Baa Baa, Black Sheep Is Back - A New Idiomatic Use in the Corporate World

Sunday, September 25, 2011 0 comments
The first line of the famous rhyme Baa Baa, Black Sheep have you any wool remains in my memory but now it has become even more meaningful to me. The term Baa Baa (Baba) means "Father" in South Asia especially India and Pakistan; it is a word of respect used for elders, saints, etc. On the other hand Black sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group and is generally perceived to have negative implications.

In today's dynamic world of management the term is back with a new idiomatic use. In order to streamline the activities of the organization, you must keep an eye on both Baa Baa and black sheep. How would you recognize these two in your organization? Here we use the term Baa Baa in the new idiomatic use. He is the person whose experience has reached a certain point where he starts making excuses, avoids sharing new responsibilities and in the worst case scenario starts gossiping, spreads rumors. This could be quite damaging because most of the time these Baa Baas are very influential and have the capability of blocking any new candidate from entering an organization.

Life is full of choices and we are conditioned to see certain paths as "normal", mainstream, comfortable, and acceptable. Yet these are the very choices that make us feel like a hamster in a spinning wheel - always running and getting nowhere.

Mentioned below are some suggestions to stop the conversion of Baa Baa into black sheep.

Counseling is necessary to make Baa Baa realize that they are important people in the organization and equip them with adequate resources and training.

Organization must underline a clear policy for this kind of situation. Job rotation and job enlargement is a good option but not the ultimate solution.

Organize regular meetings with HR and all senior management in order to provide career advice and reinforce the vision and philosophy of the organization. In order to summarize all the above mentioned story in the form of poem is like in the following manner.

Baa Baa black sheep have you any fear. No sir no sir as long as organization can bear. Some one comes and some one goes. But none to those who stab behind the back.

If you have any comments please write to me. It is all about my own views and welcome all your valuable feedback.

Use Common Sense with Assessments

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 0 comments
I worked for 19 years at the nation’s premier testing company, and one thing I learned was not to be dogmatic about assessments. Even the makers of the mighty SAT exam freely admit that their scores do not predict college achievement as well as high school grades do. The SAT scores still have value, however, because when combined with high school grades, they give a better prediction than the grades could alone.

Something similar can be said about assessments that are designed to help you with career choice: Alone, they probably are not the best way to identify a promising career. But combined with other sources of information, they can be very helpful.

Incautious assessment users sometimes forget that psychological instruments are not as precise as a yardstick. Every assessment has a certain margin of error, meaning that although its scores put you into category x, there is a chance that you really belong in the neighboring category y. In baseball games, it’s usually pretty obvious whether a ball has landed in fair or foul territory. But imagine what accuracy would be possible if the ball were ten times as big as a beach ball and even more squishy: Even the instant replay would not resolve a borderline hit.

In baseball, it’s also helpful that the foul lines are at the edges of the area that the batter is aiming for. Now imagine what the game would be like if a line ran right down the middle of the field, and the score of the game depended on which side of the line the enormous beach ball fell on. For good measure, imagine that both right-handed and left-handed batters tended to hit the ball towards the middle. Now you have an idea why I’m reluctant to use the Myers-Briggs assessment. It attempts to place you on one side or the other of a bipolar range (e.g., introvert or extravert), although the normal distribution that is so typical of psychological characteristics clusters most people near the middle. There’s a very high likelihood that your actual location on this continuum is close enough to the middle that the inevitably imprecise measurement of the instrument will assign you to the wrong side of the middle.

Although I prefer to use assessments based on the Holland types, I have to caution that they also are unable to achieve a pinpoint focus. For the Holland types, let me change the metaphor from baseball to hopscotch, where a lot depends on which square your marker lands in. On the playgrounds where I grew up, the squares tended to be at least 10 inches across, but imagine how the game would be if they were only 3 inches across and your marker were a beanbag the size of a dinner plate. Fortunately, the Holland rationale is conceptually more forgiving of ambiguity than is the Myers-Briggs rationale, because it is not bipolar and accepts the notion that bordering types (for example, Realistic and Investigative) share some characteristics. If I can’t tell for certain whether my beanbag fell in the Realistic of Investigative square, I probably would not err greatly by favoring occupations coded RI, IR, or even just R or I.

But the really big mistake would be to rely solely on the assessment, whatever its rationale. Here are some other indicators of your interests and preferences that you should consider:
  • In what school subjects did I get the most enjoyment and the best grades?
  • What activities am I reluctant to drop at dinnertime?
  • What are my favorite sections of the newspaper or of news websites?
  • At a party, what kind of people would I be able to sustain a conversation with?
  • If you could meet the world’s greatest ____________ and get that person to share his or her secrets of success, what field would that person’s achievement be in? (Romance doesn’t count.)
Still another indicator is the opinion of a family member or of a friend who knows you very well. Explain the concepts that the assessment is designed to measure and ask this person which characteristics describe you best.

Making decisions is hard. People naturally tend to seek the quickest and easiest way to decide between x and y. This is one reason why people often perceive an assessment as the beginning and ending of the decision-making process. Instead, use an assessment as the start of a gradual process of self-discovery.

Women Truckers and Sexual Harassment in the Trucking Industry

Thursday, September 8, 2011 0 comments
Women considering becoming commercial truck drivers often ask if there is sexual harassment in the trucking industry. The short answer is yes. However, sexual harassment is present in most industries. The trucking industry is unique in that it is primarily a male dominated industry. Women drivers are a minority in the trucking industry although their numbers are increasing. Currently, approximately five percent of the CDL drivers in the United States are women.

Women are more vulnerable to sexual harassment than their male counterparts. Women truckers may encounter situations at truckstop lounges, restaurants or other public places which make them uncomfortable. This may be simply other drivers talking loud, making jokes of a sexual nature or other inappropriate comments to female drivers. Even if you carry yourself in a professional manner you may still encounter situations like these as some point in your career. These types of situations in public places may not change. However, women can simply leave these areas upon the completion of their business.

The more serious concern is the possibility of sexual harassment in the workplace. New female drivers when initially hired by a trucking company are often paired with male trainers as there are not enough female trainers available. These drivers will be together 24 hours per day for possibly two consecutive weeks or longer. If the trainer makes inappropriate comments or suggestions to the female driver this will be at the very least an uncomfortable situation for the female.

Sexual harassment can be in different forms, but the conduct of the harasser must be either severe or it must be pervasive to be considered sexual harassment. Someone simply asking another for a date is not sexual harassment. Types of unwanted behavior considered sexual harassment include:

Verbal which can include repeatedly asking someone for a date who is not interested. It can also include making inappropriate jokes or sexual comments or about a person's body, requesting sexual favors, making cat calls, talking about sexual fantasies, etc.

Physical which can be any unwelcome, inappropriate touching of a person's body. This includes activities such as unwanted kissing, hugging, touching a person's intimate areas or impeding or blocking a person's movement, Assault, sexual battery or rape are criminal offenses.

Nonverbal which can can be looking up and down a person's body, a leer with indecent overtone, making facial expressions of a sexual nature, or desire noted by hands, lips, body, etc.

To protect yourself, clearly say "NO" to any offensive behavior. Also write down and report any incidents to your superiors so that appropriate action can be taken against the perpetrator. Trucking companies actively seek out female workers and want to retain them. Employers value their workers and are required by law to provide safe working conditions for them.

Manufacturing and the German Model

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 0 comments
I’m writing this blog two days after Labor Day and one day before President Obama’s job-focused speech to a joint session of Congress, so I’m thinking a lot about the problem of high unemployment and underemployment. But the job-related story that caught my eye in today’s paper was the obituary of someone you’ve probably never heard of: Keith Tantlinger.

Tantlinger, who died on August 27 at age 92, was the engineer who designed the modern shipping container in the 1950s. His crucial innovation was a locking mechanism on the corners of the containers that allowed them to be stacked on ships, trains, and trucks. He also designed the corners to be easily grasped by cranes. I once watched a ship being loaded in the port of Hamilton, Bermuda, and marveled at the way the containers were being piled high on the deck rather than just being lowered into the hold, as I thought cargo was supposed to be stowed.

So what did this innovation have to do with jobs? It drastically reduced the costs of shipping goods by simplifying the process of transferring the goods from one carrier to another. Specifically, it reduced the costs of labor, damage, and pilferage. Cheaper shipping made it possible for us to stock our WalMarts with Chinese-manufactured goods and thus was one of the key factors causing the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States. In 1969, about one-quarter of U.S. jobs were in manufacturing, but that number is now down at around 9 percent. It contributes to about 11 percent of our economy now.

But it’s important to understand that manufacturing doesn’t have to be a dead industry in the United States. In Germany, it accounts for about 25 percent of the economy and helps Germany’s keep trade balance second only to China’s. What can explain the difference?

One factor is the German emphasis on vocational education, including widespread apprenticeship, even for white-collar jobs.

Another is Kurzarbeit, which allows companies to cut workers’ hours while keeping them on the payroll, with the government making up a portion of the lost wages. Companies thus don’t lose their skilled workers during temporary downturns, and employees don’t lose good work habits and their relationships with bosses and coworkers.

Still another factor is the German banking system, which includes Sparkasse banks owned by local governments rather than private investors and functioning like savings and loans to provide funding for local businesses and homeowners. Their high collateral requirements (at least 20 percent for a mortgage) prevented these banks from engaging in the risky home loans that American lending institutions still have not recovered from.

Perhaps most intriguing of all is the role of workers in the management of German companies. This takes three forms. First, unionization is high, at about 20 percent, compared to our rate of less than 7 percent. Labor unions in Germany tend to influence policy at the industrywide level. At individual worksites, workers influence decisions about wages, hiring, and work conditions through “works councils,” which consist of employees (not necessarily union members) elected for four-year terms. Finally, under the policy of codetermination (Mitbestimmungs), corporate boards are required to include representatives of workers as well as representatives of shareholders. At corporations with 500 to 2000 employees, one-third of the board represents the workers; at larger companies, it’s half of the board.

Although low-skill American manufacturing jobs continue to be lost to overseas workers, advanced manufacturing processes are creating high-skill jobs. I detail some of these jobs in 200 Best Jobs for Renewing America. But manufacturing could regain even more of its lost role in our economy if we borrowed some ideas from the German model.

Making The Career Change to Pharmaceutical Selling

Friday, September 2, 2011 0 comments
The healthcare industry, which includes the pharmaceutical industry, is considered a lucrative business sector judging from the companies' turnover that directly involve in it. There are many factors that drive this industry and without a doubt, solid marketing and selling play a part in driving the whole industry to such height.

Many job seekers started to recognize the handsome payoff that is available through pharmaceutical companies and eager to get their hands on one. It was reported that some pharmaceutical companies can offer as high as six figures income in form of basic pay and total remuneration for a representative.

If the basic pay and other perks are not enough to lure job seekers, the flexibility of time will always nail them to look for a jobs opportunity as a pharmaceutical sales representative. If you are currently thinking to jump to a better career path then perhaps, selling for a pharmaceutical company is worth the consideration.

To begin with, you want to get yourself educated about what the career entails. You can learn from various sources especially in this digital age where everything seems to be just a click away. You can read and listen to the selling best practices. If you like, you can follow what is going on in the industry through social media platform.

When you equip yourself with relevant information about the pharmaceutical industry, it is hard for potential employers not to pay attention to you during a recruitment process. It is a fact that a pharmaceutical sales career is high in demand and that also means fierce competition. Extra preparation will go a long way. There are veterans in this industry who took the initiative to offer free consultation and advice online for potential candidates to get them over the hurdle of building a career.

On the Web, sales career in pharmaceutical industry guides, tips and advice come in various forms like e-Books, e-mail courses, downloadable portable document files, voice recordings and videos. These materials
cover topics relevant to the career such as how to write resumes, personality test and many others. Some providers will go to the extent of doing two-ways phone calls to practice the materials.

Becoming familiar with the information on pharmaceutical industry is a good start, and while you are at it, consider surrounding yourself with people in the industry to make you more adaptable. Perhaps you can start with the local healthcare provider and get their contact. You can also visit places where these people might hang around. Maybe you already knew some of them which can speed up the whole process. The bottom line is to get to know the people and become familiar with their language and styles. Who knows, they might be the door to your next job opening.

Once you have become familiar with pharmaceutical industry and get to know its people who are making careers selling its product, you can measure whether you are fit or not to join in. Most importantly, do you have what it takes to take up the career? The answer to this question might find its way deep into your attitude and mindset. A selling expert once said, "Your attitude will determine your altitude." Enough evidence has shown that great sales performers are made, not born. The competencies that people need to succeed can be nurtured through training but the person themselves must be willing to be trained.

A good pharmaceutical sales rep is consistently self-motivated. The drive for him or her to reach greater height in the career comes from inside-out and not the other way around. Selling itself is a taxing job and for weak souls, throwing in the towel before the bell is an easy option. If they were asked afterwards why they did that, invariably the answers will be, "We are not cut for it." It is true that no one is cut for any given job for that matter and that include the current job one is in.