A Manager's Worst Nightmare

A manager’s worst nightmare.
8 Ways To Reduce Employee Turnover

Your top-performing employee asks to talk with you, and after exchanging a few pleasantries, she lets the news drop: “I’m putting in my two-weeks notice.”

That’s when your mind fills with questions. How did this happen? Is this my fault? Who else is leaving? Is there anything we could have done to prevent this?

It takes so much time and effort to recruit, interview, hire, and onboard a new employee, it is critically important to build an organization that is optimized for keeping people on the team for the long haul.

So, how can this be done? Let’s take a look at some proven ways to reduce employee turnover.

1. Involve Employees in Key Decisions
Are you thinking about rebranding the company? Are you contemplating moving offices? Are you doing something as simple as changing the brand of coffee in the kitchen?

Giving employees a chance to buy into changes and share their thoughts on pending decisions can create a strong and positive link between the team and the organization. Of course, not all employees can (or should!) partake in every major business decision. But there are many opportunities, large and small, to request employee feedback, suggestions, votes, and ideas.

This is especially true for daily interactions. The more frequently an employee comes into contact with something, the more important it is that they are able to weigh in on the outcome. How about helping select their very own coworkers? Enacting an employee referral system has many positive benefits for your company.

So, next time you are thinking about making a change, no matter how small, be sure to get your team's feedback!

2. Allow for Remote Work
More and more businesses are allowing employees to work from home or other locations. By providing your team with additional flexibility, they're able to more effectively manage their work-life balance and ensure that no matter what is going on with their lives — personal issues, relationship changes, family obligations, a disdain for rush hour traffic, etc. — they will be better able to deliver results and support the organization.

Granted, remote work doesn’t make sense for every business. Sometimes, employees have to be in same location, either in the the office or at client sites. But when possible, remote work should be seen as a positive.

There are dozens of apps and new(ish) technologies that make remote work easier than ever. And if you're looking to hire and retain your millennial employees, then it's likely you'll need to cater to their every whim and need. Just kidding! 🙂 But you will need a remote work policy.

3. Reward Performance
If someone is doing exceptional work, let them know. Let the team know. Let their boss know. Sharing positive feedback on a regular basis is one of the most effective ways to keep employees happy, engaged, and on the team.

Set aside a budget each quarter for ad hoc compensation for employees who are outperforming. It doesn't have to be much: coffee gift cards, lunches, perhaps a decent bottle of whiskey. But what matters most is that employees are recognized for their exceptional efforts.

Of course, if someone is really crushing it, then yes, they deserve a much larger reward. During your next one-on-one meeting, give them a spot bonus — a real one — and both you and the employee will win.

4. Provide a Career Path
Some employees leave because they don’t believe in the organization’s vision. Others depart for greater pay, greater flexibility, or greater opportunities to grow. This type of employee turnover — when talented, driven employees leave to take on roles with greater responsibility — can be reduced by providing a clear path to internal growth.

This can present itself in a number of ways: on-the-job training, third-party education, internal management courses, or even opportunities to attend industry conferences and seminars.

For enterprise businesses, another strategy is to be transparent with the organizational structure and share current and future open positions with your team. Through this, you can provide a literal path toward management roles for those individuals in your organization who have the will, effort, and skills to move upward.

5. Make Work Fun
This is easier said than done. Yes, happy hours, coffee meetings, and team lunches are all decent ways to get the team to interact with one another and have a good time.

But these are one-off events. It’s much more effective to make work itself fun. If you create a culture that cares about employee satisfaction and builds a truly positive workplace, your team is much more likely to stay on board through personal, professional, and financial challenges.

Granted, not everything can — or should — be fun. Some organizations are less capable of having a “fun” workplace than others.

Another tactic is to simply ask your employees what activities they’d like to do. Perhaps it’s chocolate taste testing or something ridiculous like laser tag. Maybe your team wants to volunteer for a cause they believe in or spend the day playing mini golf. But until you ask them, you just won’t know.

6. Hold Weekly 1:1 Meetings
Weekly one-on-one meetings are one of the most effective ways to get a better understanding of how your employees are doing — personally, professionally, and in relation to your department and company. By spending 30-60 minutes each week with your direct reports, you have the opportunity to learn not only how well they are progressing in terms of delivering on work, but also how they are feeling.

One-on-one meetings also provide an opportunity to mentor your team and help set them up for success.

Meeting Date
Review Last Week
New Topics to Discuss
Action Items
Here's a sample outline for a weekly 1:1. (It's intentionally simple! That's because you want to spend the meeting in conversation, rather than staring at a computer and taking a bunch of notes.)

7. Manage Employee Workloads
When employees are working 60+ hour weeks, spending weekends on their computer, or ordering dinner in the office because it’s another late evening on deadline, there is always one group who is blamed: management.

If you want to keep your employees on your team, you have to understand who is available to take on additional work and how much time employees are spending on various projects.

No, resource planning is not particularly fun, but it’s the most simple and straightforward way to ensure workloads are properly distributed. And by gaining visibility into employee time, you’re able to predict hiring and contracting needs far ahead of time — making it much less likely your team will need to pull an all nighter or work through the weekend.

8. Conduct Exit Interviews
No matter how effective you are at reducing employee turnover, people are going to leave. Families will move cities. Recruiters will knock on the door of your top talent. Sometimes, it’s just time to move on.

But a departing employee is also an opportunity: You can learn what your now-former colleague truly thinks about the company, the management team, the product, the culture, etc.

This feedback is invaluable and should be shared (when possible) with other managers and team members who are working to improve employee engagement — or really any aspect of the business that affects the larger team.

Turnover Does Not Have To Be Inevitable

Unemployment is now at 4.3%.
More businesses are planning to hire.
Your staff begins to get those calls. You know which calls I mean – the ones from recruiters.

Managers and executives have to face a fear that they have been procrastinating for some time, the moment they realized that they aren’t ready for any upturn in economic activity.

As unemployment lowers, this is great news for the economy. It also presents more challenges for executives and management who are trying to surface, hire and retain great people.

As little as one person leaving your company could have crippling effects in revenue and product innovation.
Is your staff getting calls from recruiters yet? Those calls should be a good sign for you. They are a sign that the economy really is growing. However, turnover does not have to be inevitable. Beyond their relationship with their managers, how employees perceive the senior leadership of your company and the support you give them, may determine whether they take those recruiters’ calls or don’t.

If you think of your company as a Vehicle, imagine that your employees are the engine. As the leader, you are the ECU that keeps the engine running efficiently. As production ramps up, your vehicle needs to kick into high gear and sustain it for a long period of time as more orders have to be filled. While this new pace in our economy is energizing over the last few years of sluggishness, management needs to ask itself, “How can our leaders make the difference between sluggish and high performance?”

Evidence continues to mount linking engagement with productivity and because business is steadily improving, ensuring your workforce is fully engaged is critical to your firm’s success.  Human resources are warning operating executives of potentially crippling turnover ahead if management does not get out in front of the issue now.

“Employee engagement” was defined in a 2008 Global workforce study by Tower-Watson as “the level of connection employees feel with their employers as measured by their willingness to help their company succeed”. Research shows that employees will go above and beyond for an employer they feel a personal connection with. It is this heightened level of communication that an employer should look for to harness in its teams. If your executive management team consistently works to foster high engagement, its employee will reward it with their best efforts each and every day. Conversely, if employees get the message that they are not valued, engagement wanes and along with it – productivity.

So how critical is it to power your people to produce at their best?  One in five workers admits to giving their full discretionary effort on the job according to The Conference Board’s 2010 study on Job Satisfaction. It also showed that fifty five percent (55%) of US workers are unhappy with their jobs – the highest since the annual survey began in 1987.  One third of employees are seriously considering leaving their jobs according to a poll by HR consultants Mercer, LLC. Unhappy employees are likely to produce much less, opting instead to spend work time searching job boards, playing games on Facebook, and shopping on-line. So not only should management be concerned about productivity decline but  also be concerned about disengaged employees who have mentally “checked out” and warming a valuable seat in the office costing you revenue --pure and simple. In fact, the Gallup Organization estimates that “actively disengaged” workers cost US businesses up to $300 Billion per year.

Maybe you are reading this and saying to yourself “my people are engaged, operating fully charged”. Before you dismiss the premise, understand that disengaged employees are hard to spot. With company consolidations, mergers and acquisitions, and automation  being high, people remain fearful for their jobs so it is more likely that someone who is not committed to the company is hiding their dissatisfaction from management. After all, who wants to lose their job because they complain? So they show up, but not really there, thus produce very little.

Historically, as business begins to improve coming out of slow economic growth, companies find they are less and less able to sustain productivity and are forced to hire. When that happens, unemployment declines and workers start to have choices again. That spells serious trouble for business managers and executives who have ignored the welfare of their workforce during slow times as key people leave for greener pastures. You may have already seen it starting to happen with sales and business development people in the industry. If you haven’t, now is the time to get involved with your subordinates’ success.

Here are some strategies to drive productivity and to mitigate employee defection to your competitors:

Be visible in the field regularly
In clients I have worked with, I noticed that top executives and managers do not isolate themselves. They practiced Management By Walking Around. Immersing yourself among all your people and investing your time strolling around the manufacturing floor and communicating with the lowest man on the ladder will give you valuable information and a tremendous return of investment. 

How many presidents know the first name of their machine operators or maintenance manager? Just by knowing someone’s first name and acknowledging him in his workplace bring a phenomenal engagement and loyalty.  Studies show that employees who perceive that their big boss really identifies with their day to day challenges and is working to alleviate them will reward the company with full engagement and high productivity in return.

Strive for excellence, not perfection
Capitalize on what employees are best at. Concentrating on the capabilities of individual workers and making them partners in setting goals motivate people to strive for optimal performance in their greatest area of strengths.

Do not focus on what they cannot do, but rather ask them what they can commit to. When employees work hard at what they are best at, the result is higher quality to the client.

Trust + Fun = results
In these times of layoffs, it may seem hard for employees to trust management. That mistrust is quite evident – just open any newspaper and you will see. As the manager, you need to find ways to build that level of trust. Once employees see that you “have their backs” they will begin to put out more for you. One thing you can do is to encourage employees to step out on the edge – to feel free to make mistakes. It is how people learn. If something goes wrong, sit down and talk about what the employee’s intent was and how the outcome could be achieved by using an alternate approach.

Another way to grow trust is informal recognition. People thrive on recognition. The more you can sincerely recognize people, especially in front of peers, the more trust and productivity you will earn. Involving your team in local community events such as the annual bath tub races or working together on a corporate float for the local parade gives employees an opportunity to disengage from the stress of the office and have a good time together.

With employee disengagement at an all time high while the demands for productivity are ever increasing, it is more important now more than ever for executives and managers to take on personal responsibility for the productivity of the company’s workforce.  Take action to implement strategies to consistently demonstrate that you understand and are responsive to the challenges of those on your team.  Recognize and celebrate the individual strengths of each contributor, create an environment of trust, and make work more fun.  Remember, your people are just one recruiter’s call away.

-          Gary Perman

Gary Perman is past Chair of IEEE – Oregon Section and member of IEEE TEMS. He is also President of PermanTech and an expert in headhunting critical talent since 1996.
His focus is in recruiting engineering and management professionals within emerging vehicle technology companies; Commercial ground transportation, Alt Fuel, ITS.


Five Characteristics of a Great Manager

A company that does not appreciate the value of employing great managers will pay the price down the road. That price can ultimately result in going out of business. Managers impact the bottom line for better or for worse. They have a direct impact on the success of a business in a myriad of ways. One example is employee turnover which has ruined many a company over the years.
Consider the following characteristics when hiring or evaluating a manager:
It may seem cliché but great managers are results-oriented. They motivate and support employees to reach the company’s objectives. Being results-oriented motivates and focuses both the manager and the team members.
Effective Decision-Making

Effective decision-making is the process in which managers select the best alternatives and implement them to achieve organizational goals and objectives.
“Effective decisions result from a systematic process, with clearly defined elements, that is handled in a distinct sequence of steps”. [Drucker]

Top managers concentrate on what is important. They then make an informed decision with the highest level of conceptual understanding.
Strong managers add value to the overall operational activities of the organization. The ability to delegate roles and responsibilities among team members per their skills is an important quality of a great manager. They must be able to delegate day-to-day business tasks to make better use of their time.
Delegating effectively will significantly contribute to the growth and development of an organization by creating more productive teams. Managers assess the time and resources of their teams. They motivate and empower team members by giving them additional responsibilities and by holding them accountable.
Great managers understand the strengths and weaknesses of each subordinate and capitalize on their skills. They find ways to circumvent their weaknesses by elevating and elevating and enhance the team members’ required skills. This is accomplished by conducting training including workshops and by delegating new challenging tasks to those individuals.

·         Communication

The best managers are excellent communicators. This sets the direction for the team. They also include their team members in the decision-making process. This inclusiveness builds both individual and team morale. It also enables the manager to make better decisions based on a broader pool of possible solutions. 

·         Leadership

Finally, great managers must have leadership skills. It is imperative for managers to direct, motivate and lead a team in order to enhance their performance and success. Strong leadership requires drive, focus, authenticity and excellent communication.


Managers who possess these five top characteristics will prove to be an essential element of a profitable company and are not to be taken for granted. To successfully hire a great manager, you must assess the knowledge, skills, experience and personality of the candidate based on the above five characteristics.


What Makes a Great Engineering Culture?

The benefits of a great engineering culture breed great bottom lines. If that isn’t enough to impress the importance of fostering and developing a great engineering culture within your company, also consider; increased product development, and engineer retention. Happy, challenged engineers stay on your team. Here are some successful methods to improve your engineering culture and affect your bottom line.

1. Recognize where you are right now.
Some say making a great engineering culture starts with hiring, but what if you have an existing team and just want to make it a better team? What if it’s a dysfunctional team and your need to make major changes? Take an inventory of your team and processes. Determining what is working, and what isn’t, becomes the first priority.

2.  Have well defined Objectives.
“The development of a successful engineering team starts with well-defined objectives and full commitment of the upper management” says Antonio Reis former VP of International Battery.
“In the process to assemble or structure an engineering team, I always consider good knowledge in at least one key subject related to the objectives/project requirements, adequate experience and complimentary to others.
Engineering teams where individuals complement each other create better working environments and performance. A mechanical design engineer with insight on ergonomics can indirectly complement the industrial/manufacturing engineers. A quality engineer with risk analyzes expertise can contribute to the change management early in the design change process. A software engineer with decent CAD & markup skills compliments the machine design and process documentation”.

3. Create a development friendly, non-Dilbert like setting. One of the most common reasons engineers leave their current companies is because they sit in a cubicle doing the same thing day after day. They are unchallenged and they never see the project they are working on from start to finish.
Engineers, especially product developers thrive in a unique, creative environment where they can be intellectually stimulated to create or problem solve.  I don’t advocate an engineering environment has to look like romper room or resemble a playground with, medicine balls, and posters of ’80s metal bands throughout the office.

4. Stimulate creativity and passion. “…, any technical challenge requires large doses of creativity which, in my opinion, constitutes the core value of a Great Engineering Culture. says Marco Genova, VP Engineering at LandiUSA.   “ When you think of creativity, you think the world of music, painting, art in general. Basically, you think at the in-depth study of theory and practice of a particular profession. Creativity is nothing magical or artistic but rather is the ability to go into the details of each element of a problem and, at the same time, to have a view from above which allows seeing the whole picture. “ 
Make sure your engineers are allowed to bring their creativity and imagination to the work they do. Reward them for individual innovation and achievements. Don’t create an overly competitive atmosphere, but spotlight great work whenever possible.

5. Make logic-driven decisions. It might be a generalization, but engineers tend to be logic-driven people. When we’re given a directive, we want to be sure it’s based on logic and (if possible) supported by data. If people from other departments (business development, marketing) are making wish lists or demands that will affect an engineer’s workload, make sure they’re supported by logic and facts, not just blind estimates and “gut-feelings.” Many an engineer has worked long hours only to find out that their work was low priority, or worse, unnecessary, due to somebody’s “gut feelings.” That’s what engineers call a “punch in the gut.”

6. Hiring. It is important to hire great people, yet they don’t all have to be “superstar” engineers.  Some say – “only hire the Best” and avoid “B” level engineers. Yet, I’ve seen many “B” level engineers become “A” level with the right attitude, desire and mentoring by their manager. It’s the unmanageable, the arrogant attitude, the “know –it-all” that thinks he/she knows everything and is closed minded to new ways, new ideas, new process, that are detrimental to a great team. When hiring, once you’ve determined technical skills, look for behavior, attitude. Interview using good behavioural question relevant to your team and desired culture. Some managers use behavioural assessments such as DISC as a tool to help in their decision making.  Always check references and talk with former supervisors and co-workers to confirm their answers as well.

In the next issue: common denominators that permeate throughout a great engineering team

More information: receive your free white paper “ How to Develop Dynamic Cultures in your Company”


3.5 Tips for Technology Pro’s Who HATE Social Events

3.5 Tips for Technology Pro’s Who HATE Social Events

by Gary Perman

"Hello, I'm Gary Perman. I'm a headhunter; an industry insider in the field of Technology. Transportation and Electronic related companies hire me to find their next executive, manager, salesman or engineer."

            November and December are times filled with holiday joys, magic, gift giving, family, counting our blessings, good times…..AND STRESS.  We are expected to attend holiday “functions”  such as company parties, trade association dinners, or worse—our spouses events where we know absolutely NO ONE. For those of us who are not Type A personalities, this time of year can be grueling – the social pressures to interact with people when we’d rather be innovating, tinkering in our basements or getting “away” from work for a little R&R.
Personally I am much more comfortable behind a phone and a computer than meeting new people face-to-face. Perhaps you are more comfortable innovating new products and solving problems? Yet face-to-face interaction is essential today and the holiday time provides a great opportunity to do this plus save your relationship with your significant other.

Most engineering types I know share a common dislike for social interaction. Really though, it is not so much "dislike" as it is fear. Remember high school? Getting up the nerve to ask someone to a dance? Or standing in line during P.E. waiting to see who picks you for their team? That is the same kind of fear that many of us carry with us as we approach a social event. Well this isn't high school; it is real life and your career (not to mention your relationship with a significant other) depends on social interaction.
            I've read the networking books, attended workshops, and asked a lot of people who are good at social interaction to share their secrets. I have collected traits and practices that have made me better at social interaction. I still face those initial jitters during the first moments at the registration table, but now they dissipate with the first handshake. Not all the way, but dissipate a great deal.  I am here to tell you that you don't have to be a master at social situations or have a "Type A" personality to succeed. All it takes is a little planning and some strategy, and after all, isn't that what engineering types do best anyway?

Tip #1    Have A Plan
            When I attend an event, I typically plan to meet one to three people whom I have picked out in advance. If they are not there or not available, I have a backup plan. I pick a number of new people I want to meet, usually five to ten. My goal is to ask them two questions, and swap cards with them. Once I have reached my goal, I am off the hook. I can go home, see a movie, or catch the end of the game at the bar. I have set a goal and reached it. Social interaction events are not a prison sentence if you don't make them one.
            Kathy Condon, author of, "It Doesn't Hurt to Ask," has some great social interaction and advice on the subject. She is a consummate networker and lives by what she teaches. One of the best tips I ever learned was from her many years ago: When you first enter a room, step to the side and assess the room and the people in it. Look for the person who is standing alone. That is target number one. Most likely, that person would love to talk with someone. Personally I have met some of my best contacts that way; people who have turned out to be executives and engineering leaders.  Some of them are just not very good at schmoozing, but get them one-on-one and they will talk your ears off!  

Tip #2  It’s Not All About You

            Keith Ferrazzi made this important point in his book, "Never Eat Alone." When it comes to social interaction, it's not about you. When you spend time meeting people, try and see if there is a way that you can be of help to them. Putting this priority first in your mind makes social interaction easier. Why? You might not be a great networker, but you are a great problem solver. If you can help someone else with an issue, solve a problem, generate an idea, or make a contact, you are working in the sweet spot of your skill set. Not only will you help someone else, but along the way good things will happen to you, too.

Tip # 3  Ask Good Questions
            Get to know people by asking good questions. Boring questions get boring answers. "What do you do?," "Tell me about your company," and "How long have you been with ... ?" are all examples of typical openers that get typical results. They are boring and the answer usually involves the other person looking over your shoulder in hopes of finding a more interesting person to talk to. Instead, try these questions (it is okay to write them down and carry them in your pocket):

            [  ] "What business problem does your company solve?" Follow up with, "How are you doing that?"

            [  ] "What has been the biggest win for you (or your company) in the last six months?" Follow up with, "What do you think it will be in the next six months?"

            [  ] "What is the most interesting initiative you have planned at your company this year?" Follow up with, "How will that change your company?"

            [  ] "Do you know anyone who might be able to help me…?"  Ask for names of people who might be able to help you find the person you are looking for, or solve a problem you are dealing with.

            "My favorite approach," says Kathy Condon, is to, "walk up to someone with your hand extended and smile and say, 'So tell me what great thing happened to you recently?' The key here is to really listen to the answer - then you'll be given the information you can use to ask the next question. People love to talk about themselves -- get to know the person standing before you on a personal level. Then set up a coffee date and you can talk about your work at that meeting. People hire people, collaborate with people, refer people that they know and like." You want to ask questions that initiate a conversation out of the norm, and these questions will do that. Once they have answered your questions, there is just one more to ask; "Is there some way I can help you?"

            I have a good friend who always ends every conversation with, "What can I do for you?" He is seriously asking if I might need a referral, a new contact, or a solution to a new problem. At first my response was, "Oh nothing. I'm fine," until I wised up. Since his business takes him into contact with many companies, I started asking questions like, "Well, yes. Do you know anyone who works at XYZ company?" When I ask, I often receive a positive reply, something I appreciate and remember him for.

Tip # .5  It's The Little Things
            It is so true in social interaction, business, and in life: it is the little things that people remember. After I network with someone I jot down a note on the back of their contact card. It might be something special about them, how I might help them, or what I thought of them. I use that information when I write them a follow-up email the next day. Want to make an even bigger, more positive impression? Send them a handwritten note the next day. It's the little things that make a great impression.
            Maybe they gave you a great idea or helped solve an engineering problem you were stuck on. Perhaps they provided a referral to a potential client. Thanking them goes a long way towards creating a long lasting relationship. I often meet people at social interaction events who are unemployed. If I can't help them professionally, I can offer to send them a copy of, "Doug's List," an extensive list of social interaction events, groups, and job boards in the metro area. Though it costs me only a few seconds of my time, it might mean a lot to them. Those are the kind of "little things" that people will remember about you.

Extra Holiday Bonus Tip
Be mindful of the amount of alcohol you consume. Many careers have been damaged or even destroyed because a person drank too much and became obnoxious, flirtatious or downright obscene. Holiday Social events are NOT the place to “let down your hair” and bash the boss, demonstrate a new dance pole technique or imitate a drunken sailor. Have a good time, have fun, just not too much fun.

            A Final Thought; Kathy Condon says, "Social media networking (Facebook, Linked-In) has to be a part of your personal and professional marketing wheel, but face-to-face social interaction will never be replaced.”
            For some people social interaction comes naturally, and I envy them. For others like me, we have to work at it. Following the plan outlined above takes almost all of the stress out of social interaction, and I've even learned to enjoy it! I hope to see you at a social interaction event soon.

Gary Perman is a certified recruiting professional and owns PermanTech, a national search firm which specializes in recruiting technology executives, managers salespeople and engineers. He is also the former Chair for the IEEE Oregon Technology Management Community and the IEEE Oregon Section. He can be reached at


Getting the Most from the ACT Conference When You are an Introvert

I am not a Type A personality. In fact, I’d much rather be sitting behind my desk at the office than attending a conference with thousands of people. Yet, like you, I realize the importance of attending and networking at conferences – not only are you there representing your company and your product/service, your take-aways are invaluable. You’ll meet new people; potential colleagues, new resources and gain new ideas from the workshops and from talking with other attendees and exhibitors.

Dharmesh Shah, CTO at HubSpot published an article last year, which is relevant today.
I hope you find this article helpful. If you want to connect at ACT this year, feel free to reach out – send me an email or text me at the conference. I hope to see you there.
Text: 3602815589

Between one-third and one-half of the people in the world are introverts.
Keep in mind being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy (although you certainly may be.) Shyness is a lack of comfort in social settings and a fear of social judgment.
Introversion has more to do with how you respond to stimulation, where you draw your energy, and how you recharge that energy. Extroverts crave stimulation; introverts feel most alive and capable in quieter, low-key environments.
Neither is good or bad; they’re just different. The key is to recognize the difference so you can put yourself in what Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking calls your “zone of stimulation.” If you’re an introvert, your zone of stimulation tends to be a quiet, private place.
Back to the “quiet and privacy” thing.
Unfortunately, quiet and privacy tend to be in short supply during the high-energy, action-packed social swirl of a professional conference.
So how do you not just survive but maximize your conference experience if you’re an introvert? The key is to do a little planning (something introverts naturally do well), take the right approach, and most importantly play to your strengths as an introvert:
1. Proactively schedule quiet “recharging” time.
Conferences are typically packed with action: Sessions, seminars, meetings, breakouts, meetups… lots of “on” time that creates a serious energy drain for an introvert.
Extroverts typically draw energy from others, while introverts typically recharge their own mental and emotional batteries. So schedule some down time into your day to help you recharge. (Susan calls those periods “restorative niches.”)
Plan to take a quiet walk, or retreat to your room for thirty minutes, or to read materials that help you prepare for a later session.
Whatever you do, just find a way that works for you to disconnect from other humans and let yourself recharge. That way you’ll stay fresh. And if you’re worried you’ll miss something…
2. Tips For Recharging At A Session
This is going to sound a little strange, but it's actually possible to recharge while attending a session.
Here's how I do it:
Pick a keynote session where you know the audience will be relatively large. (Since your goal is to disconnect from humans, you'll find that a larger audience creates a less intimate setting — perfect in which to withdraw and be alone).
Come into the session just a minute or so before it's scheduled to start. This minimizes the chances you'll have to engage in conversation (people are much less likely to talk to you once a speaker is on stage).
Find a quiet area (if it's not a packed room). Don't sit too close to the front (because that creates a certain intimacy with the speaker — and you're looking to be a bit more removed). I tend to prefer the back row — but this often back-fires based on the size of the room. Frustratingly, sometimes people in the back row insist on trying to have a conversation during a talk. I hate that.
Once you're comfortably seated — pull out the laptop. In a large keynote, that's not rude — in fact, these days, it's often expected and encouraged. Tweet comments and quotes from the session. This has a dual advantage: First, it gives you a chance to be heads-down into the talk — and much less likely that anyone will approach you. Second, and more importantly, by tweeting during the session, you'll find you make some connections to people (that are also tweeting). In every keynote, there are usually a handful of people that are tweeting, and you'll find yourself giving a virtual nod and hat-tip to a few of them. When I live-tweet sessions, I almost always feel this connection to one or two people — who I then recognize at some other time during the conference. Makes it much easier to just say hello.
3. Try Inbound Networking.
Introverts tend to work well alone and in small, familiar groups. If that’s you, it may be against your nature to actively create new connections – even if those connections could be incredibly beneficial.
So put your planning skills to work. Determine the people you want to meet and connect ahead of time online. Send a quick note saying you look forward to seeing that person at the conference. That way you get plenty of time to craft your “message” and make it perfect… and later you can simply walk up and say, “Hi, I’m Dharmesh – it’s really great to meet you in person!”
Another approach: Write a blog post that identifies a list of people you'd love to connect with at the conference. As an example, see my post “Inbound Networking: 42 People I Want To Connect With At SxSW”. This has several advantages: First, without fear, it helps you identifywho you'd love to meet — and why. Second, you might find that some of those people actually come across your blog post and reach out to you (Internet FTW!). Third, though you may not make a direct connection — you may have friends/readers that know these people and volunteer to make an introduction.
The power of this inbound networking approach is that you don't have to interrupt anyone. Connections happen organically. And, in the unlikely event that you don't connect with any of the people on your list — what was the harm?
Everyone needs great connections. Create a plan that ensures you can meet the people you most want or need to meet.
4. Ask for introductions through others.
You want to meet someone you didn’t know ahead of time you wanted to meet, but walking up alone and “cold-meeting” a stranger is tough.
Standing beside a friend while she introduces you to someone new is much easier, because it allows her take care of the preliminaries: “Ann, I’d like you to meet my friend Dharmesh. He’s the CTO of a marketing software company in Boston.”
Everyone you already know knows at least one person you want or need to know. The best connections are often made through colleagues and mutual acquaintances. Ask for “referrals” from people you respect and provide them for people you respect – and go out of your way to provide them for friends and colleagues who could use the hand.
5. Attend at least one session you wouldn’t normally attend.
We all tend to gravitate towards the people and information that validates our own perspectives and points of view. It’s more comfortable – and potentially less contentious or confrontational – to mingle with people who share our beliefs and outlooks.
So if you attend a conference with multiple speakers and a menu of sessions, for every two sessions you choose that sound interesting, pick one session that you wouldn’t normally attend. Purposely step outside your comfort zone. Commit ahead of time to acting on at least one approach or strategy that you learn; that way you’ll listen constructively instead of critically.
Then talk to someone on the way out. Say, “You know, I walked in here thinking I wouldn’t get anything out of (whatever topic)… but I was surprised by…” That’s all you need to say to start a great conversation, because people love talking to people who have seen their particular light.
6. Create plans for maximizing your return.
Many people return from a conference with a bag full of schwag and a notebook full of scribbled ideas, thought-starters, and takeaways. A couple days later the bag is in a closet, the notebook is in a drawer… and it’s back to business as usual.
That’s especially true for the introvert who comes home drained and exhausted; by the time you recharge your batteries, your great ideas and new perspectives may have been lost.
This is one of the ways your need for quiet time can be a real advantage. Use your quiet time to think about and plan how you will maximize your return on the people you’ve met, the ideas you’ve embraced, and the knowledge you’ve gained.
A conference can be a great experience, but it shouldn’t just be an experience – it should, in ways large and small, be life changing. Use your quiet time to make concrete plans for how you will actually change your life.
I'd suggest blocking out a half day on your schedule immediately after the conference. Devote it to “absorbing” some of your thoughts and learnings and coming up with a way to apply them. Yes, yes, I know — you already spent 3 days away from the office, and there are a hundred emails waiting for you. But, that 4 hours will be some of the highest leverage time you ever spend. And, as it turns out, those emails will still be waiting for you. In short, just block out the time when you're planning for the conference — just pretend the conference is longer than it is.
Speaking of blocking out time, for introverts, somewhat longer conferences (3–4 days) are usually easier than shorter conferences. The reason is that with a longer conference, you have time to “settle in”, know your environment — and start getting to know some people and faces. With a 1 or 2 day conference, by the time any of that happens, you're heading back out again.
7. Gear up for when you’ll need the most energy.
Maybe you’re leading a seminar. Maybe there’s a social gathering with key customers and you’ll need to be especially “on.” Maybe there’s a user group session where you need to interact and totally engage.
Plan ahead. Schedule a recharge period immediately before. Go to a session where you know you’ll only have to listen. Have a quiet lunch instead of a group meal. Every session, every event, every meeting is important… but some are more important than others. Make sure you have the mental and social energy you need when you need it most.
8. Always, always do what you do best.
Most introverts are great listeners, especially in one-on-one settings. Use that skill to your advantage. Listen. Ask insightful questions. Ask a person how they did what they did. Or why. Or what they learned from doing it, or liked about doing it. Asking real questions – and paying attention to the answers – is one of the greatest compliments you can give.

And it’s one of the best ways to make real connections – and real friends."


Social media will continue to be a key influence in the hiring decision, not only do companies use social media to vet candidates, they also use it to find and surface potential employees.
 consciously or unconsciously, We are ALL prejudice and we all carry our own bias, and that fact is not going to go away no matter how much we try to legislate it or “peer pressure” it away. It’s reality part of being human.  In my opinion, the best thing you can do about your social media content is “manage” it. Manage your profiles and conversations. Employ common sense. Know that people can view your Facebook, LinkedIn, and twitter conversations – no matter how many “privacy” buttons you have turned on. Keep that in mind when you want to post a Facebook rant about your employer or your drunken night at the local pub.  

This is an interesting article worth continued discussion.


Interview "What is your greatest Weakness"

At job interviews, particularly when young people are involved, the applicant is frequently asked: "What is your greatest weakness?"
This is a rude, intrusive question, and nobody should be required to answer it. It is a trick question designed to put the applicant at a disadvantage. It is just one step up from "When did you stop beating your wife? I mean, your partner. Let me rephrase that: When did you stop beating your significant other?"

Nishant Choski
From Queenan: "What's my greatest weakness?" is un-American to ask.
For starters, the presumption that people have weaknesses is un-American. It is defeatist and sad. The whole point of being American is to feel invincible, that one is incapable of being improved upon. Just ask Jamie Dimon. Or Barack Obama. This isn't Albania we're running here.
Imagine asking George Washington or Susan B. Anthony, "What is your greatest weakness?" What kind of an answer do you think you would get out of George Patton or Geronimo or Lady Gaga? It is a demeaning question that invites a response like "I am completely invulnerable except when exposed to large chunks of kryptonite" or "I sometimes slap peoples' faces when they ask me rude questions."
Friends familiar with the dark, insidious and cruel world of human resources assure me that such questions are ubiquitous, part of the interviewer's script. Another dandy is, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Who asks a person just starting out in life a question like that? Or, even worse, a person reaching the end of his career?
"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" an Egyptian HR firm might have asked the young Moses shortly before he parted the Red Sea. "Wandering around the desert, I guess" would be the response. "And that's where I expect to be 40 years from now, too."
Or, as Jean Valjean of "Les Misérables" might put it: "Ten years from now? Probably getting ready to serve the last nine years of my sentence. I'm doing the big dix-neuf."
To put this in perspective, here are some other idiotic questions that pop up during interviews, with responses by famous historical or literary figures.
Describe a difficult situation at work and how you handled it.
"My boss had two sets of books, and the Feds wanted to see the real numbers. No way I was going behind Big Al's back. So I told 'em: I don't see nothing; I don't hear nothing; I don't know nothing." (Al Capone's CPA)
see the full article at