Sunday, May 13, 2007

Matching the job description too well

Another very intriguing Linked In answer, this time on the question of the staffing and recruiting aspect of workplace mental health. This response comes from Vadim Gorelik:

There is an pretty disappointing trend to hire people with the right skillset for the job - meaning the person should know and demonstrate previous experience doing exactly what the company is looking for. What is the sense in that? From the HR perspective? If the person is coming from an identical role at another company, there are finite number of good reasons for switching jobs, and infinite number of bad reasons. Motivation starts with effort, and, once again IMHO, if the person knows everything there is to know about the job - what is there to strive for? Again, finite number of things. I would rather hire a person for whom the role might be a stretch, and have the person strive and achieve right skillset - and find motivation (and better mental health) in that.

Interesting. I don't know what it's like to be a recruiter but I'm thinking that a great deal of the work is finding people with sufficient skill sets to fill their positions. I don' t mean that facetiously or sarcastically; rather, how many listserv postings or even private emails from group affiliations do you get saying, "do you have anyone who can do x, y and has 3 to 5 years of z" sent not totally indiscriminately but certainly with the intent of reaching the widest audience possible? So, while I instinctively agree with Vadim about the need for employees to be in the right role (more on that definition in a minute) from day one, I wonder about the challenges that recruiters and staffers face and if that's often feasible. On the other hand, it's almost a "you get what you pay for" situation. If your intent is just to get someone in there, which I think it unfortunately often is, then whether it's necessarily the best fit is going to go by the wayside. If the process were more holistic, which is what I think Vadim is saying, then maybe the lateral switch could be avoided.

The lateral switch is an interesting point as well. There are many sensible reasons to switch companies to do similar work: higher pay being the obvious, better benefits (anything from healthcare to flex time and telecommuting to numerous others), or an organization that is somehow a better fit. But what about employees that are switching for the same type and/or level of position but not a clear reason? Isn't that dissatisfaction going to rear it's ugly head within short time? On the other hand, how do you convince recruiters, staffers, or even your own existing workplace's supervisory structure that not only are you ready for a challenge but that they can't afford not to challenge you?


Last week I asked the Linked In intelligentsia, "what's your motivation?" The answers were fascinating and here's one of the most unique:

Ronald Wopereis wrote:

Dictionary says : motivation, motif,
Latin: past tense of movere, to move

Motive: a stimulus to action (Merriam Webster)

Ok i think i understand your question now.
What is my stimulus to action.

{portion removed}

Employees can not lose their motivation.

Employees can encounter the situation where there is no space in which they can express themselves. And then movement simply stops.

I hadn't even thought of that, that the word "motivation" comes from the root "to move." And how glaringly obvious that seems now. More than one response to the posted question of motivation touched upon how incredibly damaging micromanagement can be to morale. I certainly believed those responses; the great thing about Linked In is the collection of both brainpower and experience. People have lived it, seen it, worked it and asking these questions brings the collective experience of the brightest minds in business (and life for that matter) right to my doorstep. Amazing. But conceptualizing the answers about micromanagement in Ron's framework drives the point home even more: the employees don't have room to move. And then, as he says, "movement simply stops." Echoing that, another respondent spoke of micromanagers as "treat(ing) grown adults like children" and yet another used the word "thwarted" multiple times, further conveying imagery of someone immobile. Yet another (!) used this metaphor in discussing how, when faced with others at an organization who are having motivational problems (as opposed to oneself who isn't having the issues), "
But they're the ones who have to walk it. You can't drag them along behind you. It only slows YOU down."

It's also fascinating because when I think of a "motivation problem," I tend to think of people (employees, students, even in personal relationships) who are contrary. When we talk about motivational issues, the implication can be that a person is defiant, lazy, or a host of other negative things. I think "lazy" is probably the biggest one that comes to mind as the stereotype. But if we take Ron's idea, maybe that person just can't move. Maybe they don't know where to move. Maybe they don't know how to move. Maybe they need some help moving - a timetable, a demonstration of exactly how to move, where to move, etc. But movement is the issue, something to pull out of the inertia. Indeed, if you take a page from elementary physics, if you're at rest you are going to stay there. You are going to demonstrate no movement, no motivation. But if you're moving, motivated, you'll keep going. Ron wrote in his post,
"Krishnamurti once defined movement as that which has no beginning, no end. I believe this to be true."

Which might bring us to another challenge: whether you're moving in the right direction. But I would guess that just the fact that someone is moving is at the very least half of the battle.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Linked In Thoughts

These are some fascinating answers - I'm just starting to peruse them. Everything from the concepts of gym memberships and perks to the European vs North American possible dichotomy to the idea of how important a life outside of work is in maintaining balance and bringing your health to work. That's interesting because I just read something about a life outside of work increasing ethical behavior in employees; the authors of the study postulated that if you don't have as much riding on your job and you have diversified your self-worth portfolio, so to speak, then you are more able to own up to mistakes and not feel the need to "win at all costs." Whereas people who think, "I am my job" will feel the need to go to greater lengths to protect their egos. Interesting, and interesting as well that diversification seems to be a key in both mental health and also career success itself. This idea of "I am X," while providing a source of identity, industry and strength could turn around and bite you once you find out that Xs are either unnecessary, archaic, obsolete, being replaced by Y and you are not a Y either in perception or fact...

Definitely something to revisit after more coffee.

Linkedin Business Discussion Index: Oh! My Goodness! - Funny Networking! :-)

I am so excited; I made one of Vincent Wright's blogs! Now that's a mention! And I didn't even try; just looking to spread some humor among the networking/Yahoo groups wavelength.

Linkedin Business Discussion Index: Oh! My Goodness! - Funny Networking! :-)

Like Vincent says, I highly recommend that you Linked In aficionados join us at Linked In Fun for some playful, low stress (mentally healthy!) networking. No drama; just lots of laughs and links.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

What is Workplace Mental Health?

Hello and welcome to my first official blog post on the topic of workplace mental health. This is my primary area of interest and I look forward to sharing ideas and thoughts on the topic. To begin with, what is workplace mental health? How do the circumstances in one's workplace affect their mental health? Why do adverse circumstances in the workplace affect some employees to the extent that their mental health suffers while others find similar situations challenging and even inspiring? Is it true that having a "best friend" or even just a camaraderie with coworkers increases job satisfaction and can be the difference in employee retention? How are employee retention and attrition indicative of the overall mental health level of a workplace? Can the mental health level of a workplace be measured, and if so, what do those metrics look like? To what extent does the employee bring their attitude to work versus having their working environment influence their attitude?

These are just some preliminary questions; I hope to attract some interested and knowledgeable visitors to exchange ideas with. Thanks for visiting!