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Working Matters

The Working Cultures Blog

July 25th, 2012

Listen In -> Employees… What Are They Good For? #2: The Problem of Finding Good Employees

We’ve all received them. The polite email thanking us for our job application, but with regrets declining the opportunity to meet us in person.

The computer, it seems, decided that since the job requisition form specified a minimum of five years of experience and we only had four years of experience, that there would be no reason to explore our qualifications further. 

Can such talent search methods be serving us well? Could it be that our standardized job descriptions, computerized key word searches, and the use of unformatted text-only resumes are eliminating valuable candidates before we even have a chance to meet them?

In this week’s podcast discussion, Claudia and I look at the problem of finding good employees.

The challenge in a tough economy—when we’re receiving possibly hundreds of applications for any given opening—is how to make sure we’re meeting the unique, real-life people who would be the best fit for our team.

The options at either end of the spectrum aren’t practical. We cannot personally interview every single applicant.  The computerized culling cannot take into account important intangibles like industriousness, team spirit, creativity, working styles, or communication abilities.

How do we make sure we’re meeting and hiring the best people available?

Listen in.

Just now joining the conversation? Catch up on the entire series here.

July 23rd, 2012

Loving Monday: Committed to Finding The Very Best Ideas

loving_mondayWhere do you look to find the best ideas?

Not merely good ideas. But the very best ideas.

Ideas for improvement. Ideas for new products. Ideas for organizing differently. Ideas for fixing problems.

Do you gather the senior management? Do you hire expert consultants? Do you read and research extensively?

What if, on your way into the office this morning, you walked past a treasure trove of the best ideas you could ever hope to find?

What if the knowledge, experience, and creativity to generate the very best ideas were already working at your firm?

Some of you already know where I’m heading with this.

How many of us, when searching for the best ideas imaginable, look confidently and expectantly to those below us on the organizational chart?

Some leaders experience any superior expertise on their staff teams negatively. They believe, mistakenly, that in order to justify their leadership position they
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July 21st, 2012

Quote to Consider: Advice For The Incoming Leader

quote-to-consider“Don’t ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.”

Robert Frost

July 20th, 2012

Karl’s Library: How The Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work by Kegan and Lahey

Set aside what you’re currently reading about leadership.

If you want to transform your impact as a leader, you need to pick up a copy of How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey.

Have you ever considered than an annoying employee complaint might also be a valuable personal value needing expression?

Have you ever withheld an idea for improvement so your supervisor wouldn’t feel criticized?

Kegan and Lahey provide an entirely new perspective on leadership by paying attention to how we talk to each other.

They point to seven changes we can make in how we communicate that will reframe how we approach problems and result in lasting change.

Seven Languages for Transformation

  1. From the language of complaint to the language of commitment
  2. From the language of blame to the language of personal responsibility
  3. From the language of New Year’s resolutions to the language of competing commitments
  4. From the language of big assumptions that hold us to the language of assumptions we hold
  5. From the language of prizes and praising to the language of ongoing regard
  6. From the language of rules and policies to the language of public agreement
  7. From the language of constructive criticism to the language of desconstructive criticism

The shift we need to make as leaders is internal. When we see the conversation differently ourselves we will be able to have a different sort of conversation with others.

You can continue to blame the rest of the team for their shortcomings. You may even be accurate in your assessment. But you will not see change.

When you’re ready to try something new, try taking a look at how “the way you talk affects the way the team works.”

You can get a copy of the book here.

Karl’s Library is a weekly column highlighting my favorites from my professional development library. “Always learning” is one of the pillars of my personal mission statement. Explore past columns here.


If you’re a Kindle fan like I am, it is available for the Kindle.

Don’t have a Kindle? Get one! You’ll love it.

July 18th, 2012

Listen In -> Employees… What Are They Good For? #1: Expense or Asset?

You’ve met them both.

One is the leader who views their employees as an expense to be minimized.

The other is the leader who views their employees as an asset into whom to invest.

The one is most often at odds with their team. Cracking the whip to make sure no one is slacking off. Squeezing out every last drop of effort, delaying promotions, denying vacations, and doing their best to protect the company from the unfortunate necessity of needing more hands and feet to get the job done.

The other leader is grateful to surround him or herself with a complementary set of skills, experiences, working styles and passions.

This leader is most often working in concert with their team. Building on strengths, strengthening weaknesses, expressing confidence, extending trust, and celebrating aggressive goals achieved.

Working with people, of course, has both its ups and downs. What is significant though is the beginning lens through which you choose to views these problems and opportunities.

Are your employees are an expense to minimize or an asset to maximize?

The lens you choose will have a radical impact on how you deal with four common employee problems.

Employees… What Are They Good For?
Week 1: Expense or Asset?
Week 2: The Problem of Finding Good Employees
Week 3: The Problem of Retaining Good Employees
Week 4: The Problem of Poor Employee Performance
Week 5: The Problem of Stagnant Employee Progress

What lens do you use when addressing employee problems? 

Listen in.

Each week the conversation will continue. Catch up on the entire series here.

July 16th, 2012

Loving Monday: Addressing One Problem… Today


The great thing about Monday morning is that we get to begin our week any way we choose.

We can choose our attitudes, we can choose our priorities, we can choose what will get our attention and what we will avoid.

Problems, more often than not, fall into the category of what we choose to avoid.

I‘d like to suggest that for this Monday morning, we each select a problem we will address.

Very few of us love problems or look forward to confronting them. Problems, though, exist no matter what we might feel about them.

The opportunity we have here on Monday morning is to begin the week differently.

What is one difficult issue, recurring problem, or awkward relationship that you have been avoiding?

Have been avoiding up until now, that is.

While addressing a problem may be an unpleasant, awkward, and difficult experience, at least you got it over with. You are now on the road to building a different way forward.

As long as the problem is avoided, though, it is still hanging over your head, lurking in the shadows, laying like an unexploded land mine upon which you or someone else will eventually step.

It’s your choice, of course. Would you rather do the difficult work of diffusing the bomb or the difficult work of recovering from its explosion?

This Monday, let’s try diffusing one difficult issue so we can spend the rest of the week building a constructive way forward.

What issue will you choose?

On your side,

- Karl Edwards

Loving Monday is a weekly column designed to encourage us to step into our weeks with an intention to show up authentically, engage fully, and choose to make it a good week for ourselves. Explore past columns here.

July 12th, 2012

Karl Shares Six Words… #73

Innovator battles attorney defining acceptable risk.


Karl Edwards