Exit Interviews : Do not Burn those bridges

Burning Bridges

There is quite divergent piece of advice with regard to burning your bridges as in when you are exiting your current firm.

Lets first look at the issue of exit interviews.

If you have decided to leave your firm for better opportunities – you might be filled with a desire to let it loose, give it back to them.  Now that you are free from the shackles of the current employer  – there is nothing to lose.

My suggestion to you would be to hold your horses.

Avoid doing or saying anything that you might live to regret.

You never know when the tables might turn.

Recently one of my candidates interviewed with a client. The candidate a senior professional had a difference of opinion with his current CEO but had his paths covered or so he thought. He had a good reference from the managing director of the current firm and a few other referrals from the earlier organisations. The interview went off well. Turned out the CEO of the firm he was interviewing with and his current CEO were class mates.

This is a true story which is currently playing out. The reason I share it is because you don’t know who is going to be connected with whom and you end up regretting some act.

Moral when you are leaving an organisation don’t burn your bridges.

This advice is especially relevant for employees early in their careers. Generally we see that by the time you are in the 30-35 year bracket you have matured enough and realise the importance of maintaining these weak relationships.

What you need to remember is that you are not required to cozy up to your boss and the current employees with whom you may not be having a great relationship. But Maintain a polite , civil relationship, spleen venting can be done in the confines of your room or over a beer with a very close friend . Not with your boss or your boss’s boss or your HR. Definitely not the HR.

An HR manager doesn’t want to hear, during your exit interview, that you think your manager was a jerk. While it may be irresistible to use the meeting to unload, once you’ve made the decision to leave an employer, airing your gripes won’t do you any good. Your time to talk about concerns was while you were employed. Vent ahead of time, not during the interview.

Many reasons. Mainly the HR has its job cutout. They have to maintain peace and harmony. They have to manage the egos. And in the pecking order of things – your Boss is likely to have a greater say on matters. He might have more experience, more knowledge on the subject, better qualified or maybe just closer to the leadership. So your sabre rattling is only going to show you in a bad light.

So however piqued you are about your work and the current state of affairs – make your departure pleasant so that when you meet the people again in a business setting you are able to maintain a pleasant conversation.

One way to prevent any frustrations from boiling over during the interview is to vent it out before. Write down a no holds barred letter to the soon to be former Boss, detailing out every thing that you felt disgruntled about and that contributed to your decision to move on. Don’t post the letter. Save it for later reading. That will help in having a non-emotional exit. You could even frame your opinions in a way that shows that you are thinking of the best for the company.

Exit with grace by focusing on the positive. Criticism is not easy to accept especially not from a person who decided to move on. If you do not like a situation the easiest option is to vent out. The more rewarding option is to give feedback in a non-emotional way.

Companies do want to improve – they are aware that excessive turnover is not good for them. But companies being what they are corrections take a while coming. The likelihood of improvement or positive change is higher if the employees presents his feedback in a non emotional, professional manner.

From a professional perspective workplace relationships are unique and have huge implications for the individuals in the relationship. It does’nt require an Eintenien intelligence to realize that workplace relationships directly affect the employees ability to succeed. The times of exit, the times when you are about to leave an organisation, can throw up moments, tempting, enticing moments to act in a manner that jeopardizes these relationships forever. Keeping that natural human tendency in check has a huge upward impact potential for your professional life.

 Prakash Francis is a Talent expert based in Bangalore.

 

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The Secret to a Great First Impression

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

First impressions are not about you!

They are about the person you are trying to engage with.

And as to the question  ” How to make a great First first impression?” the Best response is “Don’t try to impress.”

Engage the person and get interested in him/her.

Trying to impress will get you the opposite result of what you desire.

When we go to social events we come across some people who appear fake. These people are worried about impressing you rather than being genuinely interested in you. It is a turn-off.

On the other hand, what about people we do like. People whom we like to speak to, to engage with? What is it about these people that we get impressed with?

In my opinion, it has a lot to do with being natural, being comfortable in our own skin. Being genuine.

Broadly the traits that lead us to get impressed can be classified into two categories :

  1. Non Verbal
  2. Verbal

These two aspects form the microcosm of our impact on people when we meet them for the first time.

Non Verbal

The cornerstones of good Non-Verbal engagement are –

Eye-contact

They say Eye contact begets eye contact. Typically people are comfortable in holding our gaze for 2-3 seconds but with mutual consent this gaze gets prolonged. Scientifically it is proven that there is a neurological connect, during good eye contact, ( activation of mirror neurons), which creates a bond. This ability to maintain a good eye contact has a huge impact on how we are perceived by others. Good eye contact paves the way for the next key factor of Non Verbal impact The smile.

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Smile

The transition from an eye-contact to a smile takes just a few milli-seconds. First the eye contact , followed by a smile then perhaps an imperceptible nod. The smile here refers to a “genuine” smile. A smile that involves all the muscles around the mouth and the eye. Infact scientists even have a name for this smile , it is called the ” Duchenne” smile after the neurologist who goes by the same name.

Both eye contact and the smile do not involve a tactile touch. The next cornerstone of non Verbal engagement involves a physical touch, that is the Handshake.

Handshake

The rules for a good handshake are simple. A firm clasp, a gentle shake and a confident stance. The duration would not be more than 3-4 seconds. Again it is based on mutual consent. More than 6-7 seconds and things can get weird. Mentioning your name during the handshake leads to better name retention.

These are the fundamentals for good non – verbal engagement and this entire routine (Eye-contact , Smile and Handshake)would take less than 10 seconds. These 10 seconds pave the way for the next stage which is the “Conversation”.

Conversations are the “Building Blocks” of a relationship. Infact they are the life blood of healthy relationships. Business or personal. While the Eye-contact , Smile and the Handshake help in creating the initial “impression” it is the actual conversations that will determine what impression you leave the person with.

Having a good engaging conversation is not about being witty, or in cracking jokes. If it comes naturally to you well and good. Else stay clear. Don’t try to be funny.

Engaging in conversations is as simple as showing genuine interest in what the other person has to say and in response, sharing your thoughts in a positive, non-intrusive manner. It is all about giving the other person the “Gift of your Attention”.

There is a ton of literature online about how to become a good conversationalist. The advice revolves around asking questions, active listening, nodding your head appropriately etc. Perfect advice no doubt. But if it doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t do it. People see through the fake stuff. Often we fall into the trap of showing these outward signs of listening to the person, while actually we are thinking about what to say next. We get in to an auto mode. That ultimately kills conversations.

The key to good memorable conversations is to stay true to yourself and be genuinely interested in the other person. It is about how you make the other person feel. Because that is what they are going to remember. Nothing is worse than a person realizing that he was speaking to a wall.

Incase you are not interested in what he/she has to say – politely dis-engage. Move onto the person you find interesting to talk to.

Best way to get better at conversations is to have more of them.

I am reminded of an old story of a wise man named Chidananda.

Chidananda was a great writer and once he was called to speak about writing to a bunch of college students. He went on stage and asked “How many of you really want to be writers”?

All hands went up.

“In that case” he said “ I suggest you all must go home and write”

With that he left.

So, if you want to genuinely engage with people for the first time or the nth time – meet more people and start having more conversations.

I do the same.

Prakash Francis is a Talent Acquisition Expert based in Bangalore.    

 

 

 

Corporate Talent Networks

Social media has been a game changer in many ways – the most visible being in the reach it provides, the dynamic nature of its reach and the cost effectiveness.

When we talk about social media in Talent Acquisition – Linkedin is the most accepted site there is, for professional networking. But what next? what do you do with linkedin now that you have the ability to reach 1000’s of potential candidates. Reach does’nt equal the right person on board.

This is where engaging the potential candidate base takes precedence. The Corporate Talent Networks are sites that magnetically attract professionals having an interest in your product , service. It could be your own employees, vendors , customers or  any one in some way related to your firm or having an interest in it. CTN’s might form around a company facebook page or a Linkedin company page or a Blog where the topics revolve around a certain technology etc. These online Networks thrive through comments and discussion forums and are democratic. They are not controlled by any single corporation.

These networks can become a source for engaging with potential clients, vendors and employees. They are definitely not a place to post you job openings.

CORPORATE Talent Networks-Watering Holes

They are your watering holes where people with a thirst for a certain kind of knowledge congregate. The common thread would be a certain technology, service , a new process innovation.

Corporate Talent Networks are set to grow as the human need for sharing is paramount and now technology is making it easier to connect with like minded professionals.

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Workplace Relationships

Yesterday I was sitting with a few friends and the topic drifted to relationships at work. One of my friends, lets call him Prasad, mentioned that relationships at his office overtook performance. People who maintained good relationships with some key decision makers at his office managed to get away with huge bonuses at the end of the year(he comes from the Banking sector –so Bonuses are Huge).

Fact is that this is not only applicable in the Banking segment – it is the norm everywhere. In positions where performance of an individual can’t be pinned down to clearly measurable criteria – relationships take precedence in appraisals. Even in other positions like sales or Software development where the results are measurable – this might not have such a huge influence. Yet the ability to build and maintain relationships cannot be undermined.

Another friend who is in the sales line had this instance to share about the efficacy of building strong relationships.  It was one of the lean months and his collections fell drastically. He was facing intense pressure to show numbers. In desperate straits he approached one of his good clients and explained the situation to him. His client came to his help – made a cheque for 2 crores, off-course the whole thing was regularised later – with proper documentation.  But, my friend stressed that it was only his relationship with his client that helped him bail out of the tough situation.

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Though my sympathies are with Prasad as I know him to be very sincere and puts 100% to his job, my vote goes to the approach of my Sales friend. By building strong relationships he has stacked the deck in his favour.

My take on this situation is whatever position you be in – give 100% to your work but give an additional 25% to building and maintaining relationships at work and not only with your superiors.

So how does workplace relationships help us?

Well a simple reason is that without decent relationships the work itself can get boring. A friendly work environment will keep everyone happy to stick around.

Good workplace relationships does not mean having to give in to every demand from your co- workers. You have the choice how to balance the two demands – your family and that of your work.

The key to maintaining good work relationships lie in a few simple techniques.

a)     Maintain a Cordial Tone with all peers, superiors & subordinates

b)     Flexible Nature

c)      Offer to help

Cordial Tone : It is quite easy to maintain more than just a cordial tone with people whom  you like. The challenge is to maintain cordial relationships with people whom you don’t like. And invariably there will be people at office whom you don’t particularly look forward to meet. If you are able to master this ability you are half way to cementing your place in your office team. Combine it with good listening skills and you will become the go to guy for any office related advice.   

Stay Flexible

Stay flexible to the demands of your workplace, even if they appear to be unreasonable. Be willing to let go of your point of you at times and go with the team decision. This is a difficult advice to take. But pays huge dividends in terms of getting acceptance as a team player. Sticking to your guns over any issue or getting people to enrol to your point of view – doesn’t pass the team spirit test.

Offer to Help

Offer to help others when you have free time and you see they are overwhelmed or bogged down. Ask for help when you need it too. By admitting that you don’t know all the answers and need the expertise or support of your co-workers, you establish a foundation on which you can build respect, one of the main ingredients for good relationships. A co-worker asking for help when it is time to leave or the boss dumping something on Friday evening. Offering to be of help is one thing but being able to help when the other person needs you – really boosts up your ratings as a Mr dependable.

Whatever be the industry you are in – you are likely to be working with people. To be able to work easily with a range of people with different temperaments and different socio –cultural backgrounds will be a great asset to develop. 

Do you have any workplace stories to share – whether on relationships or otherwise. Mail me – prakash.francis@ehirings.net

The Art of Keeping the Doors Open-Mastering your Exit.

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There’s a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over – and to let go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its value. …..Ellen Goodman

When you Leave a job you end a contract – it need not be the end of relationships.

On average an employee stays 3-4 years in a job. This figure varies with industry and level. The inevitable fact remains that every professional has to leave a job at least once in his lifetime. Rushing out of your job in a disorganized manner effects your professional image. You end up letting go relationships with  coworkers and colleagues with whom you might have spent months if not years.

With a little foresight – you can ensure that no bridges are burnt.

Follow these Eight rules and you will exit happier and add to your relationships.

Keep the Key people informed

Resign in such a way that your Boss looks forward to your return. If you have decided to leave, inform your boss first hand and early. Let him/her not get the news from your co-worker or through the office grape wine. And the best way to inform him would be in a face to face meeting. This rule also applies to your mentor, your best friend at work and the person who hired you – these are relationships you want to cultivate. Inform them early about your exit in person and acknowledge their support.

Sufficient Notice

If you are in a large firm you will be required to give one months notice. But  smaller firms generally don’t enforce this rule. Nevertheless waking up one day and deciding to quit can be disconcerting to the team. Especially if you have been with the company for a sizable duration. Fulfill your obligations and ensure your handover is smooth.

Quitting by Mail/Phone

Quitting by these means is not advisable. Incase you have decided on such a course check out this link on how to go about it.

Ace the exit Interview

This is not the time to get even with colleagues and supervisors. Your exit interview will be typically conducted by junior HR folks.Avoid mentioning anything that might embarrass your boss. Contrary to claims of confidentially he is sure to know about the negative feedback you have given. And however insightful your feedback maybe – rest assured it is not going to be taken positively. So stay neutral. You could say that you appreciated the support of your colleagues and boss and be done with it.

Share Credit where due

All said and done there have been learning’s in your current job. Besides, your job has been a stepping stone to your offer. Hence it doesn’t hurt there to give credit where due. Infact if you are finding nothing to be grateful for atleast stay away from spewing negativity. Refer to the Rule  4.

Offer to find your replacement

Offering to find a replacement has multiple advantages. First – you smoothen your exit. You would not want your joining delayed by non availability of a suitable replacement.  Second, having a replacement from your existing network will ensure that you leave the door open for – comebacks.

Send a Thank you note

Send a thank you note to your superiors with whom you were in contact with specific mention of how they added value to your career. This note has to be separate from your resignation letter.

Stay in touch

Stay in touch with your ex colleagues though not too frequently.  Staying in contact through linkedin would be ideal. It is not invasive, at the same time you can be tuned in on the happenings at your Alumnus. You never know when a suitable position might come up  – and your ex – employers might decide on a known devil.

These simple rules work for both permanent and contractual positions. Key point to remember is that careers progression rests on good relationships.

Wish you a Happy Ending !!!

 

Sharpening The Networking “Saw”

I am basically an introverted person. Interacting with strangers used to give me the shiver. But, considering the nature of my business and being an Business Owner this is one skill which I cant help without and neither can you if you are keen on career mobility.

Here are a few Tips to becoming a better Networker:

Craft Your Story: 

You create a story when you say something unique. It could be a unique profession, a way unique your name is spelt- it could be anything. The idea is that your story should be easy to remember.  That’s all that is there. Each one of us is unique in someway. But in the process of keeping up with our peers we end up copying them totally and seem to forget our uniqueness.

As a starting point, you may like to consider the following questions:

  • What is something I do that very few other people do?
  • What is something about me that people usually find interesting and ask further questions about?
  • What is something that is likely to make me memorable?

And keep the story flexible depending on the audience. Talk kids when with a women with children. Talk out doors If with an athletic looking guy in the 30-40.

Common Points of Interest

This is an extension of the previous point. Kind of like In Rome do as the Romans do. Your unique story of your hobby of wildlife photography is not likely to fetch interest if the other person doesn’t find it so. So look for common points of interest.

Never Eat alone

This sounds like overkill. But, the point is , lunching with someone is a good way to get a conversation going for a period of time and good things can come of it. If you decide to have lunch with one new person every month – its going to make a great difference to your network.

Take the initiative 

Personally I find this to be the toughest part. Given a choice I would rather wait for someone to talk to me rather than take the initiative – but , so is most everyone. So doing the opposite pays. And if like me you feel shy talking to strangers you could check this post. 

Keep in Contact

After you have taken the initiative , overcome your shyness , and initiated contact – you need to maintain the contact. This is pure Grunt work if I may say so and a lot of people miss out here. unlike the thrill and subsequent euphoria of making contact with strangers – keeping in contact doesn’t require great effort – but it does require consistent effort. All you need to do is drop a one liner every once a month or share something interesting. In the case of later – Make it personal and do not overdo.

Nurturing your Network

When we think of our Professional Network – what comes to mind is our colleagues of the current and previous companies and maybe some alumni.

But your Professional Network need not be limited by them. Research has shown that one can develop mutually beneficial business contacts with people whom we might have met just once and maintain contact maybe couple of times in a year.

These are typically the Weak ties which bear fruit. Maybe not directly but over a period of time. And the best part is for that to happen you don’t need to put much effort.

here is a very interesting post by Sid Savara about his experiments in Networking especially using social Media. a lot of Simple take aways.