themselves at work, the natural tendency to compare themselves and their work to those around them has slowly creeped in.

But they are not alone in their experiences. Social comparison is so common that there is even a theory based around its effects.

stop comparing yourself

Whether you’re starting a new career or you’re a veteran in your role, here are a few ways comparison can rob us of joy and how you can counteract these feelings:

Comparisons do not show the full picture.

You might have heard the expression “You have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce”. While true and motivating, Beyonce was also blessed with opportunities that many of us will never have. Comparing yourself to others is unfair because we each have unique backgrounds, skills, and passions.

Gratitude reveals the whole story.

Instead of comparison, consider ways you can be grateful instead. Make a list every day of five things you are thankful for. Whenever you start comparing yourself to others, reach for the list and remember that what you have experienced serves to make you the person that you are and put you on a career path that’s uniquely yours.

Comparisons put the focus on the wrong person.

“He’s so smart.” “She’s so successful.” “His life is perfect.” Notice the subject of these sentences is not YOU. Comparisons have the power to put your focus on other people instead of on your own accomplishments.

Pride redefines the meaning of success.

Instead of focusing on what other people achieved, consider your own successes. It can be as small as finishing a report to larger achievements like a promotion or a raise. No matter how insignificant, tracking our achievements can be a great way to put the focus back on ourselves and our goals.

Comparisons build resentment.

One of the most harmful effects of social comparison is the resentment that can build over time. We can not only become bitter about our own shortcomings, but also resent others’ success, harming our relationships and creating walls between us.

Humility brings happiness.

This is probably the most difficult to achieve, but when we turn comparison into admiration, the results can be extremely beneficial. Instead of harboring feelings of jealousy, ask questions of the people you respect and determine how they got to the place that you admire. You may find that things are not quite as simple as they appear, or find ways to reach your own goals that you might not have thought of before. It might not be easy to put away those jealous feelings, but in the end, you’ll build stronger relationships and learn a lot along the way.

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it, it just blooms.” Don’t think about what the other flowers are doing… just bloom.

Unless you’ve been hiding out for the past week, you’ve probably seen the devastating affects of Hurricane Harvey. The category 4 hurricane reached Houston over the weekend and has continued to cause flooding and damage to the area, leading non-profit and disaster relief organizations to turn their attention to Texas.

hurricane harvey disaster relief

At PerkSpot, we are constantly amazed at the different ways our clients are stepping into the gap and fulfilling needs all over the U.S.. In fact, just last week we discussed the role of HR in light of Charlottesville and how our clients are flipping the script.

Now, in light of the Harvey disaster, here are a few of our PerkSpot family’s most creative efforts to bring relief to Houston.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is one of our oldest partners and we are so proud to call them part of the PerkSpot family. They are constantly finding new ways to spread the “Luv”, so when disaster struck Houston, they were quick to use their resources to provide relief to the area. Southwest flew about 500 passengers who were stranded at Houston Hobby, one of the city’s two commercial airports, to Dallas free of charge.

H-E-B

This twitter status speaks for itself. H-E-B, founded in Texas and now one of the nation’s largest independent food retailers, knows the importance of a nice warm meal. They’re providing meals, ice, water, and other needs at their storefronts for those affected by the disaster, along with collecting donations directly on their site.

Starbucks

Starbucks is known for their constant support of their Partners. In response to Hurricane Harvey, Starbucks partners (employees) who donate to relief efforts can request matching funds through the company’s Partner Match program. Currently, the Starbucks Foundation, has donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross. Just another reason why it’s great #tobeapartner.

Lyft

Now, when you take a ride with this PerkSpot client you can round up your change to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by the American Red Cross.They’ve pledged to donate $100,000 to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, created by the city’s mayor, along with coordinating food and supply drives across Texas.

American Red Cross

Yep, that’s right, this leading organization for disaster relief is a PerkSpot partner. Below is a video showcasing their current efforts and here is a place you can donate to increase their efforts across Texas.

If you’re looking for ways to help, you can always donate to the Red Cross efforts, or if you’re in Human Resources, check out these tips on implementing policies and assisting those in need.

As a human resource manager, you’re in the business of managing humans. Everything you do, all day long, directly and indirectly, affects the people in your organization professionally and personally. But while you spend time managing the careers of your employees, it’s easy to neglect the most important human in your sphere of influence: yourself.

invest in yourself

How many steps have you taken this week to invest in your career? What about this month? This year?

While we spend time working to retain our top talent, we can forget to focus on the own talents we possess and the ways we need to grow. So no matter how busy you are, here are five easy ways you invest in your career right now.

Invest in Your Intelligence

Train. That. Brain. Many of us remain cognitively stagnant. Once we graduate, we no longer have textbooks to read or homework to practice. Stimulate your brain by practicing some simple tricks everyday to keep your senses sharp. One of my personal favorites is an app called Elevate. You’ll take an initial IQ test to gauge where you land in certain categories, such as Reading, Writing and Math. From there, they’ll provide short games you can complete in just five minutes. It’s highly addictive, challenging, and a great way to improve everyday skills.

Invest in Your Goals

First things first, establish your goals. Whether those are New Year’s Resolutions or a trajectory for reaching your next promotion, make sure you have clear and achievable goals for the next year written down and in a place where you’ll see them on a regular basis (I keep mine in the “Notes” section of my iPhone).

After you’ve written out your goals, think of what actionable steps you can take to achieve them. And this doesn’t just apply to professional goals. Let’s say you want to read 20 books this year. Make your list, decide where you want to start, and break it down into what you need to accomplish each month (read 1.5 books) or week (200 pages). Evaluate your goals in a few weeks and adjust them as necessary. This is key to avoiding burnout and still keeping your momentum.

Invest in Your Community

This seems counterintuitive, but by helping others, you can meet new people, learn new skills, and stretch yourself in ways you never would have thought. Find ways to invest in your community by joining the board of a non-profit, volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen, or even cooking dinner for the new neighbor. Depending on your availability, you might not be able to take on a new commitment, but there are small ways to do good every day. A good friend of mine is quick to send a Starbucks gift card (via email… so easy!) when I have something big coming up or am going through a hard time. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way. Consider big and small ways to invest in your circle of influence.

The news of Charlottesville has shaken most of us to our core. In the face of such tragedy and confusion, it can be easy to lose sight of the efforts we’ve made to create inclusive and diverse workplaces.

diversity and inclusion

While the following stories do not take away from the effects of Charlottesville and the battle we must continue to fight, we think it’s important to also recognize the good. There are companies in the U.S. who are taking a stand and making a difference in the lives of underrepresented communities in order to create a safe, fulfilling, and supportive environment for these employees.

Here are companies making a difference for diversity in 2017. (Oh, and for an added bonus, they all happen to be PerkSpot clients.)

Humana:

Humana focuses on the well-being of their associates through the Executive Inclusion & Diversity Council, led by their President and CEO, Bruce Broussard, and various Network Resource Groups that provide business outreach and professional development. In turn, their goal is to make Humana associates passionate about I&D in order to better serve their communities and help them to achieve their best health.

“Humana serves millions of members, and each of them is unique … By reflecting that diversity in our associate population, we can meet our members where they are on their health journeys and better understand their needs. Our associates’ vast variety of backgrounds, perspectives and beliefs makes us a stronger, more nimble and more empathetic company.” – Bruce Broussard, CEO

Abbott:

Voted number 10 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 most diverse companies list, Abbott has lead the charge for diversity with women and people of color making up almost 50% of their corporate board of directors. In fact, as a whole, women make up 47% of management. With cross-cultural mentors and corporate diversity goals, diversity is a top priority for Abbott.

“Diversity is a strength, period. It takes diversity of gender, ethnicity, and background to drive the diversity of ideas that we need to succeed. We do business in more than 150 countries; to understand and serve a rich and varied world, a broad range of perspectives isn’t an option — it’s essential.” – Miles D. White, Chairman and CEO

AbbVie:

In 2017, AbbVie launched a new Diversity & Inclusion Committee, aimed at offering their employees “the tools, training and experiences they need to reach their potential.” AbbVie also created Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), that bring employees together who share a common interest while focusing on mentoring, networking, and professional development.

“Developing and bringing innovative, life-saving medicines to patients requires diverse thought and approaches. Bringing together experts from diverse backgrounds and thought is crucial to our ability to deliver today and into the future.” – Richard A. Gonzalez, Chairman and CEO

While we are inundated with story after story on the news of tragedy and hate, we hope these stories will inspire you and your company to support the efforts being made to flip the script.

You’ve heard it before: office friendships can make a big difference when it comes to employee happiness and engagement. But what happens when friendships turn into cliques?

office culture too cliquish

On Ask a Manager, an HR blog/advice column, a reader writes about her experience with a former employee who didn’t seem to meet this manager’s understanding of a “culture fit”. The employee eventually left the department due to cultural problems and overall what she described as a very exclusive environment, including Snapchat silos, brewery trips, and inappropriate relationships. The manager blamed the employee’s lack of belonging on not being a good fit for the team, but it seemed that she was prioritizing social connections over professionalism and inclusivity. In fact, Ask a Manager posted an update just last week stating the manager had been fired for bullying (mocking the former employee on SnapChat) and not meeting the company code of conduct. Definitely a case of culture fit gone wrong.

We’ve explored this misunderstanding of “culture fit” before and came to the conclusion that HR should just remove those two words from their vocabulary. Too often and too easily we fall into the trap of hiring people who talk like us, think like us, and even dress like us. But what about diversity and inclusion? And how do we prevent “cliques” from happening… or should we?

Here’s what we’ve learned:

1. Friendships can, will, and should happen naturally. There was one thing this manager actually managed to do well and that was encourage friendships within the office. Embrace the natural connections that happen within the office as long as they are not occurring at the expense of other employees or crossing any lines.

2. Friendships are never mandatory. The biggest mistake this manager made was thinking that friendships were a necessary part of the office life. While friendliness is obligatory, friendship is not, and these are not the same thing. Some personalities prefer to come to work, do their job, and leave. Just like you wouldn’t force a friendship in other walks of life, don’t do it in the workplace.

3. Friendships, unfortunately, will exclude someone. We aren’t in third grade anymore where it’s mandatory to invite the entire class to attend your birthday party. Friendships, by nature, will exclude certain people. The important thing to note here is that you are considerate to those outside your circle by keeping inside jokes to a minimum and outside plans, well… outside. Your friendship can’t take priority over someone else’s feelings inside the workplace. Managers, pay attention to isolated employees. Make sure they’re choosing not to participate versus feeling excluded.

Are there other ways you can keep your culture from becoming “cliquey”?

sunday night blues

An awesome article in Fistful of Talent recently discussed the “Sunday Night Blues”. Well-written and well-researched, the author describes the misery many people experience before returning to work on Monday morning. He dives into why this might be true of the 76% of Americans who say their Sunday Night Blues are so bad they want to look for a new job.

While you can read the article for a more in-depth view of the “Sunday Night Blues” and their sweep across America, let’s discuss a few ways we can conquer the blues by providing employees with a better place to work in the first place.

Give Them Something to Look Forward To

Think about your team and the weekly activity they enjoy doing the most. Maybe it’s a meal you share together or a fun team building activity. Whatever it is, try moving it to Monday to engage your staff right from the get-go. Start incorporating a daily stand-up as part of your Monday routine to encourage your team by celebrating wins and highlighting star performers. Just make sure to save any constructive criticism for later in the week when morale is higher.

Take Advantage of Fridays

When the end of the week rolls around most of us check out for the weekend. But often that can make Monday even more painful. Ending your Fridays well and setting you and your team up for success is essential for a productive and pleasant start to your week. The Muse provides a helpful worksheet for ending your week by celebrating accomplishments and assigning tasks for the week ahead. Using this sheet can help you feel more successful and less overwhelmed on Monday morning.

Let Them Flex Their Schedule

One of the greatest benefits at PerkSpot is the ability to flex our schedules. This could mean working from home when it’s storming out or working later hours to catch up on some Zzzzs. Providing flexible schedule opportunities for employees can help improve productivity and has even made a difference in closing the gender pay gap. Telecommuting is becoming all the more popular, so it will not only satisfy your current employees but also help you stay competitive when recruiting new hires.

Lead by Example

Nothing is worse than walking into the office on Monday morning only to have your supervisor or coworker moan and complain. On the other hand, Gallup reports that “Positive leaders deliberately increase the flow of positive emotions within their organization,” and can lead to greater engagement and improved performance. If the leadership is not staying positive, it’s highly unlikely their employees will maintain a positive attitude.

Combat the “Sunday Night Blues” by providing a better workplace for our employees, starting with our own attitudes.

A new company recently emerged on the scene that had the PerkSpot office murmuring: Brandless.

Brandless sells consumer goods from groceries to household and office supplies. What makes them unique? Everything is completely generic and only $3. In their words: “Better stuff, fewer dollars. It’s that simple.” By eliminating the costs associated with a name brand, they are able to increase quality and decrease price.

This got us thinking.. What would happen if we eliminated the brand stigma when hiring candidates? What if resumes came without company names like Facebook or Google? Would we still be hiring the same people?

brandless employees

Here are few lessons we learned when we began the search for “Brandless” Employees:

1. Go Brandless to See Talent for Talent:

One of the greatest risks to hiring employees based on where they’ve previously worked is that we might not truly evaluate their work experience. For example, is a managerial level candidate at Facebook really as valuable as a VP at X company? Even job titles can be tricky, so don’t let that sway you either. Focus on job performance and ability to perform the necessary tasks, not just the flashy titles they slap on their resumes.

2. Go Brandless to Remove the Paradox of Choice:

Have you ever walked down the cereal aisle of your grocery store and just stood there dumbfounded? There is one thing we love in America and that’s options. But sometimes too many options can leave us paralyzed and in fear of making the wrong decision. When sourcing candidates for a position, we can often come across the same problem. Simplify your search by only looking at candidates who meet your top requirements. Stick to your guns and don’t settle for less.

3. Go Brandless to Stay Transparent:

No matter what you plan to purchase at Brandless, everything is just $3. By knowing the price in advance, it makes shopping for what you need super simple. In the same way, we should be transparent with our new hires about our budget for compensation. Whether it’s putting a range on the job description or asking candidates their preferred salary, start the conversation early so you don’t waste your time or theirs.

How could your hiring efforts benefit from removing brand bias? What other ways do you see this affecting your recruitment?

Horrible Bosses

If you’ve been in the working world for some time, you’ve probably experienced the pains of a horrible boss. Poor listening skills, arrogance and just plain rudeness generally characterize these Michael Scott rivals. But whether this is a current reality for you or you are fortunate enough to have moved past that situation, there are many things we can learn from these horrible bosses.

The Micromanager

horrible bosses perkspot culture

For some bosses, “control freak” doesn’t even begin to explain the horrors of their management style. If you’ve ever experienced micromanagement, you know that it can be frustrating and leave you wondering why they even hired you in the first place. The lack of trust and need for control isn’t doing anyone any favors. But if there is one thing we can learn from the micromanagers of the world, it’s attention to detail. While it may seem obnoxious in the moment, and definitely is not an approach we would condone, you can still find ways to benefit from this not-so-pleasant experience. Micromanagers often help us think through all the details that can take a report, spreadsheet, or article from good to great. You never know, attention to detail may be the key to landing that big client or getting your long sought after promotion.

The Constant Critic

horrible bosses perkspot culture

Remember that famous line from Bambi? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” Maybe you have experienced a manager who could have benefited from this piece of advice. Unfortunately, sometimes the easiest thing we can learn from bad bosses is what NOT to do. Regardless of whether you’re in management or not, we could all be better at encouraging others. Before you think about criticizing a coworker’s work, find something positive to say as well. While there are still benefits to constructive criticism, if the negatives tend to outweigh the positives, it might be time to reevaluate your approach.

The Bad Listener

horrible bosses perkspot culture

There’s quite possibly nothing more disheartening, not to mention annoying, than a boss who simply doesn’t listen. But great bosses know the importance of listening, before speaking. Learning to listen is a skill that’s often overlooked but can make a major difference in your professional and personal life. Michael Taft for the Huffington Post says “Learning to listen means learning to actually pay attention to — to concentrate on — what other people are saying. Listening to their words as if listening to a favorite song, with your mind focused on what they are saying and what it means.” In a world full of social media distractions and iPhone obsessions, it can be so refreshing to be around someone who looks you in the eye and repeats back what you’ve said. Take what you’ve experienced from having a boss that doesn’t listen to become more sympathetic and understanding, not just hearing but actually listening to what others are trying to tell you.

Have you ever had a horrible boss? What was your experience like? What did you learn? Tell us in the comments!